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Intelligent Design

September 21, 2010

The Claims:

Intelligent design (ID) is the proposition that some features of life on Earth were created abruptly by an intelligent and powerful being rather than being the result of the undirected natural processes of evolution. The proponents of ID claim that it is a legitimate alternative to evolutionary biology and that it deserves equal time in public schools. ID proponents hold that evolution can account only for small changes within species, not for the diversity of biological species on Earth. Some features of biological organisms are considered to be too complex to have evolved through variation, heredity and natural selection. ID proponents claim that organs such as the human eye or the bacterial flagellum (a tiny propeller that allows bacteria to move around) illustrate a kind of complexity that is simply unexplainable through natural causes (a concept called “irreducible complexity”). They have argued that such complex organs cannot function if a single part is malfunctioning or missing, so they could not have evolved gradually ‒ they must have been created as fully functional wholes.

The Evidence:

Claims of irreducible complexity have been shown to be false. Studies in molecular biology have shown that the bacterial flagellum could function without some of its parts - not as a locomotion tool, but as a sort of syringe through which the bacterium injects toxins into its host. These studies have classified the bacterial flagellum as an evolved type III secretory apparatus (McNab 1999, Aizawa 2001).

Molecular genetics has allowed the genomes of plants and animals to be mapped, and the genetic similarities and differences between species to be observed. The evidence for evolutionary biology (and against ID) is overwhelming. The facts clearly demonstrate that all forms of life on Earth form a “tree of life” with three big branches (bacteria, archaea and eucarya) and many splitting sub-branches. ID rejects the branching tree model, holding instead that species have no historical connection to each other (known as the “parallel grass blades” model).

ID postulates the existence of an intelligent designer, not considered part of the natural world, which is responsible for the origin of species on Earth. Since the designer is said to be beyond the realm of the observable, claims about its existence can be neither supported nor undermined by observation or experiment.

Therefore ID does not follow the scientific method of systematic observation and experiment, and fails as a scientific hypothesis.

If, however, the Intelligent Designer is considered part of the natural world, it is a form of life. In this case, ID has created a problem bigger than the one it attempts to solve ‒ life on Earth is explained by assuming the existing of a being far more complex and powerful, with no attempt to account for its origins.

Conclusion:

Up until today (November 2010), the ID movement has not published a single peer-reviewed article in a recognized scientific journal.  ID is religious in nature, being a modern form of Creationism, which is itself derived from a literal and fundamentalist interpretation of the biblical book of Genesis. However, unlike standard Creationists, the supporters of ID may not necessarily agree with the Young Earth hypothesis.

Links:
Wikipedia Entry on Intelligent Design

Skeptic’s Dictionary Entry on Intelligent Design

“The Flagellum Unspun: The Collapse of ‘Irreducible Complexity’” Miller, K. 2004.

“Bacterial Flagella and Type III Secretion Systems” Aizawa, S.-I., 2001.

“The Bacterial Flagellum: Reversible Rotary Propellor and Type III Export Apparatus” McNab, R. M., 1999.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Entry on Creationism

166 Comments leave one →
  1. Joseph permalink
    February 8, 2012 10:05 PM

    Hi Jeff, great comment! have you read Signature in the Cell by Philosopher of Science Stephen Meyer? Biological Information is distinguished from Shannon Info in great detail. http://www.signatureinthecell.com.

    Let us just go to the source, and see what the famous Michael Behe said in his 2011 peer-reviewed paper that delves into Lenski’s experiment (he authored the world-famous ‘Darwin’s Black Box in 1996, and so far his argument for ID based on I.C in certain protein machines has not been refuted in academia):

    “The results of future work aside, so far, during the course of the longest, most open-ended, and most extensive laboratory investigation of bacterial evolution, a number of adaptive mutations have been identified that endow the bacterial strain with greater fitness compared to that of the ancestral strain in the particular growth medium. The goal of Lenski’s research was not to analyze adaptive mutations in terms of gain or loss of function, as is the focus here, but rather to address other longstanding evolutionary questions. Nonetheless, all of the mutations identified to date can readily be classified as either modification-of-function or loss-of-FCT. … In the most open-ended laboratory evolution experiment (Lenski 2004), in which no specific selection pressure was intentionally brought to bear, all of the adaptive mutations that have been so far identified have either been loss-of-FCT or modification-of-function mutations, and there is strong reason to believe that most of the modification-of-function mutations diminished protein activity”. – (Michael J. Behe, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution’,” Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 85(4) (December, 2010).)

    No new digital info was ever added to the genome, and i will say it again, if that was ever observed, it would obviously destroy the theory of ID in molecular biology immediately (as we would then have a demonstration of biological information arising via natural processes). All that was ever observed in the Lenski experiments is a ‘re-arrangement’ or ‘deletion’ of already existing biological information. Michael Behe and other PHds have been very clear about that (however, the guy below claimed in so many words that they are all wrong- (and I am an ignorant moron)- and I’d love to see where he got the idea that new biological information was added to the genomes of these bacteria). Did that guy even read Lenski’s paper? or go to Wikipedia?

    If you want to know what kind of info it is exactly, then I’d advise researching into this topic. Since 2003, DNA has been referred to as “Complex Specified Information”. I want to keep this short, but CSI is a kind of information utterly different from tree-rings or ice-cores etc. (what critics often hurl when first grappling with the info in DNA). DNA is of the same kind of info. one would find in a book, or a software program, or sheet music (but it is even more advanced as it ‘functions’, and performs a task on its own).

    Read Signature in the Cell for a 500 page analysis of what biological info is, and why all Material-Based processes (be they Necessity or Chance-based ones) cannot give a proper causal account of the origin of this digital info. We contend that ID is the “Best Explanation”, and I go into this in great detail in the article (concerning ID’s aims and form of philosophical reasoning employed).

  2. February 8, 2012 9:00 PM

    If I may interject, it seems to me that there are two questions floating around.
    1) Where did the DNA code come from?
    2) Do the results of the Lenski experiment constitute the production of information?

    Starting with 2, I think it’s important that we have a clear understanding of what we mean by “information”. If it’s not defined clearly, then we could simply be talking across purposes. Is it Fisher information, Shannon information, mutual information, Kullback-Leibler divergence?

    In my view, question 1 essentially rests on question 2; if the experiment shows information gain, then the DNA code could, in principle, come from natural causes.

  3. joeygallagher permalink
    February 8, 2012 7:59 PM

    Wow, i love how you are insulting us now! Here comes a massive refutation of everything you just wrote, and when I read what you said, it betrays that once again you are an amateur that is not equiped with the facts. Here we go!:

    “The bacteria evolved the ability to use Citrus acid as a new food source. Period. How? Via evolution. New information at the DNA level (digital information) had given the bacteria the ability to use Citric Acid. End of story. Yes, this is new DIGITAL information”.

    This is such a laughable lie. No, new digital information was ever added to the genome, indeed, there was only a rearrangement/scramble/deletion of already existing digital information. If new digital info. was addded to the genome, then Darwiniam evo would have been proven correct. Why has Mike Behe PHd written a 2011 paper going against everything that you just said? He said no new digital info was ever added in Lenski’s experiements, who is lying here? Him or you?

    “Is this an ability that the initial bacteria had? No. It EVOLVED it. Just deal with this information and stop being in denial. That you can say that this is “just” a change in diet is laughable and shows how truly ignorant you are”.

    You are pretty rude for a guy that doesn’t know the facts. Of course them adapting that new function is a kind of evolution. Who ever said we were against evolution? of course there is change within a species. However, we are talking about the origin of DNA. You are not. You telling us about how they could change their diet does not in the slightest prove that Digital Information arose via an undirected process.

    “Have you not been listening Joey? The bacteria evolved the ability to use Citrus acid as a new food source. This is MAJOR ability for a bacteria, or any life form”.

    You are not listening, did you even read my whole 35 page defense of ID? where did the first working DNA molecule come from? where did its digital code come from? this is the question, the origin of the digital info.

    “My work is done here. I can barely scrum up the effort to argue with such ignoramuses. G’day”.

    You are done? you are so arrogant when you are clearly wrong. How have you proven that an undirected process created the digital code in DNA? Lenski’s research is irrelevant, if it did prove that new Digital Info was added to the genome, then ID would be dead by night-fall (but hgis work never showed that, you are lying). So, tell us, how did the digital code arise? I already told you that Natural Selection doesn’t even emerge until DNA is finished, so dont Beg the Question (you didn’t listen when I said that, and another guy, did you?). You didn’t read anything, I devoted pages stressing that. Please enlighten us oh wise one, and tell us how DNA arose?

  4. Chris permalink
    February 7, 2012 7:58 PM

    “Again, I’ll refer you to arguments posted by Joseph. The complexity that I’m speaking of is digital information, not a change in diet. The experiments you refer to are not examples otf the creation of digital information that we see in DNA/RNA. ”

    The bacteria evolved the ability to use Citrus acid as a new food source. Period. How? Via evolution. New information at the DNA level (digital information) had given the bacteria the ability to use Citric Acid. End of story. Yes, this is new DIGITAL information. Is this an ability that the initial bacteria had? No. It EVOLVED it. Just deal with this information and stop being in denial. That you can say that this is “just” a change in diet is laughable and shows how truly ignorant you are.

    ” what has happened? any changes? anydevelopment? something to show that some kind of meaningful evolution has takenplace? with new functions or adaptations in the E-Coli bacteria?”

    Have you not been listening Joey? The bacteria evolved the ability to use Citrus acid as a new food source. This is MAJOR ability for a bacteria, or any life form :

    “In 2008, Lenski and his collaborators reported on a particularly important adaptation that occurred in one of the twelve populations: the bacteria evolved the ability to utilize citrate as a source of energy. Wild type E. coli cannot transport citrate across the cell membrane to the cell interior (where it could be incorporated into the citric acid cycle) when oxygen is present. The consequent lack of growth on citrate under oxic conditions is considered a defining characteristic of the species that has been a valuable means of differentiating E. coli from pathogenic Salmonella. Around generation 33,127, the experimenters noticed a dramatically expanded population-size in one of the samples; they found that there were clones in this population that could grow on the citrate included in the growth medium to permit iron acquisition”

    If the ability to use a new fuel source can be evolved in a tiny number of years, then just imagine what could be evolved over millions of years. It boggles the mind.

    My work is done here. I can barely scrum up the effort to argue with such ignoramuses. G’day.

  5. joeygallagher permalink
    February 7, 2012 7:40 PM

    I noticed someone left a comment claiming that Lenski’s longest-ever-running evo. experiement proves evo. true……seriously, whoever said that did not read my article, because, in fact, I write that Lenski experiment is backing up our case, not vying against it. The fact that you claimed that his experiement confirmed evolution belies the fact that you are not equiped with all the facts. From the article:

    “‘Michael Behe’s Critiques Richard Lenski’s E. Coli Evolution Experiments’ (2010):

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/12/michael_behes_quarterly_review041221.html.

    This is about Mike Behe’s 2010 paper focused on Richard Lenski’s famous evolution-experiment with E-Coli bacteria (going on for decades). Lenski’s experiment is thelongest-running experiment ever in the history of evolutionary biology, and aftergrowing millions of generations of bacteria, what has happened? any changes? anydevelopment? something to show that some kind of meaningful evolution has takenplace? with new functions or adaptations in the E-Coli bacteria? what Behe found wasthat nothing meaningful has happened over all of these years; the bacteria have lostfunctionality, not gained it. In ‘Dawkins news’ again: Lenski’s work was cited byDawkinsin his most recent book ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ (2009) as the ultimaterefutation of Irreducible Complexity.Strange, because Dawkins seems totallyunaware of Behe’s critiques of Lenski’s research in his
    ‘The Edge of Evolution’ (2008). Now Dawkins’ book is even more out-dated as Behe has published a peer-reviewed article in Quarterly Review of Biology (2010) that goes even deeper intoLenski’s research. Behe’s brilliant conclusion is damming to the Neo-DarwinianHypothesis, and surely as well, to Dawkins’ ego”.

    Lenski’s experiemnts is evidence for ID, not for Darwinism.

    “Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance”.

  6. trainman permalink
    February 6, 2012 7:16 PM

    Yes, it was a little rude. But it looks like I’m still right. ; )

  7. February 6, 2012 7:11 PM

    @trainman
    >It’s not circular logic Jeff, it’s making the best of your bad example. Use a better example next time.

    Well, that’s constructive (and a comma splice).

  8. trainman permalink
    February 6, 2012 3:32 PM

    It’s not circular logic Jeff, it’s making the best of your bad example. Use a better example next time.

  9. February 6, 2012 3:20 PM

    @trainman

    Good point. My example of reading books doesn’t really get at the crux of the issue.

    I like your circular logic, “when an individual is known to be reading The Hunger Games, unless we know their identity to be otherwise, we should assume it is your wife.”

    Similarly, every designed object, unless we know of a non-intelligent cause for it, was made by an intelligent agent. It’s trivially true.

  10. trainman permalink
    February 6, 2012 2:53 PM

    Chris,

    “So what’s happened here is that the E-coli has evolved to be able to use citric acid as a food source! That’s pretty amazing. This is about as solid proof of evolution as I could ever imagine.”

    Again, I’ll refer you to arguments posted by Joseph. The complexity that I’m speaking of is digital information, not a change in diet. The experiments you refer to are not examples of the creation of digital information that we see in DNA/RNA. The undirected evolutionary processes occuring in those experiments are not creating fundamental underlying bio-chemical structures–they are making use of them. Having an organism change it’s food source has never prompted someone to search for an underlying intelligence–but clear principles of design and information embedded in our bio-chemistry, have.

    Don’t make the assumption that ID can’t co-exist with an evolutionary process. There are many, many (and probably a majority) of serious “IDers” who subscribe to an evolutionary process, that makes use of intelligently designed basic bio-chemical building blocks.

    Again, take the emotion out of it and treat it with a scientific mind. Just because you may be uncomfortable with where ID may lead in other areas of life, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be treated with the strictest scientific approach.

  11. trainman permalink
    February 6, 2012 2:24 PM

    @Jeff,

    In my opinion, this is one of the fundamental problems with ID. In essence, it’s like saying, “The only person I’ve ever seen reading the book The Hunger Games is my wife. Thus, my wife is the only one reading it.”

    Well, that’s your opinion, and I’ll demonstrate to you why it is wrong. The problem with your example is that we have evidence of other people besides your wife reading The Hunger Games, so obviously we would never generate the hypothesis you suggest.

    HOWEVER, if every single individual ever discovered in the history of mankind reading The Hunger Games was in fact only your wife, then we would have to (based on a scientific approach) declare that: when an individual is known to be reading The Hunger Games, unless we know their identity to be otherwise, we should assume it is your wife.

    How come when people start discussing this subject, they preach science, science, science, but they forget the very basic principles of scientific investigation themselves???

  12. Chris permalink
    February 6, 2012 1:14 PM

    “Get it through your head: evolution has NEVER been proven to create the “complexity” you speak of and it has NEVER been proven to create ”

    Evolution is shown on almost a weekly basis to create the kind of complexity you are talking about. If you read scientific papers you’d know.

    “Please refer us to anything, or any experiment?”

    Here’s a long term evolution experiment that’s been going on since 1988. One particularly striking adaptation was the evolution of a strain of E. coli that was able to grow on citric acid in the growth media, this happened around generation 33,127 :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment

    So what’s happened here is that the E-coli has evolved to be able to use citric acid as a food source! That’s pretty amazing. This is about as solid proof of evolution as I could ever imagine.

  13. February 6, 2012 12:38 PM

    @ trainman
    Thanks for your comments.

    You assert, “The basic premise of the theory of Intelligent Design is based on the confirmed observation of design in nature and the fact that the only confirmed source of design that we have is intelligence.”

    In my opinion, this is one of the fundamental problems with ID. In essence, it’s like saying, “The only person I’ve ever seen reading the book The Hunger Games is my wife. Thus, my wife is the only one reading it.”

    You can see the same idea expressed in a Venn diagram at,
    http://www.skepticnorth.com/2010/08/intelligent-design/

    I should not let my lack of knowledge limit reality.

  14. trainman permalink
    February 5, 2012 3:19 PM

    @Chris,

    Get it through your head: evolution has NEVER been proven to create the “complexity” you speak of and it has NEVER been proven to create information/design–those are the facts–no matter what your high school biology teacher tells you. Dawkins was spanked by Lennox and you’ve been spanked by Joseph. The basic premise of the theory of Intelligent Design is based on the confirmed observation of design in nature and the fact that the only confirmed source of design that we have is intelligence. In that regard, there is nothing more to say. And for the CFI to try and frame the conversation the way that they did shows they don’t have a proper understanding of the debate.

  15. Joseph permalink
    February 5, 2012 1:16 PM

    Here is a short clip Richard Dawkins getting spanked over your same assertion that “Evolution could make DNA’s digital information (“complexity”): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY1uTlaP2Pc&feature=related.

    This is a deep topic, I’d advise reading Signature in the Cell, or that whole attack of mine. I also debunk Dawkin’s key piece of evidence for Darwinism in his latest book thanks to Dr. Craig Venter (the supposed Universality of the genetic code).

    All the best! I am out, and confident that the CFI’s anti ID-page is in deep trouble, and had better get edited. Notice how they claimed at the bottom that not a single journal has published 1 paper about ID? Well, I found over 50. What a lie they are spreading, and they are keeping people in the dark. I wouldn’t trust them, trust yourself, get out of the dark, and study the facts.

    “Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance” – Einstein

  16. Joseph permalink
    February 5, 2012 1:08 PM

    It appears you made it to page 6…29 more to go….Here is an easy refutation of your assertion that Natural Processes can create digital information (though you twisted it to say “complexity”, which is broadly vacuous)- ever see this quote from the father of cybernetics, Herbert Weiner?”

    “Information is Information, neither matter or energy. Any Materialism that fails to recognize this will not survive the day”. – Hebert Weiner

    Your apparent unfamiliarity with the idea that Natural Selection does not appear until DNA is done and functioning, was the same blunder that Dawkins get embarrassed over in his famous debate with John Lennox.

  17. Joseph permalink
    February 5, 2012 12:59 PM

    “If only we knew of a natural process that could be shown to create complexity”.

    Why distort the facts, what natural process can create digital information? Please refer us to anything, or any experiment?……Indeed, many central biology studies of 2010 and 11 have shown that new biological information is only ever created via the Intelligent Guidance/Interference of the experimenters..even the Law of the Conservation of Information shows that Natural Laws can only transmit info., never create it…Truly, Information is not even in the same dimension as physical forces of matter and energy, it is a different kind of entity (is the info. the ink?), so please show us where in the Natural world, without an intelligence being involved, encoded digital information can arise? You are bluffing….You also said, “evolution” can do that, which shows that you did not even read the refutation, and are unfamiliar with the facts in biology. I am sorry but Evolution, aka, Natural selection cannot be invoked to explain the origin of the first functioning replicator/bio-informatic molecule, as Natural Selection does not even kick in until DNA is already functioning, so to explain the origin of biological info you cannot say, “Evolution” (and no serious thinker even says that, as critics know that one can only appeal to Chance or Necessity-Based Causes when it comes to explaining DNA’s origin. Claiming “Evo./Natural Selection made DNA” = Begging the Question. I would read that thing in its entirety, the CFI has been caught lying about many facts….You have done nothing to mitigate that 35-page detailed attack upon the faulty reasoning employed by the CFI. Thanks you for another demonstration on how Intelligent Design is a powerful theory.

  18. Chris permalink
    February 4, 2012 1:58 PM

    > Here is a specific point by point refutation of everything written on this anti-ID web page here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/80308341/Defending-Intelligent-Design-By-Joseph-Gallagher.

    “Premise 2:
    All Complex Specified Information comes from an Intelligent source
    of some kind, and not natural/physical processes of Matter & Energy alone.”

    If only we had some way to refute that premise. If only we knew of a natural process that could be shown to create complexity. Er, wait, we do, it’s a theory that’s been around for over a hundred years now, it’s called Evolution.

    Move on people, nothing to read here..

  19. Joseph permalink
    February 4, 2012 11:49 AM

    Here is a specific point by point refutation of everything written on this anti-ID web page here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/80308341/Defending-Intelligent-Design-By-Joseph-Gallagher.

  20. Bryan permalink
    January 4, 2011 1:44 PM

    Lacey,

    Certainly an excellent explanation of how information could be generated without intelligence. I’m not sure that I accept it, but given enough time to consider it, I’m sure there is an excellent possibility that I could accept it.

    However, again, as has already been suggested on this blog, every observable instance of information, where we can identify the source of that information, that source is intelligent. So while we may be able to come up with theoretical explanations (such as yours) for how information could arise without intelligence, we can not, or we have not, observed this taking place.

    Scientifically, what would you accept? The theory about how something could happen that has never been observed or proved. Or the facts concerning how something does happen, that is observed and documented countless times each day?

  21. December 24, 2010 9:18 PM

    My second sentence in the post below should be amended for clarity.

    “The motion of an object can be described by various variables: mass, velocity, momentum, shape, direction.”

    Should read: “The state of an object can be described by various variables: mass, velocity, momentum, shape, direction. Motion is a constituent of an objects particular state.”

  22. December 24, 2010 9:14 PM

    @Bryan:

    “a change in motion isn’t a transfer of information”

    Actually, it is. Per Newton’s 3 laws of motion. The motion of an object can be described by various variables: mass, velocity, momentum, shape, direction. (Shape would normally require the object to be a composite of more than one particle, but I believe we could argue a case in which a single particle could be ‘shaped’ in that some internal property, such as spin, was not uniform but directed in a favored direction, making it analogous to shape.) Change any of these and you change the information contained in the object. In other words, change any of these and you change the way the object is able to affect its environment.

    The ability of an object to affect its environment is all we are concerned about. The square has the potential to affect its environment according to its specific properties, as suggested above. So does the circle. Change the motion or path of the circle and you change its potential to do work. By changing it path, you may cause it to come within the effects of a nearby field where it will cause an action to take place which would not have taken place had its motion not been changed. Thus, its specific history is crucial to the state of a system to which it belongs.

    But let’s consider describing the square in a way that parallels the way atomic structures are built, as ultimately, when speaking of physical reality, we are speaking of atomic structures in general. Change the state of an atom and you change the way it can affect its environment. Again, that’s all we are concerned about. How does the system change?

    Consider the square as though it had atoms fixed to its 4 corners. Let’s say each of these atoms has a potential to bond with another atom which presently isn’t bonded to it. Consider the circle to be an amino acid with an additional atom attached which has the potential to bond to another atom which presently isn’t bonded to it. If this additional atom attached to the amino acid does bond to another atom, it releases the amino acid. This would create for us a completely natural system analogous to the crawler I described.

    Consider now a system n which a slurry of such circles (amino acids with attached atoms) flow into the environment of the square. Seemingly random motions of the circles brings four of them into contact with the corners of the square. Each of these four circles bonds at the corners and each releases its accompanying amino acid.

    Now our environment around the square has changed. It now contains a slurry of circles plus 4 free floating amino acids. The 4 amino acids record the number of vertices contained in the square (there is a one-to-one relationship between the free-floating amino acids and the vertices of the square). The 4 amino acids also have the potential to do work which is different from the potential the circles alone have. The range of possible events which can take place in this environment is different from the range of possible events which could take place before we had recorded the effect of the existence of the 4 vertices of the square.

    The atomic state of the environment, the system, is different from what it was before. The state of the environment contains evidence of its previously occurring events. These events can be counted and the 4 vertices of the square can be deduced. But it is not necessary to know the past consciously, or intelligently, in order to be affected by events which took place in the past. And that is all that matters.

    Nothing effectively different than this is taking place in DNA, RNA, and RNA-like molecules. If you are not thinking about how events take place with respect to one molecule interacting with another (such as RNA), then you aren’t thinking about the physics of the system. The physics of the system is all that is taking place and all that can be shown to be taking place. There is no conscious direction to these atomic events — the laws governing the behavior of particles is all that is necessary to deduce a system’s past and predict a system’s future. These atomic events take place because of the particular states of the constituent particles or molecules in the system. The specific states of the constituent particles depend upon the set of events which took place in each particles respective past, which includes their specific motions.

    It would help the case of ID immensely if you could identify the intelligent designer, describe its properties, and show by what means it is able to interact with matter. As presently, ID, as I understand it, posits the violation of the laws of nature, and the violation of the integrity of information.

    The properties of matter alone are sufficient to explain matter to matter interactions. This is what we observe taking place. Material processes are testable. There is no reason to believe that something other than matter and the laws of physics are responsible for the observed states of matter.

  23. Bryan permalink
    December 24, 2010 1:29 PM

    @stacey

    “The “state” of the circle changes because of information contained in the square (the square’s specific shape). The changes in motion take place in a one-to-one correlation, just as the changes affected in the crawler were one-to-one. There is nothing fancy going on here, only the mechanical transfer of information.”

    Again, Lacey, a change in motion isn’t a transfer of information. It’s just a change in motion. If the little crawler is just changing it’s motion, then I accept the fact that this action doesn’t require intelligence–but it also doesn’t constitute information. But if the change in motion is “creating” information, such as spitting out the difference amino acids, that does constitute information. As I mentioned twice before, even if one accepts that the shape of the square is the information (which I don’t know that I do), in order to get the “information” from the change in motion that results from impacting the square, we have to have an intelligent interpretation of the change in motion that triggers the release of the amino acid and thus the recording of the information. The recording aspect is what makes it information. If I can’t record it, then it isn’t information. If I have a route that I need to travel through the city and I travel it every day, that in and of itself isn’t information. If I record my route’s directions on a map, that is information. Even, if I had someone observe my route and learn it for themselves, the observation of me retracing the route could be argued to be information. But the key is, that route is only information because I (with intelligence) am retracing the same route, so it has meaning to those observing (on the other hand, if I’m just aimlessly careening about town, bouncing off cars and buildings and mailboxes, that doesn’t constitute information.) In the same way, the crawler, the circle, the square, whatever, is not creating or transferring information just by bouncing around off of different objects. If it records the results of it bouncing off objects, then we could say that yes, that is information–but simply changing direction, isn’t information, or the transfer of information. And if the crawler/circle/square does record the change in motion, by excreting specific amino acids, that act does require intelligence.

    If it hasn’t already become apparent to you yet, this particular debate hinges on what the definition of information is. I accept the generally accepted version of the definition, as determined by “scientific” research and our experience and observation, namely: “an ordered sequence of symbols or objects”. If you don’t accept this, then you would be wiser to spend your time arguing for the definition of information required by your theory, rather than typing paragraphs of very interesting and thought provoking theories about what happened after the big bang. These theories are absolutely well thought-out and valuable, but they are not germane to this discussion, because they are based entirely on a foundation of the definition of information that I, and many others, and all of our observation in the scientific domain, don’t agree with.

    Since you’re looking for verifiable, observable, repeatable evidence, why don’t you show us some of this evidence in relation to information being transferred and/or created without intelligence. This is one area where the IDers have absolutely got the physical evidence to back up their claim. There are no observable instances of non-intelligence creating information. That’s the point that yochi and others have been trying to demonstrate this whole blog.

  24. December 23, 2010 1:48 PM

    @Bryan,

    I have to disagree with the idea that it takes intelligent design to get information out of the square. The crawler moved along the edges of the square, and at the corners an action took place. An almost identical sequence of actions can take place without the use of the crawler. The crawler is superfluous to the action taking place.

    Consider an idealized 2-dimensional world (such as described in the book “Flatland”). Consider a square in this 2-dimensional world. Let’s say a circle is nearby, and a stream of water (a stream of anything will do) is flowing such that the circle is pushed toward the square. The circle connects with the square along one of its sides, but the forces of the stream continue to impart a tendency toward motion upon the circle. But the circle’s direction of motion is now being determined by the square. The square imparts a resistive force upon the circle. The circle, attempting to resolve the two forces, changes its direction of motion and moves toward one of the corners, and only when it reaches the corner does it change its direction once again.

    The “state” of the circle changes because of information contained in the square (the square’s specific shape). The changes in motion take place in a one-to-one correlation, just as the changes affected in the crawler were one-to-one. There is nothing fancy going on here, only the mechanical transfer of information.

    The circle will not change its state of motion at all if information — as the term is used in physics — is not transferred to the circle by the specific geometric nature of the square.

    This is stated clearly in Newton’s 3 laws of motion:

    1. a body at rest or in uniform motion will respectively remain at rest or in uniform motion unless acted upon by an external, unbalanced force;

    2. “The acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and inversely proportional to the mass of the object.” This can be written as F = ma.

    3. Every action is accompanied by an equal and opposite reaction.

    This is all that is taking place with the crawler, and this is all that is taking place in the Flatland example as well. The forces being experienced correspond to the specific exchange of information within the system.

    I have imagined that all of the motion in the universe is a direct result of the total amount of energy that was present at the moment of the Big Bang. This was the total amount of energy available for all possible motion throughout its entire future. There can be no more “activity” in the universe than is allowed for by the amount of energy that was available at the beginning of the system. Everything that has taken place and is taking place must draw on that initial amount of energy. I believe this is referred to as entropy. Entropy is increasing in the universe overall as everything heads toward an absolute minimal energy state, after which nothing else will be able to occur.

    This idea is probably a grossly inadequate description, as the sum total energy of the Big Bang is theorized to have been zero (or so I understand it to be). A balance of positive and negative came into existence at that moment (presently, I think space is theorized to comprise a negative energy, while matter comprises positive energy). So, the interactions of matter that are running down are balanced by the overall increasing separation and isolation of matter. The end result will be the complete isolation of every particle from every other particle, where no information of any sort can ever pass from one particle to another because the light horizon has been passed in every case (each particle will be receding from every other particle faster than light is able to travel between them, thus permanently isolating each particle from every other. Each particle will only know of its own existence and nothing else.)

    I think you are misled by my example in which I built a nanobot. There is no need for the nanobot; there is no need for an intelligence to build anything in order for information to pass from one particle or collection of particle to another particle or collection of particles. This should be obvious. I created the crawler example only to demonstrate that the information contained in the square is no different than the information contained in a DNA molecule, by making the transfer process appear the same; in reality, the transfer process is from particle to particle, not square to crawler. There is nothing but forces being imparted by one particle on another. In considering the crawler itself, you miss the point I was making in the argument. But as you can see, the crawler is unnecessary for the information in the square to alter the state of another object, which is all that was taking place, essentially, in the crawler example – the state of the crawler was being affected by the square. This is the what is meant by transfer of information. The state of the crawler changed due to information transferred to it by the square. One thing affects another. This is Newton’s 3 laws of motion, in a nutshell.

    Let’s look at it one more way. The beginning of the universe divided the substance of existence into matter and space (matter is being used here as both matter and energy, via E=mc^2), and matter acts on other matter in this space through any of several possible forces. Each particle of matter possessed a certain amount of information (its state information) which could, through various interactions, affect other particles of matter. There are 4 known forces which “froze” out of the initial, hypothesized single force at the very beginning. The strong force, for example, is an attractive force, such that, given certain space/time conditions, it will cause atoms to form. You might think of atoms as snowdrifts in a snow storm. The forces of nature conspired to create snowdrifts which we call atoms. The information of the constituent particles within the atoms is collected in one place, or within a tight space, where their combination may cause new properties and behavior to arise, new ways for that collective information to affect other particles or atoms.

    Now, fast forward to the force of gravity. Gravity can cause atoms to gather together into galaxies, stars, and planets. Again, think of a snowdrift in a snow storm. The forces of nature conspired to create the snowdrifts we call galaxies. The forces within galaxies conspired to create snowdrifts we call stars. The forces within stellar nebula conspired to create snowdrifts we call planets. More things can happen in a snowdrift of tightly collected atoms because things are being brought closer together where interactions, and exchanges of information, become even more likely than in the dispersed snow storm of free floating atoms.

    Now, again, on a planet’s surface, there is an influx of energy: one source of energy is radiative energy coming from the planet’s interior. The heat there resulted from the snowdrift effect of gravity having packed the planet’s atoms tightly together. The second source of energy comes from the local star around which the planet orbits. Both of these energy sources prevent the surface of the planet from quickly cooling to near absolute zero, which it would do without these sources of energy; without a net input of energy to the planet’s surface, interactions of particles would slow or cease altogether.

    We have a planet, then, filled with many kinds of atoms in a tight space, and it is being constantly warmed: the warming sustains a high level of interaction between the planet’s surface atoms. The forces of motion and forces of electromagnetism, which are the means by which information contained within atomic states is transferred, frequently and continually affect the states of neighboring atoms. Arrangements of atoms begin to associate themselves via the electromagnetic force. Molecules form. Again, molecules are another snowdrift of collected information. The discrete bits of information of the individual atoms are now collected into a tightly associated form.

    DNA is a snowdrift of information. The discrete units of information that were at one time dispersed, have come together by virtue of all of the attractive and affective forces existent in the universe. Had the universe begun with only repulsive forces, there would be no snowdrifts anywhere of any kind.

    Snowdrifts of information exist because the laws of nature facilitate the appearance of more and more complex and contained structures. There would be no elements heavier than Hydrogen and Helium were it not for the attractive force of gravity which created huge snowdrifts of Hydrogen and Helium (stars), causing these elements to be packed closer and closer to each other until atomic nuclei came close enough to each other for the strong force to change the state of the formerly independent nuclei. Fusion occurred.

    There is nothing miraculous about finding snowdrifts of information in this universe. If you wish to posit a miracle, the only reasonable place for it to have occurred is at the very beginning of the universe, as that is where our knowledge of the laws of physics is still grossly incompetent. (By the same reasoning, we might also say God exists inside of Black Holes, where we fear there is an end to the existence of information, as that is one other place where our knowledge of the laws of physics is still grossly incompetent.) But do realize, the word miracle means, in effect, we don’t know. It doesn’t mean God exists, it means we don’t know anything about that moment. But if you need to insist that only God can explain what cannot be explained (a seeming oxymoron), this implies only a deist God, which is not the kind of god that most believers want to believe in. But it is the only kind of god that is consistent with the known facts of the universe.

  25. Bryan permalink
    December 22, 2010 6:11 PM

    Lacey,

    Thanks for the very detailed description of the little crawler and how it spits out amino acids. As your description illustrates, there is an incredible amount of thought and intelligence that went into your design. That is the point that Yochi has been trying to make to you. Yes, you can extrapolate information from a geometrical shape, but:

    #1. That doesn’t necessarily prove that the shape contains the information, just that something else extrapolated information based on the shape. In the same way, we wouldn’t say that all of the information in the theory of evolution came from the objects in time and space. The information and the theory itself required intelligent minds to observe the matter, the shapes, the molecules, etc. and from these observations, make inferences and create the textbooks and papers that we have today that contain the information.

    #2. Again, no one’s disagreeing that we can’t get information from a square. Absolutely we can. It has 4 right angles, 4 sides with equal dimensions that we can measure, a diagonal that has a consistent relationship to the length of a side, etc. However, as you’ve also demonstrated, in order to “get” even the most basic information from the square, it takes an incredible amount of intelligence to design the information gatherer, or the “crawler” from your example.

    Put another way, proving the point that your crawler can get information from a square means relatively little in this debate because that doesn’t prove the information is in the square shape itself and the crawler needs intelligent design in order to develop the means to collect the information in the first place.

  26. December 22, 2010 8:54 AM

    @Bryan:

    This is not a theory that I am proposing, it is a method for extracting information from a square, using a method similar to what occurs with DNA. I proposed this method in response to Yochi’s claim that there is no information contained in a square. I say there is information contained in a square, as well as in everything else, and this device would extract it and transform it into a non-random set of amino acids.

    I used amino acids as the product of the device simply to make a parallel to DNA. (Yochi claimed the only other place information is found, other than man-made information, is in DNA) The device could just as easily pop out smiley faces (researchers have coaxed DNA into self-assembling itself into smiley faces, among other novel geometric arrangements).

    The mechanics of how to make something pop out is relatively unimportant: a nanotechnologist could figure out how to do this, as it is a simple (or possibly complex) mechanical problem. With enough knowledge, and the proper knowledge, it could be done. The thing is, I described how, when the crawler comes to a corner, a switch is thrown in just one of two possible ways. If the switch is thrown left, you perform action A; if the switch is thrown right, you perform action B. This is simply an engineering problem. Action A corresponds to releasing amino acid A, action B corresponds to releasing amino acid B.

    If the engineering bothers you, we could make the device simply using two boxes. In one box you have a bunch of amino acid A’s, in the other box you have lots of amino acid B’s. When the switch is thrown in the A direction, a door opens in the first box and an amino acid A is released. If it is thrown in the B direction the door to the other box is opened and a B amino acid is released. It’s a trivial action, but it is also a directed action.

    Getting the crawler to crawl is another engineering problem. While you could provide it with its own motor, it might be easier if you utilized the electromagnetic forces of the mechanism and how it interacts with those same forces of the square. If the square (square is a generalization of any geometric shape) is constructed only of turns, then at every turn, when the switch is thrown, the door release mechanism operates, which would advance the crawler, which would close the door, which would be repeated at the next turn.

    Now, there might be a problem of where do you get the energy to move this little crawler? You could use a battery, but we’d like the thing to be completely self-sufficient. Carrying our amino acids with us might not be the best method. If the amino acids are free-floating, then when they are captured to form bonds with the previous amino acid, we might free some energy, mechanical or electromagnetic, which could be utilized by the crawler for its motion. This would be a task for a particle physicist.

    With DNA, or more rightly RNA, the crawler is probably more like a ratchet device which ratchets itself along the backbone of the RNA. Each time it captures the proper free-floating amino acid, it triggers the ratchet mechanism (utilizing released energy, as described above) which moves it up one notch along the RNA molecule. (I could imagine it working best if the ratchet had a tendency simply be propelled freely along the backbone by the naturally occurring forces, but it is stopped by the ratchet’s own constriction which is only alleviated by the capture of the proper amino acid.) Which amino acid is captured depends on the specific electromagnetic properties caused by the particular arrangement of protein molecules of the ratchet combined with the specific nucleotide grouping in position next to the ratchet (combinations of A, C, G, and T). My understanding of how this mechanism actually works is rather sketchy, so I encourage you to research this on your own. This is only my best guess.

    The thing is, I proposed a crawler mechanism for the square in which a switch is thrown in just two possible directions. The RNA ratcheting mechanism, however, has something like 22 different switch configurations (I think it’s actually more, but only 22 are used for constructing proteins), allowing 22 different amino acids to be output. It is also constructed such that the amino acids that are output are linked together. The same could probably be done with my device, thus avoiding the need to construct the amino acids themselves: the device would simply utilize amino acids floating freely in a soupy mixture in which the square and the device are imbedded.

    My device, then, pops out amino acids according to the structure of the geometrical shape it is crawling along. With respect to this structure, the output is meaningful, as it will always output in the same way, no matter how many times you repeat the process (it’s non-random; and of course, there is room for mutations to occur, mistakes in the transcription of the geometric shape, the square in this case).

    The information in DNA only has meaning with respect to the ratcheting mechanism and what that mechanism produces. Beyond that is another level of utilization of those products. The products themselves have no awareness of their purpose. Nor does DNA have any awareness that it contains information. Our definition of information is dependent upon one thing having an effect on another, and that’s it.

    The purpose of all this is to show that the same mechanism which extracts information from DNA can be used to extract information from any other arrangement of matter as well, showing that information is contained in everything, thus contradicting the assumption that information is only created by intelligence in the initial statement of Yochi’s ID argument.

    This leaves room for Yochi to possibly argue for a deist God, as deism is the only form of God which is consistent with all known facts of the universe. But even this must give way if ever we are able to demonstrate the existence of a multiverse.

    > Bryan: “The second question is if we need this little miraculous mechanical crawler to make left and right turns to pop out the amino acids in order to create the informational structures of DNA that are required to create life, how did we get the crawler in the first place before we had the DNA we needed to create life?”

    As I stated, I was not directly attempting to duplicate life but only to show that everything in the universe contains information, and that simple arguments involving ‘information’ and ‘intelligence’ do not demonstrate that an Intelligent Designer must exist.

    As for how these mechanisms of living cells came to be the way that they are, this would require a great deal of research, perhaps more than one lifetime of research, to resolve. From what I have read, RNA is able to catalyze itself in reproducing itself and in producing proteins. Thus, there may have been no need for a crawler mechanism initially since RNA is able to fit into this role. RNA is also able to form naturally. This is referred to as the RNA World hypothesis.

  27. Bryan permalink
    December 21, 2010 5:47 PM

    @Lacey

    Yes, I understand the concept of a mechanism. The question is, how do we get a crawler that has this mechanical mechanism that consistently pops out only amino acid ‘x’ on the left turn and only amino acid ‘y’ on the right turn? As in, how do we go from a crawler that doesn’t pop out amino acids in any meaningful way (or any at all) to one that does pop them out in a meaningful (read designed) way?

    The second question is if we need this little miraculous mechanical crawler to make left and right turns to pop out the amino acids in order to create the informational structures of DNA that are required to create life, how did we get the the crawler in the first place before we had the DNA we needed to create life?

    Your extraordinary theory, is going to require extraordinary evidence that does not contain nearly the number of “ifs” and “woulds” it currently does.

  28. December 20, 2010 11:30 PM

    @Bryan:

    > Me: “If it made a right hand turn it would pop out a different amino acid.”

    > Bryan: “But how does it know to spit out the different amino acid on the right turn?”

    I called the thing a mechanistic crawler. It would be a mechanical process. A left hand turn is physically different from a right hand turn, so it would connect with the crawler in different locations. This would permit it to behave differently depending on which turn was encountered. If we can build a nanobot to do this, it could probably be constructed even smaller out of protein molecules…IF we understood proteins better than we do.

    > “Unless you’re willing to accept the destruction of the meaning of the word “information”, then it exists in DNA.”

    Read more of what I say; I do not say information does not exist in DNA. I say information exists in everything. This is the way the physical universe works.

  29. December 20, 2010 11:21 PM

    @Yochi:

    > “Do you know any computer languages, or have you done any computer programming? Just curious.”

    Yes. I go back to the computer punch card days and mini-disks which had to be loaded into the machine when a user requested a particular disk. I’m not proficient in any computer language, but I’ve dealt with a number of them, including assembler. Debugging is a bitch.

    In response to your still questioning my example of the square, I will attempt to describe it yet one more way (or several more ways), in hopes that you will grasp what I’m trying to say, and why a simple 3-line argument using the words ‘information’ and ‘intelligence’ is far too misleading to give one confidence in any conclusions drawn from their use (in the way the argument stands). — My apologies for another long post, but it seemed necessary.

    As for the square/information problem, it is somewhat like trying to say at what point chemical processes constitute life, and at what point it is not life. I do believe, based on everything I have read about abiogenesis, that the distinction between what can be called life and what “should not” is quite fuzzy. In other words, the dividing line is arbitrary, and is subject to how we choose to define things. There are many physical processes which look and behave like life processes, but for our lack of knowledge, we aren’t able to say just what it should be called. Life; proto-life; prelife; life-like; pseudo-life? A cell is definitely alive, but many of the processes within cells have been observed occurring on their own, independent of cellular machinery. Is this life? These things we have observed seem to be prerequisites to life, but are they life themselves? These observed processes behave like life on a smaller scale; they code; they reproduce; they form cells; they ingest; they expell; they create order; they modify their environment. All of these things are required for a cell to function, and we have observed all of them occurring on their own, naturally. What do we call it?

    Definitions do not determine what reality is, but we are forced to categorize semi-arbitrarily in order that we can talk about reality. For instance, the reclassification of the planet…excuse me, the dwarf planet Pluto is a good example. Our solar system had 9 planets for almost my entire life, and now suddenly we (the group I a member of, homo sapiens, which may be clearly defined over short spans of time, but becomes fuzzy over long spans) decide to redefine what we mean by planet, mainly because we have begun discovering hundreds of new planets and planet-like bodies out there. Astronomers wanted a more precise definition. So now, Pluto is no longer a planet. But Pluto hasn’t changed one bit. We changed. Our categorization changed in order to make better sense of all the new information coming in from our telescopes.

    The situation is just the same with the word ‘information.’ Yes, information is contained in genomes. But how little can you get away with and still call it information, or should it be called proto-information? You see, there is a fuzzy area. If you define information strictly, there must be a fuzzy area where you can’t be sure that what you are looking at qualifies as information or proto-information. From what I understand, a genome of only 220 base pairs still functions as a living thing. So, what then do we call it if you remove one of the base pairs? If the organism dies, the 219 base pairs still contains information, does it not? In fact, it contains 99.55 percent of the information of the 220 base pair strand. Since when does information mean the thing containing the information must be alive? Is DNA alive? Or is the entire ensemble of machinery inside the cell, which includes the DNA, alive? I would say that DNA itself is not alive, but is merely a molecule, a very large one. So, life does not seem to be a prerequisite for the existence of information.

    A square qualifies as information, as I have been arguing. A square need not be alive to contain this information. It produces a code, based on its physical arrangement of parts (just like DNA), only that code is only 4 letters long, and repeats after that. You could create codes from other geometric shapes, such as snowflakes, upon which a crawler could translate the information contained in the shape into some particular ordering of molecular structures. The thing doesn’t have to be alive in order to be or to contain information. Given the rules for translation, we must be able to find specific geometric shapes which correspond to particular outputs. LLRLLLRRRLLRRRLLLRRRR and so forth is a code defined by the object’s geometric shape. If there were some method of natural selection which preserved certain geometric shapes (codes) based on certain favored outputs, then the arrangement of L’s and R’s would become highly ordered, producing a highly ordered output. And if there were a way for the geometric shape to grow, there would be no end to what natural selection could produce.

    I’m not saying the snowflake crawler actually exists, but only that it could (the laws of physics, as far as I know, don’t forbid it — I already mentioned there exists a precedent for its possible existence). But if it produced anything at all, that seems to be the only requirement that you gave in order for the template (the snowflake) to be considered to contain information. And there is nothing which states that the mechanistic crawler must be naturally occurring in order to make use of this information in the square (or snowflake); there’s nothing that says the crawler can’t be a nanobot constructed by us, using naturally occurring atoms, arranged in ways permitted by the laws of physics.

    Yes, there is information in everything, and I don’t say that simply to preserve a worldview. I say it because it seems to fit the definition of the word information as it is used in physics.

    Information is conveyed from one boson to another via the photon, or so I understand it to be. Electrons convey information between each other via the electromagnetic force, or the photon. This is what is being exchanged when a cell’s crawler moves along an RNA molecule. The electromagnetic force conveys the most rudimentary kind of information, akin to assembler language. It conveys information about position, bonding strength, sharing strength, and such, and that information is used, automatically, naturally, to change the environment of the electrons (the quantum state, as physicists call it). The exchange of this information from particle to particle potentially gives rise to atomic associations, or molecular arrangements.

    The folding of proteins is highly dependent upon how the information contained in the strings of amino acids causes the strings to behave. The folding is a direct result of the information contained in the amino acid strings. Higher orders of information can occur with every new chemical arrangement of matter, none of which would be forbidden by the laws of physics. If we discover that a thing exists, then the laws of physics must be such that they allow such an arrangement of matter to exist. If the laws did not permit it, it would not exist. That’s probably a tautology, but it is a true tautology. Nothing exists which is forbidden by the laws of physics. Discovering the existence of new arrangements of matter that we did not anticipate quite often forces us to reassess our understanding of the laws of physics. Our understanding of the laws, of course, is not the laws themselves. The laws exist independent of our understanding of them. And even there we are categorizing in order to understand. The laws might become fuzzy under certain circumstances. We have to take this into account when observing nature.

    If you want to define ‘information’ as being only what humans create and DNA, then you need to write something which specifically allows no proto-processes, proto-molecules, proto-intelligence to fall into a fuzzy zone. But I would say, no matter how you define information, there is going to be a fuzzy zone. There are differences in information, but in physics, every interaction is an exchange of information. That is the assembler language version of information.

  30. J. Orchard permalink
    December 20, 2010 9:40 PM

    @ yochi

    I know programming languages, and I agree with Lacey Stinson’s general view of things. What’s on your mind?

    I’ve given ID a critical analysis on Skeptic North (http://www.skepticnorth.com/2010/08/intelligent-design/)

  31. Bryan permalink
    December 20, 2010 7:23 PM

    “If it made a right hand turn it would pop out a different amino acid.”

    But how does it know to spit out the different amino acid on the right turn?

    All the mental gymnastics in the world aren’t going to change the reality of the existence of information in the genome. Far superior minds than yours have failed to produce a logical argument against this in many debates.

    There are different approaches that are more successful, but this is not one of them. Unless you’re willing to accept the destruction of the meaning of the word “information”, then it exists in DNA.

  32. yochi permalink
    December 20, 2010 6:09 PM

    @Lacey Stinson

    A square doesn’t contain information about squareness, it is squareness. It doesn’t contain any information about right angles, it is made up of right angles.

    >DNA is no different. DNA does not produce amino acids, but rather a crawler molecule, acting according to specific rules inherent in its physical makeup, produces a non-random output according to what it encounters as it crawls. This is no different from the example of the square, only a bit more complex.

    You keep describing things that sound like the working mechanisms of a computer, or a punch card loom. I guess were going to have to take the “Information” out of “Information Technology”, and just call it “Technology”. Or maybe we should just call it “Chemistry”, since everything has information in it.

    I think you are trying to broaden the meaning of information to fit your need to maintain your world view.

    Do you know any computer languages, or have you done any computer programming? Just curious.

  33. December 20, 2010 5:56 PM

    @Yohi,

    Here’s another way to view this “initial conditions” problem in your argument:

    “1) Any time we find information, it comes from an intelligent source
    2) DNA contains information
    3) Therefore the information in DNA comes from an intelligent source.”

    Implied in statement 1) are all of the known intelligent sources, which are:

    1. Brains; example: dogs and humans.
    2. Nature itself; example: naturally occurring brains.
    3. ?; example: ?

    Hmmm. Is it reasonable to add:

    4. A supernatural entity; example: Zeus

    No, that doesn’t really work, does it? We can’t use Zeus as an example because it can’t be shown that Zeus exists, nor any other supernatural entity (such as Hermes, Shiva, Vishnu, God, unnamed intelligent designer, etc.), at least not at this point in the argument. It cannot be assumed that supernatural entities exist if it is our goal to show that supernatural entities exist. But we know that brains exist, and that brains produce intelligence. If brains form naturally, via natural processes and the laws of physics, then nature can be included as a source for intelligence as shown in possibility 2. That is, we can’t rule out that nature might be able to produce intelligence in a way that would not be called a brain. That is a bit vague, specifically because we don’t know of any other way intelligence can exist other than brains. But then again, we only have one planet as our reference as to what is possible according to natural laws, even though it is theorized (with some good hard evidence to support it) that there are trillions and trillions of planets out there as yet unexplored. We just don’t know if nature can create intelligence in any other way than through a brain.

    It’s entirely possible that brains were responsible for the DNA on earth, but that would still leave us with the question of where those brains came from (assuming they did not come from earth, such as from our own future, or something of the sort). Do brains arise naturally, once multi-cellular life begins? Does cell-to-cell communication have a high probability of evolving into a central nervous system? If so, why do plants lack this? Or do they? (Is there a biologist here who can answer that?) Is there anything that suggest brains cannot arise naturally? And if so, how can brains be explained if not by natural processes? If there is nothing forbidding brains from evolving, then possibility 2 above should be considered.

    A second way to look at it is like a math problem, where you are able to DISPROVE an assumption in your initial statement by arriving at a conclusion which contradicts that assumption. But I don’t think it works the other way, namely that if we start with an (unproven) assumption and reach a conclusion which does not contradict the assumption, it does not mean we have proved the assumption true, it merely means our assumption can at best be a possible solution. More research is required. Disproving an assumption is easy because the contradiction says very clearly our initial assumption must be wrong, as long as our logic is correct.

    I have to admit, if I were a Creationist, I would like the sound of the 3-point argument above, but unfortunately, it has serious problems, as we’ve been pointing out. The problem, to me, is in step 1), where we limit information to ONLY being produced by intelligence, for instance. I believe this limitation is misleading. Secondly, referring to intelligence without specifying the possible sources of that intelligence is also misleading. Both of these assumptions lead to conclusions which might not be founded in a proper premise.

    I have no problems with DNA containing information, but I would also argue that squares contain information, and that, as I showed in my previous post, squares have the potential to non-randomly create amino acids… IF the right molecular machinery were to use the square as a template or code for building those amino acids. I do not believe the laws of physics forbid such molecular machinery from existing, and in fact, we have examples of just such kinds of molecular machinery existing within cells. This machinery is molecular in composition, and therefore we have no reason to suppose that anything but laws of physics are operative in this machinery (we do not believe the machinery thinks). I would not refer to the square/amino acid machine as life, but it would certainly resemble some of life’s processes.

  34. yochi permalink
    December 20, 2010 5:48 PM

    @humesghost

    >It is well known that the hominids evolved, over a period of approximately 3.14 million years, from a rosy coloured species in the herring family. Remarkably, it appears that the herring genome contained about twice as much information as the human genome, thus confirming Yochi’s hypothesis.

    That, my friend, was brilliant humor. Thank you. It made my day.

    But if you read my previous posts, I specifically theorized that at least one hominid evolved from a hamster-elderberry hybrid.

    You know, I understand what your are saying in your flying to the moon example. But it has never done anyone any good when arguing for the supernatural. There could be a God. There could be a flying spaghetti monster as well. (Blessed be his glorious noodlage.) We could also theorize on how stonehenge could have been built. But how did they really build it? There could be multiple viable theories, but there would only be one reality.

    This site merely asked for extraordinary evidence. DNA is extraordinary, in that it contains information. There is nothing we have ever seen that contains information that is not from an intelligence. So, the task would be to prove that the information in DNA doesn’t come from an intelligence. But I suppose you can just reverse that thought and say prove that it did. Stalemate.

    SETI has been looking at and listening to the sky, searching for anything they could consider information. The information would be proof that there is intelligent life out there. What if we found a signal broadcasting prime numbers? (as in the movie Contact) Some people would say that there isn’t anything that could produce such a signal, therefore it is proof of intelligent life. I could turn around and say, well it could be the result of (insert some viable theory). Would that prove that the signal wasn’t from an intelligence? No, it would not. Would my theory prove it was generated by a natural cause? No, it would not. Would the SETI community vehemently appose me and my viable theory? My opinion, subject to error, is that they would.

    I think that we will argue this until the cows come home, or until (your favorite deity here) returns.

  35. December 20, 2010 4:40 PM

    @Yochi,

    regarding your description of a snowflake: in principle, it id no different than the description of a photograph of a square. The photograph of the square contains information about squareness, about angles, about specific types of angles, and what happens when four points are joined using only these specific types of angles. This is all information which describes a square. The photo of the square describes itself (it is a square after all), but it is also an abstract representation of all squares everywhere in the universe. It is information which refers to things other than itself.

    We could have a little crawler molecule inch along the lines of the square, and every time it made a left hand turn it popped out a particular type of amino acid. If it made a right hand turn it would pop out a different amino acid. The product produced by this crawling molecule is non-random: the product is determined by the information in the square.

    DNA is no different. DNA does not produce amino acids, but rather a crawler molecule, acting according to specific rules inherent in its physical makeup, produces a non-random output according to what it encounters as it crawls. This is no different from the example of the square, only a bit more complex.

    There is information in a photo of a square, just as there is information in DNA, or any other molecule.

  36. humesghost permalink
    December 20, 2010 2:55 PM

    It is well known that the hominids evolved, over a period of approximately 3.14 million years, from a rosy coloured species in the herring family. Remarkably, it appears that the herring genome contained about twice as much information as the human genome, thus confirming Yochi’s hypothesis.

  37. yochi permalink
    December 20, 2010 2:28 PM

    Now watch the PI thing become an ad hominem argument, or a red herring.

  38. yochi permalink
    December 20, 2010 2:03 PM

    Ok, I will cede the PI thing. When I first read about this a few years ago, I shared it with a good number of people, and no one every came back and said it was a joke. When quickly looking for an article about it now, I didn’t read past the article. found a couple, but didn’t look past the main article on the watleyreview.com site. I do read The Onion now (didn’t back then), and it does sound like something they would do, but I could not find a reference to it there. Did this originate with watleyreview.com?

    So, jokes on me. But it was just an aside comment.

  39. December 20, 2010 12:13 PM

    @Yochi:

    >>Yochi says the thought in Schrödinger’s mind doesn’t contain ‘information’.

    > “That isn’t exactly what I said. It may have been better for me to say that the thought in his mind wasn’t pre-existing in his physical or chemical structure. It originated in his intellect. To say that the information “in” the designer had to come from somewhere else is like saying people can’t think up new thoughts.”

    > “DNA can’t think, though. So the information had to come from somewhere.”

    So, information creates itself inside brains (no external source is required), but you claim it cannot create itself in molecular structures? But since we know information can create itself, this must remain a a possibility in the case of DNA as well.

    You argue my side: Information is able to come into existence through natural processes — this is what you are agruing when you say information is created within brains without the need of external sources. Therefore, we have cause to assume it may also be possible that DNA is able to self-assemble and to create information, without the need for an outside source.

    >> I said: “(There is an infinite regress implied in Yochi’s 3-part argument (an argument which I showed is circular in that it assumes in statement #1 what it attempts to prove, which is that intelligence can exist independently from a brain).”

    > Yochi said: “Again, like an intelligence can’t have new ideas. My argument is not circular, because it does not presume the result in it’s conclusion. If DNA did not contain information, then my argument would not hold, and I wouldn’t conclude that it came from an intelligent source.”

    This has little to do with whether or not DNA contains information. This is ONLY about your FIRST statement. Your first statement presumes what the entire argument attempts to prove, namely that INTELLIGENCE CAN EXIST INDEPENDENT OF BRAINS.

    If this is not the presumption being made in statement #1, then we should be able to replace the word ‘intelligence’ with the word ‘brain’ and still have a logically consistent argument. But the argument fails when we do this. YOU ARE PRESUMING that intelligence can exist independent of brains, and you have no justification for presuming this, because this is exactly what you are attempting to prove.

    My conclusion that the argument is circular is correct. You presume what you are attempting to prove (which is NOT that DNA was created by intelligence, but that intelligence can exist independent of brains).

    Furthermore, Sergei’s argument that the first statement, as you have written it, also implies an infinite regress.

  40. December 20, 2010 10:31 AM

    Yochi: “Read these:
    http://www.watleyreview.com/2004/062904-3.html
    http://www.investintech.com/content/pifinders/
    Pi has indeed been resolved to approximately 1.3511 trillion digits.”

    Oh Yochi, surely you are not that credulous? Oh wait, you get most of your information from creationist websites. Obviously, you are that credulous….

    Three reasons why anybody with an ounce of sense wouldn’t believe the claim that pi only has 1.3511 trillion digits:
    1. If you know anything about mathematics, it’s obviously absurd
    2. The article is clearly satirical. (You do know that The Onion is fake, and that Stephen Colbert isn’t really a conservative, don’t you?)
    3. Just look at the website: the masthead to “The Watley Review” contains the motto: “Journalism, Schmournalism”!
    (Or perhaps this is a credible website. Surely this article is 100% true: http://www.watleyreview.com/2005/091305-3.html)

  41. yochi permalink
    December 20, 2010 10:28 AM

    I notice that this didn’t post, and says “awaiting moderation”. I think it had to do with my links.

    @Andy

    I said “They did find the end of Pi a few years ago.”

    You said “Wrong.Educate yourself in maths, specifically irrational numbers, oh and while you’re at it yoshi, read some biology text books (not creationist ones).”

    I tried to post links about this, but I think that hung it up. Just google “pi 1.3511″ And you will find articles about how a couple of Japanese mathematicians resolved pi to 1.3511 trillion places. They didn’t mean to do it, they even apologized. They were just shooting for a world record, which they got. And it looks like they are going to keep it, too. I suppose it could be challenged by other mathematicians, but Andy, I do educate myself in maths. I don’t just rely on what I remember from school.

    And I believe that Erik has addressed the textbook point:

    >Sorry, but I’ve got 3 (I happen to be a Biochemistry major), and I haven’t stumbled across a single one of these alleged ‘hundreds of examples,’ yet.

  42. humesghost permalink
    December 20, 2010 10:04 AM

    >>>>However, you could prove that a natural processes DOES create information. Haven’t seen it yet, though.

    Hmm. Perhaps that’s because you keep ignoring all of the examples that are given, and that litter the field of evolutionary research. Or perhaps it’s because you refuse to accept any evidence for actual evolution unless you see it happening before your eyes.

    >>>>You know, saying that evolution could produce information, and demonstrating that it actually does are two different things.

    Except that you are claiming that evolution can’t produce information, so proving that evolution could produce information is enough to show your claim false.

    If someone were to claim, say, that man could never fly to the moon, it would only be necessary to describe a possible mechanism, with appropriate calculations of escape velocity, etc, to prove the claim false. Even if the absurd conspiracy theorists were right that the moon landings were faked, we would know that it is possible to do this. The only way to justify the claim would be to show that the proposed mechanism didn’t work. With evolution, there are several proposed mechanisms for adding information. You haven’t given a single reason to think they don’t work – because you can’t.

    I’m tired of making this same point over and over again, that you are obviously too stubborn to recognize. I’m not going to try again.

  43. yochi permalink
    December 20, 2010 9:34 AM

    >Yochi says the thought in Schrödinger’s mind doesn’t contain ‘information’.

    That isn’t exactly what I said. It may have been better for me to say that the thought in his mind wasn’t pre-existing in his physical or chemical structure. It originated in his intellect. To say that the information “in” the designer had to come from somewhere else is like saying people can’t think up new thoughts.

    DNA can’t think, though. So the information had to come from somewhere.

    >(There is an infinite regress implied in Yochi’s 3-part argument (an argument which I showed is circular in that it assumes in statement #1 what it attempts to prove, which is that intelligence can exist independently from a brain).

    Again, like an intelligence can’t have new ideas. My argument is not circular, because it does not presume the result in it’s conclusion. If DNA did not contain information, then my argument would not hold, and I wouldn’t conclude that it came from an intelligent source.

    @humesghost

    >Well, you keep saying this, but you haven’t given a single cogent reason why evolution can’t produce “information” (in your, not entirely coherent, sense). Several mechanisms have been listed for how evolution can produce information, and I gave one specific example (RNASE1 and RNASE1B). Either give a reason why these mechanisms could not add information, or stop making this unfounded claim.

    You know, saying that evolution could produce information, and demonstrating that it actually does are two different things. The premise that all swans are white would hold true until we found some black swans. My first premise holds true until we demonstrate it false.

    I was going to say that I could come up with some sort of theory of how lead actually could turn into gold. However, it appears to have been done, so I guess the alchemists were right after all. “Soviet physicists at a nuclear research facility near Lake Baikal in Siberia accidentally discovered a reaction for turning lead into gold when they found the lead shielding of an experimental reactor had changed to gold.” (I’d post the link, but whenever I include a link, my post doesn’t appear.)

  44. yochi permalink
    December 20, 2010 9:20 AM

    @Lacey Stinson

    Let’s talk about your snow flake again. Your snowflake has certain properties. It is made primarily of hydrogen and oxygen in a chemical bond form which we call water. There are other components which we could call impurities. It’s temperature is at most zero degrees celsius, but probably colder. It has crystalline structure that results in a pattern that is dependent, among other things, on the temperature at which it formed.

    Now let’s look at a book. It also has certain properties. It is a collection of “pages” bound together. Maybe it has a cover that has different properties. It may be a stiff cover, or it may be flexible. The pages may be made entirely from wood pulp paper, or they may contain a certain percentage of cotton fibre. The pages may be bound together with “saddle stitching” or “perfect binding”. We could count the number of pages in the book. We could also not what type of ink was used, be it petroleum or soy based, and what typeface was used for the text.

    We could take both the snowflake and the book and make a duplicate of it that had the same properties as the original. We could also make changes to the properties. We could put more pages in the book, for example. Maybe we could color the snowflakes pink.

    However, and this is the point, we can open the book and read the text. Maybe it states “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” We continue reading our book and learn that a man named Abraham Lincoln said these words after a battle at Gettysburg, PA during the Civil War.

    DNA has properties: “DNA consists of two long polymers of simple units called nucleotides, with backbones made of sugars and phosphate groups joined by ester bonds. These two strands run in opposite directions to each other and are therefore anti-parallel. Attached to each sugar is one of four types of molecules called bases.” (wikipedia)

    But DNA doesn’t stop there: “The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints, like a recipe or a code, since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells, such as proteins and RNA molecules… It is the sequence of these four bases along the backbone that encodes information. This information is read using the genetic code, which specifies the sequence of the amino acids within proteins. The code is read by copying stretches of DNA into the related nucleic acid RNA, in a process called transcription.” (wikipedia)

    That is what makes DNA different from your snowflake. A snowflake doesn’t contain any information.

  45. yochi permalink
    December 20, 2010 9:14 AM

    Oops, here is the rest of that post. I didn’t copy it all.

    You then look at the print out enough that you commit the image to memory. Then the next time you hear the name “Abraham Lincoln”, this image comes to mind.

    My point in all this is that the image of Abraham Lincoln is the information. The MEDIUM in which it is transferred is NOT the information, but CONTAINS the information.

  46. yochi permalink
    December 20, 2010 9:13 AM

    @Lacey Stinson

    >I believe by the Miriam-Webster definition you provided for information, “pattern” qualifies. It mentions pictures as being able to contain information.

    Once there was a photographer who took a photograph of Abraham Lincoln. He did so by allowing the light that reflected off of Abraham’s face to pass through a lens to be focused on a piece of glass that was coated with an emulsion of silver halide. Silver halide is light sensitive and therefore the image of the President is stored in the arrangement of silver halide crystals left on the glass plate.

    That glass plate was used to create a printing plate via another process. The printing plate then shows the image. The printing plate was used to produce a textbook containing the image of Abraham Lincoln.

    That glass plate ( or some other copy of the picture ) was scanned into a computer and stored as a jpeg compressed image file via magnetic polarity patterns in a disk of cobalt alloy. You can google “Abraham Lincoln photograph” and find one. (I tried to paste a link, but I think the website is prohibiting that)

    When you click on the link above, the image is transferred via packeted electrical patterns over copper wire and fibre optic cable to your computer, where it is displayed in a grid of liquid crystals.

    You could then print the picture to your ink jet printer, where the image would be represented by droplets of ink arranged in a stochastic pattern on piece of wood pulp based paper.

  47. yochi permalink
    December 20, 2010 9:12 AM

    @humesghost

    >Now turn to Yochi’s argument. We used to only know of “information” that derived from human ingenuity. Then, premise 1 seemed reasonable. But then, we discovered DNA, and the theories of evolution and genetics provided a model for how DNA structures could become more complicated over time by natural processes. This discovery refutes premise 1), unless it can be shown that that information COULD NOT have come from natural processes alone. Clearly, it is begging the question to refer to premise 1) itself to show this. All the prominent ID theorists understand this – that’s why they try (and fail) to show that there is an in principle barrier to naturalistic evolution. Why can’t Yochi see this?

    You could never prove that natural processes could not create information. You would have to keep doing it forever. You would have to find every natural process in the universe and show that it doesn’t create information. However, you could prove that a natural processes DOES create information. Haven’t seen it yet, though. And to say that DNA is an example is begging the question. It would need to be demonstrated that it actually does create new information.

  48. December 20, 2010 8:55 AM

    >>>>(Question: if you were designing the eye for your creation, would you design it several times differently – and get most of them inside out?)

    I know what you’re thinking of, but they’re not “inside out.” That’s just your preconceptions talking again.

    >>>>You are aware that the Cambrian lasted over 50 million years, right?

    And the ‘explosion’ has recently been reduced to 10 million years of time for it to occur.

    >>>>Actually, no. This is how creationists define evolution. Scientists know that the theory of evolution explains how life evolved from the first life forms to the current life forms. How that first simple life form came about is a different topic – one that hasn’t been settled yet.

    It’s a meaningless distinction because you still need to account for it–and you haven’t.

    >>>>I gave one specific example (RNASE1 and RNASE1B). Either give a reason why these mechanisms could not add information, or stop making this unfounded claim.

    You didn’t read. Scroll down the thread and try reading his response.

  49. humesghost permalink
    December 20, 2010 8:17 AM

    “1) Any time we find information, it comes from an intelligent source
    2) DNA contains information
    3) Therefore the information in DNA comes from an intelligent source.”

    1) Any time we find a swan, it is white
    2) There are black swans in Australia
    3) Therefore the black swans in Australia are white.

    Clearly this argument is absurd. Why? Because as soon as black swans were discovered, the evidence supporting the generalization in 1) became moot. Unless we had some reason to believe that swans MUST be white (in which case, the black ones must be painted or dirty white swans, or not really swans), the observation of an apparently black swan refutes the generalization.

    Now turn to Yochi’s argument. We used to only know of “information” that derived from human ingenuity. Then, premise 1 seemed reasonable. But then, we discovered DNA, and the theories of evolution and genetics provided a model for how DNA structures could become more complicated over time by natural processes. This discovery refutes premise 1), unless it can be shown that that information COULD NOT have come from natural processes alone. Clearly, it is begging the question to refer to premise 1) itself to show this. All the prominent ID theorists understand this – that’s why they try (and fail) to show that there is an in principle barrier to naturalistic evolution. Why can’t Yochi see this?

  50. humesghost permalink
    December 20, 2010 8:01 AM

    Yochi: “If ID is true, then one would expect that the designer would reuse code in similar animals, or even diverse animals, if it could be used. I am a computer programmer, and I don’t write everything from scratch every time I sit down to the computer. I use templates.”

    Except that there is an odd pattern in how codes are reused: the less similar the animals, the fewer codes are reused (even for similar functions), and the codes that are reused aren’t identical – again, the less similar the animals, the greater the divergence between the codes. This is a very strange way for a single designer to behave, but exactly what you would predict if different species were more or less closely related in evolutionary history. (Question: if you were designing the eye for your creation, would you design it several times differently – and get most of them inside out?)

    >>>>If ID is true, then we should expect to find a sudden burst of life in the fossil record. Cambrian explosion anyone?

    You are aware that the Cambrian lasted over 50 million years, right? (And probably wasn’t as much of an explosion as was once thought.) Not exactly “sudden” in a six-days-and-call-it-quits kind of way. Oh, and the lifeforms at the end of the Cambrian were a hell of a lot simpler than those today, so your designer apparently had to keep adding information for another half billion years.

    >>>>>Clarification is needed here. When I talk about “evolution” I am referring to the entire thing, as defined by the scientific community, namely the rise of life from non-life. The increase of complexity from a single, non-complex ancestor. The increase of information.

    Actually, no. This is how creationists define evolution. Scientists know that the theory of evolution explains how life evolved from the first life forms to the current life forms. How that first simple life form came about is a different topic – one that hasn’t been settled yet.

    >>>My point is that evolution does not account for the information found in DNA. Science has NOT shown that information can arise from random processes, even if they have shown that descent and modification happens. Any descent and modification that has been shown has been due to the reduction of DNA information. Bacteria that are now resistant to antibiotics have been shown to have lost information.

    Well, you keep saying this, but you haven’t given a single cogent reason why evolution can’t produce “information” (in your, not entirely coherent, sense). Several mechanisms have been listed for how evolution can produce information, and I gave one specific example (RNASE1 and RNASE1B). Either give a reason why these mechanisms could not add information, or stop making this unfounded claim.

  51. December 20, 2010 4:03 AM

    There is definitely a problem in the use of the word ‘information’, a word which refers to DNA as containing information, yet forbids anything other than a brain, among possible things in nature, from being able to create information. The hypothetical designer (God) would have to be able to create information, according to Yochi. The question is, does God contain inforation? Is there necessarily a difference between being able to create information and containing information?

    **************
    @Sergei: So here are your options: either embrace the infinite regress or else weaken your argument by weakening the first premise (replace “any time” with “most of the time”, or “almost any time”).

    @Yochi: This argument is just a more elegant way of asking “Who created God, then?”. The designer need not “contain” information. When Schrödinger predicted DNA, that wasn’t something that was physically inside of him. It was something new that he thought up. It came from his intellect.
    **************
    Yochi says the thought in Schrödinger’s mind doesn’t contain ‘information’. Yet, it could easily be said this thought was a picture of something other than itself, and pictures contain information (“DNA contains a representation of something beyond itself” – Yochi). Pictures refer to things beyond themselves. Pictures, and thoughts, are encoded information. A complete, or sufficient representation of the world takes place in brains. No matter how small the brain, things take place in brains which refer to things not in the brain: brains contain information, and thoughts are composed of information.

    So, a hypothetical God, having thoughts, must contain information. Sergei’s statement holds. There is an infinite regress implied in Yochi’s 3-part argument (an argument which I showed is circular in that it assumes in statement #1 what it attempts to prove, which is that intelligence can exist independently from a brain).

  52. yochi permalink
    December 20, 2010 12:33 AM

    I just tried to post something, but it didn’t appear. This is a test post.

  53. December 19, 2010 4:25 PM

    **************
    So here are your options: either embrace the infinite regress or else weaken your argument by weakening the first premise (replace “any time” with “most of the time”, or “almost any time”).

    This argument is just a more elegant way of asking “Who created God, then?”. The designer need not “contain” information. When Schrödinger predicted DNA, that wasn’t something that was physically inside of him. It was something new that he thought up. It came from his intellect.
    **************

    We should also note that for the purpose of argument, we can understand God this way: He doesn’t ‘contain information.’ Everything He does is a product of /results from His Nature. So, for purpose of comparison to an information-containing-system, He “doesn’t contain information” that came from beyond Himself, so to speak. Everything that has resulted from Him has been a direct result of WHO He is, not external information to God Himself.

    Basically, this is the same argument Lacey is trying to insist applies to DNA, to excuse it from bearing information: that what occurs as a result of DNA being read has nothing to do with information but is a result of the very nature of DNA.

    But her argument fails in a materialistic universe. For an immaterial being, however, the argument can very well apply, so Lacey’s argument supports God’s existence and refutes the notion that DNA doesn’t contain information.

    Q.E.D.

  54. yochi permalink
    December 19, 2010 2:04 PM

    @Andy

    I said “They did find the end of Pi a few years ago.”

    You said “Wrong. Educate yourself in maths, specifically irrational numbers, oh and while you’re at it yoshi, read some biology text books (not creationist ones).”

    Read these:
    http://www.watleyreview.com/2004/062904-3.html
    http://www.investintech.com/content/pifinders/

    Pi has indeed been resolved to approximately 1.3511 trillion digits.

  55. December 19, 2010 1:41 PM

    @Yochi:

    > “I never said that one living thing possesses no intelligence while another does. I don’t know what your point is here.”

    I said that living things either do or don’t possess intelligence as an example of what you would have to consider, and clarify, in order to state that information only comes from naturally occurring sources. I also dismissed my counter example as untennable. More specifically, if my counter example is easily dismissed, then yours is even more readily dismissed because yours is less specific than mine.

    The reason yours would be dismissed is because you assume at step #1 that intelligence exists independent of brains, which is the very thing you are trying to prove. I think you were arguing that information only comes from intelligence. But you also argued that intelligence only comes from brains (and not computers). Your reasoning is circular; it assumes what it attempts it prove.

    I took it one step down the ladder of abstraction to a more physical level, saying, rightfully, that our only example of intelligence comes from brains. Therefore, replace the word intelligence in your argument with brains and see if it holds up. It does not, and yet my argument would be more accurate than yours because it deals with what is actually observable (intelligence comes from brains and has never been observed existing separate from brains, yet. If we do observe it, shuldn’t we assume that thing were effectively a brain?). Your argument assumes what it attempts to prove, that intelligence can or does exist independent of brains.

    > “So, this is a faith based thing for you?”

    Your comment about my belief being faith based, as though this somehow discredits it, would also discredit your own beliefs; for instance, your belief that there is a God. Or have you convinced yourself that there is no God, but only an Intelligent Designer? That would seem to skirt the issue, but would still leave every one of your own beliefs discredited. Your comment was a cheap shot that serves no argumentative purpose.

    > “You are confusing information with a pattern.”

    I believe by the Miriam-Webster definition you provided for information, “pattern” qualifies. It mentions pictures as being able to contain information.

    For example, consider a picture of a square. Does it contain inforamation? If it were a 3-dimensional image of a square, would it not be able to imprint that image onto other things? Is not the depicted square also a square itself? How do you differentiate between the picture of a square and a square itself? Cannot a square be self-referential? Thus, every square is a picture of itself? It is an ordering of matter. It is in that ordering that information is contained.

    > “Saying that brains produce intelligence is an arguable point.”

    Again, this seems to be a cheap shot which serves no argumentative purpose, as it would discredit your own thoughts.

    > “Saying that humans are just a naturally occurring thing is to dismiss the whole design argument out of hand. Your argument is that DNA came from natural processes, because there isn’t anything other than natural processes. That is circular.”

    I am using your own argument, Yochi, in a more verifiable way. It is circular, just as yours is circular. I dismissed both arguments as being useless:

    “The itemized arguments above are more self-serving than informative or useful.”

    The arguments do not serve to illuminate the nature of reality, they merely conveniently lie for us to confirm a predetermined conclusion we want to think of as rationally derived. Your 3-point argument is weak and does not give insight into the nature of reality.

  56. Andy permalink
    December 19, 2010 11:55 AM

    > They did find the end of Pi a few years ago.

    Wrong.

    Educate yourself in maths, specifically irrational numbers, oh and while you’re at it yoshi, read some biology text books (not creationist ones).

  57. yochi permalink
    December 19, 2010 10:21 AM

    @Sergei K
    Kolmogorov complexity describes how much computational resources it takes to specify an object. Or you could say, how much information it takes to describe on object. It doesn’t say that complex objects contain more information.

    Of course it takes far more information to describe a complex object than a simple one. But the complex object itself does not contain any information. Complexity ins’t information. It takes a lot more information to describe a random string than it does to describe a repeating string. Pi (3.1415926….) is more complex of a number to describe than one third (1/3), even though .333333….. contains more digits. (They did find the end of Pi a few years ago.) However, Pi doesn’t contain any information. It is what it is: the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. You couldn’t even search through Pi and find that fact. It won’t even tell you what it is. It’s just a number.

    > …So here are your options: either embrace the infinite regress or else weaken your argument by weakening the first premise (replace “any time” with “most of the time”, or “almost any time”).

    This argument is just a more elegant way of asking “Who created God, then?”. The designer need not “contain” information. When Schrödinger predicted DNA, that wasn’t something that was physically inside of him. It was something new that he thought up. It came from his intellect.

    > … Schrödinger was right: DNA is a kind of crystal.

    So, Schrödinger predicted DNA. Good for him. But there is a qualitative difference between crystals and DNA. DNA contains a representation of something beyond itself, proteins needed for the organism.

    > … On the other hand, people working in the empirical sciences (physics, chemistry, biology) don’t have this problem. …

    Physics and chemistry definitely do have a problem with a “free lunch”. The conservation of matter and energy for example. Another example is the law of entropy. It seems only biology has a reason to believe in “order-from-disorder”. The other sciences don’t.

    >…Scientifically, ID lacks empirical support, but even philosophically or theologically the idea of an ID is confused; it does not make an iota of sense. ID is simply a bad idea…

    I am presenting the information in DNA as empirical evidence. Saying ID is simply a bad idea isn’t very helpful in a logical debate. “Abiogenesis is simply a bad idea. So there.”

    @Lacey Stinson

    >I could do all kinds of things with the information contained in a snowflake. I could use it to construct a second snowflake just like it. Or, I could use it to make 10 snowflakes similar but slightly different. I could use that information to lay out my garden, or as a pattern for a doily.

    You are confusing information with a pattern. Sure you could make a new snowflake just like it. Sure you could make smaller ones just like it. But to make a snowflake slightly different would require a new thought that was generated by your intellect. Sure, you could use it to lay out the pattern of your garden. But the snow flake doesn’t tell you what to plant in your garden. DNA would be like a snowflake that told you to plant tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant in your garden. It isn’t just a shape that gets copied. It is a code that the cell uses to build OTHER things.

    > I personally believe information is created by many kinds of natural phenomena

    So, this is a faith based thing for you?

    > But some people, as in Yochi’s case, feel only brains can create inforamtion (no, he said intelligence, didn’t he? But only brains produce intelligence, right? Therefore a brain must have created DNA?)

    I never said anything of the sort. Saying that brains produce intelligence is an arguable point. Would a computer, with the complexity and capacity of a human brain have an intellect? Under your logic, it would. Or could it still only perform computational tasks that were programmed into it? That seems more likely.

    >Even if we limit ourselves to human intelligence, it is still true that every human is a naturally occurring thing. That is to say, every human begins as a single cell (i.e. possessing no intelligence), but grows naturally, becoming cellularly diversified and intelligent in the process.

    Saying that humans are just a naturally occurring thing is to dismiss the whole design argument out of hand. Your argument is that DNA came from natural processes, because there isn’t anything other than natural processes. That is circular.

    > The problem is in stating that one living thing possesses no intelligence while another does, when the only difference between the two is simply that the one has fewer cells than the other, but otherwise, they each possess the same kinds of cells.

    I never said that one living thing possesses no intelligence while another does. I don’t know what your point is here.

  58. December 19, 2010 1:18 AM

    @Yochi’s argument:
    1) Any time we find information, it comes from an intelligent source
    2) DNA contains information
    3) Therefore the information in DNA comes from an intelligent source.

    Could be better written as:
    1) Any time we find information, it comes from a naturally occurring source.
    2) DNA contains inforamtion.
    3) Therefore the information in DNA comes from a naturally occurring source.

    I personally believe information is created by many kinds of natural phenomena. But some people, as in Yochi’s case, feel only brains can create inforamtion (no, he said intelligence, didn’t he? But only brains produce intelligence, right? Therefore a brain must have created DNA?). So, brains create inforamtion. Brains, or central nervous systems. Brains, central nervous systems, or notochords. Brains, central nervous systems, notochords, or chemical feedback mechanisms. The point is, there’s no definitive line dividing intelligence from purely physiological processes.

    Even if we limit ourselves to human intelligence, it is still true that every human is a naturally occurring thing. That is to say, every human begins as a single cell (i.e. possessing no intelligence), but grows naturally, becoming cellularly diversified and intelligent in the process.

    The problem is in stating that one living thing possesses no intelligence while another does, when the only difference between the two is simply that the one has fewer cells than the other, but otherwise, they each possess the same kinds of cells.

    The itemized arguments above are more self-serving than informative or useful.

  59. December 19, 2010 12:49 AM

    I could not find where @Yochi addressed these sources of increasing the information in the genome. I could only see where Yochi attempted to argue that information implied a designer, and that no natural process ever produces information. Rather specious claims, in my opinion. Sergei makes a strong case for the weakness of Yochi’s case.

    It seems Yochi has a special interpretation for the word “information.” That particular definition may be found in science, but so may other definitions of the word. All of the interpretations are applied for their own specific reasons. To say there is no information contained in a snowflake is merely to deny the existence of one or more proper uses for the word “information”. I could do all kinds of things with the information contained in a snowflake. I could use it to construct a second snowflake just like it. Or, I could use it to make 10 snowflakes similar but slightly different. I could use that information to lay out my garden, or as a pattern for a doily. That information, without my involvement, could become seared into a sticky substance, thus creating a 3-dimensional depression which records the two-dimensional shape of the snowflake. How can it be possible to make a recording of the snowflake if there is no information there to be recorded?

    Yoch: “Can you demonstrate mutations adding information?”

    Retroviruses. Gene duplication. Subsequent mutations of duplicated genes. And any mistranslation of a gene sequence.

    I failed to mention gene jumping. The position of a gene, as far as my understanding of the process goes, can alter the effects that result from the presence of that gene. Ordering changes the relevance of the gene, thus changing the information, perhaps making the information more important than before, the way the rearranged letters of urn create run, which might cause an cascade of other effects which are not caused by the original urn.

    All of these things constitute potentially increased information in that the outward appearance and constituent chemical processes of the organism can change, improve, or appear where there was nothing before.

    We could limit ourselves simply to atoms added to the molecular chain. That is easy. It happens.

    If what is added codes for anything, then there you have your information that has been added. Most genes that are added to genomes do code for proteins. They belonged to viruses previously, and did something for the virus, contributing more often than not to the survival of the viral genome. Once incorporated into a new genome, only the dynamics of the system into which it has been inserted can determine if it will still be useful, or will contribute in some way or become useful some day — as long as it exists in the genome it has the potential to become useful information. One must follow the entire lifecycle of a gene from virus to its utility in the new organism or its deletion by natural selection before one can say it codes or coded for nothing. As long as it is in the system, it has the potential to become useful, and therefore can be acted upon by natural selection.

    Retroviruses have been observed providing necessary functions for organisms in whose genome the virus has become an integral part. This is added information. It was not there before.

  60. December 18, 2010 10:58 PM

    >>>>>You deny that crystals contain information, but I cannot discern a clear argument for this.

    Sequence a crystal and interpret the sequence. Do you find a discernible language code embedded in the particles?

    Short answer: No. Crystals form according to the laws of thermodynamics. Its structure will be assumed based on what conformation is most energetically favorable on a chemical level(i.e. the orientation of the particles that takes the least energy to form the bonds for will happen). DNA does not do this.

  61. Sergei K permalink
    December 18, 2010 10:52 PM

    @ yochi

    Your argument is:

    “1) Any time we find information, it comes from an intelligent source
    2) DNA contains information
    3) Therefore the information in DNA comes from an intelligent source.”

    You can’t consistently maintain premise 1 of your argument. If DNA is the result of a designer, the designer cannot be a random system. The designer must be a highly ordered entity. In your terms, the designer must contain information. But the first premise of your argument logically entails that there must be another designer who explains the origin of the designer who created DNA. And so on, ad infinitum. So here are your options: either embrace the infinite regress or else weaken your argument by weakening the first premise (replace “any time” with “most of the time”, or “almost any time”).

    A deeper problem with premise 1 is that it is false even if you weaken it as suggested above. It fails to appreciate the existence of emergence in nature. You deny that crystals contain information, but I cannot discern a clear argument for this. You think that there is a qualitative or fundamental difference between crystals and DNA, but in essence there isn’t. A decade before Crick and Watson discovered the structure of DNA, Erwin Schrödinger gave a series of public lectures titled “What is life?” at Trinity College, Dublin (a book was subsequently published, in 1944). In that series of lectures Schrödinger reckoned that the phenomenon of life (heredity, to be precise) must depend on a molecule which must small but structurally stable (as only crystals are). He called it an “aperiodic crystal”. It was this idea that stimulated enthusiasm in the 50’s for discovering of the DNA. Linus Pauling, the great physical chemist known for his work in the determination of crystal structures nearly discovered the correct structure of DNA: he suggested a triple helix instead of a double one (Crick and Watson had better X-ray diffraction photographs of the DNA). The history of this is fascinating, as is Schrödinger’s book. In any case, the point is that Schrödinger was right: DNA is a kind of crystal.

    In my experience, people working in the so-called formal sciences (logic, mathematics, also computer science) have a style of thinking that can be characterized as “deductive” for lack of a better term. To put this in very vague terms, they don’t see how you can get more than you put in, or how order can arise from disorder without the intervention of an intelligent agency, or how there can be “free lunches”. On the other hand, people working in the empirical sciences (physics, chemistry, biology) don’t have this problem. Schrödinger himself talked about a “order-from-disorder” principle. Biologists often talk about self-organization and emergence. They see it all the time because it occurs all the time, provided that the emergent system is kept open and energy flows in.

    Life does not need an Intelligent Designer. Life emerges from chemistry, which in turn emerges from physics. Nature takes care of it all.

    For someone inclined to include supernatural entities in his/her ontology, a God who created the basic physics and let everything emerge from there is certainly more awesome that a God who actively creates each ontological stratum successively, from the previous one. Scientifically, ID lacks empirical support, but even philosophically or theologically the idea of an ID is confused; it does not make an iota of sense. ID is simply a bad idea. I don’t know why people cling to it; it’s not evidence for sure. Is it for philosophical or theological reasons? Is there a social agenda that depends on it? Is it for psychological reasons? Could it provide comfort? I just don’t know!

  62. Sergei K permalink
    December 18, 2010 10:33 PM

    @ yochi

    For a computer programmer I’m rather surprised that you refer to the Merriam Webster definition of information. For terms like “information”, the Merriam Webster definitions are exactly as informative and deep as that of “TCP/IP”, from the same dictionary.

    What I had in mind was something more along the lines of the Kolmogorov complexity of an object from algorithmic information theory, which I am sure that a person like you would have heard of.

  63. yochi permalink
    December 18, 2010 5:15 PM

    The question on the table isn’t what constitutes information, or if DNA is information. These have been established.

    The question isn’t how old is the earth, or if there has been descent and modification in life, or if genes can duplicate and/or mutate.

    The question is does information arise without an intelligent agent.

    I say that it doesn’t.

    My argument is
    1) Any time we find information, it comes from an intelligent source
    2) DNA contains information
    3) Therefore the information in DNA comes from an intelligent source.

    Aside from claims about DNA itself, no one has refuted #1. It has never been demonstrated. There are hypothesis on how it could, but that is just the first step in science. It needs to be demonstrated that it does happen. Before the discovery of DNA, #1 may have been a given.

    Science itself established #2. Some scientists are trying to backtrack on it now. My opinion is that they are not comfortable with the conclusion.

    Some (most?) scientists hold on to the precept that there is no supernatural. “DNA has to just be the result of natural processes, because there isn’t anything other than natural processes. Either it doesn’t contain information, or information can arise without an intelligence.”

    If science would have an open mind, it may be able to come up with the greatest scientific breakthrough of all time.

  64. yochi permalink
    December 18, 2010 4:43 PM

    Definition of INFORMATION from Merriam Webster

    1: the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence

    2 a (1) : knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction (2) : intelligence, news (3) : facts, data

    b : the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects

    c (1) : a signal or character (as in a communication system or computer) representing data (2) : something (as a message, experimental data, or a picture) which justifies change in a construct (as a plan or theory) that represents physical or mental experience or another construct

    d : a quantitative measure of the content of information; specifically : a numerical quantity that measures the uncertainty in the outcome of an experiment to be performed

    3: the act of informing against a person

    4: a formal accusation of a crime made by a prosecuting officer as distinguished from an indictment presented by a grand jury

    Definitions 3 and 4 are not applicable to our discussion. #1 may be. Specifically, 2b and 2c are applicable. Notice that the definition uses DNA and computer code as examples.

    DNA contains arrangements of nucleotides that produce specific effects. It is also something that represents another construct.

  65. yochi permalink
    December 18, 2010 4:41 PM

    @Andy

    >Secular Humanism is a secular philosophy that espouses reason, ethics, and the search for human fulfillment, and specifically rejects supernatural and religious dogma as the basis of morality and decision-making

    It isn’t logical to categorically reject the supernatural in scientific research. If scientific research points to something supernatural, then you would never find it, because you would reject it out of hand. You are presuposing that there isn’t anything outside our 4 dimensions of the space time continuum in which we exist.

  66. Andy permalink
    December 18, 2010 4:25 PM

    “A particular field of study can be polluted by false presuppositions and interpretations, which nearly all fields have, due to secular humanism. ”

    It’s interesting that you believe that secular humanism causes the “pollution” in science. I think we are getting closer to your issues now Erik.

    Definition of Secular Humanism :
    “Secular Humanism is a secular philosophy that espouses reason, ethics, and the search for human fulfillment, and specifically rejects supernatural and religious dogma as the basis of morality and decision-making”

    Do you think that scientists should make supernatural and religious dogma the basis of their decision making?

  67. yochi permalink
    December 18, 2010 4:15 PM

    >Yochi, here’s something to think about: Did the common ancestor of horses and zebras have a stripe pattern?

    Many depictions of ancient horse types are shown with stripes: Merychippus, Hyracotherium, Hypohippos.
    When zebras cross with horses or donkeys, the offspring have stripes. That fact makes it evident that the ancestor did indeed have some stripes. Equines without stripes have lost that genetic information.

  68. yochi permalink
    December 18, 2010 4:03 PM

    >The quantity of information contained in by an ordered string of symbols (a pattern) is actually less than that contained by a random string of symbols of the same size. There is way more information in a heap of beach sand than there is in a heap of spherical pebbles of the same size. Yet the pebbles are more organized and certainly look more designed than the sand.

    >“When presented with unwelcome scientific evidence, it seems, in a desperate bid to retain some consistency in their world view, people would rather conclude that science in general is broken. This is an interesting finding. But I’m not sure it makes me very happy.”

    I find science itself, when presented with unwelcome evidence, makes a desperate attempt to retain consistency in their world view. One thing they do is redefine words, like “information”

    What information is in a random string? Does it provide any facts or knowledge? Does it convey or represent anything? What information is in a pile of sand? Or of round pebbles, for that matter? Neither the pebbles nor the sand provide any information. You can learn things about the pebbles and sand, and what you’ve learned can be information, but it is only information about the sand itself. DNA contains information about how to build OTHER proteins.

    >Now I guess you probably don’t think that “science in general is broken” like the article says, but if we restrict the domain to the sciences relating to the creation of life on this planet. then you definitely do. You disagree with more than 99% of scientists on that particular subject subject.

    This is appeal to the majority, a logical fallacy. It is also appeal to authority.

    >Additionally, if you are a Young Earth Creationist, as it would seem you are (sorry if I’m wrong), then you also disagree with more than 99% of Geologists and god knows what other class of scientists.

    Let’s stay on topic. We are not discussing the age of the earth here.

    >Retroviruses. Gene duplication. Subsequent mutations of duplicated genes. And any mistranslation of a gene sequence..

    I’ve already addressed this. Gene duplication is not new information. Gene duplication is not new information. I have no problem with gene duplication and mutation, but the mutation is noise, not some new instruction for a new protein. Mistranslation is the same thing. It doesn’t contain new instructions for a new protein. A retrovirus inserts it’s DNA (which already exists) into a host’s DNA. It is a transfer of existing information.

  69. December 18, 2010 3:51 PM

    Lacey, Yochi has already addressed the claim you made. It’s farther down in the thread.

  70. December 18, 2010 3:51 PM

    >>>>Your first mistake : A thing can be anything (tautology). Check the dictionary. It’s irrelevant anyway.

    Are you trying to tell me that a verb can be “broken” in the same way a physical object can? Please try to be serious.

    >>>>Now I guess you probably don’t think that “science in general is broken” like the article says, but if we restrict the domain to the sciences relating to the creation of life on this planet. then you definitely do.

    Nope, you’re still wrong. Methodological Science (the scientific method) is not something that can be broken. A particular field of study can be polluted by false presuppositions and interpretations, which nearly all fields have, due to secular humanism. The fields themselves are not “broken,” because there is a right way to study. You’re just not doing it.

    >>>>>You disagree with more than 99% of scientists on that particular subject subject.

    While I recognize that most atheists tend to make life-altering decisions based on Bandwagon Appeals, that is not how I operate.

  71. December 18, 2010 3:51 PM

    @Yochi, per just one item in your last comment to me:

    “Can you demonstrate mutations adding information?”

    Retroviruses. Gene duplication. Subsequent mutations of duplicated genes. And any mistranslation of a gene sequence..

  72. Andy permalink
    December 18, 2010 3:46 PM

    > Andy, Science isn’t broken. Science isn’t a THING. It’s something you do, not a monolithic institution of some sort. That’s your first mistake.

    Your first mistake : A thing can be anything (tautology). Check the dictionary. It’s irrelevant anyway.

    Now I guess you probably don’t think that “science in general is broken” like the article says, but if we restrict the domain to the sciences relating to the creation of life on this planet. then you definitely do. You disagree with more than 99% of scientists on that particular subject subject.

    definition of general “applying to all or most members of a category or group”

    Additionally, if you are a Young Earth Creationist, as it would seem you are (sorry if I’m wrong), then you also disagree with more than 99% of Geologists and god knows what other class of scientists.

    So, the article does relate to you, regardless of if your beliefs are correct or not, which I believe they aren’t. But I can’t be bothered arguing further about that.

  73. December 18, 2010 3:09 PM

    Andy, Science isn’t broken. Science isn’t a THING. It’s something you do, not a monolithic institution of some sort. That’s your first mistake.

    Your second mistake (resting on the first) is your assumption that only the scientists you like represent “Science.”

    When you have ‘evolved’ past this apparent stumbling block, we’ll be much closer to being understood by you. It does take effort on your part, you know.

  74. Andy permalink
    December 18, 2010 2:51 PM

    @Erik and @yoshi and most other creationists

    This article reminded me of you guys … http://www.badscience.net/2010/07/yeah-well-you-can-prove-anything-with-science/

    It’s quite an interesting article based on some studies. I’ll just quote the last paragraph :

    “When presented with unwelcome scientific evidence, it seems, in a desperate bid to retain some consistency in their world view, people would rather conclude that science in general is broken. This is an interesting finding. But I’m not sure it makes me very happy.”

  75. December 18, 2010 1:22 AM

    >>>>There is way more information in a heap of beach sand than there is in a heap of spherical pebbles of the same size

    Do tell. Please, go on. Explain how this is possible. I’ll wait.

    >>>>>Yochi, here’s something to think about: Did the common ancestor of horses and zebras have a stripe pattern?

    Considering that horses have different patterns and zebras have others, though not many horses that I know of have been found with a stripe pattern, it’s likely that they diversified very early. Stripes are likely an allele of a gene (or a few) for color, whereas other horse coat colors are likely different alleles of the gene. So, the common ancestor probably, depending on whether the alleles are codominant, incompletely dominant, or dominant/recessive, could have had stripes, no stripes, or different colored stripes over part of its body with varying splashes of color depending on the individual. Most likely, one of the gene types (color vs. stripes) is dominant and the other recessive; otherwise, we would probably have seen some non-typical colorations in either zebras or other horses.
    Based on the fact that zebra:horse:donkey hybrids tend to have stripes, I daresay the stripes are either dominant, codominant or incompletely dominant, but not recessive to color.

    There you go.

  76. Sergei K permalink
    December 18, 2010 12:56 AM

    @ Yochi

    It is ironic that a computer programmer uses the term “information” and “loss of information” with such a disregard for the meaning of this term.

    The quantity of information contained in by an ordered string of symbols (a pattern) is actually less than that contained by a random string of symbols of the same size. There is way more information in a heap of beach sand than there is in a heap of spherical pebbles of the same size. Yet the pebbles are more organized and certainly look more designed than the sand.

    Yochi claims: “ID doesn’t preclude descent and modification. But the modification is due to the loss of information. Horses, zebras, and donkeys could have descended from a common ancestor.”

    Yochi, here’s something to think about: Did the common ancestor of horses and zebras have a stripe pattern?

  77. yochi permalink
    December 17, 2010 7:11 PM

    > You still don’t get it: Yochi claimed that there was extraordinary evidence for Intelligent Design, and gave an argument designed to prove it. But that argument itself rested on an unjustified premise … To test a theory, you provisionally assume that it is true, then derive predictions from that assumption.

    Well, do you assume the premise is true or not?

    I could say that if ID is true, and life was designed, then we should expect to find a blueprint.

    Evolution never predicted a blueprint. Darwin thought was that the cell was just a blob of gelatinous matter, and that as we went further down, there would be more simplicity. Oops.

    If ID is true, then one would expect that the designer would reuse code in similar animals, or even diverse animals, if it could be used. I am a computer programmer, and I don’t write everything from scratch every time I sit down to the computer. I use templates.

    If ID is true, then we should expect to find a sudden burst of life in the fossil record. Cambrian explosion anyone?

    >>>>>But here’s the difference: evolution is backed up by an extraordinary array of evidence from multiple scientific disciplines, and as the guiding theory behind almost all of modern biology gains more support every day.

    Clarification is needed here. When I talk about “evolution” I am referring to the entire thing, as defined by the scientific community, namely the rise of life from non-life. The increase of complexity from a single, non-complex ancestor. The increase of information.

    However, ID doesn’t preclude descent and modification. But the modification is due to the loss of information. Horses, zebras, and donkeys could have descended from a common ancestor. Seeing that they can mate with each other and produce offspring, sometimes even fertile ones, I would assume that they did have a common ancestor. So that would be consistent with some findings in science. But that ancestor would have contained all the information found in these animals today. The descendants lost genetic information, which lead to diversity. There is a lot of scientific evidence for descent and modification. We do breed dogs, which shows descent and modification.

    My point is that evolution does not account for the information found in DNA. Science has NOT shown that information can arise from random processes, even if they have shown that descent and modification happens. Any descent and modification that has been shown has been due to the reduction of DNA information. Bacteria that are now resistant to antibiotics have been shown to have lost information.

  78. December 17, 2010 4:02 PM

    >>>>>But here’s the difference: evolution is backed up by an extraordinary array of evidence from multiple scientific disciplines, and as the guiding theory behind almost all of modern biology gains more support every day.

    This despite the thread.

  79. humesghost permalink
    December 17, 2010 4:01 PM

    Bryan: you are quite right – both evolution and ID are extraordinary claims.

    But here’s the difference: evolution is backed up by an extraordinary array of evidence from multiple scientific disciplines, and as the guiding theory behind almost all of modern biology gains more support every day. ID is backed by no positive evidence at all. All ID proponents ever do is point at gaps (real or imaginary) in the articulation of the theory of evolution – when one gap is filled by further research, they simply move on to find another gap they can claim is “unsolvable” by evolution (only to retreat again when a solution is, in fact found).

  80. humesghost permalink
    December 17, 2010 3:18 PM

    >>>You’re the one trying to prove that evolution works based on the premise that information doesn’t need an intelligent source.
    >>>You have the burden of proof.

    You still don’t get it: Yochi claimed that there was extraordinary evidence for Intelligent Design, and gave an argument designed to prove it. But that argument itself rested on an unjustified premise. So Yochi has the burden of proof to support that premise. But there is no evidence, which is why you keep trying to turn the argument around.

    >>>But it’s begging the question to presume that they’re descended. This is a version of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. It might behoove you to research Confirmation Bias.

    It is not begging the question to follow the hypothetico-deductive method! To test a theory, you provisionally assume that it is true, then derive predictions from that assumption. If those predictions are borne out by observations, this provides evidence in favour of the hypothesis. In this case, the prediction was that if you analyse DNA sequences from different species in a particular way, they will yield a model that matches the model produced by analysis of non-genetic evidence. It is an entirely non-trivial fact that these two models agree: to pursue the Texas Sharpshooter analogy, it is as if the sharpshooter took a second gun and each of the bullets went through the same holes as the bullets from the first gun.

    >>>Basically, you will undoubtedly convince yourself that the species that are descended from common ancestors are more closely related, because you selected them to belong to the set of [things descended from a common ancestor] based on their [relatedness]. This is Circular Reasoning.

    It is not circular reasoning if a different measure of relatedness is used in each step.

    >>>Genes are directly related to protein expression and proteins are directly related to form and function. Thus, organisms with similar structures and biochemistry will have more similar DNA. It’s really not that hard of a concept to grasp.

    This does not explain why, for example, monkeys with similar face markings should also have similar genes for digesting protein. If the phylogenetic trees were just random assemblages of species based on superficial similarities, then we would have no reason to expect a tree generated by studying one set of genetic markers to have any relation to a tree generated by studying an unrelated set of genetic markers. But, in fact, we find that a whole variety of methods all produce the same results. And this was something that was predicted by the theory of evolution long before the genetic tests were even possible.

  81. Bryan permalink
    December 17, 2010 3:14 PM

    I think that this discussion illustrates the fact that both the evolutionary premise and the ID premise present extraordinary claims:

    Evolution: nothing created something or something that existed eternally created everything else

    ID: a supernatural creator created everything

    Evolution: a non-intelligent source created the information in DNA

    ID: an intelligent source created the information in DNA

    The point being, if ID’s claim is extraordinary, then so is Evolution’s, or if Evolution’s claims are not extraordinary, then ID’s claims cannot also be considered extraordinary.

  82. December 17, 2010 3:12 PM

    I daresay a casual observer may find this argument Concluded.

  83. Bryan permalink
    December 17, 2010 3:08 PM

    @humesghost:

    Your premise 1 begs the question. You cannot simply assert that all information comes from an intelligent source, you need to provide evidence for this. The only evidence you have is that most of what we ordinarily consider to be information is man-made, and so came from an intelligent source. But since you claim that DNA contains information, and DNA was clearly not man-made, this evidence doesn’t get us very far.

    Give it up!! We don’t say to Newton, you’ve proved that all objects in our universe are affected by gravity, but you haven’t proven that objects in other universes are affected by gravity, so you haven’t really proven anything substantial about gravity.

    We wouldn’t say this because Newton has demonstrated through observation that every object we can get our hands on is affected by gravity.

    Similarly, every instance of information that we can get our hands on has been generated by intelligence. That’s all one can do scientifically. To postulate that there may be some kinds of information that can be generated from a non-intelligent source but we just don’t know about them, is akin to saying that there might be some types of matter that aren’t affected by gravity, but we just haven’t found them yet.

    When we do find those objects, we’ll re-open the discussion about gravity. Similarly, when we do find (and confirm) information that doesn’t come from intelligence, then we can re-examine that fact as well. Until then, we can say with confidence that information comes from intelligence.

  84. Andy permalink
    December 17, 2010 3:02 PM

    >I would love to tell you all about what I believe, but we should stay on topic. This thread is about evidence of Intelligent Design.

    Be my guest and indulge yourself, I don’t think anyone will mind. I am genuinely interested. I won’t argue with you and go further off topic.

  85. December 17, 2010 2:51 PM

    >>>>>>>Do you believe that Eve was created from the rib of Adam?
    How old do you believe the earth is?
    Do you believe that there really was an Ark and all the animals of the world were aboard?

    I would love to tell you all about what I believe, but we should stay on topic. This thread is about evidence of Intelligent Design.

  86. yochi permalink
    December 17, 2010 2:44 PM

    1) DNA is information
    
2) Mutations are a natural process
    
2) Mutation adds to DNA
3
    ) Mutations create information

    4) Natural Processes can create information

    This is a circular argument. “A natural process created information, therefore natural processes can create information.” You would need to prove that natural processes can create information. Points 2 and 3 are very questionable.

    No, my premise doesn’t beg the question. Perhaps I should rephrase it, though. Here is an example of a argument:
    If today is Tuesday, then I will go to work.
    Today is Tuesday.
    Therefore, I will go to work.

    It doesn’t beg the question. It is a sound argument. It may not be valid, though. For example, today may not be Tuesday.

    Here is my argument (revised).
    1) If we find something that contains information, then that information came from an intelligent source.
    2) DNA contains information
    3) Therefore, the information in DNA came from an intelligent source.

    The argument is valid, but is it sound? It is if #1 and #2 are true. It is not sound if #1 or #2 is false.

    1) If we find something that contains information, then that information came from an intelligent source.

    Can you show me some other information that has not come from an intelligent source? This isn’t some wild presumption. We don’t see any information in nature that isn’t the result of intelligence. Before the discovery of DNA, would anyone have questioned this?

    Crystals form via a natural process. My kids had one of those crystal kits where you can “grow” crystals. It was fun. They certainly learned something from it. People have studied the formation of crystals and learned much from it. They took that knowledge and published it for others to read. That is information. But the crystals themselves do not contain any information. The information we wrote down is about the characteristics of crystals and how they form. The crystals contain nothing beyond themselves.

    Weather patterns form via a natural process. No information. (Again, we can study them, and use that knowledge to predict the weather, but the weather itself doesn’t contain any information.)

    Snow flakes form via a natural process. No information.

    The delta pattern at the mouth of a river forms via a natural process. No information.

    There are a lot of different patterns in nature, but none of them contain any information.

    This is because information informs. One dictionary definition is “what is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence of things”. Information is something beyond the medium used to convey it.

    2) DNA contains information

    DNA is different. It does contain information. (The scientific community, historically, supports this claim.) DNA isn’t a pattern. You could take a snowflake, or a crystal, or a fern leaf, and use it as a pattern to make another snowflake or crystal or fern leaf. You can take DNA and build a bunch of protein molecules that aren’t a duplicate of the DNA itself. It’s like a recipe for chocolate chip cookies printed in a cook book. The recipe itself isn’t chocolate cookies. It’s an arrangement of ink on paper. It doesn’t taste good. But you can use the information there to make cookies, which are a completely different thing from the cookbook. You don’t even need the cookbook to make the cookies, just the information. You could write it down on another piece of paper. You could record it to a CD and listen to it while you make the cookies. You could memorize it as well, and just do it from your head. My daughter bakes bread from scratch from memory. The information is in her memory.

    So #1 and #2 aren’t wild assumptions. Without #1 and #2, however, #3 would be a wild conclusion

    3) Therefore, the information in DNA came from an intelligent source.

    Before DNA, I couldn’t corroborate the position that an intelligent mind created life. The Bible says that God created life, but that is circular reasoning. “God created the universe, because the bible says God created the universe, therefore God created the universe”. Now DNA comes along, which is clearly not man-made, yet contains information. Where did the information come from? An intelligent source. One that isn’t a man, btw.

  87. Andy permalink
    December 17, 2010 2:36 PM

    Erik,

    Do you believe that Eve was created from the rib of Adam?

    How old do you believe the earth is?

    Do you believe that there really was an Ark and all the animals of the world were aboard?

  88. December 17, 2010 2:22 PM

    Here’s the link to the picture I was referring to before: http://creation.com/horse-evolution

    There’s a picture showing a possible evolutionary descent of a few deer-like animals.

  89. December 17, 2010 2:20 PM

    I should clarify, lest you be confused, that by “relatedness” in my last post, I’m referring to similarity.

    Genes are directly related to protein expression and proteins are directly related to form and function. Thus, organisms with similar structures and biochemistry will have more similar DNA. It’s really not that hard of a concept to grasp.

  90. December 17, 2010 2:17 PM

    >>>>>Pay attention, Erik! Yochi gave an argument, one premise of which was that all information comes from an intelligent source. For this argument to go through, Yochi must provide evidence to support this premise.

    You’re the one trying to prove that evolution works based on the premise that information doesn’t need an intelligent source.

    You have the burden of proof.

    >>>>>I could say just read a textbook on evolutionary biology (a real one, not a fake creationist one), and you will find hundreds of examples

    Sorry, but I’ve got 3 (I happen to be a Biochemistry major), and I haven’t stumbled across a single one of these alleged ‘hundreds of examples,’ yet.

    Freeman, Holt/Rhinehart/Winston, Campbell/Reese/Mitchell….bla bla bla. (wonder why there’s 3 names on nearly all of them..)…

    >>>>>Moreover, evolution predicts that, when two species share a genetic sequence, that sequence will almost always be common to all other species descended from the two species hypothesized common ancestor.

    But it’s begging the question to presume that they’re descended. This is a version of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. It might behoove you to research Confirmation Bias.

    Basically, you will undoubtedly convince yourself that the species that are descended from common ancestors are more closely related, because you selected them to belong to the set of [things descended from a common ancestor] based on their [relatedness]. This is Circular Reasoning.

    >>>>>Note that if the theory of evolution were not true, there is no reason to suppose that it would even be possible to construct robust phylogenetic trees on the basis of genetic evidence, and there would be still less reason to suppose that such trees would match up with the non-genetic evidence.

    Why?

    give me a picture of the bones of all the animals in the world and I’ll be able to construct completely different phylogenetic trees from the ones that are currently touted. I’m actually amazed no one has taken the opportunity to satirize this, yet. (Scratch that, here’s a preliminary concept: http://creation.com/walking-whales-nested-hierarchies-and-chimeras-do-they-exist )

    There’s more, but I didn’t find it as easily as I wanted to. This’ll give you the main idea if you read it with an open mind (can we hope?)

  91. humesghost permalink
    December 17, 2010 1:43 PM

    Erik: “Any supportive evidence or logical proofs to back this up?”

    Pay attention, Erik! Yochi gave an argument, one premise of which was that all information comes from an intelligent source. For this argument to go through, Yochi must provide evidence to support this premise. I pointed out that the only evidence is from man-made objects, which gives us no reason to believe that information in non-man-made objects requires intelligent design. It is thus Yochi who needs to provide the supporting evidence, not me.

    Erik: “Please feel free to list some. They should be pretty well-known if something so momentous had occurred. Please avoid begging the question, though.”

    I could say just read a textbook on evolutionary biology (a real one, not a fake creationist one), and you will find hundreds of examples. But let’s go for one that really is “momentous”: the theory of evolution predicts that, when the DNA of multiple different species is sequenced, and a phylogenetic tree constructed by comparing the similarities and differences in the genetic sequence, the resulting tree will be consistent with evolutionary trees constructed using previously available information from fossils, comparative morphology, geographical distribution, vestigial structures, etc. Moreover, evolution predicts that, when two species share a genetic sequence, that sequence will almost always be common to all other species descended from the two species hypothesized common ancestor. This prediction has been confirmed to a very high degree in recent decades. Note that if the theory of evolution were not true, there is no reason to suppose that it would even be possible to construct robust phylogenetic trees on the basis of genetic evidence, and there would be still less reason to suppose that such trees would match up with the non-genetic evidence.

  92. December 17, 2010 12:42 PM

    >>>>>The point I was trying to make, by showing you that excerpt from Wikipedia, is that your quote suggests that the scientist making it, Ernst Walter Mayr , does not believe in non-random mutation and natural selection as factor that contributes to evolution. Which is entirely false, he was a proponent of it.

    That was not my point at all. Why would you think it was? I specifically said he was an evolutionist. Clearly, then, his words should be read with the knowledge that he is not intentionally advocating Young Earth Christianity. To suggest that I was trying to confuse you into believing that Mayr is a YEC baffles the intellect. How could a reasonable person draw that conclusion?

  93. Andy permalink
    December 17, 2010 12:37 PM

    Erik,

    The point I was trying to make, by showing you that excerpt from Wikipedia, is that your quote suggests that the scientist making it, Ernst Walter Mayr , does not believe in non-random mutation and natural selection as factor that contributes to evolution. Which is entirely false, he was a proponent of it.

    It’s called quote mining, or the fallacy of quoting out of context. It’s a VERY common occurrence in creationist literature, which I have no doubt that you copied-and-pasted it from.

  94. December 17, 2010 12:12 PM

    >>>>>Neither Charles Darwin nor anyone else in his time knew the answer to the species problem: how multiple species could evolve from a single common ancestor.

    You imply that there is an answer now. What is it?

    Fyi, I hadn’t been to that site. But thanks for the resource.

    >>>>>>He was talking about genetic monstrosities and not small mutations you idiot! I don’t think many people would disagree that genetic monstrosities are useless.

    Excuse me, idiot, but I never claimed he was talking about whatever you call “small mutations.” Speaking of which, since mutations invariably cause lack of function, it shouldn’t take too many deleterious mutations to result in a ‘hopeless monster’ after all. You seem to be agreeing that a ‘mutant’ (of sorts) is “useless,” so I’m wondering at what point you’ll draw the line, and if you’re aware of whether such a line actually exists in reality.

    Upon reading your comment, it seems that your suggested “answer” to the problem of ‘creating new species’ is to separate populations for an indefinite amount of time. One can see an immediate problem. What are the chances that this has happened with every species that ever lived? Do you really think that every species goes through a particular phase where they first proliferate, then separate geographically, then one or more groups dies off, what’s left do not come into contact with each other, they accumulate mutations and eventually, if they were to come into contact with each other, they’d be incapable of producing offspring? The probability of this is incredibly low, and it becomes more ludicrous when you realize that more species than the ones we know about must have gone through this burdensome process, since not all species fossilize, and not all species survive and pass on their genes, but may simply become extinct.

    That’s just ONE problem that’s immediately apparent. Don’t be fooled into thinking there aren’t others.

  95. Andy permalink
    December 17, 2010 11:57 AM

    @Erik,

    You’re not even trying now. You haven’t even looked into Ernst W. Mayr and what his beliefs were, you’ve just copied an pasted a quote from a creationist website (maybe http://www.darwinismrefuted.com/equilibrium_02.html?). Read about him first :

    “Ernst Walter Mayr (July 5, 1904 – February 3, 2005) was one of the 20th century’s leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, historian of science, and naturalist. His work contributed to the conceptual revolution that led to the modern evolutionary synthesis of Mendelian genetics, systematics, and Darwinian evolution, and to the development of the biological species concept.

    Neither Charles Darwin nor anyone else in his time knew the answer to the species problem: how multiple species could evolve from a single common ancestor. Ernst Mayr approached the problem with a new definition for the concept of species. In his book Systematics and the Origin of Species (1942) he wrote that a species is not just a group of morphologically similar individuals, but a group that can breed only among themselves, excluding all others. When populations of organisms get isolated, the sub-populations will start to differ through genetic drift and natural selection over a period of time, and thereby evolve into new species. The most significant and rapid genetic reorganization occurs in extremely small populations that have been isolated (as on islands).”

    specifically :

    “When populations of organisms get isolated, the sub-populations will start to differ through genetic drift and natural selection over a period of time, and thereby evolve into new species.”

    Secondly :

    >I believe it would be appropriate to consider what a prominent evolutionist scientist has to say about mutations
    “The occurrence of genetic monstrosities by mutation … is well substantiated, but they are such evident freaks that these monsters can be designated only as ‘hopeless’.

    He was talking about genetic monstrosities and not small mutations you idiot! I don’t think many people would disagree that genetic monstrosities are useless.

    I’ve just checked and the sad thing is that this quote from Ernst W. Mayr is littered all over the creationist literature. Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel!!

  96. December 17, 2010 11:27 AM

    I believe it would be appropriate to consider what a prominent evolutionist scientist has to say about mutations:

    The occurrence of genetic monstrosities by mutation … is well substantiated, but they are such evident freaks that these monsters can be designated only as ‘hopeless’. They are so utterly unbalanced that they would no…t have the slightest chance of escaping elimination through stabilizing selection … the more drastically a mutation affects the phenotype, the more likely it is to reduce fitness. To believe that such a drastic mutation would produce a viable new type, capable of occupying a new adaptive zone, is equivalent to believing in miracles … The finding of a suitable mate for the ‘hopeless monster’ and the establishment of reproductive isolation from the normal members of the parental population seem to me insurmountable difficulties.
    ~Ernst Mayr, Populations, Species, and Evolution, Belknap Press, Cambridge, 1970, p. 235

  97. December 17, 2010 11:15 AM

    >>>>>>You cannot simply assert that all information comes from an intelligent source, you need to provide evidence for this. The only evidence you have is that most of what we ordinarily consider to be information is man-made, and so came from an intelligent source. But since you claim that DNA contains information, and DNA was clearly not man-made, this evidence doesn’t get us very far.

    humesghost essentially said:
    1. If something man-made contains information, it is intelligently designed.
    2. If something not-man-made contains information, then it is not.

    Any supportive evidence or logical proofs to back this up?

    >>>>>If you want to show that information in natural processes must have an intelligent source, you need to show that it could not arise through natural processes.

    Guess who’s making the “you can’t prove it doesn’t exist, so it MIGHT exist” argument now….

    >>>>Mutation and natural selection are natural processes

    Just as an aside: the above is an assumption.

    >>>>This account fits extremely well with all of the available evidence, and has led to many predictions about future discoveries which turned out to be true

    Please feel free to list some. They should be pretty well-known if something so momentous had occurred. Please avoid begging the question, though.

    >>>>>This is all very strong evidence that information does not need to have an intelligent source, as it can arise through natural processes.

    Sorry, but Non Sequitur. None of what you said logically results in the conclusion you just stated. It doesn’t follow.

    >>>>>To defend your premise 1, then, you need to show that there is something wrong with the evolutionary picture; that information CANNOT be produced in these ways.

    1. The fact that it’s never been observed
    2. The fact that it’s not repeatable in scientific experiments even under the most liberal conditions.
    3. Probability theory.

    Those aren’t enough for you? Guess who’s got faith? You do.

    >>>>In response to a specific challenge, I provided a case which illustrates how new information could arise through natural processes

    But you actually didn’t, because in giving your example, you violated one or more of your premises (that natural selection can’t plan ahead).

    >>>>In this context, the burden of proof is on you to show that the evolutionary account of this case could not be true; it is not enough to simply demand proof that it is, in fact, true

    Assuming you’re right (you’re not), it is more illogical for you to believe something is true just because your opponents can’t convince you it’s not true.

    That sounds an awful lot like the God of the Gaps argument. EVOLUTION OF THE GAPS.

    ****
    Andy:
    1) DNA is information
    2) Mutations are a natural process
    2) Mutation adds to DNA
    3) Mutations create information
    4) Natural Processes can create information
    What is the issue Yoshi? What don’t you get? How else can we educate you?

    Your problem is between point 2 and 3. Mutations may add physically to the structure of the DNA, but that doesn’t mean it adds information.

    For example:
    1. Take the dog out for a walk.
    2. Take the dog dog dog dog dog dog dog dog dog dog dog dog dog dog dog out for a walk.
    3. Take the dog out for a walk, then go to the store, and pick up the kids after school.

    Sentence 2 has numerous additive mutations to it, but it doesn’t include any additional information (for purpose of analogy, information = language that carries meaning).
    Sentence 3 has additional information.

    Guess which one is most similar to genetic mutations?
    Guess which one has never been observed being generated in a controlled experiment (e.g. at all)?

    (Answer: 2, 3)

    Evolution of the Gaps: You can’t prove mutations don’t increase information, therefore they do.

  98. Andy permalink
    December 17, 2010 10:51 AM

    1) DNA is information
    2) Mutations are a natural process
    2) Mutation adds to DNA
    3) Mutations create information
    4) Natural Processes can create information

    What is the issue Yoshi? What don’t you get? How else can we educate you?

  99. humesghost permalink
    December 17, 2010 10:22 AM

    Yochi (and Erik): you still don’t understand the dialectical situation. So let’s try again.

    Your premise 1 begs the question. You cannot simply assert that all information comes from an intelligent source, you need to provide evidence for this. The only evidence you have is that most of what we ordinarily consider to be information is man-made, and so came from an intelligent source. But since you claim that DNA contains information, and DNA was clearly not man-made, this evidence doesn’t get us very far.

    If you want to show that information in natural processes must have an intelligent source, you need to show that it could not arise through natural processes. Mutation and natural selection are natural processes, and we have abundant evidence that these processes do occur. The theory of evolution states that these processes (along with other natural processes) explain the particular patterns of “information” found in living organisms. This account fits extremely well with all of the available evidence, and has led to many predictions about future discoveries which turned out to be true. This is all very strong evidence that information does not need to have an intelligent source, as it can arise through natural processes.

    To defend your premise 1, then, you need to show that there is something wrong with the evolutionary picture; that information CANNOT be produced in these ways. In response to a specific challenge, I provided a case which illustrates how new information could arise through natural processes. In this context, the burden of proof is on you to show that the evolutionary account of this case could not be true; it is not enough to simply demand proof that it is, in fact, true.

  100. yochi permalink
    December 17, 2010 8:32 AM

    >Um, if it Can’t happen, then any claim that it did happen must be false. Yochi didn’t change the rules of debate at all. He’s just being consistent. You could stand to learn something from observing him.

    Erik, I just want to tell you I really appreciate you backing me up.

    Now, just to restate my original position:

    This site is asking for extraordinary evidence of ID.

    1) All information comes from an intelligent source
    2) DNA contains information
    3) Therefore, DNA comes from an intelligent source.

    This is sound logic. If you want to disprove it, you would need to refute my premise. Science has established #2, so the only thing left to refute is #1.

    You can’t say that it is possible for this particular information to come about by chance. My premise states that it can’t. To refute my premise, you would need to show that it DOES come about by chance. You would need to actually show some random process creating information.

  101. yochi permalink
    December 17, 2010 8:02 AM

    @ humesghost

    >So now you change the rules of the debate. Previously, your claim was that evolution could not produce “new information”. I provided a mechanism for how this could happen, and cited a case in which scientists believe a new gene arose via duplication plus point mutation. So now, rather than trying to maintain your argument that such things CANNOT happen, you switch to arguing that there is no proof that it DID happen in this case. These are very different claims.

    No, it sounds like you are trying to change the rules. Science isn’t a “could of happened” discipline. Chemistry doesn’t say “If we mix vinegar and baking soda, it COULD produce carbon dioxide.” It DOES produce carbon dioxide. Physics doesn’t say “If we drop this bowling ball, it COULD fall”. It DOES fall. Genetics can’t say “random mutations COULD create new information”. It would need to show that it DOES create new information.

    If we are just going on “could of happened” logic, then ID “could have happened”. Case closed. Isn’t that good enough?

  102. December 16, 2010 11:09 PM

    >>>>>You are still assuming that the langur monkey didn’t always have this gene. That is a big assumption. How can you say that RNASE1B took on a “new” function without proof that it is a “new” gene? The scientists assume that it is a duplicate modified by mutation. But what if it isn’t a duplicate at all, and it’s always looked like that?

    If you assume that all primates came from a common ancestor, then you are going to conclude that differences in the DNA are the result of genetic mutation and natural selection. The problem is in the assumption. Evolutionary geneticists have a bias toward proving evolution. Then they claim that ID geneticists aren’t scientists because they have a bias toward ID.

    It’s also “begging the question”, a logical fallacy. You want to prove evolution is true by showing mutation in duplicate genes. All other primates only have RNASE1. Langur monkeys have RNASE1B as well. Therefore you conclude that this must be a duplication and mutation that evolved over time. But that conclusion assumes the premise.
    ************

    Yochi, that was awesome. Way to point out the underlying assumptions of the evolutionists’ argument. That’s what we’re here for. Thanks for sticking to your guns and not giving up in the face of, say, “humesghost”‘s blind faith in his religion.

    >>>>>>Previously, your claim was that evolution could not produce “new information”…. So now, rather than trying to maintain your argument that such things CANNOT happen, you switch to arguing that there is no proof that it DID happen in this case. These are very different claims.

    Um, if it Can’t happen, then any claim that it did happen must be false. Yochi didn’t change the rules of debate at all. He’s just being consistent. You could stand to learn something from observing him.

  103. Chris permalink
    December 16, 2010 9:16 PM

    @humesghost
    Yoshi doesn’t understand evolution, he is just copying and pasting from creationist websites, like creationists usually do.

    One of Yoshi’s earlier statements :

    “>> I will admit that I didn’t know science considered natural selection to be non-random. I was not taught that. I do understand evolution in the terms you described.”

  104. humesghost permalink
    December 16, 2010 8:49 PM

    Yochi:

    So now you change the rules of the debate. Previously, your claim was that evolution could not produce “new information”. I provided a mechanism for how this could happen, and cited a case in which scientists believe a new gene arose via duplication plus point mutation. So now, rather than trying to maintain your argument that such things CANNOT happen, you switch to arguing that there is no proof that it DID happen in this case. These are very different claims.

    Let’s be clear about the dialectical situation. Even before Darwin, there was a mass of evidence, from fossils, comparative morphology and other sources, that strongly suggested a gradual development of living forms from simple organisms to the diverse array of complex lifeforms around today. Darwin proposed a mechanism for how this change had occurred, which explained all of the evidence. Modern genetics both adds to the explanatory model and provides a great deal of new evidence from comparative analysis of DNA, which all fits extremely well with the evolutionary model. This is all very strong evidence that evolution has occurred, and that this is the explanation for the diversity of life on Earth.

    Intelligent Design Theory states that, despite all of this evidence, evolution alone is not enough – there must also be an “intelligent designer”. To support this claim, evidence must be provided to show that there is some in-principle barrier to certain kinds of structures evolving by means of natural selection plus random mutation. That is what ID theorists try to do, and that is where the “evolution cannot produce new information” argument comes from. In this dialectical context, the defender of the theory of evolution need only provide a plausible mechanism; there is no onus to prove that this is in fact how things occurred. (Note, however, that the sources cited do, in fact, discuss evidence pointing to the specific evolutionary model suggested for this case.)

  105. yochi permalink
    December 16, 2010 6:19 PM

    @ humesghost

    >You aren’t reading carefully: as RNASE1B took on its new digestive function, it lost some of the functionality in its original, non-digestive function. But that function is still being performed by the unchanged duplicate copy of RNASE1. Thus, the organism as a whole has a new gene performing a new function, without losing any existing functions. By your standards, then, this is clearly a gain of “meaningful information”.

    You are still assuming that the langur monkey didn’t always have this gene. That is a big assumption. How can you say that RNASE1B took on a “new” function without proof that it is a “new” gene? The scientists assume that it is a duplicate modified by mutation. But what if it isn’t a duplicate at all, and it’s always looked like that?

    If you assume that all primates came from a common ancestor, then you are going to conclude that differences in the DNA are the result of genetic mutation and natural selection. The problem is in the assumption. Evolutionary geneticists have a bias toward proving evolution. Then they claim that ID geneticists aren’t scientists because they have a bias toward ID.

    It’s also “begging the question”, a logical fallacy. You want to prove evolution is true by showing mutation in duplicate genes. All other primates only have RNASE1. Langur monkeys have RNASE1B as well. Therefore you conclude that this must be a duplication and mutation that evolved over time. But that conclusion assumes the premise.

  106. humesghost permalink
    December 16, 2010 4:49 PM

    @yochi: It is also arguable that RNASE1B is a loss of meaningful information, because it results in a loss of function

    You aren’t reading carefully: as RNASE1B took on its new digestive function, it lost some of the functionality in its original, non-digestive function. But that function is still being performed by the unchanged duplicate copy of RNASE1. Thus, the organism as a whole has a new gene performing a new function, without losing any existing functions. By your standards, then, this is clearly a gain of “meaningful information”.

  107. yochi permalink
    December 16, 2010 4:29 PM

    @humesghost

    The langur monkey has two genes RNASE1 and RNASE1B. Because other primates only have RNASE1, the researchers conclude (assume) that RNASE1B is a duplicate. This conclusion is only on a deduction, not scientific testing. No one has observed the langur monkey develop this “duplicate”. Scientists have just been studying something that is already there. There is nothing in this research that would negate the possibility that all primates had both genes at one time, and the langur monkey is the only one that still does. Therefore it could be a LOSS of information.

    It is also arguable that RNASE1B is a loss of meaningful information, because it results in a loss of function:

    “At the same time, the ability to degrade double-stranded RNA, a non-digestive activity characteristic of primate RNASE1, has been lost in RNASE1B, indicating functional specialization and relaxation of purifying selection.”
    - Adaptive evolution of a duplicated pancreatic ribonuclease gene in a leaf-eating monkey (Nature Genetics 30, 411 – 415 (2002) )

    “Functional assays revealed that the colobine-specific RNASE1B achieves maximal efficiency at pH 6, which is within the pH range of the colobine foregut. This is in contrast to RNASE1, which functions optimally at the pH 7.4 characteristic of the human small intestine. Thus, the preponderance of negative substitutions in the evolution of RNASE1B seems directly related to the enzyme’s role in the low-pH colobine foregut. By contrast, site-directed mutagenesis revealed that seven of the nine substitutions that distinguish the sequence of RNASE1B from that of RNASE1 reduce its efficiency in degrading double-stranded RNA, a task of the ancestral enzyme. It appears that the evolutionarily innovative features of RNASE1B arose at the direct expense of efficiency in its ancestral function.”
    - Vegetarian adaptation, Diane P Genereux (Genome Biology 2002, 3:reports0033)

  108. humesghost permalink
    December 16, 2010 2:59 PM

    “Hurling elephants” (def.): the act of pointing out to creationists that, compared to their small handful of endlessly repeated and frequently debunked arguments, there are literally millions of independent pieces of evidence pointing to the correctness of the theory of evolution. If one fails to summarize each of these millions of pieces of evidence, in language that can be understood by someone with little science education who isn’t listening, one will be accused of the fallacy of hurling elephants (AKA, “too much information”).

    So let’s break it down to a single example out of the many that could be explored from the link I provided: RNASE1 and RNASE1B in the langur monkey. Here, a single gene, RNASE1, was duplicated by random mutation. Having an exact duplicate of a gene usually has no biological effect, allowing this mutant version to survive. A further series of random mutations in one of the copies led to a new version RNASE1B, which performs a function the original version RNASE1 could not perform well. Thus, from one gene performing one function, these monkeys have two genes performing two functions. On any definition of “information” that means anything, this represents an increase in information.

    To save you the trouble, the standard creationist response to this is to either redefine “information” once again and deny there is any new information, or to deny that this mechanism could ever lead to any “big” changes, like developing wings. If you wish to pursue the former approach, you need to give a precise formulation of what you mean by information – one that allows for definitive testing of your claim one way or the other. If you opt for the latter approach, it is incumbent upon you to specify where exactly the line between possible information-adding changes and impossible information-adding changes lies, and to provide an explanation of why there should be such a line. To my knowledge, no creationist has come remotely close to meeting these conditions on either option. (There is, of course, a third option, pursued by Stephen Meyer, of giving up on attacking evolution directly and switching targets to abiogenesis, something about which the theory of evolution is silent.)

  109. yochi permalink
    December 16, 2010 12:48 PM

    @Erik

    >>This is really open to interpretation at the whim of every individual. Yochi, I’d tentatively avoid trying to argue this, because this guy seems to indicate that he’s into ‘hurling elephants.’ The most recent ICR article about mutations in bacteria provides an interesting perspective on mutations.

    Yes, I agree with you. Although I did start looking at the materials in the link he posted. I’ve already been looking into this at ICR.

    I did find an interesting piece of info in the scientific research he linked to. I want to see if ICR has done research into this:

    @humesghost

    Fist of all, your link states that it is trying to refute the claim that no new material is generated via mutation. For the source of that claim, they link back to an AIG page that is addressed to high school students, discussing how to properly word their point of view respectfully in school. It is NOT a scientific paper on WHY new info can’t be generated via mutation. It would have been more fair to link to something like this: http://www.discovery.org/a/2177. This work, by the way was published in a peer review scientific journal: PROCEEDINGS OF THE BIOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON
    117(2):213-239. 2004. (Yes, this is the one that was subsequently retracted and caused much controversy in the scientific community. That is an entirely different subject from the contents of the paper.)

    However, there are two pieces of research that I want to address from the link you posted:

    PHYSIOLOGICAL CHARACTERIZATION OF ADAPTIVE CLONES IN EVOLVING POPULATIONS OF THE YEAST, SACCHAROMYCES CEREVISIAE (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1202558/pdf/173.pdf)

    In this study, baker’s yeast is cultured in a glucose poor environment. The results of this are elongated yeasts of the same total volume. Basically, the yeasts developed a larger surface area in order to absorb more of the glucose that was available. The claim is that it appears that the yeast developed new genetic material to accomplish this.

    Multiple Duplications of Yeast Hexose Transport Genes in Response to Selection in a Glucose-Limited Environment (http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/8/931.full.pdf)

    In this study, the same experiment is conducted, but this time specific duplication and mutation is documented in the yeast genome. The goal of the study was to prove the first study’s claim.

    I found another study that found the same results. (http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2164-8-25.pdf)

    Very interesting information. A lot to chew on. Like I said above, I want to check with some different geneticists about what I have concluded from reading these, but here it is in a nutshell:

    I noticed that the baker’s yeast in three studies “evolved” in exactly the same way. They each developed the same survival mechanism: namely increasing their surface area via elongation. It appears that they developed the same “new” genetic information. Where’s the diversity? If mutations are random, why didn’t one of the experiments just result in starved yeast? Or maybe yeasts with a lowered metabolism? NS can only select from the information that is already there. This elongation of yeast seems to just be something yeasts do to survive when there is limited food (or oxygen).

    Has anyone ever put these elongated yeasts back into a glucose rich environment to see what happens in the descendant population? Would they “revert” back to the standard yeast structure? Why didn’t we see any other answers to the survival of the fittest question?

    These are questions that I have, not answers. But I don’t think that these studies are conclusive evidence of new genetic information.

  110. Erik permalink
    December 16, 2010 11:51 AM

    >>>>You continue to repeat the claim that mutations never add information. But this is patently false. One common way for mutations to add information is via gene duplication, where a stretch of DNA gets copied twice and the two copies evolve to perform different functions via different mutations

    This is really open to interpretation at the whim of every individual. Yochi, I’d tentatively avoid trying to argue this, because this guy seems to indicate that he’s into ‘hurling elephants.’ The most recent ICR article about mutations in bacteria provides an interesting perspective on mutations.

  111. humesghost permalink
    December 15, 2010 4:29 PM

    Yochi: You continue to repeat the claim that mutations never add information. But this is patently false. One common way for mutations to add information is via gene duplication, where a stretch of DNA gets copied twice and the two copies evolve to perform different functions via different mutations. For examples of this, see http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB102.html (or better yet, read the whole archive and don’t trot out any more AiG lines until you have a properly researched response to the responses at talkorigins).

  112. Erik permalink
    December 15, 2010 3:14 PM

    >>>>>About your metaphor of a computer, let’s examine the loom which operates according to punch cards. Stack the cards randomly and run them through and you get a mess. But some of the threads will be in the right place. That occurs because the particular punch card coding for that thread happened to fall in the right order in the deck. So, keep that card at that location in the deck and shuffle the others

    But this is not Natural Selection. NS is not supposed to be able to predict the future, which is what you need to do in this example. You’re anticipating the correct result which has not happened yet, and purposefully choosing the cards that will help you get there–but Natural Selection can’t anticipate.
    Richard Dawkins himself says that evolution isn’t predictive, which is what your example would necessitate:
    “”…[we can't say] well, if we hold out for another million years, that should set us up splendidly to evolve in another million years’ time” Ref: [Dawkins, Richard [1986]. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-393-31570-3.]

    For your analogy to be correct, you would shuffle all the cards again, INCLUDING the ones that happened to have the “right” result, because NS can’t act on that. It can only keep what works, and that refers to the whole result. It can’t keep something that we anticipate -in the future- would be -part of- the right result. Your analogy is false.

    **********

    Lacey: I said: “And just as human language was not given to us by a Creator, but rather evolved from rudimentary soundmaking”
    Yochi: “The problem with that analogy is that human language develops due to us using our intellect.”
    But language wasn’t created by a single intellect

    The problem with this is that it commits the Begging the Question Fallacy. It assumes that which it is trying to prove. It uses the presupposition that evolution is true to presume that language evolved rather than being created, and then submits that as evidence for evolution. This is circular reasoning.

  113. yochi permalink
    December 15, 2010 8:02 AM

    @Lacey Stinson

    > Random would imply an equal probability of selecting either of the the two mutations. But that’s not what happens. There is a higher probability of the beneficial mutation being selected. Thus, Natural Selection is non-random.

    So, the only things that can be random are those that have an exactly 50-50 probability. If I flip a penny repeatedly, I’m more likely to get heads than tails over time. Thus, flipping a coin is non-random. Mutations are vastly more like to produce noise than ordered data. Therefore mutations are non-random.

    What you are talking about here is statistics. Random events have probability curves that can be applied to them. Some random events will produce a bell curve. That is, certain outcomes are more likely than others. But it is still random.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_distribution

  114. yochi permalink
    December 15, 2010 1:30 AM

    @Lacey Stinson

    > From this language I infer that you have little respect for science.

    I have a LOT of respect for science. It’s the scientists that are a problem, sometimes. Science requires testing a hypothesis via repeatable experimentation. Can you please demonstrate that information can arise from matter by random mutation via a repeatable experiment? Then it will be science. Until then, it is conjecture.

    So far, repeated experience shows that information in matter can always be traced back to an intelligent agent.

    Artificial Selection can be demonstrated. I’m not sure that Natural Selection could be demonstrated. By definition, you could not conduct an experiment. The fact that there is a scientist involved would cause it to be artificial. (I could be incorrect.)

    >The information got there by mutation (adding, changing, or removing genes). But Natural Selection is what preserved mutations into subsequent generations.

    Can you demonstrate mutations adding information? Any demonstrated mutation has been shown to be the removal of data. No new data. For example, bacteria have developed a resistance to antibiotics. But it has been shown that this is due to the fact that information was lost.

    > About your metaphor of a computer, let’s examine the loom which operates according to punch cards. Stack the cards randomly and run them through and you get a mess.

    Well, this wouldn’t work with actual life. After the first run on the loom with a random punch card order, you’d have to throw away all the thread. You couldn’t untangle it and try again. DNA doesn’t work in the way you described. In order for Natural Selection to work, there has to be a creature that can reproduce. That would mean there is a minimal set of punch cards, in order, that is required for the loom to work at all. Someone has to make the cards and the loom that can even use them. You need cards that are the right size and thickness, have the right size holes spaced out the correct distance. The loom needs a card feeder mechanism and pins that fit in the card holes, etc. The entire process is quite complicated. The cards and the loom could not be randomly generated simultaneously. The whole process appears to be engineered. But I’m focusing on DNA

    >Glucose contains information which defines its mechanical abilities. Same with DNA.

    Now you are contradicting yourself. Does DNA contain information or not? The information in DNA doesn’t define it’s own mechanical abilities. It defines OTHER molecular structures.

    > It is the mechanical abilities of molecules which allow them to combine with other atoms and molecular fragments to form moelecular objects which have properties different from the constituent parts

    No, what you are describing there is chemistry. (Chemistry is a science. You mix vinegar with baking soda and it gives off carbon dioxide. It does it every time.) DNA doesn’t combine with anything to create something else. DNA contains information for the construction of proteins. It doesn’t chemically react to produce a protein. If DNA was involved in a chemical reaction, the information in it would be destroyed.

    And it’s not like DNA is a protein ‘mold’. It is an encoded instruction set for producing proteins. It even has “start” and “stop” codes marking the beginning and the end of a protein code.

  115. December 15, 2010 1:00 AM

    @Yochi,

    mutation is random. Natural Selection is not.

    Given two mutations, one beneficial to reproductive fitness, the second one not, Natural Selection will more often select the first instead of the second one. That is not random.

    Random would imply an equal probability of selecting either of the the two mutations. But that’s not what happens. There is a higher probability of the beneficial mutation being selected. Thus, Natural Selection is non-random.

  116. Bryan permalink
    December 15, 2010 12:52 AM

    “I like to think of language having evolved due to billions of independent agents.”

    Is there any evidence to support this?

    If the development of language was the result of natural selection, how do we explain the lack of sophisticated languages in every other species?

  117. Bryan permalink
    December 15, 2010 12:44 AM

    Lacey,

    “From this language I infer that you have little respect for science. For this reason I am disinclined to engage you.”

    Are you serious??

    This may be news for you, but scientists have made many wrong conclusions in the past. It is perfectly okay for someone to “challenge a scientist”. Just because you view that challenge as a lack of respect, doesn’t mean the challenge shouldn’t be answered. It is this kind of attitude from the “scientific community” (who I will point out have made mistakes all along the way, and will continue to make mistakes, as that is the nature of hypothesis and experimentation), but it is this kind of attitude that breeds mistrust.

    If someone disagrees with you, just explain your position, but don’t belittle them and dismiss them. That’s the greatest logical fallacy of all.

  118. December 15, 2010 12:40 AM

    @Yochi

    I said: “And just as human language was not given to us by a Creator, but rather evolved from rudimentary soundmaking”

    Yochi: “The problem with that analogy is that human language develops due to us using our intellect.”

    But language wasn’t created by a single intellect. I like to think of language having evolved due to billions of independent agents, much as happens in nature with Natural Selection. Human language changes daily because there are billions of agents acting on it, modifying it, creating new words, misusing words, resurrecting dead words, etc. No single intellect is responsible. The environment in which language “lives” is a dispersed environment: the billions of individual “change machines” that live on the planet.

  119. December 15, 2010 12:35 AM

    Yochi,

    in your final paragraph you refer to the progress of scientific understanding as:

    “…[scientists] come up with some convoluted way…”

    From this language I infer that you have little respect for science. For this reason I am disinclined to engage you. If I were wrong about this, perhaps you could choose better language to describe scientific progress than you chose to use here. I do not mean this as an insult. But the use of the word “convoluted” does imply you either don’t grasp the science of it, or don’t respect the science of it. If you are interested in ideas, however, we can proceed.

    I will respond with this:

    “Natural Selection doesn’t account for the information in DNA, it only can select from the Information That Is Already There.”

    The information got there by mutation (adding, changing, or removing genes). But Natural Selection is what preserved mutations into subsequent generations. If the mutation is useless, it is more likely that Natural Selection will remove it from the genome. Thus, what you see as “information” in the genome, was made that way by Natural Selection. If Natural Selection did not take place, all mutations would remain in the genome, and you would have a hodgepodge of debris and nonsense in the genome. It would not be orderly at all, and would probably not code for anything because everything would have been hit by a mutation at one time or another. But that doesn’t happen because those organisms containing bad mutations typically don’t survive to pass on the bad mutations.

    The genomes of populations are self-correcting, in a degree. But there are exceptions to this rule.

    About your metaphor of a computer, let’s examine the loom which operates according to punch cards. Stack the cards randomly and run them through and you get a mess. But some of the threads will be in the right place. That occurs because the particular punch card coding for that thread happened to fall in the right order in the deck. So, keep that card at that location in the deck and shuffle the others. Run the cards through and see which threads are in the right place (other than the first one). For those threads, keep their associated cards fin their position in the deck, and keep the previous “correctly ordered” card where it is, and shuffle the remaining cards. Do this until the desired image on the loom is built up correctly. This works. But instead of you choosing which threads are the right ones, with life it is Natural Selection which decides which threads work and which don’t.

    The stack of cards is now coding for a seemingly designed pattern created by the loom, but in fact, with Natural Selection, there is no way to predict when a thread is correct or when it is not. The appearance of a designed code in the cards is the illusion. A particular ordering is necessary to create a particular image, but that particular image was determined by completely natural forces. You could think of these forces as billions of natural agents all posing a risk to the reproductive fitness of the organism.

    And you don’t even have to start with the whole deck. You could start with just a few cards, and add more cards, or remove some from time to time, and have the selective force decide which threads work and which don’t.

    It is still an entirely mechanical system.

    “Glucose is a molecule, but it doesn’t contain any information one could use to make something else.”

    Glucose contains information which defines its mechanical abilities. Same with DNA. It is the mechanical abilities of molecules which allow them to combine with other atoms and molecular fragments to form moelecular objects which have properties different from the constituent parts. Glucose, like all molecules, has the ability to do work. This is the nature of atoms and molecules alike.

  120. yochi permalink
    December 14, 2010 10:56 PM

    I need to correct something I stated

    >>The information would still exist in the new media. If we had the capabilities (I don’t know if we do or not), we could take that code back to the lab and reassemble the DNA using molecular structures.

    What I meant to say is that we could take that code back to the lab and build the proteins described by the code in the DNA, not rebuild the actual DNA itself.

  121. Truth permalink
    December 14, 2010 9:32 PM

    **********
    I find it interesting how science changes it’s tune after someone points out their discoveries don’t support their own world view. The Bible says that the universe was created. Science used to say that the universe was eternal. Then they came up with the Big Bang theory, which just helped support the Biblical view. Well, then they had to come up with some convoluted way to explain how the universe didn’t really have a beginning, like the oscillating universe or the multiverse. Or they come up with some reason that things can pop into existence without a cause. When DNA was originally discovered, and right up to the present, science would call it “the language of life” or “genetic information” or “the genetic code”. Then when someone points out that this would necessitate a designer, all of a sudden it’s NOT information, or a code, or a language. Now it’s something complicated that the average person wouldn’t understand. I learned that natural selection is random. Artificial selection (breeding) isn’t random. Now NS is “non-random”. Science only uses that non-word because the real words imply a creator. Last I heard, random meant that something that no definite plan, order, or purpose. So non-random would have a definite plan, order, and/or purpose. That would require a creator. Natural selection doesn’t have a definite anything. It has no plan. It has no purpose. It is very disorderly. What works works, and what doesn’t doesn’t. Let’s throw some dung at the wall, see what sticks, and call it art. Sounds random to me.
    *******

    SOOOO TRUE…..!

  122. yochi permalink
    December 14, 2010 5:37 PM

    @Lacey Stinson

    >> And just as human language was not given to us by a Creator, but rather evolved from rudimentary soundmaking

    The problem with that analogy is that human language develops due to us using our intellect. If you are agreeing that DNA contains information, even a language, then there is no other demonstrable evidence of information arising in matter without an intellect behind it.

  123. yochi permalink
    December 14, 2010 5:30 PM

    @Lacey Stinson

    >> When a Creationist points to information in DNA and says it must have been designed, they are ignoring natural selection entirely. Natural selection decides what has meaning and what doesn’t.

    Natural Selection doesn’t account for the information in DNA, it only can select from the Information That Is Already There.

    >> I strongly disagree. Nothing is “communicated” to enzymes in the way you state. It is a mechanical function which causes amino acids to be built. Enzymes do not have to decipher the code. The code is nothing more than a mechanical system completely unaware of anything called “information”

    Sort of like your computer. The computer doesn’t “understand” computer code. All computer code does is cause switches inside the computer to turn on or off. That’s all. Higher level code that looks like english requires other code to compile it into assembly language, which then converts it to zeros and ones. These zeros and ones refer to the state of addressable memory in the computer. The first computers were completely mechanical, using punch cards to store the information. But that doesn’t mean that the code isn’t information. A jacquard loom uses punch cards to control an absolutely mechanical process. The loom doesn’t “read” the cards. The holes in the card allows parts of the loom to move, while other parts do not. The result is a complicated weave pattern. The result isn’t even informative, but the punch cards are. They contain information. So does DNA. Or you can call it code or instructions, but it’s still there.

    >> The code does not exist separate from the DNA. (Just how would that be possible?)

    You’re kidding, right? We have decoded the human genome, at least to some extent. We have assigned letters to each of the molecular structures inside DNA, namely A T C and G. You could write down the information found in DNA on a lot of paper by hand with a bunch of pencils, thus storing the code outside of DNA and developing tendonitis. You could store it in the magnetic fields of a computer hard drive, or knit it into a very long scarf. It’s all just different media. The information would still exist in the new media. If we had the capabilities (I don’t know if we do or not), we could take that code back to the lab and reassemble the DNA using molecular structures.

    There is information inside DNA that is more than the DNA itself. Glucose is a molecule, but it doesn’t contain any information one could use to make something else. You could use it as a pattern to make more glucose, maybe. DNA contains information about other molecular structures that are not DNA. That is information.

    I find it interesting how science changes it’s tune after someone points out their discoveries don’t support their own world view. The Bible says that the universe was created. Science used to say that the universe was eternal. Then they came up with the Big Bang theory, which just helped support the Biblical view. Well, then they had to come up with some convoluted way to explain how the universe didn’t really have a beginning, like the oscillating universe or the multiverse. Or they come up with some reason that things can pop into existence without a cause. When DNA was originally discovered, and right up to the present, science would call it “the language of life” or “genetic information” or “the genetic code”. Then when someone points out that this would necessitate a designer, all of a sudden it’s NOT information, or a code, or a language. Now it’s something complicated that the average person wouldn’t understand. I learned that natural selection is random. Artificial selection (breeding) isn’t random. Now NS is “non-random”. Science only uses that non-word because the real words imply a creator. Last I heard, random meant that something that no definite plan, order, or purpose. So non-random would have a definite plan, order, and/or purpose. That would require a creator. Natural selection doesn’t have a definite anything. It has no plan. It has no purpose. It is very disorderly. What works works, and what doesn’t doesn’t. Let’s throw some dung at the wall, see what sticks, and call it art. Sounds random to me.

  124. December 14, 2010 4:56 PM

    I’d like to clarify a couple of points I made below. I suggested that HOUSE might code for a particular series of amino acids which would produce a proten. In one environment this protein would be useful, thus we would say HOUSE had meaning. But in a different environment, that protein might not be useful at all, in which case HOUSE would be meaningless. Thus, the same sequence of letters has both meaning and no meaning, depending upon what Natural Selection makes of it.

    Yochi’s attempt to correlate DNA with a language could be modified in the above way. Just as real language evolves, meanings change, some meanings die and new ones are born, so it would be with the “language” of DNA. New meaning would be created if Natural Selection imbued that meaning onto a new mutation. Also, meaning would die when Natural Selection chose a particular DNA sequence to be bred out of a population or to be placed in the junk DNA pool. Words would gain new accents and/or shift their meaning when a particular protein was put to a different use from the one it had been used for previously.

    And just as human language was not given to us by a Creator, but rather evolved from rudimentary soundmaking (all the evidence suggests this is so, which is also to say there is no evidence, other than anecdotal stories, to suggest it is not so), so too can we see this evolution of meaning in DNA, where genes acquire new functions, cease to function, or are removed from the genome entirely, and more importantly, we see new genes come into existance via retroviruses, among other methods. In this sense, we would call it a language, for language turns out to be made of sounds that work. Those that don’t work are cut out of the language.

  125. December 14, 2010 3:27 PM

    My references to “amino acids” should probably be replaced by “proteins”. Otherwise, the mechanical nature of the building of proteins remains the same.

  126. December 14, 2010 12:42 PM

    Yochi: “Of course, we have to establish an code of 26 symbols and agree on what their shape and sounds are and what the meaning of the sounds are, the syntax and structure, etc. Otherwise, what is the difference between MOOSE and ZXHGO?”

    That is precisely the point, Yochi. There is no difference, except in whether or not natural selection chooses one over the other. There is no predefined meaning to the letter sequences. Given one environment, MOOSE would have absolutely no meaning, and so it would die out. Whereas in another environment, ZXHGO would code for a specific amino acid, therefore we would conclude it contains “information”.

    There is no predefined meaning to letters; there is no predefined phonetic sound to letters. With respect to the environment: what works, works; what doesn’t, doesn’t. It’s as simple as that.

    When a Creationist points to information in DNA and says it must have been designed, they are ignoring natural selection entirely. Natural selection decides what has meaning and what doesn’t. The meaning of a sequence is not determined beforehand. Either a particular sequence, ZXHGO for instance, gets translated into a useful amino acid, or it doesn’t. It may even get coded into a non-useful amino acid. What does that say about a designer? That the designer makes mistakes?

    Yochi (continued): “That is what language is about. It is a code to communicate something from one person to another. It’s not just a pretty pattern. DNA contains an encoded message. It is used to communicate instructions to enzymes to build proteins. The code exists separate from the DNA itself.”

    I strongly disagree. Nothing is “communicated” to enzymes in the way you state. It is a mechanical function which causes amino acids to be built. Enzymes do not have to decipher the code. The code is nothing more than a mechanical system completely unaware of anything called “information”.

    The code does not exist separate from the DNA. (Just how would that be possible?) The DNA “is” the code. The code gets translated via physical mechanisms, just like a machine. Molecules are like little machines. They sometimes have a front and a back, they have behaviors that are specific to themselves. Molecules are able to act on other molecules in mechanistic ways. No one has yet suggested that molecules are designed and therefore must have been created by a God, and yet they are analogous to the processes of DNA, itself simply a very large molecule. We understand how molecules form. They form naturally. We understand how the code in DNA forms, once the process is started (apparently with as few as 220 base pairs). Those letter sequences which lead to traits which are beneficial to the reproductive fitness of the organism carrying those letter sequences are preserved (because of the reproduction).

    HOUSE <– has meaning because it mechanically causes an amino acid to be built.
    MOUSE <– ha no meaning because it produces a right-handed amino acid.
    MOOSE <– has no meaning because it causes nothing to be built.
    Y((GY <– has meaning because it causes a left-handed amino acid to be built.

    MOUSE and MOOSE will either become junk DNA, ignored by the transcription machinery, or it will disappear from the genome because the organisms carrying those genes were ill-equipped to survive long enough to reproduce.

    HOUSE and Y((GY are more likely to spread thoughout the population of interbreeding organisms because they are beneficial to the survival and reproduction of the organisms carrying those genes.

    The lettering sequence is randomly generated (through mutation), but the selection process is non-random. Natural Selection chooses only those sequences which are beneficial to the reproduction of the organism (that's why Y((GY can have meaning while MOOSE has no meaning). Mutation is random. Natural Selection is non-random.

  127. Answer permalink
    December 13, 2010 11:07 PM

    >>>>>Micro and macro evolution is just plain rubbish – invented by creationists because you had to admit to a certain change in, for instance, dogs and cats.

    LOL, apparently we have a revisionist historian on our hands. The terms micro and macro evolution were invented by evolutionists, buddy. Look it up.

  128. Bryan permalink
    December 13, 2010 4:46 PM

    And it is this political side of science that makes science not always so “scientific”. In fact, in terms of the argument, to simply contend that the belief in a supernatural cause is incorrect because it’s not scientific (i.e. of the natural world) is actually just a version of the logical fallacy of “appealing to authority”.

    Quite possibly, science is not the final authority.

  129. Bryan permalink
    December 13, 2010 4:43 PM

    Based on what the website is asking for, I think we should admit that, yochi (in DNA) has provided extraordinary evidence for an intelligent designer.

  130. yochi permalink
    December 13, 2010 4:43 PM

    “Up until today (November 2010), the ID movement has not published a single peer-reviewed article in a recognized scientific journal. ID is religious in nature, being a modern form of Creationism, which is itself derived from a literal and fundamentalist interpretation of the biblical book of Genesis. However, unlike standard Creationists, the supporters of ID may not necessarily agree with the Young Earth hypothesis.”

    That is because everyone in the ID movement is vilified. A paper was published once in a scientific journal, but the resulting furor from the scientific community caused the editor of the journal to step down. The scientific community states that ID is not science, so how could they get something published in a scientific journal that is controlled by the scientific community?

  131. yochi permalink
    December 13, 2010 4:39 PM

    @Evil-illusionist

    Of course, we have to establish an code of 26 symbols and agree on what their shape and sounds are and what the meaning of the sounds are, the syntax and structure, etc. Otherwise, what is the difference between MOOSE and ZXHGO? That is what language is about. It is a code to communicate something from one person to another. It’s not just a pretty pattern. DNA contains an encoded message. It is used to communicate instructions to enzymes to build proteins. The code exists separate from the DNA itself.

    To quote Dawkins:
    “every single one of more than a trillion cells in the body contains about a thousand times as much precisely-coded digital information as my entire computer. The complexity of living organisms is matched by the elegant efficiency of their apparent design. If anyone doesn’t agree that this amount of complex design cries out for an explanation, I give up.” (The Blind Watchmaker, preface, page xiii)

    Even Dawkins has admitted here that there is precisely-coded digital information in DNA. I am a computer programmer. Code requires a coder, as we refer to ourselves. Dawkins even states here that it is “apparent design”. Of course, then he devotes an entire book trying to explain why it is not.

    Occam’s razor states “”the simplest explanation is more likely the correct one”. We find what appears to be intelligent design, precisely-coded digital information. My explanation: this is evidence of ID. Dawkins explanation: a 300 page book on why it isn’t

    An intelligent designer is the simpler explanation, and a quite logical deduction. It isn’t “we don’t know how this happened, therefore God did it”. We absolutely do know how information arises in matter. Every time we see information in matter, we know it is the result of an intelligent agent. I don’t even know why you would go searching any further. It is a known fact. It has been proven over and over again. We could go on proving it forever, and it wouldn’t be good enough.

    What evidence would be good enough for you?! Would God Himself have to come down to earth and explain it to you, and perhaps write down how He created the world? (Oh… yeah… that wasn’t good enough, either.)

    DNA is EXTRAORDINARY EVIDENCE!!!

  132. Bryan permalink
    December 13, 2010 3:04 PM

    @Evil-Illusionist

    “the problem with your argument is that you think of DNA and information as something having a certain meaning, wich [sic] it doesn’t. It’s a non-random sequence that has a certain function…”

    Actually, the problem is that you attack Yochi’s position by claiming that DNA isn’t information, and then you follow it up by saying that DNA is “a non-random sequence”?? How does this prove or build the case that DNA isn’t information. Last time I checked, that was one of the elements of information. Not being random, but being planned, designed.

    DNA has all of the hallmarks of information. And using the scientific method, which would have us examine every observable event in which information exists and we can know the source of that information, decisively proves that information only comes from intelligence. Therefore, it is extremely scientific to state that information comes from intelligence and therefore, if we find information in the natural world, it is very reasonable to expect to find an intelligent cause at work in the origins of life.

  133. Evil-Illusionist permalink
    December 13, 2010 2:08 PM

    Yochi – actually there’s a one in 26 chance of getting the letter right. It doesn’t matter if there’s no intelligence behind the change – given time and natural sellection (killing of those who means nothing) would eventually produce a new word.

    The problem with your argument is that you think of DNA and information as something having a certain meaning, wich it doesn’t. It’s a non-random sequence that has a certain function – change the sequence, you change the function. If you put some of those functions together you might even get more than the sum of the two parts; coorporation. and that is probably how the first singlecelled organisms turned into more complex lifeforms.

    Micro and macro evolution is just plain rubbish – invented by creationists because you had to admit to a certain change in, for instance, dogs and cats.
    But because there is no known barrier to large change and because we can expect small changes to accumulate into large changes, microevolution implies macroevolution. Small changes to developmental genes or their regulation can cause relatively large changes in the adult organism (Shapiro et al. 2004).

    Just consider the wolf – in just about 12.000 years it has been changed from wolf to great dane and from wolf to chiuaua.
    Give it selective breeding and breed the chiuaua smaller and breed just the dogs that can survive on vegetables.
    With the great danes, breed them bigger and just select those who eat meat.
    My prediction (open for falsification) is that in less than 1000 generations you will have somthing resembeling a mouse and another beeing quite bear-like. They will have a common anscestor and therefore be related and you could call both wolves.. but why would you? They’d be further apart than a lion and a tiger – and I hope we can agree on them beeing seperate species?

    Intelligent breeding and natural selections isn’t really that far apart. Intelligent breeding favors certain traits (soft thick fur, long legs, fast runner) while natural selection favors traits that can help you survive (thick fur, long legs, fast runner).
    Change the environment you change the favored traits.

    Anyway – if wolves can produce a great dane and a chiuaua in 10.000 years – mouse to moose would be entirely posible if you had a million years time.

  134. yochi permalink
    December 13, 2010 11:14 AM

    @Evil-Illusionist

    “House <- original

    Mouse <- Changed infomation
    
Moose <- Changed information"

    The problem with this example is that it is directed by an intelligent mind, namely yours. (Yes, I do consider you to be intelligent, just incorrect.)

    "Just because you change something doesn't nessesarrily render it useless."

    I never said that. I said that mutation would not introduce NEW information.

    "Anyway – you can observe evolution. breeding cats and dogs for instance.
But even in the wild you can observe how different groups of the same species of fish change when cut of from their usual environment."

    Breeding dogs will not create some new species, because it does not introduce new information. You are only selecting from the information that is still there. The dogs remain dogs. Dog breeds are just an example of limiting the gene pool to produce a desired trait. If you mix the population and allow the dogs to breed freely, you get mutt dogs again. All the information is still there in the total population. Same with the fish. You even state that they are the same species of fish.

    "the best proof must be the resist bacteria causing trouble in most western hospitals. It's the same old bacteria, but now with a new advantage."

    It has been shown that the bacteria lost genetic information. That attribute of the bacteria that the antibiotics took advantage of is no longer there, or that the attribute is no longer a dominant trait. No new information. Some of the population in the bacteria was always resistant to antibiotics, but that was a recessive genetic trait. In the presence of antibiotics, those bacteria with the recessive genetic trait became more capable of reproducing. If we stopped using antibiotics completely for a period of time, it is possible that the bacteria population would return to the non-resistant state. If some aspect of the environment caused brown eyed humans to die before they were old enough to reproduce, everyone would eventually have blue eyes. No new information, just the loss of the genetic information that causes brown eyes.

    My point again is that DNA contains information. Information does not arise in matter without an intelligent agent. We know this from repeated experience, which is the basis for scientific reasoning. Therefore, DNA is extraordinary evidence of an ID.

  135. Evil-Illusionist permalink
    December 13, 2010 9:41 AM

    “I do NOT accept it as logical and possible that mutations will ever generate NEW information”

    House <- original
    Mouse <- Changed infomation
    Moose <- Changed infomation

    Just because you change something doesn't nessesarrily render it useless.

    Anyway – you can observe evolution. breeding cats and dogs for instance.
    But even in the wild you can observe how different groups of the same species of fish change when cut of from their usual environment.

    the best proof must be the resist bacteria causing trouble in most western hospitals. It's the same old bacteria, but now with a new advantage.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/survival/clock/index.html

    And please read a book explaining the whole subject, not just random critical ID web-pages, cherrypicking stuff they can twist and turn to their advantage.
    Start of with Richard Dawkins "Greatest Show on Eart" and maybe "The Blind Wachmaker"
    The try some basic science – I will recommend Alan Chalmers "What is This Thing Called Science? " Easy entrence to basic science.

  136. yochi permalink
    December 12, 2010 8:39 PM

    @Evil-illusionist

    And Evolution IS science? Science is a system of gaining knowledge through observation and experimentation using the scientific method. You cannot observe evolution. If it does happen, it happens over long periods of time. You cannot do experiments on it, you can’t make a creature evolve. Any experiments I have heard of that that are used to claim support of evolution have one common problem: they are all directed by intelligent beings called humans. Humans were able to create an environment where they could cause some basic amino acids to form, for example. But that would just support ID. An Intelligent Agent was involved.

    @Andy

    I do NOT accept it as logical and possible that mutations will ever generate NEW information. Any examples that I’ve seen of genetic mutations that allowed a species to survive have been the result of a REDUCTION of information. One specific one I remember is a species of beetle that lost its wings altogether, because there was a change in the environment where excess winds were killing beetles. Some beetles were born without wings and were not killed by the wind. Those new beetles LOST information. Can you give me an example of NEW information being generated by mutation?

    >>If you then do some research into it all you will see that what we see in nature is EXACTLY what you’d expect if evolution were true.

    If evolution were true, I would EXPECT lower life forms to have less genetic information than humans. But that is not true. Plants have more DNA than humans. Amoebae have a lot more DNA. So, no I don’t agree with that.

    I have an hypothesis that an intelligent agent was responsible for the rise of life on earth. If this is true, I should expect to find evidence of that intelligence. Every living creature contains information written in a code using the molecular structure of DNA as the medium. Information doesn’t arise from matter without an intelligent agent. DNA contains information, and that is consistent with my hypothesis. It is not consistent with an evolution hypothesis. I have heard no plausible explanation of the existence of information in matter without intelligence.

    Therefore I conclude that the information contained in DNA is extraordinary evidence that points to Intelligent Design.

  137. December 12, 2010 12:29 PM

    Erik Walker, sometimes going by the name of Free Thinker, is a troll. His only intention, it seems, is to pick fights and stir in a heavy amount of chaos. I suggest he no longer be responded to in this thread if he is unable to post a one-question or one-statement comment.

  138. Evil-illusionist permalink
    December 12, 2010 11:52 AM

    “Science has theories, but discounts ID as a theory, because it isn’t natural. ”

    No – it’s beacuse it isn’t science – and it doesn’t play by the rules of science.

  139. Andy permalink
    December 12, 2010 11:27 AM

    @yoshi

    >> I will admit that I didn’t know science considered natural selection to be non-random. I was not taught that. I do understand evolution in the terms you described.

    If you accept it as logical and possible that the “good” mutations will be selected by nature, Natural Selection, then what you are also accepting is that new “information” can be added to DNA via a completely natural process. So DNA can be “built” up using random mutations (good or bad) and non-random naturally selection. It’s not that difficult to understand really.

    If you then do some research into it all you will see that what we see in nature is EXACTLY what you’d expect if evolution were true. Watch ALL of this video to understand what I mean http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MXTBGcyNuc. I seriously recommend you buy the book “The Blind Watchmaker”, it provides a good account of how evolution/NS works.

    >> NS does not account for the existence of DNA itself.

    True, but Evolution by NS explains the variety of life on this planet. So although it may not explain why DNA exists, it explains how DNA may be “built” up to contain lots of “information”

    Abiogenesis is the subject that deals with how life arises from inanimate matter through natural processes, and the method by which life on Earth arose.

  140. yochi permalink
    December 12, 2010 10:40 AM

    @Andy

    I will admit that I didn’t know science considered natural selection to be non-random. I was not taught that. I do understand evolution in the terms you described. I could go on a tangent about how a non-random yet undirected process is oxymoronic, but that would be a red herring.

    Natural selection works along side of random mutations in DNA. NS does not account for the existence of DNA itself.

    My original point is that DNA is extraordinary evidence of intelligent design, which is what this site is calling for.

    DNA is a molecular structure containing information. That information is separate from its medium. A book can contain information. The ink printed on the paper is not the information, but it can convey information. This is an important difference. The same information that is encoded in DNA could be written down in a a series of books (at least theoretically.) It could also be stored in on a computer hard drive. But the information in these three mediums would be the same information.

    Any time we see information encoded in a medium, such as books or computer hard drives, we rightly conclude that there must be an intelligent agent behind it.

    Therefore, it is a reasonable conclusion that DNA is the result of an intelligent agent.

    Now I suppose that you will call on me to prove it. But this site didn’t call on me to prove it, just to provide evidence. I say that I have done so. Science hasn’t proven it wrong, nor proven any other cause of DNA.

    One cannot prove the existence of a super natural agent via strictly natural methods. Science has theories, but discounts ID as a theory, because it isn’t natural. The existence of a super natural agent can only be a logical deduction. Unless, of course, the super natural agent came into our universe and talked to humans and told them all about itself and had humans write down these things in a book to share with other humans. But that’s another subject on this site.

  141. Brian Ritter permalink
    December 12, 2010 3:30 AM

    [>>False. Creationism was proved to be religious in nature in earlier court cases

    I.e. not through science, because you couldn’t prove it wrong, so you had to cry to daddy to make the mean ID man go away.

    Did it work?]

    “Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.”
    - S. D. Weitzenhoffer

    ID has been proven wrong on several accounts – and there’s been pointed at severe flaws in the theory.
    ID isn’t a scientific theory – it claims victory by default:
    Evolution can’t produce and eye -> ID
    Evolution can’t produce a wing -> ID
    Evolution can’t produce a flagella motor -> ID

    But ID isn’t an alternative, even IF they were right in their critisism. ID has NO explanatory power other than god did it (or the new version: something supernatural did it).

    ID, still, isn’t science.
    And taking that to court, actually isn’t a science thing – it’s because ID won’t die like real scientific hypothesis that turns out to be wrong, but keeps insisting that it’s OK to suspend scientific protocol “because we’re really sure” and therefore insist on beeing a part of education.

    Now changing their retoric and claiming “equal time” and “teach the controversy” is just rediculous.
    Astrology isn’t an alternative to astronomy.
    Homeopathy isn’t an alternative to medicine
    Numorology ins’t an alternative to math
    Flat earth theory isn’t an alternative to round earth theory.
    Flood theory isn’t an alternative to geology
    Exorcism isn’t an alternative to psychology
    Miracles sin’t an alternative to physics
    Intelligent design/creationism isn’t an alternative to evolution – even though you happen to really belive in it.
    It doesn’t matter how many flaws you point at in evolution, ID isn’t an alternative. Even if evolution is proven wrong, ID still isn’t a scientific alternative.

    It’s like “proving” my own little ‘people-can-fly-if-they-really-belive-in-it-theory’ by pointing out that Newtons theory of gravity has certain flaws, like explaining the orbit of Mercury satisfactory – and then claim that my theory therefore must be right.
    Don’t belive me? Jump of a tall building and prove me wrong!

  142. December 10, 2010 12:50 AM

    >>>>>False. Creationism was proved to be religious in nature in earlier court cases

    I.e. not through science, because you couldn’t prove it wrong, so you had to cry to daddy to make the mean ID man go away.

    Did it work?

    >>>>>Science is not religion, proposes no deity, has no ritualized observances with respect to a doctrine, and deals only with physical reality.

    Naturalism is religion, proposes the explicit nonexistence of a deity, has ritualized observances with respect to doctrine, and deals only with physical reality (and sometimes magic). You committed the Fallacy of Equivocation–science is not naturalism. Naturalism is what you are thinking of when you think of ‘science.’

    >>>>>>The judge was not ruling what is science, he was ruling that a particular proposition (ID) was religious in nature, as that touches upon Constitutional issues.

    If the judge was not ruling ‘what is science,’ then why are you claiming ID is not scientific? You just contradicted yourself.

    **************
    Me: “ID was ‘dreamed up’ by Creationists!!!!. It uses the same texts, the same wording, with all references to ‘Creationism’ simply being replaced by the phrase ‘Intelligent Design.”

    Erik: “And America is a Christian country because it was founded by Christians. You used the same false logic with your above claim. Hope you see it.”

    First, your statement doesn’t seem to have anything to do with mine.
    *******************

    Then stare at it until it does. Your lack of understanding is entirely your own problem.

    >>>>>> I use no ‘logic’ in my statement.

    Thanks for admitting that.

    >>>>>>Yes, getting ahead of myself is what imagining the possibilities is all about. But you seem to have a poor imagination; it seems difficult for you to conceive possibilities

    Is Star Trek scientific? (if the answer is ‘yes,’ then spend some time asking yourself why you said ‘yes,’ and then ask yourself why the answer to Noah’s Flood is supposedly ‘no.’ Compare and contrast the two).

    >>>>>>Me: “it means we can simulate evolution in the laboratory, thus aiding in building a model as to how evolution progresses.”

    Erik: “But no evolution took place. You took the engine from one car’s frame, and put it inside another frame. You have the same mechanics, you just moved them from one body to another. No change.”

    Read my statement again, Erik. I did not claim evolution took place,

    …..So, when you “simulate evolution,” you’re not actually simulating “evolution?” You’re not being consistent. If simulating evolution has nothing to do with evolution, then why call it that?

    >>>>>>What Venter did was to build an engine from scratch, nut by nut, bolt by bolt, molecule by molecule, according the map we have made of one particular ‘working’ engine.

    If that’s what you think, then you didn’t read the dispatch. He did not piece-by-piece organize the lipids, amines, ions, golgi complexes, lysosomes, mitochondrions, or other organelles. Or did he? Then why didn’t he say so. Please point out the claim.

    >>>>>>“The last two [whales and snakes] are easy to debunk: they’re not vestigial. The whale bone is not a hip–it’s a structure that aids in mating–plus, muscles attach to it.”

    You are probably correct that muscles attach to it. And I’d be willing to bet that those muscles are the same muscles which attach to the hip bones in other mammals, and that they attach in the exact same locations. Your argument is unsupported.

    Enjoy. http://creation.com/the-strange-tale-of-the-leg-on-the-whale
    http://www.trueorigin.org/ng_whales01.asp

    >>>>Not much of a rebuttal. Here’s a link which includes a brief description of the “recurrent laryngeal nerve” (referenced above as the vagus nerve):

    Okay, you asked for more, so here it is:
    http://creation.com/recurrent-laryngeal-nerve
    http://www.icr.org/article/that-troubling-laryngeal-nerve/

    >>>>>>The things you lead people to are poison to the mind. When imbibed, the mind ceases to function properly, and because it doesn’t function properly, it can’t discern its own flawed thinking.

    And you think this can happen to you against your will? Isn’t that rather superstitious? Not even most Christians I know are that scared of reading something that’ll challenge their beliefs.

    **************
    Me: “Bacteria have been observed to evolve in 20-year long experiments (they changed).”

    Erik: “They’re still the same species. They didn’t change.”

    They did change. That’s precisely the point. Don’t be a moron. Their genomes changed. It’s called ‘change’ because it is not the same as before. That’s what the word ‘change’ means.
    ********************

    I thought you knew the difference between micro and macro evolution (that’s not a word creationists made up, either). Noticing some frameshifts or indels does not equate to evolution. If you can’t create a new organism that can’t back-reproduce with the parent organism, you haven’t demonstrated evolution–the kind that states that we’re allegedly related to these bacteria.

    >>>>>>>>Me: “Chemistry alone is capable of self-replication, and it doesn’t need a creator to make it happen”

    Erik: “Order is not equivalent to complexity.”

    What does order or complexity have to do with the statement I made about self-replicating molecules? Do you not understand the significance of self-replication to life?

    *sigh* I hope you’ve put aside time for reading. You’re asking questions, and here are some answers to get you started:
    http://www.trueorigin.org/steiger.asp

    ****************
    Me: “A 13.7 billion year old universe, with 400 billion galaxies, each containing billions of stars and untold billions of planets, is completely out of proportion of any story of divine creation of an Adam and Eve in a tiny universe, on one tiny planet, a mere 10,000 years ago.”

    Erik: “Why? Because God needs a tiny universe in order to exist?”

    No, because some humans need a tiny God which they can carry around with them in a tiny book, a God which doesn’t require them to wonder about how things work; a God which protects them from having to live with unanswered questions; a God which gives them certainty in everything. This is a tiny god, no bigger than one’s own ignorance.
    **************

    You fail to answer the question. What makes you think a large universe with lots of stars somehow makes a Creator less likely than a small universe?

    **************
    Me: “The universe is old. Life is old.”

    Erik: “~6,000 years is pretty old. I agree.”

    Okay, so you really are saying that the entire universe is ~6000 years old. This means the furthest galaxies we are able to see are at most 6000 lightyears away (never mind all the established science you have to throw out to accept this). But to put it simply, that means the distances to some of our closest galaxies (and possibly even those of the Virgo Supercluster) should be able to be measured directly (even you could do it) using simple parallax methods. Observing these galaxies from opposite sides of the earth’s orbit should cause them to shift slightly from side to side against the background of more distant galaxies. How come parallax only works for the nearest stars within our own galaxy, and not for any galaxies themselves? It seems our own galaxy is vastly larger than you allow for the entire universe. Something’s very wrong here, and I dare say the problem doesn’t lie with science. You do know what parallax is, no? Or do you also claim that the earth is not really ~93 million miles from the sun? Do you even believe that the earth orbits the sun?
    ******************

    If you REALLY want the answers to your questions, read the links I’m giving you. Here’s the answer to the above challenge:
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v3/n1#anisotropic-synchrony-convention

    It’s technical, since Young Earth Creation PhDs are real scientists. You might not be able to understand it. I was, so I figured if you can keep an open mind, you will, too.

    >>>>>>>The evidence is fossilized bacteria which are found throughout the precambrian strata — which is quite thick — while nothing else other than bacteria is found there (the Proterozoic layers). These rocks can be dated by numerous techniques. The evidence indicates, even without dating, that at the earliest periods of earth history, only bacteria existed.

    You’re leaping and bounding. Without interpretation, all this indicates is that bacteria DIED in places in the earth’s crustal rock that other creatures have not. Presuming that all the evidence is of actual bacteria and not theorized traces that bacteria would’ve ‘left behind.’

    Bacterial fossils (be they that) exist farther down in the rock record than other fossils. Depth does not immediately translate to age. You need to interpret it to get that.

    >>>>>>Me: “There is no evidence to suggest this ordering of events was different.”

    Erik: “Only the fact that the “ordering” changes every month, year, decade, etc?”

    What? Surely you’re not referring to the advancement of knowledge, or to how new discoveries clarify areas of knowledge which were not very clear before

    Not at all. Apparently you think “complete revision” is the same as “being more accurate.” When the ‘age of the universe’ changes from 20,000 to 500,000 to 40 million to 2 billion to eventually 4.5-ish billion years, that’s not “getting more accurate,” that’s MOVING THE GOALPOSTS because you find out your previous ideas were ass-backwards and completely and utterly WRONG.

    Accuracy is having the right idea and getting more specific. What your prophets do is have a few ideas, and over time, throw away some and add others. That’s not getting “more precise.” That indicates to anyone watching that they don’t know what the heck they’re doing.

    >>>>>Buckyballs “look” designed, but they form naturally (astronomers have detected them in interstellar clouds).

    Link please. Just because I’m curious as to how they were ‘detected,’ so far away.

    >>>>>>The sun and moon “look” designed (perfect oblate spheroids), but they form naturally. Galaxies “look” designed, but they form naturally.

    Has this been observed? (the answer is no). So your claims are no longer scientific.

    >>>>>>> There is no reason, other than one’s religion, to doubt this

    There’s numerous reasons. There’s no reason other than one’s religion, to assert this–that’s what you intended, surely.

    >>>>>Why are you not campaigning for the intelligent design of snowflakes?

    WE CAN OBSERVE THEM FORMING. Maybe you didn’t get the message.

    >>>>>If you wish to limit your discussion to a single idea, it would make more sense overall.

    Feel free to not try to refute me when you can do no such thing. Also, making sure you read what I wrote properly is a good idea, too.

    Note: calling me names and belittling me for my posts is indicative of not knowing how to respond (i.e. you can’t refute me, so you throw insults). It’s horribly predictable, and makes you look bad to the average person who reads your comments.

    For more information: http://www.tektoonics.com/etc/parody/fundyath.html

  143. observer permalink
    December 9, 2010 10:29 PM

    @AndyC:
    Having repeatedly debated the issues brought up in these threads on various other forums, I’ve seen trolling of all sorts. Erik’s schtick is rather predictable. His inability to refrain from hurling juvenile epithets (e.g. pseudonyms of “Stupid/Foolish Atheist”) is just confirmation of his agenda – to get a rise out of people, not to have an honest exchange.

  144. AndyC permalink
    December 9, 2010 8:30 PM

    observer, you don’t believe he firmly believes what he is saying?

  145. observer permalink
    December 9, 2010 7:59 PM

    Take a chill pill AndyC. His posts in other threads confirm that he is a troll. He obviously has a good grasp of logical fallacies, as he doesn’t hesitate to use them when shown to be wrong. Astute readers will notice a pattern of non-sequiturs, selective quoting, deliberate mischaracterizations and feigned obtuseness.

  146. AndyC permalink
    December 9, 2010 4:45 PM

    Erik,

    Listening to you has been an education about ignorance.

    You’re an embarrassment you yourself and human kind, you really are.

    You would help your case if you got a science education, a real education, not just skimming the internet and reading all the creationist science mumbo jumbo.

  147. December 9, 2010 2:31 PM

    >>>> “Are there classes of hypotheses that are excluded from consideration, or can you make any hypothesis and set up a scientific experiment to test it? Be careful what you say.
    Supernatural origins does not make the study thereof unscientific. If you don’t understand how something works, you can still demonstrate its effects.”

    Yes, there are. Any hypothesis which proposes non-naturally occurring forces, particles, fields, or structures is unscientific, as only natural phenomena can be tested. (It all goes back to Newton’s Three Laws of Motion.) If you are willing to concede that God is made of something real rather than wishful thinking, then we can proceed to discover God by observing him/it directly, and to know his properties through measurement, deduce his limitations through testing, and begin to manipulate his mechanisms in order to find out more clearly how he/it works. As for ID, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is as good a solution as is God (in fact, there’s an infinite number of imaginary, non-naturally occurring solutions to ID), and we are not willing to allow the supposition of the FSM, much less any of the other supernatural propositions, as a solution to a physical question because FSM is not a physical phenomenon as far as we can know. It is a phenomenon of the mind alone.

    >>>> “[re: Kitzmiller vs. Dover case] Do the judges decide what is and is not science? I thought science was done by scientists. Seems like a faulty appeal to authority to me. You couldn’t prove your theory right, so you had to get an injunction to prevent the heresy of a religion other than yours from operating in your sphere of influence.”

    False. Creationism was proved to be religious in nature in earlier court cases (there’s something here about the separation of Church and State). Science is not religion, proposes no deity, has no ritualized observances with respect to a doctrine, and deals only with physical reality. The judge in the Kitzmiller case ruled that ID was merely Creationism by a different name (did you read the case?). Same content, different name. READ the case. It is clear why the judge made that ruling. The judge was not ruling what is science, he was ruling that a particular proposition (ID) was religious in nature, as that touches upon Constitutional issues. The State has no business respecting or promoting one form of religion over another. ID is a form of religion, as ruled by the court.

    Me: “ID was ‘dreamed up’ by Creationists!!!!. It uses the same texts, the same wording, with all references to ‘Creationism’ simply being replaced by the phrase ‘Intelligent Design.”

    Erik: “And America is a Christian country because it was founded by Christians. You used the same false logic with your above claim. Hope you see it.”

    First, your statement doesn’t seem to have anything to do with mine.

    Second, America may have a large population of Chrstians, but that doesn’t make it a Christian nation. The U.S. was not founded on Christianity, if by founding you mean what is written in the Constitution, and what dialogues took place amongst the drafters of that document prior and subsequent to its writing. The Constitution was written by Deists, not Christians. If anything, that would make this country a Deist country, but even that would be wrong because the founders (Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, etc.) went to lengths to keep even their own Deist beliefs out of the documents as best that they could. This is a secular country with a large population of Christians, and to a lesser degree populations of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Voodooists, Paganists, etc.

    Third, did you not read the Kitzmiller case? I use no ‘logic’ in my statement. It is a statement of fact based on the court case. ID is a revamped form of Creationism. Creationism is religious in nature.

    >>>> “You’re getting ahead of yourself. Venter didn’t prove that. He didn’t modify anything except to give it a ‘bar code,’ essentially. He did a cellular equivalent of a kidney transplant, he didn’t invent anything new.”

    Yes, getting ahead of myself is what imagining the possibilities is all about. But you seem to have a poor imagination; it seems difficult for you to conceive possibilities. You don’t seem to be able to look ahead to see ramifications of discoveries. The future ramifications of this discovery is the point of my statement.

    Me: “it means we can simulate evolution in the laboratory, thus aiding in building a model as to how evolution progresses.”

    Erik: “But no evolution took place. You took the engine from one car’s frame, and put it inside another frame. You have the same mechanics, you just moved them from one body to another. No change.”

    Read my statement again, Erik. I did not claim evolution took place, I was looking ahead to a predictable day in which we could use Vinter’s techniques to create artificial evolution. READ, damnit. And THINK before you write something else that can be taken for stupidity.

    Secondly, it is not like moving the engine from one car to the body of another. That would describe cloning. What Venter did was not cloning. What Venter did was to build an engine from scratch, nut by nut, bolt by bolt, molecule by molecule, according the map we have made of one particular ‘working’ engine. NO ONE has EVER done that before. What that means is that we can now build engines according to our own specifications…IF we understand what all the parts do, or what altered parts we might need in an engine of our own design. Use your imagination. Think about what having such an ability entails. It is a technique which, I feel certain, will aid in the study of evolutionary processes. It’s called knowing what can be done with the tools at your disposal. What Venter did was to demonstrate a proof of concept by creating of a new tool which can be used in the scientific study of genomes, and of life overall.

    >>>> “The last two [whales and snakes] are easy to debunk: they’re not vestigial. The whale bone is not a hip–it’s a structure that aids in mating–plus, muscles attach to it.”

    You are probably correct that muscles attach to it. And I’d be willing to bet that those muscles are the same muscles which attach to the hip bones in other mammals, and that they attach in the exact same locations. Your argument is unsupported.

    >>>> “Same with the coccyx. If you think you don’t need it, try walking or sitting without one.”

    That might explain why we ‘still’ have one. The point of the coccyx is that it is 7 or 8 ‘fused’ vertebrae, which indicates they were at one time not fused. The question is, why were they once not fused? Tails are comprised of unfused vertebrae. This is the most logical association one can make.

    >>>> “Lastly, as for the vagus nerve, there’s a really interesting article on it somewhere, possibly the TrueOrigins site.”

    Not much of a rebuttal. Here’s a link which includes a brief description of the “recurrent laryngeal nerve” (referenced above as the vagus nerve):
    http://www.freewebs.com/oolon/SMOGGM.htm
    You might review the many other examples of “flawed” design.

    >>>>: “You know the phrase about leading a horse to water….drinking is all up to you.”

    The things you lead people to are poison to the mind. When imbibed, the mind ceases to function properly, and because it doesn’t function properly, it can’t discern its own flawed thinking.

    Me: “Bacteria have been observed to evolve in 20-year long experiments (they changed).”

    Erik: “They’re still the same species. They didn’t change.”

    They did change. That’s precisely the point. Don’t be a moron. Their genomes changed. It’s called ‘change’ because it is not the same as before. That’s what the word ‘change’ means.

    Me: “Chemistry alone is capable of self-replication, and it doesn’t need a creator to make it happen”

    Erik: “Order is not equivalent to complexity.”

    What does order or complexity have to do with the statement I made about self-replicating molecules? Do you not understand the significance of self-replication to life?

    Me: “A 13.7 billion year old universe, with 400 billion galaxies, each containing billions of stars and untold billions of planets, is completely out of proportion of any story of divine creation of an Adam and Eve in a tiny universe, on one tiny planet, a mere 10,000 years ago.”

    Erik: “Why? Because God needs a tiny universe in order to exist?”

    No, because some humans need a tiny God which they can carry around with them in a tiny book, a God which doesn’t require them to wonder about how things work; a God which protects them from having to live with unanswered questions; a God which gives them certainty in everything. This is a tiny god, no bigger than one’s own ignorance.

    Me: “The universe is old. Life is old.”

    Erik: “~6,000 years is pretty old. I agree.”

    Okay, so you really are saying that the entire universe is ~6000 years old. This means the furthest galaxies we are able to see are at most 6000 lightyears away (never mind all the established science you have to throw out to accept this). But to put it simply, that means the distances to some of our closest galaxies (and possibly even those of the Virgo Supercluster) should be able to be measured directly (even you could do it) using simple parallax methods. Observing these galaxies from opposite sides of the earth’s orbit should cause them to shift slightly from side to side against the background of more distant galaxies. How come parallax only works for the nearest stars within our own galaxy, and not for any galaxies themselves? It seems our own galaxy is vastly larger than you allow for the entire universe. Something’s very wrong here, and I dare say the problem doesn’t lie with science. You do know what parallax is, no? Or do you also claim that the earth is not really ~93 million miles from the sun? Do you even believe that the earth orbits the sun?

    Me: “Life began (on Earth) as single cells and continued as single cells for billions of years before becomming eukaryotic….This is what the evidence says, without the need for “interpretation.””

    Erik: “If it did, everyone would believe it. Obviously the evidence doesn’t say it, but your interpretation of the evidence does.”

    No, Erik. People don’t believe it because they have an ancient book written by ignorant Bronze Age people who wrote things like, “God did it.” People living today read those words and add to them, “I believe it. That settles it.” You are a good example of this type of person. The evidence is fossilized bacteria which are found throughout the precambrian strata — which is quite thick — while nothing else other than bacteria is found there (the Proterozoic layers). These rocks can be dated by numerous techniques. The evidence indicates, even without dating, that at the earliest periods of earth history, only bacteria existed. This doesn’t require interpretation. This is a fact. Only single-celled organisms existed in the earliest earth periods. No interpretation required. It’s an observable fact.

    Me: “There is no evidence to suggest this ordering of events was different.”

    Erik: “Only the fact that the “ordering” changes every month, year, decade, etc?”

    What? Surely you’re not referring to the advancement of knowledge, or to how new discoveries clarify areas of knowledge which were not very clear before. Because if you are, you’re an idiot who summarily rejects new information when it is shown to be more accurate than old information, choosing always to adhere to the old information which is outclassed by the more accurate information. (I weighed carefully my use of the word ‘idiot’, and feel it accurately describes someone who, as a matter of principle, rejects all forms of new, more accurate, more reliable information.) But we already knew that since you adhere to the Bronze Age texts which were written by ignorant sheep herders and fishers. If you were simply appreciating those ancient people’s poetry, I wouldn’t be so hard on you. But that’s not what you are doing. You are using that ancient information to set the standard for your logic, your reasoning abilities, your ability to imagine, to conceive, and to invent, and demonstrating for the rest of us how it doesn’t work very well at all when that is done.

    >>>> “Richard Dawkins fully admits that thins look as if they were designed, do you not know? He spends all his time endeavoring to explain that everything is NOT what it seems.”

    Yes, quartz crystals “look” designed, but they form naturally. Snowflakes “look” designed, but they form naturally. Buckyballs “look” designed, but they form naturally (astronomers have detected them in interstellar clouds). The sun and moon “look” designed (perfect oblate spheroids), but they form naturally. Galaxies “look” designed, but they form naturally. Everything in the universe “looks” designed, but everything in the universe forms naturally. There is no reason, other than one’s religion, to doubt this. Why are you not campaigning for the intelligent design of snowflakes? The reason you don’t is because your religion doesn’t say anything about snowflakes; am I correct?. If it did, you would be arguing that snowflakes are created supernaturally and that they don’t form by any natural process that we can observe.

    Now, carrying on such lengthy argumentation is hardly appropriate for this blog, and it may be construed as an abuse of our privilege of commenting. If you wish to limit your discussion to a single idea, it would make more sense overall. A single idea could be more thoroughly analyzed and might invite others to join in. But you did start out with a lengthy list of items which begged redress.

  148. December 8, 2010 7:53 PM

    >>>>The point is, they are both unscientific for the same reason: they both involve supernatural origins.

    Are there classes of hypotheses that are excluded from consideration, or can you make any hypothesis and set up a scientific experiment to test it? Be careful what you say.

    Supernatural origins does not make the study thereof unscientific. If you don’t understand how something works, you can still demonstrate its effects.

    >>>>ID is an evolved form of Creationism, as ruled in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case:

    Do the judges decide what is and is not science? I thought science was done by scientists. Seems like a faulty appeal to authority to me. You couldn’t prove your theory right, so you had to get an injunction to prevent the heresy of a religion other than yours from operating in your sphere of influence.

    >>>>ID was ‘dreamed up’ by Creationists!!!!. It uses the same texts, the same wording, with all references to ‘Creationism’ simply being replaced by the phrase ‘Intelligent Design.

    And America is a Christian country because it was founded by Christians. You used the same false logic with your above claim. Hope you see it.

    >>>>> it means we could begin controlling the evolutionary development of any species, including ourselves, by artificially creating functions which would not arise in the genome except through millions of years of the ordinary mutation/natural selection process

    You’re getting ahead of yourself. Venter didn’t prove that. He didn’t modify anything except to give it a ‘bar code,’ essentially. He did a cellular equivalent of a kidney transplant, he didn’t invent anything new.

    >>>it means we can simulate evolution in the laboratory, thus aiding in building a model as to how evolution progresses.

    But no evolution took place. You took the engine from one car’s frame, and put it inside another frame. You have the same mechanics, you just moved them from one body to another. No change.

    >>>>>Optimized, as in the recurrent esophageal nerve? Or the Coccyx? Or the vestigial hip bones in whales and snakes?

    The last two are easy to debunk: they’re not vestigial. The whale bone is not a hip–it’s a structure that aids in mating–plus, muscles attach to it. Same with the coccyx. If you think you don’t need it, try walking or sitting without one. Lastly, as for the vagus nerve, there’s a really interesting article on it somewhere, possibly the TrueOrigins site. At any rate, these aren’t even problems; you’re not scaring me. If you really truly want the answers, you can find these with only about an hour or two’s worth of research online, and be fully satisfied/convinced with/by the answers. If you really want to know. You kinda have to. You know the phrase about leading a horse to water….drinking is all up to you.

    >>>>>>Stating that these natural elements cannot behave in a natural way which would lead to arrangements which look like life requires that you demonstrate or describe the mechanisms which forbid this from happening.

    You state an interesting point, there. The original creation would have been as perfect as possible, BUT IT MUST HAVE STILL BEEN ABLE TO FUNCTION ACCORDING TO NATURAL MECHANISMS. That’s, incidentally, how you explain the vagus nerve. It has to do with development.

    >>>>>Bacteria have been observed to evolve in 20-year long experiments (they changed).

    They’re still the same species. They didn’t change.

    >>>>Chemistry alone is capable of self-replication, and it doesn’t need a creator to make it happen

    Order is not equivalent to complexity.

    >>>>>Erik, the gaps in our knowledge in which you place God are getting smaller every year.

    No problem here, because God doesn’t exist in any gaps for me.

    >>>>>If your conception of God were not so tied to the opening verses of the Bible, I doubt you would have the problem you seem to have in understanding or accepting evolution

    You don’t understand. I swallowed your lies hook, line, and sinker from the day I could first read until just last spring (I’m 20, and have taken more than a few College courses on the topic, as well as AP classes). I reasoned my way to this more logical conclusion.

    >>>>>>A 13.7 billion year old universe, with 400 billion galaxies, each containing billions of stars and untold billions of planets, is completely out of proportion of any story of divine creation of an Adam and Eve in a tiny universe, on one tiny planet, a mere 10,000 years ago.

    Why? Because God needs a tiny universe in order to exist?

    >>>>The universe is old. Life is old.

    ~6,000 years is pretty old. I agree.

    >>>>>>Life began (on Earth) as single cells and continued as single cells for billions of years before becomming eukaryotic.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    >>>>This is what the evidence says, without the need for “interpretation.”

    If it did, everyone would believe it. Obviously the evidence doesn’t say it, but your interpretation of the evidence does.

    >>>>>There is no evidence to suggest this ordering of events was different.

    Only the fact that the “ordering” changes every month, year, decade, etc?

    >>>>>>>It is reasonable to accept it as being exactly what it appears to be.

    Richard Dawkins fully admits that thins look as if they were designed, do you not know? He spends all his time endeavoring to explain that everything is NOT what it seems.

    I believe the quote may be in one of his latest books, but I couldn’t find it with a simple google search, so I leave it to you, if you feel like it.

  149. December 8, 2010 4:50 PM

    >>>> Sergei: “It is worth emphasizing that this point it is not merely a detail; it is an essential point in each of the two doctrines [ID and Creationism].”

    >>>> Erik: “It’s also the point at which the similarities end.”

    The point is, they are both unscientific for the same reason: they both involve supernatural origins.

    >>>> Erik: “ID SPECIFICALLY leaves the identity of the creator out of the question. That’s why it can never be Creationism, because Creationism–at least the Christian variety–REQUIRES the identity of the Creator–specifically, YHWH, in the YEC case. ID would deny this, so they can’t be the same. They’re mutually exclusive on the question of what the Creator’s identity is.”

    ID is an evolved form of Creationism, as ruled in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District

    ID was ‘dreamed up’ by Creationists!!!!. It uses the same texts, the same wording, with all references to ‘Creationism’ simply being replaced by the phrase ‘Intelligent Design.’ Intelligent Design is a mutated form of Creationism. I think something about reproducing after one’s ‘kind’ is appropriate here. There is just one ‘kind,’ in this case. They both call on a supernatural agency as the source of life and as an explanation for the morphological appearance of life — although ID proponents are dishonest about their intentions in this respect.

    >>>> Erik: “[Vinter] didn’t create life, in case you didn’t notice. He took what was already there, moved it around, and got–surprisingly–nothing different. He performed the cellular equivalent of an organ transplant in humans.”

    I think Vinter did more than that, Erik. He constructed life from smaller molecular units according to a plan (genome) which was known to work. The implications of that feat are staggering. It means we could resurrect extinct species, as long as we have a genome map for them; it means we can begin tinkering with genomes to see more specifically how genes function and what effect various mutations might have on an organism; it means we could begin controlling the evolutionary development of any species, including ourselves, by artificially creating functions which would not arise in the genome except through millions of years of the ordinary mutation/natural selection process; it means we can simulate evolution in the laboratory, thus aiding in building a model as to how evolution progresses.

    >>>> Erik: “But the truth is that you’ll never ‘create life,’ because you can’t. Everything is optimized–you can’t mess it up or it’ll break.”

    Optimized, as in the recurrent esophageal nerve? Or the Coccyx? Or the vestigial hip bones in whales and snakes? Life is made of natural elements. Stating that these natural elements cannot behave in a natural way which would lead to arrangements which look like life requires that you demonstrate or describe the mechanisms which forbid this from happening. Since nothing unnatural is being proposed in abiogenetic theories, they are valid science.

    >>> Erik: “You can only take away or add so much (all the while without the organism “evolving” into something different, but stubbornly staying the same) until you cause the victim of your latest fantasy to fall apart under the microscope.”

    Bacteria have been observed to evolve in 20-year long experiments (they changed).

    >>>> Erik: “Remember Miller’s “spontaneous generation?” (or do you still believe that stuff?) The modern-day parallel to that is bound to be something like Craig Venter’s “synthetic life.””

    Miller-Urey experiment re-visited:
    http://www.neatorama.com/2008/10/18/the-miller-urey-experiment-revisited/
    http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/8975.html

    Apparently, Miller discovered much more than he originally published. It now looks like volcanic activity may have been an optimal breeding ground for the elements of life. Isn’t it great how science progresses? How surprises never cease to surprise us?

    As for creating life, here is a report about self-replicating chemistry, where self-replication is one of the requirements for the genesis of life. This is not to suggest that this particular chemistry is what took place on the early earth, but it does point out that self-replication is not necessarily a rare thing in the universe. Chemistry alone is capable of self-replication, and it doesn’t need a creator to make it happen:
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/01/replicatingrna/

    And look up abiogenesis and see what we are learning about the spontaneous formation of short strands of rRNA, and how rRNA can act as a catalyst in protein generation.

    Erik, the gaps in our knowledge in which you place God are getting smaller every year. If your conception of God were not so tied to the opening verses of the Bible, I doubt you would have the problem you seem to have in understanding or accepting evolution, or in accepting other scientific explanations for the origin of things such as planets, stars, and galaxies. A 13.7 billion year old universe, with 400 billion galaxies, each containing billions of stars and untold billions of planets, is completely out of proportion of any story of divine creation of an Adam and Eve in a tiny universe, on one tiny planet, a mere 10,000 years ago. Perhaps you aren’t a young earth creationist, but your inability to put 2 and 2 together suffers the same flaws. The universe is old. Life is old. Life began (on Earth) as single cells and continued as single cells for billions of years before becomming eukaryotic. This is what the evidence says, without the need for “interpretation.” These are facts. There is no evidence to suggest this ordering of events was different. It is reasonable to accept it as being exactly what it appears to be.

  150. December 8, 2010 12:11 AM

    >>>>> It is worth emphasizing that this point it is not merely a detail; it is an essential point in each of the two doctrines.

    It’s also the point at which the similarities end.

    >>>>>The only way in which ID could significantly distance itself from Creationism would be to assert that the Creator is not a supernatural being

    ID SPECIFICALLY leaves the identity of the creator out of the question. That’s why it can never be Creationism, because Creationism–at least the Christian variety–REQUIRES the identity of the Creator–specifically, YHWH, in the YEC case. ID would deny this, so they can’t be the same. They’re mutually exclusive on the question of what the Creator’s identity is.

    [talks about Venter]

    He didn’t create life, in case you didn’t notice. He took what was already there, moved it around, and got–surprisingly–nothing different. He performed the cellular equivalent of an organ transplant in humans.

    Of course, I realize you’ll latch onto just about anything to vindicate your fragile beliefs. But the truth is that you’ll never ‘create life,’ because you can’t. Everything is optimized–you can’t mess it up or it’ll break. You can only take away or add so much (all the while without the organism “evolving” into something different, but stubbornly staying the same) until you cause the victim of your latest fantasy to fall apart under the microscope.

    Remember Miller’s “spontaneous generation?” (or do you still believe that stuff?) The modern-day parallel to that is bound to be something like Craig Venter’s “synthetic life.”

    Sorry if I forgot to laugh.

  151. Sergei K permalink
    December 7, 2010 11:26 PM

    Let’s clear things up a bit. Both ID and Creationism agree on the essential point that to explain certain features of organisms on Earth a supernatural agency (a Creator or Designer) is required. It is worth emphasizing that this point it is not merely a detail; it is an essential point in each of the two doctrines.

    The only way in which ID could significantly distance itself from Creationism would be to assert that the Creator is not a supernatural being. In other words, they will have to maintain that a natural agency (possibly from another world) is the Creator. But the ID supporters do not sincerely believe this. When the first synthetic biological organism – Mycoplasma laboratorium – was intelligently designed in the labs of the Craig Venter Institute, the ID community should have gone crazy with joy. The day when Venter announced his breakthrough I went anxiously to the Discovery Institute’s website looking for a press release claiming that their ID has been vindicated. There was nothing there. The ID community remained silent about this event. The reason is, of course, the tenet that the designer is supernatural — so Venter’s team of researchers didn’t quite qualify.

    As long as ID consents that the Creator is a supernatural being, ID remains – essentially – a form of Creationism. The details may differ and ID does not explicitly asserted that the Creator is the Christian god, but the big picture is the same. Whoever denies this can’t see the the forest for the trees. Or is full of BS. Personally, I believe it is both!

  152. December 7, 2010 8:09 PM

    “However, unlike standard Creationists, the supporters of ID may not necessarily agree with the Young Earth hypothesis.”

    Well, I’m sure glad you pointed that out. However, you’re only going to hurt yourselves and your credibility if you keep perpetuating the idea that ID is by definition Creationism.

    It’s not. ID is simply the statement that atheistic materialistic naturalism can’t account for all the evidence (or contradicts said evidence), and that there must therefore be something non-materialistic at work. This can’t be a random force, because then we’d see it all the time, thus it indicates that the power is volitional (something capable of restricting its actions). What fits most closely with this is a supernatural volitional being.

    There are Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Old-Earth-Creationists and Young-Earth-Christians who fall under the ID banner. For the most part, the former 4 are the most common. YECs tend to avoid ID because of its lack of a theory to offer in replacement of Evolutionism.

    IDers will insist that they’re not Creationists, but have you even paid attention to the fact that Creationists themselves insist that IDers are not Creationists? That should tell you something. And it shouldn’t be “conspiracy.” If that’s what you do think, then who’s the irrational one?

  153. AndyC permalink
    December 7, 2010 7:10 PM

    I’m not so keen on the MOUSE analogy myself as it suggests that there is some kind of Target or aim for natural selection, which there isn’t.

  154. Brian Ritter permalink
    December 7, 2010 3:32 PM

    @ Andy & Yochi
    Richard Dawkins has a great way of explaining how the mechanism works.

    If you by random hits on a keyborad want to spell MOUSE, you have a startingpoint:

    Mutation 1 [lkdve ]
    Natural selection then favors that wich makes survival more probable ( the E in the end) and keeps it.
    Next ancester mutation: [lkdvr] and new species [lkuve]
    The first dies out and the second prevails and gets offspring – and genes mutate:
    [mkuve]
    Natural selection now favors the m, u and e. other mutations die out.
    [mouve] survives
    Next mutation:
    [mouse]

    That of cause is simplyfied imensely, but the mechanism is like playing dice.
    If you randomly have to hit 10×6 with 10 dice it would be near imposible if you had a limited amount of hits – let’s just say 100 times rolling all of them at once.

    But 100 times is more than enough if you get to keep the “hits”. Every time you score a 6, you put it aside and roll the rest.

  155. AndyC permalink
    December 7, 2010 7:45 AM

    “But let’s assume that DNA is a result of random processes. If you randomly arranged the 4 base pairs and made DNA, and changed the arrangement once every second, it would take more time to randomly arrange just YOUR DNA than the earth has supposedly existed. There just hasn’t been enough time for evolution to do this.”

    Yochi, dear oh dear, you show a serious misunderstanding of the process of evolution. I suggest you educate yourself before you make any further comments about it. There are several good books out there.

    Humans didn’t come about by the random arrangement of DNA. No scientist claims this. If it were the case then you would be correct, it would take more time to randomly arrange just YOUR DNA than the earth has supposedly existed. But as this is not the case, it’s a pointless statement.

    Cede the point Yoshi.

    Ok, I’ll try to explain how evolution works for you in simple language :

    First you need to understand that when a new organism is made through reproduction some of the resulting DNA in the new organism will have been randomly mutated. We know this. This is one factor that explains the variability of animals within a species.

    Some mutations are good and some are bad. e.g. A mutation could make an animal’s eye site worse.
    Another mutation could improve the strength of its muscles or make them bigger. We know this happens.

    Let’s define a good mutation as what is useful for that particular organism and what would give them the advantage over other organisms in their species.

    Obviously the animals with good mutations are more likely to survive than those with bad mutations. e.g. If a mutation causes an animal to be faster then it could escape from its prey easier.
    So what happens is that, over time, the animals with the good mutations are selected because they have a higher chance of survival. They then pass their good genes onto their children.. And the process repeats. Over time, animals become genetically highly tuned to their environment. It’s all very logical. As you can easily see, the only randomness in this process is the initial mutations, which can be good or bad mutations. The rest of the process, Natural Selection, is completely non-random and is determined by an organism’s environment.

    If you then imagine this process repeated over billions of years then you can imagine the variety of animals you’d end up with on a planet with different environments.

    If you really understood evolution I’m sure you’d love it.

  156. yochi permalink
    December 6, 2010 6:23 PM

    Back to DNA. This site is calling for extraordinary evidence of intelligent design. I hereby challenge the host of this site to show that DNA is NOT extraordinary evidence of ID. You haven’t called for anyone to convince you of ID, just to present extraordinary evidence.

    DNA contains encoded instructions to build every type of protein your body needs to run. It is not just a chemical with a pattern to it. It is a CODE, a language for storing INFORMATION. Information has never been shown to come about from random processes. DNA isn’t just a pretty structure, but a language. We’ve even learned to read it to some degree! That information, language, code, instructions, whatever we want to call it is beyond the matter in which it is encoded. The information is there separate from the dna, and that information, that design, requires a designer.

    But let’s assume that DNA is a result of random processes. If you randomly arranged the 4 base pairs and made DNA, and changed the arrangement once every second, it would take more time to randomly arrange just YOUR DNA than the earth has supposedly existed. There just hasn’t been enough time for evolution to do this.

    So there is my evidence. Cede the point.

  157. Bryan permalink
    December 6, 2010 12:05 PM

    Actually Brian,

    “So – saing [sic] that the universe works by a sertain set of natural rules, and that those rules imply a startingpoint [sic] for our universe – and that we just don’t know the details yet, – answers a lot more questions than it raises.”

    Actually it doesn’t. It doesn’t answer anything. That the world operates by a set of natural rules, we already knew. We didn’t need an answer in this area. Saying that these rules imply a starting point, is certainly not something that we need an answer for, in fact, as I mentioned, the Bible has been saying this exact thing for the past 3 millennia. The only answer we’re looking for, is the answer to the question: How did natural things, either matter or energy, come to exist?

    IT TOOK A SUPERNATURAL EVENT! From what we know today, that is the obvious and only conclusion.

    “claiming supernatural causes, with exceptions to natural causes, physics, chemestry, biology ect. raises a lot of cuestions (sic), that can only be answered by ‘ad hoc’-claiming even more exceptions to the rules.” The evidence requires a supernatural cause with exceptions to physics, chemistry and biology. I’m not the one claiming this, the evidence points directly to this all on it’s own.

    “it dosn’t solve anything and it makes our world, in principle “random and un-knowable.””

    The existence of a God absolutely doesn’t make our world random and unknowable. Just the opposite, it provides a basis for us to find meaning and understanding in the world around us. Do some very basic science history research and you will find it is for this exact reason that the great minds (e.g. Albert Einstein) went looking for order and rules in the physical world–because they were put there!

  158. Brian Ritter permalink
    December 6, 2010 2:38 AM

    Bryan – [The existence of matter begs for a supernatural mover or first cause. This is entirely logical and rational. To suggest that matter created itself from nothing is not scientific. To suggest that a supernatural force was required to bring natural ones into existence, is very logical.]

    Well – yes, if you think of matter and soul/god like bricks and thoughts. But that’s not exactly how it works. Matter and energy is two sides of the same story. Matter can change into energy and vice versa.

    So the claim that matter must come from somewhere often mistakes matter for some rock-hard entity, wich it isn’t. Then it goes on to suggest that a supernatural cause is the only explenation, (because obviously, supernatural stuff is exception to all the rules – you can explain anything with it, if you don’t need to follow the rules)
    on how things came to be – but doesn’t give an answer to how, when and where it came from. That’s convinient.
    questions like – how can matter be manipulated by something SO different, and with no other influence on the world in any other aspect. If souls were part of nature, and part of our mind… how does it stick to our brain? .. and how does it apply to the laws of physics? – like the conservation of energy. Something has to come from somwhere – and if that supernatural mover is planing to move ANYTHING -IN- the NATURAL world, it has to be done by manipulating energy – and by that you have to add energy (heat, velocety, matter etc.) – and that would be detectable, as energy comming apperantly from nowhere. That , if we had a soul, would also apply to our brains.

    So – saing that the universe works by a sertain set of natural rules, and that those rules imply a startingpoint for our universe – and that we just don’t know the details yet, – answers a lot more questions than it raises.

    claiming supernatural causes, with exceptions to natural causes, physics, chemestry, biology ect. raises a lot of cuestions, that can only be answered by ‘ad hoc’-claiming even more exceptions to the rules.

    It dosn’t solve anything and it makes our world, in principle “random and un-knowable.”

  159. Bryan permalink
    December 6, 2010 1:54 AM

    An intelligent designer could have used an evolutionary process to create, so whether or not evolution is correct or not is really beside the point. Two main challenges for those that deny the existence of a creator, or intelligent designer, are (a) a first cause and (b) the existence of information in the cell.

    The existence of matter begs for a supernatural mover or first cause. This is entirely logical and rational. To suggest that matter created itself from nothing is not scientific. To suggest that a supernatural force was required to bring natural ones into existence, is very logical.

    And secondly, the existence of information in the cell, specifically in DNA suggests quite strongly that it was put there by an intelligent source. There is no case of information originating from anything but an intelligent mind. Therefore, it is entirely scientific to suggest that the information in our cells came from an intelligent source.

    Suffice it to say, even Carl Sagan (whom is quoted in this campaign’s ads) couldn’t provide an adequate answer to these questions and his eventual answer was to say that the first cause and source of this information was aliens from another galaxy. That isn’t a scientific answer to the question, it is a cop out.

    To suggest that the theory of an intelligent designer isn’t logical or rational shows a disregard for truly scientific debate.

  160. Brian Ritter permalink
    December 5, 2010 6:45 AM

    Hind Leg Bones in Whales
    Hind Leg Bones in snakes
    Erector Pili and Body Hair (goose bumps)
    The Human Tailbone (Coccyx)
    Eyes on the blind Fish Astyanax Mexicanus
    Wisdom Teeth in Humans
    Male Breast Tissue and Nipples
    Muscles connected to the ears of a human
    Boas and pythons have vestigial pelvis remnants
    The wings of ostriches, emus, and other flightless birds
    Tails on crabs
    Certain species of moths (for example the Gypsy moth) have females that, although flightless, still carry small wings.

    Of couse, there is the the vagus nerve, in mammals, most animals have one, you have one, fish, frogs, birds, snakes ect. all own this nerve. Basically its a nerve that goes from your brain down around your aoritc loop (this is a loop of a main artery above your heart) and to your throat.
    The point of this nerve is to essentially connect your throat to your brain.
    In fish, that makes it a short journey from brain to throat, in fish and sharks it’s often a straight line.
    As amphibians, reptiles and then mammals evolved, the nerve kept running through that loop, but the path from the brain to the throat now has to run down to the heart first (aortic loop, remember?).
    So in humans, the nerve is more than twice as long as it would need to be if efficiently engineered, or if it hadn’t been moved by evolution.
    Now here’s the main thing, in giraffes, the vagus nerve is more than 15 feet long, typically, running from brain, down the neck, through the aortic loop.
    If it was designed, why not cut the loop and go straight where you’re supposed to?

    This god fellow is a really lousy ingeneer.

  161. Brian Ritter permalink
    December 4, 2010 2:44 AM

    Sorry ’bout that :)

    But anyway – that life utillizes just one form of amino acid – why should that be a problem?

    Most scientists believe that Earth life’s “choice” of chirality was purely random, and that if carbon-based life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, their chemistry could theoretically have opposite chirality. However, there is some suggestion that early amino acids could have formed in comet dust. In this case, circularly polarised radiation (which makes up 17% of stellar radiation) could have caused the selective destruction of one chirality of amino acids, leading to a selection bias which ultimately resulted in all life on Earth being homochiral.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chirality_%28chemistry%29

  162. December 3, 2010 7:44 PM

    i think it’s funny to call it intelligent design when humans aren’t well put together.

    we still have three brains, if we were blipped into existence, then what’s with all the redundancies?

  163. yochi permalink
    December 3, 2010 6:20 PM

    So, you didn”t understand what I said. I was comparing the two possible structures of amino acids to your hands as an example. You could have gone and read the link.

    An amino acids chemical shape can appear in two forms and still be the same chemical composition. However, the actual shape of the protein is important to how it connects to other proteins. Let’s call the two possible shapes “A” and “B”. In a random order process, you will have 50% “A” shaped protiens and 50% “B” shaped. All the amino acids in DNA need to be “A” shaped. the “B” shaped ones would be useless.

    Really, you need to read the link, which is why I posted it in the first place.

    Your mother was a hamster and your father smells of elderberries.

  164. Brian Ritter permalink
    December 3, 2010 2:09 PM

    I think Monty Python said it best when they said:

    All things dull and ugly,
    All creatures short and squat,
    All things rude and nasty,
    The Lord God made the lot.
    Each little snake that poisons,
    Each little wasp that stings,
    He made their brutish venom.
    He made their horrid wings.

    All things sick and cancerous,
    All evil great and small,
    All things foul and dangerous,
    The Lord God made them all.

    Each nasty little hornet,
    Each beastly little squid–
    Who made the spikey urchin?
    Who made the sharks? He did!

    All things scabbed and ulcerous,
    All pox both great and small,
    Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
    The Lord God made them all.

    Amen.

    —-

    Anyway – Yochi: WHAT??? What does aminoacids have to do with being lefthanded?
    Its like saying that because, in Britain, they have the steeringwheel in the right side, they can only turn right….
    An amino acids right- or lefthandedness has nothing to do with us being one or the other. Do you even know what amino acid is or did you actually think to check-up on those rediculous claims?

    That’s science WAY out of context. Like the 2nd law of thermodynamics is so often misquoted, misused and abused.

    The link says: evolution-hopes-you-dont-know-chemistry-problem
    Ok – look it up i a sciencebook. KNOW your chemestry and THEN decide.

  165. Yochi permalink
    December 2, 2010 9:29 PM

    DNA and Chirality

    I am not a chemist, so I can’t explain it well, but there is no natural mechanism for the existence of chirality in dna. Basically, amino acids can form with two different shapes, which are referred to as left of right handed. You have to hands. They don’t match, but are a mirror image of each other. All the amino acids in the body are left handed. If you generated amino acids in a lab via a random process (which has been done), half of them would be left handed and half right handed. But our bodies need them to all be left handed!

    Please read the following article, by Charles McCombs, Ph.D.
    http://www.icr.org/article/evolution-hopes-you-dont-know-chemistry-problem-wi/

    In general DNA is extraordinary evidence of at least I.D., and in my opinion, theistic creation.

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