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Nevertheless, those who advocate extreme policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions inevitably base their case on GCM projections, which somehow become real predictions in publicity releases. But even if these advocates admitted the uncertainty of their predictions, they might still invoke the Precautionary Principle and call for extreme reductions “just to be safe.” This principle says, “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”34 That is, even if we don’t fully know that CO2 is dangerously warming Earth climate, we should curtail its emission anyway, just in case. However, if the present uncertainty limit in General Circulation Models is at least ±100 degrees per century, we are left in total ignorance about the temperature effect of increasing CO2. It’s not that we, “lack … full scientific certainty,” it’s that we lack any scientific certainty. We literally don’t know whether doubling atmospheric CO2 will have any discernible effect on climate at all.

If our knowledge of future climates is zero then for all we know either suppressing CO2 emissions or increasing them may make climate better, or worse, or just have a neutral effect. The alternatives are incommensurate but in our state of ignorance either choice equally has two chances in three of causing the least harm.35 Complete ignorance makes the Precautionary Principle completely useless. There are good reasons to reduce burning fossil fuels, but climate warming isn’t one of them.

Some may decide to believe anyway . . .

http://www.skeptic.com/the_magazine/featured_articles/v14n01...
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And this is related to evolution how...?

- Gus
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And this is related to evolution how...?


Just didn't want you to think I was a one-dimensional science critic. I've added human-caused global warming catastrophe to natural selection.
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There's a board where it would make more sense to talk about global warming. If you really wanted to learn something that is.

http://boards.fool.com/Messages.asp?bid=117597

If you just want to hear yourself talk, I suggest this board.

http://boards.fool.com/Messages.asp?bid=112992

As for general criticism of science, I found this board, but I think the name is purely decorative.

http://boards.fool.com/Messages.asp?bid=113457

- Gus
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It has been noted before that those who doubt evolution also tend to doubt anthropogenic global warming. Some ascribe this to the religion thing, others to a distrust of science. Either way, they seem linked. It's been discussed here before (unless I'm mixing up my boards...quite possible...it was 103degrees today and I was moving rock and dirt for a few hours...really tired now...)

1poorguy
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And this is related to evolution how...?

- Gus


Because evolution is the product of science, and any area where science is disputing data is proof that science is inept and not capable of interpreting the data that so clearly shows god created heaven and earth.

Gus, always remember the wedge. Always. It gets inserted everywhere. And science, as a school of thought plays right into it. Everything always has to be subject to challenge and reinterpretation. It's the scientific method at work. But that opens the door for people who think in certitudes. Even gravity, the oft used example of science and observation at work, is not a fully vetted out, locked up, done deal, yes we know with 100% complete certainty that we know what makes an apple fall to the ground.

The distinction of merit that I see is that to someone who operates in an arena of certitude and authoritative thinking will interpret a strong conviction based on available evidence as certitude. Ergo, healthy discussion is a sign of non-certainty, and a failure by science to explain the world when religion offers a 100% certain explanation.
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That's certainly true. With few exceptions (i.e. Behe), most Creationists don't seem to understand the scientific method at all. They repeatedly make arguments they think are "telling" which are nothing of the sort, they're part of how science works.

* The theory has changed!

No ****, Sherlock. Science is always about revising and refining theories. If it was a static, revealed truth, it'd be religion.

* You're arguing among yourselves!

This is the point that Nigel just made, but it bears repeating. Discussion of alternatives is part of the method.

* Scientist who accept Creationism are ostracized. It's suppression of free speech.

I know you think that just because the scientific method includes discussion of alternatives, any crackpot idea can be brought in to the mix, but that's not how it works. You have to have evidence, and you have to test it, or it gets thrown out. Yours got thrown out a long time ago, for good reason. Repeating a discredited idea without new evidence may be free speech, but it's not science. You can be expected to be treated like an idiot for doing it.

- Gus
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I know you think that just because the scientific method includes discussion of alternatives, any crackpot idea can be brought in to the mix, but that's not how it works.

Even new hypotheses (which may not yet possess evidence) must provide some kernel of insight, understanding, or new explanatory powers before being seriously considered.

For instance, various incarnations of String Theory do not yet match the available evidence as well as other currently more popular theories. However, currently more widely accepted theories are more descriptive (how things behave as they do) rather than explanatory (why things behave as they do). Research continues on String Theory because if its problems can be ironed out, it will provide better explanatory power for why things are as they are as well as providing information about how they are.

Currently ID provides answers to neither how nor why things behave as they do.
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Because evolution is the product of science, and any area where science is disputing data is proof that science is inept and not capable of interpreting the data that so clearly shows god created heaven and earth.


I think the usefulness of the global warming debate is much more modest and realistic. If (and its a big if) the consensus of science is overturned on the global warming issue, it will just be another case in a long history of scientific consensus being overturned for a new theory.

As is often correctly noted, this is science at work. Yet some give the impression that the theory, of natural selection working on random mutations over long periods of time can explain biodiversity, will never be supplanted by another theory.

That would be a more long-term view of the usefulness of GW.

A more short range goal would be to demonstrate yet another case of scientific dispute where it has been claimed there is no dispute.

And in case you miss the point of challenging natural selection, if NS falls, there is no other explanation with a powerful enough mechanism to get the job done. Sexual selection, lateral transfer, and other contributors to evolution can't make up the slack left by NS.
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Yet some give the impression that the theory, of natural selection working on random mutations over long periods of time can explain biodiversity, will never be supplanted by another theory.

I don't think Nigel or centromere or most others here have asserted that. Of course it could happen. However, it is my understanding (and I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm in error) that the "disputes" today are more along the lines of what drives the changes, and whether they are gradual or sudden. Doesn't mean some new piece of data won't pop up to make folks rethink the whole shebang. Relativity did that in physics, but even today Newtonian mechanics is a required (and useful) subject in most hard science and engineering curricula.

And in case you miss the point of challenging natural selection, if NS falls, there is no other explanation with a powerful enough mechanism to get the job done.

Not really a fair comparison. Newtonian mechanics "fell" because of relativity. Prior to the fall of NM there was "no other explanation...". Good chance that if NS does fall it will be because something better DID come along that we don't presently know today. (Or at least non-specialists like you and me don't know it.)

It's fun to study the various disciplines of science as many of us do. Just because I'm a physicist doesn't mean I don't like to read about tiktaalik, or new methods of making smaller features on silicon chips, or bacteria that eat oil spills, or whatever. But I know when it's outside my field, and when to defer to those better-trained than I in the area of interest. In other words, leave science to the scientists. (Stop trying to make science a matter of legislation or the decree of boards of the scientifically-illiterate.)

1poorguy
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If (and its a big if) the consensus of science is overturned on the global warming issue, it will just be another case in a long history of scientific consensus being overturned for a new theory.

As usual, the logic here escapes me. If there is such a long history of scientific consensus being overturned, why is finding another example in global warming important?

A more short range goal would be to demonstrate yet another case of scientific dispute where it has been claimed there is no dispute.

So why not use global warming to attack the soundness of the cell theory, or relativity, or quantum mechanics, or thermodynamics, or any of a hundred different areas of scientific consensus? Does the "correctness" of the current scientific view on global warming affect your belief in the validity of the third law of Thermodynamics, Bernouli's principle, Newton's description of gravity? If not, why should it affect the credibility of evolution?

To suggest that the outcome of the global warming debate is somehow relevant to the credibility of the theory of evolution seems pretty stupid to me. In other words, standard operating procedure for IDists.

And in case you miss the point of challenging natural selection, if NS falls, there is no other explanation with a powerful enough mechanism to get the job done. Sexual selection, lateral transfer, and other contributors to evolution can't make up the slack left by NS.

Why not? Lynn Margulies supports what you call "lateral transfer". Why do you believe the scientists when they criticise her but disbelieve the same scientists when they support current evolutionary theory? Are you really claiming that you understant the scientific arguments enough to objectively evaluate the different arguments, or are you just selectively picking the editorial positions that best fit your religious beliefs?

Here's the thing, we know that natural selection, sexual selection, lateral transfer, etc., exist. They are real processes. It is reasonable to first determine whether existing processes can explain biodiversity before assuming stuff for which there is no evidence. Science is still in the process of assessing the power of natural selection and these other known processes.

Still don't see what any of this has to do with the global warming issue.
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I think the usefulness of the global warming debate is much more modest and realistic. If (and its a big if) the consensus of science is overturned on the global warming issue, it will just be another case in a long history of scientific consensus being overturned for a new theory.

Science is an attempt to understand. One cannot gain understanding if one is not prepared to toss out the bath water, and refill the tub with better water when new theory or evidence suggests it needs to be done.

So, to translate your above comment "Global warming is clear evidence of the scientific method at work."

We are all influenced by different thoughts and ideas. I've always leaned towards Plato's dialectic method because inherent within it is the deep belief that we mere humans are just going to plain mess up things. We see evidence of this everywhere, and pretty much can't get through a day when we don't do something boneheaded.

The mother of a good friend of mine had a massive stroke two weeks ago. The women's brain was blotto, the doctors told the family she would be dead within a day, the pastor was called, funeral arrangements were begun, and the family began to grieve.

Then mom sat up and started mumbling as best she could being mostly paralyzed, then regained use of the entire right side of her body. The family felt it was a miracle. For ten days she'd slip back into unconsciousness, then whap, back to, like some black comedy movie. And then she just died a few days ago.

Miracle or no miracle, a better understanding of medicine and the human body could have saved a great deal of emotional turmoil. We humans are so limited and so fallible that any belief system needs to incorporate our limits. Religion makes excuses for them, then passes the buck and lets Jesus suffer for our short comings. Attacking a system that willingly acknowledges that it takes a long time for us to get it anywhere close to right doesn't sit to well with me.
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As usual, the logic here escapes me. If there is such a long history of scientific consensus being overturned, why is finding another example in global warming important?


Only because it is current, and widely discussed, and the others forgotten. It may not have any relevance to someone who is knowledgable in the history of science like yourself.

So why not use global warming to attack the soundness of the cell theory, or relativity, or quantum mechanics, or thermodynamics, or any of a hundred different areas of scientific consensus? Does the "correctness" of the current scientific view on global warming affect your belief in the validity of the third law of Thermodynamics, Bernouli's principle, Newton's description of gravity? If not, why should it affect the credibility of evolution?

Thats a valid question. I don't see the same significance if the theories you mention are wrong, compared to the significance of the prevailing naturalistic explanation of biodiversity being wrong.

To suggest that the outcome of the global warming debate is somehow relevant to the credibility of the theory of evolution seems pretty stupid to me.

Geez, I wish you'd stop beating around the bush and just tell me how you really feel <g>

I already stated the relevance. If the consensus on GW is wrong, it is just a current reminder that ANY scientific consensus can be wrong (like natural selection).

Why not? Lynn Margulies supports what you call "lateral transfer". Why do you believe the scientists when they criticise her but disbelieve the same scientists when they support current evolutionary theory?

To my knowledge, Margulies theory has been generally accepted as part of the story of evolution, so I don't agree with your characterization of my position. And its more which scientists I disagree with, and which I do agree with.


Are you really claiming that you understant the scientific arguments enough to objectively evaluate the different arguments, or are you just selectively picking the editorial positions that best fit your religious beliefs?

I think you start here with a misconception of what I'm arguing. But no, I don't claim to be able to evaluate the arguments at the same level you or Anthony could. But I can sure evaluate the logic behind many of them, and I can tell in many cases when a scientific article gives testable detail or only Dawkinesque story-telling-as-science.

Here's the thing, we know that natural selection, sexual selection, lateral transfer, etc., exist. They are real processes. It is reasonable to first determine whether existing processes can explain biodiversity before assuming stuff for which there is no evidence. Science is still in the process of assessing the power of natural selection and these other known processes.


All I can say is you have a more reasonable and honest position on the strength of the current aspects of evolutionary theory than some. And if you are referring to ID ("assuming stuff for which there is no evidence"), we disagree on the "no evidence" part. The genetic code looks designed. It may well be.
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Attacking a system that willingly acknowledges that it takes a long time for us to get it anywhere close to right doesn't sit to well with me.

I'm not attacking the system. I'm attacking specific conclusions that I feel are insufficiently supported by evidence. And I don't think scientists can be left to police themselves. They're only human.
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And if you are referring to ID ("assuming stuff for which there is no evidence"), we disagree on the "no evidence" part. The genetic code looks designed. It may well be.

And the evidence for that is where, again?

-Anthony
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And I don't think scientists can be left to police themselves. They're only human.

On an individual basis you are correct. There are the occasional episodes of fraud in science. Sometimes because research isn't going well, and sometimes for money. But taken as a whole, the scientists DO police themselves. When one scientist publishes something bogus it is most likely another scientist (or 50) who will call him/her on it. It would be virtually impossible to get them all (or even most of them) to buy-off on something deliberately fraudulent, so in the end they can (and will and DO) police themselves.

Quite honestly, if they don't then who can? Very few people outside a given discipline understand it well enough to police it anyway. I certainly couldn't police any work done by Anthony or centromere. I simply don't have the background. It would require specialists like them to police others like them.

This leads to some interesting lines of thought/discussion. It does seem to me that science is out of necessity somewhat elitist, and an exclusive club (for which the price of admission is many years of graduate study and research work). It really isn't accessible to all. It demands highly detailed information and knowledge in a particular area, and uses very specific and precise terminology to express very specific things. A sure sign of pseudo-science is when they start inventing their own terms (e.g. "kinds"...that's not a real term...there is a large number of classification terms including genus, phylum, etc., but "kinds" is not among them). I think they do this at least in part because the correct knowledge is not accessible to them (without a lot of work and study that most are not willing or able to do).

I suspect that line of thought could be fleshed out much better, but I'm too tired right now. Body is still p-o'd with me from the yard work yesterday.

1poorguy
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If the consensus on GW is wrong, it is just a current reminder that ANY scientific consensus can be wrong (like natural selection).

Nigel was right. You're thinking in terms of Revealed Certainties, and you can't quite grasp that science doesn't work this way.

You might as well argue that if GW turns out to be wrong, we should throw out all of physics. "Because if one thing was wrong, the rest of it can be wrong."

The problem is, telling a scientist "it might be wrong!" is like telling him that water is wet. He knows that. But "it might be wrong" isn't how you discredit a theory. You use evidence.

And FYI, "it looks designed" isn't evidence. Not that the genetic code looks designed to anyone who doesn't have a religious filter. Given the amount of apparent junk and random redundancy in the genetic code, it resembles something that's designed about as much as a heap of unrefined metal ore resembles an automobile.

- Gus
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And I don't think scientists can be left to police themselves. They're only human.



••• It would be virtually impossible to get them all (or even most of them) to buy-off on something deliberately fraudulent, so in the end they can (and will and DO) police themselves.

Quite honestly, if they don't then who can?



the College of Cardinals?

..they're a college and they talk to god and god talks to them



-b
.... o wait ..that won't work, the Catholic Church mostly accepts evolution
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And if you are referring to ID ("assuming stuff for which there is no evidence"), we disagree on the "no evidence" part. The genetic code looks designed. It may well be.
-------------------

And the evidence for that is where, again?


It has a level of complexity AND specification that is only known to originate in an intelligent source. The ability to replicate is not the same thing as originating information.
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Quite honestly, if they don't then who can? Very few people outside a given discipline understand it well enough to police it anyway. I certainly couldn't police any work done by Anthony or centromere.

Nor could I, except in the (hypothetical) case where they started advising public policy based on their scientific conclusions, conclusions that run far afield from their research. Also in areas where their science is based on or inspires philosphical arguments in areas that affect the average citizens lives. These are areas that can and should be challenged in ways that encourage the truth to be discovered. Granted, not all approaches accomplish this.

For an area of challenge, take Dawkins' and others desire to criminalize religious instruction for children. Nobody wants to do things that are harmful to children. But those guys cherry-pick the data to suit their own ends, and need to be called on it. They don't present a fair or realistic picture, and it has nothing to do with science.

Or if any scientist advocated forcing me to buy carbon credits to deal with global warming. I am far from convinced that such action is warranted. There needs to be some kind of checks and balances coming from outside of science.
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...where they started advising public policy based on their scientific conclusions, conclusions that run far afield from their research.

Depends. If I advise based on the conclusion that evolution is a part of how the world (and life) works, that is outside my field. However, I am reiterating based on presently-accepted science. It could still get sticky because it wouldn't take long for me to get in over my head. But on the basic "should evolution be taught in biology" I need not be a biologist to say "yes, that is the latest understanding of the community of biologists." Sure it affects citizens' lives, but really neither you nor I have anything to say about it because it's simply not our area, and we are not equipped to judge the quality of the research people like Anthony and centromere perform that reached these conclusions.

Dawkins is (or was) a biologist. He can talk about cellular this and chromosomal that, and that's fine. You are correct that when he leaves that realm that he's just another guy like you and me. The "criminalize religious instruction" thing I always interpreted more generally to to that people shouldn't be able to teach anything to their kids as fact when it is not known to be (it's called "indoctrination" or "brain-washing"). This includes religion and racism (off the top of my head). Both proceed from notions that are either highly suspect or dead-wrong, and teaching kids that black people are bad because they're black, or they (the kids) are bad because Adam defied the word of God and committed original sin, should be criminal. Do your kids believe in original sin? Do they carry around guilt because of it? If so, that's wrong. There is no evidence such an event ever occurred, and to traumatize children based on a probable-fairy-tale is simply wrong. Just as teaching them the earth is flat is wrong, or that disease is caused by evil spirits, or <insert discredited superstition here>. When they get a bit older and can start processing information (rather than just recording it), then it's appropriate to throw this stuff at them and let them figure out what makes sense to them. At earlier ages you're just using your authority and power to abuse them if you start shoveling "Democrats are bad, hispanics can't be trusted, Mohammed rode to heaven on a winged horse, the entire planet was covered by 100' of water for 40 days" into their impressionable little heads.*

Reading that again it doesn't quite say what I want, but hopefully the meaning got through.

Or if any scientist advocated forcing me to buy carbon credits to deal with global warming.

It's the politicians that are doing that. I've read several articles that indicate it's a stupid idea, and haven't seen one scientist advocate it that I can recall (Gore is NOT a scientist). Politicians unfortunately have the power to decree science, even when it goes counter to what the science really says. It doesn't really change the science, but simply creates an erroneous public policy.

1poorguy

*I am very careful with 1poorkid. Apparently her classmates are following the campaign somewhat, so when she brings up things like healthcare I try to give a balanced answer. Similarly, when she brings up religion I try not to sabotage it, but simply make her think. When science enters I try to give her the best information that we have today (at a 6th grade level, of course!). It is tempting to spew my personal opinions about Hillary, or Leviticus, or whatever, but I don't think it right to do so (yet). She and I will have those discussions later when she's formed her own opinions based on her own analysis, not mine.
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For an area of challenge, take Dawkins' and others desire to criminalize religious instruction for children.

Now you're just making stuff up.

Religious thoughts shouldn't be taught as science, that doesn't mean that religion couldn't be taught in a religion class.

Furthermore churches are allowed to teach what they want.


Finally, we've been over what science is and isn't & what religion is and isn't many times and you just don't seem to understand, whether it's intentional, unintentional, or just playing devil's advocate.


Regardless of whether there's a mind behind it all or not, the Universe (or God if you prefer) plays by a set of rules. Science is the attempt to discover those rules*. It may be that God uses the rules of the Universe for His own ends or whether rules are purely the properties of the Universe does not make a difference to Science. If religion wants to claim is an intelligence acting underneath the rules, science doesn't really care. However, trying to teach that "God's mind is behind it all" as science is wrong as long as there is no evidence to support it.

Incidentally the rules of the Universe certainly are consistant with the presence of no intellect "behind the curtain".

*A quick side note:
Either the Universe operates on a common set of rules or God setup the Universe with all evidence already in place to fool us into thinking that it does. If you subscribe to this belief (Last Tuesdayism), then God is the biggest liar of all time.
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Now you're just making stuff up.

Not really. Dawkins in "God Delusion" said that he thought religious indoctrination was "child abuse". Dawkins was not speaking as a biologist, but he is one. Some may not make that distinction.

Personally, I agree with Dawkins. Especially given some of the rather horrific stuff that is in most religions (stoning, plagues, etc). Worse than the evening news! But Bryan wasn't making it up, and I think he understands that isn't science talking. He just brought it up (I believe) as an example of when a layperson can dispute a scientist.

1poorguy
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Do your kids believe in original sin? Do they carry around guilt because of it? If so, that's wrong.

Interesting question. I just polled my 14 yr old and my 19 yr old. 14 year old said "what's original sin?", so I'm assuming no guilt.

19 yr old said "Yes, I believe it", and "Yes, I feel guilty because I've done things of my own choice. Wait, what's original sin?"

The concept of hell would probably be a better example than original sin. I've never met or heard of anyone whose life was ruined because they believe in original sin. I suppose anything can be twisted, so it wouldn't surprize me to find a case.

The "criminalize religious instruction" thing I always interpreted more generally to to that people shouldn't be able to teach anything to their kids as fact when it is not known to be (it's called "indoctrination" or "brain-washing").

I agree in theory that it's bad to teach your kids false "facts", especially ones that are harmful. I doubt we'd agree on much beyond that. And I certainly wouldn't agree that teaching anything I find objectionable should be criminalized. I feel very uneasy about the idea of the government telling me what I can and can't teach my kids, or criminalizing thoughts. I suppose there is some precedent for it, but still . . .

Be careful what you wish for. Lets say that secular humanists gain enough control to be able to criminalize thoughts and ideas like you desire (even if only harmful ones). Then because of low birth rates, the religious finally gain total control of government, and use this concept to criminalize atheism, which they argue (preaching to the choir) is harmful.

Wouldn't you need solid scientific evidence of the harm of religious instruction, and not just anecdotal evidence? Or would you use Centromere's "possibility of harm" as justification to install preventative measures to stop parents from teaching their kids what Christians believe?

I don't know, I see all kinds of problems in this approach, problems that should concern the religious and the non-religious alike. I've probably exaggerated your position or got it completely wrong, and if so I apologize.

-Bryan
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I feel very uneasy about the idea of the government telling me what I can and can't teach my kids, or criminalizing thoughts.

I would agree. Thought police and all...very scary (yes, I read the book...I don't need to be hearing "yes, you are the dead" from my TV anytime soon). For all the reasons you say, and more. Better to teach people not to teach "false 'facts'" (as you called them) until the kids are old enough to process the info for themselves, no matter how strongly the parent may feel. Not sure how we could accomplish that. It's more a statement of principle than an enforceable law.

Maybe original sin wasn't the best choice...is that uniquely Catholic? Just the first thing that popped to mind. But I think you got the gist of my post, so I didn't fail entirely!

1poorguy
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If the consensus on GW is wrong, it is just a current reminder that ANY scientific consensus can be wrong (like natural selection).

That's a very simplistic view, and one that I don't believe can be supported.

The problem with global warming is that because of the enormous consequences, the science community is being asked to form an opinion based on incomplete data and preliminary models. The scientific "consensus" is that climatogy is poorly understood and the current data inadequate, but if forced to make a conclusion, most scientists believe that carbon levels in air and water is trending upward, that human activity contributes significantly to those levels, and that this has potentially severe climatic repercussions.

In comparison, there is far more physical evidence supporting "scientific consensus" such as relativity, quantum mechanices, and evolution. So much so that evolution has scientific credibilty at least as high as the other two theories.

I don't see the same significance if the theories you mention are wrong, compared to the significance of the prevailing naturalistic explanation of biodiversity being wrong.

Suppose the prevailing naturalistic explanations for biodiversity are wrong. They will simply be replaced by other naturalistic speculations or simply be given a "we don't know" by the scientific community. It would not make IDism any more credible in the scientific community, any more than a refutation of quantum mechanics would increase the validity of astrology.

But I can sure evaluate the logic behind many of them, and I can tell in many cases when a scientific article gives testable detail or only Dawkinesque story-telling-as-science.

I don't think you can if the bulk of your information is coming from web sites that are promoting a particular point of view. No offense, but I think you let other people do your thinking for you.

And if you are referring to ID ("assuming stuff for which there is no evidence"), we disagree on the "no evidence" part. The genetic code looks designed. It may well be.

"The genetic code looks designed" is not what one would call strong evidence.

The striped pattern of colors and great red spot observed in the atmosphere of Jupitor also "looks designed". Do you consider that evidence of an intelligent Jovian art group?
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I'm not attacking the system. ... And I don't think scientists can be left to police themselves.

You are attacking the system. The second statement is a direct attack on the system. Who do you think should police the system? Clearly not the ID proponents. They either aren't capable or aren't honest enough to provide a reasonable critique of the evidence (for an example, see http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=26167745 )

I'm attacking specific conclusions that I feel are insufficiently supported by evidence.

The problem, as I see it, is that (at least as far as evolution is concerned) you don't really understand the evidence (data). For an example, see your post here: http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=26160133

I can't make heads or tails of the data,...

The paper we were discussing didn't use any techniques that aren't common in papers examining evolution at the molecular level. If you didn't understand the data there, I find it hard to believe that you would understand the data in similar papers. And, if you don't understand these papers, I don't see how you can claim that their conclusions aren't sufficiently supported by the evidence.

That's not to say that you shouldn't ask questions about the conclusions or the data. Questions are good. They give us all a chance to learn a little more. But, I think you should cognizant of when you adopt someone else's claim that a conclusion is insufficiently supported by the evidence rather than it being the case that you understand the evidence and question the conclusion.

-Anthony
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And the evidence for that is where, again?


It has a level of complexity AND specification that is only known to originate in an intelligent source. The ability to replicate is not the same thing as originating information.


That's not evidence (data). That's a logical argument. And, it's a logical argument that's both at least a hundred years old and fundamentally flawed. See: Nature, No. 2010, Vol. 78, May 7, 1908:

... are visible to us as the Marian canals. Lowell adduces the straightness of the canals as a proof that they are the artificial products of intelligent beings.

So, again, I'll ask: And the evidence for that is where, again?

-Anthony
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It has a level of complexity AND specification that is only known to originate in an intelligent source.

I don't think you know much about genetics, then.

DNA has just 4 bases. Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, Thymine (A, C, G, T). RNA substitutes Uracil for Thymine, but is otherwise the same. You think 4 bases is a "level of complexity only known to originate with intelligent sources?" That seems like a pretty low standard.

Perhaps you mean the DNA / Amino Acid encoding. That's the usual definition of "the genetic code." Transcription always involves base-pair triplets, so there are 64 possible combinations. 64 doesn't sound very complicated... and it's even less so when you discover that 42 of the patterns are duplicates. There are only 22 unique results, 20 amino acids and stop / start.

They're not even distributed evenly. 3 are unique, 9 have 2 patterns, 2 have 3 patterns, 5 have 4 patterns, and 3 have 6 patterns. That doesn't sound designed. It's almost, well, random. So far, I'm having a hard time seeing what's so "obviously designed" about it.

Maybe proteins? String a bunch of amino acids together, and you get some pretty interesting results. The actual behavior of which seems to depend on the way the protein is folded. But you also get a lot of combinations that do nothing at all.

What's more, DNA frequently "codes" for things that fall into the latter category. 80% of human DNA can be transcribed, but only 2% of it actually does anything. 20% blanks, 78% random noise... that's not a very convincing argument that it "looks designed."

The ability to replicate is not the same thing as originating information.

Another Creationist buzzphrase. "Originating information." Which completely neglects what "information" really means in this context.

Every time you get a transcription error, that originates information. Substitution, addition, transposition, deletion, it doesn't matter. It's a new pattern, and from an information theory point of view, it's new data. The new information may not be useful in any way, like 98% of human DNA, but it's a pattern that didn't exist before.

Completely random noise is in fact the most difficult kind of data to compress, because it has the highest information content: the minimum amount of data that can uniquely identify the data. English is relatively low in information by comparison, at around 1 bit per letter. Far from not being able to "originate information", random processes are in fact a marvelous source of "information."

If instead you define "information" as something functional, well then 98% of human DNA has no demonstrated information.

- Gus
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If the consensus on GW is wrong, it is just a current reminder that ANY scientific consensus can be wrong (like natural selection).
------------
That's a very simplistic view, and one that I don't believe can be supported.


Yes, I agree, using "ANY" is too strong. What I mean is "the consensus on the power of natural selection can be wrong", and nothing more.

In comparison, there is far more physical evidence supporting "scientific consensus" such as relativity, quantum mechanices, and evolution. So much so that evolution has scientific credibilty at least as high as the other two theories.


Sigh. I have no issue with "evolution" writ large, and neither do the major ID proponents. We have issue with certain parts of evolutionary theory, just like real evolutionary biologists do.

Suppose the prevailing naturalistic explanations for biodiversity are wrong. They will simply be replaced by other naturalistic speculations or simply be given a "we don't know" by the scientific community.

"We don't know" is fine with me. I have no problem with evolution being taught like that.

But I can sure evaluate the logic behind many of them, and I can tell in many cases when a scientific article gives testable detail or only Dawkinesque story-telling-as-science.
-----------
I don't think you can if the bulk of your information is coming from web sites that are promoting a particular point of view. No offense, but I think you let other people do your thinking for you.


I don't take offense. I've read a detailed description of the biochemical reactions that take place when a photon hits the retina. I've read so-called detailed descriptions of the evolution of the flagellum. There is absolutely no comparison in level of detail or testability of steps.

"The genetic code looks designed" is not what one would call strong evidence.

Not strong stated that way at least. How about the fact that DNA has a level of complexity AND specification that is only known to originate in an intelligent source?

The striped pattern of colors and great red spot observed in the atmosphere of Jupitor also "looks designed". Do you consider that evidence of an intelligent Jovian art group?


Pattern by itself does not indicate design.
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Completely random noise is in fact the most difficult kind of data to compress, because it has the highest information content: the minimum amount of data that can uniquely identify the data. English is relatively low in information by comparison, at around 1 bit per letter.

Which is a very interesting side point on the whole SETI project.

One meta argument for why we don't hear anything from "them" is that they're talking to one another and not looking for others. When sending large amounts of data over a low band-width media, it makes sense to use high levels of data compression. Unfortunately without knowing the compression algorythm highly compressed data looks exactly like random noise.
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The genetic code looks designed. It may well be.
-------------------

And the evidence for that is where, again?

-------------------
It has a level of complexity AND specification that is only known to originate in an intelligent source. The ability to replicate is not the same thing as originating information.

-------------------

That's not evidence (data). That's a logical argument. And, it's a logical argument that's both at least a hundred years old and fundamentally flawed. See: Nature, No. 2010, Vol. 78, May 7, 1908:

... are visible to us as the Marian canals. Lowell adduces the straightness of the canals as a proof that they are the artificial products of intelligent beings.

So, again, I'll ask: And the evidence for that is where, again?


DNA exhibits features that are only known to originate with intelligent sources. The canals on Mars can be explained by natural processes like erosion. You are confusing a figurative use of "looks like" in one case with an literal use of a "looks like" argument in another.

Despite your claim that I made a logical argument with no data, the complexity of DNA combined with its specification IS the data, and is strong evidence of its design. We need a scientific explanation of the data. Do you have one?
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DNA has just 4 bases. Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, Thymine (A, C, G, T). RNA substitutes Uracil for Thymine, but is otherwise the same. You think 4 bases is a "level of complexity only known to originate with intelligent sources?" That seems like a pretty low standard.

Perhaps you mean the DNA / Amino Acid encoding. That's the usual definition of "the genetic code." Transcription always involves base-pair triplets, so there are 64 possible combinations. 64 doesn't sound very complicated... and it's even less so when you discover that 42 of the patterns are duplicates.


Very funny. I guess the US tax code is not complex. After all, its made up of only 26 letters and a few punctuation marks.

What's more, DNA frequently "codes" for things that fall into the latter category. 80% of human DNA can be transcribed, but only 2% of it actually does anything. 20% blanks, 78% random noise... that's not a very convincing argument that it "looks designed."


Your "junk DNA" objection is junk. Science is finding more and more use for what you call useless.

Besides that, you are making a faulty "looks like" argument, at least I'd hope Anthony would call you on it.

Claiming that DNA was originally designed does not necessitate that the code can't degrade, so junk is certainly possible, but would have nothing to do with its origin.

If instead you define "information" as something functional, well then 98% of human DNA has no demonstrated information.


And by claiming this (erroneous) figure of 98%, you think you've explained the 2?
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DNA exhibits features that are only known to originate with intelligent sources.

and these are?

The canals on Mars can be explained by natural processes like erosion.

There aren't any canals on Mars...

You are confusing a figurative use of "looks like" in one case with an literal use of a "looks like" argument in another.

Is he? You haven't provided any real evidence or supporting argument in support of your argument that DNS "looks designed".

Crystals look designed too, so do amino acids. Some crystals can "record" holographic images. In fact the only reason that IDist don't claim that crystals are "designed" is because they can be grown in a test tube.
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DNA exhibits features that are only known to originate with intelligent sources.

Did you know that repeating something doesn't actually make it true?

- Gus
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DNA exhibits features that are only known to originate with intelligent sources. The canals on Mars can be explained by natural processes like erosion. You are confusing a figurative use of "looks like" in one case with an literal use of a "looks like" argument in another.

Despite your claim that I made a logical argument with no data, the complexity of DNA combined with its specification IS the data, and is strong evidence of its design. We need a scientific explanation of the data. Do you have one?


You're missing the point. One hundred years ago, Lowell advanced the idea that the 'canals' on Mars were too straight to be the product of natural processes, such as erosion. Only intelligent agents were known to produce straight waterways. Therefore, this was strong evidence that then 'canals' on Mars were the work of an intelligent entity.

Your argument is identical: DNA has features not associated with natural processes. Only intelligent agents produce these types of features. Therefore, this is strong evidence for intelligent design of DNA.

You talk about the complexity of DNA and its specification. Those are conclusions, not data. What are the data that support those conclusions, and how do they relate logically to design?

-Anthony
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You haven't provided any real evidence or supporting argument in support of your argument that DNS "looks designed".


Take the minimal genome for simple life, something like 500 gene products, give or take a few hundred.

The DNA required to build such a creature has a certain level of complexity that can be measured. It also specifies the proteins, regulatory networks, etc. that will constitute the lifeform, its buiding blocks, biochemical reactions, etc.

That is the data. We know human intelligence can create such complex specified information. How do you explain it? Have you discovered anything else in nature that has that level of complexity combined with specification that wasn't the product of intelligence originally?

-Bryan
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Did you know that repeating something doesn't actually make it true?

- Gus



Gus will understand my argument

Gus will understand my argument

Gus will understand my argument

Gus will understand my argument

Gus will understand my argument

Gus will understand my argument

Gus will understand my argument


Well, I tried. You might be right about that.
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Besides that, you are making a faulty "looks like" argument, at least I'd hope Anthony would call you on it.

I suppose I could, but I think that's his point. People see what they (to some degree) expect to see. ID proponents see 'design.' Let's draw an analogy with an ink blot. I throw some ink on a piece of paper, fold it in half, and then unfold it. You come in and see a butterfly. Gus comes in and sees a clown. You can both argue until you're blue in the face, and neither one still has anything more than his perceptions.

-Anthony
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You're missing the point. One hundred years ago, Lowell advanced the idea that the 'canals' on Mars were too straight to be the product of natural processes, such as erosion. Only intelligent agents were known to produce straight waterways. Therefore, this was strong evidence that then 'canals' on Mars were the work of an intelligent entity.


Why were they wrong, and how do you know they were?

When you answer that, you'll see why this is a faulty analogy.
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Have you discovered anything else in nature that has that level of complexity combined with specification that wasn't the product of intelligence originally?

I'm not sure that's possible, as if such a thing was discovered, it might immediately be called "designed"... It seems to be a circular argument, unless we can propose mechanisms whereby a complex/specified system could occur - which has happened to "designed" systems before.

Also, until we try all the other combinations of gene products, it doesn't mean much that we have a working set (your 500 gene products). It's like pulling a card out of a deck and saying "Look! the queen of spades! Now what were the odds of that happening?"

~w
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You talk about the complexity of DNA and its specification. Those are conclusions, not data.

The complexity of DNA refers to its physical structure, its arrangement of parts. How is that not data?

Its specification is the fact that the coding areas of DNA are translated into specific proteins. Again, how is this not data?

I don't understand your objection.
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Your "junk DNA" objection is junk. Science is finding more and more use for what you call useless.

Gee, the "Is not either!" response didn't hold much weight last time. Why did you think it would work this time?

Besides that, you are making a faulty "looks like" argument, at least I'd hope Anthony would call you on it.

It's your "looks like" argument, not mine. The rest of the world doesn't think "DNA looks designed" is much of an argument.

Claiming that DNA was originally designed does not necessitate that the code can't degrade, so junk is certainly possible, but would have nothing to do with its origin.

Yet again demonstrating that you don't seem to understand genetics or evolution. The "code" doesn't degrade. The 64 to 22 encoding process is the same as it's ever been. Genomes change, but we generally don't think of evolution as a process of degradation. Rather, it's a process of change. Often, we see the new genome as an improvement in some way over the old.

Far from being "degradation," non-coding DNA is more like a fossil record of genetic change.

I'll spell it out for you, since you have such strong beliefs about something you don't actually understand. Imagine for the moment that we had a piece of software that copies strings of letters. Periodically the software makes deliberate errors in the copy.

Now imagine that our copying software preferentially copies sequences that contain English words. It doesn't care how noise is between the words, just how many English words are in the string. Pretty soon, our population of strings will consist of longer and longer streams of English, separated by noise.

In this system, "HOUSEvaseraTOADasgfa4qMERCYujmALIEN" isn't "degraded" from "raTOADasgfa4qMERCYu." In fact, it's more "advanced."

And by claiming this (erroneous) figure of 98%, you think you've explained the 2?

Leaving aside that you've just asserted the figure is in error without backing it up in any way, you know perfectly well how we explain the 2%. It's called "evolution." You've just pushed your argument from incredulity down to the genetic level, that's all.

You're really going to have to present some actual evidence before the "DNA is designed" argument will hold any weight at all.

- Gus
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Well, I tried.

Yeah, that's about on par with your usual efforts.

- Gus
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People see what they (to some degree) expect to see. ID proponents see 'design.'

And you think they are totally baseless?

I agree that people see what they want to, to some degree. You seem to prefer a conclusion of "no design". Can you explain why?
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You seem to prefer a conclusion of "no design".

For the same reason that when I misplace my wallet, "aliens invaded my house and moved it to another room" is not the base hypothesis.

- Gus
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centromere wrote:
The problem with global warming is that because of the enormous consequences, the science community is being asked to form an opinion based on incomplete data and preliminary models. The scientific "consensus" is that climatogy is poorly understood and the current data inadequate, but if forced to make a conclusion, most scientists believe that carbon levels in air and water is trending upward, that human activity contributes significantly to those levels, and that this has potentially severe climatic repercussions.

In comparison, there is far more physical evidence supporting "scientific consensus" such as relativity, quantum mechanices, and evolution. So much so that evolution has scientific credibilty at least as high as the other two theories.


With regards to "most scientists believe that carbon levels in air and water is trending upward", you didn't specifically say "most climate scientists" - I don't think there's much debate among them on this basic fact:
http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Carbon_Dioxide_40...

In short, between 1000 and 1800, CO2 levels were relatively flat - but in the last 200 years, concentrations have increased by ~35%.


To make some more general observations (as a member of the public who started looking into this about 2 years ago):


From an increase in CO2 you get a direct and immediate effect due to atmospheric absorption:
http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Atmospheric_Trans...

In short, CO2 absorbs infrared radiation that comes from the warm surface - it effectively reduces/slows heat loss (which is why CO2 makes a bigger difference at night than during the day). To overturn this would require overturning quantum physics and actual experimental results.


As a brief diversion, the reason CO2 is considered much more of a problem than methane is that CO2 lasts a lot longer than methane in the atmosphere (and also, methane levels seem to be stabilising):
http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Carbon_Dioxide_Re...

The above graph doesn't include methane, which is mostly gone in 12 years IIRC. However, that's only at current atmospheric levels - at 4x current levels, methane will last a lot longer, significantly increasing the overall impact.


With human-induced global warming, CO2 is the main "forcing" (cause of a change in temperature from the initial conditions). But CO2 is also a "feedback" - an increase in temperature leads to more CO2 in the atmosphere. Fortunately, this cycle tails off - else the climate would be really chaotic.

If we look at this image from the IPCC 2007 Fourth Assessment Report Summary for Policymakers:
http://www.greenfacts.org/en/climate-change-ar4/images/figur...

What this shows is the difference in energy absorption (and hence temperature) between 1750 and 2000, the main underlying causes (with error bars) and the level of confidence / scientific understanding (on the right). Essentially, the immediate effects of CO2 and other hydrocarbons are considered to be understood to a high degree. Cloud / water vapour effects are the main remaining problem.

Note however, that this is more about global temperatures - it does not cover major weather events (eg hurricanes) or sea levels. Sea level is a combination of thermal expansion and ice melt... and seems to be causing a fair amount of angst among climate scientists - the predictions in the IPCC report last year are generally considered to be "wrong" (the basic model has consistently under-estimated sea level rise) but there isn't strong agreement on a replacement. If there is by the time of the next report, expect to see a significant rise in predicted 2100 sea levels - and the denialists to cry foul.


On a final note, the way in which the climate is modelled is from first principals - to try to create an approximation of how the climate of an Earth-like planet behaves and then run a simulation of that model, on an approximation of the Earth. More computer power allows for higher resolution models (less of an approximation), and also more complex models. Unfortunately, there's currently not enough historical data to check against - a somewhat cynical view would be that the more global warming we cause, the better we'll be able to model it.
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You talk about the complexity of DNA and its specification. Those are conclusions, not data.

The complexity of DNA refers to its physical structure, its arrangement of parts. How is that not data?

What algorithm are you using to assess 'complexity?' What is the rate of false positives and false negatives for your algorithm? What types of confounding factors adversely affect your algorithm?

We know that, given the conditions thought to occur on the early Earth, nucleotides can be produced spontaneously, those nucleotides can polymerize spontaneously, and a recent talk I went to showed that they might be duplicated spontaneously without complex catalysts. So, this 'complexity' you claim to see in DNA may not mean what you believe it means.

Its specification is the fact that the coding areas of DNA are translated into specific proteins. Again, how is this not data?

If that's how you're going to define 'specification,' then how does this support your conclusion? We know that things like antibiotic resistance can evolve. That is, evolution can produce a new specification. You seem to be a long way from concluding that complexity and specification provide strong evidence for design.

-Anthony
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Its specification is the fact that the coding areas of DNA are translated into specific proteins. Again, how is this not data?
------------------
If that's how you're going to define 'specification,' then how does this support your conclusion? We know that things like antibiotic resistance can evolve. That is, evolution can produce a new specification.



That begs the question of how bacteria got that ability. The fact that bacteria can evolve resistance says nothing about the origin of the information in its DNA.

Are you agreeing with me now that there is data to deal with?
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The fact that bacteria can evolve resistance says nothing about the origin of the information in its DNA.

I gather that "mutation" is a new word for you?

- Gus
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That begs the question of how bacteria got that ability. The fact that bacteria can evolve resistance says nothing about the origin of the information in its DNA.

To keep your logic consistent, you have to accept that the fact that human intelligence can produce information says nothing about the origin of information in human DNA. So, either you don't actually have an argument to support your position, or you are insisting on having two different standards, one for evolution and one for ID. Which one is it?

-Anthony
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Bryan consistently states that human genetic material has characterstics of something that's designed.

Here are a few more things that look designed:
This looks like a church and we all know churches are designed:
http://www.gdargaud.net/Climbing/Colorado/GotGMontezuma.jpg

This looks like a catherdral and we all know that cathedrals are designed:
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/197/496885639_772783dd45.jpg?...

This is a large rock balanced on other rocks as we all know this is unstable and "can't" occur naturally:
http://www.visitidaho.org/assets/photos/hires/BalRock.jpg
http://www.physics.arizona.edu/~milsom/photo/winter9798/jpg/...

We ALL know that bridges are designed and built:
http://images.jupiterimages.com/common/detail/49/18/23051849...
http://tinyurl.com/3gxsfq
http://tinyurl.com/4edmnc

Finally only sophisticated intelligence and detailed engineering could design and build a nuclear reactor:
http://wikinuclear.org/index.php/Welcome_to_WikiNuclear!


To Bryan,

You keep repeated that DNA looks designed to you. I gave many other examples of things that on the surface people would claim had to be designed. Yet we can see that these things occur naturally (and we even know how they happened!). This is the reason you are being grilled about your requirements for determining whether something is designed. There just isn't any clear reaon that DNA "had to be designed".
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Before we move on to your human intelligence analogy, please answer my question:

Are you agreeing with me now that there is data to deal with?

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=26665171
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Finally only sophisticated intelligence and detailed engineering could design and build a nuclear reactor:
http://wikinuclear.org/index.php/Welcome_to_WikiNuclear!


The link didn't work, so try this one:

http://wikinuclear.org/index.php/Oklo_Natural_Reactors
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You keep repeated that DNA looks designed to you.


No, I haven't. I've given details of what design in DNA involves.

I gave many other examples of things that on the surface people would claim had to be designed.

which are irrelevant to the discussion. If it has a natural explanation, it doesn't require an appeal to intelligence.
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Before we move on to your human intelligence analogy, please answer my question:

Are you agreeing with me now that there is data to deal with?

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=26665171


I can't. You haven't answered my questions yet:

What algorithm are you using to assess 'complexity?' What is the rate of false positives and false negatives for your algorithm? What types of confounding factors adversely affect your algorithm?

If you want to drop 'complexity' from your argument, then you don't need to answer those questions. In which case, I'll grant you that you have data, but so far that data is limited to the fact that modern cells have DNA which is transcribed into RNA, some of which is then translated into proteins. You can either base your argument solely from this piece of data, or present more data if you have it.

-Anthony
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If it has a natural explanation, it doesn't require an appeal to intelligence.

If it doesn't yet have a natural explanation, it still doesn't require an appeal to intelligence.

-Anthony
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You keep repeated that DNA looks designed to you.


No, I haven't.


Yes you have:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=26662197

"The genetic code looks designed. It may well be."
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That begs the question of how bacteria got that ability.


No; it prompts the question.
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Before we move on to your human intelligence analogy, please answer my question:

Are you agreeing with me now that there is data to deal with?

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=26665171

-----------------------------

I can't. You haven't answered my questions yet:

What algorithm are you using to assess 'complexity?' What is the rate of false positives and false negatives for your algorithm? What types of confounding factors adversely affect your algorithm?



[Ok, I'll play your game] Sorry, I can't answer that yet. You haven't answered my prior question:

The complexity of DNA refers to its physical structure, its arrangement of parts. How is that not data?

You claimed I have no data, and when I provided it, you ignore that and nitpick some other word. I take it back, I don't have time to play this game.
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Yes you have:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=26662197

"The genetic code looks designed. It may well be."


Sigh. "Repeatedly" requires more than one instance.
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You claimed I have no data, and when I provided it, you ignore that and nitpick some other word. I take it back, I don't have time to play this game.

I'm not playing a game, but maybe you are. I asked for data demonstrating complexity and specification. To me, that means you define what you mean by complexity, i.e., if X is complex, then it has attributes A, B, C, etc. and doesn't have attributes W, Y, Z, etc., and then demonstrating that DNA has the required attributes and doesn't have any of the prohibited attributes. All you did was define the two terms. If that's all 'complexity' and 'specification' mean to you, why not just drop those terms and say what you really mean: that DNA is a molecule that is transcribed and translated in modern cells? Where does your argument go from there?

-Anthony
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The complexity of DNA refers to its physical structure, its arrangement of parts. How is that not data?

Its specification is the fact that the coding areas of DNA are translated into specific proteins. Again, how is this not data?

I don't understand your objection.


So many responses and so few bytes to a post.

We're right back at the beginning. We can point to a plethora of things and claim design. Try and fully describe the cycle of intergalactic dust to new stars to solar systems to novas to black holes, all of which create the particles from which we come, provided the energy we need to live, and give us the black holes at the center of galaxies that hold it all together without saying "whoa!" DNA is small time compared to that.

But these events can all be described naturally. I see a building, I know man built it. There are thousands of years of evidence that only man builds buildings. I see a star and I know man did not build it. Thousands of years of evidence support this. I see DNA and I know man did not make it. There are no buildings here on Earth built by anyone other than humans. Why am I now concluding that some other intelligent agent produced DNA?
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I see DNA and I know man did not make it. There are no buildings here on Earth built by anyone other than humans. Why am I now concluding that some other intelligent agent produced DNA?

You may have to revise that:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/oct/06/genetics.clima...
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I take it back, I don't have time to play this game.

From where I'm sitting, the only person playing games is you. Granted, I would have phrased the question differently, but you're pretty steadfastly trying to weasel out of why you think we should accept your flat assertion that "the genetic code" is designed.

Since you seem to be using "the genetic code" in a way that doesn't map in any way to the proper scientific definition, you should probably state what you're studying that you find so convincing.

I'm fairly sure you don't mean DNA itself. You state "The complexity of DNA refers to its physical structure, its arrangement of parts." But since DNA is in fact not at all complex in its physical structure, and you keep alluding to other things, I think you're just stating your case badly.

I'm guessing that you mean the expression of DNA. And not just the first level expression, which is just a set of proteins, but the entire organism. DNA doesn't exactly encode an entire human being, but it does encode for proteins that eventually result in a human being. That's pretty fascinating stuff.

The problem with your argument - assuming I'm capturing what you mean, rather than what you've said - is that it's by no means sufficient to imply design. "I don't understand it" or "I can't conceive of it" isn't an argument. It's just an admission of personal failure of imagination.

What you're encountering is Emergent Behavior. "Emergent behavior" is the phenomenon where relatively simple interactions produce complex results.

It's something you see over and over again in all sorts of different fields. One of the simpler examples is the 3 body problem, where it becomes extremely difficult to accurately predict the orbital motions of 3 bodies that are attracted to each other by gravity. The principles involved are very simple, but the resulting motions are terribly complex. To this day, we do no more than approximate it for all but the simplest cases.

Another common example is social insects, like ants. Ants have relatively few behaviors, but the behavior of the colony is very complex.

As a programmer, I've generated all sorts of systems where relatively simple rules have produced complicated, unexpected results. I've had AIs I've written execute tactics that I had not explicitly coded. I had simply set up a set of equations, and there were useful interactions in the equations I did not foresee.

The point being that the complexity of the results of DNA code groups is irrelevant. We have plenty of examples of things which are definitely not designed where simple effects give you complex results. When we look at DNA itself, it's actually very simple. As are the mechanisms whereby it changes.

Which is why, I believe, you're saying "it's complicated" and we're saying "it's simple."

- Gus
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As a programmer, I've generated all sorts of systems where relatively simple rules have produced complicated, unexpected results.

I've designed complex systems using finite state machines and have programmed each machine with simple programming techniques and have been flabbergasted at the emergent behavior exhibited by the system. We used to call these behaviors undesigned features.

Some of the more cynical called them bugs. :O)

But they weren't.

g2w
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Another common example is social insects, like ants. Ants have relatively few behaviors, but the behavior of the colony is very complex.

Here is a totally off-topic hijack of this current round of terminology disconnect. On the subject of ants... I recently came across a fascinating talk by Deborah Gordon highlighting her studies into ant colonies and how individual ants "know" what tasks need to be performed by the colony. It's about 20 minutes long and I think that anyone with a passing interest in the dynamics of ant behavior will probably find it as engaging as i did:

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/145

Recommend. You may now resume the debate on what "data" means.
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You may now resume the debate on what "data" means.

I think this is the definitive answer.

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm934582528/ch0001459

- Gus
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Some of the more cynical called them bugs.

I started to write about the limitations of design as we know it, since bugs are a serious problem in software, and they're almost always a direct result of unforeseen conflicts between different sections of a program. The point being that far from the "most complexity" only being visible in designed systems, the most complexity we've seen is in undesigned systems with lots of small variables.

Then I realized that Bryan thinks in terms of a "perfect" designer, and wouldn't get the point.

- Gus
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People see what they (to some degree) expect to see. ID proponents see 'design.'

And you think they are totally baseless?


Yes I do. There is no basis currently in existence that suggests that anything other than humans intelligently design anything. Until you can provide proof that other intelligent agents exist, and are of such advanced intelligence and design that they can affect life all over the universe, you have nothing at all to base ID on. Humans did not create DNA, and once again, we are the only intelligent designers we can empirically prove exists.
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You may have to revise that:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/oct/06/genetics.clima......


I hate to hoist you on your own petard here Bryan, but as you stated, replicating is not the same as originating. Man did not create DNA. All available data suggests nature did. There is no evidence of other intelligent agents at this time.

If you want to prove ID, you have to find other intelligent agents first. Then, you have to observe those other intelligent agents, and make educated assumptions, hypotheses, and finally theories, that relate to them. At that point, one can intelligently evaluate if an intelligence was behind the origin of DNA.

Simply saying it appears designed doesn't cut it. Nature produces incredibly complex designs on a humongous scale all the time.
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I see DNA and I know man did not make it.

----------------------

You may have to revise that:

------------------------

I hate to hoist you on your own petard here Bryan, but as you stated, replicating is not the same as originating. Man did not create DNA.


Man has the ability to manipulate DNA, and probably create new DNA that has never existed before. I won't argue with you on whether this is creating DNA (humans certainly didn't create the first DNA on earth, you're right about that).

My point is, we know that intelligent agents, at least as intelligent and technologically advanced as humans, can do this. So there is no good reason, from a technological perspective, to say that intelligent agents couldn't have created the original DNA on earth.

You argue passionately that we can't know of the work of intelligent agents unless we meet the agents themselves and can study them. This is clearly wrong.

If you were able to travel to another solar system, to an Earth-like planet, and found the rusting remains of machinery unlike any you've ever seen on earth, you'd be justified in concluding that an intelligent agent made them, even though (in this story) the agents are long gone.

Nature produces incredibly complex designs on a humongous scale all the time.

Replication is not the same as origination. I thought we settled that.
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which are irrelevant to the discussion. If it has a natural explanation, it doesn't require an appeal to intelligence.

Nice attempt at side-stepping my comments.

You claim that DNA "looks designed" to you.

I claim that these natural formations possess many attributes that YOU would attribute to "looking designed".

Things that "look designed" upon a cursory inspection may in fact have natural explanations when examined in detail. My contention is that you certainly don't and scientists may not possess enough information to provide a completely naturalistic explanation, but that's no reason to invoke god and declare that no further investigation needs to be made.

Let me reiterate my position on this:
Saying that God designed DNA is a perfectly OK statement to make from a religious perspective.

However, it is NOT OK to make as a scientific explanation. Science looks for the mechanics or rules that Nature/God uses to make things. These rules are consistent meaning we have no evidence that the mechanics of the Universe change. Therefore, Science doesn't care whether a distant God utilized the properties of the Universe to design and build all living things or not. Science just wants to know what those rules are.
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Nature produces incredibly complex designs on a humongous scale all the time.
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Replication is not the same as origination. I thought we settled that.





These look designed, but they are created from scratch (all unique; not replicated) all the time.


http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/photos/photo...
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I have no issue with "evolution" writ large, and neither do the major ID proponents.

Well let's examine that for a bit. The critical aspects of any scientific theory of evolution are:

1. Common descent. Living things on earth arose from a common ancestor.

2. Differences between species arose via natural processes.

#1 is what evolution necessarily predicts. #2 is a requirement for evolutionary theory to be scientific. Behe believes #1 but not #2, so he advocates a religious theory of evolution, similar to theistic evolution. Where Behe goes wrong is his claim that he has proved #2 to be false. Dembski and others do not believe in #2 and I doubt they accept #1.

So when you say you have no “issue with "evolution" writ large”, what exactly do you mean by that?

I've read a detailed description of the biochemical reactions that take place when a photon hits the retina. I've read so-called detailed descriptions of the evolution of the flagellum. There is absolutely no comparison in level of detail or testability of steps.

We know more about the evolution of flagellum than we do about the cause of autism. Does this make the latter more likely to be due to non-natural causes than the former? I don’t see why. There are lots of things we don’t have a detailed molecular mechanism for, but most of us don’t use that as an excuse to reject natural causation.

So why aren’t you intellectually consistent with your argument? If the lack of a sufficiently detailed molecular description justifies in your mind serious consideration of intelligent design to explain life’s origins, then you should be making the same intelligent design argument for psychosis, autism, hurricanes, earthquakes, changes in stock price, timing of influenza outbreaks, many cancers, male-pattern baldness, etc. Less is known about these things than the evolution of species. So why aren’t you advocating that science take seriously the possibility that Katrina was intelligently designed to destroy New Orleans?

How about the fact that DNA has a level of complexity AND specification that is only known to originate in an intelligent source?

How do you know this? Why can't I use DNA as an example that specified complexity of the sort you allude to can arise naturally? Afterall, DNA is found in nature, was here before humankind, and there is no evidence that a biotechnology company existed a billion years ago.

Why does the fact that humans can manipulate DNA suggest that DNA must have had an intelligent origin? Only humans are known to pile rocks really high. Does that mean that the Himalayas were designed by intelligence? Only humans are known to be able to play with nuclear fusion. Is that evidence that stars are intelligently designed?
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So there is no good reason, from a technological perspective, to say that intelligent agents couldn't have created the original DNA on earth.

Yeah there is. Abiogenesis cuts both ways. If evidence comes up that some advanced civilization planted the seeds of life throughout the universe, we've simply rolled back the clock, and have to answer how they got here, and we're back to arguing turtles. So, we get right to the meat of the whole ID debate, it either has to be some supernatural creator that created life, the universe, and canned tuna fish, or it's nature at work. Since there is no evidence of any supernatural entities, we are left to ponder the profoundly obvious avenue that is left to us.

Nature produces incredibly complex designs on a humongous scale all the time.

Replication is not the same as origination. I thought we settled that.


Unfortunately, your response makes no sense to me. Nature doesn't replicate, it originates, so I'm not sure if you're saying no mas or making a point I'm totally missing. Once again, why would I choose to infer that nature only originates the big stuff like galaxies, and stars, and planets, but not little stuff like DNA?
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My point is, we know that intelligent agents, at least as intelligent and technologically advanced as humans, can do this. So there is no good reason, from a technological perspective, to say that intelligent agents couldn't have created the original DNA on earth.

If all you are suggesting is that it is possible for an unknown intelligence to have created life, the universe, DNA, or anything else one wants to include...well that is hardly controversial.

The point in question though is whether there is any empirical evidence for intelligent design. That is what is controversial. You've made the assertion that DNA is evidence of intelligent design because:

1. DNA is "specific", though you haven't defined the difference between "specific" and "non-specific" DNA. Paul Davies has demonstrated that DNA strands of the same length carry about the same amount of information regardless of sequence, so you'll have to explain what you mean by specific and why it matters.

2. DNA is "complex", though again you haven't define what you mean by the term and why complexity suggests intelligence. An irregular shaped stone is mathematically more complex to describe than a perfectly spherical object, yet most would probably consider the latter to be more likely to be artificial than the former.

3. DNA is only known to be made by humans. Yet DNA predates humans. Humans didn't originate or create DNA, we simply are using and manipulating something found in nature. How this can be construed as an argument supporting the intelligent origin of DNA escapes me.

So your assertion that DNA supports ID doesn't seem to make much sense.
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How about the fact that DNA has a level of complexity AND specification that is only known to originate in an intelligent source?



If you're going to use the word "known", how about the fact that the only known source of intelligence is human beings? Since we didn't create DNA, it follows that intelligence was not involved.
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So when you say you have no “issue with "evolution" writ large”, what exactly do you mean by that?


Things change. Microevolution. Natural selection weeding out the unfit. Rare beneficial mutations.


Are you really claiming that you understant the scientific arguments enough to objectively evaluate the different arguments, or are you just selectively picking the editorial positions that best fit your religious beliefs?
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I think you start here with a misconception of what I'm arguing. But no, I don't claim to be able to evaluate the arguments at the same level you or Anthony could. But I can sure evaluate the logic behind many of them, and I can tell in many cases when a scientific article gives testable detail or only Dawkinesque story-telling-as-science.
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I don't think you can if the bulk of your information is coming from web sites that are promoting a particular point of view. No offense, but I think you let other people do your thinking for you.
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I don't take offense. I've read a detailed description of the biochemical reactions that take place when a photon hits the retina. I've read so-called detailed descriptions of the evolution of the flagellum. There is absolutely no comparison in level of detail or testability of steps.
-------------

We know more about the evolution of flagellum than we do about the cause of autism. Does this make the latter more likely to be due to non-natural causes than the former? I don’t see why. There are lots of things we don’t have a detailed molecular mechanism for, but most of us don’t use that as an excuse to reject natural causation.

So why aren’t you intellectually consistent with your argument? If the lack of a sufficiently detailed molecular description justifies in your mind serious consideration of intelligent design to explain life’s origins, then you should be making the same intelligent design argument for psychosis, autism, hurricanes, earthquakes, changes in stock price, timing of influenza outbreaks, many cancers, male-pattern baldness, etc. Less is known about these things than the evolution of species. So why aren’t you advocating that science take seriously the possibility that Katrina was intelligently designed to destroy New Orleans?


Hopefully now that I've put my comments in context, you can see that your questions have nothing to do with my prior statements. I've made no arguments to the effect that detailed descriptions are necessary before I believe something.

How about the fact that DNA has a level of complexity AND specification that is only known to originate in an intelligent source?
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How do you know this? Why can't I use DNA as an example that specified complexity of the sort you allude to can arise naturally? Afterall, DNA is found in nature, was here before humankind, and there is no evidence that a biotechnology company existed a billion years ago.


Certainly you can use DNA as an example of a naturally arising source of specified complexity. But it would be question-begging to do so, since the origin of DNA is exactly what is at issue.

You don't know the origin of DNA, so it is presumptuous to assume that the origin is natural. You and I both know that specified complexity is created by human intelligence. We know of no other PROVEN source. You are just speculating that DNA has a natural origin.

Why does the fact that humans can manipulate DNA suggest that DNA must have had an intelligent origin?

I didn't say it must have an intelligent origin, rather we have a precedent now of intelligence creating it.

Only humans are known to pile rocks really high. Does that mean that the Himalayas were designed by intelligence? Only humans are known to be able to play with nuclear fusion. Is that evidence that stars are intelligently designed?


Do you know the difference between primary and secondary causes? I'm satisfied that natural causes can explain mountains and stellar burning, at least as secondary causes. There is no specified complexity in a mountain range, so I don't see the point of arguing about these particular examples.

-Bryan
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NigelGlitter wrote:
Abiogenesis cuts both ways. If evidence comes up that some advanced civilization planted the seeds of life throughout the universe, we've simply rolled back the clock, and have to answer how they got here, and we're back to arguing turtles. So, we get right to the meat of the whole ID debate, it either has to be some supernatural creator that created life, the universe, and canned tuna fish, or it's nature at work. Since there is no evidence of any supernatural entities, we are left to ponder the profoundly obvious avenue that is left to us.

To give this argument a bit more immediacy, it's possibly worth considering just how many "turtles" we can go back...

Let's say (rounding off the numbers a bit): That the universe is 14Bn years old, that the Earth is 4.5Bn years old (though started to form about 4.6Bn years ago), and that life arose around 4Bn years ago (though this last figure seems open to a fair amount of revision).

What this means is that life on Earth began when the universe was about 10Bn years old.

If intelligent aliens deliberately seeded the Earth, it's quite reasonable to suggest that they came from an Earth-like planet around a Sun-like star (too few heavy elements and Earth-like planets can't form) that formed 4.5Bn years previously - ie when the universe was 5.5Bn years old, with life arising there when the universe was 6Bn years old.

If we repeat the cycle again and we the require the formation of an Earth-like planet around a Sun-like star when the universe was just 1.5Bn years old. That's 3 generations (as it were) and we've pretty much run out of time - it doesn't seem likely that Sun-like stars could have formed until the universe was at least 1Bn years old. Even if we assume fairly wide error bars, we're not going to get orders of magnitude higher than 3 generations.

And of course... if life could arise naturally back then, it's even more likely to arise naturally now, as there would be more planets that are in just the right conditions.


PS For actual figures and some references, see here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_the_universe
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Earth
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panspermia
http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0012399
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If intelligent aliens deliberately seeded the Earth, it's quite reasonable to suggest that they came from an Earth-like planet around a Sun-like star (too few heavy elements and Earth-like planets can't form) that formed 4.5Bn years previously - ie when the universe was 5.5Bn years old, with life arising there when the universe was 6Bn years old.

If we repeat the cycle again and we the require the formation of an Earth-like planet around a Sun-like star when the universe was just 1.5Bn years old. That's 3 generations (as it were) and we've pretty much run out of time - it doesn't seem likely that Sun-like stars could have formed until the universe was at least 1Bn years old. Even if we assume fairly wide error bars, we're not going to get orders of magnitude higher than 3 generations.


There's also the problem of metallicity.

If memory serves me, our Sun has a higher metalicity than the average for the Milky-Way galaxy. In fact our Sun was born in the Sagitarus (sp?) dwarf galaxy.

If the level of metalicity found in our Sun is a requirement for life, there may not have been any stars around with that level of metalicity 10 Gigayears ago - let alone 13.5!

Jim
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Things change. Microevolution. Natural selection weeding out the unfit. Rare beneficial mutations.

In other words, the things you're forced to admit because otherwise you'd be forced to explain bacterial resistance with special acts of creation.

How "microevolution" is somehow "evolution writ large" still escapes me, though.

Certainly you can use DNA as an example of a naturally arising source of specified complexity.

One these days you're going to have to say what you mean by that, since DNA itself is actually pretty simple.

You don't know the origin of DNA, so it is presumptuous to assume that the origin is natural.

I don't know how you manage to say stuff like that with a straight face. Metaphorically speaking, that is. For all I know you were smirking and giggling when you wrote it.

On the one hand, you have the perfectly reasonable assumption that no magic or aliens were involved, just the observable universe. Same as it is today.

On the other, you've got aliens or magic. Or if you'd be honest for once about what you really believed, the magic of an invisible superbeing who cares more about one small planet orbiting one small star than the rest of the known universe with its trillions of stars.

Right, and that is somehow the less presumptuous assumption. Honestly, sometimes I wonder if you even read what you type.

There is no specified complexity in a mountain range, so I don't see the point of arguing about these particular examples.

That phrase "specified complexity" is pretty nifty. It appears to mean whatever you want it to mean. Is something complex? Why, then, it's not "specified" complexity, and it doesn't count.

- Gus
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That phrase "specified complexity" is pretty nifty. It appears to mean whatever you want it to mean.

I was wondering about that too. As neither Anthony nor centromere have jumped on him for it I thought perhaps it was a legit term.

Or maybe it's part of the ID lexicon, coming somewhat after "kinds".

1poorguy
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One great philosopher (though I can't remember which) wrote something about god that went as follows:

God is perfect.
As a perfect being, he has no desires.
If he has no desires than he has no motivations.
If he has no motivations then he does nothing.

So there you go, the perfect being as envisioned by fundamentalist Christians has no reason to act in this Universe.
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You don't know the origin of DNA, so it is presumptuous to assume that the origin is natural. You and I both know that specified complexity is created by human intelligence. We know of no other PROVEN source. You are just speculating that DNA has a natural origin.

I know with absolute certainty that humans did not create DNA. It was here long before humans existed. You aren't speculating, you are simply wrong.

Let's also go back to your comments about machinery found on another planet as being proof of another intelligent agent existing in the universe. We find fossil evidence of ancient microbes, cave debris, ruins, hell we can even find and analyze coprolite, but we see no compelling evidence that we were ever visited by another intelligence. No ruins, no machines, no nothing. Just some humongo cool drawings on the Nazca plains that are just as easily attributed to hard tripping shaman.

Since we're talking panspermia, this suggests that if life originated outside of earth, it was delivered here by less then intelligent means. Either the building blocks of life are ubiquitous throughout the universe for natural reasons, and will root anywhere conditions are favorable, or, some highly advanced and amazingly arrogant species sometime long ago Johnny Appleseeded their life juice into space, and it became ubiquitous and takes root anywhere conditions are favorable.

Why do I add the additional agent when the more simplistic natural explanation gets me to the same point far quicker and more easily, particularly when an agent seeding the universe leaves me standing on turtles?
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Why do I add the additional agent when the more simplistic natural explanation gets me to the same point far quicker and more easily, particularly when an agent seeding the universe leaves me standing on turtles?

This is one case where if Bryan decided to stop being disingenuous for a little while, what he genuinely believes would be a more understandable argument than the one he's making.

The "aliens did it" argument is rather nonsensical, since as you say it just pushes the question back another generation. Why isn't their DNA-equivalent natural?

On the other hand, "a magic invisible immortal immaterial superbeing did it" at least changes the question from "is DNA natural?" to "do you believe in leprechauns?" Sure, it's a bronze-age superstition, but at least the argument doesn't leave him exactly where he started.

- Gus
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That phrase "specified complexity" is pretty nifty. It appears to mean whatever you want it to mean.

I was wondering about that too. As neither Anthony nor centromere have jumped on him for it I thought perhaps it was a legit term.

Or maybe it's part of the ID lexicon, coming somewhat after "kinds".

1poorguy


I think it's more akin to "irreducible complexity." I suppose I could have looked it up right away, but I thought it might be more productive to ask Bryan detail what he meant by "complexity" and "specification" and to provide the evidence that DNA exhibits both of these qualities and then ask him to detail how those qualities make a designer for DNA more likely. Apparently, asking for these details isn't allowed under Bryan's debate rules.

I figured that "specified complexity" would fall into one of two catagories. The first category includes things like the old creationist/ID argument that evolution violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics, a flawed argument that stems from their lack of understanding of what that Law actually says. Take a real theory, modify it to say what you want it to say (not what it really says), and then reach the conclusion you wanted to reach. The second category includes things like "irreducible complexity." These are fancy phrases for things that turn out to be devoid of any real utility on closer inspection, due to the fact that they bear little resemblance to reality. But, they sound technical and cool, so creationists eat them up, assuming that these terms have some substance.

I guessed that this was a phrase coined by either Behe or Dembski. Googling gave me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specified_complexity and, Bingo!, it's a phrase made up by Dembski. Just a couple highlights:

Specified complexity is an argument proposed by William Dembski and used by him in his works promoting intelligent design. According to Dembski, the concept is intended to formalize a property that singles out patterns that are both specified and complex. Dembski states that specified complexity is a reliable marker of design by an intelligent agent, a central tenet to intelligent design which Dembski argues for in opposition to modern evolutionary theory. The concept of specified complexity is widely regarded as mathematically unsound and has not been the basis for further independent work in information theory, complexity theory, or biology.

........

The soundness of Dembski's concept of specified complexity and the validity of arguments based on this concept are widely disputed. A frequent criticism (see Elsberry and Shallit) is that Dembski has used the terms "complexity", "information" and "improbability" interchangeably. These numbers measure properties of things of different types: Complexity measures how hard it is to describe an object (such as a bitstring), information measures how close to uniform a random probability distribution is and improbability measures how unlikely an event is given a probability distribution.

When Dembski's mathematical claims on specific complexity are interpreted to make them meaningful and conform to minimal standards of mathematical usage, they usually turn out to be false. Dembski often sidesteps these criticisms by responding that he is not "in the business of offering a strict mathematical proof for the inability of material mechanisms to generate specified complexity".[21] Yet on page 150 of No Free Lunch he claims he can prove his thesis mathematically: "In this section I will present an in-principle mathematical argument for why natural causes are incapable of generating complex specified information." Others have pointed out that a crucial calculation on page 297 of No Free Lunch is off by a factor of approximately 10^65.[22]

Dembski's calculations show how a simple smooth function cannot gain information, he therefore concludes that there must be a designer to obtain CSI. However, natural selection has a branching mapping from one to many (replication) followed by pruning mapping of the many back down to a few (selection). These increasing and reductional mappings were not modeled by Dembski. In other words, Dembski's calculations do not model birth and death. This basic flaw in his modeling renders all of Dembski's subsequent calculations and reasoning in No Free Lunch irrelevant because his basic model does not reflect reality. Since the basis of No Free Lunch relies on this flawed argument, the entire thesis of the book collapses.


-Anthony
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On the other hand, "a magic invisible immortal immaterial superbeing did it" at least changes the question from "is DNA natural?" to "do you believe in leprechauns?" Sure, it's a bronze-age superstition, but at least the argument doesn't leave him exactly where he started.

It's the super "being" part that always lifts the wall I hit. From a practical, but maybe not so much from a strict definitional or scientific standpoint, supernatural is not so hard a bridge to cross. String theory, the multiverse, quantum fluctuations in energy levels in empty space producing particles, even the very essence of life, may, in fact defy fully vetted out natural explanations, or need entities to exist outside of our universe to explain them.

A particle popping into existence from nothing is as close to supernatural as I can imagine, even if there is math to support it happening, but that doesn't necessitate going that one extra step and say that means someone or something did it. If things can happen within our natural universe, they can also happen outside it.

I feel for Bryan at times because I end up with the same dilemma he does, I'm not a scientist, and ultimately fall back on philosophy to understand the science if and when it applies to grand schemes like life, the universe, and everything.
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I feel for Bryan at times because I end up with the same dilemma he does, I'm not a scientist, and ultimately fall back on philosophy to understand the science if and when it applies to grand schemes like life, the universe, and everything.

I agree with Bryan on some things too. However, I understand that these feelings, opinions, and beliefs are my own philosophy / religion and are not science.

I keep harping on this but Bryan ignore is.

Science attmepts to determine the rules by which the Universe works. It ignores the possibility that God pulls the strings behind those rules - since such philosophizing is beyond the ability of science to probe.

I have no problems with Byran and other ID'ists teaching their beliefs as long as it's in a religion class.

I draw the line at them wanting to teach it as any sort of science since it is clearly NOT science.
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You don't know the origin of DNA, so it is presumptuous to assume that the origin is natural.

We don't know the origin of the gravitational force. Is it presumptuous of us to assume that gravity in natural?

-Anthony
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I agree with Bryan on some things too. However, I understand that these feelings, opinions, and beliefs are my own philosophy / religion and are not science.

I keep harping on this but Bryan ignore is.

Science attmepts to determine the rules by which the Universe works. It ignores the possibility that God pulls the strings behind those rules - since such philosophizing is beyond the ability of science to probe.

I have no problems with Byran and other ID'ists teaching their beliefs as long as it's in a religion class.

I draw the line at them wanting to teach it as any sort of science since it is clearly NOT science.


No doubt ID is nothing more than modern day proselytizing. You can close the door in a Jehovah's face a thousands times, and they'll still knock next month to witness you.
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You don't know the origin of DNA, so it is presumptuous to assume that the origin is natural.
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We don't know the origin of the gravitational force. Is it presumptuous of us to assume that gravity in natural?


It may or may not be. Things that can be demonstrated to be natural should be assumed to be natural I suppose.

You've taken my statement out of its context. Seems to me Centromere wants to answer the question "Does DNA have a natural or an intelligent origin?" by saying, in effect "Why don't I just say its natural, declare victory, and end the discussion?". I generally don't accept assuming what you are trying to prove as a valid argument.
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No doubt ID is nothing more than modern day proselytizing. You can close the door in a Jehovah's face a thousands times, and they'll still knock next month to witness you.


Maybe you shouldn't live in a house with a big sign that says "Jehovah's Witnesses Please Knock Here"

Last time I checked this was still C v. E
Is it improper to promote the "C" position here?

No one's set up the "Darwinists Echo Chamber" board yet, so go for it. The rest of us expect to hear arguments relating to Creation and Evolution.
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You don't know the origin of DNA, so it is presumptuous to assume that the origin is natural.
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We don't know the origin of the gravitational force. Is it presumptuous of us to assume that gravity in natural?



It may or may not be. Things that can be demonstrated to be natural should be assumed to be natural I suppose.

Which begs the question, how does one demonstrate that something is natural?

You've taken my statement out of its context. Seems to me Centromere wants to answer the question "Does DNA have a natural or an intelligent origin?" by saying, in effect "Why don't I just say its natural, declare victory, and end the discussion?". I generally don't accept assuming what you are trying to prove as a valid argument.


I don't think you're following Centromere's argument. I think that Centromere is drawing a parallel to demonstrate the flaw in your reasoning. As I understand them, your and Centromere's arguments are, respectively:

1) Human intelligence is the only proven way to create DNA [genomes], therefore intelligence is the most likely explanation for DNA.

2) DNA predates the only proven form of intelligence, therefore the non-intelligent (natural) is the most likely explanation for DNA.

Both statements have a problem. The first requires evidence for an intelligence that existed at the time DNA was created. The second requires evidence that DNA can be produced by a natural mechanism.

What we're basically talking about is abiogenesis. The rational for assuming a natural cause for DNA is that it permits one to create and test hypotheses. Indeed, a variety of experiments have demonstrated the spontaneous (i.e., natural) production of various aspects of what one might expect to occur to produce the first form of life on Earth (for instance, see the review: Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology Volume 81, Issue 3, April 2003, Pages 201-217). So, although we may not have a complete model going from abiotic to biotic systems, we may have some parts of the model.

Assuming an intelligent origin for DNA is a dead end. It doesn't, as far as I can see, provide any hypotheses that can be tested scientifically.

-Anthony
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Jim2B wrote:
There's also the problem of metallicity.

If memory serves me, our Sun has a higher metalicity than the average for the Milky-Way galaxy. In fact our Sun was born in the Sagitarus (sp?) dwarf galaxy.

If the level of metalicity found in our Sun is a requirement for life, there may not have been any stars around with that level of metalicity 10 Gigayears ago - let alone 13.5!


You might like to see the 4th link I provided in my post:
http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0012399
Planets like the Earth cannot form unless elements heavier than helium are available. These heavy elements, or `metals', were not produced in the big bang. They result from fusion inside stars and have been gradually building up over the lifetime of the Universe. Recent observations indicate that the presence of giant extrasolar planets at small distances from their host stars, is strongly correlated with high metallicity of the host stars. The presence of these close-orbiting giants is incompatible with the existence of earth-like planets. Thus, there may be a Goldilocks selection effect: with too little metallicity, earths are unable to form for lack of material, with too much metallicity giant planets destroy earths. Here I quantify these effects and obtain the probability, as a function of metallicity, for a stellar system to harbour an earth-like planet. I combine this probability with current estimates of the star formation rate and of the gradual build up of metals in the Universe to obtain an estimate of the age distribution of earth-like planets in the Universe. The analysis done here indicates that three quarters of the earth-like planets in the Universe are older than the Earth and that their average age is 1.8 +/- 0.9 billion years older than the Earth. If life forms readily on earth-like planets - as suggested by the rapid appearance of life on Earth - this analysis gives us an age distribution for life on such planets and a rare clue about how we compare to other life which may inhabit the Universe.
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No one's set up the "Darwinists Echo Chamber" board yet, so go for it. The rest of us expect to hear arguments relating to Creation and Evolution.


Bryan,

at times you do engage in the forum, but at some point, you get cornered by folks who know a lot more about the details of what is being discussed, and then you say they don't understand your arguments, they take you out of context, or you change what you're arguing, and at that point, you are no longer discussing or debating C v E.

God made it all. The conclusion has already been reached, and there is only room for discussion and debate around the perimeter. There can be no conceding on any major point, no matter how overwhelming the arguments and evidence may be. That's proselytizing, and that is what ID does. It doesn't show up at my door to have an open discussion that would allow itself to actually embrace my point of view, it comes solely to convert.
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As someone who follows both a fair bit, a number of interesting parallels could be drawn between the global warming denialists an the IDers. There's many important differences too, but one thing you certainly get is "bad science" that couldn't be pulled apart most well educated people - and takes other scientists to do the job:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/how-to...

These days, when global warming inactivists need to trot out somebody with some semblance of scientific credentials (from the dwindling supply who have made themselves available for such purposes), it seems that they increasingly turn to Roy Spencer, a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama. Roy does have a handful of peer-reviewed publications, some of which have quite decent and interesting results in them. However, the thing you have to understand is that what he gets through peer-review is far less threatening to the mainstream picture of anthropogenic global warming than you'd think from the spin he puts on it in press releases, presentations and the blogosphere. His recent guest article on Pielke Sr's site is a case in point, and provides the fodder for our discussion today.
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As someone who follows both a fair bit, a number of interesting parallels could be drawn between the global warming denialists an the IDers. There's many important differences too, but one thing you certainly get is "bad science" that couldn't be pulled apart most well educated people - and takes other scientists to do the job:

Chris,

Unfortunately anthropogenic global warming (AGW) consists of both scientific and socio-political aspects.

On the scientific side there are a variety of other viable hypotheses. In fact over the last 5 years the globe has cooled 1.6 F (which completely wipes out the warming experience between the 1970s to early 2004. Furthermore the NOAA predicts continue global cooling over the next 5-10 years (BTW, these predictions are in line with one of the hypotheses that competes with AGW).

On the socio-political side, many of the proponents of AGW rarely restrict themselves to just the scientific facts. Al Gore regularly exagerates and outright lies about possible consequences and symptoms of AGW. Many of the AGW movement immediately accuse any that disagree as "deniers" or oil company shills despite the fact that many scientists that support the hypothesis of AGW have their own doubts.

I'm not intending to get into dueling scientists on the issue but here's some dissent that you may want to consider.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,357201,00.html

The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine this week announced that 31,072 U.S. scientists signed a petition stating that "… There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing, or will cause in the future, catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate..."

Eminent theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson is among the many distinguished signatories.

The OISM petition represents a direct challenge to the Al Gore-touted notion that a consensus of scientists has determined that catastrophic manmade global warming is real and that any debate over the science is pointless.

Since that is the case, the 31,000 scientist signatories assembled by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine would seem to trump the 600 or so in the alleged IPCC consensus.


Anyway, don't get me wrong from general principals it makes sense to not foul our home nest (Earth). However, there's a lot levels the AGW movement assume to be true when there's clearly not enough evidence to support.

Such as proving (or at least providing a preponderance of evidence supporting):
What level of emissions could we safely continue?
How can we acheive these levels without bankrupting all of our economies?
Is the return (prevention of damage) worth the cost of reducing our emissions to the level of 1900s?
Might we do better to invest that money in other technologies?


Oh and it wouldn't hurt to have the AGW movement leaders lead by example and cut their own emissions to the level they advocate for others.

Also it'd be good if the AGW movement embraced nuclear power as the primary & key method of reducing (over the short-term) CO2 emissions.


Another thing that gets my boxers in a bunch:
Why aren't we investing in protecting ourselves from comet or asteroid collisions? Each of our chances of dying from such an event equal our chances of dying in an aircraft accident - only all humans would likely die in such an event. I predict that the cost of an event like this even accounting for the low probability would far - far exceed the cost of global warming...
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It may or may not be. Things that can be demonstrated to be natural should be assumed to be natural I suppose.
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Which begs the question, how does one demonstrate that something is natural?


Well, take chemical reactions for example. We can explain them down to the molecule level in terms of natural laws, and repeat them over and over. At some point it becomes reasonable to assume that the immediate cause of the reactions are natural forces. They are testable, repeatable, and well understood.

Not all evolutionary processes have all those features.

I don't think you're following Centromere's argument.

I'll assign a high probability to that.

1) Human intelligence is the only proven way to create DNA [genomes], therefore intelligence is the most likely explanation for DNA.


Not exactly what I'm trying to say. Intelligence is the only know source of the type of information found in DNA. That humans can now manipulate DNA, etc. is really just a tangential point. Forget it, as it just seems to be getting in the way here.

2) DNA predates the only proven form of intelligence, therefore the non-intelligent (natural) is the most likely explanation for DNA.


Yes to the first part, but I don't think the second part follows from the first. But I realize that there are many who argue you have to identify the intelligence before you can attribute design to anything. I don't find that convincing for the reasons/ counter-examples I've given

The second requires evidence that DNA can be produced by a natural mechanism.


But we know it CAN be produced, and is produced by a natural mechanism. Do you mean does it originate in a natural process? That's my question.

The rational for assuming a natural cause for DNA is that it permits one to create and test hypotheses. Indeed, a variety of experiments have demonstrated the spontaneous (i.e., natural) production of various aspects of what one might expect to occur to produce the first form of life on Earth (for instance, see the review: Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology Volume 81, Issue 3, April 2003, Pages 201-217). So, although we may not have a complete model going from abiotic to biotic systems, we may have some parts of the model.

Assuming an intelligent origin for DNA is a dead end. It doesn't, as far as I can see, provide any hypotheses that can be tested scientifically.


I have no issue with trying to come up with a naturalistic model for abiogenesis. I say keep at it. If what I suspect is true, eventually science will have to conclude "Maybe no naturalistic model will ever be able to explain it". That leaves one to decide what you will believe about how it happened.

At that point you'd have to ask, is it worth it to keep trying to find a naturalistic explanation? We still reach a dead end.

-Bryan
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at times you do engage in the forum, but at some point, you get cornered by folks who know a lot more about the details of what is being discussed, and then you say they don't understand your arguments, they take you out of context, or you change what you're arguing, and at that point, you are no longer discussing or debating C v E.


Probably everything you say is true at some point, but I disagree with your conclusion.

I have a difficult job here, because I have to wear two hats, the "ID is a scientific research project" hat, and the "Old Earth Creationist" hat.

I find it interesting to take the ID side of the argument. But underlying that argument, both in my head and in everyone elses, is the God question. I resist letting religion into the ID discussion, because I truly believe "ID as a scientific research project" does not need to address God.

But the counterarguments I get often deal with God (at least implicitly), so I'm easily drawn down that path because I'm at heart a creationist.

It doesn't show up at my door to have an open discussion that would allow itself to actually embrace my point of view

You'd have to convince me first. I have changed my views on a number of things over the years here. It is possible.

-Bryan
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Nigel,

God made it all.

Creationism.

That's proselytizing, and that is what ID does.

This is what ID does:

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Intelligent_design...

Intelligent design (ID) is the view that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection" [1] Intelligent design cannot be inferred from complexity alone, since complex patterns often happen by chance. ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan.

You equate ID with Creationism based on an a-priori assumption that it is not possible to detect intelligent design using scientific methods. That is your point of view. It is a mind block which does not allow any investigation into an a-posteriori possibility that empirical evidence can infer that some features occuring in nature can be best explained by an intelligent cause. If you shut out the possibility that such a thing can occur, saying it is creationism, you are not open to investigating an a-posteriori possibility. You simply take an a-priori view and close your mind to what would be a scientific view that is possible to experience. The root cause of this closed-minded approach is a religious attitude that no intelligent cause could exist, which lends credence to the a-priori view. On the other hand, being open to the possibility of an intelligent cause lends credence to an a-posteriori view that it may be possible to scientifically detect, and therefore experience, something that infers an intelligent cause.

Science is supposed to be open-minded. There is no place in science for a-priori viewpoints. Science is at its best when it is experienced, not when it is shut down by a mind block that prevents an investigation into whether one can experience something in the natural world and only see the natural world through polarized lenses, polarized to ones viewpoint.

Your answer, that the ID viewpoint uses ID polarized lenses, is the closed-minded view because it is based on an assumption that it is impossible to detect a creator using science, when in fact ID is only attempting to use science, not to find a creator, but merely to find empirical evidence that some lifeform or feature of the universe is best explained by an intelligent cause.

It doesn't mean to say, accept the creator. It means to say, at least look at the ideas and experiments with an open mind. It will never happen if you reject every possibility of an intelligent cause. You cannot say, first show me the creator, and then I might have an open mind about it. You have to say, this is the alternative to materialistic evolution and in order to be scientific, you have to give it a try.

JMHO

Paul
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You equate ID with Creationism based on an a-priori assumption that it is not possible to detect intelligent design using scientific methods.

We equate ID with Creationism based on what the ID crowd says when they're not trying to pretend for the rest of the world.

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/barbara_forrest/wedge...

For that matter, look to yourself. Do you or do you not believe in a god? Do you or do you not believe that a god created the Earth and all life on it?

It is a mind block which does not allow any investigation into an a-posteriori possibility that empirical evidence can infer that some features occuring in nature can be best explained by an intelligent cause.

A nitpick: learn the difference between "infer" and "imply."

You're doing exactly what Nigel said earlier about Bryan. When your arguments get thoroughly trashed, when the evidence doesn't support your pre-determined conclusions, you're retreating to "you don't understand my argument."

Far from having a "mind block", science is the side of actually examining the evidence. Science changes for exactly that reason. Creationism is the side of ignoring the evidence in favor of what you believe.

You cannot say, first show me the creator, and then I might have an open mind about it.

That's a perfectly reasonable response to an argument that consists of "DNA could have been designed, since we can do it." That's not "evidence" of design. It's on par with finding a stack of books in a library, and deducing that because humans stack books, it might have been ghosts. In that situation, the only reasonable response is "show me a ghost, first."

- Gus
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Intelligence is the only know source of the type of information found in DNA.

You do realize the inherent absurdity of noting something that has occurred trillions and trillions of times by purely natural means as having intelligence as its only known source?
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Paul,

I still patiently await your first intelligent contribution to this board.

Nigel
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You do realize the inherent absurdity of noting something that has occurred trillions and trillions of times by purely natural means as having intelligence as its only known source?

The intelligence to conceive the first set of DNA is what the source of intelligence was. The second intelligent part of the design was that DNA is designed to change a limited amount each time a lifeform is reproduced to allow for survival in changing conditions. It is a complete design, with forethought for the changes we observe.

Again, what you attribute to "nature" has the inference of something purposeful. something that is purposeful works because it was designed. It isn't purposeful because thats just the way nature works. It was purposeful because it was planned. For you, nobody planned anything because your view does not allow it. For me, a Christian God planned it because that is my view. Others with other views have different ideas about who planned it. The scary thing is that, when one scientific theory takes hold, the viewpoint that it upholds will be driving the scientific bus, and those now driving the bus want to keep the control of the bus at all costs because of the consequences of giving control to the other viewpoint. This is evidednt in the actions that the expelled movie has exposed.

If science is to be taught in school, I agree that it should be purely science and that religion should be taught by the clergy. What should not happen is that opposing scientific theories be branded something that they are not because of a fear that religion will then be taught. It is actually an atheistic viewpoint being taught when only a scientific theory developing to disprove God is allowed to be taught. In order to be balanced, undeveloped theories for both viewpoints should be allowed, but only to the extent that religious implications are excluded and only scientific reasoning is allowed. Those driving the scientific bus right now in many places, though it is disputed, are pushing atheism and are punishing anyone who tries scientific inquiry which can validate a viewpoint of christianity. There is a religious battle that is affecting scientists, but human rights issues and scientific inquiry both demand that the the struggle not stop scientific work because it supports one theology. The freedom to pursue scientific inquiry and learn both sides of the scientific inquiry should not be impeded.

Call my posts unintelligent, it is just another ploy to put down the other viewpoint, my viewpoint. The easiest way to keeep ones view is to ignore the intelligence behind opposing views and then you don't have to debate them.

JMHO

Paul
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The second intelligent part of the design was that DNA is designed to change a limited amount each time a lifeform is reproduced to allow for survival in changing conditions.

And this is distinguishable from evolution how...?

Talk about your a-priori assumptions. Your definition of what is "obviously designed" is so broad it can fit anything at all.

Again, what you attribute to "nature" has the inference of something purposeful.

Implication. The word is implication. Inference means something else entirely.

And you've yet to show that there's anything purposeful about DNA. You're just making that assumption, and then chiding us when we don't agree.

For me, a Christian God planned it because that is my view.

At last, a little honesty. Of course it contradicts your earlier pretense of not being a Creationist, but it's still welcome.

The scary thing is that, when one scientific theory takes hold, the viewpoint that it upholds will be driving the scientific bus, and those now driving the bus want to keep the control of the bus at all costs because of the consequences of giving control to the other viewpoint.

The really scary thing is the deep ignorance of science that this statement betrays, combined with your desire to control science.

Science is in control of the bus today because it works. Ignorance and superstition had thousands of years of control, with wretched results. In that sense, what you said is true. We don't want to turn control of teaching over to the barbarians who would drag us into a new dark age, where an ancient book of bronze age superstitions trumps knowledge.

In the sense you intended, of course, it's not true at all. You confuse having your theories soundly discredited with oppression. There's no "at all costs" about it at all, or any conspiracy. Your ilk had control of the bus for millennia before Darwin came along. You lost it because a better idea, an idea supported by evidence, came along. You can get control back just as easily, if you had any evidence for your beliefs.

What should not happen is that opposing scientific theories be branded something that they are not because of a fear that religion will then be taught.

That'd be a valid point of view if Creationism were a scientific theory. Let alone one with any evidence to back it.

By this standard, we should teach the "humors" theory of medicine in school because it's an "opposing scientific theory." And Fire, Earth, Water, and Air as an "opposing theory" to the Periodic Table. And Crystal Spheres as an "opposing theory" to gravitation.

Your pet superstition only differs from these because you believe in it.

It is actually an atheistic viewpoint being taught when only a scientific theory developing to disprove God is allowed to be taught.

Do you seriously believe that the motivation behind evolutionary theory is to "disprove god?" I just want to know how deep your delusions go.

Call my posts unintelligent, it is just another ploy to put down the other viewpoint, my viewpoint.

They're unintelligent because you aren't actually presenting any arguments. You're just asserting what you believe and then claiming it's all about free speech, not evidence.

- Gus
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The intelligence to conceive the first set of DNA is what the source of intelligence was.

And where did this intelligent agent come from if not from natural means? You're argument is fruitless, as all you do is push back the bar for when nature began the process.

Again, what you attribute to "nature" has the inference of something purposeful. something that is purposeful works because it was designed.

A termite mound has purpose. The stinging nettles in a box jellyfish have purpose. Nature constructs things with purpose that directly benefit the organism all the time. It's called evolution.

Call my posts unintelligent, it is just another ploy to put down the other viewpoint, my viewpoint.

No, it's calling a turd a turd. You say ID is not creationism, but then attribute the design of DNA to an intelligent agent who, by some method of absolute retarded logic designed or created itself, but it's not god, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
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Last time I checked this was still C v. E
Is it improper to promote the "C" position here?


Probably not. But I've noticed a shift in this board that does not favor 'C'. When I first visited about a year ago it seemed to me to be tame, and had mostly typical arguments. Then NOVA aired the documentary on the Kitzmiller trial, and everything here changed (and it may actually be my fault since I think I'm the one that linked the PBS website and brought the program to everyone's attention). Suddenly science was the language of this board. "C" is at a very decided disadvantage when science enters the picture. Now if you want to promote "C" you need data (it didn't seem to me to be the case a year ago). Not your fault, Bryan, but you have no data. Because there IS no data to support "C".

The Biblical story of Creation is obviously erroneous. From start to finish. We have data. I know you have a looser interpretation of the story, which is probably why you don't get slapped as hard as Paul does (who seems to be a literalist, and therefore has NOTHING to stand upon but vapors). But you're still going to get slapped when you introduce pseudo-scientific tripe like "specified complexity". Gus fleshed that out very nicely, from what I can see (disclaimer: as you know, I'm not a geneticist). Just as you would slap me if I made some "Biblical" assertion that wasn't in the Bible (i.e. set up a strawman).

Somehow I doubt this board is representative of the masses, but if it were this might also indicate that fundamentalism and dogmatism are on their way out. As you probably can surmise, that's fine with me.

1poorguy
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We equate ID with Creationism based on what the ID crowd says when they're not trying to pretend for the rest of the world.

And we equate E with atheism based on what the E crowd says when they are not trying to pretend for the rest of the world. So why the double standard for creationists? Science is science. Just because one scientist is a creationist and the other is an atheist does not make scientific work they are doing equaste with their religious view. Science is generic. ID when tested using scientific methods is scientific discovery just as much as E is. The NCSE is pushing E, and they are essentially an atheistic organization.

you're retreating to "you don't understand my argument

I would phrase that as you are ignoring my argument. If you sidestep the argument, you don't have to suffer the implications of it.

I wrote:

You cannot say, first show me the creator, and then I might have an open mind about it.

You replied:

That's a perfectly reasonable response to an argument that consists of "DNA could have been designed, since we can do it." That's not "evidence" of design. It's on par with finding a stack of books in a library, and deducing that because humans stack books, it might have been ghosts. In that situation, the only reasonable response is "show me a ghost, first."

Go back and re-read the definition of ID that I provided in the post. You are ignoring half of the theory ID is based on:

Intelligent design (ID) is the view that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection" [1] Intelligent design cannot be inferred from complexity alone, since complex patterns often happen by chance. ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan.

So though the library books may be stacked, They are stacked next to a widget that would be made and operated based on information in the library books. If one of the library books was missing, the widget would be missing that information and would not work. This shows that there was purpose for the library books to be stacked and used to make something purposeful and it would make more sense that an intelligence with a purpose accomplished what is observed than to think that just the right short stack of books out of the many in the library happened to be sitting next to the widget which operates for a purpose.

JMHO

Paul
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Things change. Microevolution. Natural selection weeding out the unfit. Rare beneficial mutations.

Do you believe in common ancestory? If not, you do not believe in "evolution writ large".

Hopefully now that I've put my comments in context, you can see that your questions have nothing to do with my prior statements. I've made no arguments to the effect that detailed descriptions are necessary before I believe something.

What I can see is that you don't seem to understand your own prior statements.

You highlighted your statement "But I can sure evaluate the logic behind many of them, and I can tell in many cases when a scientific article gives testable detail or only Dawkinesque story-telling-as-science."

So you say you require testable detail to accept a natural explanation. "Testable detail" would seem to require a theory containing...well...detail. I point out again that we don't have a testable theory for the formation of hurricanes and their specific movements (certainly not any comparable to what's available in evolution). We don't have a good testable theory for the onset of autism.

So why aren't you demanding that scientists seriously consider the possibility that Katrina and autism are/were products of intelligent design?

You don't know the origin of DNA, so it is presumptuous to assume that the origin is natural. You and I both know that specified complexity is created by human intelligence. We know of no other PROVEN source. You are just speculating that DNA has a natural origin.

1. DNA is found in nature independent of humans. It would be presumptuous to assume a nonnatural cause in the absence of compelling evidence indicating otherwise. I assume DNA has a natural origin in the same way I assume stars have a natural origin. Both are found in nature.

2. Humans found DNA in nature. Humans created airplanes, which are otherwise not found in nature. We can say airplanes are the consequence of intelligent design. We cannot say the same for DNA since it obviously predates any known intelligence. The logic is straightforward.

I didn't say it must have an intelligent origin, rather we have a precedent now of intelligence creating it.

Why is that relevant? Humans can make synthetic diamonds. Is that evidence that the diamonds found in nature are also the products of intelligence? If not, why do you believe the argument applied to DNA is any more credible?

Do you know the difference between primary and secondary causes?

You're the one blurring the boundary with the argument that because humans make DNA today, the primary origin of DNA billions of years ago is also intelligent.

I'm satisfied that natural causes can explain mountains and stellar burning, at least as secondary causes. There is no specified complexity in a mountain range, so I don't see the point of arguing about these particular examples.

I wonder if you understand the notion of specified complexity.

You say mountains do not display specified complexity. But mountains are not randomly distributed. So why is the apparent specificity in the location of mountains not an example of what you call "specified complexity"? What additional criteria needs to be met for what you call "specified criteria".

Atoms of a certain type have to interact in a certain way for stars to form. Why isn't that "specified complexity"?

Consider a gene, say one encoding for actin, a muscle protein. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of sequence variants of the actin gene that are functional. Which of these is the "specified" sequence?

If you can't tell, then what does "specified" mean?
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It is actually an atheistic viewpoint being taught when only a scientific theory developing to disprove God is allowed to be taught.

In your own words, how does modern evolutionary theory "disprove God"?
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I feel for Bryan at times because I end up with the same dilemma he does, I'm not a scientist, and ultimately fall back on philosophy to understand the science if and when it applies to grand schemes like life, the universe, and everything.

Scientists also have to fall back on philosophy or religion to understand the meaning of life and everything.

The problem with Bryan specifically and IDists in general is the misrepresentation of science, the inadequacies of their arguments, and the ultimate dishonesty of many of their assertions.

Everyone accepts the possibility that an intelligent designer might exist. No one claims to have disproved God. The problem are the IDists claims that they have demonstrated that an intelligent designer must exist via such "concepts" as irreducible or specified complexity. The arguments are absurd.

The problem is the claim that IDism is not a religious proposal simply because they refuse to describe the proposed designer, even though all eventually admit that the proposed designer ultimately could only be God.

The problem is the assertion that IDism should be taught as science simply because it is possible or that evolution hasn't been "proven".

The problem is the attempt to redefine science to include the supernatural.

The problem are arguments claiming to support IDism that are only criticisms of evolution, and generally poor ones at that.

The problem is the obvious attempt to disguise as "scientific" a clearly religious agenda.

The problem is the tendency to characterize any criticism of IDism by scientists as due to bias or fear.

Feel free to add to this list.
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And we equate E with atheism based on what the E crowd says when they are not trying to pretend for the rest of the world.

Really? Let's see the Atheistic Wedge document from the NCSE, then.

So why the double standard for creationists?

Are you finally admitting the ID is Creationism then? Just to be clear.

Just because one scientist is a creationist and the other is an atheist does not make scientific work they are doing equate with their religious view.

Well, it would help if the Creationist was actually doing science.

ID when tested using scientific methods is scientific discovery just as much as E is.

ID isn't a scientific theory, because it isn't "tested," and it doesn't make any predictions. At the very most, it's substituting "god musta done it" for "I don't know." The problem with "god musta done it" is it's a dead end. If we were still accepting that as an "answer" for everything we didn't know, we'd still be living in mud huts.

I would phrase that as you are ignoring my argument.

Right, your arguments get torn apart on a regular basis here, and that's "ignoring" the argument. Really, you should try harder than that when misrepresenting your debate opponents.

It's kind of hypocritical of you to do so as well, since you routinely punt whenever you lose an argument here.

So though the library books may be stacked, They are stacked next to a widget that would be made and operated based on information in the library books.

If you're going to go in that direction, you'd have to expand the analogy a lot. To the point where it's not useful as analogy, frankly, because it gets too far removed from our immediate experience. You changed the analogy, and then cut out the important parts that go along with the change. Like Dembski, you're leaving out birth, death, and natural selection, and then crowing that evolution isn't the best answer.

If one of the library books was missing, the widget would be missing that information and would not work.

Yeah, right, the "irreducible complexity" crock. Which wasn't a successful argument the last dozen times it's been tried.

This shows that there was purpose for the library books to be stacked

No, actually, purpose doesn't enter into it at all at this point. All you've demonstrated is that the book stack contains instructions for the widget. Which wasn't in dispute - we know full well what DNA does.

it would make more sense that an intelligence with a purpose accomplished what is observed than to think that just the right short stack of books out of the many in the library happened to be sitting next to the widget

No one thinks it's a coincidence that human beings carry around our own DNA, rather than some random collection of nonhuman DNA. I know that's not what you intended with your mangling of the analogy, but that's all you are actually saying with the correct books being next to the corresponding widget.

You should have ignored the proximity to the widget entirely. Rather, you should concentrated on the books having instructions on how to make a widget, and how it wasn't a coincidence that those books all happened to be together. Of course, then you'd still be neglecting birth, death, and natural selection, and the fact that most of the books contain gibberish or blank pages, but it would have at least been closer to meaningful.

- Gus
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Gus,

will you please stop ignoring Paul's arguments with facts and logic?
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It may or may not be. Things that can be demonstrated to be natural should be assumed to be natural I suppose.
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Which begs the question, how does one demonstrate that something is natural?

Well, take chemical reactions for example. We can explain them down to the molecule level in terms of natural laws, and repeat them over and over. At some point it becomes reasonable to assume that the immediate cause of the reactions are natural forces. They are testable, repeatable, and well understood.


I'll grant you testable and repeatable, but well understood is arbitrary. Take for instance, gravity again. It is testable and repeatable. Any two objects with mass have an attractive force between them. However, it's not well understood how this force is actually generated. And, yet, despite this, we believe that gravity is natural.

Not all evolutionary processes have all those features.

The two processes of evolution, random mutation and natural selection, have both been shown to be testable and repeatable. It's been shown that these processes can produce novel molecular interactions, including those that produce speciation. Maybe you meant to say "specific instances of evolutionary processes?"

1) Human intelligence is the only proven way to create DNA [genomes], therefore intelligence is the most likely explanation for DNA.

Not exactly what I'm trying to say. Intelligence is the only know source of the type of information found in DNA. That humans can now manipulate DNA, etc. is really just a tangential point. Forget it, as it just seems to be getting in the way here.


2) DNA predates the only proven form of intelligence, therefore the non-intelligent (natural) is the most likely explanation for DNA.

Yes to the first part, but I don't think the second part follows from the first. But I realize that there are many who argue you have to identify the intelligence before you can attribute design to anything. I don't find that convincing for the reasons/ counter-examples I've given


Okay, let me restate the two statements leaving out humans (and change the labeling to 'A' and 'B'):

A) Intelligence is the only proven way to create DNA [genomes], therefore intelligence is the most likely explanation for DNA.

B) DNA predates the only proven form of intelligence, therefore non-intelligence (natural, BTW I'm defining my use of 'natural' here) is the most likely explanation for DNA.

My point (and I think Centromere's point) is that, for either statement, the second doesn't follow from the first. So, both statements are flawed. If you wish to defend Statement A as true, then you need to provide evidence supporting it. Arguing against Statement B is not the same as providing evidence for Statement A. One possible way to argue for Statement A would be to identify the intelligence. There may be others, but you haven't produced them yet.

The second requires evidence that DNA can be produced by a natural mechanism.

But we know it CAN be produced, and is produced by a natural mechanism. Do you mean does it originate in a natural process? That's my question.


I think I cleared that up in the restatements above. If not, let me know.

The rational for assuming a natural cause for DNA is that it permits one to create and test hypotheses. Indeed, a variety of experiments have demonstrated the spontaneous (i.e., natural) production of various aspects of what one might expect to occur to produce the first form of life on Earth (for instance, see the review: Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology Volume 81, Issue 3, April 2003, Pages 201-217). So, although we may not have a complete model going from abiotic to biotic systems, we may have some parts of the model.

Assuming an intelligent origin for DNA is a dead end. It doesn't, as far as I can see, provide any hypotheses that can be tested scientifically.


I have no issue with trying to come up with a naturalistic model for abiogenesis. I say keep at it. If what I suspect is true, eventually science will have to conclude "Maybe no naturalistic model will ever be able to explain it". That leaves one to decide what you will believe about how it happened.

At that point you'd have to ask, is it worth it to keep trying to find a naturalistic explanation? We still reach a dead end.


Let's see. Physicists have been working on a naturalistic model of gravity for over 400 years and still aren't done. Biologists have been working on abiogenesis for much less time than that. So, I'd say it's reasonable to conclude that we're a long, long way from the point of giving up finding a natural explanation for abiogenesis. Indeed, if you read the review I cited and the references therein, you'll find that we are making progress in this area.

-Anthony
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Well, take chemical reactions for example. We can explain them down to the molecule level in terms of natural laws, and repeat them over and over. At some point it becomes reasonable to assume that the immediate cause of the reactions are natural forces. They are testable, repeatable, and well understood.
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I'll grant you testable and repeatable, but well understood is arbitrary. Take for instance, gravity again. It is testable and repeatable. Any two objects with mass have an attractive force between them. However, it's not well understood how this force is actually generated. And, yet, despite this, we believe that gravity is natural.


A naturalistic explanation of gravity does not have the far-reaching impact (or potential impact) like a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life and biodiversity. No prominent scientist, to my knowledge, has said, "The theory of gravity makes it possible for me to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist", or "the theory of general relativity leaves God unemployed".

Maybe, to be consistent, I need to question the adequacy of the theory of gravity, but when I can drop rocks to my hearts content and see the same behavior, when NASA can send probes to distant planets right on target, I sort of assume we understand it well enough.

Natural selection has not been demonstrated, much less repeated, at the level under question. I don't have any issue with the examples you give, even of speciation. It's the extrapolation to new body plans, new tissue types, and irreducibly complex structures that I challenge.

It's been shown that these processes can produce novel molecular interactions, including those that produce speciation.

Yes, but with limits. Going beyond certain limits, no. It has not been demonstrated. It has only be conceived, a big difference.

A) Intelligence is the only proven way to create DNA [genomes], therefore intelligence is the most likely explanation for DNA.

My point (and I think Centromere's point) is that . . . the second doesn't follow from the first.


That's still not my argument . . . Intelligence is the only proven way to create (as in originate) the KINDS of information seen in DNA (as in a whole genome), not necessarily though DNA itself.

Let's see. Physicists have been working on a naturalistic model of gravity for over 400 years and still aren't done. Biologists have been working on abiogenesis for much less time than that. So, I'd say it's reasonable to conclude that we're a long, long way from the point of giving up finding a natural explanation for abiogenesis.

Unfortunately I think there is enough doubt about where we are in the process, for many to live comfortably with this naturalistic promissary note. So I guess I can't blame you for seeing it that way.

-Bryan
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A naturalistic explanation of gravity does not have the far-reaching impact (or potential impact) like a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life and biodiversity. No prominent scientist, to my knowledge, has said, "The theory of gravity makes it possible for me to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist", or "the theory of general relativity leaves God unemployed".

You don't have enough data to say that. Gravity is quite enigmatic. In our quest for a GUT (unified force theory) this is the one that doesn't want to be corralled with the rest. Should we ever manage to do it the implications (surrounding the "how" we do it) are largely unknown. Is gravity just a sort of covalent bond where the two objects in question share gravitons? Is it a product of geometry (general relativity treats it in this way, and quite successfully...using mathematical tools called tensors)? Can it create portals to other parts of this universe, or to other universes?

Quite frankly, I think we probably know a heck of a lot more about evolution and natural selection than we do gravity. We are perhaps more comfortable with gravity because we experience it all the time every day (and we have mathematics that describe its behavior reasonably well). But that's not the same as understanding it. Sure...dropping a rock is an easier thing to test than "E", but so far "E" has survived every test thrown at it (and has predicted creatures at specific times that were later found in the rock layer predicted). In some ways it may be the most extensively tested theory in history, and I suspect at least some of that is to answer religious critics such as yourself.

IMO, any god/designer/creator/whatever has been relegated to "the gaps" for some time now, and the remaining gap is abiogenesis (where did the first DNA strand come from). I don't have nearly enough background to comment on where the research is on that question, but everything I've seen says that once you have a strand of DNA everything else is more-or-less understood.

1poorguy
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but everything I've seen says that once you have a strand of DNA everything else is more-or-less understood.


Man, you sure do pack a lot into the word "less"
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I guess I should thank you for being honest about why you dislike the science of evolution so much. Personally, I don't see any logical reason to treat it differently than any other science, but you apparently do and I'm not sure how to find a middle ground between the two.

A naturalistic explanation of gravity does not have the far-reaching impact (or potential impact) like a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life and biodiversity. No prominent scientist, to my knowledge, has said, "The theory of gravity makes it possible for me to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist", or "the theory of general relativity leaves God unemployed".

Maybe, to be consistent, I need to question the adequacy of the theory of gravity, but when I can drop rocks to my hearts content and see the same behavior, when NASA can send probes to distant planets right on target, I sort of assume we understand it well enough.


I don't understand what your complaint is. What real (i.e., not imagined) "far-reaching impact" does evolution have? There are plenty of theist that study and accept evolution without giving up their religious beliefs, so there is no inherent contradiction between religion and the fact of evolution. Maybe there's a problem for religious fundamentalists, but I doubt it. When confronted with evidence that your belief was wrong (the fact that the human genetic data contradict the Flood story), you were able to rationalize away the data (okay, ignore it), so evolution doesn't seem to pose a real problem for fundamentalists either.

Natural selection has not been demonstrated, much less repeated, at the level under question. I don't have any issue with the examples you give, even of speciation. It's the extrapolation to new body plans, new tissue types, and irreducibly complex structures that I challenge.

Scientifically, do you have any reason to believe that new body plans, new tissue types, or so-called IC structures require genetic changes that are different than those already observed or that can't targeted by natural selection? Clearly, changes in body plan are within the realm of possibility: Nature 415, 914-917 (21 February 2002); as are IC structures. Scientists in all fields extrapolate from the data they have to other cases. It's part of science. You might not be comfortable with their extrapolations, but if you can't find a flaw in the extrapolation beyond "I'm not comfortable with the conclusion", I'm not terribly interested in your "challenges." Warm, fuzzy feelings are not a prerequisite for scientific investigation.

That's still not my argument . . . Intelligence is the only proven way to create (as in originate) the KINDS of information seen in DNA (as in a whole genome), not necessarily though DNA itself.

So, would it be correct to frame your argument as:

Intelligence is the only proven way to create (as in originate) the KINDS of information seen in DNA; therefore intelligence is the most likely explanation for DNA.

Let's see. Physicists have been working on a naturalistic model of gravity for over 400 years and still aren't done. Biologists have been working on abiogenesis for much less time than that. So, I'd say it's reasonable to conclude that we're a long, long way from the point of giving up finding a natural explanation for abiogenesis.

Unfortunately I think there is enough doubt about where we are in the process, for many to live comfortably with this naturalistic promissary note. So I guess I can't blame you for seeing it that way.


So, you see it as similar to the creation story in Genesis, where there is enough doubt about what the actual meaning of the original Hebrew text for many to live comfortably with the Biblical promissary note that the story is not really contradicted by the scientific evidence?

-Anthony
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There are plenty of theist that study and accept evolution without giving up their religious beliefs, so there is no inherent contradiction between religion and the fact of evolution.

Ok, then level with me. You're an atheist, right? Does the theory of evolution make your beliefs about atheism stronger, weaker, or is it neutral?

Scientifically, do you have any reason to believe that new body plans, new tissue types, or so-called IC structures require genetic changes that are different than those already observed or that can't targeted by natural selection?

Yes. See Darwin's Black Box, and The Edge of Evolution. Behe describes scientific reasons why genetic changes beyond what natural processes can accomplish are required. I know you disagree, but I side with the minority of scientists who do agree with Behe on this issue.

I'm not terribly interested in your "challenges."

You spend a lot of time addressing my challenges. I don't understand why. You seem to think, as you frequently remind me, that I am not as knowledgable as you in these areas, so it doesn't add up for me why you'd continue to pursue this. With me at least.

So, would it be correct to frame your argument as:

Intelligence is the only proven way to create (as in originate) the KINDS of information seen in DNA; therefore intelligence is the most likely explanation for DNA.


Yes, I think thats pretty close. Argument to the best explanation.

So, you see it as similar to the creation story in Genesis, where there is enough doubt about what the actual meaning of the original Hebrew text for many to live comfortably with the Biblical promissary note that the story is not really contradicted by the scientific evidence?

On the contrary, I see so much congruence between modern science and an old earth creationist perspective, much more than any other religious text, that I'm convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt in its supernatural origin. How evolution, and its extent, fits with Genesis is a sideshow to me.

-Bryan
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Ok, then level with me. You're an atheist, right? Does the theory of evolution make your beliefs about atheism stronger, weaker, or is it neutral?

I'm "other" and evolution has no impact on my beliefs. When a system of beliefs hinges so precariously on an edge that it can't be touched by evidence or truth, it's not a very solid system of beliefs.

On the contrary, I see so much congruence between modern science and an old earth creationist perspective, much more than any other religious text, that I'm convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt in its supernatural origin.

The only intelligent species we know, us, has been unable to produce any evidence of any supernatural phenomena, whether it be ghosts, Santa, witches capable of real magic, or some super creator. Further, we search for intelligence beyond our locale, but evidence clearly suggests that if such intelligence exists, it has not or cannot cross the vast bounds of space to reach our solar system, suggesting nature, and only nature is the ultimate creator and power in the universe.

When one looks at all the evidence, when one doesn't pick and choose what "facts" one wants to allow, I simply see no evidence to support anything supernatural. Please illuminate me with modern scientific evidence to support the existence of anything supernatural, anything at all that can exist and operate beyond the bounds of nature.
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You didn't address this to me, but I'll butt-in with my 2cents... :-)

Ok, then level with me. You're an atheist, right?

As far as a Christian is concerned, yes. I've said it before, it all depends on how you define "god". Under some definitions I'm an atheist, under others I am not.

Does the theory of evolution make your beliefs about atheism stronger, weaker, or is it neutral?

Neutral.

Evolution is science. It is what it is. Just because it blows Genesis away doesn't reinforce any atheist beliefs I may have. The Bible is just a book written by men, compiled by imperial decree. God did not write it, nor send an angel down to dictate it (as Muslims believe of their book), nor leave golden plates in a forest. The history of the Bible is fairly well known. It is not divine. It is the product of men, and therefore fallible. Doesn't mean there's not a God, though. Evolution (or any scientific theory) is totally independent of that, and has no bearing on it whatsoever.

You seem to think, as you frequently remind me, that I am not as knowledgable as you in these areas,...

You're not. And neither am I. And neither are most of the folks you know, nor most of the folks that come here. He's clearly a specialist in this area. Same with centromere. Those two have spent their lives studying and researching this material. It would be presumptive arrogance to put yourself (or myself) on their level in this field.

How evolution, and its extent, fits with Genesis is a sideshow to me.

You certainly are intense and passionate over a mere "sideshow". If that's the case, why not just accept the facts as Anthony and centromere have been telling you and move on with your life? Sometimes you remind me of Don Quixote jousting with windmills. You can't win because the data is not on your side. That's not a religious comment nor a comment about religion, it's a simple statement of fact. The data are what they are. To fight that is jousting windmills.

1poorguy
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why not just accept the facts as Anthony and centromere have been telling you and move on with your life?

This is one of several areas of interest to me. I enjoy discussing these topics, or I wouldn't be here for so many years.

Anthony and centromere present data. So do I. The interpretation of that data is where the interest is for me. They have not always been able to convince me that their interpretation is correct. So there's nothing to consider settled, and nothing to move on from.

But you can always hope :-)


Sometimes you remind me of Don Quixote jousting with windmills.

I've always thought of you more as the Black Knight guarding the bridge.
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I've always thought of you more as the Black Knight guarding the bridge.

LOL! I'm not the one who's arms are cut off...

Anthony and centromere (among others) have whacked off your (or rather ID's) appendages, and you're still there "come back here and I'll bite your knee-caps off". Any moment I expect to read from you "OK...we'll call it a draw".

:-)

1poorguy
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Ok, then level with me. You're an atheist, right?

Yes.

Does the theory of evolution make your beliefs about atheism stronger, weaker, or is it neutral?

It plays no role in my atheism. I was raised Catholic, but when I started actually reading the Bible, I found that there were too many glaring contradictions within it. Add to that the dissonance of a loving God who promotes slavery and infanticide, study the actual origins of Christianity and other religions, and I came to the conclusion that at least most of this stuff was made up. Looking around, there wasn't anything one can point to as evidence for any god. In the absence of evidence, why should I waste my time believing in any particular god?

Evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology. Everything we do in non-human models we do because of evolution. If all life shares a common ancestor, then there is a lot we can learn about ourselves by studying other organisms. If evolution is wrong, then all of this falls apart and there is no justification for studying other organisms. If, say life was designed, we might not learn more about ourselves from studying yeast than we would learn about digital alarm clocks from studying grandfather clocks. If there were a problem with evolution, it would be better to find out sooner or later. Thus far, no one has found a scientifically sound problem, Behe included.

Scientifically, do you have any reason to believe that new body plans, new tissue types, or so-called IC structures require genetic changes that are different than those already observed or that can't targeted by natural selection?

Yes. See Darwin's Black Box, and The Edge of Evolution. Behe describes scientific reasons why genetic changes beyond what natural processes can accomplish are required. I know you disagree, but I side with the minority of scientists who do agree with Behe on this issue.


I've read Behe's "scientific reasons." The problem is, there's nothing scientific about them. His models bear only a passing resemblance to reality, which by itself invalidates his arguments. I can imagine Behe arguing that a car can't propel itself, because according to his model of a car (which has been simplified to only model the wheels and not the rest of the car, in order to make his calculations tractable), this requires an intelligent pusher. Most people don't find this type of reasoning valid, which probably explains why a minority of scientists agree with him. Add to that his lack of understanding of probability theory, and you don't have much in the way of scientific reasoning.

I'm not terribly interested in your "challenges."

You spend a lot of time addressing my challenges. I don't understand why.


It depends on the challenge. Some are useful/productive. Take for instance our previous discussion regarding Dembski and the Type III secretion system. After a fruitful discussion, we could agree that Dembski's interpretation was wrong. As an added bonus, it added another data point to the "Dembski doesn't know doo-doo about biology" hypothesis.

You seem to think, as you frequently remind me, that I am not as knowledgable as you in these areas, so it doesn't add up for me why you'd continue to pursue this. With me at least.

I don't believe that your claim is true. Please provide several examples. The extent of your knowledge doesn't preclude you from making a good point or asking good questions. What bothers me is that you seem to have require a much higher level of proof for evolution than you do for other sciences (as you've already conceded) or for creationism/ID. I find that quite prejudiced.

So, would it be correct to frame your argument as:

Intelligence is the only proven way to create (as in originate) the KINDS of information seen in DNA; therefore intelligence is the most likely explanation for DNA.


Yes, I think thats pretty close. Argument to the best explanation.


Ok, then we have two statements:

A) Intelligence is the only proven way to create (as in originate) the KINDS of information seen in DNA; therefore intelligence is the most likely explanation for DNA.

B) DNA predates the only proven form of intelligence, therefore non-intelligence (natural, BTW I'm defining my use of 'natural' here) is the most likely explanation for DNA.

My point is that, for either statement, the second doesn't follow from the first. So, both statements are flawed. If you wish to defend Statement A as true, then you need to provide evidence supporting it. Arguing against Statement B is not the same as providing evidence for Statement A. One possible way to argue for Statement A would be to identify the intelligence. There may be others, but you haven't produced them yet.

So, you see it as similar to the creation story in Genesis, where there is enough doubt about what the actual meaning of the original Hebrew text for many to live comfortably with the Biblical promissary note that the story is not really contradicted by the scientific evidence?

On the contrary, I see so much congruence between modern science and an old earth creationist perspective, ...


Thanks for proving my point. My copy of the Bible states that everything was created in seven days. Up until the point where scientists realized that the Earth was orders of magnitude older than the Bible suggested, no one held an old earth creationist perspective. Afterwards, people "realized" that maybe "day" didn't mean "day" after all. And, thus, there's enough uncertainty in what the original Hebrew actually means that one can make the text fit the scientific facts if one so desires.

-Anthony
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In the absence of evidence, why should I waste my time believing in any particular god?

Thanks for giving me a little background on your experience with religion. This would be interesting to talk about, though not on this forum.

If all life shares a common ancestor, then there is a lot we can learn about ourselves by studying other organisms.

Likewise, if all life shares the same design plans, there's a lot we can learn about ourselves from studying that design. Origin is one thing; how it works, and how we can fix what's broken is where the action is, and ID doesn't preclude anything on those lines.

If, say life was designed, we might not learn more about ourselves from studying yeast than we would learn about digital alarm clocks from studying grandfather clocks.

Or we might learn a lot by studying yeast, especially if (as we know) there is a common plan. Nothing inherent in saying DNA was designed precludes anything you are researching.

The extent of your knowledge doesn't preclude you from making a good point or asking good questions.

Thanks, I appreciate that.

If you wish to defend Statement A as true, then you need to provide evidence supporting it. Arguing against Statement B is not the same as providing evidence for Statement A.

I disagree with you here. You've set up two mutually exclusive and exhaustive options: intelligence, or non-intelligence. Therefore arguments against one weigh FOR the other. Even more so in a situation where you are talking probability.

Up until the point where scientists realized that the Earth was orders of magnitude older than the Bible suggested, no one held an old earth creationist perspective. Afterwards, people "realized" that maybe "day" didn't mean "day" after all

Even if this were true, I'm not sure why that should be held against them. If they had no scientific reason to question assumptions, then its not their fault. But its not true.

Philo (ca. 45 AD)* expressed the idea that God created everything instantaneously, because God doesn't need any length of time to create.

Irenaeus (ca. 160 AD) speculated that the days of Genesis 1 were thousand-year-long epochs, not 24 days. A number of others before the Middle Ages held this view as well.

Clement of Alexandria (ca. 175 AD) didn't believe the days were 24 hours, and Origen (ca. 210 AD) discussed the problem of the meaning of "day" for the first 3 days, and didn't take a literal 24 hour view.

Augustine (ca. 390 AD) had trouble interpreting the meaning of day, and said it obviously wasn't a normal day.

Point is, there was plenty of discussion about the meaning of "day" in Genesis long before modern science discovered the old age of the universe and earth.

-Bryan


* Dates used here are approximate middle points in their lifespans
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I disagree with you here. You've set up two mutually exclusive and exhaustive options: intelligence, or non-intelligence. Therefore arguments against one weigh FOR the other. Even more so in a situation where you are talking probability.

This is logically unsound. Since we do not know, you cannot state the alternatives are exhaustive. Arguments against one are just that, evidence of faults or weakness in that particular position, but by no means is it evidence in support of the other.

There may very well be another option we haven't fathomed yet that explains all the data perfectly.

Up until the point where scientists realized that the Earth was orders of magnitude older than the Bible suggested, no one held an old earth creationist perspective. Afterwards, people "realized" that maybe "day" didn't mean "day" after all

Even if this were true, I'm not sure why that should be held against them. If they had no scientific reason to question assumptions, then its not their fault. But its not true.


It's not true a day is a day? Sure it is. C'mon Bill, you can spin what "is" means all you want, but a hummer is a hummer.
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A) Intelligence is the only proven way to create (as in originate) the KINDS of information seen in DNA; therefore intelligence is the most likely explanation for DNA.

B) DNA predates the only proven form of intelligence, therefore non-intelligence (natural, BTW I'm defining my use of 'natural' here) is the most likely explanation for DNA.

My point is that, for either statement, the second doesn't follow from the first. So, both statements are flawed.


B may be overly simplistic, but I don't think it is "flawed". We have a theory in evolution for how relatively simple DNA sequences can evolve to greater complexity, eventually encoding for structures capable of intelligence. We have no theory for how intelligence can evolve independent of DNA (or independent of beings made from DNA). Therefore I would argue that in the absence of contrary evidence, it is much more likely that DNA predates intelligence.
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I disagree with you here. You've set up two mutually exclusive and exhaustive options: intelligence, or non-intelligence. Therefore arguments against one weigh FOR the other. Even more so in a situation where you are talking probability.
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This is logically unsound. Since we do not know, you cannot state the alternatives are exhaustive.


Here are the options Nigel:

1. intelligence
2. non-intelligence

A, and not-A

Please tell me what third option you are thinking of? I see no middle ground between the two.
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Here are the options Nigel:

1. intelligence
2. non-intelligence

A, and not-A

Please tell me what third option you are thinking of? I see no middle ground between the two.

This reasoning is totally flawed. You just stick a dual attribute on a theory and then say that if the theory isn't completely explained, it favours attribute value x.

So, you can have intelligent gravitation or non-intelligent gravitation. non-intelligent gravitation does not fit in with other non-intelligent fundamental forces, therefore it must be intelligent.

If non-intelligent evolution has gaps and flaws in some of its predictions or explanations then that doesn't mean it must be intelligent. It means it can still be improved while remaining void of intelligence at the same time.

That shouldn't be too difficult to understand ?
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Ok, then level with me. You're an atheist, right? Does the theory of evolution make your beliefs about atheism stronger, weaker, or is it neutral?

I consider myself a Christian.

I feel the theory of evolution (and other modern scientific theories) strengthen my belief. A God capable of establishing such a system with a goal in mind using such "rules" is one sharp dude.

One that has to operate only the gaps we leave him and then fool his creations into belief is a pretty weak and pathetic one IMO.

It reminds me of a conversation I had once with a girl I was dating in college.

I was looking at the stars and night and she asked me what I was doing. I told her how amazing it was to know that they were actually huge fusion furnaces providing heat & light to uncounted worlds in the Universe. She told me that she "pitied" me because I couldn't look at the stars and see their beauty.

At that point I laughed at her and pointed out that everyone (including me) can see & appreciate their beauty but that the knowledge of how they worked and what they did added extra dimensions of wonder and amazement that she'd never know.

It's these other dimensions that you too fail to see & appreciate.

Jim
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I was looking at the stars and night and she asked me what I was doing. I told her how amazing it was to know that they were actually huge fusion furnaces providing heat & light to uncounted worlds in the Universe. She told me that she "pitied" me because I couldn't look at the stars and see their beauty.

At that point I laughed at her and



heh ..i had to literally laugh out loud ... because it's so obvious you DID see their beauty.



-b
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If all life shares a common ancestor, then there is a lot we can learn about ourselves by studying other organisms.

Likewise, if all life shares the same design plans, there's a lot we can learn about ourselves from studying that design. Origin is one thing; how it works, and how we can fix what's broken is where the action is, and ID doesn't preclude anything on those lines.


If, say life was designed, we might not learn more about ourselves from studying yeast than we would learn about digital alarm clocks from studying grandfather clocks.


Or we might learn a lot by studying yeast, especially if (as we know) there is a common plan. Nothing inherent in saying DNA was designed precludes anything you are researching.


Biologists argue that there is a "common plan" based upon the theory of evolution, that all living organisms can trace their lineage back to a single ancestor. If that's not true, if there was a designer or designers that created various forms of life, there is no reason to expect a common plan. If you look at human designs, a 'common plan' seems to be the exception, not the norm. If you abandon evolution and the theory of a single ancestor, why couldn't the designer have made, say, two different designs and unleashed them on the Earth? To put it another way: How do you know there is a common plan?

If you wish to defend Statement A as true, then you need to provide evidence supporting it. Arguing against Statement B is not the same as providing evidence for Statement A.

I disagree with you here. You've set up two mutually exclusive and exhaustive options: intelligence, or non-intelligence. Therefore arguments against one weigh FOR the other.


That's incorrect. The conclusions of the statements are mutually exclusive. However, the statements themselves are not mutually exclusive. There can be many statements made of the form "Given X, intelligence is more likely" or "Given X, non-intelligence is more likely." Thus, arguing that one statement is not logically sound does nothing to provide evidence for the conclusion of the other statement.

Even more so in a situation where you are talking probability.

If you'd like to talk about the probabilities of DNA being the product of non-intelligence or intelligence, that's fine. Explain to me what assumptions and models you are using and then walk me through the calculations that you think show that the probability of an intelligent source for DNA is more likely than a non-intelligent source.

Point is, there was plenty of discussion about the meaning of "day" in Genesis long before modern science discovered the old age of the universe and earth.

So do you agree with me that there is ambiguity in what the word "day" means in Genesis?

-Anthony
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Biologists argue that there is a "common plan" based upon the theory of evolution, that all living organisms can trace their lineage back to a single ancestor. If that's not true, if there was a designer or designers that created various forms of life, there is no reason to expect a common plan. If you look at human designs, a 'common plan' seems to be the exception, not the norm.

That's all debatable. Take computer programming for example. Programmers reuse code as much as possible. Why rewrite something if you need the same function in another application? Unless theres a good reason to, you don't. You modify what you already have.

I'll agree there is no reason to "expect" a common plan, but its hardly surprizing that a designer would use one.

If you abandon evolution and the theory of a single ancestor, why couldn't the designer have made, say, two different designs and unleashed them on the Earth?

There could be something inherent in carbon-based life that would restrict DNA design to what we have. There is nothing about designed DNA that suggests there must be two or more designs. We seem to have one. I could ask you the same question: if life spontaneously generated from chemicals, why is there only one design?

That's incorrect. The conclusions of the statements are mutually exclusive. However, the statements themselves are not mutually exclusive.

Ok, you got me there. Poorguy, please ring up 1 for Anthony. Thanks.

If you'd like to talk about the probabilities of DNA being the product of non-intelligence or intelligence, that's fine. Explain to me what assumptions and models you are using and then walk me through the calculations that you think show that the probability of an intelligent source for DNA is more likely than a non-intelligent source.

If I could show you how the probability of simple life (as in a minimal genome for autonomous life) forming by natural processes exceeds Dembski's universal probability limit, would you agree that life was designed?

So do you agree with me that there is ambiguity in what the word "day" means in Genesis?

There is no controversy over the fact that the Hebrew word yom can mean "daytime", "24 day", and "long period of time". The context of Genesis 1 is unique, which is why there is disagreement over which meaning the author intended. So yes, there is ambiguity.

-Bryan
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A) Intelligence is the only proven way to create (as in originate) the KINDS of information seen in DNA; therefore intelligence is the most likely explanation for DNA.

B) DNA predates the only proven form of intelligence, therefore non-intelligence (natural, BTW I'm defining my use of 'natural' here) is the most likely explanation for DNA.

My point is that, for either statement, the second doesn't follow from the first. So, both statements are flawed.


B may be overly simplistic, but I don't think it is "flawed". We have a theory in evolution for how relatively simple DNA sequences can evolve to greater complexity, eventually encoding for structures capable of intelligence. We have no theory for how intelligence can evolve independent of DNA (or independent of beings made from DNA). Therefore I would argue that in the absence of contrary evidence, it is much more likely that DNA predates intelligence.


Scientifically, evolution is the only model that can produce complexity that is known to function in the past. All that evolution requires is that there be some entity that is able to imperfectly replicate itself. That's fine for us talking about DNA. However, Bryan has said that he doesn't treat evolution the same what he would treat any other science because of its "far reaching impact," which I'm going to assume means "contradicts my religious beliefs" since he hasn't demonstrated any far-reaching impacts yet. Given that bias, you aren't going to convince him using scientifically sound arguments, since he rejects them at the outset. That being said, I'm trying to show him why his argument is logically flawed, which I think will avoid the issue with his bias.

-Anthony
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However, Bryan has said that he doesn't treat evolution the same what he would treat any other science because of its "far reaching impact," which I'm going to assume means "contradicts my religious beliefs" since he hasn't demonstrated any far-reaching impacts yet. Given that bias, you aren't going to convince him using scientifically sound arguments, since he rejects them at the outset. That being said, I'm trying to show him why his argument is logically flawed, which I think will avoid the issue with his bias.

-Anthony


Bryan also shows a clear bias against logic.
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Bryan also shows a clear bias against logic.

Nigel shows a clear bias against flesh-eating bipedal primates. Otherwise he's a good guy
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Nigel shows a clear bias against flesh-eating bipedal primates.

Not true. I love humans and keep several as pets.
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Nigel shows a clear bias against flesh-eating bipedal primates.
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Not true. I love humans and keep several as pets.



That's not the important question . . . do you feed them meat?

If so you are clearly a Bush-voting earth hater, and I fart in your general direction!
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If you abandon evolution and the theory of a single ancestor, why couldn't the designer have made, say, two different designs and unleashed them on the Earth?

There could be something inherent in carbon-based life that would restrict DNA design to what we have. There is nothing about designed DNA that suggests there must be two or more designs. We seem to have one. I could ask you the same question: if life spontaneously generated from chemicals, why is there only one design?

There could be a number of reasons. There could be a great many potential 'designs,' each with a very small probability of occurring in a given time, in a given place, under certain given conditions. Thus the odds of two different ones evolving simultaneously would be small. Alternatively, if two did occur but one had a head start, the second might have very little chance of outcompeting the first. You can come up with gobs of slightly more complicated scenarios.

If you'd like to talk about the probabilities of DNA being the product of non-intelligence or intelligence, that's fine. Explain to me what assumptions and models you are using and then walk me through the calculations that you think show that the probability of an intelligent source for DNA is more likely than a non-intelligent source.

If I could show you how the probability of simple life (as in a minimal genome for autonomous life) forming by natural processes exceeds Dembski's universal probability limit, would you agree that life was designed?


You've changed what you're trying to argue. The question at hand is whether or not the probability that the DNA (or some system with specified complexity) found on Earth is originally the product of an intelligence [let's call it P(int)] is greater than the probability that said DNA (or system) was the product of natural processes [let's call that one P(non-int)]. Or writing it mathematically:

Is P(int)>P(non-int) ?

You need to calculate or place non-overlapping boundries upon both of these probabilities if you want to support that claim. You're proposal doesn't attempt to quantify P(int) or relate it to P(non-int), so I don't see how the above inequality would follow from your proposal.

Regarding a "minimal genome for autonomous life (MGAL)," except under some very specific circumstances, the probability for a specified MGAL is less than P(non-int) (that is, it is possible that there are multiple independent MGALs), and thus gives you a lower bound and not an upper bound for P(non-int). This would only help you if you wished to prove the converse of the above statement. To calculate P(non-int), you most likely need to calculate the combined probabilities of every pathway natural processes could take to produce a system with specified complexity or at least calculate an upper bound. The very special circumstances (okay, I can only think of one, though there may be others) I referred to would be that you could prove that there was only one MGAL such that any path natural processes take to reach a system with specified complexity would have to pass through it. This seems like it would be amazingly difficult to prove, but you can try if you'd like.

Regarding Dembski's "universal probability limit", I've provided calculations previously that show random mutation and natural selection (over a period of less than a year) can select for a series of mutations with a combined probability smaller than Dembski's limit. This suggests that Dembski's logic is fundamentally flawed.

One side note, it may be tempting to assume that:

P(int) + P(non-int) = 1

This is not necessarily the case. Actually, this is only the case if one assumes that life on Earth was inevitable. I think this would also be either terribly hard or impossible to prove. It is quite possible that P(int) and P(non-int) are both terribly small numbers.

So do you agree with me that there is ambiguity in what the word "day" means in Genesis?

There is no controversy over the fact that the Hebrew word yom can mean "daytime", "24 day", and "long period of time". The context of Genesis 1 is unique, which is why there is disagreement over which meaning the author intended. So yes, there is ambiguity.


Ok, and given this ambiguity and only considering the Bible as the source of information, are the young earth creation beliefs and the old earth creation beliefs consistent with Genesis?

-Anthony
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Ok, and given this ambiguity and only considering the Bible as the source of information, are the young earth creation beliefs and the old earth creation beliefs consistent with Genesis?

If you want to restrict the data to Genesis, I guess they are both consistent. But I don't restrict the data that way. There are other creation accounts in the Bible, and other relevant passages, and when taken as a whole, they point towards an old earth interpretation fitting best with all the data (in my judgement)

Mind telling me where you are trying to go with this?
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Ok, and given this ambiguity and only considering the Bible as the source of information, are the young earth creation beliefs and the old earth creation beliefs consistent with Genesis?

If you want to restrict the data to Genesis, I guess they are both consistent. But I don't restrict the data that way. There are other creation accounts in the Bible, and other relevant passages, and when taken as a whole, they point towards an old earth interpretation fitting best with all the data (in my judgement)

Mind telling me where you are trying to go with this?


I'm just trying to understand your earlier comments. I said:

Let's see. Physicists have been working on a naturalistic model of gravity for over 400 years and still aren't done. Biologists have been working on abiogenesis for much less time than that. So, I'd say it's reasonable to conclude that we're a long, long way from the point of giving up finding a natural explanation for abiogenesis.

You replied:

Unfortunately I think there is enough doubt about where we are in the process, for many to live comfortably with this naturalistic promissary note. So I guess I can't blame you for seeing it that way.

And I replied:

So, you see it as similar to the creation story in Genesis, where there is enough doubt about what the actual meaning of the original Hebrew text for many to live comfortably with the Biblical promissary note that the story is not really contradicted by the scientific evidence?

You disagreed with my assessment. I'm just trying to understand your justification. Maybe you could give the other relevant passages in the Bible which you believe point strongly towards an old earth interpretation. I don't remember any that strongly distinguish between old and young earth interpretations, but maybe I missed something.

I'm also wondering what your thoughts were on the respective probabilities of DNA having a natural source or an intelligent source. Is there any argument that one is more probable than the other?

-Anthony
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And I replied:

So, you see it as similar to the creation story in Genesis, where there is enough doubt about what the actual meaning of the original Hebrew text for many to live comfortably with the Biblical promissary note that the story is not really contradicted by the scientific evidence?

You disagreed with my assessment. I'm just trying to understand your justification.


Here's what I responded:

On the contrary, I see so much congruence between modern science and an old earth creationist perspective, much more than any other religious text, that I'm convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt in its supernatural origin.

What I was trying to say was that the Bible, taken in an old-earth creationists perspective, fits remarkably well with modern science. For example, an absolute beginning to the universe, time, and matter. An expanding universe. The initial conditions of the Earth (dark and covered with water). Early introduction of life while the Earth was still covered with water. Sequential introductiion of life that fits with the geological record. Introduction of modern humans at the end of the series with no "kinds" (probably mid-level taxa like genus)introduced later.

Not other ancient text comes anywhere close to get things right like the Bible does. So how did these ignorant sheep herders manage this? The Bible claims they got it from God.

Now I know all these things have been disputed on the board, and I'm not really interested in rehashing them here (privately I would though).

[Yes, I see that hand. No 1poorguy, I don't mind you saying for the 40eth time that all these things have been "thoroughly debunked and thrown in the trash heap" by Gus and others.]

Maybe you could give the other relevant passages in the Bible which you believe point strongly towards an old earth interpretation. I don't remember any that strongly distinguish between old and young earth interpretati