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The Digital Demise Of Darwinism


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#1 greylorn

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 11:58 PM

About two years ago I sent a book chapter challenging Darwinism to an internet correspondent for review. Unbeknownst to me, he had already written an essay in which he had compared Darwinian theory to the development of a computer's operating system by the mechanism of random bit changes.

While perusing my arguments, he was inspired by a brief paragraph to take his original essay in a different direction. The result is the finest argument against Darwinism ever. His clear and brief essay replaces both of Michael Behe's books. Unfortunately, it also renders my chapter, which took over a year to write, pretty much irrelevant.

Paul Martin's argument involves the differences between digital and analog mechanisms. He carefully explains these differences before getting to work. The crux of his essay lies in the observation that the universe itself is composed of analog mechanisms, whereas the digital mechanisms that we use in computers, CDs, and DVDs are entirely the product of an intelligent mind and cannot arise from a "natural" analog process.

For example, a musical instrument, let's say a flute, produces an analog wave that travels through air. Your ears contain analog mechanisms that translate the flute's melody into electrical signals and transmit these analog electrical waves into your brain for translation.

But suppose that the music is being recorded. In the old days it would have been picked up by analog microphones, sent into analog amplifiers, and saved on an analog master record or tape. These days it would be sent from the microphone into a different kind of recording device, one that performed mathematical Fourier transformations on the analog music so as to convert it to a series of digital numbers.

The digitized music cannot be retrieved by any variety of analog mechanism. There are some analog mechanisms in a CD/DVD reader that spin the disk and read the dots, but after that, a computer is required to translate the dots into music. No more needles in a groove or magnetic flux changes in a tape reader's head.

However wonderful a recording tool it might be, digitization does not occur in nature--- except, as Paul Martin points out, within the DNA/RNA in our cells and the cells of other critters, which also contain the decoding mechanisms, ribosomes. He explains the significance of this. It means that intelligence must have been engaged in the development of eukaryotic cells. There is no escape from his simple argument.

Here I've tried only to introduce Martin's argument, not to reproduce it. There is no point in replying to this introduction, only to the essay points. The essay includes brief descriptions of basic microbiological concepts which it explains rather well. Anyone who needs more detail can come up to speed with a Wikipedia study.

Kindly have the courtesy to reply to this post only after perusing the essay, An Argument from Design , re-reading as needed until you can explain the difference between a codon and a colon to a curious stranger in a friendly tavern. Mr. Martin has agreed to participate if interesting challenges are posted.

#2 Qdogsman

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 01:12 AM

I should re-introduce myself. I am Paul Martin. I joined Hypography in March of 2009, started one thread, got one comment from Dr. Dick, and made my reply. That was the last time I wrote and the last comment I received. (For those curious about such things, my screen name explains my relationship to my dog. We have an old lab named Quincy. We affectionately call him Qdog. Since Qdog is my dog, I figure I am Qdogsman.)

Since I am registered as Qdogsman, I'll stay with that. But since Greylorn has revealed my real name, I should say that I have no problem with that either. In fact I used my real name years ago to talk with some of you on other forums. I never really understood the value of anonymity on the Internet as long as you didn't provoke the wrong people. But enough introduction.

I am eager to hear any comments on my essay and to try to answer any questions you may have about it and the ideas it is intended to present.

#3 Buffy

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 04:04 AM

Paul, welcome back to Hypography. Apologies in advance for giving you a rough ride in the following: this was mostly written before you joined in the thread, so excuse the impersonal references to "the author."

Okay, I've read the essay. To summarize the argument there:

  • Most physical systems in the natural world are analog systems (e.g. planets in orbit following laws of orbital mechanics).
  • Analog systems are distinguishable because "the actions proceed strictly according to the laws of nature without any involvement of or interference from any mind"
  • Analog systems are different from digital systems because the latter "contain symbolic information which has an effect on the behavior of the system." The example given is a ball (an analog system) might weigh 10 pounds and thus "contain the information" that it weighs 10 pounds, but this is different than the (digitally represented) string "this ball weighs 10 pounds".
  • Digital systems require symbolic mapping from the physical data to the digital representation of that data.
  • Any such mapping requires a "mind" to create/define the mapping (any actual instance of messages translated is not the point, just the existence of the mapping itself).
  • Therefore, "when we find a system that uses encoded, or symbolic, information, then a mind was necessary at the beginning in order to establish the code."

This is followed by a long--and quite unnecessary--justification for why DNA should be considered a "digital" system. No one will argue that DNA is not "code", the problem--as we shall see--is in the bullet points above.

But that's it, that's the argument. It is kind of interesting to read--and it's really not very long--but like greylorn, I do recommend you read it just to get a sense of the rhetorical approach used.

Okay, so let's dig in.

  • Most physical systems in the natural world are analog systems (e.g. planets in orbit following laws of orbital mechanics).
  • Analog systems are distinguishable because "the actions proceed strictly according to the laws of nature without any involvement of or interference from any mind"
The first issue to work out here is the author's somewhat idiocyncratic use of the terms "analog" and "digital". He's obviously trying to use them to imply something, but that implication is never really made explicit, although it is obvious once you read the whole thing. I would not call these definitions "wrong" per se, but it's definitely a case of using a limited definition to try to prove something that isn't really there.

By "analog" he's really describing something as "ruled exclusively by physical forces/laws of nature". He uses this in a somewhat derogatory sense to set up a distinction for the notion of "mindless" gravity, hydrodynamics, etc. All things that we can CURRENTLY describe by mathematical laws that say things MUST work this way in our universe without "external" intervention.

I don't really have a problem with that definition, although I am at pains to see what the heck it has to do with the word "analog" as its used in any common area of scientific discussion. It appears by implication that the author is defining it this way so he can draw a strong "contrast" with his definition of "digital".

  • Analog systems are different from digital systems because the latter "contain symbolic information which has an effect on the behavior of the system." The example given is a ball (an analog system) might weigh 10 pounds and thus "contain the information" that it weighs 10 pounds, but this is different than the (digitally represented) string "this ball weighs 10 pounds".
  • Digital systems require symbolic mapping from the physical data to the digital representation of that data.
Here we see the setup of trying to make a distinction that is "obvious" so that anyone would *have* to agree with it. Here he's defining digital as a "mapping of a physical object into a code", which is of course what we do with computers.

But again, it's not clear why the words "analog" and "digital" have anything to do with this, because the actual notion he's describing is what scientists would normally refer to as the difference between an actual "physical system" and a "model"--usually mathematical, but which can also be physical or conceptual. Models do indeed have "symbolic representations"--as do computer programs--and he's using this tortured use of "digital" to try to convey a sense that the two things he's describing are opposites, and that never in the twain shall they meet.

Of course if you drop the "analog"/"digital" terminology, and recognize that models don't need to be based on physical systems but can be models of other models, then this sense is obviously absurd. It's clear why it's useful to his arguments when one looks at the next step in the process:

  • Any such mapping requires a "mind" to create/define the mapping (any actual instance of messages translated is not the point, just the existence of the mapping itself).
Well of course this is a classic example of a circular argument:

  • a mapping is something that is created by a mind
  • mappings are codes
  • therefore if you see a code, a mind must have created it.
We find examples of this ENDLESSLY in Intelligent Design "proofs", and seriously, repeating them more often does not make them any more true.

This attempt is of course kind of interesting because it appeals to the notion of "code" as in a computer language which is somewhat analogous--if you'll excuse the pun--to DNA (which as I mentioned, he spends a long time trying to establish). The problem is that "code" actually does NOT map on to the concept of "model"--in the sense that models are indeed created by intelligent creatures in order to *understand* physical systems--but that mapping is necessary in order to prove that "code" implies "intelligence".

And the author does nothing to justify this leap in logic:

  • Therefore, "when we find a system that uses encoded, or symbolic, information, then a mind was necessary at the beginning in order to establish the code."

Circular reasoning based on an unjustified leap in logic does not even pass the smell test, let alone become convincing.


Happy to continue discussing this, we've beaten this basic argument to death here at Hypography, but I'm always happy to engage in the debate! :cheer:


The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us, :phones:
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#4 Snax

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 04:45 AM

Your ears contain analog mechanisms that translate the flute's melody into electrical signals and transmit these analog electrical waves into your brain for translation.

>analog mechanism
>into electrical signals
>these analog electrical waves


No.

Whatever waves hit the outer membrane do not stay as waves when they are converted into the electrical pulses your nerves send off to your brain. Electrical pulses = digital signal.

It is ridiculous to say that there aren't naturally occurring examples of digital mechanisms, I mean, look at DNA, it naturally reproduces its own code all the time, and you yourself said DNA code is a digital mechanism. Circle around that lol.


It means that intelligence must have been engaged in the development of eukaryotic cells. There is no escape from his simple argument.

There's no escape from Jordan Dorner either, but what you fail to realize is that Jordan Dorner isn't an argument that pretentiously assumes correctness while saying it's still up for debate.


There is no point in replying to this introduction, only to the essay points.

Try and stop me <expletive deleted>.
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#5 Eclogite

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:52 AM

Moderator Warning: Matthew, the next time you include an obscenity in one of your posts, even if it is concealed as a spoonerism, you will spend a few days R & R away from the forum.

As normal - don't (anyone) comment on this mod note in the thread. If you have a problem with it pm me or another mod or report the post.


#6 Eclogite

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 03:00 PM

Paul, I think Buffy's refutation is a good one and I await your response with interest. In the meantime I'd like to dissect some portions of your thesis.

At times I have expressed my doubts about the ability of Darwinian Evolution to explain all of life. One of my earliest doubts was that I didn't think there was enough time. I had a vague idea about how to calculate the required time and to compare it with the time available, but I never did develop a case. Other doubts stemmed from the sizable gaps in the theory, such as the origin of life and the development of an individual organism, which aren't (yet) explained by the theory. I have also agreed with the arguments presented by Michael J. Behe in "Darwin's Black Box". I have not been impressed by Richard Dawkins.

The sentences I have emboldened in your quote are ones with which I could entirely agree. I think most biologists would agree with sentence one, but amend it to reflect that current evolutionary theory does not explain all the details of evolution yet. And why would it? It is complex and we have only been studying it for 1 1/2 centuries.

The failure to explain the origin of life (abiogenesis), or the development of the individual (embryology) are completely irrelevant. Do you also wish to criticise the theory for being unable to predict the appropriate decompression routine for scuba divers? The theory is about the evolution of the characteristiscs of population. It has no business investigating those other areas. This is not to say that discoveries in those areas may not be of use in developing evolutionary theory, or vice versa, but evolutionary theory stands on its own feet.

If tomorrow we found evidence that conclusively demonstrated that life was created by an act of God it would not change in any way the acceptance of the Modern Synthesis as the best explanation for evolution.

I think this argument should be compelling, but people don't seem to be interested enough even to consider it. The counterexample is that all animals, not just all species, but all individuals, sleep, not just occasionally, but regularly and for a sizeable part of each day. According to evolution, any species that regularly lost consciousness like that, and was thus vulnerable to enemies and unable to fight, flee, feed, or procreate, should have been selected out and gone extinct long ago. I won't continue this argument here because it would take us off the track.

Rabbits sleep underground, protected from predators. Chimpanzees sleep up trees. No one is going to mess with a lion. Dolphins sleep with one half of their brain at a time. Herbivores sleep in herds with sentinels. Moreover, despite your claim that sleep is for a sizeable part of the day, many herbivores sleep for only tow or three hours. Large predators sleep for longer (do you have a cat?) because they can and they need to conserve energy between kills. All great examples of the ability of natural selection to find solutions.

Your definitions of analogue and digital strike me as bizarre. Analogue processes are continuously variable, digital processes are discrete: yes/no; true/false. Yet even here what appears to be digital is actually analogue. In my dim distant past life of dealing with logic gates and JK flip flops and the like I can recall instances where because of timing issues the circuitry would 'read' a signal to ealry when it was ramping up to five volts and interpret it as a zero. I'm sorry Paul, but none of your argument hangs together for me. Maybe you are correct, but if so you need to bring much greater clarity to your argument.
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#7 Qdogsman

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 05:28 PM

My sincere thanks for commenting on my essay. Thanks, too, Buffy for the welcome. And don't worry about the rough ride; I drive a big truck and I'm used to rough rides.

You evidently make a good point about my misuse of the terms 'analog' and 'digital'. Greylorn made the same criticism when he first read the essay and I should have re-thought my terminology at that time. He didn't convince me, but now that you have supported him, I am willing to admit he was right.

I struggled to choose words that would connote the idea I was trying to convey and unfortunately chose the wrong pair. You are right that 'digital/analog' is closer to 'discrete/continuous' than it is to 'symbolic/physical'. And it is the idea of symbols that I think is important in this argument.

My contention is that symbols and symbolism require a mind. In order to be a symbol, a pattern must have meaning to some mind. Otherwise the pattern (like Stephen Hawking's initials appearing in the WMAP data) is meaningless and should not be considered to be a symbol. So symbols and symbolism require a mind. (I intend to revise my essay to replace digital references to symbols and symbolism—at least at this point in my thinking. Thank you for correcting me).

The connection between a symbol and the physical thing that it symbolizes is what you referred to as a mapping. And it is the origin of that mapping that I want to drill down into.

You characterized my argument as:

• a mapping is something that is created by a mind
• mappings are codes
• therefore if you see a code, a mind must have created it.

I'm no expert in logic, but I don't think that rendition of my argument is circular. It fails, however, because that second line introduces a more general category. But never mind; I don't agree that your rendition accurately captures my argument. To use your terminology, my argument says:

• a mapping is something that is created by a mind
• we see a mapping in DNA
• therefore a mind must have created the mapping in DNA.

You said, "Of course if you drop the "analog"/"digital" terminology, and recognize that models don't need to be based on physical systems but can be models of other models, then this sense is obviously absurd. "

I agreed to drop the "analog"/"digital" terminology and I appreciate your introduction of the notion of models. That helps me. I have never been comfortable using the term 'model' because I really don't understand what it is. But from what you say, it seems as if it is the same notion I am trying to capture in my use of the term 'symbolism'. Symbols don't need to be based on physical systems, but can be symbols representing other symbols (the word 'word', for example).

But you lost me, Buffy, when you said "then this sense is obviously absurd." What "sense" are you talking about?

You go on to say, "The problem is that "code" actually does NOT map on to the concept of "model"--in the sense that models are indeed created by intelligent creatures in order to *understand* physical systems--but that mapping is necessary in order to prove that "code" implies "intelligence"."

If your connotation of "code" is such that it actually does NOT map on to the concept of "model", then I am not trying to prove that "code" implies "intelligence". I am trying to show that the existence of a symbolic mapping implies "intelligence" (your word; I said "mind" but "intelligence" will work).

Finally you claim that I have done nothing to justify the "leap in logic" to arrive at my conclusion that "when we find a system that uses encoded, or symbolic, information, then a mind was necessary at the beginning in order to establish the code." If you look back at my correction to your 3-line summary of my argument, it doesn't seem to be much of a logic leap at all.

So I don't accept the conclusion of your smell test: there was no circular reasoning and no great leap of logic.

But I think I failed to get your attention directed to the most important aspect of my essay. I am dismayed that you found the bulk of my essay to be a "long--and quite unnecessary--justification for why DNA should be considered a "digital" system". I apologize for the "digital" part, and I have promised to correct my ways. And, in spite of everyone agreeing that DNA is a code, I don't think many people have thought through exactly where the DNA "codebook" is located, how it is written, and most importantly, how it got written.

So I took great pains to point out how the "codebook" is physically embodied in the DNA sequences that produce the 60-odd unique versions of tRNA, and how those tRNA molecules actually effect the translation of the code to an actual molecule. Since you didn't mention any of this, I apparently failed.

My point is that the method of establishing this "codebook" is trivial to understand in the case that it was intelligently designed, but it would seem to be very difficult to explain using no mechanism but natural selection. I was hoping to get some response on this aspect of the argument.
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#8 sman

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 06:53 PM

The genetic code of life really is digital, like the code underlying computer software. I’ve always been compelled by the analogy: The genome as the software instructions for embryology. But I think it’s telling where the analogy breaks down.

Computer programs are replete. Instructions are concise & there is very little waste. Repetitive code is consolidated & channeled through subroutines, even where space is available. Anyone attempting to analyze or reverse-engineer any software today can unfailingly follow the principle that any bit of code that presents itself must do something - else it wouldn’t be there.

The genome, OTOH, is chock-full of repetition, as well as genes that are never expressed, genes that are expressed but do nothing, genes that turn on genes that do nothing, genes that turn on genes that have already been turned on.... et cetera, as well as great valleys and “deserts” of non-coding material. The genome is, IMHO, not only some of the best evidence that life is not engineered, but a strong message that not all digital coding is the result of engineering.
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#9 Eclogite

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 07:38 PM

Paul, I am encouraged by your ready discard of the terms analogue an digital. Too often I have encountered people 'with a theory' wherein they use a bizarre, personal definition of terms an refuse to change from them. Time permitting I shall revisit your thesis with something closer to your intended meanings in mind. I don't expect to be persuaded, but I'll give it a go.

#10 Qdogsman

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:35 PM

current evolutionary theory does not explain all the details of evolution yet.

And I wouldn't expect it to. There is little doubt that current evolutionary theory explains a lot of the change that allows species to successfully compete in their respective niches. What I have a problem with is the position taken by some that categorically rules out the possibility that some kind of intelligent agent played some role in the origination and the development of life. It seems to me that this strong position is taken as a defense against seeming to be associated with, or approving of, Creationism. That's fair enough. I don't want to be painted with that brush either. But Darwinism by itself, or Creationism by itself, are not the only possible alternatives. I think that as long as there are unanswered questions, we need to keep our minds open to all possibilities.

I happen to agree with Greylorn, Bishop Paley, et. al., that there are aspects of life which sure seem to indicate the work of an intelligent designer. I also agree with Greylorn, and no one else that I know of, that the designer of life, and of the universe, need not be omnipotent, omniscient, perfect, immutable, eternal, infinite, or almighty in any other way. After all, we are familiar with many artifacts that have been designed by human designers, and none of them is perfect either, neither the designers nor their designs. All I ask is that you open your minds to new possibilities and not try to pigeon-hole all challenging ideas into the "Creationist" box, or even the official "Intelligent Design" box.

All great examples of the ability of natural selection to find solutions.

I agree that these strategies to survive in spite of the need to sleep are examples of good solutions. But my question is, Why is there a problem in the first place? Why do animals have to become unconscious for extended periods? Science can give no compelling reason for the need to sleep, although it is clear that the need exists. If Natural Selection were the only change agent operating, animals that could avoid the need for sleep would have a distinct advantage and we should see them predominate. We don't see that. There is clearly more than simply Darwinian Evolution at work here.

Your definitions of analogue and digital strike me as bizarre.

You are not the first to point that out. As I have said, I have repented and I will change my ways.

I'm sorry Paul, but none of your argument hangs together for me. Maybe you are correct, but if so you need to bring much greater clarity to your argument.

That's a little strong. NONE hangs together?? I hope I have added some clarity with these responses and I hope you will respond again with more specifics.

Thanks for your comments.

Edited by Qdogsman, 11 February 2013 - 08:37 PM.


#11 Qdogsman

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:53 PM

Paul, I am encouraged by your ready discard of the terms analogue an digital. Too often I have encountered people 'with a theory' wherein they use a bizarre, personal definition of terms an refuse to change from them. Time permitting I shall revisit your thesis with something closer to your intended meanings in mind. I don't expect to be persuaded, but I'll give it a go.

Thank you for spending time and attention on my essay. I really appreciate it. As for changing my mind, I am eager and happy to do it anytime my errors are pointed out. That goes not only for language use but also for theoretical positions.

The problem with language is that I don't think any two people have exactly the same notions in mind for any complex concept. I get a kick out of the many discussions I have read in this forum having to do with the existence of God. Yet rarely is the term 'God' ever defined by the participants. In fact I see this as such a problem that I have (almost) resolved to set aside the time some day to read both works of Ludwig Wittgenstein. My naive understanding of what he said without having done all the reading is that, from the first book, our conversations are nothing but "language games" that we play for various reasons. From the second book, Everything we say is unimportant, and about important things, we can say nothing. Or something like that. I hope to find out.

#12 Qdogsman

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 09:21 PM

The genetic code of life really is digital, like the code underlying computer software. I’ve always been compelled by the analogy: The genome as the software instructions for embryology. But I think it’s telling where the analogy breaks down.

Computer programs are replete. Instructions are concise & there is very little waste. Repetitive code is consolidated & channeled through subroutines, even where space is available. Anyone attempting to analyze or reverse-engineer any software today can unfailingly follow the principle that any bit of code that presents itself must do something - else it wouldn’t be there.

The genome, OTOH, is chock-full of repetition, as well as genes that are never expressed, genes that are expressed but do nothing, genes that turn on genes that do nothing, genes that turn on genes that have already been turned on.... et cetera, as well as great valleys and “deserts” of non-coding material. The genome is, IMHO, not only some of the best evidence that life is not engineered, but a strong message that not all digital coding is the result of engineering.

I see that your field is Biology so maybe we can correct each other a little. I am an old (73 in a couple months) computer programmer, systems engineer, and systems designer and I'm afraid your conception of computer programs is more than a tad idealistic. There is still old code running in computers that I wrote when I was a kid. Programmers typically re-write applications by modifying and reusing a lot of the old code. They patch the old code with modifications and fear to throw the old stuff away because it might, and probably does, perform some useful function not yet understood by the new programmer. My son is also in the computer business and he and I were discussing this very topic at breakfast this morning.

Instructions are not concise, they are downright sloppy judged by the standards when I was young and you had to fit your program into 4K (Yes, K, not megs or gigs). There is a HUGE amount of waste of memory, cycles, bandwidth, and all other computer resources simply to be first to market and to get the thing working. I have reverse-engineered a lot of code in my day and there is a huge amount of redundancy and waste. To me, a genome and a computer operating system look very much alike: they both look like they were designed by less-than-perfect designers.

I had the temerity to venture into your field and write an essay comparing a genome to a computer operating system. I found there to be much more similarity than difference. You can take a look at that essay at http://paulandellen....ys/essay120.htm (I'll have to learn how to make a link in these responses.)

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.
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#13 Buffy

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 06:11 AM

My contention is that symbols and symbolism require a mind. In order to be a symbol, a pattern must have meaning to some mind. Otherwise the pattern (like Stephen Hawking's initials appearing in the WMAP data) is meaningless and should not be considered to be a symbol. So symbols and symbolism require a mind.

Thank you for jumping right into this: this is exactly the point I am referring to as a "leap of logic".

There are two key issues here that you will need to deal with:

  • You have restricted the meaning of "symbolism", such that anything that can be perceived as having any sort of mapping has a well-defined symbolic meaning.
  • You have limited the definition of "mapping" in the sense of it having to be a priori-defined mapping, that is, you assume it is designed by a mind.
Neither of these assertions is supportable, and indeed both have endless counter-examples.

Let's use some of the rest of your post to discuss these points.

I'm no expert in logic, but I don't think that rendition of my argument is circular. It fails, however, because that second line ["mappings are codes"] introduces a more general category. But never mind; I don't agree that your rendition accurately captures my argument. To use your terminology, my argument says:

  • a mapping is something that is created by a mind
  • we see a mapping in DNA
  • therefore a mind must have created the mapping in DNA.
...
You go on to say, "The problem is that "code" actually does NOT map on to the concept of "model"--in the sense that models are indeed created by intelligent creatures in order to *understand* physical systems--but that mapping is necessary in order to prove that "code" implies "intelligence"."

If your connotation of "code" is such that it actually does NOT map on to the concept of "model", then I am not trying to prove that "code" implies "intelligence". I am trying to show that the existence of a symbolic mapping implies "intelligence" (your word; I said "mind" but "intelligence" will work).


Granting the modifications you've described here, lets look at the argument again:

  • a mapping is something that is created by a mind
Here is where using the word "symbolism" brings connotations that support your argument, but that are not really justified:

Symbolism in one sense is what a "mind" consciously either creates out of whole cloth, or perceives in existing physical systems, and these two meanings are not at all identical. In this step of the argument, it is--as I said in my earlier post--somewhat of a truism because of course intelligent beings like us create models and symbols and mappings all the time.

But mappings are incredibly maleable: if you're familiar with the volumnous amount of work done on Bible Codes, you'll see this application of "perception of mappings" in action: The basic idea in the bible codes is to put all the letters of the words in a matrix, then pick an *arbitrary* number of columns, wrapping the words around, such that a maximal number of rows, columns and diagonals turn out to be words, that can then be interpreted by proximity. What's going on here is basically taking advantage of the fact that you can take completely random data and with a mind, *find* mappings that have "symbolic meaning."

The thing about Bible Codes is that they are an effort to find a "desired meaning" that makes sense in a very specific context (i.e. finding hidden prophecies), and you have made your argument easier by ascribing "symbolic mapping" onto any perceivable pattern that is used for any biological purpose. Bible Codes show how easy it is to come up with perceivable patterns in entirely random data.

(As an aside and to cut of further distractions that might come from bringing up Bible codes: proper studies have shown that the basic mechanism produces similar frequencies of words when used on any text, not just the Bible, and studies that show that the Bible has more have all--when I've looked at them at least--mixed apples and oranges by comparing English frequency analysis with Torah Hebrew which drops all vowels, making it much easier to "find words" expecially those that are transliterated from the Hebrew characters. You can ask my daughter how much fun you can have with reading the Torah that she learned from becoming Bat Mitzvah. There's also a greater frequency of "found words" when the source is English text compared to random character strings, but random strings show plenty of "found words", just like monkey's typing long enough can provably eventually produce all of Shakespeare's works (an example of *independent* probabilities by the way)).

  • we see a mapping in DNA
Sure we can see a mapping, we can actually create all sorts of mappings, but that is a human posteriori mapping. We do indeed find mappings from specific gene sequences to expressions of morphological features. But *we* create a direct mapping, while Mother Nature has built mechanisms that actually have no idea what they're doing. They've evolved to actually work in very interesting ways that demonstrate features you touch on or allude to: "coding", serial processing, simlarity of cell division to Turing Machines, etc. Again all of these are human acts of "perception of features and definition of mappings."

So the missing piece here is really the necessity of proving that the first step is not only a "implication" but an "equivalence" to use the precise terms of logic, which you have not done and therefore does not support your conclusion that:

  • therefore a mind must have created the mapping in DNA.
So, yes we do see a mapping in DNA. But those mappings--and it's important to realize there are many--are ones that *we* came up with. As we see with Bible codes and endless other systems, man-made, man-affected, or completely random/physical systems--does not *necessarily* require a mind.

This is why most arguments that get to this point bring in Dembski's computations to "prove" that it would be "impossible" for the kind of complex system we see in DNA and cell replication to have evolved "randomly". But let's ignore that since you have not brought it up (and thank you for not doing so), and simply deal with the issue that the types of "symbolism" you have attributed to DNA, really do not require a "mind" or "intelligence" to create.

My favorite example of this is something I've spent quite a bit of time with: using neural networks to drive computer programs. The cool thing about neural networks is that they are so simple in form: you have a handful of input bits, a (usually) smaller number of output bits, an intermediate set of bits in between and a feedback loop to change the weightings of how the inputs and intermediate step combine to produce the output. You use artificial evolution where random changes to the weights result in better or worse outcomes. I've used these to do things like operate a car in a driving simulation, and even with a minimal amount of evolution, these things operate more effectively than hand coding the same behavior.

Now of course these are based on the way that neurons work in the brain, which are actually an amazingly simple physical system (we actually understand how they work better than most cells in the body actually), applying simple chemistry to operate. They "contain data", but exactly in the sense that you use in your example of a "ball weighing 10 pounds" contains the data "10 pounds", so it doesn't even have coding or mappings of any kind using the definitions you have used to differentiate "physical" from "symbolic".

Yet they are able to implement amazingly complex behavior that processes symbolic information and can be argued demonstrate "intelligent" behavior.

Now the important thing to realize is that even the notion that we can find a physical system that *appears* to "use symbolic information to drive it's system" is really still us imposing an artificial posteriori meaning on to what is quite clearly a straight-forward albeit complicated system that is obeying well-understood phyisical/chemical laws, just as planets orbiting stars do.

This is why the use of words that are conotive and imprecise make it possible to create distinctions where there are none.

But I think I failed to get your attention directed to the most important aspect of my essay. I am dismayed that you found the bulk of my essay to be a "long--and quite unnecessary--justification for why DNA should be considered a "digital" system". I apologize for the "digital" part, and I have promised to correct my ways. And, in spite of everyone agreeing that DNA is a code, I don't think many people have thought through exactly where the DNA "codebook" is located, how it is written, and most importantly, how it got written.

So I took great pains to point out how the "codebook" is physically embodied in the DNA sequences that produce the 60-odd unique versions of tRNA, and how those tRNA molecules actually effect the translation of the code to an actual molecule. Since you didn't mention any of this, I apparently failed.

My point is that the method of establishing this "codebook" is trivial to understand in the case that it was intelligently designed, but it would seem to be very difficult to explain using no mechanism but natural selection. I was hoping to get some response on this aspect of the argument.


Thus the reason I did not address this, is precisely because it's a fairly simple physical system in terms of its *operation*. The mechanisms of tRNA are a very simple Turing machine--although only when we humans go through the step of imposing our own mapping of what it's doing onto something we're familiar with, that just so happens to have been created by a mind--but tRNA does not have any "understanding" of the coding: it follows a sequence--because it's chemical bonds cause it to--and that physical sequence has the evolved effect of constructing DNA in a way that *appears* to us to be symbol translation, but the process is just a bunch of chemical reactions going on because over time, the positive outcomes of having that combination of chemicals around make it persist and regenerate. None of these molecules floating around care what they're doing, even over generations.

As a result, the notion of a "codebook" in the sense that you're using it is imposing a human mapping onto a system that really doesn't need it, doesn't understand it, and can't be shown to be "impossible" to evolve in the absence of such a "codebook."

The point here is that you need to show why it is "very difficult to explain using no mechanism but natural selection."

Obviously if it were intelligently designed, it's "easier" to explain that "it works that way because someone designed it that way" (a circular argument), but once that is a given, it's harder to explain how that design step actually happened. On the other hand "using no mechanism but natural selection" makes quite a bit of sense, especially when walking through the necessary steps and looking at the fossil records. It took on the order of billion years just to get the simplest prokaryotic life going, entailing very simple single strand DNA and none of the complex hardware of eucaryotic cells that took another 1.5 billion years and another billion before we even get to simple multi-cellular life. Then all the rest happened in a billion years.

Now when you try to make that happen with an "intelligent designer" you have two choices: you can either front-load the design step--that is just DNA was designed and the rest happened purely due to physical processes, in which case the most interesting parts of evolution still stand as showing how much Mother Nature can do on her own, and pretty much proving that that initial step of "designing the codebook" of DNA is pretty trivial for her to do too--OR there has to be constant medling with DNA and cell structure and selection and explaining branches of life that would (a) keep a designer very busy and (b ) leave plenty of data around in terms of biology, and evolution that shows pretty clearly that there really wasn't any meddling, nor again, a need for it. Thus while you claim that a "designed" interpretation is "easier", in fact it starts to create a situation where the observable data is very hard to fit into that interpretation.

Now as I said, I'm the only one who's brought up Dembski here, and I'll not go down that rat hole if I don't need to, because it's a gigantic waste of time, but you do have to do something to prove your assertion that it is "very difficult to explain using no mechanism but natural selection."


Creator, your biological units are inefficient, :phones:
Buffy
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#14 Moontanman

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:46 AM

I'm almost afraid to say anything here after Buffy, reminds me of the delima of remaining quiet and be thought an idiot or opening my mouth and removing all doubt but Buffy knows I'm not smart enough to remain completely quiet. So here goes...

My thoughts on this is that Qdogman's ideas are nothing more than the old information argument ie DNA represents information and since information cannot come from anything but a mind then DNA must have been designed by a mind.

This fails on many levels but most importantly is that new information can indeed form by random chance coupled with a selection process. Language is a prime example of this, languages evolve via the addition of slang from place to place. This addition of slang has no direction and is random but it results in complex differences in a language. Latin is at the root of many languages, if you had taken a population of Latin speakers and isolated them for millenia you would come up with a unique romance language but you would never come up with a current romance language.

Evolution uses a random process, mutation, as raw material for natural selection, this is not random but highly deterministic. In fact the process of evolution can be used to design things like aircraft much better and faster than any human mind can and this is used in modern aircraft design.

Evolution is deterministic not random and the idea of information and design is something humans place on the process arbitrarily, this design does come from an outside source but not God or Gods.

#15 CraigD

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 12:32 PM

Welcome back to hypography, Paul! :) Sorry I missed welcoming you in your 2009 introduction thread, as your history – math student turned computer professional – seems much like mine.

My comments on your essays Doubts about Evolution and An Argument from Design:
Rather than focusing on more abstract ideas such digital vs. analog and symbolic representation, I think you’d do better to directly consider to what I gather is the key material assertion of your essay: that self-replicating molecules, such as RNA, could not have evolved in a pre-biological world, without artifice.

Most biologists that dedicate effort to this question – and most do not, because it’s of little practical importance to the business of understanding how present day cells and organisms work, which drives fields about which nearly all people are concerned – medicine and pharmacology – and more esoteric ones that nonetheless are promising enough to attract financial support – “wet nanotechnology”, to use a recent term – reject this conclusion. They believe that self-replicating molecules appeared on the very early Earth (during the first geological era, the Hadean, from about 4,600,000,000 to 4,000,000,000 years ago) without artificial manipulation. Theories about how this occurred are conventionally called abiogenesis.

Unfortunately for biology hobbyist like me (my academic background is Math, my professional, computer programming, primarily healthcare-related), the details of the various models of abiogenist are complicated, requiring a familiarity chemistry and biology that’s rare among non-professional biologists. That there’s no single compelling theory of abiogenesis, but rather a collection of very different alternative ones, makes it a difficult subject for the hobbyist to audit. For largely intuitive reasons, I favor “metabolism first” models in which the pre-biological molecules that eventually gave rise to self-replicating ones were critically influenced by their non-chemically-reactive surroundings – what are sometimes called “bubble” or “cavity” models. These models “feel” right to me, even though I lack the ability to actually implement them myself, or read with much comprehension the work of people who can.

The mention of modeling brings to mind its meaning not in the sense of theoretical models, but simulations implemented via computer programs, and to a technical shortcoming that explains, I think, why old computer programmers like you and I, Paul (I’m 53, about a generation younger than your 73, but still feel entitled to claim kinship as an old-timer) find ourselves either doubtful of abiogenesis, as seems to be your case, or unable to claim to have an expert opinion of the many theories of it and having to accept the opinions of others, as is mine. Though some progress in the field is being made, we are at present not very good at modeling the necessary chemistry and dynamics with computers.

In contrast, consider a scientific question that has been very successfully computer modeled: the formation of the Solar System. Due to the ability to simulate the dynamics of many small bodies, there is now little disagreement among experts on the general outline of how the Solar System formed. Detailed questions can be approached in a brute force manner by running many simulations representing billions of years of gravitational and collision interaction of large numbers of small bodies to test various hypothesis. The major constraint in this field is lack of data of such things as the chemical composition of material from many locations in the solar system with which to better constrain the computer models.

When abiogenesis models can be tested in this way, in silico, I expect legitimate skepticism about abiogenesis having occurred naturally, not artificially, will vanish.

It’s also possible that such modeling will show that RNA and/or DNA cannot reasonably have appeared on Earth other than via artificial introduction or manufacturing. I don’t think this will be the case, but I arrive at this conclusion intuitively, from observing the history of science, which has thus far found only natural explanations for phenomena once thought to be the result of hidden intelligent agents. Though it’s exciting to think this trend might break, and the idea makes for thought-provoking and entertaining speculative fiction, my guess is the trend will continue, and the “God of the gaps” will continue to be driven into ever smaller gaps in our scientific knowledge.

(I'll have to learn how to make a link in these responses.)

You do it like this: [url=http://paulandellen.com/essays/essay120.htm]Doubts about Evolution[/url].

For documentation of the markup this forum allows, see this page. You can display this page by clicking the “?” button that appears in the upper right of the text entry box when starting or replying to a thread.

#16 Qdogsman

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 02:57 PM

Thank you, Buffy, for your thoughtful attention and for jumping right back in.

There are two key issues here that you will need to deal with:
• You have restricted the meaning of "symbolism", such that anything that can be perceived as having any sort of mapping has a well-defined symbolic meaning.
• You have limited the definition of "mapping" in the sense of it having to be a priori-defined mapping, that is, you assume it is designed by a mind.

You are exactly right; this is the correct starting point. We (I) need to define terms. And, we are already past the starting point.

My formal background is in mathematics, so I am uncomfortable starting a discussion without first clearly defining terms. And, in mathematics, there are no magic definitions. That is, there are no words (any longer) which we assume have been given to us somehow with absolute and correct definitions. (That notion was prevalent from at least the time of Pythagoras down to the dawn of the 20th century, when it was finally abandoned by mathematicians.)

So in mathematics, each mathematician is completely free to define any term to mean anything he/she wants as long as the definition is clearly spelled out. It isn't completely free, however, in the sense that if the mathematician chooses to make a new and different definition for a term that has been accepted as a standard, then it makes the reading of the work difficult and confusing. So they try to avoid that.

In my case, I chose to make a definition of 'digital' which I have learned is different from the standard, or at least widely accepted, definition. So it is no problem for me to acknowledge my bad choice and move to a different word.

Now the important thing is that I communicate the concept I am trying to get across. Secondarily, it will be convenient to attach a word, or words, to that concept to form a definition. That way, when my readers encounter that word, they should realize that in this particular context, that is in the material I am presenting, that word signifies what I mean when I use it. It is no different than a statement of the form, "Let L be the length of the beam." In this example nobody quibbles by complaining that someone else used the symbol 'L' for something else somewhere else.

So you have criticized my choice of the symbol 'digital' to signify the concept of a mapping from a symbol to a physical entity, and I have given that up and chosen a different symbol, viz. 'symbolism'.

Enough explanatory preamble.

You are correct that I "have restricted the meaning of "symbolism". This is in the spirit of mathematical usage as I just explained. But you are not quite correct in your statement of my definition.

I do not mean that symbolism is "anything that can be perceived as having any sort of mapping has a well-defined symbolic meaning." What I mean, and forgive me for not making this clear, is that symbolism is any mapping from a symbol to a physical entity, where 'symbol' is defined to be some specific arrangement of physical entities such that the mapping from the symbol to the physical entity (not the entity making up the symbol but the one referred to in the symbolism) constitutes meaning in some mind.

Of course this now requires the definition of 'meaning' and 'mind'. And, of course, that forces us to face the essence of the entire discussion of mind, consciousness, any putative God, and the questions related to life. So that's good; that's what we should be concerned with.

To define 'mind', (keep in mind, I get to make the definitions here because it is my concept that I am trying to communicate to you) I say it is the faculty that is able to experience what you, the reader, have at this very moment while you are reading and parsing this sentence. And of course, I mean the "mental" experience you are having trying to understand what I wrote, not the physical discomfort you may be experiencing because you happen to be sitting on a tack, although I believe that, too, requires a mind to some extent.

The last one is the tough one. What is meaning? (It is occurring to me as I compose this, that this may very well be the very essence of the whole subject.) Here's my definition of 'meaning':

Meaning is the role a symbol plays in the process of a mind processing the input it receives (usually if not wholly from the physical world) in order to take willful action (OK I should define 'free will', but for the sake of brevity I'll take that as a primitive and let you imagine what it means to you.) to increase the probability of future physical states to match expectations (expectations are, of course, mental states that again I trust you understand what I mean without further definition.)

In short, meaning is a component of understanding which allows a thinker to take deliberate action to help cause something predictable to happen. (E.g. the thinker sees a symbol, say a big red octagon emblazoned with the word 'STOP', understands this to mean bring the vehicle to a stop, and takes the deliberate action of applying the brakes. The symbol means "Stop the car!)

Next, I have not defined 'mapping', instead taking it to have the customary mathematical definition. I have not done as you said; I have not "limited the definition of "mapping" in the sense of it having to be a priori-defined mapping, that is, you assume it is designed by a mind."

If I were to limit the definition of 'mapping', I would restrict it to mappings from symbols to physical entities. Mappings from symbols to symbols, or from non-symbolic physical entities to other physical entities are not ruled out, but they do not play an interesting role in my explanation of the necessary mental role in the establishment of the genetic code. The only interesting mapping in the context of my essay is the mapping between a codon and a specific amino acid group.

I hope now I have satisfactorily dealt with your two key issues.


Symbolism in one sense is what a "mind" consciously either creates out of whole cloth, or perceives in existing physical systems, and these two meanings are not at all identical.

With respect, your definition(s) more appropriately seem to fit 'concepts' rather than 'symbolism', but since I'm doing the defining here, I'll stick with my definition above.

And my definitions focus the laser beam of attention squarely on the term 'symbol'. The important question, Is a codon a symbol?

If you accept my definitions, then, as my argument spells out, mind is necessary in order to establish the symbolism in which the codon is a symbol.

If you deny this conclusion, and maintain that a codon is not a symbol (in my sense of the term), then the three nucleotides comprising the codon are no more special than any other three nuceotides and their role and significance in the evolution (I'm talking Schrödinger evolution here, not Darwinian) of the various chemical structures in the cell is no more special than any other chemical action.

In the latter case, the genetic code is not a code after all. It is no more a code than the arrangements of the stars in the zodiac really map to bears, twins, etc. That is, the mapping between codons and amino acids, or stars to bears, are simply—what were your words?—"what a "mind" consciously either creates out of whole cloth, or perceives in existing physical systems,". The symbolism is all imaginary and has no impact or effect on any physical system. There is no genetic "code", but simply the purely physical interactions of very complex molecules, because "code" implies a mapping and mappings are purely mental constructs which don't interfere with physical or chemical processes.

But mappings are incredibly maleable: if you're familiar with the volumnous amount of work done on Bible Codes, you'll see this application of "perception of mappings" in action:

This red herring does not apply and deserves no more comment.

Mother Nature has built mechanisms that actually have no idea what they're doing.

Most true. But the question at hand is whether or not Mother Nature knew what she was doing.

So the missing piece here is really the necessity of proving that the first step is not only a "implication" but an "equivalence" to use the precise terms of logic, which you have not done and therefore does not support your conclusion that:
• therefore a mind must have created the mapping in DNA.


Um. I'm not sure what you mean by "first step" so I can't tell whether the foregoing has addressed the problem you see here or not. I'll let you be the judge and let me know in the next round.

But let's ... deal with the issue that the types of "symbolism" you have attributed to DNA, really do not require a "mind" or "intelligence" to create.

My favorite example of this is something I've spent quite a bit of time with: using neural networks to drive computer programs.

Yes, your neural nets are impressive; simple initial conditions lead to surprisingly complex results. There is an even more breathtaking example from mathematics: the Mandelbrot Set. I've heard it claimed that the M'set is the most complex structure known in reality (probably claimed by a mathematician).

But in any case, the M'set, your neural nets, molecular biology, the question we are exploring here is not how and whether such complex systems evolve once they get started, but the question of what was required in order for them to get started at all.

The Mandelbrot set requires that a series of computations be performed according to an exceedingly simple formula. Some mind was necessary to come up with that formula and to implement ways of doing the calculations.

Your neural nets run fine unattended once you configure them and apply the power. But some mind was necessary to figure out how to wire up and program the thing in the first place.

Is it totally out of the question that molecular biology also required a mind to get it started? I think we should open our minds to the possibility that this provides the most plausible explanation for the origin of life.

Thus the reason I did not address this, is precisely because it's a fairly simple physical system in terms of its *operation*. The mechanisms of tRNA are a very simple Turing machine--although only when we humans go through the step of imposing our own mapping of what it's doing onto something we're familiar with, that just so happens to have been created by a mind--but tRNA does not have any "understanding" of the coding: it follows a sequence--because it's chemical bonds cause it to--and that physical sequence has the evolved effect of constructing DNA in a way that *appears* to us to be symbol translation, but the process is just a bunch of chemical reactions going on because over time, the positive outcomes of having that combination of chemicals around make it persist and regenerate. None of these molecules floating around care what they're doing, even over generations.

Well I guess that's strike two against me. I have still failed to get you to see and focus on the correct issue. The *operation* of the system is not the issue. And whether the operation or mechanism is simple or not or resembles a Turing Machine, has no bearing. To paraphrase, none of the telegraph machines nor the electrical impulses modified by them, care what they are doing, even over the entire globe where they were active. Those devices and pulses do not have any "understanding" of the Morse Code.

The issue is whether a mind was required to establish Morse Code (which it obviously was) and whether a mind was required to establish the genetic code. You have focused on the operation of the genetic mechanisms and have ignored, or at least not commented on, the way in which the genetic codebook is stored physically, and the possible ways in which the *codebook* was established at the outset.

As a result, the notion of a "codebook" in the sense that you're using it is imposing a human mapping onto a system that really doesn't need it, doesn't understand it, and can't be shown to be "impossible" to evolve in the absence of such a "codebook."

Hmmm...I think I'm beginning to see our difficulty. You seem to think that what I refer to as the "codebook" is a construct in my mind that I am overlaying onto the chemical processes. Not at all. By 'codebook' I mean (I would quote myself if I could easily find what I said earlier but I'll try to reproduce it faithfully) the 60-some-odd sequences within DNA which when replicated into tRNA molecules produce the 60-some-odd species of tRNA molecules.

The "codebook" IS those sequences of DNA.

The related easy question is how do you explain the varieties of tRNA. Well, the easy and obvious answer is that the first one got replicated 60 or so times, with some minor (by count) changes occurring along the way.

The hard question is how those minor changes got effected into the sequences. Keep in mind that in order to get it right, the special codon near the middle of each sequence has to match (i.e. according to the assignment in the genetic code, a purely abstract conceptual thing you will find in textbooks.) the pattern of nucleotides at one end of the sequence which just happens to have the chemical structure necessary to bond with the proper (in the sense of the code assignment) amino acid group.

Getting all 60 of those right somehow in some primitive cell without a mind seems impossible to me. I would love to hear you outline some plausible mindless method.

The point here is that you need to show why it is "very difficult to explain using no mechanism but natural selection."


I hope I have finally done that.

Obviously if it were intelligently designed, it's "easier" to explain that "it works that way because someone designed it that way" (a circular argument),


You certainly are quick to haul out that "circular argument" rubber stamp. My statement was just that—an assertion, not an argument. Circularity does not apply.

But your point is well taken. Without a mind, the origin is difficult to explain. With a mind, it is easy to explain. But the elephant in the room, in the second case, is that we are now faced with explaining that mind.

I think that is a problem science should address. It is the very problem addressed by Greylorn in his book. It would be great if he could get some help from a lot of smart people to figure that puzzle out. But alas, most scientists would rather ignore that possibility and stretch and distort their mindless (that's meant to be descriptive, not pejorative) theories to explain the hard questions which they choose not to ignore. The ones they choose to ignore go unaddressed.

Now when you try to make that happen with an "intelligent designer" you have two choices: you can either front-load the design step--that is just DNA was designed and the rest happened purely due to physical processes, in which case the most interesting parts of evolution still stand as showing how much Mother Nature can do on her own, and pretty much proving that that initial step of "designing the codebook" of DNA is pretty trivial for her to do too--OR there has to be constant medling with DNA and cell structure and selection and explaining branches of life that would (a) keep a designer very busy and (b ) leave plenty of data around in terms of biology, and evolution that shows pretty clearly that there really wasn't any meddling, nor again, a need for it. Thus while you claim that a "designed" interpretation is "easier", in fact it starts to create a situation where the observable data is very hard to fit into that interpretation.


Oh I think the observable data would be very easy to fit into that interpretation. We could use the tactic you accuse us of anyway, that if there is a "God" involved, then we can imagine any scenario happening.

But you raise interesting questions that I think should be explored. For example, what hard problems could easily be explained by an interventionist mind? How about protein folding as a frequent requirement in which a little help could be used? And the question at issue, How about mental intervention in establishing the genetic code?

The problem, as I see it, is the extreme reluctance on the part of scientists to even entertain the notion of some mentality being involved in the origin and processes of life. And when they have the courage to do so, they invariably adopt the (IMHO) ludicrous "almighty" attributes for that mind. How about considering a limited mind who couldn't get it right the first time and had to fumble around with many tries over billions of years to arrive at what we see now.

David Hume came to exactly this conclusion as a possibility, but unfortunately neither he nor any of his readers took it seriously. It was meant to dismiss the notion altogether. It reminds me of Einstein covering up the implication of an expanding universe with his patched-on cosmological constant, which he later regretted.

This notion, of a limited and bumbling designer, could easily be reconciled with the fossil record to identify the pattern of trial and error, successes and failures.

This advice and hope is directed to the various physical scientists. Equally important, again IMHO, there should be a scientific effort to study the mind qua mind. This, of course, is the job of psychologists, who as yet, IMHO, have yet to discover anything whatsoever that is important in the subject of mentality. But that's another topic for another day.


you do have to do something to prove your assertion that it is "very difficult to explain using no mechanism but natural selection."


I hope I have given you at least a glimpse of my reasoning on this issue.

Creator, your biological units are inefficient,

Most true.

I will be gone for a few days, so forgive my delay in responding until I get back. Also please forgive the typos here; I am in sort of a rush to leave.

Thanks again,

Paul

Edited by Qdogsman, 12 February 2013 - 03:30 PM.

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#17 blamski

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 05:49 PM

this is a really interesting discussion, and i wish i was half as intelligent as the main protagonists and contributors. though i have my feet firmly planted in the natural evolution camp i like to think i am open minded enough to consider any other possibility. so if we are to consider this mind / creator scenario there are definitely questions that need to be asked that are thrown up by paul's above post. these are questions relating to the origin of the mind (the perennial creator problem), the length of time this mind was experimenting, and whether there are or have been other of these minds.

if we accept that this mind created life, and maybe the universe itself, where did it come from? we have to consider the idea that at some point there is an absolute origin. something had to spontaneously or randomly appear. if the fossil record shows a pattern of trial and error does it also show the point at which the mind stopped experimenting? or is it still experimenting? and if so, how can we sense it? as the search for exoplanets is revealing (or at least strongly suggesting) that planetary systems are the norm and not a rarity, we can extrapolate that there must be a huge number of rocky planets in stars' habitable zones and therefore conducive to life. might the same mind that made life on earth also have made life on those planets? or are there more of them? or did the one mind randomly choose planet earth?
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