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October 22, 2013

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large amounts of specified or functional information

What is that?

What is this 'information'?
What does 'functional' mean here?
Or, is it 'specified'?
My choice?
How do you quantify it?

Despite a thorough search and evaluation, no materialistic causes or evolutionary mechanisms have demonstrated the power to produce large amounts of specified or functional information (or integrated circuitry).

Aside from the fact this is a lie, Meyer's solution to this supposed problem is to just stop looking and say God did it. Meyer's solution equals the intellectual stagnation of the human race.

"no materialistic causes or evolutionary mechanisms have demonstrated the power to produce large amounts of specified or functional information..."

Despite years of requests, not one creationist has ever -- ever -- calculated the "specified information content" of even a single nontrivial biological system. That is why the exams in Dembski's classes consist entirely of essay questions.

Meyer knows this.

Yet Meyer claims the opposite. When I was a Christian, discovering that an authority sent me out into the field of battle with a gun loaded with blanks, it infuriated me. Doesn't it infuriate you?

I have begun to read Meyer's Darwin's Doubt. The first portion is historical background to the issue, stating that Darwin's doubt was based on the lack of paleontological evidence that suggested the common ancestor component of his theory. Meyer asserted that in the ensuing years of tremendous finds in the fossil records, no transitional forms (some specious "finds") and the Cambrian explosion (all essential phyla at the Cambrian level with no fossil discoveries in the layers underneath) lent little credence to the theory. Meyer expands on the possibility of an intelligent design component in the second portion of his book. I'm still reading this section, so I withhold comment at this point.

But we are addressing the merits of the teleological argument, a universe of incredible design must hardly be the results of accidental causation. It boils down to this: if the present theory fails to adequately explain origins, it has transcended the scope of falsifiability, as it is false. Meyer understands this tenet of science, and wishes to suggest a solution. Can natural causes create designed systems? Can lack of finding examples of failed systems point to a 100% efficient natural process?

DGFischer,

'Accidental causation' is misleading if it is meant as a description of of natural selection.

Can natural causes create designed systems?

What do you mean by 'designed'?

The answer to your question depends on this.

If your what you mean by 'design' requires a designer, then your question is not a question.

RonH

AJG,

Meyer's solution equals the intellectual stagnation of the human race.
You are granting them way too much!

To speak of "Meyer's solution", assumes that there is a well-posed problem Meyer is offering a solution to.

Posing this problem could not even begin without a solid definition of 'specified or functional information'.

Until this definition is provided (and more), Meyer is not offering a solution but rather a Christian apologetic.

RonH,

>> 'Accidental causation' is misleading if it is meant as a description of of natural selection.

Actually, as I was writing these words, I was thinking of the time "when there was none." particularly the pre-biotic period of the theory. Here natural selection means nothing. Simple chemical structures of abiogenesis leading to complex DNA structures seem difficult to apprehend apart from a design concept. That's why I mused over failed systems. Such systems would lead to a "square one" resumption of trial-and-error procedures, which leads me to ask the question whether natural causes creating designed systems. The complexity of DNA, even though it involves four components (adenine and guanine linkages intertwining with cytosine and thymine), suggests design.

You've asked a good question. As I consider complexity I remember the vast discoveries of the organelles of the cell. As we find that the simple cell is not that simple (hang the nucleus in the cellular membrane awash with cytoplasm. We're talking about Golgi apparati, ribosomes, lysosomes, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticuli ...!), it is hard to consider that design is not to be considered. Or, how complicated could something be so that we cannot take it to have simply improved itself with new, untested organelles? And in "just so" fashion?

DGFischer,

That is really tough to read.

I get the feeling that when you say 'designed' you do mean to require a designer. And, so your question is not a question.

DGFischer,

So your argument is that you just can't grasp how something as complex as a cell couldn't be designed? Just because you can't understand something doesn't mean you just give up and say "God did it."

The complexity of DNA, even though it involves four components (adenine and guanine linkages intertwining with cytosine and thymine), suggests design.

Nice hypothesis. Now go get to work on putting together a testable, repeatable, falsifiable experiment to test the validity of your hypothesis. If you can't, then step aside and let the real scientists who actually do test and verify their hypotheses do their jobs.

Meyer, in Doubt, offers what he calls in the post 'mathematically rigorous arguments against the creative power of the mutation/natural selection mechanism'.

In Chapter 9, he suggests you compare the evolution of a specific protein to cracking a combination lock by trying one combination after another.

The lock has 5 dials, each with 10 possible possitions. To open it, you have to set all 5 dials to the one correct position. You'd never try because there are 10^5 or 100,000 possible combinations.

The evolutionary side of the (dis)analogy would require you to crack a typical protein - a string of 300 amino acids (AA). You'd never try even with 7 billion of your closest friends helping. Why not? Because there are 10^390 possible combinations to try. That's a 1 with 390 zeros after it.

Why do I call this a disanalogy?

1) Only one combination can open the lock. But many variants of a 300 AA protein can do the same function equally well. Any of those is a success.

2) The lock has only one correct combination. But there are many functions that can be done by some protein of 300 amino acids. The ONE protein isn't the only form of success; any protein with even a small benefit is a success for evolution.

3) All incorrect combinations totally fail to open the lock. But proteins have degrees of effectiveness. Any protein that does the job to a useful degree is a success for evolution.

4) A 5 digit combination can't open a lock with 6 or more digits. But a 300 amino acid protein can do the job 'normally' done by a longer protein (or a shorter one). Again, evolution isn't 'trying' to evolve a specific protein. Another road to success for evolution.

5) Reading Meyer, you implicitly envision one lock with someone trying each combination sequentially. Evolution 'tries' massive numbers of mutations simultaneously, multiplying its speed in proportion.

6) After every failure, the lock cracker start must start from scratch. But evolution accumulates its partial successes - some sources of which I've already pointed out. So, the thing on the 'evolution' side of the analogy is not evolution at all.

Enough. For now anyway.

This combination lock thing is a false analogy.

A disanalogy.

RonH

Read the book? Then you may notice that Meyer, to some extent, recognizes my #1 or maybe it's #2 when he talks about attempts to discover a presumed ratio between functional and non-functional proteins. It's not clear how to define such a ratio since a protein that's functional in once context will not be in another. And, any success in discovering such a ratio can't be applied to his lock analogy anyway since, as I said, the thing on the 'evolution side' isn't evolution.

AJG,

>> If you can't, then step aside and let the real scientists who actually do test and verify their hypotheses do their jobs.

My, what cultic views you have about science, as if only a handful of professional elites are capable of the scientific method. While I can respect RonH's assessments of the OP (he seems to have done his homework), you basically grant all objections to science as some form of barbarism. With such thinking, one might say science has been bombed back into ... well definitely not the Stone Age. Merely sixty years, when Lysenko was the proponent of Soviet-approved science (all other forms need not apply).

I hold more democratic views of applications of science. As a former teacher, I encouraged the scientific method, and was awarded with some thoughtful projects in numerous science fairs which I judged (if I had a dollar for each "volcano demonstration," I could at least may off my taxes ... not!). Such students need not grow up to wear the white lab coat and be an "official" scientist. Their abilities to apply scientific thinking skills is adequate in many walks.

Part of the scientific process is the fair use of skepticism. It is an outrage that those who question scientific reports (oh why does climate change come to mind?) are written off as "deniers," rather than those who practice the form of skepticism that is so fashionable in these days? This is the matter under question. There are those who view evolution as an inadequate explanation of origins. Neo-Darwinists agreed with this in the respect of classical Darwinistic "natural selection," adding mutations as a factor. If such scientists perceived a lapse in the theory then, would such an augmentation to the theory cover all objections? Complexity from randomness is one such objection.

Now deal with it in as respectful and civil a manner as you can. Kudos to RonH for doing just that.

Those 4 nucleotide molecules are merely incidental carriers of information. Each one is only a bit of information. They must be assembled/joined in the right sequence to become a coded instruction set. The instruction sets must be then be decoded/converted to another form. The new form/amino-chains must be folded correctly into various pieces of equipment. Science cannot tell us where this type of information comes from. Information does not occur by chance, random processes or by law. Even with the best intelligent, scientific efforts, we cannot reproduce the conditions required for even one cell to become assembled by mere molecular components. We must recognize that no amount of time or chance could produce the effect of just one living cell outside of a highly advanced and controlled laboratory. Scientists will never have a scientific answer for the agent caused event of creation. Just as the design came before the materials were assembled, the chicken came before the egg. Now I’m hungry. Must be time for lunch, but who’s going to pay?

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