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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Abiogenesis (Page 3)

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Author Topic: Abiogenesis
fugu13
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Btw, note that I haven't called the idea that somebody intelligently designed ridiculous or irrational.

I've just pointed out there are far, far more plausible alternatives (even if one prefers extraterrestrial origin).

As for some of your questions:

quote:
4. Does the fundamental core of life on earth (the genetic code and the machinery that translates it) have features that would in other circumstance be highly suggestive of intelligent action?
No. To someone who hadn't seen how there can spontaneously arise simple reproducing molecules that can add new features, or who hadn't known that the ribosome is actually an evolved structure which we have information on the descent of (including a few examples of more primitive ribosome-like mechanisms), maybe. Early life quite possibly involved a spontaneously arising (as we know is possible) self-replicating molecule, that became more and more complex as it added bits. Eventually, it probably became possible for it to create molecules that "described" different molecules it could make. From there, we're off to the races. Of course, to be sure how someone would react to the question in a least-biased fashion, we'll have to raise a group of children having no knowledge of genetics (or creation stories?), educate them heavily on science (without touching on genetics), then provide them when they are excellent scientists with the bulk of evidence we have on the matter.

A minor aside:

quote:
2. If not, do you find it plausible that there were intelligent beings somewhere in the Universe before the first micro-organisms appeared on earth?
While the calculations are all guesswork, last I heard was people were thinking "not very likely". The first self-reproducing organic molecules appeared on earth a very, very long time ago -- a substantial chunk of the life of the universe. And they were almost certainly a very improbable occurrence and took a long time to happen; there's little disputing that. But once you multiply anything times billions of years and billions of planets, even long odds become much, much more possible. Heck, we know on earth it took something like 4.5 billion years to get from prokaryotes to humans (not even taking into account what were possibly several billion years with pre-prokaryotes). Since you're assuming intelligent design, we'd need to subtract another 4.5 billion years, meaning life would need to form on that planet when the universe was less than five billion years old -- that's a lot less time for a bubbling broth to work, whereas working with life arising on earth, that's nearly ten billion years of seething to produce something.
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fugu13
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Btw, what do you mean by further investigation? What's a single positive prediction of the theory as you've described it? Without a positive prediction, how can it be investigated?
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The Rabbit
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quote:
even if one prefers extraterrestrial origin
As I noted before, extraterrestrial orgin is not really an alternative. Even if life originated somewhere besides earth, it had to form from non-liviing chemicals somehow. Extra-terrestrial origin would explain why we haven't found any evidence for the RNA world on this planet, but frankly I find the alternative explanations more plausible. Extra-terrestrial origin also increases the amount of time available for abiogenesis and provides a wider range of possible environments but ultimately, that just makes it impossible to estimate the probability.
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Orincoro
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We're in the same time zone, so it doesn't bother me personally.

quote:

1. Do you find the idea that there are intelligent beings other than humans in the Universe generally ridiculous? If so, please explain why?

No.

quote:
2. If not, do you find it plausible that there were intelligent beings somewhere in the Universe before the first micro-organisms appeared on earth?
Plausible yes. Likely? Difficult to say. I subscribe to the weak anthropic principle- we do have only very pale knowledge of the exact conditions of the rest of the universe at that time, and we don't know enough about how long life normally takes to develop into intelligent life, or how long it takes to occur in the first place. It seems plausible given what we know now, but given new evidence that strongly suggested abiogenesis was extremely rare, or was not even the proximate cause of life on Earth, that might change. Certainly it is possible.

quote:
3. If you were an archeologist on a deep space science mission tasked with looking for signs of ancient intelligent beings, what would you look for? What type of things would you consider highly suggestive of intelligent action?
Do you mean this in terms of an extinct race, or a living race? I would look for things which we associate with our own existence, and which we project will be possible for us to accomplish in the future. Things supportive of intelligent action are things that have been built or preserved artificially, and attempts to communicate.

quote:
4. Does the fundamental core of life on earth (the genetic code and the machinery that translates it) have features that would in other circumstance be highly suggestive of intelligent action?

Of course, if you had reason to believe that someone built it- for instance if you encountered a civilization that had the technology to design biological life. We are better aware of the likelihood of a book writing itself, than we are of the likelihood of abiogenesis. We can say with certainty- a planet does not spawn obviously intelligent ruins. We *cannot* say that a planet does not spawn life. We are unsure of how that might happen, whereas we know where books come from.

quote:
5. If its plausible that intelligent life existed in the Universe hundreds of billions of years ago, shouldn't we be investigating any thing that might reasonably be evidence of that early intelligence?
It is not plausible that intelligent life existed then because the Universe did not exist then. The universe as far as we can tell is about 13.75 billion years old. That severely limits the time frame in which anything intelligent may have come to be before us.

And as far as I know, attempting to investigate the origin of life *is* attempting to investigate the possibility of an early intelligence, inasfar as it is connected with the origin of life on Earth. If we discover that life can definitely happen without intelligent help, then we haven't disproved the possibility of another intelligence, but we will *never* be able to prove that that intelligence was there, at least not that way. It will either be- "we don't know how it happened" or "It happened naturally, and this is how:" Until we range among the stars and collect a lot more knowledge about life than we have, the idea of an intelligent designer is moot to us. It does not matter.

quote:
6. Is there a reason, beyond prejudice against anything that might be construed as religion, why this hypothesis does not deserve further investigation?
The hypothesis *does* deserve further investigation. Further investigation is, as far as I am aware, still going on all the time. I'm confident that eventually the hypothesis will simply be falsified, and the religious zealots will have to pick some other gap to fill with their deity. Maybe they will pick up on the irreducible complexity of the hydrogen atom, the electron, the quark, who cares?
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fugu13
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quote:
As I noted before, extraterrestrial orgin is not really an alternative. Even if life originated somewhere besides earth, it had to form from non-liviing chemicals somehow.
What?

It is other people who noted the extra-terrestrial origin problem, and you responded that you didn't mean God. So you meant some other sort of intelligent life that was never created and has always existed?

And extra-terrestrial origin (on another planet) hardly increases the time for abiogenesis. See my math before (though I did forget to take the age of the earth into account). Now, extra-terrestrial origin in deep space does significantly increase the time . . . but it also significantly decreases how nice the conditions are.

I don't suppose you could copy and paste your definition of "evidence" from before? I'm finding it hard to see how "we haven't found any evidence for the RNA world on this planet" bears out with any reasonable definition of evidence. We certainly haven't provided it or anywhere close, but that's not the standard we're talking about.

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natural_mystic
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Rabbit, I'm interested to hear you address the objection several people brought up about how you used Occam's Razor. Is a designer really the simplest, most straightforward explanation for anything? What about accounting for the origin of the designer?

We can't rule out a designer, but it seems more reasonable to me to assume that despite our difficulty imagining spontaneous abiogenesis, it could definitely have happened.

quote:
We have yet to find any simpler self reproducing systems on this planet nor any evidence that any have ever existed.
Early evolution into more recognizable systems could have been isolated to one location we haven't yet examined (or that was obliterated).

Abiogenesis of systems that can replicate and evolve into the more complex systems we have evidence of could be so incredibly unlikely and rare that you might see it happen only on one in a billion planets. On those planets, the series of events might be so unlikely that you might see it only once or twice in billions of years, in one place. The anthropic principle means such extreme unlikeliness can't rule out that such events did in fact happen - although the odds against them could certainly explain why we aren't seeing evidence of it in the mere decades we've had the tools to look, and the tiny fraction of one planet that we've examined.

Quoting this as I don't think it was responded to.
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Xavier
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quote:
What people seem to be missing is that "Intelligent Designer" in this case could have been any intelligent being with no greater intelligence than we can observe in human beings, access to powerful computers and a really good synthetic organic chemistry lab.
If that intelligent being is a living organism, you've simply moved the question back a step. If that intelligent being is not a living organism, what is it then?
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MightyCow
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Crickets chirp a number of times per minute in direct relationship to the air temperature. Bees make hexagonal hives (accidentally), animals like snails and nautillus make complex shells that follow mathematical formula.

Someone who looked at these "messages", or "construction" might see evidence for intelligence, but those are all remarkably unintelligent animals.

Perhaps our search for an intelligent designer is just ego and anthropomorphism. WE make complex designs, so we want other complex designs to require a creator even more intelligent.

If we admit that things might just exist such that complexity and uniformity can arise naturally, without intelligence, then we have to confront the fact that we are just overly complex snails with a few more tricks.

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Black Fox
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It all depends on the view you want to take. There are certainly more than a number of religions that would see the natural complexity in the world to be the basis of a religion.

However, I certainly have to agree with Mightycow. Simply stated: anthropomorphism = bad. At least in my book. I would say that your take on the idea of an "intelligent" designer simply being from ego might be a little short sighted. For one, you completely remove humanity from the natural processes around it. Human beings are just as much a part of the world as bees and snails.

Not only this, but I don't think an intelligent designer would have to be more intelligent than human beings, simply have different capabilities. That designer did not have to plan out the shell of the snail, simply set the basic natural processes into place to have the snail eventually pop up in the first place.

Just to make things clear, I do not ascribe to the idea that there is some all powerful man up in the sky with white hair that functions in the same manner that we do. That simply meaning that this "force" does not have to ascribe to qualities held by people. Such as good and evil or having certain "purposes."

Did something ( force, entity, etc.) have to occur or exist to make things as they are now, certainly. If you want to call that god, an intelligent designer, etc. go ahead. Just don't push that thought into areas it may not belong.

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King of Men
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quote:
That designer did not have to plan out the shell of the snail, simply set the basic natural processes into place to have the snail eventually pop up in the first place.
That would take more brainpower than just designing the shell in the first place! Besides which, the ID hypothesis is, precisely, that the shell cannot arise from simple natural processes, but requires intelligent intervention. A deistic creator which only sets up the initial conditions is not an intelligent designer in the sense intended here.
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IanO
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quote:
Crickets chirp a number of times per minute in direct relationship to the air temperature. Bees make hexagonal hives (accidentally), animals like snails and nautillus make complex shells that follow mathematical formula.
It can be (IMO successfully argued) there is a profound difference between patterns and specifically complex patterns.

I'm paraphrasing from Paul Davies' The Fifth Miracle. (FYI, Davies, both in that book and Cosmic Jackpot argues that despite the apparent complexity and fine-tuning, there is still a natural materialistic explanation for our universe.)

Davies describes specified complexity in terms of "Kolmogorov complexity" or algorithmic information theory and the idea of “compressability”.

"aaaaaaaa" is a specified information, but the algorithm to generate the pattern is simple (‘write “a”-repeat’). Moreover, it contains no semantic meaning, external to itself. This string has low information content.

"xydghswiwehdskghas" is a specified information pattern, but the algorithm to generate it is as complex as the information it describes (i.e: the string generated has to be explicitly defined in the algorithm. That is, there is no known algorithm that would generate that pattern that is simpler than simply saying 'write "xydghswiwehdskghas"’ In other words, algorithmically, it is not compressible.) This has high informational complexity, but it cannot be seen whether its content has any semantic meaning. (I will tell you it most likely does not since I wrote it by throwing my fingers down in a random sequence.)

"I have a cat named fluffy" is specified information. It has a high level complexity because algorithmically there is no way to generate this string of characters more simply than saying 'write "I have a cat named fluffy"’. And it conforms to written English- its syntax, its structure, and its meaning. This information is specified complexity with semantic meaning. It is incompressible and has meaning.

Patterns, then, like crickets chirping in response to temperature changes or hexagonal hives, while highly specific, aren't complex because the algorithm to create them are described rather simply (and usually conform to the underlying mathematical atomic structures, as we see in the case of hexagonal snow-flakes, for example, being fractally complex, but based on a simple pattern. I believe this can be studied further using automata, if I remember correctly in Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science")

(good article on what specified complexity means here)

The question then comes down to this (and this is where the lines are drawn in different cases): Where does the underlying information content we see in biological systems (their actual physical structure- akin to an actual car engine, for example), and even more important, the actual, literal language instructions (because DNA conforms to every definition of ‘language’) for those objects (the exact specifications and blueprints of that engine and all its parts) come from?

Moreover, as software engineering and information theory have grown, the entire mechanism of DNA encoding, transcription, and translation can literally be viewed through that paradigm. There is the apparent parity checking enabled by the usage of the 4 specific nitrogenous bases in DNA. The regulatory nature of “junk-dna” (here, here and here., the role of histones in epigenetic coding (here), and the ability for DNA to code for multiple proteins, depending on how the mRNA is spliced together after it leaves the nucleus (here and here- which would be the equivalent of taking the sequence “splendid” and extracting “spend”, “lend”, “did”, “lid”, “pen”, “led” and so on.

Can information and information regulation be injected into systems through natural processes (like natural selection) or does it take a conscious designer or mind?

It is this question, and the paradigms I mentioned in my previous post through which one wants to (or subconsciously needs to) views it that can lead to two entirely different ideas on the origin of life. “Blindingly obvious engineering” or “unexplained (as of yet) natural process to be discovered using the profoundly successful scientific method”?

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fugu13
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You should be aware that the proponents of specified complexity are, to put it mildly, full of bunk. Every promulgated definition of special complexity has been found to be entirely compatible with evolutionary theory (and abiogenesis, for that matter). Whenever someone points that out, proponents just say "well, that isn't the real definition!" and start using a different one.

Taking identity with kolmogorov complexity as the definition, let some salt water evaporate. Vastly increased complexity, instantaneously (edit: on geological timescales)! No intelligence to speak of.

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IanO
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This is not my area, but wouldn't the algorithmic compressibility (if that's a term) indicate low information content? The equivalent of "ABCDE-EDCBA-ABCDE....". Looks complex, algorithmically easy to express? That's how I understood it.
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IanO
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To put it another way, how would one take a string representing coin tosses, or scratches on a cave wall or a binary message received by SETI and determine the likelihood of it's being generated through natural processes? Keep in mind that with the SETI message, one cannot query back and forth to determine sentience. How could one determine the ultimate source? Could one even do that?
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Orincoro
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Ian0, it is unlikely that when and if we receive a powerful and intelligible ET message, we will spent much time debating about whether it was formed "naturally" (keeping in mind, life being natural, any message of any sort is also natural). The likelihood of a strong clear and apparently intelligent message with real content being generated randomly is low enough to dismiss out of hand. We are theorizing about the universe in total, where almost anything can probably happen- but we don't actually have to deal with all of that personally. Most of what happens to us can reasonably be assumed to be ordinary, even if the fact of our existence may or may not be.
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fugu13
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If you allow for that sort of "algorithm", the life on earth is algorithmically very easy to express: take a few billion planets with rich soupy oceans, stir, and wait a few billion years.

Or, to put it another way, I can make the genome of a bacteria much more complex in a short period of time (months, maybe years or a few decades, and most of that will be due to the difficulty of spotting the situation) with a reasonable supply of nutrient, adverse conditions, and a bit or radiation. Simple algorithm, but the results can look incredibly complex -- you'll see before your very eyes as new, useful genes appear, that did not exist before in the bacterium, and help it survive.

In other words, you're looking at the end product and ignoring that we know a lot about the process.

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IanO
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Why not? Or rather, why shouldn't we? We receive a string of prime numbers, just like in Contact. We also have done further work on the Stability of electron orbital shells (here and more and more they appear to be described using a model based on the Zeta Function, which has to do with the number of Prime Numbers below a number n (don't even ask me to explain the model Mabye KoM can do it.) Thus, we have the mathematically abstract concept of prime numbers (which would qualify as an semantic expression in a language) show up in a (potentially) physically natural process (you know what I meant). Why WOULDN'T we try to check and see if the signal was a result of that? And in the end, would there be a way to know?
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IanO
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I presume the use of the term algorithm is to express the informational content of the data string (messages, DNA code, coin flips, whatever), not as a recipe to make an end product.
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fugu13
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Now you're getting circular. Or are you defining informational content in any way other than kolmogorov complexity? If you are, please provide the definition.

And you're the one who promulgated the definition for the incredibly complicated and hard to accurately describe salt crystals. Was I misunderstanding? If so, how were you proposing to algorithmically describe them?

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IanO
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As I said, this isn't my field. I was merely explaining an idea presented by Davies (a proponent of the materialistic origin of the universe and life). He specifically mentioned the patterns of bubbles emanating from the bottom of a pot of boiling water, as well as that of crystals. He used those as examples of complexity who's algorithms of describing their geometric structure are relatively simple. His point was to contrast that with the specified complexity he saw in DNA, stating that explaining the derivation of such informational content (or the injection of such content) into the system had to be explain. As I said, I was paraphrasing and don't have the book with me now, so don't judge the idea based on what I remember of it. I had hoped you had heard those ideas before and knew where I was going with it.

That being said, I think that there is a difference between repetitive geometric complexity based on simple rules (automata) and those encoding much more complex information (like this sentence.) Maybe that's simply a difference of scale, but I don't think so. The spherical shape of a bubble of soap is specified and has a level of complexity, but the equation describing that shape (and it's physical formation- most likely derived from that of the unit sphere, taking into account molecular density, surface tenstion, etc...not sure how it would look) would appear to be much less complex than to describe that of one of the structures in complex 1 of the mitochondrial pump, and the code to create it.

At least, that's how I understood the argument of specified complexity he was making, FWIW.

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scifibum
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quote:
That being said, I think that there is a difference between repetitive geometric complexity based on simple rules (automata) and those encoding much more complex information (like this sentence.)
But a pattern of salt crystals is more complex than a given sentence. Sentences carry meaning, but that's subjective; the complexity is in the subjective interpretation of the symbols. What the sentence "encodes" can be reduced to a few bytes.

There is a difference between a pattern that encodes meaning and one that isn't meaningful, but it's not one of complexity.

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IanO
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Ok, I can see how you can argue that. Need to think about it more...
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fugu13
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As far as I can tell, Davies' thoughts on the matter at best rise to the level of vague philosophical ruminations.

Note that my algorithm for making life, while it could use a bit of additional specification, isn't actually very complex, and is just as much an algorithm as the ones for making crystals. You'd need reasonable descriptions of how to make solar systems (not that bad). In fact, it can all be boiled down to "release at extremely high energy a large quantity of matter/energy outward from a single point, then wait many billions of years". Except a few calculations to assume the distribution of matter is reasonable, natural laws take over from there.

If you want to argue as a philosophical idea that those natural laws working to do all that we see is the work of something you call God, feel free. That's a reasonable philosophical position, I think. But it isn't science.

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IanO
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and you will note that I never claimed it was. From the beginning, my posts on the subject were designed to show the paradigms thru which both sides acheived the world view- something many don't usually see. The result is the demonization of those who don't see what we see as obvious.
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MightyCow
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The "cell phone on the beach" argument for ID is simply begging the question. If you saw a spider web or bird's nest or termite mound, you might think an intelligent creature made those, but they were made by fairly unintelligent animals. A trap door spider makes a fairly complex home. A beaver's dam is a substantial construction. Clearly, unintelligent things can make complex structures.

We are simply more complex animals with larger brains, so we are able toco strux more complex beaver dams and spider webs.

So to use our constructions (a cell phone) as an example of something that only an intelligent being can make is just ego saying that our constructions are better than a bird's nest by some arbitrary value.

Several types of animals, leafcutter ants for example, construct ecosystems for their own survival, which can be viewed as a macro version of a cell. It's just different complexities of programming.

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Black Fox
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I have to agree with you then Mighty Cow, an intelligent designer that in detail designed every aspect of the world seems extremely unlikely. For one this designer is really bad at his job.

That and King of Men it wouldn't really take more brainpower to set a series of events into motion. Unless of course you were supposed to know exactly what would occur at the end or at any one point of those same events put into motion. To put it in layman's terms, any idiot can press a button.

Mighty Cow: Aren't you being a bit subjective by saying that a trapdoor spider or a beaver are unintelligent beings, or even fairly unintelligent? That and is there not a difference between the constructs that we build and those that a trapdoor spider make? That being the fact that we proactively come up with new ways to build complex structures as well as entirely new classes of complex structures. If we say that only an intelligent,in so much to have intelligence of some kind, being could build a bird's nest is it really egoistic to say that only an intelligent being of some kind could make a cell phone? Stating that the birds we are in contact with today are incapable of making cellphones also does not come across as arbitrary or egoistic, simply more of a good observation.

Of course you could always simply make the argument that in many ways we are not really "intelligent" in the manner you are suggesting. We are constrained by the information collected by our senses and the relationships that we observe in the world. Human knowledge is really no more than a extrapolation of data from the real world and applying it for survival. In the end all we are doing is reacting in the manner afforded us by our construction.

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Blayne Bradley
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Rabit have you ever heard of the Fermi paradox?
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King of Men
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quote:
That and King of Men it wouldn't really take more brainpower to set a series of events into motion. Unless of course you were supposed to know exactly what would occur at the end or at any one point of those same events put into motion. To put it in layman's terms, any idiot can press a button.
Well, in that case I don't see how you can call it intelligent design. "Idiot design"? Unless the designer knows that the snail's shell will be the endpoint, it just isn't meaningful to say that it did any 'design', whether it pushed a button or not. Can you articulate how this theory is any different from "it happened by blind natural forces", apart from your assertion that something pushed a button at some point? If this is really your opinion, it looks to me like you're an atheist and haven't realised it yet. Congratulations, you can sleep in this Sunday.
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Black Fox
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I really was not trying to prove or argue for intelligent design. I certainly am not a fan, if you read what I wrote above I believe it is clear enough.

That and I am not an atheist. I just tend to see a great deal of ambiguity within language. You say god, he says natural forces, some other guy says it is the great soul force, and some person calls it a Allah. From my standpoint what is important about religion is to humble yourself with the fact that you are not all important and neither is our species.

I had a professor once that described the problem that many people have with scientific explanations. You are standing by a river and look across and notice a woman on the other side. You glance to the left and then back and all of a sudden the woman is right in front of you. You turn to your friend and ask how on earth that woman seemingly teleported across the river. He says no problem, she got out of her car, walked down along the riverbed, and then she was on the other side.

Of course this description really doesn't go into the depth that you want. You ask for a detailed description. So he tells you that she woke up this morning at 5:40 AM, ate oatmeal for breakfast, etc. and then was on the other side of the river. I think you see the trend. Science does an amazing job at explaining all the details about creation, except how something could simply just be. In the end it all takes a certain amount of faith in things, some have a colorful faith while some have theirs grounded in reason.

That and I have problems even believing that if, and it is a realllly big if, there is an all powerful god creator I don't see how he could be intelligent. Not in the sense that people are "intelligent," which would be a big reason to not use the term to describe an all powerful creator. Technically speaking this all powerful entity should have access to all knowledge, period. You name the time, the event, this thing has the answer. This being would have an understanding of causality that is staggering, to the point that it would not need to attempt and comprehend things, to problem solve, be creative etc. Many of the attributes that we have a habit of attributing to intelligence. It would simply "know" things to a point that would be silly, and classify it more as a machine to us than a living entity. Perhaps a telling adjective would be wise.

Anyhow, even the machine creator of insane knowledge has the same problem that science has, how did it come to be from nothing. In the end you come to same point, the world simply exists.

That and I have to work Sunday so no sleeping in, but don't worry on my typical Sunday mornings I tend to read. Next time I get that opportunity I will think of you Kom : )

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Bob the Lawyer
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quote:
Unfortunately, I simply don't have the time to respond to everything I'd like to in this thread. I'm afraid that too much biochemistry/molecular biology is required to really understand my reasoning and I just don't have the time to explain it all.
Gosh. If only someone here had ever studied biochemistry. Or worked as a biochemist. Or regularly designed and performed experiments that would fall under the umbrella of "biochemistry". Maybe such a person could follow your reasoning.

If only such a person were real.

If only.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Unfortunately, I simply don't have the time to respond to everything I'd like to in this thread. I'm afraid that too much biochemistry/molecular biology is required to really understand my reasoning and I just don't have the time to explain it all.

I accept your concession. Now that you have admitted you have no interest in defending your argument, can you tell us, is it because you have so little respect for us, or because you have such little respect for science?
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Samprimary
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She hasn't admitted she has no interest in defending her argument, she's saying she doesn't think she has the time.

While I think she's completely wrong about abiogenesis in this thread (to a level I find surprising and disappointing for someone educated in her fields, nor am I pleased to see her utilizing the tactics she has) this doesn't comment towards her having 'such little respect' for us or science or whatever.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
The "cell phone on the beach" argument for ID is simply begging the question.

I know that it was used as a lame hit-and-run but I am sure most everyone here understands how worthless the watchmaker argument is in the creationism debate at this juncture.

I will also reiterate for everyone in bold.


INTELLIGENT DESIGN = NOT SCIENCE

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fugu13
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I'm not annoyed by not having time, but I am annoyed about the "mysterious hidden arguments I do not choose to bring out, that I haven't brought up before, and rely on too much knowledge in a field I've made numerous mistakes about in this thread" approach.
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Samprimary
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No yeah no argument here, that's pretty bogus! And also something I am disappointed to see from her! I'm just commenting to orincoro's ... um, take on it.
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IanO
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quote:
I accept your concession. Now that you have admitted you have no interest in defending your argument, can you tell us, is it because you have so little respect for us, or because you have such little respect for science?
You know, there's no reason to sound like a tool about it.

Samprimary and fugu made the same points without doing so.

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The Rabbit
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Sorry I simply haven't had time for this discussion for several days. I am planning a response, when I have time for more than a one liner.

For now, Samprimary, shouting and insulting people are not part of the rationality. The question I raised was whether or not there was or could be a scientific approach to studying whether the genetic code was intelligently designed. I don't care how many time you type it in bold letters, shouting doesn't make it true.

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Samprimary
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quote:
For now, Samprimary, shouting and insulting people are not part of the rationality.
Then it is a pretty good thing that I am not shouting you down or insulting you (Unless you count my noting disapproval and disappointment with how you are making very clear and basic mistakes in this subject and resorting to some rather fallacious arguments; if, by your standard, that counts as insulting you, then yes, I am insulting you with good reason).

If you want to pare down my contribution to this discussion to that, then you need to learn how to be a lot less fragile in response to valid criticisms.

quote:
I don't care how many time you type it in bold letters, shouting doesn't make it true.
Also an illusory proposal. Typing it in bold letters doesn't make it true. Typing it in bold letters helps make sure I put a prominent emphasis on one of the crux points of this discussion. "Shouting" that ID is not science does not make it true. Things like this do:

quote:
The terms used in design theory are not defined. "Design", in design theory, has nothing to do with "design" as it is normally understood. Design is defined in terms of an agent purposely arranging something, but such a concept appears nowhere in the process of distinguishing design in the sense of "intelligent design." Dembski defined design in terms of what it is not (known regularity and chance), making intelligent design an argument from incredulity; he never said what design is.

A solution to a problem must address the parameters of the problem, or it is just irrelevant hand waving. Any theory about design must somehow address the agent and purpose, or it is not really about design. No intelligent design theorist has ever included agent or purpose in any attempt at a scientific theory of design, and some explicitly say they cannot be included (Dembski 2002, 313). Thus, even if intelligent design theory were able to prove design, it would mean practically nothing; it would certainly say nothing whatsoever about design in the usual sense.

Irreducible complexity also fails as science because it, too, is an argument from incredulity that has nothing to do with design.

Intelligent design is subjective. Even in Dembski's mathematically intricate formulation, the specification of his specified complexity can be determined after the fact, making "specification" a subjective concept. Dembski now talks of "apparent specified complexity" versus "actual specified complexity," of which only the latter indicates design. However, it is impossible to distinguish between the two in principle (Elsberry n.d.).

Intelligent design implies results that are contrary to common sense. Spider webs apparently meet the standards of specified complexity, which implies that spiders are intelligent. One could instead claim that the complexity was designed into the spider and its abilities. But if that claim is made, one might just as well claim that the spider's designer was not intelligent but was intelligently designed, or maybe it was the spider's designer's designer that was intelligent. Thus, either spiders are intelligent, or intelligent design theory reduces to a weak Deism where all design might have entered into the universe only once at the beginning, or terms like "specified complexity" have no useful definition.

The intelligent design movement is not intended to be about science. Phillip Johnson, who spearheaded and led the movement, said in so many words that it is about religion and philosophy, not science (Belz 1996).
References:

Belz, Joel. 1996. Witnesses for the prosecution. World Magazine 11(28): 18. http://www.leaderu.com/pjohnson/world2.html
Dembski, William A., 2002. No Free Lunch. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Elsberry, Wesley R., n.d. What does "intelligent agency by proxy" do for the design inference? http://www.talkreason.org/articles/wre_id_proxy.cfm


quote:
Merely accounting for facts does not make a theory scientific. Saying "it's magic" can account for any fact anywhere but is as far from science as you can get. A theory has explanatory power if facts can be deduced from it. No facts have ever been deduced from ID theory. The theory is equivalent to saying, "it's magic."

Dembski's explanatory filter requires the examination of an infinite number of other hypotheses -- even unknown ones -- to accept the design hypothesis. Thus it is impossible to apply. Intelligent design remains untestable and impossible to use in practice. Dembski himself has never rigorously applied his filter (Elsberry 2002).

"Intelligent" and "design" remain effectively undefined. A theory cannot have explanatory power if it is uncertain what the theory says in the first place.
References:

Elsberry, Wesley R., 2002. Commentary on William A. Dembski's "No Free Lunch: Why specified complexity cannot be purchased without intelligence" http://www.antievolution.org/people/dembski_wa/rev_nfl_wre_bn.html]


quote:
According to the definition of design, we must determine something about the design process in order to infer design. We do this by observing the design in process or by comparing with the results of known designs. The only example of known intelligent design we have is human design. Life does not look man-made.

Nobody argues that life is not complicated. However, complexity is not the same as design. There are simple things that are designed and complex things that originate naturally. Complexity does not imply design; in fact, simplicity is a design goal in most designs.

In most cases, the inference of design is made because people cannot envision an alternative. This is simply the argument from incredulity. Historically, supernatural design has been attributed to lots of things that we now know form naturally, such as lightning, rainbows, and seasons.

Life as a whole looks very undesigned by human standards, for several reasons:

In known design, innovations that occur in one product quickly get incorporated into other, often very different, products. In eukaryotic life, innovations generally stay confined in one lineage. When the same sort of innovation occurs in different lineages (such as webs of spiders, caterpillars, and web spinners), the details of their implementation differ in the different lineages. When one traces lineages, one sees a great difference between life and design. (Eldredge has done this, comparing trilobites and cornets; Walker 2003.)

In design, form typically follows function. Some creationists expect this (Morris 1974). Yet life shows many examples of different forms with the same function (e.g., different structures making up the wings of birds, bats, insects, and pterodactyls; different organs for making webs in spiders, caterpillars, and web spinners; and at least eleven different types of insect ears), the same basic form with different functions (e.g., the same pattern of bones in a human hand, whale flipper, dog paw, and bat wing) and some structures and even entire organisms without apparent function (e.g., some vestigial organs, creatures living isolated in inaccessible caves and deep underground).

As noted above, life is complex. Design aims for simplicity.

For almost all designed objects, the manufacture of the object is separate from any function of the object itself. All living objects reproduce themselves.

Life lacks plan. There are no specifications of living structures and processes. Genes do not fully describe the phenotype of an organism. Sometimes in the absence of genes, structure results anyway. Organisms, unlike designed systems, are self-constructing in an environmental context.

Life is wasteful. Most organisms do not reproduce, and most fertilized zygotes die before growing much. A designed process would be expected to minimize this waste.

Life includes many examples of systems that are jury-rigged out of parts that were used for another purpose. These are what we would expect from evolution, not from an intelligent designer. For example:
Vertebrate eyes have a blind spot because the retinal nerves are in front of the photoreceptors.
On orchids that provide a platform for pollinating insects to land on, the stem of the flower has a half twist to move the platform to the lower side of the flower.

Life is highly variable. In almost every species, there is a spread of values for anything you care to measure. The "information" that specifies life is of very low tolerance in engineering terms. There are few standards.

Life is nasty. If life is designed, then death, disease, and decay also must be designed since they are integral parts of life. This is a standard problem of apologetics. Of course, many designed things are also nasty (think of certain weapons), but if the designer is supposed to have moral standards, then it is added support against the design hypothesis.

The process of evolution can be considered a design process, and the complexity and arrangement we see in life are much closer to what we would expect from evolution than from known examples of intelligent design. Indeed, engineers now use essentially the same processes as evolution to find solutions to problems that would be intractably complex otherwise.

Does evolution itself look designed? When you consider that some sort of adaptive mechanism would be necessary on the changing earth if life were to survive, then if life were designed, evolution or something like it would have to be designed into it.

Claiming to be able to recognize design in life implies that nonlife is different, that is, not designed. To claim that life is recognizably designed is to claim that an intelligent designer did not create the rest of the universe.

As it stands, the design claim makes no predictions, so it is unscientific and useless. It has generated no research at all.
References:

Morris, Henry M. 1985. Scientific Creationism. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pg. 70.
Walker, Gabrielle, 2003. The collector. New Scientist 179(2405) (26 July): 38-41.
Further Reading:

Aulie, Richard P., 1998. A reader's guide to Of Pandas and People http://www.nabt.org/sub/evolution/panda1.asp

Isaak, Mark, 2003. What design looks like. Reports of the National Center for Science Education 23(5-6): 25-26,31-35.

Miller, Kenneth R., n.d. Of pandas and people: A brief critique. http://www.kcfs.org/pandas.html

Pennock, Robert T., 1999. Tower of Babel. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Perakh, Mark, 2003. Unintelligent Design. Amherst, NY: Prometheus.

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:

For now, Samprimary, shouting and insulting people are not part of the rationality. The question I raised was whether or not there was or could be a scientific approach to studying whether the genetic code was intelligently designed. I don't care how many time you type it in bold letters, shouting doesn't make it true.

Rabbit: "Hay guyz, I think ID is science."

Samp, Fugu, Me: "Here are a buttload of reasons why Intelligent Design is not science Rabbit."

Rabbit: "I think it is... I don't want to explain my reasons."

Everyone: "..."

Samp: "Intelligent Design Is Not Science"

The Rabbit: "There's no need to shout, I am simply suggesting that Intelligent Design may be science."

[ROFL]

Yelling may not be helping, but I wager it's making him feel better, and it's making me feel better too.

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IanO
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[Roll Eyes]
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Orincoro
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Oh aren't we so evolved and above it all while we propound our religious beliefs under the thin and ugly veil of pseudo-science, and then play martyr when we are laughed out on our asses for the very temerity with which we attempt to poison children against reason with our insidious "theories."

Please, you can take your eyerolls and reduce them to an irreducible complexity, and snort them.

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Samprimary
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oh my god stop
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Orincoro
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Too soon?
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Orincoro
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And don't get me started on you Samp, you're still wrong about Ebert, and yes, I am dragging that into this thread.

I also have a confession to make. *I* created the universe, and designed it. But I'm not very intelligent, so the truth is that the Universe is stupidly designed. That's right, the Universe is just another piece of good old Czechnology.

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Samprimary
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I don't care what you're dragging into whatever thread about me. stop it, go take a break, come back on a day where you haven't had your puppies kicked so hard or something.
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IanO
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You might want to go back and reread all my posts...you might see that I espoused no theories at all, esp ID. More than that, you might see that I claimed ID wasn't a scientific theory because it wasn't falsifiable. Finally, you will note that my biggest point was that of mutual respect and avoidance of demonization of the other side- which is what always kills these dialogs- dialogs that I think should be had.

Because all that does is kill discussion. It makes a person tired just contemplating the issue because of all the crap that will be dragged into the issue.

Your posts are a case in point.

Lest people forget, Rabbit and her thread on climate change have been an example of scientific integrity of gcc the scientists doing the work. Yet you immediately condescendingly mischaracterize her posts as a joke ("Hay guyz, I Think ID is science!!!") when it suits you, when she brought up what to her were some valid points.

No she deserves no free pass and her points deserve being scrutinized or shot down as the case may be.

But your immediate and inaccurate smug dismissal (which I did not see in fugu or samp) bothers me. Moreover,after she's made clear she will continue this discussion but was in the middle of something at the moment, you portray her as running away.

I just want see a good discussion of all the issues. Believe it or not, people read these objectively and critically and are evaluating the arguments and points made.

(edit to fix typos because typing on a phone is error prone)

[ June 28, 2010, 09:48 PM: Message edited by: IanO ]

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Foust
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quote:
Because all that does is kill discussion. It makes a person tired just contemplating the issue because of all the crap that will be dragged into the issue.
This is a good thing. Too much time and money have been wasted on this "controversy." If hurt feelings are what it takes to end a useless, resource-draining discussion, then I'm a-ok with that.
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Orincoro
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My thought as well. Not particularly concerned that it's unpopular. If it were more popular, it might not seem worth doing.


quote:
But your immediate and inaccurate smug dismissal (which I did not see in fugu or samp) bothers me.
Smug yes, immediate yes. I am immediately smug and condescendingly to anyone foolish enough to make a mistake of such breathtaking gravity. I do not want to foster the controversy. There is no controversy. These people are wrong. These people cannot be right- and this is not from the point of view of "scientism" or whatever other cockeyed approach to reason the religious choose to take. It wrong. It is not just materially wrong, in the sense that it is an outdated idea. It is a fundamentally flawed assumption. It is calling black white, and expecting to be allowed to work within the realm of house painting. It's walking up to a dog and insisting it's a fire hydrant.

And the only defense we've seen of it here is that of passive aggression: "I won't answer because you're mean!" "I won't answer because you wouldn't understand" "Because I don't have time," "You're not being fair." It's madness.

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Black Fox
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Ad hominem attacks are never a good practice.

That and I have always felt that the argument over ID in general is not really a scientific debate, but a political one. That is as many creationists wanted a way to bring an alternative to evolution into the classroom. I can understand why certain people would want to do that, however teaching it in a science classroom is a completely different proposition.

Many people simply feel that a "materialist" view of the universe is somehow lacking. Generally those people feel that science espouses a starkly material view of the world. Personally I feel it is simply due to limitations in language and that science by the nature of its enterprise and our historical background tends to come across as very machine like to some people. The question simply ends up becoming that in a purely material world the foundations for many beliefs and practices simply fade away and many people do not want to lose that foundation.

That and conversation and discussion in good spirit is generally always a good thing. Hurt feelings rarely change peoples minds, certainly not in favor of your own view point. You may earn kudos from certain individuals from your own viewpoint, but you certainly will not bring anyone over to your own way of thinking. I personally think there are a lot of ideas that a majority of humanity hold that are dead wrong and have no basis to be called knowledge or even true belief, but I don't go around holding up a sign preaching doom downtown.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
This is a good thing. Too much time and money have been wasted on this "controversy." If hurt feelings are what it takes to end a useless, resource-draining discussion, then I'm a-ok with that.
Heh, and do you really imagine that's what happens? Outside of an Internet discussion board, that is. What actually happens out in the real world when you sneer and scorn and condescend and loathe someone's point of view is that they get angry, usually.
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