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  • Intelligent Design

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on March 26th, 2016 (All posts by )

    Sistine_Chapel

    I believe in the evolution of life, I think there’s lots of fossil evidence for it and none for a single-point-of-time creation of mankind. I also believe in the evolution of the universe for the same reason. 14.5 billion years ago the universe came into existence as a hot plasma, from which galaxies, stars and planets condensed. How simple and straightforward is that?

    It could hardly be more complex. Starting with the universe, no one can explain from where the universe came or into what it is expanding. In other words, we can say “The following things have happened and here’s the evidence”. And that’s fine, I accept the evolutionary description. What’s missing is how a universe of material was born from a point in nowhere. No one wants to talk about that and will cry “No fair!” if you try to discuss it. It is unanswerable, apparently. How does one discuss what happened or even what existed in a time before time existed? And no one wants to think about the consequences of that violating every principle of what we call science and physics. It’s too uncomfortable to confront.

    Biologists will tell you life is easy to create. It seems to have existed on Earth within a few hundred million years of its formation. Provide a suitable habitat that’s warm and stable, wet with water or suitable liquid, add energy and a few raw materials like carbon and hydrogen, and bingo! you get life. We’ve been trying that for 50 years and can’t get that experiment to work. We get complex chemicals forming similar to the ones we see in life forms, but nothing that’s alive.

    Something fundamental bothers me about all this. Why? There’s no answer to that question. It’s the question we seem to be asking from the moment we’re born, children ask it endlessly. Why should a universe pop into existence out of nothing? Why should life exist in it? What is the purpose of either? For all of our ability to describe what happened, we cannot answer the why of it. How could something like life come into existence from inanimate matter unless it was designed to do so? Carl Sagan famously quipped, “If you want to make an apple pie, first you must create the universe.” That’s very profound in its way. The simplest things, like a pie, require the inexplicable to have occurred, and on a scale beyond human comprehension.

    In the end, it seems, I have no answers, only questions. But I reject the notion that all of this is meaningless. A universe does not exist for no reason. Life does not exist for nothing. It all exists for us to learn, to experience it. It’s where our souls grow up. It’s where our spirit evolves. That’s what I think.

     

     

    54 Responses to “Intelligent Design”

    1. PenGun Says:

      This is well explained here:

      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcUY9vudNKBMxm0HSZCDU7rMAWOt7zLgp

      Now I have trouble staying on the same page with Ed but it’s worth trying. ;)

      Look at it this way. As a subroutine in a universe some 14 billion years old, which created not only it’s self but also the space and time, for it’s self to exist in, I have no chance of even slightly understanding something so far beyond any possible human conception, as a subroutine, that it created. When my subroutine ends, is reincorporated, I hope for a brief moment of understanding.

      Don’t worry, be happy!

    2. Mike K Says:

      I have no problem with the concept if Intelligent Design although I am agnostic.

      I quit Ricochet because of a nasty series of comments after I commented that I thought it important that doctors, especially now, believe in Evolution. I added that I would not write a letter of recommendation for a student applying to medical c]school who did not believe in Evolution.

      What followed was interesting in a repulsive sort of way. Typical was comments that belittled my own career and stated that doctors who believed in creation were superior.

      Medicine is so rapidly becoming genetic above all else that I am again trying to learn genetics although it is well known about old dogs and new tricks.

    3. Mr Black Says:

      It seems to be the common human weakness to invent ghosts to fill the gaps in our understanding. I’m perfectly happy to say that I don’t know and that I may never know, and that’s fine.

    4. veryretired Says:

      I remember discussing evolution, and dna, genetics, etc., in my sophomore year in high school at a very good Catholic prep school that took me in on scholarship. No one, Priest included, had any problem with it in any way, and my Biology professor, who taught from a college text book, said it was the only sensible explanation for a system that operated over such an enormous time scale.

      So many people seem upset about things they can’t explain, or that seem to be cosmic level mysteries. It appears that making up explanations for the unexplained is a genetic adaptation to having the mental equipment to begin asking questions about one’s life and surroundings, which is pretty much a working definition of consciousness.

      Everywhere we look as we explore the universe, both on the micro and macro scales, we encounter phenomena that confound our previous understanding, or present a myriad of questions about what might be happening, and how it fits into everything else we think we know.

      The need for an answer, even one that cannot ever be tested, or falsified by experiment, is a fear reflex from our most primitive beginnings, when we knew very little, and desperately needed some kind of reassurance that the universe was not as cold and indifferent as it seemed to be in everyday life.

      One of the main reasons empirical science and rational inquiry has transformed our lives, while being attacked relentlessly from both the spiritualist and materialist sides, is that empiricism deals with the actual formations of facts that, together, construct our reality on this earth, in this universe.

      One of the reasons that the irrational and non-realistic dreams of various theoreticians have never succeeded in lifting human existence beyond a bare subsistence level is that they are disconnected from the reality we experience every minute of every day, and, indeed, proudly proclaim that disassociation as one of their primary virtues.

      I have yet to find an idea that is completely divorced from reality which I would consider a valid guide to life on this earth.

    5. TangoMan Says:

      Not all questions have answers.
      Some questions have answers but we don’t know the answer yet.
      Some questions have answers but the answers are beyond the ability of humans to understand.

      When confronted with a question we can’t answer the fact that we can’t answer the question shouldn’t imply that a god is responsible.

      If a young child can die in a house fire and there is no meaning to her death, then why should we infer that existence must have meaning or that the universe must have purpose?

    6. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Mike K: “I thought it important that doctors, especially now, believe in Evolution.”

      Does that mean they must believe that the theory of evolution is a sufficient explanation of the entire history of life on earth solely in terms of stochastic processes? By this I mean the explanatory schema advanced by writers such as Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, and Sam Harris?

      Or, is a more modest scheme sufficient?

    7. TangoMan Says:

      Does that mean they must believe that the theory of evolution is a sufficient explanation of the entire history of life on earth solely in terms of stochastic processes? By this I mean the explanatory schema advanced by writers such as Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, and Sam Harris?

      Physicians are “engineers/mechanics for the human body” they’re not scientists, so they simply have to know how to use the tools, they don’t need to understand the why of it all.

    8. Robert Schwartz Says:

      An amplification for Mike: the theory of evolution, may be a scientific theory; Or it may be a pillar of the metaphysical system expounded by Dawkins, Coyne, and Harris.

      That metaphysical system is an Epicureanism that uses modern scientific vocabulary to replace the necessarily vague cosmology of the ancients. Sadly, it drops all of the charming features of its ancient progenitor, and I find it narrow minded, dogmatic, and ultimately stultifying and depressive.

      The theory of evolution fits easily into this framework, because the ancients had a theory of the mutability of living things in their metaphysics. But, scientific theories are far too narrow to either prove or disprove metaphysical systems.

      If you want to upset a modern Epicurean, tell him that the Theory of General Relativity, so grandly demonstrated by the recent observation of gravitational waves, proves that the world was created at a single moment ex nihilo, just like many Christian theologians have claimed since antiquity. They will sputter, turn red in the face, claim you really don’t understand General Relativity (which is true), and start arguing with you about quantum mechanics.

      But, once again, scientific theories are far too narrow to either prove or disprove metaphysical systems.

      If you really want to ruin their day, tell them about Maimonides’s discussion of the consistency of Genesis and Aristotelian metaphysics.

    9. Mike K Says:

      “Does that mean they must believe that the theory of evolution is a sufficient explanation of the entire history of life on earth solely in terms of stochastic processes?”

      I think the deeper you get into biology in this era of genetics, the more you realize that it goes very, very deep.

      For example, there are matters that concern the first life forms as the planet cooled. Archea might have been the first life forms.

      On the other hand there are arguments that DNA cannot stand high temperatures. There are thermophilic bacteria that do so, so the matter is not settled. Archea may be better candidates for high temperature.

      I have a book on the physiology and biochemistry of “extremophiles.”

      There are very interesting side stories. For example, Rickettsiae, which are disease producing parasites, are probably related intimately to mitochondria, which allow all animals to use oxygen. There is some speculation, really without direct evidence, that the earth atmosphere in early conditions, was devoid of oxygen and was mostly methane. As plants evolved, they began to make oxygen as a waste product of their own metabolism, which use sunlight to fix CO2 and gives off O2. As the atmosphere became more and more Oxygen, it was advantageous to be able to use it for metabolism. Rickettsiae were free living single cell organisms that used Oxygen. Multi celled organisms adapted to using those micro-organisms to use the oxygen to make energy more efficiently. The Krebs Cycle is more efficient at making energy and storing it using Oxygen than the anerobic system used by single cell organisms.

      Both systems exist in our metabolism. The mitochondria in our cells have their own DNA and chromosomes which suggests they were free living at one stage. This is pretty recent information, maybe 50 years.

      Does this make “Intelligent Design” false ? I don’t think so. The people at Ricochet who attacked me for saying that Evolution is necessary for a modern physician to understand, also say that God could create the world in seven days if He wanted to. I don’t think these ideas are mutually exclusive.

      But genetics is taking over medicine as we watch. The speed is breathtaking.

      Just look at this week’s issue and it is one of 52 this year.

    10. Bill Brandt Says:

      Everything that we experience has had a beginning and will have an end. And where does time fit in? We live by time so have a hard time understanding it in the 3rd person. Time defines us. Einstein explained some facets of it.

      That why to me when God said He made the world in 7 days and yet geologists put the world at billions of years old.

      The discrepancy doesn’t bother me. What is a “day” other than what we have defined it as – a rotation of the earth?

      What I find interesting about evolution is that there are some things that support it and yet other things that support new species coming from seemingly nowhere. Even if everything is strictly evolutionary was it guided by intelligent design or simply random genetic selections with some organisms winning?

      We make all of our assumptions guided only by the physical environment we are in.

      If God created everything I am still wondering about flies and mosquitoes though ;-) He has to have a sense of humor I think. Wondering about the Intelligent Design there.

      That is my view anyway….

      Mike K – there are a lot of scumbags. I live by the Latin phrase “Illegitimi non carborundum” ;-)

    11. Mike Doughty Says:

      “The need for an answer, even one that cannot ever be tested, or falsified by experiment, is a fear reflex from our most primitive beginnings, when we knew very little, and desperately needed some kind of reassurance that the universe was not as cold and indifferent as it seemed to be in everyday life.”

      Absolutely. This, in my opinion, explains much of the “magical thinking” that exists in “enlightened” liberal circles. Example: the world is warming and that’s scary and full of unknowns. If Man caused it, Man can fix it; if it’s a cycle of Nature, Man can’t fix it, so it MUST be caused by Man or else Man doesn’t have any answer or control, and that’s too scary to contemplate.

    12. Mrs. Davis Says:

      Physicians are “engineers/mechanics for the human body” they’re not scientists, so they simply have to know how to use the tools, they don’t need to understand the why of it all.

      This is the view that brings us the PP/ACA where we can push down the cost curve. Physicians, of which I am not one, at their best, address the human condition in its physical and mental sense from a spiritual perspective. That is why so many of our hospitals were founded by religious institutions and not universities or militaries. Today our doctors are engineers/mechanics who treat diseases. I grew up when physicians treated patients. I prefer the later. It is no coincidence this happened as we lost the fight for the liberal arts and the ministry. It’s a brave new world we live in.

    13. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      There are many points along the way between a hard 6-Day creationism and a mere-accident evolutionism. Arguments often involve assuming that one’s opponent must believe the most extreme version, and arguing against that. “Let there be dark.” And there was dark.

    14. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      There is some speculation, really without direct evidence, that the earth atmosphere in early conditions, was devoid of oxygen and was mostly methane. As plants evolved, they began to make oxygen as a waste product of their own metabolism, which use sunlight to fix CO2 and gives off O2.

      Oxygen is highly reactive, as you know. It will react with almost any surface to oxidize it. Most of the world’s oxygen is actually locked up in its rock and minerals as oxides. Quartz, for example, is silicon dioxide. Water is an oxide with hydrogen. Oxidation drives many chemical reactions, which is one reason animals evolved to use it. Because it is so reactive, very little free oxygen existed in the atmosphere prior to the existence of cyanobacteria.

      Cyanobacteria evolved in water and used sunlight as an energy source to break apart carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere and combine it with the hydrogen in water to create hydrocarbons, releasing the oxygen as a waste product. Since there was no free oxygen in the atmosphere prior to that, unoxidized minerals and metals like iron existed in solution in the oceans, having been dissolved out of the igneous rocks on the surface by a billion years of acidic rains.

      The Cyanobacteria glommed together into large colonies with each successive colony mat building on the remains of the colony before it, kind of like the layers of cities at Troy. The end result is a large bulbous concreation called a stromatolite. They still exist, and their fossils are found all over the earth in vast fossil stromatolite reefs and date to the Archean era of the Earth.

      As the stromatolite colonies spread and released greater and greater amounts of oxygen into the ocean water, the first result of that was the iron in the oceans oxidized and fell to the sea floor as layers of magnetite, FE3O4. It seems to have been seasonal and the layers of rust are coupled to layers of fine silicates called chert creating a striped rock call banded iron formations (BIFS). I have a small piece of BIF on a shelf at home, a fossil from the oxidizing of the oceans. Once the iron and other metals were oxidized out of the oceans, the oxygen was free to escape, and it rose into the atmosphere eventually creating the 21% oxygen atmosphere we have today. The cyanobacteria were the basis for all plant life that came after and which still operate on that same cycle today, CO2 + H2O > hydrocarbons, with oxygen released as waste. A tree makes its wood mostly from the air it breathes and the rain it absorbs through it roots. How crazy is that?

      Banded Iron Formation

      Stromatolites and the Oxygenation of the Atmosphere.

    15. Mike K Says:

      You are correct about cyanobacteria and I was being too simplistic about “plants.” On the other hand, cyanobacteria and Archea are both descended from an unknown ancestor that was older.

      Or perhaps, that ancestor was another Archea type.

      The Cyanobacteria and Archaea belong to separate lineages, having diverged from an unknown last universal common ancestor (LUCA, “?”).

      The Cyanobacteria are associated with the first fossils. Formerly called the “blue-green algae”, they are not directly related to eukaryotic algae, though it is widely accepted that an endosymbiosis transfer involving Cyanobacteria generated the chloroplasts of photosynthetic eukaryotes.

      The Cyanobacteria comprise a familiar bacterial clade, found in freshwater and aquatic environments, soils, hot-springs, Antarctica, and modern stromatolites, to name a few. Cyanobacteria are characterised by oxygenic photosynthesis with chlorophyll a

      Cyanobacteria became Chloroplasts in plants and preceded them in evolution.

      Archea became Eukaryotes and multi celled animals. Archie have fundamentally different cell walls than bacteria.

      Here is a nice chart that summarizes differences between bacteria and Archea, which are no longer classified as bacteria.

      1. Cell walls
      2. Membrane lipids
      3. RNA polymerase type. This is how they were discovered by Woese.
      4. tRNA structure. Also how they were discovered.
      5. Introns in chromosomes like Eukaryotes.

      An old post of mine on this subject from 2007.

    16. veryretired Says:

      MD—There is another element in the AGW proposition, in common with many of the endless series of “crises” that progressives discover on a daily basis, and that is it’s convenient use as a platform from which to condemn so much of western culture, especially technology and business.

      It is no accident that every crisis that progressives identify always have the same villain, i.e., the nefarious operations of individuals in pursuit of commercial success, and the same solution—more and more government control of the daily life of the citizenry.

      Magical thinking is ever more necessary now, as, while we could possibly excuse someone in 1900 for believing in the glorious worker’s utopia, after a century and more of experiments with collectivism in numerous forms across every type of culture on every continent of the globe, it is no longer possible to rationally consider all the mountains of undeniable evidence of it’s utterly catastrophic consequences, and still proclaim that the collectivist state and its results are a realistic platform for human well-being and happiness.

      I frequently hear and read comments from non-collectivist people that begin, “How can they possibly think that…”.

      It’s because of the blank-out.

      It is a form of mental and psychological gymnastics which enables collectivists/progressives/whatever to delete any element of a situation which threatens their closed world-view, and substitute any of the approved villains as the real culprit.

      Look at the current electoral rhetoric from the progressive camp and you will find it everywhere.

      When you’re a one-trick pony, any mistakes have to be someone else’s fault, or you might have to learn a new trick.

    17. Mike K Says:

      “Archie have fundamentally different cell walls ”

      Autocorrect hates Archea and I have to watch closely as it keeps changing it to “Archie.”

    18. PenGun Says:

      One of the things I have found most useful, in my musings/meditation, is the fact that the Buddha specifically denied the existence of a soul.

      My take on this is that: “Your self will make you small.” With no personal immortality, one has to come up with a bit deeper interpretation.

    19. Jim Says:

      -Life “seems to have existed on Earth within a few hundred million years of its formation.”

      I believe the first completely accepted fossils are about 3.5 billion years old. Estimates of the time of the Earth’s
      formation are that it is at least 4.5 billion years ago. The period of heavy bombardment was about 3.7 billion years ago.

      I believe 13.7 billion years is the current estimate of the age of the universe.

    20. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Bacteria and single cell organisms do not fossilize well. We find stromatolite fossils only because of the mud they incorporate into their mats make distinctive structures and those mineral structures do fossilize well.

    21. Robert Schwartz Says:

      At Belmont Club today Richard Fernandez posted another brilliant* essay, that I think is quite relevant to this discussion.

      “Terminal Depression” By Richard Fernandez on March 27, 2016.:

      Europe has a religion problem, and it’s not necessarily Islam. The most important religious question in the West today is “what in is still worth dying for?” For many, the answer is “nothing”. A century ago people, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist, habitually lived in two worlds: this world and, for want of a better term, some other one in which their lives, sacrifices and memory took on a transcendent meaning. You died, but you never really died in vain. Then in the second half of the 20th century the Western cultural leaders largely concluded that there no “other world”, only the present one. That present one was itself filthy and meaningless. The Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg put it bluntly. “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”

      * * *

      In actuality nobody should risk his life for nothing. The entire tenor of official quasi-Marxist culture accepts this; teaches this and emphasizes hoarding the years, awaiting death as comfortably as possible and avoiding all unnecessary risk. Civilization has become all about health and safety, avoiding competition, eliminating all causes of microaggression, establishing fat-free, gun-free, Trump-free zones.

      * * *

      The West’s real religion problem according to astrophysicist Bernard Haisch is with the contradictions engendered by the real official faith, reductionist materialism. That creed which long ago supplanted Christianity as the de facto religion of the West, holds there is nothing objective to fight for

      * * *

      While the struggle between Western political correctness and radical Islam has many aspects, at least one of them is the contradiction between materialist reductionism and the Jihad on the one hand, and materialist reductionism with itself on the other. To the modern Western intelligensia Islam is simply a superstition just like Christianity; if no worse than certainly no better. From that point of view replacing one with the other should be an inconsequential detail. It is militant Islam’s insistence on taking itself seriously that is so insolubly problematic to reductionist materialism. Why won’t they be bought off? Why don’t they take the public housing and welfare and watch Miley Cyrus? Islam does not behave according to their model and so, does not compute.

      *Honestly folks, why is he so much smarter than everybody else. It seems quite unfair.

    22. Robert Schwartz Says:

      This is my reaction to Wretchard’s essay:

      I think the philosophy that Wretchard, calls “materialist reductionism” should be named neo-Epicureanism. I think we should do this for two reasons. First, in fact, it is a modern revival of the Classic Greek Philosophy of Epicurus which dates from Athens in the 4th Century BCE. The revival is the subject of an excellent book: “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern” by Stephen Greenblatt*, which I highly recommend.

      Second, calling it neo-Epicureanism emphasizes that it is not modern, and not a product of science.

      I would argue that it became popular among western intellectuals, because of their prior emotional commitment to Marxism. Marx is famous for condemning religion as the “opiate of the people”. But, Marxism provides no metaphysics with which to replace religion.

      In the late 19th and early 20th century when Marxism began to exert its grip on Western intellectuals, scientists coincidentally created the atomic and evolutionary theories. Since Epicureanism is based on an atomic theory and asserts a theory of the mutability of living things, it gave Marxist intellectuals a ready made template to for the metaphysics of an atheist system, that Marx had demanded for political reasons, i.e. to oppose the political power of the Church.

      Sadly, the modern neo-Epicureans do not have a fraction of the charm of the ancients. The ancients were cheerful, the moderns are dreary and depressive.

      Call the materialist reductionists neo-Epicureans. Tell them that their theory is not modern it is ancient, and that it was superseded by Christianity a very long time ago.

      *Jonathan — please fix the Amazon link so that you get credit for it.

      Side note: The word for a heretic in Medieval Hebrew is apikoros, which is a Hebrew rendering of Epicurus, although Talmudic and Medieval Jewish scholars seemed to be unaware of the etymology.

    23. Jim Says:

      To Michael Hiteshew – Life on Earth may well have existed much earlier than 3.5 billion years ago but we don’t have clear evidence for that.

    24. David Foster Says:

      RS…interestingly, though, a lot of our present-day “progressives” are NOT materialist reductionists. They believe in astrology, magical crystals, various mystical “forces,” a conscious Gaia. Some of them believe in reincarnation. This is all a long way from the traditional village atheist.

      Thus, the “progressive” rejection of religion (in the case of the segment of people I am talking about) has little to do with materialist metaphysical belief (‘matter and energy is all that exists’)…it has to do with rejection of any constraints on personal behavior, and even more, with a desire to demonstrate contempt for the majority of their fellow citizens.

    25. mark Says:

      With all respect and in no way meaning to be a jerk. You say: “But I reject the notion that all of this is meaningless. A universe does not exist for no reason. Life does not exist for nothing. It all exists for us to learn, to experience it. It’s where our souls grow up. It’s where our spirit evolves.” What can one say to those who choose an opposing view?

    26. Robert Schwartz Says:

      David Foster: Umberto Eco wrote:

      “G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it – he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

      “The “death of God”, or at least the dying of the Christian God, has been accompanied by the birth of a plethora of new idols. They have multiplied like bacteria on the corpse of the Christian Church …”

    27. PenGun Says:

      “When a man ceases to believe in God”

      That’s about when you toss you training wheels. That’s what god is, a safety device invented, by man, to give you some comfort in an austere universe.

      Your immortal soul, another one. One needs to keep in mind these are human constructions, in an attempt to make sense of life and death as a story. It’s not a story and no matter how much humans love them it’s not a useful way to interpret ones existence.

      If you leave story’s, immortality and god behind you have at least reached a place where you can begin to examine yourself, and the reality you inhabit.

    28. Jonathan Says:

      If you leave story’s, immortality and god behind you have at least reached a place where you can begin to examine yourself, and the reality you inhabit.

      Some of us, not necessarily believers, think religion is beneficial in large part precisely because it provides comfort and helps to make sense of difficult existential questions.

    29. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      What can one say to those who choose an opposing view?

      It is not provable either way. This is merely a philosophical position I hold.

    30. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Pengun: You can rest assured that I will not use you my guide to religion, philosophy, or life. Heck, I wouldn’t use you as my guide to the nearest men’s room.

    31. Roy Lofquist Says:

      I see a few common misperceptions in these comments. One is that 13.7 billion years is a long time. I guess it does seem a little longish to those who are not familiar with big numbers. So, how long is it? It’s about 4.32 e 17 seconds. That’s 4 followed by 17 zeros. Plenty of time to try out a whole bunch of combinations of chemicals? We’ll get to that but I would like to allude to perhaps the original argument along this line – that a room full of monkeys could eventually type the works of Shakespeare. Instead of a monkey we’ll use a computer that generates a million random letter a second – that’s 26 letters plus a space for a total of 27 possible results. The target string is WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. There are 3.36 e 34 permutations of 19 letters plus a space. Thus, our computer typing a million characters per second would have a 50 % chance to produce the target string in about 100,000,000,000 times the age of the universe.

      So much for the tiny numbers. The simplest DNA molecule that we have found has about 90,000,000 base pairs. The number of possible permutations is 4^90,000,000 or 1.67 e 54,189,399 – that’s a number with more than 54 million digits. You’d need a lot of laboratory beakers to stand a chance of getting there.

      The other major error I have seen in these type of discussions is a category error. The character of a particular God, usually the omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent Christian God, is invoked to argue against a creator God. But Intelligent Design has nothing to say about the nature of the creator, only that there is nothing in the known forces of nature that produce coherent patterns that in any way resemble those found in biological life.

      ID is not some new fangled idea. It has its roots in the writings of Plato and Aristotle and is known in philosophy as teleology.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleology

      ID is an explication of teleology in the light of modern knowledge about the structure of DNA and other biological models.

    32. TangoMan Says:

      We’ll get to that but I would like to allude to perhaps the original argument along this line – that a room full of monkeys could eventually type the works of Shakespeare. Instead of a monkey we’ll use a computer that generates a million random letter a second – that’s 26 letters plus a space for a total of 27 possible results. The target string is WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. There are 3.36 e 34 permutations of 19 letters plus a space. Thus, our computer typing a million characters per second would have a 50 % chance to produce the target string in about 100,000,000,000 times the age of the universe.

      I love it when an ID moron shows up to lecture people and can’t even get his analogies correct.

      Monkeys turns into monkey and monkey turns into one computer. Whatever happened to the million monkeys in the room and the million computers in the room?

    33. Mike K Says:

      ID could also be described as the rules of Physics.

      No mention of why those rules exist, of course.

      Eventually, these arguments end up with one swallowing one’s tail.

    34. Roy Lofquist Says:

      @tangoman,

      Actually, you only need 27 monkeys with only one key on their typewriter. Bonzo gets the letter A, Chimpy gets a B, etc. They will type a thousand letter document in precisely one thousand key presses. The logical flaw in this scheme is the same flaw as Dawkins’ argument about having a target string – you need an intelligent observer to pick the appropriate typewriter for each subsequent letter. The same argument applies to your million monkeys or a million computers. If you were to employ a million computers in the example described above it would only take 100,000 times the age of the universe to have a 50% chance of seeing WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE appear on one of them.

      @Mike K,

      No, the processes posited by ID (unknown and perhaps unknowable) are fundamentally different from the forces of physics. The only stable patterns in physical systems result from least energy configurations – entropy rules. Life is anti-entropic. When entropy intrudes we call it death.

    35. TangoMan Says:

      If you were to employ a million computers in the example described above it would only take 100,000 times the age of the universe

      How long would it take if instead of one computer or one million computers we used 100 trillion computers?

    36. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      You guys are caught up the numbers and probabilities and I feel like you’re missing the larger point. Why should a universe pop into existence from a point in nowhere? Why should something as miraculous as life exist within it? At some point you have to follow this line of thought back to a source and a reason. My personal philosophy is that all of this has meaning. That there’s a larger purpose.

    37. Roy Lofquist Says:

      @Tangoman,

      One hundred trillion computers? One billion, three hundred seventy million years. This is, of course, beside the point. Remember that’s just to spell WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. To come reasonably close to the structure of the simplest DNA (90,000,000 base pairs) would take approximately 10 e 527,000,000 years.

      @Michael Hiteshew,

      You are quite correct. I was responding specifically to Tangoman. Whether you believe that the Universe appeared 13.7 billion years ago in the Big Bang or is infinite in time and space the base paradox is that of the uncaused cause, chicken or the egg, infinite regression, turtles all the way down, the Munchausen dilemma. Just as in the question of the origin of life we have no answers nor any plausible starting point for an explanation except that it is, by definition, supernatural. The nature of the supernatural force or forces, as you may be aware, is kind of a contentious subject.

    38. TangoMan Says:

      You guys are caught up the numbers and probabilities and I feel like you’re missing the larger point.

      I’m trying to argue a larger point. Contrived examples are not a sufficient basis upon which to conclude that ID must be at work.

      Why should a universe pop into existence from a point in nowhere?

      I don’t know. I don’t even know if the answer could be understood by human intelligence. I don’t require an answer. The lack of answer doesn’t lead me to believe ID is at work. why did I come to love my wife? Why didn’t I fall out of love with her when I fell out of love with other women who I had loved before her? I don’t know. Some things are impossible to answer. Maybe that’s not a good example because I’m sure that tech could be invented to read my neurochemical signature and pinpoint the chemical reason for why I love my wife. My larger point is that I don’t see why the universe and creation need to have formed in such a way that we can come to understand the story.

      I’ve gone through the philosophy of this many times over my life. I used to believe that there must be a First Cause. Why though, why must causality work in the fashion we understand it to work? Imagining the unimaginable is impossible but I’m not sure what precludes the unimaginable from existing beyond our ability to comprehend it.

      The fact that I can’t answer the question and the fact that logic dictates that there must be a First Cause, doesn’t actually mean that there was a First Cause, that there was an external agent at work.

      My personal philosophy is that all of this has meaning. That there’s a larger purpose.

      This is a statement of faith. I have no problem with people holding to faith-based positions. My objections focus on people trying to use their faith-based conclusion as those they are dispositive, in other words, your position carries no merit/substance in an argument. I’m not trying to convince you to abandon your position, I’m not trying to convince you that you are wrong, I’m completely fine with you holding your position but this is no different than my being accepting of your statement that your favorite color is yellow. Terrific about that. The problem is that my knowing that your favorite color is yellow doesn’t say anything about my favorite color, it doesn’t say anything about how the world works and so, in the bigger picture of people debating and analyzing issues, such statements carry no weight.

    39. Mike K Says:

      “The only stable patterns in physical systems result from least energy configurations – entropy rules. Life is anti-entropic.”

      By the laws of Physics. We are back to the point I made about swallowing tails.

      When I get back from the wormhole, I will explain it all.

    40. mark Says:

      What can one say to those who choose an opposing view?

      It is not provable either way. This is merely a philosophical position I hold.

      You say potatoe. I say potaatoe.

    41. PenGun Says:

      “Heck, I wouldn’t use you as my guide to the nearest men’s room.”

      Sure you would, if you really needed to go. ;)

    42. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      >> in the bigger picture of people debating and analyzing issues, such statements carry no weight.

      I agree. As I said, merely a statement of my personal philosophy.

    43. PenGun Says:

      “The fact that I can’t answer the question and the fact that logic dictates that there must be a First Cause, doesn’t actually mean that there was a First Cause, that there was an external agent at work.”

      Indeed. The entire universe is one thing. There is no outside or inside.

    44. Robert Schwartz Says:

      PenGun: I would piss on your shoes.

    45. PenGun Says:

      Boots, I don’t wear shoes. I would hit you, I’m not especially patient with assholes, and the lesson would be good for you.

    46. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “Life is anti-entropic.”

      My understanding is that the molecular basis of life is encoded in DNA. The genome of a single individual contains several billion bases (CAGT). That represents several billion bits of information. The entropy of information is the log base 2 of the number of non-redundant bits of information. Of course, DNA is not the only process in living things that generates information. The mammalian immune system generates information in order to distinguish between me and not-me proteins. Memory in animals involves the encoding of information into proteins.

      All of this is to say from an information theoretic viewpoint, life creates entropy, and impounds more of it as time goes on.

    47. TMLutas Says:

      I have a theological objection to ID as it’s currently advocated by Behe et al. I think that God wishes to preserve faith and that demonstrable ID would ruin that. As a matter of faith, I think that ultimately ID will end up being a dry hole as a scientific matter. But that is not a scientific objection. I can conceive of complex statistical analysis that might persuasively find a dna signature or microstructures that are irreducably complex, demonstrating that I am wrong and that ID is correct and proven correct as a scientific theory.

      Such experiments would require the ID people to get off their soapbox and get into the lab to prove their points. I don’t think that the work is being done. Until it is and positive results come back from that work, ID will always be a fringe topic that rightfully deserves little attention and that will be the fault of its advocates, not its detractors.

    48. Shannon Love Says:

      Computer Scientist One: Hey, I heard you guys were going to use the new quantum computers to perform the simulation of million monkeys pounding randomly on million typewriter keyboards would eventually produce Hamlet.

      Computer Scientist Two (a bit downcast): Yeah, we did. Ran the simulation millions of times in fact.

      Computer Scientist One: You don’t sound happy. Didn’t you eventually get Hamlet?

      Computer Scientist Two: No, dammit, just reams and reams of Marlow.

      (Rimshot)

    49. Shannon Love Says:

      Michael Hiteshew,

      Okay, apparently your post uncorked some pent up ideas and they all kind of gushed out but really, I tie it all together at the end. I think.

      What do we really mean when we ask “why” in some vaster, usually cosmological context? I think we’re trying to create a story, a narrative that a beginning, middle, end and, most importantly, a moral.

      I don’t think we stop ourselves from doing it. I think there are two reasons:

      Firstly, one attribute of the neural nets that comprise our brains is that they cannot ignore input. It’s like the old psychology joke, “Do not think of a blue elephant.” Well, you just did. A related property of neural nets is that they cannot go an indefinite time without producing an output. This is why sensory deprivation eventually causes hallucinations. The brains neural net has to generate some output even if it has no input.

      On the larger scale, this manifest as cognitive inability to leave gaps in mental models. I find it revealing that if you look at the history of cosmology in every culture in history, whether scientific or pre-scientific, you will never find one with gaps. All cosmological models explain everything, even if they just make things up. In every culture, at every point in their development, all models of all reality were considered complete and gapless.

      The same happens in science. Newton evoked an unknown, imperceptible force he called gravity (before then a word applied to humans that attracted followers, a concept we still retain in the word “gravitas”) and assigned it specific mathematical properties including an arbitrary constant, to make his model of planetary motion work. Newton himself asserted that the gravitational force was merely a mathematical construct but no one else took it that way. Both scientist and general population up to this day talk about Newtonian gravity as it was something real.

      (People also ignored that Newtonian physics could not describe the orbit of Mercury but they just ignored it for centuries claiming better observation would make the orbit conform. It didn’t because Mercuries orbit is so deep in the Sun’s gravity well that it takes Relativity to explain it.)

      We all walk around with a model of the universe in our heads, and we all fill in any gaps. Even if we recognize the gaps, we tend to dismiss them as functionally unimportant.

      Secondly, we ask why because our decision making mechanism is actually based on emotion not reason. Reason can, sometimes, let us create a model of the consequences of making a choice between actions A and B, but reason cannot by itself provide the information as to why we should prefer consequences of A or B.

      This problem was one of several that stopped the great multi-billion artificial intelligence programs circa 1990 in the US, Europe and Japan. Everyone thought that thinking was all about logic, and computers had perfect logic, so if you made one big enough it would start to think. Well, they didn’t. One major problem is that the systems would not make choices between logical outcomes unless the programmers created an a priori preference for certain outcomes.

      The problem also occurs in humans who underwent lobotomies or suffered accidents that damaged the same neural pathways. Their intellect, memory, general cognition etc remain unchanged.

      (The drooling moron stereotype about lobotomy patients is all Hollywood. The vast majority of patients appeared to improve after the procedure. Even back in the 30s with not psychiatric drugs, they weren’t so desperate that they’d adopt a procedure that obviously made the patients worse off. Unfortunately, the damage was too sublte to detect, especially when the procedure was performed on people already seriously mentally ill, which was usually the case. But I digress.)

      All that happened was that their forebrains had been severed from the emotional centers in the mid-brain. Such victims could still follow complex chains of reason to create accurate assessments of the consequences between choosing actions A or B but they had not ability to attach an emotion, a prior bias, to any outcome. People with genius level IQs still had genius level IQs and the predictive power of that genius but without emotion, they could not make decisions and were effectively behaviorally paralyzed.

      In order to be of any utility, all our information, especially complex cosmological models, must be anchored in an emotion. When say that some piece of information or chain of causality has “meaning” what we “mean” is that we have anchored it in to emotion. The information can then be used to make decisions.

      Without that emotion, the information cannot be used to make decisions and is therefore “meaningless.” We’ve all encountered such information and our usual response is something along the lines of, “yeah, but so what?” conveying the information might be empirically true but that we can’t use it for decision making.

      This is source of the secular existential dilemma. The strictly material world has no innate emotional content. Logic and reason, likewise, have no innate emotional content. There is no logical reason to prefer existence over non-existance, or experiencing pain over experiencing pleasure. It is only because we have hardwired a prior biases, our genetically encoding emotions, that we can choose between such states.

      (Again, their are neurological injuries or genetic illnesses in which severe cognition from the base bias to prefer to live over death. Victims of such injuries usually simply sit in a kind of waking coma. People who cannot feel pain, even otherwise unimpaired adults, will sometimes start to mutilate themselves just because they wonder what will happen.)

      When we set down to create a materialistic, logical causal chain to explain our existence, we might, hypothetically generate a model that is absolutely empirically true and perfectly logical, but, “so what?”

      Whenever someone claims to operate only on logic and reason, they’re lying to themselves. What they’re actually doing is starting with an emotionally preprogrammed desired outcome, then building a logical causality in reverse that will then justify an action that will fulfill the desire.

      That is what Marxist did and its what Dawkins class atheist do today.

      Dawkins, Hitchens et all all claim to base their decisions on logic and reason, but of course that is possible from outset as shown above. More concretely, for many of the decision domains they claim to make logical decisions in, we have no scientifically, empirically tested predictive models. So, on what information are they supposedly making logical decision with?

      We don’t have empirically tested scientific models for either individual human behavior or collective behavior. This in turn means we cannot predict the outcome of any change we make to any part of the human domain from specific individuals, to entire polities or to humanity as whole. Without that high degree of proven predictive models, we cannot even begin to make “logical” or “reason” based decisions about any social group of any scale.

      Dawkins isn’t making reasoned decision in the social domains e.g. politics, he’s starting with his own emotional desire to create a society in which he and people like him, are highest status and most powerful class in society. Ironically, one of the centuries greatest evolutionary scientist can’t tell that his own behavior is anchored in nothing but the desire for dominance that his own life’s work says that natural selection hardwired into every social animal.

      This self-delusion is what makes this class of atheist so incredibly dangerous. They quickly create a world model in which goes:

      Logic is infallible,
      I’m perfectly logical, therefore
      I’m infallible.

      Dawkins believes in God, but God’s face is what Dawkins sees in the mirror.

      The actual physical, concrete, empirical evidence of the last two centuries has demonstrated that ideologies anchored in strict materialism and explicitly atheistic turn murderous with horrific rapidity. But if you try to point this out to Dawkins’ class atheist, they will pretend that you are making a PREDiCTION based on religious concept that all non-religious people are evil, instead of talking about EVENTS THAT ACTUALLY OCCURRED and demonstrating a causal chain of explicit atheism/materialism–> delusions of rational decisions –> personal infallibility –> political murder.

      It’s fascinating to watch. It’s like their brains just slide off the historical evidence. (Actually, it’s like talking to my mother-in-law who has a bizarre ability to hear what she wants to hear instead of what a person actually just said. Sometimes she immediately repeats back what she claims you just said. She’s not senile she’s always been that way.)

      But if we don’t really have good models of human society, how do we make social decisions? Simple, we rely on a base of good ole’ tradition and religion, which we can trust as a practical guide because all long standing traditions religious beliefs have been rigorously tested by centuries of evolutionary natural selection.

      Yep, you heard me, we can trust old cultural ideas more than new ideas simply because former have survived the test of time.

      The big lie or unconscious fallacy of the Age of Enlightenment is that the positive adaptive outcome of a behavior can be predicted by the APPARENT logical validity of articulated rationale that justifies the behavior.

      Well, it doesn’t. It’s evolutionary theory 101 that natural selection selects only for the phenotype, the physical structure or behavior, and not the genotype, the genetic, epigenetic, or learning mechanisms that create the physical structure or behavior.

      That’s why parallel evolution occurs. Flamingoes and baleen whales have the same mouth structures not because of any genetic relationship but because they both eat krill and natural selection forces the mouth into the optimum mouth shape regardless of whether it starts with a mammals jaw or a bird’s beak.

      The exact same process occurs with human behaviors. How we convince ourselves that we should take any particular physical action is utterly irrelevant, only natural selection will only operate on the consequences of the action. All major religious groups have vastly different cosmologies, different mechanism for enforcing consequence for all decision and are either all entirely fictional or all but one is, yet all such religions have an empirically proven moderate effect on their observant adherent’s behavior, making them more cooperative, less violent and more altruistic.

      But just as with biological evolution, conditions for cultural evolution change. In fact, change begets change in a positive feedback loop. We obviously can’t run 21st century internet age society with behaviors of the medieval ages. We have to keep adapting to a world we are constantly changing by our adaptations.

      Since we lack actual empirical knowledge on major issues such as social behaviors and we can’t rely on supposed logic or reason as a guide, how do we decide what to do either individually or collectively.

      We consciously do what we’ve always been doing unconsciously. We keep start with a core of traditional behaviors which we know were tested by natural selection and survived for a considerable period, and then we make small, experimental changes, ideally somehow isolated in case something goes wrong. If we judge it works, we integrate into the social process, if not, we chunk and try something else.

      It might sound slow and fault prone but it how we actually design airplanes and every other type of new technology. Nobody got on an plane with an engine that had never been tested but instead was justified only by a seemingly plausible logical argument. Nope, we want that sucker stand tested for months before we even begin to think about attaching it to the airframe. Plus, we’d start our design process with what we know works and then try to improve that

      Why should social/political/cultural change be any different? Why do so many people fall for the idea of a “Revolution” in thousands of major changes can be made without any failures?

      Clearly, the myth of the “Revolution” is closely tied to the idea of infallibility of logic translating in the real world to the infallibility of those who claim to operate solely on logic. They don’t have to progress by experiment because their infallible logic allows them to redesign the whole of any society in an afternoon.

      So, what does all this have to do with our search for a “why”, for narrative or story structure about our existence that we must anchor to our hardwired emotions?

      Simple, if we don’t, our decision making systems stop, especially if we flatter ourselves about our rational decision making. “How” something occurs provides us with no emotional anchor by which to make a decision. We must have a “why” and emotional anchor for information that will allow to actually make decisions and take concrete actions.

      Everybody, even supposed strictly “rational”, materialist like Dawkins, must have a “why” even if they hide it, especially from themselves.

      There’s no shame in asking for a why or even in adopting one based on a leap of faith because no materialistic or scientific process will ever provide us with an actual ultimate “why.”

      Personally, I don’t think either religion or philosophy can provide one either. It seems like any such intellectual constructs are easily destroy by a five year old repeatedly asking, “Why?” to every answer you give until you break down and say, “It just is, okay? Go clean your room.”

      So, for myself, I’ve pretty much adopted that exact idea, “We just are, okay? And I’m to old to be told to go clean my room unless you happen to be my spouse, in which case, yes dear.”

      Practically this translates to functional concept that the “why” of existence, is merely to exist and keep existing.

      I don’t actually have even the faintest glimpse of an ultimate or first cause “why” but as a philosophical Huxley-ite agnostic and a functional strict materialist, I have to assume that if I don’t continue to exist, and enable the rest of humanity to continue to exist, then neither myself nor eventually humanity itself will even have the chance to discover the “why” if it does exist.

      I suppose it isn’t much of compelling narrative or story type “why” answer but it does kill time as the eons slip by.

    50. Shannon Love Says:

      Roy Lofquist,

      The simplest DNA molecule that we have found has about 90,000,000 base pairs. The number of possible permutations is 4^90,000,000 or 1.67 e 54,189,399 – that’s a number with more than 54 million digits. You’d need a lot of laboratory beakers to stand a chance of getting there.

      Actually, the shortest DNA sequence for a non-viral organism contains 159,662 base pairs. But we’ll use your numbers as they’re utter gibberish so their wild inaccuracy doesn’t matter.

      I don’t suppose you paused for a moment to wonder why thousand of scientist and just the numeric (mathematically literate) from all types of cultures, religions and political beliefs haven’t in the course of a century or so haven’t stumbled over your little insight? What’s that you say? A vast world wide conspiracy all aimed at frustrating your particular set of beliefs? Why, that sounds utterly credible. Say, you wouldn’t have a big pile of extra cash you’d like to buy a bridge with or invest in some South Florida real estate? No, to bad. It’d be a sure thing, I swear (at least for me.)

      Really, you shouldn’t tempt me. I see someone fall for some other scam and all I can think is, if I let that person keep their money, their just going to hurt themselves with it.

      Let me explain how you’ve been obviously lied to by people who claim to be person’s of faith but are either to much the pharisees or to lazy to actual do actual research in what evolutionary theory actually says. I have no trouble with people with people believing in divine creation as a matter of faith. Heck, might right. If God does exist, he’s obviously not above the odd, cosmic scale practical joke or test of faith.

      I do mind them lying about what earnest researchers have actually asserted, “Thy shall not bear false witness” is a sound principle regardless of any other personal belief.

      Now, let’s examine the case of the membranes of all known living cells (this excludes virus as they have no such membrane and more akin to mousetraps than being alive.) All such membranes start with a class of organic molecules called phospholipids. They fairly small as biochemicals go, there’s a vast number of specific composition and they show in all external and internal membranes of all cells bacterial, archeon and eukaryote.

      To make them more interesting, they can be produced at least several dozen known, non-biological processes. They even show up in deep space in molecular clouds.

      Now, let’s start with one mole of any particular phospholipid. A mole of any substance is 6.02214×10^23 molecules of that substance (that last bit is ten to the 23rd power or 1 followed by 23 zeros.) Now we take that mole of phospholipids and drop into a thousand moles of water (that’s 6.02214 x 10^26 individual molecules of water.)

      Now what are the odds that the vast number of phospholipid molecules within an even vaster number of water molecules will somehow form complete spherical structures, visible in a common microscopic and which form a complete separation between the water inside and the water outside?

      Let’s see, each molecule of phospholipid would need to find another phospholipid hidden in a thousand molecules of liquid, then the molecules would somehow have orient themselves relative to each other so they’d stick together, then that process would have to be repeated billions of times to make visible sphere as described above.

      So what? 1 in 1000 chance of hitting another molecule of phospholipid times lets assume a 1 in 100 chance of hitting at the right orientation time a several billion would equal a chance of sphere formation of….

      One hundred freaking percent.

      Yep, 100% every time. You take a phospholipid, toss it into water and it forms membrane like spheres, every single time.

      Beginning to see the lie? Chemistry has non-stochastic rules. Organic chemistry has even stricter rules and biochemistry has the strictest rules of all.

      Phospholipids form spherical membranes because one end of the molecule attaches eagerly to water and the other end is repelled by water. When you put molecules with those built in attractions and repulsions, they automatically line up side to side and then start to bend around until they close a sphere.

      Every single time, no exceptions. There is zero chance involved. The possible permutation that could occur if somebody lies and claims that you can treat phospholipids or other organic molecules as if they were an ideal gas, don’t apply at all. Instead, it 100% certain they will form membrane like spheres.

      It’s called “self-assembly” and its the functional basis of all large scale (on the molecular level) biological structures. Thousands of biologically active organic compounds self-assemble.

      Heck, a little common sense should have told you something was fishy. If organic chemistry operated by random chance, how would we ever make anything with chemistry. What are the stochiatric odds that trillions of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and chlorine atoms will form a polymer like polystryeen (common styrofoam?) Fortunately, for the plastics industry, 100% if make the proper conditions.

      Rules, rules, rules rules. Not random, rules.

      “Okay, ” you say, “so some biological systems just automatically form, but still it is wildly improbably that DNA molecules will form just by chance.”

      You are perfectly correct, which why nobody at anytime in entire scope of evolutionary theory ever made the claim that it did. Anyone who says otherwise is lying, period. Really, go find a source where some evolutionary scientist makes that claim. I’ll wait. Want to put any money on it?

      No? didn’t think so.

      The entire point of the mechanism of natural selection is to explain how the process is not random. People get led astray by the fact that variations, mutations of the DNA, RNA and epigenetic factors occurs with high degree but not complete randomness e.g. some mutations are more likely to occur than others owing to a variety of factors.

      Here’s the catch. While the production of variations might be random, selection of variation is anything but random.

      Let’s suppose you have the classic example of brown colored bears evolving into polar bears. Suppose we start back before the ice age cycle when the arctic regions were small and the ice only seasonal. Most of the time, the bears benefit from having a brown coloring for camflague and when it snows, they hibernate. Now let’s suppose that the genes of the brown bears have a propensity to mutate at specific loci that causes the affected bear to be born with white fur. Let’s suppose that it happens to an absurdly large 1% of all births in every generation. Assume each generation is five years long and there population is stabilized at one million bears Since the average life span of a mammalian species is 10 million years, let’s say this continues for 5 million years, 1 million generations before the ice ages start each generation producing 10,000 white bear cubes. That’s ten billion white bear cubs born into the world.

      To paraphrase the Senator, a billion white bear cubs here, a billion white bear cubs there, pretty soon you’re talking about a lot of bear cubs.

      Now in an environment where there white fur makes them stand out and makes it harder for them to stalk prey than all the other bears, after 10 billion births of white cubs over 5 million years what percentage of the total brown bear population will be born white.

      Still one percent. Selection will filter out all the white bears no matter how many get born over how long a time because selection is not random. More bears are born than can survive to reproduce. Some bears have to go and in this scenario, it’s the white bears, every generation, for five million years.

      If you sample the bears DNA, the percentage of bears with the white fur mutation will not vary significantly over literally eons.

      Over time that equates to zero randomness. Selection is killing off the white bears in every generation constantly.

      Now lets suppose the ice age fire up, er ice up. The arctic region expand greatly for roughly 150,000 years at a time and even when they retreat, the permanent snow and ice regions are still 3-4 times larger than in the past. Suddenly, there is a vast habitat in which having all white fur conveys a great advantage and being brown is a decided disadvantage. The same percentage of white bear cubs are born every generation as in the past but after a few thousand years and hundreds of generations, do think there is any possibility that the percentage of white cubs will remain constant?

      No, of course not. Once white fur conveys an advantage in the wide areas of permanent white, white cubs start surviving to reproductive age, and their offspring carry the white gene which makes a feedback loop and very rapidly, a little as few thousand years, all of the bears living on permanent snow and ice will be white.

      Not a random process. In fact, utterly deterministic if somehow you could observe the process start to finish. If the ice ages end, the permanent white pack goes away, guess what happens to all the white bears? Yep, and utterly non-random

      (At this point, all that has happened is a shift in gene frequency. White bears and Brown bears in the scenario could still interbreed and therefore are still the same species. In actuality, bears in north America are only weakly speciated in that some brown bears, grizzlies and polar bears can still mate and produce offspring although usually only in zoos and at low fertility rates.)

      This is a contrived example of course but you can replicate the same process at will in a lab using microbes, knockout genes and toxins.

      Now, see how they lied? All existing DNA strands in all DNA based organism have gone through random variation but completely non-random selection. Unless a DNA strand has just mutated, this generation, it structure has no true randomness in composition. Every gene, every allele has been filter by selection pressure. The possible permutations are irrelevant because genes don’t have to flip through all permutation. Each generation starts with a collection of genes that work, with a few mutations mixed in. If and only if the mutations provide an advantage will those mutations be non-randomly selected and appear in the next generation.

      Now, I’ve left out a lot. I could explain how selection is actually defined thermodynamically by how much it increases the overall entropy generated by the organism, how the existence life hastens the heat death of the universe or how faster entropy production creates more complex organisms but frankly, I don’t think you could follow.

      Now run off and find whatever lazy, arrogant modern day Pharisees lied to you about evolutionary theory and make them read Luke 18:9-14 until they get the point.

      And you might enjoy this old post of mine.

    51. Mike K Says:

      “One major problem is that the systems would not make choices between logical outcomes unless the programmers created an a priori preference for certain outcomes.”

      Good comments.

      I have talked to lobotomized patients. They, of course, were psychotic before the procedure but they have similar personalities just like Down’s syndrome kids look like siblings.

      I like Feynman’s comment to Herman Wouk. He asked if Wouk knew Calculus. When he said he didn’t, Feynman said “You should learn it. It’s the language God speaks.”

    52. TangoMan Says:

      And you might enjoy this old post of mine.

      Wow, lots of us were around back in the old days.

      I remember having a great time with the Summers’ incident. A whole bunch of us would leave my blog and go visit lefty blogs and make them cry.

    53. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Yep, you heard me, we can trust old cultural ideas more than new ideas simply because former have survived the test of time.

      I agree with that and think it’s obvious and demonstrable. It’s not necessarily intuitive though, and we can see that by the number of crazy tangents individuals and groups take, some to success but more often towards damage or failure. I remember responding to a post at Claire Spark’s blog that featured a photo of African students carrying signs around Stanford University that read ‘Western Civ Must Go’. I thought it was absurd. Really? And replaced with what, Congolese Civ? Did the Congo ever produce a Stanford University? How did those students get to Stanford, swim? Or did they take a jet aircraft or a ship? Where did they even get the paper for the signs? Where were calculus and biology and philosophy and the study of history developed?

      What do they mean, throw out the most successful civilizational model on the planet to be replaced with a great idea they had after listening to a lecture by a college prof who never run anything more complicated than a classroom, when even the infrastructure for that was provided to him/her as a given by Western Civ? Are you kidding? The comment never left ‘moderation’ and no comment I ever made after that did either. Banished.

      Back on the subject…

      It’s possible I fall back on the idea of a creator as a default explanation. It’s possible I attach the why-of-existence to an emotional construct because it helps me to choose within a hierarchical framework and to better or more successfully navigate life. I can see how that could work, like examining a process flow diagram.

      I still, in the end, must decide whether I believe life and the universe have meaning and purpose or not. I choose to believe they do.

    54. PenGun Says:

      Shannon Love … slow clap.