PZ Myers posted Entry 956 on April 12, 2005 09:37 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/954

Compare these two: Carl Wieland of Answers in Genesis vs. Carl Zimmer. It's no contest. Zimmer refers to the scientific literature and accurately describes recent advances in AIDS research, while the creationist evades the key points, makes up false assertions about the data, references out-of-date creationist misinterpretations, and flings out non sequiturs wildly.

This is typical.

Funniest comment in Wieland's article: the suggestion that Zimmer should have "checked this website [AiG] first". Yeah, and maybe he should have also visited the circus and consulted a few dancing monkeys, too.

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Comment #24542

Posted by Mike Hopkins on April 12, 2005 10:19 PM (e)

Why would Dr. Wieland assume that pro-science writers have not actually read any creationist writings? It is my experience that it is the creationist writers who seem to be unaware of what evolutionary biology, etc., etc. actually has to say.


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Comment #24544

Posted by sir_toejam on April 12, 2005 10:25 PM (e)

“Why would Dr. Wieland assume that pro-science writers have not actually read any creationist writings?”

lol. because he disagrees with him, that’s why.

it is the only tool creationists can use; make their readers assume that science is “ignorant” of their claims.

it basically takes the obvious from one side, and attempts to use it disengenuously.

Comment #24546

Posted by Mike Hopkins on April 12, 2005 10:42 PM (e)

sir_toejam,

Yeah, no knowledgeable person ever accused the “professional” young-earth creationists of steadfast intellectual honesty. My question was a bit rhetorical.

Anyone who has spent as much as an hour dealing with creationism has undoubtely heard the “its only microevolution” bit. Indeed, I knew that is what the creationists would say about Mr. Zimmer’s article by the time it was clear what the article was about.


Anti-spam: Replace “user” with “harlequin2”

Comment #24548

Posted by sir_toejam on April 12, 2005 10:48 PM (e)

ah, i guess i accuse myself of being a bit dense

*hangs head*

:)

Comment #24555

Posted by Thomas on April 13, 2005 12:42 AM (e)

“Funniest comment in Wieland’s article: the suggestion that Zimmer should have “checked this website [AiG] first”. Yeah, and maybe he should have also visited the circus and consulted a few dancing monkeys, too.”

What’s so funny about it? If you argue about what creationists think, it makes perfect sense to check the places where they state it. If Zimmer had been arguing about circuses, visiting one would have been useful too.

What I did find amusing was the warning you get if you click on the link to Zimmer’s article from AIG. Do they really think their readers are so stupid they don’t realise they are going to a page outside AIG?

Comment #24566

Posted by a maine yankee in dixie on April 13, 2005 6:25 AM (e)

“This is typical.”

But very deliberate and calculated.

The American “love affair” with anti-intellectualism should never be underestimated. Thinking is also hard work that might in the case of science require—gasp—math! It is so much easier to simply–yawn–believe warm fuzzy (except for maybe Job) stories. The task of enlightenment is formidable.

Loren Eiseley wrote:

“Man’s whole history is one of transcendence and self-examination, which has led him to angelic heights of sacrifice as well as into the bleakest regions of despair. The future is not truly fixed but the world arena is smoking with the caldrons of those who would create tomorrow by evoking, rather than exorcising, the stalking ghosts of the past.”

When will we ever learn?

Comment #24574

Posted by PZ Myers on April 13, 2005 7:22 AM (e)

Thomas, I find that idea part of the problem. We usually aren’t arguing about what creationists think – we’re instead talking about science. Zimmer’s original article was entirely about the evolutionary science behind AIDS research; why should he have been expected to waste his time with the weebly rantings of uninformed idiots?

Comment #24583

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 8:24 AM (e)

Wieland wrote:

Zimmer refers to the way the AIDS virus is mutating and changing. Is it evolving? It depends on one’s definition of evolution.

And therein lies the problem. The fact that viruses can mutate, be affected by natural selection and change over time does NOT speak to the question of how new structures, new processes and new adaptations emerged nor does it address the question of how living systems increased their organization. Everyone I know, including creationists, accepts this definition of “evolution” as does Wieland:

If it means ‘change’, then the answer is ‘yes, by definition’. What the reader is presumably intended to glean from this further example of evolutionary equivocation is something like this: ‘Wow, I’ve just seen that evolution [meaning change] is a fact, so that means that if evolution [meaning goo-to-you and everything else over millions of years] is a fact, then I guess frogs really can turn into princes in time.’

From Jonathan Sarfati:

many evolutionary propagandists are guilty of the deceitful practice of equivocation, that is, switching the meaning of a single word (evolution) part-way through an argument. A common tactic is simply to produce examples of change over time, call this ‘evolution’, then imply that the GTE (General Theory of Evolution*) is thereby proven…

*This ‘General Theory of Evolution’ (GTE) was defined by the evolutionist Kerkut as ‘the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form.
The main scientific objection to the GTE is not that changes occur through time, and neither is it about the size of the change (so we would discourage use of the terms micro- and macro-evolution). The key issue is the type of change required — to change microbes into men requires changes that increase the genetic information content, from over half a million DNA ‘letters’ of even the ‘simplest’ self-reproducing organism to three billion ‘letters’ (stored in each human cell nucleus).

I would tend to disgree with Sarfati on this point. As I have pointed out on numerous occassions, information is not the issue. It is possible, and has been adequately demonstrated, that random, non-directed processes can generate increases in information without intelligent input. What has not been demonstrated is that increases in biological organization * can be generated by non-random processes.
*(Organization is not the same as order. One must be careful not to confuse organization with order. There’s a lot of talk about ordered systems in the non-living world, snowflakes, tornadoes, etc. but this is not the issue. Order is simply a condition of logical or comprehensible arrangement among the separate elements of a group. Like putting files in alphabetical order or using a sieve to separate items by size. Organization is a much different structure in which something is made up of elements with varied functions that contribute to the whole and to collective functions of the system. Ordered systems can result from non-intelligent processes, as has been seen many times and cited by numerous examples. Organized systems cannot.)

Comment #24585

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 8:42 AM (e)

Paul wrote:

the weebly rantings of uninformed idiots?

You really should try to cut down on these kinds of personal attacks and concentrate more on the scientific facts. I know you could probably care less what I think, but I assure you my respect for your views would definitely be enhanced if you stopped making these kinds of statements.

Comment #24587

Posted by cleek on April 13, 2005 8:46 AM (e)

Ordered systems can result from non-intelligent processes, as has been seen many times and cited by numerous examples. Organized systems cannot

why not?

Comment #24588

Posted by mark on April 13, 2005 8:56 AM (e)

PZ Myers wrote:

Zimmer’s original article was entirely about the evolutionary science behind AIDS research; why should he have been expected to waste his time with the weebly rantings of uninformed idiots?

Why, to be fair, of course. Why not present the other side, about the Intelligent-Design-based science upon which all those non-evolutionary biologists researching AIDS base their work? Now, I’m not sure how many AIDS researchers base their work on the predictions of ID, but…;come to think of it, I’m not sure how many scientists base any kind of research on the predictions of ID. Could someone provide examples of research that has originated from ID-based theory?

Comment #24589

Posted by Les Lane on April 13, 2005 8:57 AM (e)

Why would Dr. Wieland assume that pro-science writers have not actually read any creationist writings?

This is rhetorical strategy written for internal consuption.

Comment #24593

Posted by David Heddle on April 13, 2005 9:01 AM (e)

Could someone provide examples of research that has originated from ID-based theory?

Astronomer Fred Hoyle used anthropic arguments to predict that an excited carbon nucleus has an excited energy level at around 7.7 MeV.

Comment #24594

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 9:04 AM (e)

Cleek wrote:

why not?

Each part of a living system, be it a structure or process, has a specific function. And each of these functions are organized in such a way that they support the other functions as well as the overall function of the system.
This type of organization is not obtainable without insight, and insight always requires intelligence. There is no way that these parts could be assembled in such a manner without insight. Biological systems are made up of several structures and processes that exist for a purpose.
Living organisms are machines, with structures and processes that work together to create a function. In fact, all complex, highly organized machines in which means are adapted to ends are the product of intelligent design. The important point is that the adaptation of means to ends, the adaptation of structure and process to function requires insight. Biological systems are unevolvable, not because you can’t take them apart without losing function, it’s unevolvable because you can’t put it together in the first place using only random, non-directed, accidental occurrences. The selection of the parts, the configuration in which they’re aligned, the assembly into one unit all require intelligent decisions at every step of the way. Living organisms show these characteristics. It’s not that you can’t remove parts and lose total function, it’s that you can’t explain why these particular parts were selected, why they’re integrated together in just such a way and how they were assembled from raw materials without invoking an intelligent agent.

Read my paper on this subject HERE:
http://www.charliewagner.net/casefor.htm

Comment #24599

Posted by Flint on April 13, 2005 9:50 AM (e)

This type of organization is not obtainable without insight, and insight always requires intelligence. There is no way that these parts could be assembled in such a manner without insight.

The argument from incredulity is rarely presented more directly.

Comment #24602

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 10:16 AM (e)

The argument from incredulity is rarely presented more directly.

As Inigio Montoya says in “Princess Bride”: “I don’t think that means what you think it means.”
There are several different kinds of incredulity, some have great value and others little value. One type of incredulity involves someone declaring that something is impossible before having all the facts. This type of incredulity is based on lack of knowledge. For example, if I declare that it’s impossible for humans to fly or it’s impossible to get to the moon then clearly your personal astonishment has failed you. Humans can fly in airplanes and men have landed on the moon.
But look closely in nature. Can you leap across a crevasse that is 6 inches wide? Can you leap across if the crevasse is a foot wide? What about 3 feet? Or 5 feet? Or ten feet? At some point, the incredible analog computer in your brain will process all of the available information and come to a conclusion: I can’t make it. Animals do the same thing. Watch a cat jumping from one point to another. He usually knows when he can’t make it and won’t try.
Humans have an astonishingly accurate analog computer in their heads. This computer, the brain, processes all the available information and makes judgements about what is possible and what is not. You cannot leap across a 50 foot crevass, and your brain knows it and tells you so.
No amount of additional data will change the fact that you can’t jump across a 50 foot crevasse. The leap of faith that evolution makes from trivial changes in allelic frequency filtered by natural selection without intelligent input is the kind of judgement that no amount of additional information or knowledge will change. It’s impossible for the same reason that it’s impossible to leap across a 50 foot crevasse.

Comment #24603

Posted by SteveF on April 13, 2005 10:16 AM (e)

Yet again we see the creationist in action. I’ve spoken to a number of these people, including one prominent British creationist, and the genuine overiding belief is that they in some way matter. That they have something meaningful to contribute. That a controversy exists.

Such delusion, alongside their startling cognitive ability to simply ignore uncomfortable data, makes me fairly convinced (though I’m no expert in such matters) that a large number of creationists are mentally ill.

Comment #24607

Posted by PvM on April 13, 2005 10:26 AM (e)

Charlie’s analogy of a leap acorss a 50 foot gap is fallacious since evolution does not claim a single leap. Rather than using the metaphor of a leap, one should envision a bridge metaphor.

Sigh…

Comment #24609

Posted by Russell on April 13, 2005 10:33 AM (e)

Mark: “Could someone provide examples of research that has originated from ID-based theory?”

David Heddle: “Astronomer Fred Hoyle used anthropic arguments to predict that an excited carbon nucleus has an excited energy level at around 7.7 MeV.”

Now that’s potentially interesting. Can you direct me to where I can read about this? The question I’ll be trying to answer is “Does using anthropic arguments equate to origination from ID-theory?”

Comment #24612

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 10:41 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

Charlie’s analogy of a leap acorss a 50 foot gap is fallacious since evolution does not claim a single leap. Rather than using the metaphor of a leap, one should envision a bridge metaphor.

Sigh …

Yes, a bridge. But you can’t build a bridge across a crevasse unless you are already on the other side so you have a point of attachment. How do you support half a bridge? Even spiders know this.

Comment #24613

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 10:50 AM (e)

Organization is a much different structure in which something is made up of elements with varied functions that contribute to the whole and to collective functions of the system.

So you’re saying that polymers aren’t the result of organization? Once again, the IDer fails to understand the language of science:

The bottom-up approach consisting in exploiting various forms of self-ordering of natural building blocks gains importance in many technological areas. Due to a large variety of building blocks, chemical reactions and obtainable architectures, polymers represent a particularly rich field where self-organization can be exploited to obtain materials with new properties.

http://www.imc.cas.cz/sympo/45micros.html

The IDer has to make improper distinctions between words, for he cannot show the difference between organization and ordering. There can be some difference in meaning between the two words, but any break is as artificial as is the assumption that organization has to be the result of “intelligence”.

Ordered systems can result from non-intelligent processes, as has been seen many times and cited by numerous examples. Organized systems cannot.

Why of course I organized myself through intelligence when I developed from a zygote. I’m pretty proud of how intelligent I was then.

Comment #24615

Posted by Flint on April 13, 2005 10:57 AM (e)

Saying “This type of organization is not obtainable without insight” is like saying “The earth does not spin.” That is, a flat declarative statement. How about the voluminous evidence that such organization is not only obtainable but inevitable without insight, even greater than the evidence that the earth spins? So what? Charlie has stated his belief.

From either of these declarations, other things must logically follow. The sun MUST go around the earth, which MUST be flat. There MUST be a designer, and this designer MUST be intelligent (as Charlie understands the term). And generally, those who start from axioms-of-preference point to the subsequent logic and argue that there are no logical errors. They’re right – logical inference is quite independent of accurate axioms.

And so Charlie looks at solid ground and sees a 50-foot gap. His faith requires that the gap exist, and so it exists. The Believers simply cannot grasp that SAYING something is true doesn’t make it true. Faith works that way; why can’t science?

Comment #24618

Posted by DaveL on April 13, 2005 11:02 AM (e)

But you can’t build a bridge across a crevasse unless you are already on the other side so you have a point of attachment.

Which shows the analogy is flawed. Most importantly, the idea of jumping across a crevasse or building a bridge assumed the existence of a specified goal. However, evolution is driven by random (and some not-so-random) changes in the genome, not by a Lamarckian desire to achieve some goal state.

For a better analogy, you would have to imagine bunches of jumpers, builders, fliers, diggers, do-nothings, and so on, and remember that natural selection acts on them to filter their many methods of living, most of which don’t involve the bridge or chasm at all.

By the way, some spiders do cast out lines to the wind, both as a strategy to broadcast the offspring widely, and in other cases, as a way to bridge gaps they can’t leap.

Comment #24630

Posted by NelC on April 13, 2005 11:31 AM (e)

Eh, it wasn’t really an anthropic argument that Fred Hoyle made, merely an observational one. Since there is an awful lot of carbon in the universe, he reasoned, nucleosynthesis of carbon must be relatively easy. One way for it to be easy would be if the energy was such that the triple-alpha process would work. He checked it, and the energy level was close to his prediction.

The only way anthropy comes into it is that we need carbon to live, so if there were less carbon in the universe, we probably wouldn’t exist. At least not in this form; maybe there’d be some other useful but exotic chemistry made less exotic by the change in carbon’s energy that would give rise to life in some form.

Anthropic proponents have picked up on the triple-alpha as an example of the Anthropic Principle

Comment #24634

Posted by NelC on April 13, 2005 11:34 AM (e)

Eh, it wasn’t really an anthropic argument that Fred Hoyle made, merely an observational one. Since there is an awful lot of carbon in the universe, he reasoned, nucleosynthesis of carbon must be relatively easy. One way for it to be easy would be if the energy was such that the triple-alpha process would work. He checked it, and the energy level was close to his prediction.

The only way anthropy comes into it is that we need carbon to live, so if there were less carbon in the universe, we probably wouldn’t exist. At least not in this form; maybe there’d be some other useful but exotic chemistry made less exotic by the change in carbon’s energy that would give rise to life in some form.

Anthropic proponents have picked up on the triple-alpha as an example of the Anthropic Principle, but I don’t know that Hoyle particularly liked the idea.

Comment #24644

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 12:35 PM (e)

Glen Davidson wrote:

So you’re saying that polymers aren’t the result of organization?

That’s correct. Polymers are ordered systems that can be explained by known chemical and physical effects, just as snowflakes and other types of crystals. Organization adapts means to ends. Structures support other structures, processes support other processes and all of the structures and processes support a specific outcome. Polymers are not in this catagory.

The IDer has to make improper distinctions between words, for he cannot show the difference between organization and ordering. There can be some difference in meaning between the two words, but any break is as artificial as is the assumption that organization has to be the result of “intelligence”.

I took great pains to distinguish the difference between order and organization. Read my paper:
http://www.charliewagner.net/casefor.htm

Comment #24647

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 12:42 PM (e)

Flint wrote:

Saying “This type of organization is not obtainable without insight” is like saying “The earth does not spin.” That is, a flat declarative statement. How about the voluminous evidence that such organization is not only obtainable but inevitable without insight, even greater than the evidence that the earth spins? So what? Charlie has stated his belief.

One example would shut me up.

The Believers simply cannot grasp that SAYING something is true doesn’t make it true.

Tell that to the darwinians. They apparently haven’t gotten the message yet.

Comment #24649

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 12:51 PM (e)

DaveL wrote:

Which shows the analogy is flawed.

It wasn’t my analogy, it was Pim’s.

The point is, I was defending the importance of incredulity in making judgements. Everyone demonizes the argument from incredulity but I happen to think it’s very useful. The human brain is capable of making judgements about what is possible and what is not possible. We should listen to those judgements and not reject them out of hand.
http://tinyurl.com/6v8ms

Comment #24651

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 12:56 PM (e)

I took great pains to distinguish the difference between order and organization

Of course you did, you just didn’t get it right. Use determines meaning. Top-down metaphysical thinking does not, at least not among inductive thinkers.

–Charles before– “Ordered systems can result from non-intelligent processes, as has been seen many times and cited by numerous examples. Organized systems cannot.”

–Glen before– “Why of course I organized myself through intelligence when I developed from a zygote. I’m pretty proud of how intelligent I was then.”

Stayed away from the above response, I see. And naturally I know the standard ID answer to exquisite “animal designs” like trap-door spider burrows, and to the self-organization seen in development. They move back, and make God (the “designer”) ultimately responsible, thus entirely voiding their claims that intelligence is necessary as a scientific cause.

Ultimate causes aren’t part of science. They belong to the ancient Greek “aition”, to teleology, to JAD’s conception of “science”. We are concerned with proximate causes for one very good reason–these can be investigated, and also seem adequate to practice science. ID’s “aition” cannot be investigated as a scientific, or acceptable courtroom, “cause” mainly because one cannot follow “efficient causation” back to this “responsible figure”. Thus we cannot establish responsibility for evolution, for self-organizing processes, for development.

So if you can’t tell me how I intelligently organized myself during development, and we can study self-organizing processes in the developing brain, the well-developed brain is going to go with the latter study. You can parse words all you want, just don’t interfere with actual research and the proper reporting and teaching of that research.

Comment #24652

Posted by jeebus on April 13, 2005 1:09 PM (e)

“I was defending the importance of incredulity in making judgements.”

Incedulity is important for raising questions, not answering them. It is not a good debate tactic to state an incredulity, sit back, and pretend that you are the all-knowing person who’s “lightbulb moment” deserves special attention.

Why don’t you try going out there and DOING something about it.

Until then, incredulity won’t do too well against actual evidence, that just happens to have the support of (by and large) the entire scientific community.

So, let’s practice… If you think it is incredulous that the entire scientific community believes in “macroevolution,” then please prove us wrong.

Don’t just throw out an hypothesis, define your own terms, and then stick your head in the sand, declaring victory for the ignorant and ignorance for truth.

Comment #24661

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 1:50 PM (e)

Glen Davidson wrote:

Stayed away from the above response, I see.

Yes, because I’ve answered that question and addressed that issue so many times that I started to feel nauseous. There’s a factory in Japan that builds cars that is completely automated. Computer programs run the machines that build the cars. Only one or two humans are present to monitor the processes and make sure there are no breakdowns. Do you think that these cars are building themselves, without any intelligent input? The computer algorithms contain all the information that is necessary to carry out the organization and assembly of the cars. Intelligent humans wrote the computer algorithms and tested them to make sure they were performing according to their design.
The information, the intelligence that causes a zygote to develop into a living organism is presnt in the genome. The genome is similar to a computer algorithm and is the product of intelligence just as surely as the computers in the factory. The analogy is stunningly simple and compelling.
You didn’t intelligently design yourself during development any more than the car designed and built itself in the automated factory. The intelligence was already present, and came from outside the system.
I too believe in studying proximate causes and the proximate cause that effects the development of the organism is the genome, which we are studying and will continue to study. Where the genes ultimately came from is not now within the realm of science to determine.

Comment #24666

Posted by DaveL on April 13, 2005 2:06 PM (e)

You didn’t intelligently design yourself during development any more than the car designed and built itself in the automated factory.

Another lovely analogy. Call us back when the auto factory begins producing other auto factories, not cars. Then evolution might act on it.

Or perhaps, like Avram Davidson’s coat hangers and bicycles, the car is merely the larval stage of the car factory?

Comment #24667

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 2:14 PM (e)

Jeebus wrote:

Incedulity is important for raising questions, not answering them. It is not a good debate tactic to state an incredulity, sit back, and pretend that you are the all-knowing person who’s “lightbulb moment” deserves special attention.

Not everyone agrees with you on this. “Lightbulb moments” are the basis for much scientific discovery. We’re beginning to appreciate the power of the computer, the analog computer that exists in our brain. A computer capable of more deeply understanding the world than the scientific method. I’m not advocating that we abandon the scientific method, but enhancing it by giving “imagination” it’s proper respect. The scientific method is abundantly useful, but it has it’s limitations, limitations that have been demonstrated over and over.
The recent failures in our intelligence system can be directly attributed to applying the scientific method to intelligence analsis. Intelligence is more than just numbers and computer analyses. It’s understanding people, their motivations, feelings and predicting how they will behave. Only an analog computer, the human mind, can do this. The stunning failure of applying the scientific method to the social sciences still reverberates.
There are more paths to truth than are found in the scientific method and we should stop denying that. The whole is not the sum of its parts, it’s more. In the real world, 2 + 2 might equal 42.

“We live in a society dedicated to the idea that we’re always better off gathering as much information and spending as much time as possible in deliberation. As children, this lesson is drummed into us again and again: haste makes waste, look before you leap, stop and think. But I don’t think this is true. There are lots of situations–particularly at times of high pressure and stress–when haste does not make waste, when our snap judgments and first impressions offer a much better means of making sense of the world.”
Malcolm Gladwell in “Blink”

Comment #24672

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 2:32 PM (e)

Do you think that these cars are building themselves, without any intelligent input?

Do you think that intelligence is the issue in automated factories? The fact is that intelligence worked through partially known causes, on causes, and intelligence itself does nothing at all. All you guys do is to credit ultimate causes, and stay completely outside of scientific explanation.

“Intelligence” doesn’t mean anything by itself, nor does “design”, and IDists fail completely to understand that intelligence is a question for science, not an answer to shortcut around science. It’s the whole language problem yet again, you think that your understanding is correct, when all it happens to do is to preclude proper investigation.

You didn’t intelligently design yourself during development any more than the car designed and built itself in the automated factory. The intelligence was already present, and came from outside the system.

That is to say, intelligence wasn’t needed for my organization. It hardly matters whether or not “intelligence” was involved at some distance back, what does matter is that, like polymers, human zygotes can organize completely well without intelligence acting. You want to shift responsibility to “intelligence”, without showing that there is any causal chain to follow back to this intelligence. Which apparently you cannog address or cannot understand, and why we know that you’re not doing science with your words.

Where is this “intelligence”, and what is it doing? You’re using terms that mean nothing except in context. And so you again fail to explain how self-organization occurs without intelligence, simply because you don’t even know what a scientific explanation is.

There is very little point in discussing science with IDists, and this is a prime example. You don’t say what “intelligence” is in the first place because you don’t know how to deal with issues scientifically. Intelligence is a metaphysical fiction that you invoke like Canaanites invoked Baal to “explain” rain.

Obviously the point about automated factories is really that “intelligence” simply isn’t needed for organization, only the proper configurations of proximate causes. And you can’t even understand the implications your own analogy.

Comment #24675

Posted by steve on April 13, 2005 2:37 PM (e)

So Charlie, how is it that biologists, physicists, molecular biologists, etc, fail to appreciate your ideas? You’ve explained your basic ideas 1000 times. Why do you think they can’t understand it? Surely you have some belief about why this is.

Comment #24676

Posted by Russell on April 13, 2005 2:44 PM (e)

The analogy is stunningly simple and compelling.

Well, you’re 1/2 right. Seems to me we never got past this dilemma:

Living systems can be thought of as complex machines.

All complex machines for which we know the origins were designed and built - ultimately - by humans (though perhaps indirectly, using robots as intermediaries).

Ergo: living systems must have been designed and built by humans.

Comment #24677

Posted by linus on April 13, 2005 2:45 PM (e)

“In the real world, 2 + 2 might equal 42”

This seems like a very strong argument based on classic
scientific works of Douglas Adams. The H2G2 principle
has been extended to a General theory here.

Comment #24681

Posted by Greg on April 13, 2005 2:52 PM (e)

As I understand developmental biology, not all of the processes are directed by genes (the putative “intelligence” that is “designing” the fetus from the inside out). Some processes are in fact essentially Darwinian, the result of random occurrences being acted upon by selection. One example is the “competition” between two “X” chromosomes in a human female–only one expresses, and which of the two original Xs expresses is a matter of competition. Also, I believe a similar process is involved in the formation of fingers and toes, in which an essentially unguided selection process helps differentiate between the digits and the spaces between the digits. Forgive me if my science is a little off–I am not scientist, just an interested layperson. A real scientist could, I’m sure, correct my perceptions. But from what I understand, in some sense it’s Darwinian action all the way down.

Comment #24684

Posted by David Heddle on April 13, 2005 2:55 PM (e)

Nelc,

Eh, it wasn’t really an anthropic argument that Fred Hoyle made

Eh, you might want to inform anti-IDer Stenger about that.

Comment #24687

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 3:07 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

Living systems can be thought of as complex machines.

All complex machines for which we know the origins were designed and built - ultimately - by humans (though perhaps indirectly, using robots as intermediaries).

Ergo: living systems must have been designed and built by humans.

I’ve got an even better one for you to think about:

Living systems can be thought of as complex machines.

All complex machines for which we know the origins are made of metal, plastic and glass.

Ergo: living systems are made of metal, plastic and glass.

Now if you can figure out what’s wrong with this analogy, it might be a clue as to what’s wrong with your analogy.

Comment #24689

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 3:13 PM (e)

, I believe a similar process is involved in the formation of fingers and toes, in which an essentially unguided selection process helps differentiate between the digits and the spaces between the digits.

The human body, or just the human brain, is extremely more complex and information-rich than is the genome. Self-ordering processes are essential for the formation of the brain into a competent organ. But I wouldn’t call such events “essentially unguided”, for there is generally some sort of guidance at some level, no matter how self-organizing the process is.

A lot of what happens is that guidance is given in various ways, whether genetically or through some process that involves genes in some manner, which, however, go well beyond simple genetic control. It is essential that our eyes and brains develop under the proper conditions so that they will react to stimuli in appropriate ways, for the genome is hardly “intelligent enough” to order the brain in such a way that it deals competently with environmental data. Nevertheless, genetics does have a controlling influence in the entire process, as we can see from the poor brain development in any number of chromosomal abnormalities.

I mentioned the self-ordering processes existing in development, but such matters are lost on IDers. The fact is that they are stuck with their analogies and lack of understanding of what “intelligence” means in science. They can’t imagine the brain being produced by anything other than intelligence, when of course it is the guided self-organizing processes that actually hone intelligence to true competence. The genome can’t make a brain, for it doesn’t have anywhere near the information to do so. Environment alone can’t make a brain (in a few years, that is), but self-organization along with the proper genetic information can produce a brain.

Intelligence has never been observed to produce a brain. Computers, yes, but a brain can make a computer (in conjunction with a body), while a computer cannot make a brain (epistemically it is moot at this point whether or not it may be able to in the future). Self-organization makes a brain competent to deal with its environment, and evolution is involved on the genetic side of “brain making”.

Comment #24691

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 3:20 PM (e)

steve wrote:

So Charlie, how is it that biologists, physicists, molecular biologists, etc, fail to appreciate your ideas? You’ve explained your basic ideas 1000 times. Why do you think they can’t understand it? Surely you have some belief about why this is.

I think that large numbers of them do appreciate the inadequacy of the darwinian mechanism and the need for a deeper explanation but they have nothing to replace it with and they fear giving comfort and aid to creationists and getting involved in a political firestorm.

Comment #24693

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 13, 2005 3:35 PM (e)

Charlie W:

You said “A is a subset of B; every B has the property P; therefore, A has the property P.”

Russell said “Let’s assume that A is a subset of B; every B has the property P, AND ALSO the property Q; therefore, A has both properties P and Q.”

You counter that “A is a subset of B; every B (except any A) has the property R; therefore, A has the property R.”

It’s not very hard to see where your reasoning is unsound.

By the way, even your first reasoning is easily shown to be flawed: you define A as a subset of B based on ONE definition of B, but then attribute property P to B based on ANOTHER definition of B, WITHOUT showing that both definitions of B actually generate the same set B.

Of course, you will not recognize your elementary equivocation. The problem is all yours.

Comment #24702

Posted by Dan Baker on April 13, 2005 3:50 PM (e)

I really like the “leaping across a crevasse” metaphor, except I would make it a blind jumper. It is an appropriate metaphor for the issues that evolution must address. How does evolution address leaping across a large crevasse? I know of two ways.

First, evolution states that the large crevasse is an illusion. There were really many smaller crevasses that evolution jumped across easily, we just can not see them anymore. (They are simply missing from the fossil record.)

Second, evolution states that as each small leap is made, genetic bridges are made across these small crevasses forming large bridges. These large bridges then can be used to jump across large crevasses.(The Theory of Co-Option)

Charlie Wagner, don’t you think evolutionists are imaginative? I find the explanations very imaginative, not very scientific, as they are not observed in real time or tested, but very imaginative.

Comment #24704

Posted by HPLC_Sean on April 13, 2005 3:53 PM (e)

Mr. Wagner, you’ve just proposed that scientists are repressing their resistance to Darwin because they fear political persecution. Besides this being grossly proposterous, you did not answer Steve’s question despite quoting his very poignant question in your reply.
Your credibility as a theorist, in my eyes at least, has sunk below the threshold of interesting and has descended into the domain of quasi-theistic junk lacking all fecundity or benefit to society.

Comment #24705

Posted by Colin on April 13, 2005 3:55 PM (e)

That’s a very nicely organized response, AN. It’s like the LSAT all over again.

Comment #24710

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 4:03 PM (e)

nominee wrote:

The problem is all yours.

Not really because I understand what an analogy is and I know the difference between an analogy and a formal proof and I know the limitations of both.
My argument is not a proof it’s an analogy. I get to set the terms of the analogy and I get to choose the comparators. You cannot come along and change the parameters of my analogy. You are free to accept or reject my conclusions because an analogy is not a proof, it’s only as good as its ability to persuade. You must assess for yourself the degree of similarity between the comparators and make your judgement. If you are not persuaded, so be it. But you can’t change the analogy itself.
I’m comparing living organisms with complex, highly organized machines. I’m suggesting that if complex, highly organized machines are the product of intelligent design, then living organisms, due to their similarities with complex, highly organized machines must have similar requirements.
In my second example, it can clearly and unequivocally demonstrated that living orgaanisms are not made of metal, plastic and glass. So the analogy fails. By the same reasoning, it can fairly certainly be demonstrated that humans did not design living organisms. Again, the analogy fails. With my analogy, however, the conclusion, that intelligent input was required to generate living systems, has not been disroven, therefore the analogy succeeds in proportion to its ability to persuade.

Comment #24712

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 4:13 PM (e)

therefore the analogy succeeds in proportion to its ability to persuade.

You said it. And that it can persuade the incompetent has been shown. But fortunately those who know how to think recognize the many unwarranted assumptions needed even to propose such an analogy.

Comment #24717

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 4:23 PM (e)

HPLC_Sean wrote:

Your credibility as a theorist, in my eyes at least, has sunk below the threshold of interesting and has descended into the domain of quasi-theistic junk lacking all fecundity or benefit to society.

I’m chagrined.

Comment #24719

Posted by frank schmidt on April 13, 2005 4:25 PM (e)

Charlie Wagner:I think that large numbers of them do appreciate the inadequacy of the darwinian mechanism

Charlie, this is balderdash. Your term “large numbers” is impermissably vague. The only way out is for you to identify the biologists and physicists who are expert in evolution and/or cosmology that you would regard as constituting significant support; otherwise you are guilty of Anonymous Authority: the authority in question is not named

Comment #24722

Posted by sir_toejam on April 13, 2005 4:45 PM (e)

From Charlie’s high school paper:

“I’m sorry to report that not one of them provides any evidence, either observational or experimental that demonstrates that random, accidental events can ever accumulate in such a way as to result in the appearance of complex, highly organized and integrated structures, processes and systems”

far be it from me to correct ALL the innacuracies in your term paper. Let me just deal with this one, which i see as a very common misunderstanding among high school students with no background in evolutionary theory:

randomness is only propsed to act on genetic mutation (it is not the only proposed mechanism, BTW). It does not act as a selective agent, by definition.

so, while you can have random mutations in a genome, selection then acts on the resulting phenotypes in an entirely NON-random fashion.

clearer?

mutation=random
selection=nonrandom

okeedokee?

Comment #24723

Posted by Russell on April 13, 2005 4:45 PM (e)

the analogy succeeds in proportion to its ability to persuade.

Exactly.

In my second example, it can clearly and unequivocally demonstrated that living orgaanisms are not made of metal, plastic and glass.

Your assumption that that living systems were not designed and built by humans - though I think a good one, because the humans are not known to overlap the origin of living systems in time - seems on less solid ground than an assumption that living systems were not designed and built by an entity not known to even exist anywhere in space or time.

Comment #24724

Posted by P. Mihalakos on April 13, 2005 4:52 PM (e)

You must assess for yourself the degree of similarity between the comparators and make your judgement. If you are not persuaded, so be it. But you can’t change the analogy itself.
  I’m comparing living organisms with complex, highly organized machines. I’m suggesting that if complex, highly organized machines are the product of intelligent design, then living organisms, due to their similarities with complex, highly organized machines must have similar requirements.

“MUST” have similar requirements? Why? All living things may be complex adaptive systems, but certainly not all complex systems are alive.

As far as metaphors go, comparisons between biological entities and machines can be useful, yet they are not without their hazards. One of possibly several reasons why the analogy used above is insufficient to pursuade anyone to accept the offered conclusion, is that it reveals an old and fatal confusion about parts and wholes.

To paraphrase Kant: A machine is a functional unity such that its parts exist for each other in context of a particular activity or set of activities. In contrast, an organism is simultaneosly a functional unity AND a structural unity, in which the parts exist FOR and BY MEANS OF themselves. Or, in Kauffman’s parlance, an organism is different because it can act on its own behalf.

Now, again I ask, “MUST” anything that appears highly organized be attributed to an intelligent designer?

Comment #24725

Posted by PZ Myers on April 13, 2005 4:52 PM (e)

I will remind you all of what I said above:

the creationist evades the key points, makes up false assertions about the data, references out-of-date creationist misinterpretations, and flings out non sequiturs wildly.

Now look at the creationists, Wagner, Davison, and Heddle, here in these comments. They haven’t even touched Zimmer’s argument about the utility of evolution in research and instead are doing exactly as I described. QED.

Oh, and Wagner’s claims about why biologists aren’t embracing ID? Total nonsense from someone who knows nothing about how biologists think.

Comment #24731

Posted by sir_toejam on April 13, 2005 5:02 PM (e)

“Now look at the creationists, Wagner, Davison, and Heddle, here in these comments. They haven’t even touched Zimmer’s argument about the utility of evolution in research and instead are doing exactly as I described. QED”

Point taken.

so remind us as to what the point is of even having a discussion on this topic to begin with?

Comment #24733

Posted by PZ Myers on April 13, 2005 5:07 PM (e)

It’s useful for pointing out the vacuity of the creationist position.

Comment #24735

Posted by HPLC_Sean on April 13, 2005 5:16 PM (e)

… and for keeping what is taught to rational, impressionable young skeptics within the realm of science!

Comment #24736

Posted by David Heddle on April 13, 2005 5:18 PM (e)

PZ,

As usual, you are full of wind, piss, and excitement. All I did was answer a request for an example. Is that what you described?

The only thing that you have demonstrated is, as you alluded to, your ability to talk (and only talk) about science.

Comment #24737

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2005 5:19 PM (e)

It’s useful for pointing out the vacuity of the creationist position.

And maybe to point out the need to teach legitimate science so that we can reduce the level of incoherence and incomprehension that we see in the posts of Heddle, Davison, and Wagner. If anything examples the need to throttle ID it is the words of the IDists.

Comment #24739

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 5:22 PM (e)

Frank Schmidt wrote:

otherwise you are guilty of Anonymous Authority: the authority in question is not named.

I plead guilty and throw myself on the mercy of the court.

Comment #24744

Posted by Boronx on April 13, 2005 5:27 PM (e)

But you can’t build a bridge across a crevasse unless you are already on the other side so you have a point of attachment.

Actually, you can and they have.

Comment #24745

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 5:29 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

Your assumption that that living systems were not designed and built by humans - though I think a good one, because the humans are not known to overlap the origin of living systems in time - seems on less solid ground than an assumption that living systems were not designed and built by an entity not known to even exist anywhere in space or time.

We cannot make the assumtion that human intelligence is the highest form of intelligence in the universe. It is quite possible that there are life forms that are as far above us as we are above slime molds (no disrespect to slime molds).

Comment #24748

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 13, 2005 5:32 PM (e)

Charlie W:

No, you propose an analogy that breaks down in the first term, as you haven’t shown that “complex machines” are “intelligently designed”, precisely because you included “living systems” in your definition.

In other words, any time you try to expand the definition of “complex machines” to include “living systems”, by that very act you break down your analogy.

On the other hand, everybody knows that you are not to be bothered to think clearly through your arguments; they only need to sound convincing to yourself, and never mind that people trained in formal thinking find them flawed.

Now, go back to the drawing board and try to improve your analogy, for instance by showing us why property “P” (i.e., being intelligently designed”) shouldn’t also imply property “Q” (i.e., being designed by human beings). It’s easy, really: just cough up an intelligent designer that is not a human being.

Comment #24750

Posted by Boronx on April 13, 2005 5:35 PM (e)

The anthropic principle has nothing to do with ID since it doesn’t say anything about causality. It’s just the observation that we exist, so the universe must be such that we *can* exist. That’s not saying that the universe was created in order that we might exist.

The reason the anthropic principle is used the way it’s used is because we know more about our own existence than we do about the properties of the universe.

Comment #24751

Posted by Gav on April 13, 2005 5:39 PM (e)

Actually I rather like Charlie Wagner’s parable of the crevasse. If you saw a friend waving to you from the other side, you’d most likely conjecture that he or she had found their own way up, or around. If you were curious, you might investigate ways in which they could have done this, and might learn something interesting or even useful in the process. If on the other hand you said “it’s evidently too wide to jump, so some other unknown agency must be involved”, well that’s an extraordinary claim which would require extra-ordinary evidence. How do you like those apples .. no sorry that’s somebody else. Anyway, our ID friends really do need to spend more time on finding their evidence.

Comment #24752

Posted by sir_toejam on April 13, 2005 5:39 PM (e)

“I plead guilty and throw myself on the mercy of the court”

the court was out on this long ago. now you are just asking the scraps of your arguments not be eaten by the wolves….and the wolves apparently find your scraps awfully tasty.

;)

Comment #24753

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 13, 2005 5:41 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

Your assumption that that living systems were not designed and built by humans - though I think a good one, because the humans are not known to overlap the origin of living systems in time - seems on less solid ground than an assumption that living systems were not designed and built by an entity not known to even exist anywhere in space or time.

We cannot make the assumtion that human intelligence is the highest form of intelligence in the universe. It is quite possible that there are life forms that are as far above us as we are above slime molds (no disrespect to slime molds).

Comment #24755

Posted by Russell on April 13, 2005 5:47 PM (e)

We cannot make the assumtion that human intelligence is the highest form of intelligence in the universe.

No, indeed. And we don’t make that assumption. But you’re assuming a hell of a lot more than that.

Comment #24840

Posted by Thomas on April 14, 2005 1:05 AM (e)

Myers wrote:

Zimmer’s original article was entirely about the evolutionary science behind AIDS research; why should he have been expected to waste his time with the weebly rantings of uninformed idiots?

Sounds nice, except that wasn’t what Zimmer did. In both his articles about the changes in the HIV virus he included barbs at the ID people. Either you ignore creationism and only write about the science, or you make sure your attacks on creationism are correct.

Comment #24841

Posted by Thomas on April 14, 2005 1:08 AM (e)

Myers wrote:

Zimmer’s original article was entirely about the evolutionary science behind AIDS research; why should he have been expected to waste his time with the weebly rantings of uninformed idiots?

Sounds nice, except that wasn’t what Zimmer did. In both his articles about the changes in the HIV virus he included barbs at the ID people. Either you ignore creationism and only write about the science, or you make sure your attacks on creationism are correct.

Comment #24844

Posted by Marek14 on April 14, 2005 5:03 AM (e)

Is there, according to ID, any possibility of process that would generate GREATER intelligence than it requires to run? This is what really peeves me. If there is some “ultimate intelligence” that doesn’t require an explanation, why would OUR own intelligence require one? Or is there an infinite regression of more-and-more intelligent beings? Or did some prior high intelligence emerge by some “natural” means (where by “natural” I mean natural for it, it might look quite supernatural to us), and if so, why could it and couldn’t we (arguably simpler cases)?

Comment #24847

Posted by Russell on April 14, 2005 6:49 AM (e)

Excerpts from letter to editor, Columbus Dispatch http://www.dispatch.com/editorials$story.php?story=dispatch/2005/04/14/20050414$A12$03.html[replace $ with hyphen; registration required]
Thursday, April 14, 2005

Anti-Christian film at COSI* is propaganda
*[the local science museum]

…the COSI Columbus evolutionism movie Volcanoes of the Deep Sea is anti-Christian from its foundational assumptions.

Evolutionism is described by recognized authorities both within and outside its ranks as a religious position at odds with any orthodox belief in Christ….

The only way evolutionism could have any scientific standing is upon the presupposition there is no God. Either a great intelligence generated us in a process our far-weaker minds would rightly call miraculous, or we made ourselves purely by the will of rocks and dirt, mere mindless minerals, as is the belief of Darwin’s disciples….. Any self-proclaimed Christian who simultaneously promotes evolutionist teachings is deluded, lying or of unsound mental faculties in the areas of reason and logic…. COSI is not a real science museum, as it promotes the faith position of evolutionism with our tax dollars. (Atheists should support their own indoctrination centers just as other faith groups are forced to do, by the way.)

People should be more informed on this fundamental area of origins and what assumptions support or destroy a Christian worldview…

QUENTIN L.F. PATCH

Comment #24861

Posted by NelC on April 14, 2005 9:32 AM (e)

David, I think I stand by my comment. I think Stenger and others are claiming the discovery of the triple-alpha process as a support for the Anthropic Principle retroactively. Unless Hoyle invented the Anthropic Principle a couple of decades early, I don’t believe he was thinking anthropically at the time. The link you gave doesn’t actually say so, as far as I can tell.

But I could be wrong, the last Hoyle I read was “A for Andromeda”.

Comment #24879

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 14, 2005 11:03 AM (e)

P Mihalakos wrote:

To paraphrase Kant: A machine is a functional unity such that its parts exist for each other in context of a particular activity or set of activities. In contrast, an organism is simultaneosly a functional unity AND a structural unity, in which the parts exist FOR and BY MEANS OF themselves. Or, in Kauffman’s parlance, an organism is different because it can act on its own behalf.

Now, again I ask, “MUST” anything that appears highly organized be attributed to an intelligent designer?

Kauffman is wrong again, as he has been on so many other issues. It doesn’t make a bit of difference whether a living organism can reproduce itself, act on its own behalf or
the etiology of the parts. Intelligently designed machines also have structural unity in that each of the parts not only supports its own function, it also supports the functions of the other parts.
The mousetrap is an example of such a complex, organized machine. Each part of the mousetrap, the platform, the holding bar, the spring, the hammer and the catch each have specific functions. And each of these functions are organized in such a way that they support the functions of the other parts as well as the overall function of the mousetrap, which is to catch mice. The function of the platform is to hold the parts, but it’s there ultimately to facilitate the process of mouse catching. The function of the spring is to exert a force on the hammer, but it’s ultimate goal is to enable the process of mouse catching. All of the parts have functions that not only support the other functions, but ultimately support the overall function of the device.
Living organism have the same characteristics. They employ structures and processes that work together to support each other and to support the specific outcomes of the entire system.
Any machine, whether it is a living organism or a human designed and built machine has the absolute requirement of intelligent input. There are no exceptions.

Comment #24881

Posted by Aureola Nominee on April 14, 2005 11:08 AM (e)

Any machine, whether it is a living organism or a human designed and built machine has the absolute requirement of intelligent input. There are no exceptions.

You forgot to add the conclusive piece of evidence: “…because Chuck W. says so!”

Comment #24925

Posted by Boronx on April 14, 2005 2:24 PM (e)

It doesn’t make a bit of difference whether a living organism can reproduce itself.

Why doesn’t it matter? It’s an example of how such “machines” can come into existence without intelligent input. It’s happening all the time around you. What intelligent input is required to turn an egg into a chicken?

Comment #24927

Posted by Boronx on April 14, 2005 2:30 PM (e)

All of the parts have functions that not only support the other functions, but ultimately support the overall function of the device.

Oh really?

There’s an old psychology experiment that goes something like this.

You are placed in a room with two strings hanging down from the ceiling. Your task, using a pair of pliers, is to tie them together. But they are far enough apart that you can’t hold on to one string and grab the other.

It’s an experiment, but it’s really a lesson in Taoism. The name is not the thing.

Comment #24929

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 14, 2005 2:57 PM (e)

boronx wrote:

You are placed in a room with two strings hanging down from the ceiling.

Well, I would tie one string to the pliers and swing it like a pendulum to bring the string closer to the other one. Nothing mystical about that. But how does that relate to my statement and what does it have to do with Taoism?

Comment #24931

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 14, 2005 3:02 PM (e)

boronx wrote:

What intelligent input is required to turn an egg into a chicken?

Haven’t you read this thread?

See my reply above: 24661

24661

Comment #24936

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 3:21 PM (e)

“The genome is similar to a computer algorithm and is the product of intelligence just as surely as the computers in the factory”

actually, a typical genome (the genome? WTH does that mean?) is not very similar to a computer algorithm (er, you mean program? algorithms are mathematical constructs that have nothing to do with computers, per say) at all.

can you demonstrate, with actual knowledge of how base sequences are arranged, how a typical genome (shit, pick any one you like, it doesn’t have to be a complete one, but it has to be a REAL set of sequences, not an imaginary one) is anything like a computer program (again, please compare the code from a REAL computer program, not an imaginary construct)?

once you have done that, I’ll believe your responses to have a bit more credibility.

cheers

Comment #24949

Posted by Henry J on April 14, 2005 3:48 PM (e)

In typical computers, the instructions have to be executed in a particular sequence (aside from occasional jumps). Ergo, haphazard changes to instructions are most likely going to break something.

In DNA, as I understand it, there is no order of execution of the “instructions” as such. Perhaps a much better analogy might be a recipe rather than a program: a list of ingredients, perhaps with timing and quantity indicators. And with recipes, a haphazard change might break something, but OTOH sometimes it might just change a proportion of one of the ingredients. (And perhaps a proportion in some body part of the resulting organism.)

Henry

Comment #24957

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 4:13 PM (e)

“In DNA, as I understand it, there is no order of execution of the “instructions” as such”

much closer to the observed reality, certainly.

I hate to be a parrot, but there is actually a very good primer about this over at the talk.origins site.

Comment #24962

Posted by Boronx on April 14, 2005 4:24 PM (e)

Wanger wrote:

Where the genes ultimately came from is not now within the realm of science to determine.

That’s not an answer. We know where the computer program in the factory comes from. Some guy wrote it. We know where the genes in a chicken egg come from. They are copies of another slightly different set of genes. The first obviously has intelligent input, the second does not require it.

Now, you suggest there might have been some intelligent input into the genes of the proto-chicken, but since there’s alot of evidence that chickens predate any known intelligence of the genetic-engineering caliber, you’re going to have to provide some real evidence of your own, or some deductive reasoning strong enough to counter the evidence we already have before anyone takes you seriously.

What you’re really saying is two things: that a certain level of complexity requires intelligence to come in to being, and life reaches that level. Both of these are bold statements that demand better support than hand waving and analogies.

Comment #24970

Posted by Boronx on April 14, 2005 4:34 PM (e)

Well, I would tie one string to the pliers and swing it like a pendulum to bring the string closer to the other one. Nothing mystical about that. But how does that relate to my statement and what does it have to do with Taoism?

A things function is merely what people have figured out what to do with it.

It’s possible to build design a decent mouse trap without even conceiving the possiblity of trapping mice. It’s possible to bridge a chasm without seeing the other side or even knowing there’s a chasm there, or even understanding the concept of a bridge.

A thing is not defined by it’s function any more than it’s defined by it’s name.

Comment #24972

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 4:40 PM (e)

“proto-chicken”

I’ve heard those things are a bit stringy. Will they still taste the same fried?

Comment #24973

Posted by Boronx on April 14, 2005 4:47 PM (e)

Will they still taste the same fried?

If the IDers are right, it tasted exactly the same.

Comment #24974

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 4:53 PM (e)

hmm, then i have a question

Does the fact that so many things taste like chicken when fried imply common descent, or design?

I submit for your amusment, the following:

http://www.improb.com/airchives/paperair/volume4/v4i4/chicken.htm

damn, isn’t the internet a wonderful thing?

cheers

Comment #24975

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 5:00 PM (e)

the author, at the end postulates:

Are millipedes ten times tastier than centipedes?

one thing i can tell you for sure, millipedes DON’T taste like chicken. They are plumb awful tasting, no matter how you slice em.

In fact, most are toxic. so don’t try this experiment at home!

Comment #25043

Posted by Boronx on April 14, 2005 10:03 PM (e)

In fact, most are toxic. so don’t try this experiment at home!

Oh, no worries.

Of course, this argument rests on the hearsay evidence that humans themselves have a “pork-like” flavor.

When you get down to the meat of the matter, the guy chickens out.

Comment #25045

Posted by sir_toejam on April 14, 2005 10:15 PM (e)

heh, indeed.

http://www.rotten.com/library/death/cannibalism/

Comment #25060

Posted by Wayne Francis on April 15, 2005 1:34 AM (e)

Welcome back Charlie, It has been what, about mid Feb that since you had and real amount of posting here?!

For those that are wondering Charlies position let me give you a summary

1. Charlie Wagner believes that the Universe is infinitely old.

While at a basic level this is not at odds with some current models his beliefs differs in that he believes the universe is infinitely old AND has been in a form that supports life, as we know it, the entire time. I’ll let David Heddle try to explain to Charlie why this view of the universe doesn’t fit with the data we see.

2. Charlie Wagner believes that life has always existed.

Just as there is no starting point to the universe there was no starting point to life. It has just always been here.

3. Charlie Wagner’s mysterious life is completely natural in nature.

Yet it could not have evolved itself…but then again it never needed to because it was always around.

4. Charlie Wagner’s mysterious life is bound to our space/time.

It does not travel to other space/times, universes.

5. Charlie has no concept of self organisation and emergent properties.

Everything in Charlie’s universe has to be pre-programmed.

I hope this helps those that are new to Charlie’s postings. As per normal crackpots he can never recognise any flaws with his hypothesis. For example the foundation of his claim, that the universe is infinitely old in the form that we see today, is highly flawed on the order of CW saying 1=∞. While the universe may be infinitely old it has not been a state that is conducive to life that entire time and has gone through drastic changes during this entire time.

Comment #25071

Posted by NelC on April 15, 2005 6:05 AM (e)

Well, I have to say, Charlie’s nutty ideas are more entertaining than that tired old ID-Creationist rubbish.

Is Charlie’s universe infinite in space also?

Comment #25083

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 15, 2005 8:15 AM (e)

Wayne Francis wrote:

Welcome back Charlie, It has been what, about mid Feb that since you had and real amount of posting here?!

Yes, I’ve been in the hospital with a triple bypass and a stroke. Here’s my report:

       It started just after midnight, Monday February 14th. First came the shortness of breath, followed in moments by the rales. I woke up Gail and informed her of what was happening. She wasn’t even out of bed when the gurgling started. My breaths became shorter and shorter.
      I knew I was in a world of shit.
       I threw on my shoes and a jacket and headed for the car. By the time I got there it was painfully obvious that I had only minutes before my window of life would close completely, perhaps forever. North Shore-Long Island Jewish hospital (the *good* hospital) was 20 minutes away. Fortunately, I was less than a mile from the Nassau University Medical Center (the county hospital). Gail dialed 911 while I struggled to keep breathing. I was literally drowning in my own body fluids.
       The cops were there in minutes. I was unconscious when I arrived at the hospital and the doctors were fast, efficient, and very young! I thought to myself, “I hope they know what they’re doing…” But I knew right away that I wasn’t going to die. I watched intently as they went about their business, like they had done it a thousand times before. Not like on ER! No shouting, no rushing, no emotion. The breathing tube was inserted, the IV installed, the Foley in place, the respirator hooked up. It was only a matter of minutes. This is all still clear in my consciousness. After all, I was standing right there watching them the whole time.
       I began to notice that the room was getting very bright, like someone had opened the window and the warm sunlight was streaming in. It got so bright that I could no longer see anyone in the room. I began to walk towards the one figure I could still see, down the corridor in front of me. As I approached, the figure did not become clearer, but more amorphous. A great wave swept over me, a sensation of complete peace, joy and contentment. As I approached the figure, it stepped aside and I looked into the beyond.
       I saw a young man nervously trying to get up the courage to ask a pretty girl on a date. I saw an old man, sitting quietly in front of his beloved wife’s casket, his head buried in his hands. I saw a young father, scolding his son for writing on the wall with a crayon. I saw a soldier, pinned down in a trench, praying to God that he would live to see his daughter get married. I saw my mother, walking across the street in Brooklyn to the neighborhood hospital, where she would give me life. I tried to understand what I was seeing.
      And then, God spoke to me.
      ”This thing you call time, is an artifact, composed of eidetic simulacra. Imagine that you are wandering over the surface of the earth for all eternity. Every point on the earth’s surface exists simultaneously, even though you are not present at all locations. So it is with time. Every point exists simultaneously, even though you are not there. The human mind creates beginnings and ends. There is no past, no present, no future. It’s all the same thing. Every moment, every event, every joy, every tragedy exists simultaneously. Only in your world, your mind, your reality is time linear, with beginnings and ends.”
       I pondered this for a while, trying to absorb this simple yet profound truth. Then I spoke to God.
      ”I want to go back. Send me back to Afghanistan. I’ll assemble an army, I’ll hunt down Osama bin Laden and convince him of the error of his ways. I’ll teach him about love and tolerance and humanity. I’ll save all those innocent people.”
       But God said no. “You’ll strike up a conversation with him. He’ll try to convince you that his actions are justified. You’ll listen and be convinced. You’ll join his cause and become an Ayatollah like Cat Stevens and move to Iran.”
       “Send me back. Send me back to Memphis. I’ll find Elvis, I’ll take away his drugs. I’ll tell him that we love him. I know that he will listen”.
      But God said no. “You’ll ask him if you can ride in his plane, come to Graceland and eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches. You’ll fall in love with his daughter and want to marry her.”
      I sensed that I was losing and that I would soon be beaten. I tried one last time. “Send me back to Calvary. I’ll talk to the Romans and convince them not to kill Jesus. If they don’t listen, I’ll help him escape, hide him in the desert. If they hurt him, I’ll treat his wounds, nurse him back to health, follow his teachings.”
      But again, God said no. “You would listen to his teachings, but you would not follow them. You would call yourself a Christian and claim to follow the precept ‘Resist not evil: but whoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also’, but you would make war on innocent women and children for the flimsiest of reasons. You would call yourself a Christian and you would claim to follow the example of Jesus to ‘judge not, lest ye be judged’, yet you would be filled with moral indignation and self righteousness and permit envy and hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue. You would believe in your heart that ‘if thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast, and give to the poor’, yet you would allow children in poor countries to go to sleep hungry, perhaps to die of malnutrition while you gather up to yourself great wealth, far beyond your simple needs.”
      God continued on. “I will not send you back in time because time belongs only to me. This is why I am who I am and you are who you are. All you have is now. That is the difference between us. Eternity belongs to me and I reserve it for myself. It is, you might say, the one real advantage that I have over you. You cannot change what you call the past and you cannot affect what you call the future. Now belongs to you. Do you want it?
       “Yes I do.”
      I turned slowly and began to walk back down the corridor. The bright light began to fade until it became almost impossible to see anything. Soon it was totally dark. I heard a voice calling my name and I slowly opened my eyes. It was Gail, standing at the side of my bed.

And here’s something you probably don’t need, but what the hell…

http://www.charliewagner.net/scar.jpg

Comment #25085

Posted by Charlie Wagner on April 15, 2005 8:25 AM (e)

NelC wrote:

Well, I have to say, Charlie’s nutty ideas are more entertaining than that tired old ID-Creationist rubbish.

Thanks! That’s what I’m here for…to entertain y’all. Too bad there isn’t a way for me to charge you for this ;-)

Comment #25204

Posted by sir_toejam on April 15, 2005 4:46 PM (e)

sorry, my sympathies regarding your illness are overwhelmed by my amusement at your logic.

please forgive me.

cheers

Comment #25223

Posted by Henry J on April 15, 2005 6:12 PM (e)

Re “Is Charlie’s universe infinite in space also?”

I’d rather wonder if the actual space is infinite or not, and if current theory says one way or the other.

Henry

Comment #25284

Posted by Marek14 on April 16, 2005 1:15 AM (e)

Hmmm… There was some talk about the universe having shape of Poincare dodecahedron (which is quite strange creature derived from 120-cell, one of 6 regular polytopes in four dimensions), but I don’t think it panned up.

Basically, the standard Einstein theory is that if the average density of universe is lesser or equal to the critical density, then it’s infinite. That does not actually follow (you can easily think up finite universes with zero or even negative curvature), but it’s the most simple assumption.

However, it seems clear that the universe is BIG enough that its finiteness/infiniteness doesn’t have a large impact on us right now.

Comment #25290

Posted by Pope 3rd on April 16, 2005 3:31 AM (e)

this kinda argument shouldn’t be debated online because most religious people have no idea what internet is yet.

Comment #25388

Posted by Henry J on April 16, 2005 9:02 PM (e)

Marek14,

Re “Basically, the standard Einstein theory is that if the average density of universe is lesser or equal to the critical density, then it’s infinite. That does not actually follow (you can easily think up finite universes with zero or even negative curvature), but it’s the most simple assumption.”

Yes, but that prediction was made before somebody invented dark energy, whatever that is. Does it still apply when that dark energy stuff is included?

Pope 3rd,

Re “this kinda argument shouldn’t be debated online because most religious people have no idea what internet is yet.”

Well, since biological evolution is science, not religion, that shouldn’t really matter.

Henry

Comment #25401

Posted by Marek14 on April 17, 2005 12:28 AM (e)

I have no idea. I thought dark energy only affects the expansion, not the shape, but I’m no expert.

Comment #25455

Posted by GT(N)T on April 17, 2005 12:18 PM (e)

Oh, my! We now have both an intelligent designer and an intelligent organizer! I wonder if these are manifestations of the same god or if they’re different dieties?

Comment #25511

Posted by Henry J on April 17, 2005 9:01 PM (e)

Marek14,
Re “I thought dark energy only affects the expansion, not the shape,”

That’s exactly why I have to wonder about it. I figure that per GR, a space dense enough to collapse due to gravity would be finite. But what about one that used to be dense enough for gravity to collapse it eventually (therefore finite) but which got pushed over the “edge”, so to speak, by dark energy acceleration. Would it jump from finite to infinite, or would it stay finite but simply keep expanding?

Henry

Comment #25524

Posted by Marek14 on April 18, 2005 12:21 AM (e)

I think it would stay finite. It’s a question of curvature. I don’t think you can have an infinite universe with positive curvature. (But you can have finite universe with zero or negative curvature. You may imagine such an universe as infinite space, built up of identical “universes” repeating ad infinitum. That’s a pretty wacky idea, it will help considering representation of torus as rectangle with identified opposite edges first :) )

Comment #25528

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on April 18, 2005 1:17 AM (e)

Charlie Wagner wrote:

Too bad there isn’t a way for me to charge you for this ;-)

Vice versa, actually.

Once we come up with an advertising policy and schedule of rates, we’ll be able to send you an invoice.