Tara Smith posted Entry 1526 on September 29, 2005 09:25 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1521

Things were hoppin’ last night in Cedar Falls for DI fellow Guillermo Gonzalez’s talk. I have about 6 pages of notes from the lecture and subsequent Q&A period here, so if yu’re interested in the nitty-gritty, read below. For anyone who just wants the newspaper version, I’ll try to provide a link to the story when it’s published. My thoughts are in italics below.

Edited to add: Not chance, but design, ISU professor says from the Des Moines Register (thanks, Jason Spaceman); ISU professor argues for intelligent design, from the Ames Tribune.

Additionally, wanted to add that the next Sigma Xi lecture, Thursday, Oct. 27, will present the other side of the ID argument, when John Staver, professor of science education and director of the Center for Science Education at Kansas State University, will speak on “Evolution vs. Intelligent Design: It’s Time to Saddle Up and Draw a Hard Line.”

The lecture took place in a pretty big lecture hall. I heard the seating capacity was 265, and all seats were full by 6:55 or so for the 7PM lecture. Others stood at the back or sat in the aisles, so there must have been at least 300 people there.

The title of his talk was, “What is ID?” He opened by saying what ID is not:

    creationism (doesn’t start with religious premises–rather, uses evidence of nature)(uh-huh. What about the Panda’s and People text? More on that in the questions.)
    natural theology
    a theory of mechanism
    cannot ID a designer uniquely
    not “Christian plot” or conspiracy theory

Then he went on to say what ID is:

    research program to answer scientific questions (such as “does nature display evidence of design?” (I thought that was already an assumption? A bit of circular reasoning here?)
    Design detection
    Testable and falsifiable

He went on to discuss “modern ID,” and mentioned two texts: Denton (1986), Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, and Thaxton, Bradley, and Olsen, Mystery of Life’s Origins (I might not have those names or title right–I don’t see that one in Amazon). He claimed ID is about specified complexity, then went on to talk about IC, giving the mousetrap example. (man, it was painful to listen to him talk about evolution.) He explained that IC items cannot be explained by direct Darwinian pathways, and that there is no direct evidence for indirect pathways that they may have evolved along. He noted that the flagella is an “icon” for ID, and said that the way to test for IC is just to do knockout experiments and see if it eliminates function.

He next talked about areas of ID focus in biology, which include the origin of life; origin of biological information (DNA); the Cambrian explosion; the origin of IC systems and machines; protein folding and assembly specificity (he kept mentioning Axe over and over throughout the talk–I really wish I’d boned up on the criticisms to Axe’s work beforehand); and convergence. Here he mentioned that Simon Conway Morris endorsed Gonzalez’s book. I’m only passingly familiar with him, so I wasn’t exactly sure what point this made here–is it related to convergence, or just the fact that another scientist supported him?

At this point, he went into Dembski’s Design Inference, and he made a big deal out of this being a “peer-reviewed” book. He then talked about specified complexity. He said that IC is a special case of SC–an indicator of activity of an intelligent agent, and used SETI (man, does he love that SETI example), archaeology, and forensics as examples. He then trotted out the Mt. Rushmore example, and said that complexity plus specificity always are a sign of intelligence.

Next he touched on the explanatory filter. Again, used the example of Contact and SETI (poor Sagan must be rolling in his grave). He asks first, do we have contingency? If yes, do we have complexity? If no, it’s chance. If yes, go on to ask–do we have specificity? If no, it’s again chance; if yes, then we can infer design. (I was looking around at this point; the crowd reaction was hilarious. Some literal jaw-drops, lots of laughing, and generally a group of people that weren’t swayed by the BS). The reaction was even better when he half-described Dembski’s calculations, and threw out his 10 to the 150th-power figure. I swear I heard guffaws.

After this, he went on to talk about modern ID and cosmology, beginning again with the timeline of this movement. He listed Henderson’s Fitness of Environment (1913) as a seminal text (Huh? I thought ID was “new”). Brown and Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1986) was another one. He then described the areas of focus of modern ID in physics:

    Fine-tuning for life: constants in physics, forms of laws of physics, etc.
    Properties of carbon and water
    Fine-tuning of local parameters; requirements for habitability. These are often discussed in the context of the anthropic principle.

Fine-tuning implies our universe is highly improbably. Ergo, design.

He talked about “rare earth” theories a bit then–the idea that complex life is rare. This alone isn’t enough to implicate design, though–it could be due to chance. Here’s where his Privileged Planet theory comes in. (And of course, he had plenty of DVDs there for everyone to buy as well).

So, TPP. In a nutshell, the same rare conditions that make the planet habitable also make it a great place for scientific measurement and discovery. He then mentioned that his book was funded by the Templeton foundation on a cosmology and fine-tuning grant, and claims he used methodological naturalism to collect evidence and examples of his “correlation”. (Whoopie!!) Examples include eclipses, planet neighbors, stars, galactic location, plate tectonics, transparency of atmosphere, cosmic time (?), and a fine-tuned cosmos. For example, there is a circumstellar habitable zone in which it is possible to have life. This determines the apparent size of the sun from earth. Having a large moon is also necessary for life, and this makes it more likely to have an eclipse. The earth is the most habitable place in the solar system, and also the most likely to see solar eclipses. Therefore, our existence on earth is linked to our ability to see solar eclipses. This link is established at the level of the laws of physics. (At least he sounded better talking about this stuff than he did about evolution). So, the pattern (from his n of 1) is that observers plus good conditions for observing go together. And, he’s “not a crackpot” (oh yeah, he said that) for saying that, because Kepler and Blumenberg observed the same thing.

He thinks that ID will be a paradigm shift–that it will shake metaphysical assumptions. He ended with that, then we went on to questions.

Some notable ones:

Q: why did you choose your 2 features (habitability + observability?) How does the “intrinsic value” (he mentions this in his book) get defined? A: for the “how did you choose” portion, he basically repeated what he’d already said in his lecture. For the “value” one, he said that everyone thinks astrobiology is a valid question. Answering a qustion about life elsewhere has intrinsic value. (Again, begging the question a bit here?)

Q: How to know when something is specific? A: he discussed pattern matching, and the necessity to bring in “background knowledge” of the item you’re trying to match it to.

Q: Link between design and intelligence. Is it intelligence? How do you study the designer? A: we have lots of experience with designed things. Even when we don’t see a designer, we infer design. We do this with ID but can’t ID the designer.

Q: You mentioned in the first slight that anti-ID people “mischaracterize” ID as religion or creationism. In light of the Wedge document and the use of “creationism” as a placeholder in the ID text “Pandas and Peoples” by ID-supportive authors, why do you still consider this a mischaracterization? A: ID stands alone, with or without its cultural implications. Brought up Dawkin’s quote about being an “intellectually fulfilled atheist,” asked if that makes Darwinism wrong. Religious views are irrelevant. (And yet his biggest criticism about Hector Avalos is that he’s an atheist!! My, the hypocrisy…) It’s not re-packaged creationism, because there was a 1987 court case (anyone know which one he’s talking about? I didn’t catch the names) and ID was already beginning before then.

He didn’t really address the “Pandas and People” item, but suggested that anyone who said ID was creationism was just a conspiracy theorist.

Q: What discoveries would falsify ID? A: for him–finding another planet with life but not good observability; finding life not based on carbon and water. Falsifying the bacterial flagella as IC for Behe, he claims.

Q: Some stuff I missed here on the philosophy of science, but then asked if one could make inductive arguments from ID. A: “Is SETI scientific?” (Told you he loved the SETI example) He kept asking that question over and over, not answering the question. It was pretty great–allowed everyone to see him evade. The guy beside the one who’d asked the question started clapping when they finally made Gonzalez stop asking about SETI, with a shout of “way to not answer the question!”

Q: “So now we have a theory that can explain everything?” (Audience laughs) A: TPP makes a specific prediction about finding supernovae. Predicted gamma ray bursts are standard candles (? There was still audience chatter and I couldn’t hear all of this answer).

Q: I’m an ecologist. A problem we run into is that it’s often easy to find what you’re looking for, even if it doesn’t exist. For instance, bats see Mt Rushmore as designed to provide roosting space. How do you deal with this? A: There’s a chapter in the book dealing with it. (There was some more back-n-forth here, where Gonzalez tried to mischaracterize her stance, then went back to the SETI thing. The questioner stuck to topic, saying “design is in the eye of the beholder,” with another person chiming in asking if the earth was designed for cockroaches. Almost as good as the philosophy exchange.)

Q: haven’t Behe’s IC systems already been refuted? A: Behe has a website dealing with that. I’m not a biologist.

There was also a question asking him when he came to believe ID, but that didn’t catch him on anything. Not as good as Jon Stewart’s question to Dembski.

Q: hy invoke ID–bad science, god of the gaps, made-up patterns. Is it only to feel comfortable? A: (Gonzalez was obviously testy here) That’s not specific enough. (He didn’t elaborate further)

Q: Lynn Margulis and symbiotic evolution–she suggests the flagella may have been a free-living spirochete that got co-opted. Might IC be explained by other examples like that? A: I’m not a biologist, but biologists need to be more open-minded.

Q: what are the practical applications of ID? A: (this one was great): if the universe is designed, that’s a truth of the universe we can know. This may lead us to ask other questions and look at the evidence more carefully.

(Yes, that’s really what he said).

There were a few other minor Q&As which I might put up later…have to run and wanted to get this out there. Overall, a rather entertaining night, but having seen him in person, I have even less respect and more incredulity for Gonzalez’s ideas.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #50105

Posted by KeithB on September 29, 2005 11:52 AM (e)

Anytime someone mentions Mt Rushmore in this context, there should be a question in the Q&A:
What about the ‘Old Man in the Mountain’? Was it designed or not?

Comment #50107

Posted by sanjait on September 29, 2005 12:00 PM (e)

Good work- These guys sound like politicians. The DI must have party whips to send out talking point memos to all their fellows, because they seem to read the same answers from the same scripts.

In fact, all of their minions on the Internet seem to read the same memos. It is disappointing to see that even everyday people talk like politicians now, and nobody seems to have qualms about making an argument they don’t understand, if it supports their side.

It is notable that most scientists in this debate attempt de novo synthesis of their understanding of the issues. Of course we learn from others, but mostly we don’t go around making claims we don’t understand. I think this is what many of us find so aggravating about ID people. We go through the intellectually honest and laborious process of studying, learning and thinking, and IDists just skip ahead, starting with a conclusion and then read a book that purports to justify it. Then, despite circumventing the whole learning process, while making some egregious errors that are clear to anyone who has given serious thought to these matters, they have the gall to tell us we don’t understand our field of expertise and aren’t open minded enough. *big sigh*

Comment #50111

Posted by Vyoma on September 29, 2005 12:14 PM (e)

Great example of intellectual charlatanry. If I were going to intelligently design a con-man, he’d come out just like Gonzalez. And like any really good con-man, he’s convinced of the “truth” in his circular reasoning and disproven assertions. One has to particularly appreciate the part where he repeatedly affirms that he’s not a biologist, yet feels qualified to criticize the fundamental unifying ideas of modern biology as if he understood what they were in the first place.

You have to give him this much… he certainly has balls to stand up on a stage and prevaricate this way in public.

Comment #50113

Posted by mike plavcan on September 29, 2005 12:18 PM (e)

The irony just made me choke on my lunch. I gave a talk in ID for Sigma Xi at the U of Arkansas last week, am giving one tomorrow at Fort Smith, and then to the Physics Department at U of A after that. The main points?
What ID is…
the newest Creationism…
natural Theology…
a theory with no mechanism…
the Biblical God is clearly the designer…
an evangelical fundamentalist Christian right wing plot.
What ID is not…
a scientific research program…
able to detect design.
I use their own words and published statements as much as possible to demonstrate the points.
The only thing I agree on is that some of the premises and claims are falsifiable. Sadly, they have been falsified.

Comment #50116

Posted by Steve Reuland on September 29, 2005 12:33 PM (e)

Q: What discoveries would falsify ID? A: for him—finding another planet with life but not good observability; finding life not based on carbon and water. Falsifying the bacterial flagella as IC for Behe, he claims.

How exactly does finding non-carbon based life demonstrate that carbon based life was not designed? It just doesn’t logically follow.

As usual, Gonzales confuses falsifying an argument with falsifying ID. The argument could be wrong yet ID still be correct. The fact that its own proponents keep coming up with obviously nonsensical explanations of how ID could be falsified is a good reason to think that it can’t be falsified.

Comment #50120

Posted by Charles Daney on September 29, 2005 12:49 PM (e)

Good job on the notes. Don’t have much time to comment now, but need to mention a couple of things, maybe more later.

The authors of the book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle are Barrow and Tipler (not Brown). Both authors are cosmologists who show an inclination to use cosmology for theistic purposes. The “anthropic principle” is a hot button issue in physics & cosmology, since in some forms it is used to draw theistic conclusions.

The idea of a “big bang” appeals to theistic people. It would be worthwhile for biologists arguing against ID to learn more about this, because the theistic interpretation of the “big bang” is part of the ID worldview. (Though most cosmologists reject this worldview.)

As for SETI, it seems quite germane. IDers would love to discover intelligent human-like species elsewhere, since if they show the same “design” that would be big time “proof” of ID.

Comment #50123

Posted by Tara Smith on September 29, 2005 1:02 PM (e)

As for SETI, it seems quite germane. IDers would love to discover intelligent human-like species elsewhere, since if they show the same “design” that would be big time “proof” of ID.

Yeah, but I don’t think that was the point of the continual SETI references–it was to hammer home the point that SETI is something that’s supported by many scientists, and it looks for “design.”

Also, thanks for the note on the book–I have to run now but I’ll correct it later.

What about the ‘Old Man in the Mountain’? Was it designed or not?

I’ve asked that before, but AFAIK, that’s a bit sketchy since parts of it have indeed been re-made over the years as it eroded. Never did look further into that, though.

Comment #50126

Posted by Piltdown Mann on September 29, 2005 1:07 PM (e)

It would seem that the 1987 court case he was talking about was the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard 482 U.S. 578, but it’s difficult to see how that case helps his argument at all, since the Supreme Court ruled against the Creationist side. Seventy-two American Nobel laureates in natural science signed an amicus curiae brief in that case. The brief is available on talkorigins.

Comment #50128

Posted by Stuart Weinstien on September 29, 2005 1:11 PM (e)

“Q: Lynn Margulis and symbiotic evolution—she suggests the flagella may have been a free-living spirochete that got co-opted. Might IC be explained by other examples like that? A: I’m not a biologist, but biologists need to be more open-minded.”

Crap. There goes my Mark VIII Irony meter.

Comment #50139

Posted by Joolya on September 29, 2005 2:08 PM (e)

I don’t get why having eclipses is so important.

Comment #50140

Posted by frank schmidt on September 29, 2005 2:13 PM (e)

tara wrote:

protein folding and assembly specificity (he kept mentioning Axe over and over throughout the talk—I really wish I’d boned up on the criticisms to Axe’s work beforehand); and convergence.

Presumably, the reference was to Axe et al. PNAS Vol. 93, Issue 11, 5590-5594, May 28, 1996 “Active barnase variants with completely random hydrophobic cores.” I fail to see how Gonzalez missed the following point, which demonstrates redundancy in the evolution of de novo protein function. In other words, Specified Complexity ain’t all that Specified.

Axe et al., 1996 wrote:

Since attainment of crude function is the critical initial step in evolutionary innovation, the relatively scant requirements contributed by the hydrophobic core would greatly reduce the initial hurdle on the evolutionary pathway to novel enzymes.

If this silliness is typical of Gonzalez’ “scholarship” I can predict that the DI will have another academic “martyr” to join Dembski on the milk carton as “ID[C] scholars [sic] who can’t have an academic career.”

Comment #50141

Posted by Steve Reuland on September 29, 2005 2:14 PM (e)

Piltdown Man wrote:

It would seem that the 1987 court case he was talking about was the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Edwards v. Aguillard 482 U.S. 578, but it’s difficult to see how that case helps his argument at all, since the Supreme Court ruled against the Creationist side.

I think his point was that since ID apparently existed before the 1987 case, then ID can’t be creationism. Of course that doesn’t follow – creationists may have decided on a “creationism lite” strategy well before they lost in court, knowing full well the problems they faced.

But even if we accept the flawed reasoning, he’s still wrong. ID advocates almost universally date their movement’s origins to the early 90s, not the late 80s. One can find vague references to ID as early as ‘87, but this does not constitute a movement, and moreover, it would seem to support the notion that ID was a reaction to the impending Edwards decision. Indeed, in the Of Pandas and People book, the term “creation” was used in the 1989 edition, and was replaced by “intelligent design” only in the 1993 edition. This not only demonstrates that creationism and intelligent design are interchangeable (for at least a large and active subset of its proponents), but that the change in terminology took place after creationism was defeated in court.

Comment #50142

Posted by Steve Reuland on September 29, 2005 2:17 PM (e)

frank schmidt wrote:

Presumably, the reference was to Axe et al. PNAS Vol. 93, Issue 11, 5590-5594, May 28, 1996 “Active barnase variants with completely random hydrophobic cores.”

The reference was probably to Axe’s 2000 or 2004 papers in JMB.

Comment #50146

Posted by Ginger Yellow on September 29, 2005 2:20 PM (e)

“Yeah, but I don’t think that was the point of the continual SETI references—it was to hammer home the point that SETI is something that’s supported by many scientists, and it looks for “design.””

SETI doesn’t look for “design”. It looks for radio messages something like the ones we humans send. There’s absolutely no analogy to biological “design”, since we don’t have any organisms that we know we (or anyone else) designed. Even if we had designed organisms, and based design research on that knowledge, we would still be looking for “human-like design”, not “intelligent design”. How the hell do we know what the evidence of an omnipotent being’s design process is? As ever ID begs the question.

Comment #50147

Posted by Flint on September 29, 2005 2:21 PM (e)

I don’t get why having eclipses is so important.

Because they happen. If they did NOT happen, then NOT having eclipses would be proof of design.

Comment #50148

Posted by CJ O'Brien on September 29, 2005 2:24 PM (e)

How exactly does finding non-carbon based life demonstrate that carbon based life was not designed? It just doesn’t logically follow.

No, it does not. But I think, the (il)logic goes something like this:
Water and carbon are the official designing materials of the Intelligent Designer.
The Intelligent Designer is the Only Designer.
Life found using other than the official design materials could not have been designed.

The ultimate conclusion to be drawn here, it would seem, is, if it can be shown that any living system was not designed, then no living system was designed.
Not sure that’s on the DI’s list of approved talking points.

Comment #50149

Posted by Flint on September 29, 2005 2:26 PM (e)

Even if we had designed organisms, and based design research on that knowledge, we would still be looking for “human-like design”, not “intelligent design”. How the hell do we know what the evidence of an omnipotent being’s design process is?

As I understand it, the way we tell if some crop has been genetically modified is by looking up gene patterns in a database of all known human-engineered patterns. If we find a match, we conclude we’re looking at a modified crop. If we do NOT find a match, we conclude that we have no way of knowing. In other words, we have no reliable way of even reading *human* design from the raw data themselves.

Comment #50153

Posted by steve case on September 29, 2005 2:51 PM (e)

As far as this observability aspect of Gonzalez’ argument goes, it seems inherently circular. Eclipses are important because we can see them, which proves we must be designed to see them, because they’re important.

Who knows what marvelous events happen which are only detectable in the stream of neutrinos that bathes us every second, but since we weren’t designed to detect neutrinos these events must not be important.

Comment #50154

Posted by Andrew on September 29, 2005 2:55 PM (e)

If “The Old Man in the Mountain” is problematic, you could always fall back on the canals of Mars, or George Bernard Shaw point, or, you know, lots of the false positives that Dembski says don’t exist.

Comment #50156

Posted by BlastfromthePast on September 29, 2005 3:06 PM (e)

Ginger Yellow wrote:

SETI doesn’t look for “design”. It looks for radio messages something like the ones we humans send. There’s absolutely no analogy to biological “design”, since we don’t have any organisms that we know we (or anyone else) designed.

There’s a logical flaw here. If it is wrong to draw an analogy between “human” design and “biological” design because humans haven’t “designed” biological organisms, then it is equally wrong to draw an analogy between “radio messages” “designed” by humans
and “radio messages” “designed” by aliens since we don’t know what “alien-designed” radio messages look like either. Just thought this might help.

Flint wrote:

Because they happen. If they did NOT happen, then NOT having eclipses would be proof of design.

If I’m not mistaken, Gonzalez uses the example of “eclipses” in order to say that without these “eclipses”, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity might not have been proved correct. His argument for design, it would seem, would be weakened if there were, in fact, no “eclipses.” So, I don’t think Gonzalez would argue as you speculate.

Comment #50157

Posted by Ginger Yellow on September 29, 2005 3:08 PM (e)

“As I understand it, the way we tell if some crop has been genetically modified is by looking up gene patterns in a database of all known human-engineered patterns. “

I’m certainly not an expert, but doesn’t the use of mosaic viruses in genetic engineering leave a tell-tale trace, regardless of the specific genes inserted? Of course, this is an inference based on the design mechanism, which is a big no-no in ID.

Comment #50160

Posted by Ginger Yellow on September 29, 2005 3:20 PM (e)

“There’s a logical flaw here. If it is wrong to draw an analogy between “human” design and “biological” design because humans haven’t “designed” biological organisms, then it is equally wrong to draw an analogy between “radio messages” “designed” by humans
and “radio messages” “designed” by aliens since we don’t know what “alien-designed” radio messages look like either. Just thought this might help.”

Three points:

1) We have no point of comparison at all in the biological instance. We don’t know for certain any designed organisms, so we can’t even guess what they’d look like, let alone how they would be different from undesigned organisms.

2) SETI researchers, out of necessity, make a lot of assumptions, mainly along the lines that intelligent aliens are “human-like”. They assume they would use radio waves to send long distance messages, and that those messages would have a recognisable structure that would distinguish them from natural sources. Those assumptions could turn out to be completely wrong, as most SETI researchers would admit, but without them they couldn’t even begin to look with our current technology. ID’s assumptions (eg IC systems are unevolvable, SC means intelligence) are the theory, and no IDer will admit they could be wrong.

3) SETI researchers don’t claim to have constructed a theory of communication.

Comment #50161

Posted by David Heddle on September 29, 2005 3:25 PM (e)

Steve Case,

At least if you are going to attack Gonzalez’s argument, try to argue against something that actually resembles it.

The argument about eclipses goes this way:

A large moon (which is already unexpected for a small inner planet) stabilizes the earth’s axis providing both rotational stability (no excessive wobbling) and seasons. Both are considered important for life. Furthermore, the moon is big enough that its tidal effect helps cleanse the oceans and resupply them with nutrients, clearly important. (But not too big, which would cause excessive erosion) Also, it slowed the earth’s rotation, also considered to be important. Even the creation of the moon from an impact is probably responsible for our thin, transparent atmosphere. And a new result, newer than the Privileged Planet, argues that if the moon were a little bigger the earth’s orbit would actually be unstable. (Dave Waltham, Astrobiology 4, No. 4: 460-468 (2004)) So the moon is big enough to have all these wonderful effects, but not too big.

So the PP hypothesis is that a moon of just the right size is also one that produces good solar eclipses. They in turn are extremely valuable for studying how stars work and, in one famous case, General Relativity.

Comment #50162

Posted by CJ O'Brien on September 29, 2005 3:26 PM (e)

There’s a logical flaw here. If it is wrong to draw an analogy between “human” design and “biological” design because humans haven’t “designed” biological organisms, then it is equally wrong to draw an analogy between “radio messages” “designed” by humans
and “radio messages” “designed” by aliens since we don’t know what “alien-designed” radio messages look like either. Just thought this might help.

Yeah, we really needed a creationist to clear that up.
The difference is “skill sets” (Thank you, Jon Stewart!) and intent.
The necessary skill set to design, from the ground up, a functioning biological system, which creationists never tire of pointing out, really are fiendishly complex, is so far beyond the capacity of human beings at this time that it’s just a version of the argument from ignorance to claim that we could detect the hidden signs of this unknowable in principle process, of which design theorists (snicker) have been spectacularly unhelpful in elucidating even the rudiments. On the other hand, radio messages are old-hat. We share the skill of creating and using them with putative alien communicators.
As for intent, one of the operating assumptions of (some, most?) SETI research is that an alien race wants to communicate with us. So, while we may not “know” exactly what we’re looking for, we can reasonably expect that some effort will be made on the other end to throw in some high primes, or the fibonacci sequence, or their version of Bach or what have you. With biological systems, what reason do we have for even supposing that there might be a “message” or an intent to make design obvious?

Comment #50163

Posted by Mark Duigon on September 29, 2005 3:27 PM (e)

Does Jupiter have more eclipses? (smaller sun, many more moons).

Regarding water and carbon–Hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon have the chemical and physical properties they do because of the numbers and arrangements of subatomic units, which are consequences of the cosmological evolution of elements (adding protons and neutrons). Because of those properties, they happen to react in certain ways with other elements and are capable of building up into more complex “systems.” Isn’t this the sort of thing (like mineral crystals)that Dembski said was not specified complexity? The final product comes about, of thermodynamic necessity, because of the basic chemical and physical properties.

Comment #50170

Posted by Steve Reuland on September 29, 2005 4:13 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #50174

Posted by Flint on September 29, 2005 4:24 PM (e)

Blast:

If I’m not mistaken, Gonzalez uses the example of “eclipses” in order to say that without these “eclipses”, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity might not have been proved correct. His argument for design, it would seem, would be weakened if there were, in fact, no “eclipses.” So, I don’t think Gonzalez would argue as you speculate.

Sorry, but Gonzalez DOES argue this way; it’s not speculation. Perhaps you might reflect on all the accidents of coincidence that are NOT true of our situation, which have the effect of preventing or discouraging us from discovering all the stuff we WOULD have discovered, if only they had happened. Who could possibly say how many of which fortuituous circumstances we’ve been unfortunate enough NOT to enjoy, and what ideas this lack has stymied?

I have no problem with the assertion that given what we’ve got, we’ve made the best of it. I have no problem with the notion that if we’d been gifted with a bit less, we’d still have done our best but it would have been less. If we’d been gifted with more, we’d have done more with it.

Gonzalez notices, just as you and I do, that things are they way they are, and aren’t any different. I’m glad he’s satisfied that what little we’ve lucked into has him so delerious. But I point out that it’s easy to compare something we have, with not having it. It’s damn hard to compare something we do NOT have, with what it might be like to have it, because we don’t have what we don’t have.

In short: Gonzalez is bounded in a nut-shell and counts himself a king of infinite space, because he does NOT dream. Even Fred Hoyle had enough perspective for his Black Cloud to be astonished that life and intelligence (however paltry it was by comparison) could arise deep in a gravity well, where conditions were so uncongenial. But Gonzalez is unfortunately no Fred Hoyle.

Comment #50175

Posted by Steve Reuland on September 29, 2005 4:24 PM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

Steve Case,

At least if you are going to attack Gonzalez’s argument, try to argue against something that actually resembles it.

At least as regards the “observability” aspect, I think he did. Gonzalez apparently takes the fact that the moon allows us to observe certain things during an eclipse is something more than fortuitous. Of course, there are an infinite number of things which could have aided our observability that never happened. We don’t talk about them because they don’t exist.

A large moon (which is already unexpected for a small inner planet) stabilizes the earth’s axis providing both rotational stability (no excessive wobbling) and seasons. Both are considered important for life.

I don’t know anything about why wobbling would kill all life, but seasons are clearly not necessary, as life flourishes in the deep-sea, yet there are no seasons down there.

Unless of course you’re talking about human life with spring planting, fall harvests, and football games. In that case, yes, seasons are necessary. But this is just more of the tautological reasoning which holds that whatever exists must have been intended to exist, and therefore anything which caused it, if sufficently improbable, is evidence that a higher power must have intervened. If you start off with the premise that we humans, as we exist right now, are the intended consequence of the universe, then you can find all sorts amazing coincidences that allowed this to happen. I could go on for hours about all of the coincidences that had to have occurred to allow me to be sitting here right now writing this very paragraph, and reason backwards that an intelligent designer must have put those conditions in place, otherwise I wouldn’t be here doing this thing. Or I could consider the possibility that I’m not the intended consequence of the universe, in which case there’s nothing remarkable about it at all.

Comment #50177

Posted by Edward Braun on September 29, 2005 4:27 PM (e)

Intersting summary Tara!

The Axe papers are problematic from the standpoint of supporting ID per se. I’ve attached abstracts to the end of this post. The first seems really irrelevant from the standpoint of ID, since it was only when Axe combined multiple mutations. The second paper is potentially more relevant since it asserts that some enzymatic folds may be very difficult to find in protein sequence space. On the other hand, novel enzymes have clearly evolved very recently, like the nylon degrading enzyme at the end of this post.

J Mol Biol. 2000 Aug 18;301(3):585-95.

Extreme functional sensitivity to conservative amino acid changes on enzyme exteriors.

Axe DD.

MRC Centre, Centre for Protein Engineering, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 2QH, UK.

Mutagenesis studies and alignments of homologous sequences have demonstrated that protein function typically is compatible with a variety of amino-acid residues at most exterior non-active-site positions. These observations have led to the current view that functional constraints on sequence are minimal at these positions. Here, it is shown that this inference assumes that the set of acceptable residues at each position is independent of the overall sequence context. Two approaches are used to test this assumption. First, highly conservative replacements of exterior residues, none of which would cause significant functional disruption alone, are combined until roughly one in five have been changed. This is found to cause complete loss of function in vivo for two unrelated monomeric enzymes: barnase (a bacterial RNase) and TEM-1 beta-lactamase. Second, a set of hybrid sequences is constructed from the 50 %-identical TEM-1 and Proteus mirabilis beta-lactamases. These hybrids match the TEM-1 sequence except for a region at the C-terminal end, where they are random composites of the two parents. All of these hybrids are biologically inactive. In both experiments, complete loss of activity demonstrates the importance of sequence context in determining whether substitutions are functionally acceptable. Contrary to the prevalent view, then, enzyme function places severe constraints on residue identities at positions showing evolutionary variability, and at exterior non-active-site positions, in particular. Homologues sharing less than about two-thirds sequence identity should probably be viewed as distinct designs with their own sets of optimising features.

J Mol Biol. 2004 Aug 27;341(5):1295-315.

Estimating the prevalence of protein sequences adopting functional enzyme folds.

Axe DD.

The Babraham Institute, Structural Biology Unit, Babraham Research Campus, Cambridge CB2 4AT, UK

Proteins employ a wide variety of folds to perform their biological functions. How are these folds first acquired? An important step toward answering this is to obtain an estimate of the overall prevalence of sequences adopting functional folds. Since tertiary structure is needed for a typical enzyme active site to form, one way to obtain this estimate is to measure the prevalence of sequences supporting a working active site. Although the immense number of sequence combinations makes wholly random sampling unfeasible, two key simplifications may provide a solution. First, given the importance of hydrophobic interactions to protein folding, it seems likely that the sample space can be restricted to sequences carrying the hydropathic signature of a known fold. Second, because folds are stabilized by the cooperative action of many local interactions distributed throughout the structure, the overall problem of fold stabilization may be viewed reasonably as a collection of coupled local problems. This enables the difficulty of the whole problem to be assessed by assessing the difficulty of several smaller problems. Using these simplifications, the difficulty of specifying a working beta-lactamase domain is assessed here. An alignment of homologous domain sequences is used to deduce the pattern of hydropathic constraints along chains that form the domain fold. Starting with a weakly functional sequence carrying this signature, clusters of ten side-chains within the fold are replaced randomly, within the boundaries of the signature, and tested for function. The prevalence of low-level function in four such experiments indicates that roughly one in 10(64) signature-consistent sequences forms a working domain. Combined with the estimated prevalence of plausible hydropathic patterns (for any fold) and of relevant folds for particular functions, this implies the overall prevalence of sequences performing a specific function by any domain-sized fold may be as low as 1 in 10(77), adding to the body of evidence that functional folds require highly extraordinary sequences.

PNAS | April 15, 1984 | vol. 81 | no. 8 | 2421-2425
1984
Birth of a Unique Enzyme from an Alternative Reading Frame of the Preexisted, Internally Repetitious Coding Sequence

Susumu Ohno

The mechanism of gene duplication as the means to acquire new genes with previously nonexistent functions is inherently self limiting in that the function possessed by a new protein, in reality, is but a mere variation of the preexisted theme. As the source of a truly unique protein, I suggest an unused open reading frame of the existing coding sequence. Only those coding sequences that started from oligomeric repeats are likely to retain alternative long open reading frames. Analysis of the published base sequence residing in the pOAD2 plasmid of Flavobacterium Sp. K172 indicated that the 392-amino acid-residue-long bacterial enzyme 6-aminohexanoic acid linear oligomer hydrolase involved in degradation of nylon oligomers is specified by an alternative open reading frame of the preexisted coding sequence that originally specified a 472-residue-long arginine-rich protein.

Comment #50178

Posted by sanjait on September 29, 2005 4:37 PM (e)

I’m still reviewing the latter two, but as stated previously, the first Axe paper seems to strongly contradict ID, in the form of illustrating how Demski’s calculations are deeply flawed. WAD calculates the improbability of a protein or group of proteins by assuming a de novo synthesis of amino acid sequences and calculating whether the present structure could have randomly been assembled in this way, thus concluding it out of his universal probability bound when it cannot. However, among the many problems with his assumptions, is that proteins in real life mutate from previous ones, rather than come into being from a random string of peptides. By showing that a general core of hydrophobic peptides supports supports the general structure of many proteins, Axe seems to show that both the probability of deriving one protein from another is not as low as WAD assumes, and that the requirement for the exact sequences we see today is not as stringent to maintain function as WAD assumes. I don’t know why Gonzalez would bring up this example, but I can’t wait to read the two JMB papers.

Comment #50179

Posted by sanjait on September 29, 2005 4:44 PM (e)

Oh my goodness- It is not entirely relevant, but I am right now writing my thesis on a two-gene operon in Mycobacterium avium that contributes to virulence in an unknown mechanism. Both genes share some similarity to others, but not enough to assume function IMO. The second gene in the operon shares similarity to beta-lactamases, D-alanyl D-alanine carboxypeptidases, and 6-aminohexanoate dimer hydrolase from flavibacterium and pseudomonas (mentioned above in the 1984 PNAS paper). These are all different functions resulting from enzymes with high sequence similarity and higher structural similarity. In my mind, the overlap of evolutionary trees drawn by similar gene sequences such as these overlaid over the previous pre-molecular biology trees, and their strong congruence, is the best evidence for evolution. Why would a designer use different but similar paralogous and homologous sequences?

Comment #50180

Posted by Flint on September 29, 2005 4:56 PM (e)

Steve Reuland:

Do you think if we say the same thing enough times, using enough different words and examples, the Heddle or Blast types will ever get it?

Comment #50181

Posted by Dene Bebbington on September 29, 2005 5:18 PM (e)

“Q: What discoveries would falsify ID? A: for him—finding another planet with life but not good observability; finding life not based on carbon and water. Falsifying the bacterial flagella as IC for Behe, he claims.”

So logic is not Gonzalez’s forte.

Comment #50182

Posted by steve case on September 29, 2005 5:25 PM (e)

David Heddle - I look at what you contrast with my description of circularity, and I don’t see the difference. Eclipses have allowed us to discover some wonderful things, therefore they are crucial to our wonderful knowledge, and only a guiding hand could have made things so perfectly. To quote Dr. Pangloss,

“It is demonstrable,” said he, “that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end. Observe, for instance, the nose is formed for spectacles, therefore we wear spectacles. The legs are visibly designed for stockings, accordingly we wear stockings.”

This perfect planet business is one of the sillier parts of the ID spectrum. When my children were five years old, they assumed everything they saw had been put there for their benefit; they have since moved on from that childish point of view.

Comment #50184

Posted by ben on September 29, 2005 5:29 PM (e)

Gonzalez’ first two examples wouldn’t provide falsifiability of what ID pretends to be, just of what it really is. There’s nothing about finding life on another planet or about finding life not based on C and H2O that falsify the general theory that life was designed–why couldn’t the designer have designed other types of life in other places?

What those examples would falsify is the theory of creation of life and the universe by the Christian god according to a literalist interpretation of the Bible that says that anything that isn’t explicitly included in the Bible cannot be true. And that’s what ID the movement is really about.

Comment #50185

Posted by ben on September 29, 2005 5:29 PM (e)

Gonzalez’ first two examples wouldn’t provide falsifiability of what ID pretends to be, just of what it really is. There’s nothing about finding life on another planet or about finding life not based on C and H2O that falsify the general theory that life was designed–why couldn’t the designer have designed other types of life in other places?

What those examples would falsify is the theory of creation of life and the universe by the Christian god according to a literalist interpretation of the Bible that says that anything that isn’t explicitly included in the Bible cannot be true. And that’s what ID the movement is really about.

Comment #50188

Posted by Alienward on September 29, 2005 5:36 PM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

So the PP hypothesis is that a moon of just the right size is also one that produces good solar eclipses. They in turn are extremely valuable for studying how stars work and, in one famous case, General Relativity.

Are you thinking that if we had to wait until the invention of the coronagraph in 1930, general relativity would have been dumped? The apologetic nonsense just doesn’t cut it. For example:

From The Privileged Planet web site:

Q #1: Is the fact that we can see “perfect” solar eclipses related to our existence?
A: The Earth’s surface provides the best view of solar eclipses in the Solar System. The Earth’s surface is also the most habitable place in the Solar System. Is this coincidence just that? In The Privileged Planet, we argue that it isn’t. The conditions that make a planet habitable also make its inhabitants more likely to see solar eclipses.

They need to add a question:

Q #1: Is the fact that we can see “perfect” tsunamis related to our existence?
A: The Earth’s surface provides the best tsunamis in the Solar System. The Earth’s surface is also the most habitable place in the Solar System. Is this coincidence just that? In The Privileged Planet, we argue that it isn’t. The conditions that make a planet habitable also make its inhabitants more likely to die in tsunamis.

Comment #50191

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 29, 2005 5:43 PM (e)

Hey Heddle, answer my question, please. Since ID is religious opinion, not science, what makes your ID religious opinions any more authoritative or valid than anyone else’s religious opinions? Why should anyone pay any more attention to your religious opinions than they should to mine, my next door neighbor’s, my car mechanic’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas?

Other than your say-so?

Comment #50196

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on September 29, 2005 6:10 PM (e)

Gonzalez needs to be informed that the hypothesis that this planet is privileged to be anthropic was effectively rebutted even before 1913:

Ocean, n. A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.
– Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911

Comment #50197

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 29, 2005 6:18 PM (e)

He didn’t really address the “Pandas and People” item, but suggested that anyone who said ID was creationism was just a conspiracy theorist.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Creation “science”, as defined by the Arkansas Act 590:

Definitions, as used in this Act:

(a) “Creation-science” means the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from those scientific evidences. Creation-science includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate: (1) Sudden creation of the universe, energy, and life from nothing; (2) The insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism; (3) Changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals; (4) Separate ancestry for man and apes; (5) Explanation of the earth’s geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood; and (6) A relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds.

Let’s take these one at a time, shall we?

(1) Sudden creation of the universe, energy, and life from nothing;

Hmmm. From the inside flap of Gonzalez’s book “Privileged Planet”:

Is Earth merely an insignificant speck in a vast and meaningless universe? On the contrary. The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery shows that this cherished assumption of materialism is dead wrong. Earth is a lot more significant than virtually anyone has realized. Contrary to the scientific orthodoxy, it is not an average planet around an ordinary star in an unremarkable part of the Milky Way.

In this original book, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards present a staggering array of evidence that exposes the hollowness of this modern dogma. They demonstrate that our planet is exquisitely fit not only to support life, but also gives us the best view of the universe, as if Earth-and the universe itself-were designed both for life and for scientific discovery. Readers are taken on a scientific odyssey from a history of tectonic plates, the wonders of water, and solar eclipses, to our location in the Milky Way, the laws that govern the universe, and the beginning of cosmic time.

Check.

(2) The insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism;

Hmmmm. From Stephen Meyer:

Whether or not design constitutes the best explanation for the origin of biological data may be debatable. But one thing is certain: teleological evolution, insofar as it relies on the laws of nature to create, cannot account for the origin of biological information. Indeed, from an empirical point of view, the laws of nature do not have the creative powers that Lamoureux�s position requires. Because Lamoureux and other teleo-logical evolutionists want to limit divine action to the initial creation of the universe and its natural laws (and to the maintenance of those laws thereafter), they must rely exclusively on natural laws and processes to explain the origin of biological form and complexity. This includes not only the origin of novel forms from existing forms, but also the origin of the first life itself. Unfortunately, however, the laws of nature lack the power to create the information rich-structures that characterize biological organisms. Natural laws may well be maintained and have been created by God, as all theists (including Johnson) believe, but the physical and chemical regularities that scientists describe as laws do not (by definition) produce the information-rich configurations of matter that the origin of life requires. God may have created natural law, but He does not use natural laws to create specified biological information.

Check.

(3) Changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals;

Hmmm. From Casey Luskin:

From a design perspective, macroevolution is often seen as the “origin of biological novelty,” while microevolution is simply variation on a previously existing archetype.

Check.

(4) Separate ancestry for man and apes

Hmmm. From the testimony in Kansas:

Q. Do you believe in common descent?

A. You mean, common ancestry?

Q. Common descent, yes.

A. Well, I have difficulty with common ancestry and maybe that’s what you mean by common descent.

Q. Do you believe in common descent in humans, such as the fact that there were perhominids before homo sapiens?

A. Are you asking me if I accept evolutionary thought on this?

Q. I’m asking you if you accept prehominids as the ancestral line to homo sapiens?

A. Personally I don’t, no.

Q. You what?

A. I personally do not.

Q. You do not?

A. Yes. I mean, I’m not an expert on this. (Thaxton testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. You do accept, do you not, common descent within species?

A. Within a single species, of course. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t.

Q. What about among species?

A. Among species? Well, I stated in my power point that I find it extremely unlikely based on the evidence that the animal phyla are related through common ancestry. Other biologists have said they’re dubious of common ancestry at levels higher than that. The levels in between, I don’t know. As a scientist I would have to say each case would have to be settled based on the evidence.

Q. What about between humans, the humans– homo sapiens and other species, such as prehominids?

A. I think it’s extremely unlikely based on the evidence. (Wells testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Sir, the first question I’d like to ask you is, do you accept the evolutionary theory of common descent of humans from prehominids?

A. From the data that I’ve been following it’s probably not true.(Simat testimony, Kansas Hearings, transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you– do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all of life was biologically related to the beginning of life? Yes or no?

A. No.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (Leonard testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life? Yes or no?

A. No.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to predominant ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (Ely testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the principle– the general principle of common descent that all of life was biologically related back to the beginning of life?

A. Not if you interpret common descent, and realize that I’m taking liberty here, not if you interpret common descent as being that that is natural selection acting on random mutations I do not.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (DeHart testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the principle of common descent that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life? Yes or no?

A. I will say no, because –

Q. I didn’t ask you for an explanation. Yes or no?

A. Okay. No.

Q. Okay. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors? Yes or no?

A. No. (Millam testimony, Kansas Hearing transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent, that all of life was biologically related to the beginning of life, yes or no?

A. No.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors, yes or no?

A. No. (Bryson testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life, yes or no?

A. I won’t answer that question as a yes or no. I accept the idea of limited common descent. I am skeptical about universal common descent. I do not take it as a principle; it is a theory. And I think the evidence supporting the theory of universal common descent is weak.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors, yes or no?

A. I’m not sure. I’m skeptical of it because I think the evidence for the proposition is weak, but it would not affect my conviction that life is designed if it turns out that there was a genealogical continuity. (Meyer testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. Do you accept the general principle of common descent that all life is biologically related back to the beginning of life?

A. Not as defined by neo-Darwinism, no.

Q. Do you accept that human beings are related by common descent to prehominid ancestors?

A. I doubt it. (Menuge testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Check.

(5) Explanation of the earth’s geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood

Hey Sal, or Paul, wanna answer this one for us?

And finally:

(6) A relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds.

Hmmm. From the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt:

Q. And I’m going to ask you first how old, in your opinion, is the world?

A. I’m going to answer like Dr. Sanford earlier, I would say between probably a lot younger than most people think.

Q. That doesn’t say anything to me. What is your opinion in years the age of the earth?

A. I’m fine with 5,000 to 100,000.

Q. You’re fine with 5,000 to 100,000?

A. Correct. (DeHart testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

********************************

Q. What is your opinion as to the age of the earth?

A. In light of time I would say most of the evidence that I see, I read and I understand points to an old age of the earth.

Q. And how old is that age?

A. I don’t know. I just know what I read with regards to data. It looks like it’s four billion years.

Q. And is that your personal opinion?

A. No. My personal opinion is I really don’t know. I’m struggling.

Q. You’re struggling with what the age of the earth is?

A. Yeah. Yeah. I’m not sure. There’s a lot of ways to measure the age. Meteorites is one way. There’s a lot of elements used. There’s a lot of assumptions can be used and those assumptions can be challenged so I don’t really know.

Q. What is the range that you are instructing?

A. I think the range we heard today, somewhere between 5,000 and four billion.

Q. You– you– you believe the earth may be as young as 5,000 years old. Is that correct?

A. Well, we’re learning that there’s such a thing as junc –

Q. Sir, answer –

A. – really has a function.

Q. Just please answer my question, sir.

A. We’re learning a lot about micro –

Q. Sir?

MR. IRIGONEGARAY: Mr. Abrams, please instruct the witness to answer the question.

CHAIRMAN ABRAMS: I think –

Q. (By Mr. Irigonegaray) The question was– and winking at him is not going to do you any good. Answer my question. Do you believe the earth may be as young as 5,000 years old?

A. It could be. (Ely testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

*************************************************

Q. The first thing I’d like to ask you is what is your personal opinion as to what the age of the world is?

A. I’m undecided.

Q. What is your best guess?

A. I’m totally undecided.

Q. Give me your best range.

A. Anywhere from 4.5 billion years to ten thousand years.

Q. And, of course, you have reached that conclusion based on the best scientific evidence available?

A. Yes. (Bryson testimony, Kansas Hearings transcript)

Check.

Well, that about covers everything, doesn’t it?

Oh, and in case the IDers want to start jumping up and down that creationism was religion and ID is science, let me once again quote the first sentence of the definition of creation “science” in Act 590:

*ahem*

(a) “Creation-science” means the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from those scientific evidences.

OK, all you IDers out there. Go ahead and show us how ID is different than creation “science”.

Comment #50203

Posted by jon livesey on September 29, 2005 7:46 PM (e)

“Yeah, but I don’t think that was the point of the continual SETI references—it was to hammer home the point that SETI is something that’s supported by many scientists, and it looks for “design.””

Back in the late sixties there was a small flurry of excitement in the Physics Department of the University where I was an undergrad, and some of us seniors were sworn to secrecy and told that a precisely periodic radio signal had been received from a specific location in the sky, and that the “best guess” was that it was of alien origin. No known natural process could account for a signal of such regularity.

It wasn’t aliens, of course. It was the first observation of a pulsar. People see “design” where it ain’t, because they want to.

Comment #50205

Posted by Gary Hurd on September 29, 2005 7:51 PM (e)

Kudos to Tara, and to Lenny, and to Frank and Steve.

Much fun reading.

Comment #50208

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 29, 2005 8:11 PM (e)

not “Christian plot” or conspiracy theory

In case anyone still beleives any of this horse hockey, allow me to quote from the Discovery Institute’s own Wedge Document:

*ahem*

Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions….

Governing Goals

* To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.

* To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.

Five Year Goals

* To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.

* To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.

* To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

Twenty Year Goals

* To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.

* To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its innuence in the fine arts.

* To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

Gee, no religious or political aim THERE, huh …. .

No WONDER everyone thinks IDers are dishonest evasive liars.

Want to see more about ID’s dishonest BS about not having a religious agenda? See:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/wedge.html

and

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/diagenda.html

Comment #50211

Posted by Russell on September 29, 2005 8:48 PM (e)

Who sponsored this talk by Gonzalez? Is he intentionally trying to be denied tenure so he can join the DI martyrs’ brigade, by saying stupid things in high profile venues and claiming that anyone calling him on it is an anti-religious bigot?

Comment #50213

Posted by Ediacaran on September 29, 2005 9:23 PM (e)

Lenny, citing goals from the Wedge Document, wrote:

… to see its in[fl]uence in the fine arts.

Wow, they’ve already met one of their 20-year goals!
url href=”http://www.tribe.net/template/pub%2CViewPhoto.vm/context/tribe?albumpage=%24albumPage&currentoffset=3&parentid=d3499682-4c7b-4fa6-bc2f-2ff5c11a43ab&sortby&rows” His Noodly Appendage>

Comment #50214

Posted by BlastfromthePast on September 29, 2005 9:30 PM (e)

Ginger Yellow wrote:

They assume they would use radio waves to send long distance messages, and that those messages would have a recognisable structure that would distinguish them from natural sources.

Then how do you tell if it is a “random” pattern or if you’re dealing with “intelligence”?

Ginger Yellow wrote:

SETI researchers, out of necessity, make a lot of assumptions, mainly along the lines that intelligent aliens are “human-like”.

Then why is it so far-fetched to “assume” that “human” intelligence is “Designer-like”?

CJ O'Brien wrote:

With biological systems, what reason do we have for even supposing that there might be a “message” or an intent to make design obvious?

Richard Dawkins admits that biological systems look designed. And, the bacterial flaggellum–well, you know….

Flint: Thanks for the very courteous response. We’re probably going to disagree on this one way or the other, so it’s probably not all that important to pursue, but when you say that “[i]t’s damn hard to compare something we do NOT have, with what it might be like to have it, because we don’t have what we don’t have,” I don’t see how you go from that to saying that if there were no eclipses that that, too, would prove “design.”

Comment #50217

Posted by BlastfromthePast on September 29, 2005 9:50 PM (e)

sanjait wrote:

However, among the many problems with his assumptions, is that proteins in real life mutate from previous ones, rather than come into being from a random string of peptides.

Where did the “previous” one come from? Now, do an infinite regress. Thus, where did the “first” protein come from?

Comment #50223

Posted by Eugene Lai on September 29, 2005 10:44 PM (e)

Where did the “previous” one come from? Now, do an infinite regress. Thus, where did the “first” protein come from?

Where did the intelligent designer come from? His mom and dad? Now, do an infinite regress. Thus, where did the first intelligent designer come from?

Comment #50227

Posted by Hiya'll on September 29, 2005 11:04 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank

Just because the DI is a group with a christian plot which involves ID doesn’t mean all ID work is a christian plot. A lot of work done in spreading evolution was something of a eugenical plot ( Consider Hackel) Yet no one ( Not anyone whose sane anyway) calls Darwin’s theory of evolution a eugenical plot, a few of my pantheist, liberal theist etc friends believe in ID, as does my dad ( Who call’s himself an atheist, or an agnostic, depending on what mood he’s in.)

Comment #50228

Posted by natural cynic on September 29, 2005 11:12 PM (e)

Wow, Gonzalez “…suggested that anyone who said ID was creationism was just a conspiracy theorist”

I would consider that an honor, something along th line of the ToE being “just a theory” - a structure that coherently explains a set of facts. Therefore the theory is “ID is creationism” and the fact compiler is Lenny (#50197 and 50208).

Comment #50232

Posted by Ed Darrell on September 29, 2005 11:26 PM (e)

One might forgive Gonzalez’ unfamiliarity with the story of Dr. Pangloss – but is there anyone in America who has not read Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle?

Both Voltaire and Dr. Seuss have already dealt with Gonzalez’ arguments, it seems to me.

With more panache in each case, I might add.

Comment #50233

Posted by BlastfromthePast on September 29, 2005 11:36 PM (e)

Eugene Lai wrote:

Where did the intelligent designer come from? His mom and dad? Now, do an infinite regress. Thus, where did the first intelligent designer come from?

In the instance that I was responding to, a probabalistic argument was being made along the lines that the probability of forming novel proteins from “previous ones” was not altogether too high. The argument does not fly because you end up going back to the very first protein. How did it form? What were the probabilities of it forming? Quite low, don’t you think?

Now Plato–a pagan–believed in a First Cause. Logic demands it. A protein, made up of a string of amino acids, is in turn made up of individual atoms, thus reducing itself down to matter. So, the question arises, What “caused” the atoms to form amino acids, and in turn to go on to form proteins? Take that cause backwards in time, and, LOGICALLY, you have to come up with a First Cause. An infinite regress takes us into the realm of the infinite. There’s your answer. It’s simple logic.

In mathematics, one can sum an integral from negative infinity to positive infinity and come up with a FINITE sum–that is, a definite answer. The definite answer to your question, then, is that the First Cause is the Intelligent Designer, He who bounds all that is infinite.

The rest of the proof I’ll leave to you, the reader.

Comment #50237

Posted by Eugene Lai on September 29, 2005 11:55 PM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

In the instance that I was responding to, a probabalistic argument was being made along the lines that the probability of forming novel proteins from “previous ones” was not altogether too high. The argument does not fly because you end up going back to the very first protein. How did it form? What were the probabilities of it forming? Quite low, don’t you think?

I hope you are not basing your probabilities on William Dembski. You may as well pull a number out of thin air.

In mathematics, one can sum an integral from negative infinity to positive infinity and come up with a FINITE sum—that is, a definite answer. The definite answer to your question, then, is that the First Cause is the Intelligent Designer, He who bounds all that is infinite.

Since you love logic so much, there is no logical reason why the first cause cannot be a dimwit such as the flying spagetti monster. It can bounds all that is infinite with he infinitely long elastic spagettic tentacles. Don’t know why you want to call him (does “he” have adam’s apple?) intelligent, in capital letters no less.

Comment #50240

Posted by NDT on September 30, 2005 12:39 AM (e)

Tara Smith wrote:

(paraphrasing Gonzalez) Having a large moon is also necessary for life, and this makes it more likely to have an eclipse.

WTF? How are eclipses necessary for life?

Tara Smith wrote:

Yeah, but I don’t think that was the point of the continual SETI references—it was to hammer home the point that SETI is something that’s supported by many scientists, and it looks for “design.”

Except with SETI, unlike ID, no one has claimed to have found design.

Comment #50241

Posted by Ginger Yellow on September 30, 2005 12:50 AM (e)

“Then how do you tell if it is a “random” pattern or if you’re dealing with “intelligence””

As described above, you can’t really. You guess, largely by imagining what you would do if you were trying to either communicate at interstellar distances or simply let “them” know you’re there. It’s not even a question of “random”. There are plenty of orderly patterns that are generated without any intelligence. Pulsars are a good example, already mentioned. We have no idea what we would do if we designed an organism, because as creationists love to point out, we haven’t been able to design and create even the most basic self-replicating molecule (from scratch), let alone all the life on earth. Hence we can make no generic assumptions about what evidence of design would be.

“Then why is it so far-fetched to “assume” that “human” intelligence is “Designer-like”?”

This makes no sense. Like what designer? If you mean what I think you mean, as in “Why not assume that all potential designers are like humans?”, because we don’t know what a designer capable of designing life (and/or the universe) from scratch looks like, or what its design process would look like. And given our rather limited capabilities in the universe and organism designing fields, it’s much more realistic to assume that it would be nothing like our own.

Comment #50242

Posted by NDT on September 30, 2005 12:51 AM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

A large moon (which is already unexpected for a small inner planet)

It is?!?

David Heddle wrote:

stabilizes the earth’s axis providing both rotational stability (no excessive wobbling) and seasons.

Sorry, that’s incorrect. Mars doesn’t wobble any more than earth does.

David Heddle wrote:

Both are considered important for life.

By who? Not any biologist I’ve heard of.

David Heddle wrote:

Furthermore, the moon is big enough that its tidal effect helps cleanse the oceans and resupply them with nutrients, clearly important. (But not too big, which would cause excessive erosion)

Maybe a geologist specializing in oceans will correct me, but I don’t think tides do anything to replenish nutrients or “cleanse” the oceans. And how do you know how much erosion is “excessive”?

David Heddle wrote:

Also, it slowed the earth’s rotation, also considered to be important.

Again, considered important by who? And I’ll remind you that Mars rotates more slowly than the earth.

David Heddle wrote:

So the PP hypothesis is that a moon of just the right size is also one that produces good solar eclipses. They in turn are extremely valuable for studying how stars work and, in one famous case, General Relativity.

What a stupid hypothesis.

Comment #50244

Posted by Jason Spaceman on September 30, 2005 1:20 AM (e)

Tara Smith wrote:

For anyone who just wants the newspaper version, I’ll try to provide a link to the story when it’s published.

See Not chance, but design, ISU professor says

Comment #50254

Posted by Steverino on September 30, 2005 6:45 AM (e)

“Gonzalez spoke at length about his fascination with how people can observe a perfect eclipse on earth because the planet sets up the conditions for it to be observed, for example, by the planet being the correct distance away from the sun.”

“The fact that there are conditions for habitability and conditions for scientific discovery” and that they are correlated are not logically necessary, he said. “And chance is not likely to account for it. Therefore, the only option left is design,” he added.

How can anyone with a brain make the leap from this A to this Z?

I am so glad that we don’t have to rely on this type of “critical thinking” to help cure illnesses or disease.

Comment #50256

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 30, 2005 7:17 AM (e)

Just because the DI is a group with a christian plot which involves ID doesn’t mean all ID work is a christian plot.

Of course not. There are plenty of nutjobs out there who have jumped on the ID bandwagon. Like some of the Muslim extremists, and the Raelian flying saucer kooks.

Not sure how that helps ID, though ….

Comment #50257

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 30, 2005 7:19 AM (e)

Hi Blast. Welcome back.

Why are the Super Mice not an example of “frontloading”, and how can you tell?

What *is* an example of “frontloading”, and how can you tell?

Oh, and how big is a dolphin, Blast?

And why should anyoen care about your uninformed uneducated opinions on the matter anyway, Blast?

Comment #50258

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 30, 2005 7:21 AM (e)

The definite answer to your question, then, is that the First Cause is the Intelligent Designer, He who bounds all that is infinite.

I’m curious, Blast, as to why you capitalized these words.

Is it because the ID is just god, and IDers are just too dishonest and evasive to admit that to us?

Comment #50260

Posted by Hiya'll on September 30, 2005 7:44 AM (e)

Eugene Lai

I’d be more then willing to accept there’s as much probablity that the giant flying spaghetti monster is the Intelligent Designer as the Christian God ( So long as the Spaghetti monster exists outside of time.) Personally my concept of the intelligent designer is so alien and abstract that I don’t really think you could even call it intelligent, it’s an abstract order principle ( I argue that it’s an abstract order principle because it fufill’s the principle of parsimony, it’s less complex then either a spaghetti monster or a triune deity.)

Comment #50261

Posted by Hiya'll on September 30, 2005 7:44 AM (e)

Eugene Lai

I’d be more then willing to accept there’s as much probablity that the giant flying spaghetti monster is the Intelligent Designer as the Christian God ( So long as the Spaghetti monster exists outside of time.) Personally my concept of the intelligent designer is so alien and abstract that I don’t really think you could even call it intelligent, it’s an abstract order principle ( I argue that it’s an abstract order principle because it fufill’s the principle of parsimony, it’s less complex then either a spaghetti monster or a triune deity.)

Comment #50262

Posted by inwit on September 30, 2005 7:49 AM (e)

KeithB wrote:

Anytime someone mentions Mt Rushmore in this context, there should be a question in the Q&A:
What about the ‘Old Man in the Mountain’? Was it designed or not?

And what about The Face on Mars?

Comment #50263

Posted by Hiya'll on September 30, 2005 7:49 AM (e)

Eugene Lai

Where did the intelligent designer come from? His mom and dad? Now, do an infinite regress. Thus, where did the first intelligent designer come from?

The so called “Intelligent designer” ( I use the quote marks because my concept of the intelligent designer isn’t really a intelligent being). doesn’t require another intelligent designer if it exists outside of time.

by the way, is there anyway to use signatures on this blog?

Comment #50265

Posted by Hiya'll on September 30, 2005 7:52 AM (e)

The faces of mount Rushmore are more complex then the others mentioned, hence there is less chance of occurence by chance, that’s why it’s valid to infer design with Mt Rushmore, but not with the face on Mars.

Comment #50266

Posted by Flint on September 30, 2005 8:11 AM (e)

Blast:

when you say that “[i]t’s damn hard to compare something we do NOT have, with what it might be like to have it, because we don’t have what we don’t have,” I don’t see how you go from that to saying that if there were no eclipses that that, too, would prove “design.”

Sorry, I’d hoped it would be more self-evident, but I think we disagree because to you, it is not self-evident.

Imagine if we did not have eclipses. Would those inclined to see design still do so? Is the bear Catholic? My point is that if you wish to “see” design, then you will see it, no matter what our situation happens to be. Imagine that conditions were such that Phenomenon X (whatever it might be. We don’t yet know, because given where we sit, it’s not apparent) were easy to observe. In that case, those who see design could say “The fact that we can easily observe X is evidence of design.” But sadly, our limited perspective has hidden X from our ken. Does this lack suggest to the design crowd that we are NOT designed? Nope, they just pick something we CAN observe, like eclipses. It simply does not matter what they see.

We could with equal logic say that the fact that we ARE NOT able to observe X (whatever it might be) is also by the designer’s intent, for good and sufficient reasons not yet revealed to us. Or we could say that the inscrutability of X is intended to be that way because the designer is testing our creativity for our own good, making us extend our limits. Or whatever ex post facto rationale is pasted on.

In any case, we always circle back to the same place. Gonzalez isn’t deriving design from that subset of coincidences (out of an infinity of possibilities) that we just happened to luck into. He starts with design as his conclusion, casts around for justification, and uses our particular situation as though there were something providential about it. And the point is, ANY situation would fill the bill, since the conclusion is already assumed and is not negotiable regardless.

All circumstances (of which all planets are a subset) are “privileged” in having their unique conditions and perspectives. And when all are privileged equally, the notion of privilege becomes nothing but a statement of preference.

Comment #50267

Posted by Shirley Knott on September 30, 2005 8:26 AM (e)

Kindly take note that the notion that the “intelligent designer” is outside of time is radically incoherent.
Design is inherently a temporal process. “Beings” outside of time are thus excluded from the set of possible designers.
Also kindly note that design is neither necessary nor sufficient for creation. We have examples of designed things and we have examples of designs which are not implemented. We also have some amusing cases where a thing can be said to be designed and yet neither the design nor the designer played any role whatsoever in the implementation. (See the notebooks of DaVinci for a plethora of examples.)

hugs,
Shirley Knot

Comment #50268

Posted by SteveF on September 30, 2005 8:39 AM (e)

The faces of mount Rushmore are more complex then the others mentioned, hence there is less chance of occurence by chance, that’s why it’s valid to infer design with Mt Rushmore, but not with the face on Mars.

Where do you draw the line?

Comment #50269

Posted by inwit on September 30, 2005 9:20 AM (e)

BlastfromthePast on September 29, 2005 03:06 PM wrote:

If I’m not mistaken, Gonzalez uses the example of “eclipses” in order to say that without these “eclipses”, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity might not have been proved correct. His argument for design, it would seem, would be weakened if there were, in fact, no “eclipses.”

Granted: the solar eclipse of 1919 was an early, dramatic, and direct test of one of the predictions of GR. However, evidence in support of GR has accumulated from other sources as well: the quantitative explanation of the anomalous orbit of Mercury, the Hafele-Keating experiment, gravitational lensing around other dense objects in space, etc., etc. The claim that GR “might not have been proved correct” without solar eclipses is without justification. GR would have managed just fine, thank you.

More to the point, what does the validity or otherwise of GR have to do with ID?

Comment #50271

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on September 30, 2005 9:32 AM (e)

As for Our Friend the Moon: Gonzalez & the local trolls might want to (well, probably not, but they oughta) read What If the Moon Didn’t Exist?: Voyages to Earths That Might Have Been by astronomer Neil F. Comins. Though Comins doesn’t provide much in the way of numbers, his scenario is that if the early Earth had not collided with the planetesimal which resulted in the formation of Luna, it would have had much smaller tides (thus reducing the mineral stirring and intertidal zones possibly required for early complex molecules) but faster rotation & stronger magnetic fields (thus increasing planetary radiation shields and wind/lightning activity, thereby facilitating formation of complex molecules). Net outcome: the “initial propagation of life much have been much slower… [which] would delay all the later stages of evolution compared with their occurrence on Earth [as we know it].” (pp. 15-16)

“Rotational stability” is actually decreased by the presence of Luna, due to the famous 23.5-degree inclination of Earth’s axis to the plane of the ecliptic (which the moon shares). This resulting wobble, aka precession, seems to have minimal biological consequences. If Gonzalez has discovered a new aspect of this, no doubt ecologists & others would be greatly interested. Btw, it’s that inclination which causes the seasons as we know them, not the moon.

Comment #50273

Posted by LabTech on September 30, 2005 9:47 AM (e)

“BlastfromthePast said:
Now Plato—a pagan—believed in a First Cause. Logic demands it. A protein, made up of a string of amino acids, is in turn made up of individual atoms, thus reducing itself down to matter. So, the question arises, What “caused” the atoms to form amino acids, and in turn to go on to form proteins?”

What caused the atoms to form amino acids?

Were you asleep during Chemistry? Or did you even take Chemistry?

To put it simply (very simply in your case), atoms are at a lower quantum energy state when they are in molecules. The molecules stay together because it takes more energy to break them up than it does to bring them together. Amino acids are formed from common smaller molecules linking together. Amino acids are also easy to link together into more complex molecules (that is proteins).

Comment #50275

Posted by Russell on September 30, 2005 9:59 AM (e)

The faces of mount Rushmore are more complex then the others mentioned, hence there is less chance of occurence by chance, that’s why it’s valid to infer design with Mt Rushmore, but not with the face on Mars.

Where do you draw the line?

Well, you see, that’s where Professor Dembski comes in. His “explanatory filter” addresses that very question quantitatively. All you have to do is calculate the amount of “specified complexity” in Mt. Rushmore. Perhaps if he, or one of his disciples, is reading this, he will walk us through it.

Comment #50279

Posted by Russell on September 30, 2005 10:16 AM (e)

What were the probabilities of [the first protein] forming? Quite low, don’t you think?

Quite the contrary. I can say without fear of contradiction the probability is 100%.

LOGICALLY, you have to come up with a First Cause. An infinite regress takes us into the realm of the infinite. There’s your answer. It’s simple logic.

It certainly is. Very simple indeed. But what question does that answer answer?

He who bounds all that is infinite.

Hey, LogicMan: doesn’t “infinite” mean “unbounded”? Therefore, nothing can exist that bounds anything infinite. Atheists everywhere salute you for this elegant proof of the nonexistence of… the Intelligent Designer.

Comment #50282

Posted by Joolya on September 30, 2005 10:29 AM (e)

Re eclipse thing - so the argument here is that the”designer” set up the world to make it easier on scientists? wtf?

Comment #50284

Posted by Alienward on September 30, 2005 10:39 AM (e)

BlastformthePast wrote:

Richard Dawkins admits that biological systems look designed. And, the bacterial flaggellum—well, you know….,

Anybody the least bit familiar with Dawkins knows he frequently describes biological systems in terms of design, and when people try and claim he is “admitting” design they are either lying or repeating a lie they have been told by someone else. Here’s Dawkins in an interview with Lanny Swerdlow:

So you’re kind of trying to make a Darwinian view of solar systems…. In a way, but let me make a distinction, then, between what we call one-off or single-generation selection, and cumulative, multi-generation selection. A solar system survives because – let’s say, a planet orbiting a star will orbit the star at a particular distance, which is the right distance for that planet and that star. That’s the crucial distance. If it was orbiting faster, it would whiz off into deep space; if it were orbiting slower, it would spiral into the star. So, there is a kind of selection of planets to be orbiting at the right speed and at the right distance from their stars.

But that’s not cumulative selection, that’s one-off, single-generation selection. It’s like one generation of biological selection. It’s like finches who have the wrong size of beak for a hard winter. The ones with the wrong size of beak die, so in the next winter, the next generation have all got the right size of beak. That’s one generation.

What’s really crucial about biological evolution is that that doesn’t stop at one generation, it goes on to the next and the next and the next, and it takes hundreds, it takes thousands of generations to build up, cumulatively, the really impressive adaptive complexity that we get in living things, like eyes and elbow joints. So, that’s the reason why solar systems don’t look very impressively designed, whereas living bodies look very, very impressively designed indeed. They’ve been through many generations of cumulative selection.

Comment #50285

Posted by SteveF on September 30, 2005 10:55 AM (e)

Re eclipse thing - so the argument here is that the ”designer” set up the world to make it easier on scientists? wtf?

Yeah, its something like that. According to a certain William Dembski:

“The idea that the world and features of it are designed to help us understand the world and those features constitutes a remarkable insight. Gonzalez and Richards apply this insight mainly at the level of cosmology and astrophysics.”

This might be a remarkable insight, but I was wondering why, for example, the fact that we are in a good position to see solar eclipses is actually a prediction of Intelligent Design. Couldn’t an Intelligent Designer have equally have arranged things so it becomes very hard for us to get a grasp of whats going on?

Comment #50289

Posted by steve on September 30, 2005 11:10 AM (e)

Comment #50263

Posted by Hiya’ll on September 30, 2005 07:49 AM (e) (s)

The so called “Intelligent designer” ( I use the quote marks because my concept of the intelligent designer isn’t really a intelligent being). doesn’t require another intelligent designer if it exists outside of time.

‘outside of time’ is just babbling. Anyway, it violates the premise of the argument–that something has to have a prior cause. A cause ‘outside of time’ cannot be said to be a prior cause.

Comment #50290

Posted by Ved Rocke on September 30, 2005 11:11 AM (e)

Lenny wrote:

From the inside flap of Gonzalez’s book “Privileged Planet”:

Is Earth merely an insignificant speck in a vast and meaningless universe? On the contrary. The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery shows that this cherished assumption of materialism is dead wrong. Earth is a lot more significant than virtually anyone has realized. Contrary to the scientific orthodoxy, it is not an average planet around an ordinary star in an unremarkable part of the Milky Way.

In this original book, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards present a staggering array of evidence that exposes the hollowness of this modern dogma. They demonstrate that our planet is exquisitely fit not only to support life, but also gives us the best view of the universe, as if Earth-and the universe itself-were designed both for life and for scientific discovery. Readers are taken on a scientific odyssey from a history of tectonic plates, the wonders of water, and solar eclipses, to our location in the Milky Way, the laws that govern the universe, and the beginning of cosmic time.

Back in a now-closed thread, Comment #49947:

Heddle wrote:

Ryan, You really are more than dishonest. I never, ever stated that the earth was the best possible observation platform for cosmology and astronomy, nor do G&R in their book.

Mr. Heddle you’re full of it. Are you saying that Gonzalez doesn’t agree with the inside cover of his own book?

Comment #50299

Posted by CJ O'Brien on September 30, 2005 11:46 AM (e)

CJ O’Brien wrote:

“With biological systems, what reason do we have for even supposing that there might be a “message” or an intent to make design obvious?”

BlastFromThePast responded:

Richard Dawkins admits that biological systems look designed. And, the bacterial flaggellum—well, you know….

RE: Dawkins, already responded to above. Nice try.
And you’re not even answering the question. I don’t care how obvious it seems to you, or to Dawkins, for that matter, that life was designed, I’m asking, in the context of inane appeals to SETI as a “design science”: where’s the message? Where’s the reasoning that calls for the intent on the part of the Designer (wink wink) to make design obvious?
Messages are for communicating. Organisms are “for” surviving and reproducing.
Bottom line, using SETI as an example causes more rhetorical problems for ID than it solves.

Comment #50307

Posted by BlastfromthePast on September 30, 2005 12:12 PM (e)

CJ O'Brien wrote:

Bottom line, using SETI as an example causes more rhetorical problems for ID than it solves.

From the perspective of ID, it is indeed interesting to see “scientists” searching for intelligence by trying to analyze radio frequency sequences. This is the very technique of “unscientific” IDists. I agree with you that the Designer does not exhibit a direct intent to be known as a designer. This. I believe, is so we may come to have faith freely. But logic brings us to the idea of a creator anyway; unless, for whatever reason, we don’t want to go there.

Finally, let’s realize that we’re probably way off topic; so let’s just agree to disagree and move on.

Comment #50308

Posted by BlastfromthePast on September 30, 2005 12:21 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

Blast wrote:

What were the probabilities of [the first protein] forming? Quite low, don’t you think?

Quite the contrary. I can say without fear of contradiction the probability is 100%.

Please show me your calculation.

Russell wrote:

Therefore, nothing can exist that bounds anything infinite.

How do you know? Can an all-powerful God build something so big that He can’t move it? This statement represents a limitation on the powers of our reason, not a true contradiction.

Comment #50313

Posted by Ryan Scranton on September 30, 2005 12:42 PM (e)

Ved Rocke: Thanks for pointing that out. From Heddle’s arguments, I’d thought that Gonzalez & Richards were merely being sloppy with the term “correlate”. Turns out that they were speaking precisely, but didn’t spend any time thinking about where the best place to do astronomy would be independent of habitability. Instead, they assumed their conclusions and built backwards, just like the rest of the ID folk. Live and learn, I suppose.

Comment #50315

Posted by kiwi on September 30, 2005 12:44 PM (e)

From Tara’s notes, sounds to me like Gonzales held his own quite well against a large hostile audience. What of his defenders in the crowd? You failed to mention them!

Comment #50316

Posted by Don on September 30, 2005 12:53 PM (e)

SteveF wrote:

This might be a remarkable insight, but I was wondering why, for example, the fact that we are in a good position to see solar eclipses is actually a prediction of Intelligent Design. Couldn’t an Intelligent Designer have equally have arranged things so it becomes very hard for us to get a grasp of whats going on?

Ah, but that would be the Old Testament Wrathful Designer, not the New Testament Loving Designer.

Comment #50318

Posted by CJ O'Brien on September 30, 2005 12:56 PM (e)

How typical that Blast would respond with more unsupported assertion, avoid the issue by declaring the discussion of SETI “off topic”(?), and then suggest we should “agree to disagree.” Concession accepted.
Blast:

But logic brings us to the idea of a creator anyway; unless, for whatever reason, we don’t want to go there.

The reason is quite simply that the logic is flawed.

Comment #50320

Posted by SteveF on September 30, 2005 1:07 PM (e)

From Tara’s notes, sounds to me like Gonzales held his own quite well against a large hostile audience. What of his defenders in the crowd? You failed to mention them!

Would you say that deflecting a question about Irreducible Complexity with “Behe has a website dealing with that. I’m not a biologist” is really an adequate answer? Particularly given the fact that he had just spent his talk dealing with evidence for ID and therefore, one would assume, is capable of discussing Behe’s notion. Unless of course he was bluffing and hoped no one noticed……

Comment #50321

Posted by Russell on September 30, 2005 1:10 PM (e)

What were the probabilities of [the first protein] forming? Quite low, don’t you think?

Quite the contrary. I can say without fear of contradiction the probability is 100%.

Please show me your calculation.

We all agree that it happened, right? The probability of something having happened, given the fact that it happened, is… (let’s see… carry the 4… take the cube root… normalize to boundary conditions…) Yup! It’s 100%

Now, how do you figure that the probability is “quite low”? Please show your calculation.

Can an all-powerful God build something so big that He can’t move it? This statement represents a limitation on the powers of our reason, not a true contradiction.

Really! So how do you tell the difference between a “true contradiction” - one that points out a flaw in logic - and just another pesky limitation on our powers of reason?

Comment #50323

Posted by Don on September 30, 2005 1:22 PM (e)

I find Priveleged Planet arguments about eclipses and the perfectly observable sky to be pretty hilarious.

1. The earth’s atmosphere is actually only “clear” enough to observe the heavens when the sun is not scattering through it during daylight hours. Meaning, we can only really see anything at night. When we sleep. Why are we not nocturnal if this was the “plan”?

2. Why would eclipses not be seen quite regularly in convenient locations for humans to observe really often, if our observation of them was the plan? What of the countless passes of the moon that don’t create a full eclipse anywhere on earth, or anywhere humans congregate, compared to the relatively minute number of perfect passes we can actually see? If an eclipse is observable only from a small swath in the middle of the Indian Ocean should we suspect that it is occuring for the scientific enlightenment of the lucky dolphin or the priveledged tuna?

3. Human eyes can’t actually see eclipses, not without horrific damage being done to our retinas. If eclipses are specifically designed for human observation, then why would the act of actually observing the eclipse do such catastrophic damage to our eyeballs? Why were our eyes “designed” in such a way that, looking directly at a total eclipse, which was “designed” for our observation, we can go blind?

Comment #50328

Posted by Tara Smith on September 30, 2005 1:44 PM (e)

kiwi wrote:

From Tara’s notes, sounds to me like Gonzales held his own quite well against a large hostile audience.

Well, I was trying to be somewhat generous. You can see from his responses to the questions that they were incredibly weak, at best, and incredibly evasive at worst. I recognize, for example, that he’s not a biologist, and he probably did as well speaking about biology as I would about cosmology, but that’s why I don’t go up in front of a scientific audience and claim to know more about cosmology than cosmologists! I don’t have much sympathy for the fact that the audience was “hostile,” I’m afraid. As he even admitted, we were quite polite and respectful, even though most of us thought his ideas were bunk.

What of his defenders in the crowd? You failed to mention them!

I can’t say that there were any. I hung around for quite awhile after the talk, and wandered around groups which were discussing it, and didn’t hear anyone who supported it. I’m sure some were there, but they didn’t speak up either during or after the talk. Notice that the real reporters covering it didn’t find any, either.

Comment #50336

Posted by Moses on September 30, 2005 2:37 PM (e)

Maybe the moon is not so special an example after all… At least according to NASA’s Astrobiology Institute. The two original models of moon formation by impact were discarded as a better model comes out… Like trading your scientific Model T in for a new car…

The new simulations performed by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) researchers show that a single impact by a Mars-sized object in the late stages of Earth’s formation could account for an iron-depleted Moon and the masses and angular momentum of the Earth-Moon system. This is the first model that can simultaneously explain these characteristics without requiring that the Earth-Moon system be substantially modified after the lunar forming impact.

It is now known that giant collisions are a common aspect of planet formation, and the different types of outcomes from these last big impacts might go a long way toward explaining the puzzling diversity observed among planets,” says Asphaug.

http://nai.arc.nasa.gov/news_stories/news_detail.cfm?ID=111

Comment #50343

Posted by David Heddle on September 30, 2005 3:22 PM (e)

Moses,

That’s a great paper, here is a quote:

The Moon is believed to play an important role in Earth’s habitability. Because the Moon helps stabilize the tilt of the Earth’s rotation, it prevents the Earth from wobbling between climatic extremes. Without the Moon, seasonal shifts would likely outpace even the most adaptable forms of life.

“A Moon-less Earth with the same mass, rotation rate, and orbit as today would have the direction of its spin axis vary chaotically between 0 and 90 degrees on time scales as short as 10 million years,” says Darren Williams, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Penn State University and NAI member. “At high obliquity, temperatures over mid-to-high latitude continents would reach near boiling 80 to 100 Celsius around the summer solstice under a 1-bar nitrogen- dominated atmosphere. Such temperatures would be damaging to all forms of water-dependent life on Earth today.”

Which was more or less denied by many commenters here. Of course, the source of this report is the lunatic right wing ID spouting government agency (NASA) and Bob-Jones’s sister fundamentalist university (Penn State), so it should be taken with a grain of salt.

It ends with

“Understanding the likelihood of Moon-forming impacts is an important component in how common or rare Earth-like planets may be in extrasolar systems,” adds Canup.

There are additional benefits for life that would have resulted from a moon forming impact, but I won’t mention them–just to spare myself from hearing others deny them without doing their homework.

Thanks again for that link.

Comment #50347

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on September 30, 2005 3:48 PM (e)

Mr. Heddle, your desire to pick holes in the assertions of various PT members does nothing to support your case. You still don’t understand the fallacy of post-facto rationalization you’re engaged in. I am beginning to doubt that you ever will.

Comment #50349

Posted by Flint on September 30, 2005 3:56 PM (e)

(1) Life, Reality and everything were designed
(2) We observe X
(3) X is part of everything
(4) Therefore, X was designed.

See? Designed is based on actual observation! It’s science. Heddle is right.

Comment #50351

Posted by Russell on September 30, 2005 4:08 PM (e)

quoth the Heddle:
“At high obliquity, temperatures over mid-to-high latitude continents would reach near boiling 80 to 100 Celsius around the summer solstice under a 1-bar nitrogen- dominated atmosphere. Such temperatures would be damaging to all forms of water-dependent life on Earth today.”

Which was more or less denied by many commenters here.

Now you got me to read the whole thread in search of the “many commenters who more or less denied this”. I can’t find them. Heck - I can’t even find one. Before you announce that you are, once again, through with Panda’s Thumb for good, could you just point to the comments you refer to?

Thanks so much,

your pal,
Russell

Comment #50352

Posted by David Heddle on September 30, 2005 4:19 PM (e)

Ryan:

Mr. Heddle you’re full of it. Are you saying that Gonzalez doesn’t agree with the inside cover of his own book?

If you read the previous thread, you would know that based on private correspondence with Gonzalez I admitted that I unintentionally misrepresented him. He does view the central PP hypothesis as ID. You are beating a dead horse. I was wrong–it happens.

So on this point he and I disagree. I view the habitability as ID, but the observability just comes along for the ride.

Russell, look at #50242 for starters. Or are you saying that everyone agreed that the moon was important for life?

When I decide to leave PT for good (again), you’ll be the first to know!

Comment #50356

Posted by Ryan Scranton on September 30, 2005 4:37 PM (e)

Heddle: Just to be clear, my comment in this thread was mainly concerned with Ved Rocke’s highlighting the bad science by Gonzalez & Richards, rather than the disconnect between your conclusions and theirs. I should have made that more obvious with some quoted text. Obviously, you and I strongly disagree about a great deal regarding this topic, but the words you quoted were Ved Rocke’s, not mine.

Comment #50359

Posted by SteveF on September 30, 2005 4:41 PM (e)

David,

What role do you believe the intelligent designer played in the formation of the moon? Did he merely direct an appropriate existing body in the right direction? Did he physically create the moon and fix it in its orbit? Where does the action of a designer stop and plain old natural processes take hold?

Comment #50362

Posted by David Heddle on September 30, 2005 4:47 PM (e)

Ryan,

Well said.

SteveF,

I have no clue. (Just like someone who is a both theist and an evolutionist can have no clue when God ceases to be the primary mover and switches to secondary causes.)

Comment #50365

Posted by CJ O'Brien on September 30, 2005 4:51 PM (e)

Planetessimal, corner pocket. Kiss off the blue one, there.

Comment #50366

Posted by SteveF on September 30, 2005 4:53 PM (e)

David,

Do you believe there is any way to determine this? You believe there is evidence of design in these observations; can the rationale that led to this conclusion not discriminate between desgined and non-designed processes/features?

Ta.

Comment #50368

Posted by Russell on September 30, 2005 4:58 PM (e)

are you saying that everyone agreed that the moon was important for life?

The statement in question was:

Such temperatures would be damaging to all forms of water-dependent life on Earth today.

If the moon had not formed, and if, consequently, the earth’s environment were radically hostile to “water-dependent life” as it exists today, life - if it emerged - would have evolved radically differently. Now you or I or NDT might opine about whether or how life might evolve in the absence of a moon, but I don’t see any comments that suggest that it wouldn’t make any difference.

The key thing is this: “Evolutionists” (and I assume that includes the commenters you’re referring to, as well Dr. Williams) generally hold that organisms adapt to the conditions they encounter. (You might say, they cope with the environment they have, rather than the one they wish they had.) Creationists - and I include “ID theorists” - seem to hold the reverse view: that somehow all of space, time, and matter were lovingly arranged not just for the survival, but the edification of a species that’s only just emerged and, in all likelihood, will soon blink out of existence.

Cosmic narcissism.

Comment #50370

Posted by David Heddle on September 30, 2005 5:03 PM (e)

Maybe I misunderstood your question. I believe an object struck the earth and as a result the moon was created. I do not believe God created the moon in situ (I think the designer is God, and don’t understand IDers who don’t identify the designer with God). I do take earth’s moon to be strong evidence for design. I have no clue, however, about God’s means for ordaining the collision. I am not sure where you are going, but if it is to show that ID is not science, I have already stated many times that I don’t believe ID is science.

Comment #50371

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on September 30, 2005 5:04 PM (e)

Heddle said

Russell, look at #50242 for starters. Or are you saying that everyone agreed that the moon was important for life?

in support of his contention that

“At high obliquity, temperatures over mid-to-high latitude continents would reach near boiling 80 to 100 Celsius around the summer solstice under a 1-bar nitrogen- dominated atmosphere. Such temperatures would be damaging to all forms of water-dependent life on Earth today.”

Which was more or less denied by many commenters here.

Unfortunately for Mr. Heddle, #50242 does not deny that point. It is dicussing your complete failure to provide any evidence from biologists that such conditions were required.

You really should be more honest in your posting.

Comment #50373

Posted by SteveF on September 30, 2005 5:13 PM (e)

David,

I’m just trying to get more of a handle on what role the designer played in designing certain aspects of the moon (not for any particularly deep or meaningful reason - I’m just interested in where you are coming from)? Despite taking it as being strong evidence for design are you saying that the design mechanism can not be investigated full stop? Is your methodology for inferring design not able to take this next step?

In addition, as you don’t believe that this is within the realms of science, but at some point (presumably) naturalistic processes came into play in this scenario (which can be investigated with the scientific method). Where do you draw the line.

Thanks

Comment #50375

Posted by darwinfinch on September 30, 2005 5:19 PM (e)

Almost an all-bore team of Creationist idiocy one one thread! C’mon, you other funny, unbalanced, vain, stupid, and/or simply ignorant, utterly dishonest creationist trolls! Don’t leave it to DH and Blast to mangle verbiage and fact in their increasingly paranoid entry into the realm of outright “Kook.” Get in on this thread NOW!

Comment #50376

Posted by darwinfinch on September 30, 2005 5:19 PM (e)

Almost an all-bore team of Creationist idiocy on one thread! C’mon, you other funny, unbalanced, vain, stupid, and/or simply ignorant, utterly dishonest creationist trolls! Don’t leave it to DH and Blast to mangle verbiage and fact in their increasingly paranoid entry into the realm of outright “Kook.” Get in on this thread NOW!

Comment #50379

Posted by darwinfinch on September 30, 2005 5:38 PM (e)

How odd! I try to be more careful, usually.

Please pardon the 2X.

Comment #50380

Posted by David Heddle on September 30, 2005 5:42 PM (e)

SteveF,

It is not able to make that step (if it were, it would be a science).

As for doing science, I only assume naturalistic processes. I study gravity using GR or Newton. I don’t assume God moves the planets around. However, I see the fact that there are three rapidly expanding dimensions, which is necessary for life, as evidence for design. Hope that helps.

Comment #50381

Posted by Flint on September 30, 2005 5:54 PM (e)

How many times does Heddle need to express the only possible explanation he can find for the container fitting the puddle so exactly? In fact, EVERY container fits EVERY puddle exactly. This cannot be coincidence. It can’t be accident. It can’t be random. How obvious can it be?

Comment #50384

Posted by steve on September 30, 2005 6:28 PM (e)

Comment #50380

Posted by David Heddle on September 30, 2005 05:42 PM (e) (s)

SteveF,

It is not able to make that step (if it were, it would be a science).

As for doing science, I only assume naturalistic processes. I study gravity using GR or Newton. I don’t assume God moves the planets around. However, I see the fact that there are three rapidly expanding dimensions, which is necessary for life, as evidence for design. Hope that helps.

1 He doesn’t assume god moves the planets around? Doesn’t he know that according to dembski, jesus is an essential part of every scientific theory?

2a Three-D is essential for life? Don’t tell the string guys that.

2b Don’t you love how these creationists can’t imagine life under any other conditions? If I believed in god, I would never tell him that he couldn’t make life out of dark matter, or sparticles, or in 7 dimensions, or any number of things we don’t currently understand.

Comment #50387

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 30, 2005 6:40 PM (e)

There are additional benefits for life that would have resulted from a moon forming impact, but I won’t mention them—just to spare myself from hearing others deny them without doing their homework.

Hey heddle, are you now claiming that ID is scientific? IF so, would you mind showing em a scientific theory that explains (1) what the designer did to produce the unvierse, (2) what mechanisms it used to do whatever the heck you think it did, and (3) where we can see it using these mechanisms to day to do . . well … anything at all?

Or, is ID after all jsut your religious opinion. If so, why, again, is your religious opinion any better than anyoen else’s? Why, again, should anyone pay any more attention to your religious opinions than to mien or the kid who delivers my pizzas?

Comment #50393

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on September 30, 2005 7:21 PM (e)

“A Moon-less Earth with the same mass, rotation rate, and orbit as today would have the direction of its spin axis vary chaotically between 0 and 90 degrees on time scales as short as 10 million years,” says Darren Williams…

This contradicts the book I cited above, but it also contradicts (my limited understanding of) conservation of angular momentum and (ditto) the observation that none of the other moonless (Mercury, Venus) or very-small-mooned (Mars) inner rocky planets (or any of the rest) wobble around in a pattern anything like this.

The news release being quoted includes a link, Planetary climatic and dynamic factors that convert solid, airless bodies into worlds suitable for life (Dr. Darren Williams - Penn State), that doesn’t seem to be working right now, so I can’t pursue this question any further at the moment. Do any of you better-educated people have any ideas what could be driving Prof. Williams’s speculation?

Comment #50404

Posted by David Heddle on September 30, 2005 8:46 PM (e)

SteveF,

Three-D is essential for life? Don’t tell the string guys that.

The 3 rapidly expanding dimensions comes from String theory. They already know.

You were making sense until you parroted the tiresome “well a really clever designer could do anything” refrain.

Comment #50412

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 30, 2005 9:21 PM (e)

The 3 rapidly expanding dimensions comes from String theory.

Huh?

I see your opinions about science are just as ignorable as your religious opinions are, Heddle.

Comment #50428

Posted by BlastfromthePast on September 30, 2005 10:39 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

We all agree that it happened, right? The probability of something having happened, given the fact that it happened, is… (let’s see… carry the 4… take the cube root… normalize to boundary conditions…) Yup! It’s 100%

And what would be your calculation if we presume–as Darwinian theory demands–that it occurred by chance?

Russell wrote:

Really! So how do you tell the difference between a “true contradiction” - one that points out a flaw in logic - and just another pesky limitation on our powers of reason?

Is a photon a particle or a wave? Are you familiar with the dual-slit experiment. Photons–single photons–act either as a particle or a wave depending on the experimental set-up. How can something be both a particle and a wave at the same time? It’s a contradiction. But it’s also a FACT. Isn’t the limitation here our powers of reason?

Ginger Yellow wrote:

This makes no sense. Like what designer? If you mean what I think you mean, as in “Why not assume that all potential designers are like humans?”, because we don’t know what a designer capable of designing life (and/or the universe) from scratch looks like, or what its design process would look like.

This is simply an evasive answer.

Eugene Lai wrote:

Since you love logic so much, there is no logical reason why the first cause cannot be a dimwit such as the flying spagetti monster. It can bounds all that is infinite with he infinitely long elastic spagettic tentacles.

The First Cause must be simple, or else, what caused its complexity. The flying spaghetti monster is much too complex to qualify. Sorry.

Comment #50431

Posted by BlastfromthePast on September 30, 2005 10:56 PM (e)

CJ O'Brien wrote:

How typical that Blast would respond with more unsupported assertion, avoid the issue by declaring the discussion of SETI “off topic”(?), and then suggest we should “agree to disagree.” Concession accepted.

Are you incapable of being gracious?

SETI is, indeed, “off-topic.” The topic here is Gonzalez’ talk, not SETI. I merely made an observation to some post. No need to go on and on about it.

Comment #50432

Posted by Flint on September 30, 2005 11:05 PM (e)

Blast:

I had hoped you would reply, but perhaps I made the mistake of being too cogent to notice? I’ll save us both aggravation by simply jogging your memory:

Imagine if we did not have eclipses. Would those inclined to see design still do so? Is the bear Catholic? My point is that if you wish to “see” design, then you will see it, no matter what our situation happens to be. Imagine that conditions were such that Phenomenon X (whatever it might be. We don’t yet know, because given where we sit, it’s not apparent) were easy to observe. In that case, those who see design could say “The fact that we can easily observe X is evidence of design.” But sadly, our limited perspective has hidden X from our ken. Does this lack suggest to the design crowd that we are NOT designed? Nope, they just pick something we CAN observe, like eclipses. It simply does not matter what they see.

We could with equal logic say that the fact that we ARE NOT able to observe X (whatever it might be) is also by the designer’s intent, for good and sufficient reasons not yet revealed to us. Or we could say that the inscrutability of X is intended to be that way because the designer is testing our creativity for our own good, making us extend our limits. Or whatever ex post facto rationale is pasted on.

In any case, we always circle back to the same place. Gonzalez isn’t deriving design from that subset of coincidences (out of an infinity of possibilities) that we just happened to luck into. He starts with design as his conclusion, casts around for justification, and uses our particular situation as though there were something providential about it. And the point is, ANY situation would fill the bill, since the conclusion is already assumed and is not negotiable regardless.

All circumstances (of which all planets are a subset) are “privileged” in having their unique conditions and perspectives. And when all are privileged equally, the notion of privilege becomes nothing but a statement of preference.

Comment #50438

Posted by steve on October 1, 2005 12:53 AM (e)

David Heddle: “Ahem. Attention God. You are hereby prohibited from creating life in 7 dimensions. Furthermore, you cannot create life out of dark matter, whatever, and wherever, that stuff is. Nor can you possibly create life in a universe with a different cosmological constant. I have no idea what the value of the constant is, but you mustn’t change it. Trust me. Don’t even think about trying to create life in a universe with 18 types of quarks and three types of gravity. We all know that’s impossible. a universe with fermions, bosons, and an unspecified third type, with twice as much vacuum energy, and gravity which violates parity? Look, I ran the numbers, and, well, short answer==nope. The only possible conditions for life in any universe, are the single set I have observed. Thank you for your cooperation.”

Comment #50465

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 1, 2005 8:44 AM (e)

The First Cause must be simple

Since it’s not complex and specified, then it evolved.

Right?

Comment #50467

Posted by David Heddle on October 1, 2005 9:13 AM (e)

Lenny:

I see your opinions about science are just as ignorable as your religious opinions are, Heddle.

responding to my statement “The 3 rapidly expanding dimensions come from String theory”.

Sorry Lenny, but basic String theory teaches 10 spacetime dimensions, 6 of which stopped expanding, leaving us with time and three expanding dimensions.

These three dimensions result in an inverse square law for gravity–which in turn results in stable planetary orbits. Every physics teacher will point out how only in with an inverse square law do we have stable, closed orbits. That’s close enought to ID that they probably should be fired, don’t you think?

Comment #50480

Posted by Russell on October 1, 2005 11:53 AM (e)

And what would be your calculation if we presume—as Darwinian theory demands—that it occurred by chance?

For some strange reason - I’m sure it was just an oversight - Blast ignores the second half of my response:

Now, how do you figure that the probability is “quite low”? Please show your calculation.

Perhaps I’ll have to be a little more explicit in making my point.

You can’t calculate the probability of an undefined event. That the “first protein” formed is a fact. It happened. The probability that it did happen is 100%. That’s about the only probability you can “calculate” on this subject. We don’t know how it happened; not even a good guess. And, no, “Darwinian theory” doesn’t demand that we do.

You might assume, as Dembski seems to in his hilarious flagellum calculations, that the appropriate carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur atoms one day just fortuitously collided and formed the first protein molecule. I would estimate the probability of that particular scenario as vanishingly small.

You might assume that it was a stepwise process involving an unknown sequence of reactions, no one of which, obviously, can we estimate the probability. In which case, you can “calculate” the probability as somewhere between 0 and 100%.

You might assume that an undefined supernatural event occurred to override normally functioning natural laws, in which case you can “calculate” the probability as “meaningless”.

In a separate exercise in point-missing, Blast responds to my question,

[Russell:]…how do you tell the difference between a “true contradiction” - one that points out a flaw in logic - and just another pesky limitation on our powers of reason?

thus:

[Blast:] Is a photon a particle or a wave? Are you familiar with the dual-slit experiment. Photons—single photons—act either as a particle or a wave depending on the experimental set-up. How can something be both a particle and a wave at the same time? It’s a contradiction. But it’s also a FACT. Isn’t the limitation here our powers of reason?

There’s a pattern here. Did Blast answer my question? No. Instead, we get a whole lot of words obfuscating the issue, intimating - I guess - that the question is meaningless.

But note: Blast inadvertantly makes my point for me. Photons behave in some ways in a wave-like fashion, in some ways in a particle-like fashion. So if you assume that a photon is either a wave or a particle, there appears to be a contradiction. The flaw that reveals in the logic is the assumption that a photon has to be either a wave or a particle. Why would I assume that? How about: “neither”?

So, no. I don’t accept the dual-slit experiment as justifying the post-modern conclusion that any medieval theology or New Age alternative reality is just as sound and logical as science.

Comment #50484

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 1, 2005 12:41 PM (e)

These three dimensions result in an inverse square law for gravity—which in turn results in stable planetary orbits. Every physics teacher will point out how only in with an inverse square law do we have stable, closed orbits. That’s close enought to ID that they probably should be fired, don’t you think?

I sure don’t see how it has anything to do with ID.

Show me.

What did the designer do.

What mechanisms did it use to do whatever it did.

Where can we see these mechanisms doing anything today.

And why should we care any more about your religious opinions than we should about mine, my next door neighbor’s, or the kid who delviers my pizzas.

Comment #50485

Posted by sanjait on October 1, 2005 1:24 PM (e)

Good points both Russell. Blast assuages us for not having the ability to calculate the probability of the first gene, when we have neither knowledge of how it formed or its sequence or even what macromolecule it was composed of, then ironically he assumes it was improbable.

This, on top of the fact in bringing up the “First” this-and-that diatribe to refute a post of mine, he ignored the original point that we was referring to Demski/Behe’s arguments from improbability about the formation of complex structures, not the first gene.

This, on top of failiing to note that “Darwinian” theory doesn’t even deal with biogenesis, but rather descent from a common ancestor. That ancestor didn’t have just one gene, as there are at least 23 different protein coding genes common to all sequenced life forms from all domains/kingdoms.

I like the wave/particle false dichotomy as well. IDists have framed the issue as design or no design, such that if they can disprove or cast doubt on some aspect of evolutionary theory it somehow is positive evidence for design. While I don’t think their babble has discredited ToE at all, even if they someday do it doesn’t mean much for intelligent design. Just like the “wave or particle?” question, we can find evidence against concept either, but that merely means neither is sufficient to answer the question, and we have to think of a new concept to define the situation, and new hypotheses to test.

You see Blast and Heddle and all the other IDists (the latter may not claim to be an IDists, but he certainly shares a clade with them), this is why scientists do not respect ID. It’s proponents use clearly fraudulent models to make unfounded claims disputing one of the most well-studied theories of our time without even forming a single testable hypothesis.

And Heddle, before you say Gonzales’ claim is testable, tell us how we objectively measure observability and habitability to make a correlation.

Comment #50489

Posted by David Heddle on October 1, 2005 1:42 PM (e)

Let’s see, Gonzalez and Rochards claim that a inhabited (by complex life) planet without a large moon would damage their hypothesis. I am pretty sure, sanjait, that one does not need a formal, quantifiable theory of observability for that test.

Now, before y’all attack PP, the issue sanjait raised is quite narrow: the necessity for an objective measurement of observability. The only point I am making is that this test needs no such thing. Nor the test of finding intelligent life on a planet with an opaque atmosphere. Or, finding intelligent life on a planet without a dark night.

You criticism may be applicale to the test of finding an inhospitable planet that is a better observation platform than our local environment, for diverse observations–I agree that it may be difficult to rate observability. However, even their I think that they would say that if it is approximately as good as earth (but inhospitable) then it would falsify their claim.

Comment #50490

Posted by David Heddle on October 1, 2005 1:47 PM (e)

Lenny, re #50412, I didn’t really expect you to say “my bad, you were right about string theory, I misunderstood.” That would have taken some integrity and intellectual honesty. I’m just telling you this so that you know you didn’t disappoint me.

Comment #50493

Posted by Russell on October 1, 2005 2:15 PM (e)

I have a hypothesis that geography determines cola preferences. It’s a perfectly testable hypothesis. For instance, find me a planet with a continent just like North America that has a population with a statistically significantly different ratio of Coca Cola to Pepsi preference. OR, you could find me planets with continents radically different from North America, but whose populations happen to have the same Coke/Pepsi preference.

In the meantime, I’m going to write a book called “The Privileged Cola”, go on a speaking tour, and demand that any questions about my reliability as a scientist be thoroughly investigated for any evidence of viewpoint discrimination.

Comment #50496

Posted by Zarquon on October 1, 2005 3:36 PM (e)

These three dimensions result in an inverse square law for gravity—which in turn results in stable planetary orbits. Every physics teacher will point out how only in with an inverse square law do we have stable, closed orbits. That’s close enought to ID that they probably should be fired, don’t you think?

This is wrong. Gravity is only approximately inverse square, hence the advance of the perihelion of Mercury. It’s only in 2-D that inverse-square laws are closed, which is part of the reason Einstein needed 4 dimensions.

Comment #50497

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 1, 2005 3:41 PM (e)

Lenny, re #50412, I didn’t really expect you to say “my bad, you were right about string theory, I misunderstood.”

You *weren’t* right, Heddle. (shrug)

Oh, and I really didn’t expect you to answer my question as to why anyone should pay any more attention to your religious opinions than they should to mine, my next door neighbor’s, my car emchanic’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas.

I’m just pointing out to all the lurkers that, like all the other IDers, you are just an arrogant self-righteous prick who thinks, quite literally, that he is holier than everyone else is.

And, since you’ve already told us that ID is religion and not science, I also don’t expect you to answer my question as to why anyone should pay any more attention to your scientific opinions tghan they should to your religious opinion.

I’m just pointing out to all the lurkers that you are not a scientist, and your opinion on science isn’t worth the electrons they are printed by.

Disappoint me? Pffft. Don’t flatter yourself, Davey. You’re just not that important.

Comment #50498

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 1, 2005 3:43 PM (e)

The only point I am making is that this test needs no such thing.

Thanks for your opinion, Heddle.

Why, again, should anyone care about your opinion ….?

Comment #50502

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 1, 2005 4:32 PM (e)

Flint: I think your argument (though a bit strained) is fair enough. I’m not going to defend Gonzalez on this point. (He stretches it a bit, too, I suppose.)

sanjait wrote:

Good points both Russell. Blast assuages us for not having the ability to calculate the probability of the first gene, when we have neither knowledge of how it formed or its sequence or even what macromolecule it was composed of, then ironically he assumes it was improbable.

I’ll answer both you and Russell at the same time: proteins are made up of amino acids (always have been, always will); there are roughly 20 amino acids to choose from in forming the polypeptide polymer. Thus the odds–strictly from chance– of forming, let’s say, a protein of 100 amino acid length (short by normal standards) is one in 20^100. That is, one in 20 raised to the 100th power, or about 10 raised to the 120th power. This is effectively “impossible.” QED

Russell wrote:

You might assume that it was a stepwise process involving an unknown sequence of reactions, no one of which, obviously, can we estimate the probability. In which case, you can “calculate” the probability as somewhere between 0 and 100%.

What might those reactions be? Do we see them today? What would be the purpose of those reactions? Reactions almost always require the input of energy; where did the energy come from? How did this long chain molecule not degradate, and why? Etc. Hence, I’ll take 0%

sanjait wrote:

This, on top of failiing to note that “Darwinian” theory doesn’t even deal with biogenesis, but rather descent from a common ancestor.

While you’re correct about Darwin, why is it that no one mentions that fact given that the general impression at large–which is not corrected–is that Darwinism explain the whole panoply of organismic life?

However, this only means, unfortunately for you, that there is evidence for design (i.e., the information needed to form proteins) and that Darwinism doesn’t even have a whisper to say about the origins of life.

sanjait wrote:

I like the wave/particle false dichotomy as well.

When you hear “experts” talk about either the dual-slit experiment or special relativity, they say something like: “If you think understand it, then you don’t understand it.” This is tantamount to saying it’s a “mystery.” Believe it or not, sanjait, there are things beyond human comprehension–as humbling as that may seem.

itwit wrote:

More to the point, what does the validity or otherwise of GR have to do with ID?

I think Gonzalez’ argument is more along the lines of the “anthropic principle,” and not ID. Sure, there’s a connection; but, yes, you’re right; they’re not the same thing.

The remark I made was simply to give, in fairness to Gonzalez, some context to what, otherwise, was just dangling out there. BTW, is “itwit” just “nitwit” without the “n”? Have I found you out? ;)

Russell wrote:

There’s a pattern here. Did Blast answer my question? No. Instead, we get a whole lot of words obfuscating the issue, intimating - I guess - that the question is meaningless.

That a photon acts both like a particle and a wave is a “true” contradiction–we know what a particle is; we know what a wave is; they aren’t the same thing. Acting like a particle contradicts something being a wave.

Then there are silly logical contradictions–like the one I mentioned, where it’s simply a matter of hooking up contrary meanings. Let’s get earthy. “All generalizations are false.” But, of course, this is a generalization, which now makes it self-contradictory. The example I gave assumes that God has “muscles”. Yet, revelation tells us that God is spirit. So the problem is not God’s, it’s ours: we try to make God in our own image instead of the other way around.

As far as the dual-slit experiment is concerned: that, too, has nothing to do with God, nor design. That’s just the way the world works. I suspect that one-day it will make a whole lot more sense to us.

Comment #50503

Posted by Alienward on October 1, 2005 4:33 PM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

You criticism may be applicale to the test of finding an inhospitable planet that is a better observation platform than our local environment, for diverse observations—I agree that it may be difficult to rate observability. However, even their I think that they would say that if it is approximately as good as earth (but inhospitable) then it would falsify their claim.

To observe the universe, no atmosphere is better than any atmosphere. So the moon is a better platform for observing the universe than the earth. Not only that, the moon is also a much better platform for observing the moon than the earth is a platform for observing the moon. Sure you can argue the earth is a better platform for observing the earth than the moon is platform for observing the earth. But, we already know it’s quite feasible for complex intelligent beings to travel from the moon to earth to observe all those simple life forms that kill each other as they eat each other. Thus, their claim is falsified.

Comment #50504

Posted by David Heddle on October 1, 2005 4:45 PM (e)

Zaquron,

It’s only in 2-D that inverse-square laws are closed, which is part of the reason Einstein needed 4 dimensions.

Either interpretation of this comment is stupid. If you mean a 2D universe, then gravity would not be an inverse square (have you heard of flux?) If you mean 2D solutions in a 3D world, all are planar (2D) in a 3D world (you have heard of conservation of angular momentum?) And your Einstein comment is totally meaningless.

As for corrections to Newton, who denied them? However, it is the fact that in 3D the orbits are stable to perturbations that means we don’t have to worry about then in terms of our orbital stability.

Any sophomore book on analytical mechanics should clear things up for you.

Lenny:

You *weren’t* right, Heddle.

Yes, I was, is it so hard for little Lenny to admit?

like all the other IDers, you are just an arrogant self-righteous prick

You are indeed the cream of Panda’s Thumb. How I miss Great White Wonder. His insults were creative.

Comment #50505

Posted by darwinfinch on October 1, 2005 5:01 PM (e)

DAVID HEDDLE is complaining about CREATIVITY, and about the need for someone else to COMPLAIN CREATIVELY!!!!

The greatest curse of being a creationist, on a personal level (since, from my viewpoint, the inability to face the terror that is beautiful and utterly pedestrian in this world, due to an infantile attachment to one’s own self-importence is equal to missing at least one of the senses), is the absolute lack of shame, which means an inability to understand irony, or any sort of non-juvenile humor.

Dave H is not worth the value of a Late Weimer banknote. as the person he manifests here. He is a stupidly smug kook who undoubtedly write his posts in the nude with his feet immersed in grape jelly (as a prophelactic measure, with a nod to Our Lord by choosing grape) wearing one of those wool caps with the earflaps (flaps up) and a wall covered in pictures of Willy D. bending over a cauldron of boiling weenies. He is a silly ass who, were he someone’s dog, would have had his rear-end shaved and been taught to walk backwards.

He is a pompous jerk, not worth anyone’s effort to respond to, or to read: advice I will take from myself from this day forwards.

Comment #50509

Posted by David Heddle on October 1, 2005 5:30 PM (e)

Alienward,

Thus, their claim is falsified.

Gee, some of you say their claim is unfalsifiable, while others claim it is trivially falsified. My, PT logic continues to amaze.

Comment #50510

Posted by James on October 1, 2005 5:31 PM (e)

Heddle exhibits his own lack of creativity. All he’s done, is imagining one change in the known laws, then showing it’s incompatible with known life circumstances, and concluding from that, that the current laws are the only ones hospitable to life. An omnipotent God would have infinite choices of laws of nature, types of particles, background temps, etc. It takes some kind of fool to restrict God to merely what he knows about. I guess that’s what they mean when they say ID is not only bad science, but bad theology.

Comment #50511

Posted by James on October 1, 2005 5:33 PM (e)

Gee, some of you say their claim is unfalsifiable, while others claim it is trivially falsified. My, PT logic continues to amaze.

Gee, some IDiots say ID is testable, while others claim it is without content. My, ID logic continues to amaze.

Comment #50517

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 1, 2005 6:25 PM (e)

I’m not going to defend Gonzalez on this point.

Dude, why on earth should anyone care about your uneducated uninformed opinion on the matter?

Comment #50518

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 1, 2005 6:26 PM (e)

You are indeed the cream of Panda’s Thumb. How I miss Great White Wonder. His insults were creative.

That’s nice.

Are you gonna answer my questions, Heddle, or aren’t you.

Silly me. Of COURSE you’re not.

Isn’t it about time for you to run away again, Davey?

Comment #50519

Posted by Russell on October 1, 2005 6:29 PM (e)

The inexorable Blast:

Thus the odds—strictly from chance— of forming, let’s say, a protein of 100 amino acid length (short by normal standards) is one in 20^100. That is, one in 20 raised to the 100th power, or about 10 raised to the 120th power. This is effectively “impossible.” QED

So far as I know, no one is contending that a specific protein (note, that’s an unstated assumption in your, frankly, inane calculation) “formed by chance”. Therefore, the most obviously wrong part of the above is the “QED”.

Blast takes point-missing to new heights:

That a photon acts both like a particle and a wave is a “true” contradiction—we know what a particle is; we know what a wave is; they aren’t the same thing. Acting like a particle contradicts something being a wave.

Let me be even more explicit than before.

There is no reason to presume that a photon has to BE either a wave or a particle.

At this point, I’m asking myself why I’ve wasted this much time on the hapless Blast. I seem to have neglected my own rule: If no one else finds any merit in a particular piece of illogic, there’s no reason for me to spend my time trying to point out the flaws in it. Unless and until I see any evidence that there are folks out there who see any merit in Blast’s comments above, I’m going to let Blast try to figure out for himself why that might be.

Comment #50520

Posted by steve on October 1, 2005 6:34 PM (e)

What’s he going to run away and do? ID experiments? Present a paper at an international ID conference? Ha.

Comment #50529

Posted by Edward Braun on October 1, 2005 8:18 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

The inexorable Blast:

BlastfromthePast wrote:

Thus the odds—strictly from chance— of forming, let’s say, a protein of 100 amino acid length (short by normal standards) is one in 20^100. That is, one in 20 raised to the 100th power, or about 10 raised to the 120th power. This is effectively “impossible.” QED

So far as I know, no one is contending that a specific protein (note, that’s an unstated assumption in your, frankly, inane calculation) “formed by chance”. Therefore, the most obviously wrong part of the above is the “QED”.

To expand on Russell’s point, I would add that the set of catalytic activities that were necessary for the origion of life is (at present) far from know. Ultimately, conditions necessary for some set of catalytic activities to take place is the thing that is necessary for the origin of life. We (at present) don’t know the geochemical environmental or the nature of that set (in principle, one might image multiple sets of catalysts that would have some probability of eventually evolving to yield genotes [sensu Woese] similar to extant organisms).

Given the breaks in our knowledge of the chain linking extant life (genotes - a term used by Woese for organisms in which the link between genotype and phenotype is relatively exact; see Woese and Fox 1977 J Mol Evol 10(1):1-6 for the definitions) to the last universal common ancestor, to progenotes (organisms in which the link between genotype and phenotype is inexact, e.g., due to highly error prone translation), and to even more primitive organisms, attempting to calculate the relevant probability from first principles seems doomed. I would argue that one of the most troubling aspects of ID to me is that it seems to be asserting that we know how to calculate how likely the origin of life is, and (of course) they argue it is extremely improbable. The assertion that the origin of life is extremely improbable may be correct of course (in which case either ID is correct or we are a one-in-gazillion fluke), but I would assert we are nowhere near being able to reliably make that calculation. Is it any wonder many scientists want to continue looking into the origin of life?

However, there are additional ways to get a handle on that probability - you should look into one of Charlie Lineweaver’s publications in Astrobiology. He and Tamara Davis used the short time between the end of the late heavy bombardment of the inner solar system and the origin of life to support the contention that the origin of life was probably both rapid and relatively likely.

Similar contentions regarding the apparent fine tuning of the universe can also be made, and I would suggest looking at The Anthropic Principle Does Not Support Supernaturalism by Michael Ikeda and Bill Jefferys for an interesting discussion.

At present, I would argue that the evidence from many different and diverse areas, ranging from genomics to geology, supporting common ancestry of all extant organism is so strong that it would be perverse not to accept that theory as a framework for explaining biodiversity. In contrast, there is really no detailed framework for the origin of life. It would seem very premature to throw up our hands right now and say “can’t be done!” so clearly we now know “God (or the designer) did it!” And - although the string/M-theorists are working on a “theory of everything”, it is far from clear that string/M-theory will be the ultimate solution. Even if it is, given that we don’t have a single form of string theory or a clear means of connecting the different versions as special cases of M-theory it would seem premature to throw up our hands right now and say the universe is clearly so fine tuned for us (well…for complex life) that we should proclaim “God (or the designer) did it!” Logic like the Ikeda and Jefferys post could even be used to argue the opposite in our current state of ignorence.

Comment #50531

Posted by Hiya'll on October 1, 2005 8:22 PM (e)

Why does “Introduction to intelligent design” get “scare quotes” from the so called “author” of this post? Was it not really a “introduction” to “ID”, did he talk about so called “knitting” instead?

Comment #50536

Posted by Russell on October 1, 2005 9:06 PM (e)

Why does “Introduction to intelligent design” get “scare quotes” from the so called “author” of this post? Was it not really a “introduction” to “ID”, did he talk about so called “knitting” instead?

Why do you refer to them as “scare” quotes? I assumed that that was the title of his talk - or possibly Dr. Smith’s paraphrase of the title - and the quotes were there for the same reason I might put quotes around Dickens’s “Great Expectations”.

Comment #50537

Posted by sanjait on October 1, 2005 9:16 PM (e)

Heddle- If one is to claim that habitability and observability are correlated in the universe, wouldn’t you say that it is important for them to have a way to measure both habitability and observability. You make claims about the earth and its moon, but to claim there is a correlation requires us to look at a representative sample of the universe. We can’t have a nonrepresentative sample of one and make inferences about the whole universe. Have G&R done these things in a credible way? I think not.

You see, the presence of habitability and observability on earth alone, which from your posts we still apparently can’t measure, does not a correlation make. It wouldn’t necessarily take the discovery of external life to falsify such a hypothesis. All it would take is to show faults in their sampling methods. But, since we can’t measure observability and habitability, by your own admission, such a hypothesis isn’t even developed enough to falsify. If you need me to find a definition of “correlation” for you to review, I can find a link for you.

Comment #50538

Posted by sanjait on October 1, 2005 9:30 PM (e)

Blast- “Thus the odds—strictly from chance— of forming, let’s say, a protein of 100 amino acid length (short by normal standards) is one in 20^100. That is, one in 20 raised to the 100th power, or about 10 raised to the 120th power. This is effectively “impossible.” QED”

What Blast does here is symptomatic of ID information theorists; misrepresent evolutionary theory and then claim to have disproven it. The classic “straw man.”

Presently, evolutionary thoerists posit that the first gene did not code a protein, as Blast erroneously claimed all gene’s must do. Even today, the oldest genes we know of are ribosomal RNA. These are nucleic acid sequences with enzymatic properties. Our best guess at present is that the first gene, assembled “randomly” from abiotic precursers, was a RNA macromolecule. These are quaternary codes.

The estimation of 1 in 10^120 is wrong for multiple reasons, that scientists who try to think of the real world easily see. For one, that estimate assumes that the first gene was a proteins sequence of 100 amino acids, and that the early earth only synthesized one polypeptide of random sequence to try and hit that one sequence. In the real world, we notice multiple factors which reduce the improbability:

1. numerous sequences, more than we know of, can code for enzymes with similar functions.

2. the early earth was probably conducive to forming macromolecular structures, which means that rather than just one attempt, there were probably very very many.

3. The first gene didn’t need to be a protein, and was probably an RNA molecule, which greatly reduces the number of possible conformations.

Blast, predictably, makes similar fallacious assumptions as Demski, when through their lack of understanding of evolutionary process they underestimate the number of viable targets within the search space and underestimate the number of searches that take place within it.

So, do I think it was improbable that any self-replicated RNA molecule could be formed in an RNase-free reducing environment? Not at all. And you should really reserve the ostentatious “QED” for a time when you have actually demonstrated something significant.

Comment #50539

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 1, 2005 9:30 PM (e)

Russell wrote:

So far as I know, no one is contending that a specific protein (note, that’s an unstated assumption in your, frankly, inane calculation) “formed by chance”.

Could you please translate this into English?

Russell wrote:

There is no reason to presume that a photon has to BE either a wave or a particle.

If something acts like a particle, it is then assumed that it IS a particle; if it acts like a wave, then it is assumed you’re dealing with something that IS a wave-like entity (a wave function). The one contradicts the other. The fundamental law of philosophy is that something cannot be and not be at the same time. If you say there is “no reason to presume that a photon has to be either a wave or a particle”, the ONLY REASON that you can make that statement is because a photon is something that exhibits contradictory behavior. So what’s your point? What have you added to the conversation?

Comment #50541

Posted by sanjait on October 1, 2005 9:42 PM (e)

Oh yea Blast, I almost forgot the wave/particle thing, where you also missed the point.

If something, such as a photon, appears to be wave-like and particle-like, according to our understanding of what those defintions mean, that isn’t a contradiction. That just means neither of our definitions is accurate to describe a photon, and we don’t know what exactly it is. Just because something “isn’t particle” doesn’t mean that it “is wave,” as it is clear to see in this example.

This is similar to how IDists claim by disputing evolution, they aren’t somehow demonstrating intelligent design, they are only nominally demonstrating that evolutionary theory is not yet sufficient. That is, if any of the ID’s baloney about IC or the EF were actually credible, that would be the case.

Comment #50542

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 1, 2005 10:23 PM (e)

sanjait wrote:

If something, such as a photon, appears to be wave-like and particle-like, according to our understanding of what those defintions mean, that isn’t a contradiction. That just means neither of our definitions is accurate to describe a photon, and we don’t know what exactly it is.

Contrary to what you and Russell claim, I have not missed the point. You simply don’t know what you’re talking about. Your above statement is nonsense. It’s like saying something acts like a tennis ball and a surfboard, but that’s not a problem; all we have to do is figure out what to call it. How is it that you think your drivel is so high-brow?

Comment #50543

Posted by Russell on October 1, 2005 10:23 PM (e)

[Russell:]So far as I know, no one is contending that a specific protein (note, that’s an unstated assumption in your, frankly, inane calculation) “formed by chance”.

[Blast:]Could you please translate this into English?

I think you’ll find every single word there in any standard English dictionary. And, though the insertion of the parenthetical remark may have thrown you off, I believe the words are arranged in a grammatically sensible order. But I’ll try to break it down for you.

“So far as I know, no one is contending… “
It’s possible that someone actually holds the position you’re arguing against, but I don’t know who, unless, of course, it’s the ever-popular fall-guy, Mr. Strawman

“…that a specific protein “formed by chance”.
A subordinate clause, introduced by the conjunction “that”. By “specific protein” I mean one particular sequence of amino acids polymerized in a polypeptide chain. “formed by chance” is in quotes because it’s taken directly from one of your comments; I’ll assume you know what it means.

“(note, that’s an unstated assumption in your, frankly, inane calculation)”The parentheses indicate that the enclosed words are an insertion into a sentence that could stand alone without the insertion. The insertion is meant to clarify something within that sentence. “note,” would be the imperative form of the verb, “to note”, meaning “to pay attention to, take notice of”. “That’s” is a contraction of “that is”; “that” referring to the condition that the protein whose synthesis you’re considering be one specific sequence.

“unstated assumption” While the “first protein” whose synthesis we were considering could have been any of an infinite set of amino acid residues, your calculation takes as a “given” (hence, “assumption”) that we’re talking about one specific protein. “Unstated” was meant to indicate that this important change in the premise was, whether intentionally or inadvertantly, not mentioned.

“,frankly,” I might try to find a more diplomatic way of saying it, but that would be at the expense of honesty and “straight-talking”

“inane”
“empty; foolish”

“calculation”
“arithmetic operation”

I certainly hope this helps.

Comment #50546

Posted by Henry J on October 1, 2005 10:43 PM (e)

How did the phrase “common descent” come to be used to mean “common ancestry”, anyway? I can see how that’d be confusing to somebody not used to the term.

Henry

Comment #50547

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 1, 2005 10:52 PM (e)

So far as I know, no one is contending that a specific protein (note, that’s an unstated assumption in your, frankly, inane calculation) “formed by chance”.

Could you please translate this into English?

Sorry, Blast – we do sometimes forget that you don’t know very much about sciecne, and that much of what we say, you are hearing for the very first time.

Proteins are collections of atoms held together by chemical bonds, Blast. Chemical bonds are determined by the iron-clad laws of physics and chemistry, Blast. And those are not “random chance”.

Which makes all your yamemring about “proteins forming by chance” . . well … sort of stupid.

By the way, Blast, have you learned yet how large a dolphin is?

Blast, Blast, Blast. In all the time I’ve known (and corrected) you, you STILL have not yet learned not to blither stupidly about things you don’t know anything about. (sigh)

Comment #50548

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 1, 2005 10:55 PM (e)

You simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

BWA HA HA HA HA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s pretty darn funny, coming from someone who (1) didn’t know who Waddington or Baldwin were (until *I* told him), (2) never heard of _Caudipteryx_ or _Pakicetus_ (until *I* told him), and (3) apparently doesn’t know how big a dolphin gets.

Blast, why on earth do you insist on demonstrating your ignorance in so public a fashion?

Comment #50596

Posted by Russell on October 2, 2005 10:39 AM (e)

Blast wrote:

Believe it or not, sanjait, there are things beyond human comprehension—as humbling as that may seem.

I love it when someone who thinks the universe was created for him and his kind tries to tell the rest of us about humility. What’s especially ironic here is that same someone is pretending to make a point about the “limitations of human comprehension”, while arguing against my suggestion that perhaps a photon is an entity that does not fit into one of the neat categories thus far recognized by human comprehension.

Comment #50614

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 2, 2005 1:17 PM (e)

I love it when someone who thinks the universe was created for him and his kind tries to tell the rest of us about humility. What’s especially ironic here is that same someone is pretending to make a point about the “limitations of human comprehension”, while arguing against my suggestion that perhaps a photon is an entity that does not fit into one of the neat categories thus far recognized by human comprehension.

I find it amusing that Blast now wants to yammer about quantum mehcanics, when he quite obviously doesn’t know any more about it than he does about whales.

Why Blast insists on displaying his crushing ignorance so publicly, I don’t know. But I thank him for it. It shows all the lurkers, without any help from me, just how silly and vapid ID really is.

Comment #50628

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 2, 2005 3:30 PM (e)

sanjait wrote:

Presently, evolutionary thoerists posit that the first gene did not code a protein, as Blast erroneously claimed all gene’s must do.

I never said any such thing. Talk about a “straw man”!

Russell wrote:

So far as I know, no one is contending that a specific protein (note, that’s an unstated assumption in your, frankly, inane calculation) “formed by chance”.

Thank you for clarifying what you mean by a “specific protein.” Now I know that you’re spewing nonsense. Tell me, is there such a thing as a “generalized” protein? And is that what is being suggested as having been synthesized at the “beginning”?

You know, this is all inanity. How can you have “reproduction”, unless you have the appropriate “enzymes.” And how do these enzymes come about? Enzymes are proteins with specific sequences. If you don’t have something reproducing over and over again, you only get one chance at any specific protein, small or large. How does this happen simply by chance? Your answer: Evolution did it!

All of this just defies logic. Why do you think Anthony Flew became a believer? You know, there was the expression “holier than thou” that was uttered as a criticism of the self-righteous. Well, we’ll have to replace that with “smarter than thou” when it comes to Darwinian fundamentalists.

Comment #50631

Posted by steve on October 2, 2005 3:40 PM (e)

If Blast refuses to understand evolution, why bother trying to explain wave-particle duality to him?

Comment #50632

Posted by Russell on October 2, 2005 3:41 PM (e)

If there’s anyone at all out there that thinks that Blast’s latest “contribution” is anything but nonsense, please leave a note. Otherwise, I will assume that its foolishness speaks eloquently for itself.

Comment #50633

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 2, 2005 3:42 PM (e)

RDLennyFlank wrote:

I find it amusing that Blast now wants to yammer about quantum mehcanics, when he quite obviously doesn’t know any more about it than he does about whales.

Lenny, one doesn’t need to know much about quantum mechanics to know about a photon. Einstein, who didn’t care much for QM, is the one who defined what a photon is in his 1905 paper on the photo-electric effect–for which he won his only Nobel Prize. Einstein defined the photon–in that paper–as a “massless” particle. Now, does anyone want to say that “massless” and “particle” are not contradictory? Just because you have a big mouth, doesn’t make you anywhere close to being right Lenny.

And I’m rather confident that any so-called “lurkers” can figure that one out for themselves.

Comment #50635

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 2, 2005 3:49 PM (e)

steve wrote:

I find it amusing that Blast now wants to yammer about quantum mehcanics, when he quite obviously doesn’t know any more about it than he does about whales.

No need to explain it since no one CAN explain it. If you think you can explain it, then you know nothing at all about it.

I’m currently taking a math class at UCSB as a prelude to taking Quantum Mechnics next quarter. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

Comment #50636

Posted by steve on October 2, 2005 4:10 PM (e)

1 I didn’t say what you quoted me as saying.
2 I have a degree in physics, and have taken 3 Quantum Mechanics classes, so don’t bother letting me know anything. In the meantime, don’t try to lecture us all about the subject.

Comment #50637

Posted by steve on October 2, 2005 4:13 PM (e)

If you have access to a university library, and it looks like you do, go check out a few basic explanations of evolution, such as What Evolution Is, by Mayr.

Comment #50638

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on October 2, 2005 4:19 PM (e)

Henry J: How did the phrase “common descent” come to be used to mean “common ancestry”, anyway?

“Descent” seems to have been used as standard English in Darwin’s day for what we now call ancestry - possibly the latter term became more common in the 20th century because it’s less ambiguous, or perhaps it somehow reflects the weakening of multi-generational extended families during that time.

Comment #50643

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 2, 2005 4:44 PM (e)

Why do you think Anthony Flew became a believer?

Why do you think he shortly afterwards decided that ID was a load of cow crap?

And why is Flew’s “believer” status relevant anyway? Or is ID, after all their arm-waving, just about converting atheists to theism, and are IDers currently lying to us under oath in Dover when they claim otherwise?

Thanks once again, Blast, for demonstrating so clearly to all the lurkers what ID is really all about.

Comment #50644

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 2, 2005 4:46 PM (e)

Lenny, one doesn’t need to know much about quantum mechanics to know about a photon.

Basing that opinion on your, uh, vast knowledge and experience with nuclear physics, are ya?

Gee, Blast, you feel compeent to bloviate upon lots of topics. Is there anything you are NOT expert in?

Comment #50648

Posted by Russell on October 2, 2005 5:14 PM (e)

What I find kind of interesting is that Heddle - allegedly a physicist himself - had been hanging around this thread, and evidently did not feel any urge to set Blast straight. What’s that all about? Perhaps it’s a corollary of Reagan’s 11th commandment (“never speak ill of a fellow Republican”): “Never admit that a fellow IDer is ever wrong about anything”

Comment #50651

Posted by Flint on October 2, 2005 6:41 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #50653

Posted by Flint on October 2, 2005 7:08 PM (e)

Man, that’s brutal. It takes me a dozen tries to open this thread without Explorer crashing (no other thread causes this), each post to this thread crashes Explorer (no other thread does this), and takes a great deal of work with it. Anyway, I think Russell is right. It’s entirely a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and without any queston “Darwinism” is the enemy. Jeffrey Dahmer could defend ex post facto ID circularity of the dumbest stripe, and Blast and Heddle would compliment him on his culinary acuity.

Imagine for a moment how much progress Real Science would make, if in an effort to circle the wagons against religious-inspired idiocy, scientists agreed never to criticize one another or even *notice* the most elementary blunders. That sort of conspiratorial “you ignore my back and I’ll ignore yours” approach only works when all the answers are already known. Blast is lying for Jesus. Heddle knows he’s lying, but “lying’s a virtue when you’re lying for God”. Some genius wrote that here recently, as I recall.

Comment #50656

Posted by Red Mann on October 2, 2005 7:18 PM (e)

Hi Blast, it Mr Smug and Arrogant. Can you answer the smug and arrogant questions I asked about statements you made a awhile back? Here they are again, if you’ve forgotten (from Comment #44506)

Would you be so kind to explain to me what facts you are referring to when you said

“the details of a theory disproven by the very facts that are intended to prove it”

and how they disprove the theory?

Could you expand on

“the weaknesses that exist in Darwinian theory”

that Gould admitted to?

Could you give more detail on

“Darwinism will one day be looked upon like the plague; as something that almost knocked the life completely out of biological sciences”

Have you found

“a probable, reasonable answer to species formation”.

If you have, will you share it with me? I’m always willing to learn.

Comment #50667

Posted by Henry J on October 2, 2005 9:06 PM (e)

About wave-particle duality - as English doesn’t seem to have a generic word for whatever a photon is (for some reason, the term “wavicle” never caught on), I suppose people will sometimes use the [i]word[/i] “particle” for photons (and other quantum “particles”), but yeah, it’s not really a particle in the classic sense of that word.

Re ““Descent” seems to have been used as standard English in Darwin’s day for what we now call ancestry”

Oh, so “common descent” is left over from 19th century English - sort of an illustration of the topic of that new thread, “The words of the world”.

Henry

Comment #50684

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 3, 2005 12:26 AM (e)

steve wrote:

If you have access to a university library, and it looks like you do, go check out a few basic explanations of evolution, such as What Evolution Is, by Mayr.

My main interest in evolution has to do with “macroevolution.” I’ve read the pertinent sections of Mayr’s book and it sounds like complete gobbilly-gook. I have yet to find a book that even begins to make sense when it comes to macroevolution. Levinson latest edition doesn’t even TRY to do so. Maybe you have another suggestion? By the way, I have a degree in Zoology(hated genetics)–but that was some time ago(as well as one in engineering).

steve wrote:

I didn’t say what you quoted me as saying.

My apologies. I must say that even I was surprised when I saw your name there in the quotation box on my post. I think it was Lenny who said that.

I’m not trying to lecture anyone on quantum mechanics. QM got brought in when I was trying to show some people on this post that it’s possible to live with some contradictions, the dual-slit contradiction being one. When you say 3 courses, do you mean 3 semester courses?

Being a physicist, why don’t the unbelieveably low probabilities involved in random mutation bringing about ordered change throw you for a loop? Have you read Fred Hoyle’s book on the “Mathematics of Evolution”?

Comment #50686

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 3, 2005 12:39 AM (e)

To Smug and Arrogant Red Mann:

In answer to query#1: The fossil record
In answer to query#2: I did that already, but apparently you weren’t paying attention. You can go back and look (unless, of course, the post was, let us say, deleted).
In answer to query#3: That is my opinion. It’s rather straightforward what I say. And, if in my lifetime, I’m proved wrong, I will retract it. But don’t bet on my having to do that.
In answer to query#4: I’m still looking. When I find something, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Comment #50687

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 3, 2005 12:49 AM (e)

Flint wrote:

Blast is lying for Jesus.

Darwinists know everything, even the secret motives of other men. Gosh they’re brilliant.

RDLennyFlank wrote:

Blast wrote:

Lenny, one doesn’t need to know much about quantum mechanics to know about a photon.

Basing that opinion on your, uh, vast knowledge and experience with nuclear physics, are ya?

Lenny, do you ever read these posts? Didn’t you notice where I said that it was Einstein who defined the photon as a massless particle in 1905–20 years before quantum mechanics came into existence.

RDLennyFlank wrote:

Why do you think he shortly afterwards decided that ID was a load of cow crap?

What are you talking about?

Comment #50689

Posted by steve on October 3, 2005 1:30 AM (e)

Being a physicist, why don’t the unbelieveably low probabilities involved in random mutation bringing about ordered change throw you for a loop?

If the probabilities were ‘unbelieveably low’ it would throw me for a loop. No such thing has ever been demonstrated. Fred Hoyle had lots of wrong ideas, even in his own field. I wouldn’t turn to him as an expert on biology if I were you.

Comment #50690

Posted by RBH on October 3, 2005 1:37 AM (e)

Blast wrote

Being a physicist, why don’t the unbelieveably low probabilities involved in random mutation bringing about ordered change throw you for a loop? Have you read Fred Hoyle’s book on the “Mathematics of Evolution”?

The coupling of those two sentences is deceptive. Hoyle”s argument in that book is not primarily about “the unbelievably low probabilities involved in random mutation bringing about ordered change …”. It’s primarily about what he sees as the allegedly insuperable problem of “genetic swamping” of beneficial mutations by deleterious ones and the supposed near-impossible ability of beneficial mutations to be fixed. See Jason Rosenhouse’s analysis (pp 9 - 11).

RBH

Comment #50702

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 3, 2005 7:10 AM (e)

My main interest in evolution has to do with “macroevolution.” I’ve read the pertinent sections of Mayr’s book and it sounds like complete gobbilly-gook. I have yet to find a book that even begins to make sense when it comes to macroevolution.

Since you didn’t even know what “Caudipteryx” was, Blast, I’m sure you’ll understand if we pay not attention at all to your ignorant uninformed opinion on the matter. (shrug)

Comment #50703

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 3, 2005 7:18 AM (e)

Why do you think he shortly afterwards decided that ID was a load of cow crap?

What are you talking about?

Showing your ignorance yet again, Blast?

“I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction…. I have been mistaught by Gerald Schroeder.” – Anthony Flew

Comment #50704

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 3, 2005 7:21 AM (e)

Darwinists know everything, even the secret motives of other men.

IDers don’t make any secret of their motives. They printed them all right there in the Wedge Document for all the world to see.

Comment #50707

Posted by Red Mann on October 3, 2005 7:49 AM (e)

BFTP wrote:
To Smug and Arrogant Red Mann:
In answer to query#1: The fossil record
In answer to query#2: I did that already, but apparently you weren’t paying attention. You can go back and look (unless, of course, the post was, let us say, deleted).
In answer to query#3: That is my opinion. It’s rather straightforward what I say. And, if in my lifetime, I’m proved wrong, I will retract it. But don’t bet on my having to do that.
In answer to query#4: I’m still looking. When I find something, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Your answer to #1 is BS and you know it. It’s the same old creationist delusional distortion of reality. The fossil record totally supports the ToE - which, as you have apparently not noticed, has advanced considerably from Darwin’s original theory. That’s the scientific method ya know - new evidence - adjust or expand the theory - look for more new evidence- adjust - look - adjust - look. Amazing ain’t it.

#2 Sorry, I forgot you “answered” this one, silly me.

(From Comment #47004 , which has not been deleted. This isn’t WAD’s site.)

As to you, Red Mann, how very smug and arrogant you are.
You, like Lenny ask silly questions. The only un-silly question you ask is relative to Gould.
The weaknesses that Gould addresses have to the do with explaining the absence of intermediate fossils through his theory of punk-eck, and his admission that advances in organic forms aren’t always directly affected by NS in his espousing of “exaption.” Gould, much like most other Darwinists, tried to face the actual failings of the theory. He tried to be scientifically honest. I give him credit for that.

Do you really think that this “weakness” actually threatens ToE? Wow!

#3 You said:

And I don’t mind telling you. Darwinism will one day be looked upon like the plague; as something that almost knocked the life completely out of biological sciences. But, of course, you can always prove me wrong. I dare you! Go ahead!

How could you be “proven wrong” on such a statement? Anyway, you made it, so you prove it right, or at least prove it not wrong.

#4 If you were honest with yourself, you would know that there is a perfectly good answer

I’ve looked for a probable, reasonable answer to species formation; and neo-Darwinism isn’t the answer

and ToE is it.

SaA Red Mann

Comment #50714

Posted by SteveF on October 3, 2005 8:55 AM (e)

David

Just to clarify, when you said:

“The 3 rapidly expanding dimensions comes from String theory. They already know.

You were making sense until you parroted the tiresome “well a really clever designer could do anything” refrain.”

You were responding to ‘steve’ and not SteveF (i.e. me!). I personally know nothing about string theory; I look at pollen samples in my research, which is about as far away from string theory as possible.

Comment #50721

Posted by Justin on October 3, 2005 9:36 AM (e)

The Mt. Rushmore argument is very similar to what proponents of random number generator experiments (RNG) in ‘psi’ research do when they appeal to meta-analysis of aspirin studies. They say something like ‘..the effect size of the combined results from the aspirin studies is smaller than that in the RNG studies, and therefore there is evidence for these ‘psi’ anomalies’. That is, they attempt to infer the existence of something we don’t know exists based on something we obviously know exists.

Comment #50723

Posted by Justin on October 3, 2005 9:38 AM (e)

And it is a poor argument.

Comment #50726

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 3, 2005 9:48 AM (e)

Red Mann wrote:

If you were honest with yourself, you would know that there is a perfectly good answer and ToE is it.

If you were honest, then you’d admit that the fossil record contradicts Darwin’s predictions, hence invalidating his theory regarding macroevolutionary changes.

Comment #50728

Posted by Shirley Knott on October 3, 2005 9:55 AM (e)

Dear Blast,
Which of Darwin’s specific predictions are invalidated by which specific aspects of the fossil record?
Or are you parrotting again (still)?

hugs,
Shirley Knott

Comment #50731

Posted by Tara Smith on October 3, 2005 10:03 AM (e)

Russell wrote:

Hi ya'll wrote:

Why does “Introduction to intelligent design” get “scare quotes” from the so called “author” of this post? Was it not really a “introduction” to “ID”, did he talk about so called “knitting” instead?

Why do you refer to them as “scare” quotes? I assumed that that was the title of his talk - or possibly Dr. Smith’s paraphrase of the title - and the quotes were there for the same reason I might put quotes around Dickens’s “Great Expectations”.

Precisely–it was the title of his talk (well, “Introduction to Intelligent Design,” but I’m sure you could figure that out from the title of my post.)

Comment #50732

Posted by Flint on October 3, 2005 10:03 AM (e)

Shirley:

These “failed predictions” are to be taken as a matter of faith. But I have to admire Blast’s phrasing. He implies that unless you lie, you are dishonest. Have we gone through the looking glass yet?

Comment #50827

Posted by steve on October 3, 2005 7:04 PM (e)

You were making sense until you parroted the tiresome “well a really clever designer could do anything” refrain

Of course I never said anything like that. The smart theologians know that god isn’t permitted to do ‘anything’, they usually say he’s free to do anything which isn’t logically impossible, such as the whole ‘rock so big he can’t lift it’ business. Leaving aside this special pleading in defense of a bad idea, I think my later comment 50438 sums it up for why Heddle’s so terribly wrong.

David Heddle: “Ahem. Attention God. You are hereby prohibited from creating life in 7 dimensions. Furthermore, you cannot create life out of dark matter, whatever, and wherever, that stuff is. Nor can you possibly create life in a universe with a different cosmological constant. I have no idea what the value of the constant is, but you mustn’t change it. Trust me. Don’t even think about trying to create life in a universe with 18 types of quarks and three types of gravity. We all know that’s impossible. a universe with fermions, bosons, and an unspecified third type, with twice as much vacuum energy, and gravity which violates parity? Look, I ran the numbers, and, well, short answer==nope. The only possible conditions for life in any universe, are the single set I have observed. Thank you for your cooperation.”

Heddle’s comments have been refuted a dozen times, he refuses to understand, so let’s move on to other things. Anybody here want to lay down money that Blast is Salvador Cordova? Blast doesn’t make quite so many spelling errors, is the only problem I see with that idea.

Comment #50831

Posted by CJ O'Brien on October 3, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

No. Not Cordova. I’m sure of that, but I can’t reveal my methodology. It’s kind of like Specified Complexity that way.
Probably one of Dembski’s other sycophants though.

Comment #50834

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 3, 2005 7:22 PM (e)

If you were honest, then you’d admit that the fossil record contradicts Darwin’s predictions, hence invalidating his theory regarding macroevolutionary changes.

Says you.

Of course, no one here cares about your ignorant uneducated opinion on the matter. (shrug)

Comment #50843

Posted by Alienward on October 3, 2005 8:01 PM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

Gee, some of you say their claim is unfalsifiable, while others claim it is trivially falsified. My, PT logic continues to amaze.

Are you referring to their claim that you were saying was not their claim that observability is ID? If you had a clue about their claims, you would have told me hypothesis was no good because even though the moon is in that habital zone, it still can’t house complex intelligent beings because they’re required by the designers to be made mostly of liquid water.

Comment #50844

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on October 3, 2005 8:02 PM (e)

Henry J: Oh, so “common descent” is left over from 19th century English - sort of an illustration of the topic of that new thread, “The words of the world”.

As usual, Mark Twain said it best: IIRC,

Man descended from the apes - and has not stopped descending since.

Hmm - maybe he didn’t, since I couldn’t find any reference to this quote via Google…

Comment #50849

Posted by steve on October 3, 2005 8:18 PM (e)

Hmm…yeah, Blast might not be Salvador. Like Charlie Wagner, Salvador craves attention too much to use a pseudonym. So let’s see…who could be Blast. We need someone with Salvador’s illogic, but better spelling. Well, it’s either T.Russ, or Casey Luskin.

I think I’d lay money on Blast being T.Russ.

Comment #50859

Posted by inwit on October 3, 2005 9:38 PM (e)

David Heddle in Comment #50343 on September 30, 2005 03:22 PM wrote:

Moses,

That’s a great paper, here is a quote:

The Moon is believed to play an important role in Earth’s habitability. Because the Moon helps stabilize the tilt of the Earth’s rotation, it prevents the Earth from wobbling between climatic extremes. Without the Moon, seasonal shifts would likely outpace even the most adaptable forms of life.

A Moon-less Earth with the same mass, rotation rate, and orbit as today would have the direction of its spin axis vary chaotically between 0 and 90 degrees on time scales as short as 10 million years,” says Darren Williams, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Penn State University and NAI member. “At high obliquity, temperatures over mid-to-high latitude continents would reach near boiling 80 to 100 Celsius around the summer solstice under a 1-bar nitrogen- dominated atmosphere. Such temperatures would be damaging to all forms of water-dependent life on Earth today.”

Which was more or less denied by many commenters here. Of course, the source of this report is the lunatic right wing ID spouting government agency (NASA) and Bob-Jones’s sister fundamentalist university (Penn State), so it should be taken with a grain of salt.

From The Privileged Planet Part 3: The Anthropic principle:

Gonzalez et al also argue that the moon is “just massive enough to stabilize this planet’s 23.5-degree axial tilt. If the moon were any smaller, the tilt of our planet could vary as much as 30 degrees over the course of a year. “

1) Williams’s statement does not in any way support Gonzalez’s claims. Williams talks about the consequences of a Moon-less Earth whereas Gonzalez talks about an Earth with a Moon, albeit one that is smaller than what currently exists. Gonzalez’s claims imply that even an slight decrease in the mass of the Moon would greatly destabilize the Earth’s spin. This is simply not supported by Williams’s words.

2) Even ignoring point (1) above, the changes in the tilt of the Earth’s axis that Williams discusses are very gradual indeed: no more than 9 millionths of a degree of arc per year, on average. In contrast, Gonzalez claims as being possible a rate of change of the Earth’s tilt that is as much as a million times greater. Again, this is not borne out by Williams’s words. Not even close.

3) The rates of change in angular momentum that Gonzalez envisages would require a violation of the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum or very large net external torques on the Earth. (I leave it as an exercise to the reader to estimate the rotational inertia and angular momentum of the Earth about its axis, and the minimum angular impulse and torque that would be required to change the tilt of the Earth’s axis by 30 degrees over the course of a year. Come to think of it, this would be an excellent exercise to assign to a Freshman Physics class.)

Incidentally, many of Gonzalez’s arguments have been addressed by PvM in The Privileged Planet Part 1: Where Purpose and Natural Law freely Mix, The Privileged Planet Part 2: The failure of the ‘Design Inference’, and The Privileged Planet Part 3: The Anthropic principle.

Comment #50860

Posted by inwit on October 3, 2005 9:45 PM (e)

BlastfromthePast on October 1, 2005 04:32 PM wrote:

BTW, is “itwit” just “nitwit” without the “n”? Have I found you out? ;)

No, the only thing that has been found out is your lack of reading skills, and that the word inwit is apparently not part of your vocabulary.

Comment #50861

Posted by Glenn Branch on October 3, 2005 10:16 PM (e)

inwit wrote:

No, the only thing that has been found out is your lack of reading skills, and that the word inwit is apparently not part of your vocabulary.

I excuse your burst of irritation here, inwit: it’s clear that your agenbark is worse than your agenbite.

Comment #50865

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 3, 2005 11:46 PM (e)

Shirley Knott wrote:

Dear Blast,
Which of Darwin’s specific predictions are invalidated by which specific aspects of the fossil record?
Or are you parrotting again (still)?

Must every comment include an insult? Is it de riguoer?

There is, of course, a dearth of intermediate forms, even though there’s probably a hundred times more explored formations than in Darwin’s time. He predicted that the fossil rock prior to the Cambrian would show almost the same degree of diversity as we now see. (That helped him believe that the eye might be the by-product of NS; i.e., he needed the extra geologic time). Then, of course, there’s the Cambrian Explosion, the fact that the number of phyla today is smaller than at the time of the Cambrian. And, of course, the problem of stasis.

That should keep you busy.

RBH wrote:

The coupling of those two sentences is deceptive. Hoyle”s argument in that book is not primarily about “the unbelievably low probabilities involved in random mutation bringing about ordered change …”.

I wasn’t trying to imply that that was Hoyle’s “only” argument. He does address the low probabilities–I’m sure you’re familiar with his “tornado going through a junk-yard” comment. And, as you correctly point out, he’s very dissatisfied with Fisher’s equations, so he develops his own. I suppose you’re familiar with Sewell Wright’s unwillingness to reach the same conclusions as Fisher, though both of them derived the almost same basic equation. But I think it was Hoyle’s attack on Fisher’s formulas that made me rather sure that neo-Darwinism wasn’t the answer for transpeciation.

Comment #50866

Posted by steve on October 4, 2005 12:32 AM (e)

T. Russ, is that you?

Comment #50868

Posted by sanjait on October 4, 2005 1:51 AM (e)

You’re right Blast- The fossil record doesn’t support evolution, it supports the sudden appearance of species out of thin air. All those pre-hominids are really just people who were sick or slouchy, and are in no way indicative of transitions between modern Pan and Homo. The dinosaurs were just large domestic dogs, which in no way resemble birds or reptiles. And all the other fossils that resemble but are not identical to other fossils which seem to form a tree pattern are just some sort of wierd coincidence. And all the molecular evidence, all those trees that we draw using similarity among genes shared by all the phyla on earth today that happened to coincide with trees drawn based on morphological, biochemical and fossil evidence are just a giant crazy coincidence. And IDists have a much better hypothesis (poof!) to explain how this coincidental tree came to be, and how in earth’s history species came and went at different times and changed over time, and to what happens when all those admitted microevolutionary changes accumulate over thousands or millions of years. All of evolutionary biology is just a giant atheist conspiracy, even though most evolutionary biologists aren’t atheists.

Your logic is overwhelming, and I can’t believe how thoroughly wrong I was not to accept it. Oh and I almost forgot, I can’t believe how your use of creationist buzzwords like “transpeciation” and “interspeciation” failed to compel anyone in this forum to your side. All of PT must be under the influence of the devil. Maybe instead of reasoning with them, we should just perform a mass html exorcism. Someone please close this thread before I read it again.

Comment #50870

Posted by sanjait on October 4, 2005 2:00 AM (e)

“He (Darwin) predicted that the fossil rock prior to the Cambrian would show almost the same degree of diversity as we now see. (That helped him believe that the eye might be the by-product of NS; i.e., he needed the extra geologic time).”

Do you really think that Charles Darwin, well before even the discovery of DNA as the genetic material, would have an accurate conception of the molecular clock? Diversity can change over time, and the fossil record is not a representative sample. These are both tenets of modern (as in now, not Darwin’s time) evolutionary theory. Do you think paleantology is just a giant conspiracy against ID Blast? Or does the fact that everyone who knows anything about biology disagrees with you not give you pause?

I feel like going in a church and arguing with them about the Bible. Even though I know almost nothing about it, as long as I have the will and get some talking points from a website I’m sure I’ll have enough ammo to annoy them for hours.

Comment #50880

Posted by David Heddle on October 4, 2005 5:47 AM (e)

Inwit,

Gonzalez et al also argue that the moon is “just massive enough to stabilize this planet’s 23.5-degree axial tilt. If the moon were any smaller, the tilt of our planet could vary as much as 30 degrees over the course of a year.

Could you proved the page in the Privileged Planet on which this claim is made? In must be in a different version than mine. For my copy reads:

Earth tilts 23.5 degrees varying from 22.1 to 24.5 degrees over several thousand years…If our moon were as small as [the] Martian moons, Earth’s tilt would vary not three degrees but thirty degrees. (PP p. 4-5)

After that, they explain the ill effects of a 60 degree tilt.

In other words, with a larger variance in the tilt, we could reach, at the extreme of the tilt shifting cycle (~30 +- 30)(which they do not put at one year, in fact they are just assuming would remain in the thousands of years) we would approach tilts near 60 degrees. They then describe, in effect, how much of the earth would fry part of the year while the other froze, and vice versa for the other half of the year.

But is for a year near the end of the cycle, not every year. And, contrary to what you quoted, the tilt would not vary by thirty degrees over that year (or any year), no, the tilt, while large, would vary quite little over the course of the year.

Now I could be wrong, just point me to where in the PP the quote you provided was extracted from.

Attention all Trolls: please note the issue at the moment is not whether tPP is right on this point, it is whether inwit has accurately represented their claim.

Comment #50883

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 4, 2005 7:01 AM (e)

There is, of course, a dearth of intermediate forms

Then, of course, there’s the Cambrian Explosion

And, of course, the problem of stasis.

I’m sure you’re familiar with his “tornado going through a junk-yard” comment.

All classic ICR boilerplate from thirty years ago. What are you going to bring up next, Blast. The Second Law of Thermodynamics?

Once again, we see that ID does nothing more than parrot the same tired old arguments amde by creation ‘science’. ID simply has nothing new to say.

Comment #50884

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 4, 2005 7:04 AM (e)

Now I could be wrong,

You mean you’re not infallible after all?

Given that, why should anyone pay any more attention to your religious opinions than they should to mine, my next door neighbor’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas? What makes your religious opinions any better than theirs?

Indeed, given that you have nothing scientific to offer, just religious opinions, why should anyone on this SCIENCE blog pay any attention to you at all?

Comment #50885

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 4, 2005 7:07 AM (e)

made me rather sure that neo-Darwinism wasn’t the answer for transpeciation.

And why, again, should anyone care about your uneducated uninformed opinion on the matter?

I won’t even bother to ask you what *IS* the answer for “transpeciation”, since I know you won’t answer anyway (and “goddidit” is the only answer ID has).

Comment #50901

Posted by BlastfromthePast on October 4, 2005 9:26 AM (e)

sanjait wrote:

Blast wrote:

He predicted that the fossil rock prior to the Cambrian would show almost the same degree of diversity as we now see.

Do you really think that Charles Darwin, well before even the discovery of DNA as the genetic material, would have an accurate conception of the molecular clock?

Why don’t you try reading the Origin of Species?

RDLenny Flank wrote:

Once again, we see that ID does nothing more than parrot the same tired old arguments amde by creation ‘science’. ID simply has nothing new to say.

No, Lenny, what we see are Darwinists who do a whole bunch of hand-waving instead of addressing the arguments; and, so, the arguments don’t go away. At least Gould had the guts to address the issues.

RDLenny Flank wrote:

Given that, why should anyone pay any more attention to your religious opinions than they should to mine, my next door neighbor’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas?

Lenny, you must really like pizza because you keep making this statement over and over and over again.

RDLenny Flank wrote:

And why, again, should anyone care about your uneducated uninformed opinion on the matter?

My opinion is neither uneducated nor uninformed–quite the contrary.

Comment #50902

Posted by Russell on October 4, 2005 10:07 AM (e)

[sanjait:]Do you really think that Charles Darwin, well before even the discovery of DNA as the genetic material, would have an accurate conception of the molecular clock?

[Blast:]Why don’t you try reading the Origin of Species?

Why don’t you try replying with some substance, rather than a smug intimation that we’ve all somehow missed something obvious?

I can’t speak for others, of course, but I’ve read Origin of Species, and I have no idea how this is supposed to respond to sanjait’s query.

Comment #50903

Posted by Alienward on October 4, 2005 10:08 AM (e)

BlastfromthePast wrote:

No, Lenny, what we see are Darwinists who do a whole bunch of hand-waving instead of addressing the arguments; and, so, the arguments don’t go away. At least Gould had the guts to address the issues.

And you creationists are still deliberately misrepresenting him:

Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists—whether through design or stupidity, I do not know—as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. (Steven Jay Gould)

Comment #50906

Posted by Alienward on October 4, 2005 10:21 AM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

Attention all Trolls: please note the issue at the moment is not whether tPP is right on this point, it is whether inwit has accurately represented their claim.

Are you still so embarrassed over begin caught unknowingly misrepresenting their claims yourself, you feel you need to be on a mission to catch someone else doing the same?

Let’s keep the issue to The Privileged Planet.

Explain how putting complex intelligent beings on a planet with an atmosphere is not actually designed to limit their ability to discover the universe.

Explain how creating complex intelligent beings made mostly of liquid water is not actually a design to deliberately severely limit their ability to discover the universe.

Explain how creating complex intelligent beings that only last about 80 years is not actually a design to deliberately severely limit their ability to discover the universe.

Comment #50907

Posted by sanjait on October 4, 2005 10:30 AM (e)

Blast: “Why don’t you try reading the Origin of Species?” Great idea. Then I’ll go and study calculus by reading newton and leibnitz. After that I’ll study the solar system by reading Galileo’s work.

I haven’t read Darwin’s book because I’m a molecular biologist in the year 2005, not a naturalist in 1890. Blast again, again missses the point. You can try to disprove the conjecture of Darwin and evolutionary theory from over 100 years ago all you want, but it makes no difference. We have made numerous discoveries to expand and affirm the ToE since then.

In just the last 20 years scientists have completely sequenced hundreds of organisms with samples from every kingdom, and taken ribosomal RNA from many more, and and found these sequence data totally support the evolutionary tree. Does it surprise you to know that Blast? Or, will you continue to ignore it and refuse to understand it, just like when I mentioned it in my last post, because it is so damning to the critics of evolution?

Go ahead and read the Origin of Species by candlelight and find all the faults with it you want to confirm your worldview. Meanwhile, with stinging irony, all the evidence we need to confirm the theory of evolution is sitting freely available on the government’s National Center for Biotechnology Information BLAST server. If you are ever honestly interested in how we know species are related, this is the step 1 in the way modern evolutionary biologists analyze sequences: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/BLAST/ When you are done with that, we can talk about drawing trees with similar sequences using ClustalW and the concept of bootstrapping. Or, you can continue to believe it is all conjecture and atheist conspiracy.

Comment #50908

Posted by Arden Chatfield on October 4, 2005 10:32 AM (e)

Given that, why should anyone pay any more attention to your religious opinions than they should to mine, my next door neighbor’s, or the kid who delivers my pizzas?

Lenny, does your pizza boy know that you’re always badmouthing him here? :-)

Comment #50910

Posted by Russell on October 4, 2005 11:04 AM (e)

My opinion is neither uneducated nor uninformed—quite the contrary.

[ssshhhh… if you listen carefully, I think you’ll hear the mating call of the puff-chested blowhard…]

Comment #50913

Posted by Flint on October 4, 2005 11:29 AM (e)

You can try to disprove the conjecture of Darwin and evolutionary theory from over 100 years ago all you want, but it makes no difference. We have made numerous discoveries to expand and affirm the ToE since then.

Chuckle. Blast is referring to what he sees as your Bible. Doesn’t every faith have a Bible? Isn’t Darwinism your faith as much as Christianity is his? You are supposed to memorize and cite the Word of Your God, and worship it, and place your hand upon the Origin of Species when assuring people you’re being honest.

The notion of of a theory constantly being honed through the research of thousands of independent thinkers, and improving all the time, just does not fit. A living, changing doctrine is, sputter, hack, why, it’s heresy. You can’t even tell what you’re worshiping from day to do. It’s simply unthinkable.

This also explains why Blast continues to repeat the same old refuted chants, and claims they have never been answered. Doctrine can’t be “answered”, it can only be denied by the unfaithful. So Blast has a model of science very much like the earth-centered solar system model. Yes, it can be made to work, with some heavy lifting. But the more we learn, the heavier it gets, until the only reasonable options are to adopt a modern model or just lie. And when adopting a modern model is prohibited by doctrine…