Meyer’s Mistake

 (Thread bumped temporarily…)

Quite apart from any factual errors, about which I’m not at all qualified to judge, here is what seems to me to be  Meyer’s fundamental logical error IMO:

According to Darwin’s theory, the differences in form, or “morphological distance,” between evolving organisms should increase gradually over time as small-scale variations accumulate by natural selection to produce increasingly complex forms and structures (including, eventually, new body plans).  In other words, one would expect small-scale differences or diversity among species to precede large-scale morphological disparity among phyla.

 

(Darwin’s Doubt, Chapter 2)

He illustrates this by asking us to comparing this figure, which he says is what we do see:

Figure_2.12

With this (appallingly badly drawn) one:

Figure_2.11_MeyerWhich he claims Darwin’s theory says we ought to see.

And he says:

 

The actual pattern in the fossil record, however, contradicts this expectation (compare Fig. 2.12 to Fig 2.11b).  Instead of more species eventually leading to more genera, leading to more families, orders, classes and phyla, the fossil record shows representatives of separate phyla appearing first followed by lower-level diversification on those basic themes.

Well, of course it does, Dr Meyer!  You have just, in Chapter 2 of your fat book made an absolutely fundamental error of understanding of the entire principle of phylogenetics and taxonomy.  No, of course you wouldn’t expect phyla to follow “lower-level diversification on those basic themes”.  How could it possibly?  And how could you possibly so fundamentally misunderstand the entire point of Darwin’s tree and its relationship to the nested hierarchies observe by Linnaeus?

All branching events, in Darwin’s proposal, whether the resulting lineages end up as different phyla or merely different species, start in the same way, with two populations where there once was one, and a short morphological distance between them.  It is perfectly true that the longer both lineages persist for, the greater the morphological distance will become.  But that isn’t because they started different, or because the phyla come later.  It’s because what we call phyla are groups of organisms with an early common ancestor,  whose later descendents have evolved to form a group that has a large morphological distance from contemporary populations who descended from a different early common ancestor.

So when a phylum, or a class, or even a kingdom first diverges from a single population into two lineages, the “morphological distance” from the other lineage will be very short.  We only call it a “phylum” because eventually, owning to separate evolution, that distance becomes very large.

I’ve amended the drawings in the book as below, and, instead of labeling the trees by what a contemporary phylogeneticists might have called them, I’ve called each tree a phylum, and I’ve drawn round the organisms that constitute various subdivisions of phyla in colours from orange to green to represent successive branchings.  Rather than the little bunch of twigs marked “families” by Meyer, I’ve indicated the entire clade for each subdivision, or tried to.

Figure_2.11_Meyer_EL

In Meyer’s version, he called the early sprout “ONE SPECIES”, which a contemporary phylogeneticist (Dr Stephen Chordata perhaps) would have called a “species”.  But by the time of the next tree (which I think is supposed to incorporate the first), and Dr Chordata’s distant descendent comes along, she may call it an entire “genus”, and become rather more interested in the “species” that she observes it contains.  Move along one to the next tree on Meyer’s time-line and an even more distantly descendent will call the whole tree a “family” containing “genera” and “species”.  What was a “genus” to her great^10 grandmother will be several genera to her, and so on.  And with each multi-generation of palaeontologist, the descendents of what were close relations in her ancestral palaentologist’s day are now separated by a wide “morphological distance.

So of course, if we look at the fossil record as these speciation-events were happening and try to categorise the organisms in terms of their modern descendents, we will find a great number of different phyla, and far fewer species. Of course they have different body plans, because they lived at a time when many different lineages from the first populations of rather amorphous multi-cell colonies were still around, some with not much symmetry, some with bilateral symmetry, some with five-fold symmetry, and many that didn’t go very far and left no extant lineages.  Because of course Meyer also forgets the big extinction events, which are the other part of the answer to why one particular branch “exploded” while the others were never seen again.  It’s even in his terrible Figure 1.11.  Which he may not have been responsible for drawing, but he should at least have looked at.

ETA: the other drawing, fixed:

Figure_2.12_EL
ETA2:

Another extraordinary example of Meyer’s complete failure to understand what a clade is, or that the words “phyla” and “class” refer to clades. Coloured emendations are mine (orange/red for Meyer’s “phyla”, blue for Meyer’s “class”):

Meyer_7.3_EL

I’d have expected an urbane, Cambridge-educated guy like Meyer to know the [ETA: spot the erroneous] singular of “phyla” but that’s minor compared to his crashing howler of an attempt to demonstrate what the term means.

ETA:3 Note: As Mung has pointed out, Meyer shows that he does know the singular of “phyla”, he just doesn’t get it correct it in this particular diagram. However, as I have said elsewhere (and above), this error is minor compared with the howler of including only a group of of descendents in his circled “phyla”, not the whole branch, which as I’ve said, undermines his entire argument.

442 thoughts on “Meyer’s Mistake

  1. Steve:
    The existence of Ediacara Fauna is not evidence for evolution and therefore not evidence that Ediacara Fauna is the foundation for the Cambrian explosion.

    Paleontology doesn’t posit that the Ediacaran fauna was the foundation for the Cambrian. The Ediacaran fauna appears to be a sort of ‘dead end’ path taken by a branch of early multicellular life. Other multicellular lineages gave rise to the Cambrian animals which seem to have outcompeted and replaced the Ediacaran fauna.

    However, the Ediacara Fauna as the immediate preceeding phase of an executed biological program resulting in the Cambrian explosion is supporting evidence for intelligently designed programming.

    “intelligently designed programming” (eyeroll) Completely unsupported and meaningless speculation which appears to have been made up on the spot. Typical Creationist approach to science; make it up as you go.

    What’s your explanation for the 3+ billion years of life before the Cambrian and the 500 million years of life (with the mass extinctions and re-radiations) after? You were asked before but forgot to answer.

    Well, once we get the hang of programming molecules, then ID will be on solid ground.

    Top it off with a spectacular logic failure. If humans manage to design living creatures that won’t be evidence that naturally found creatures were “Designed”. Just like building a Van de Graaff generator for electrical discharges doesn’t mean naturally observed lighting was “Designed.”

    So you get to continue yelling ‘na,na, nanana, catch me if you can!!’ ; for a while longer anyway.Oh, we’ll catch ya alright.Again, just a matter of time.

    Give us a call when you finally come up with that positive evidence for ID. We won’t wait up.

  2. Steve: Well, once we get the hang of programming molecules, then ID will be on solid ground.

    So if ID is not yet on solid ground on what basis are you an ID supporter as opposed to an evolutionist? Seems to me you have chosen your desired outcome in advance rather then following the evidence where it leads.

    However, the Ediacara Fauna as the immediate preceeding phase of an executed biological program resulting in the Cambrian explosion is supporting evidence for intelligently designed programming.

    Oh, is it? I thought that ID was not on solid ground yet and here you are talking about “evidence” for ID.

    Tell me, what evidence do you have for this “intelligent designed programming”? What would expect to see if there was no such programming? And what would we expect if there was?

    That’s kinda a crucial point if you want your claims to be more then, well, claims.

  3. Steve: The existence of Ediacara Fauna is not evidence for evolution and therefore not evidence that Ediacara Fauna is the foundation for the Cambrian explosion. You would need to elucidate how the chasm between the fauna and the explosion was bridged by evolution.

    Yes indeed, but the phylogenetic analyses connecting the two make sense. This is what Meyer misses.

    On the other hand, how is ID supposed to cross the chasm? What is your own view, Steve? Do you think the Cambrian fauna were created ex nihilo from non-life? Or do you think that they descended from Edicacaran organisms, but were nudged into their new forms?

    And, if the latter, how do you think this nudging was done? Was Edicaran DNA altered by some non-physical force?

    These are serious questions. “Acts of mind” as Meyer calls them don’t become acts unless implemented as force. What moved those nucleotides into their new positions?

  4. Lizzie,

    I dont think Meyer missed anything. He disputes the connection (you believe makes sense) is due to random mutation acting on heritable variation. Phylogenetic analysis cannot tell you what mechanism was involved, only that there are relationships. It reminds be of Matzke discussing the bacterial flagellum and referring to ‘tantalizing hints’ that it may be a derivative of the T3SS. It seems you are under the same spell Lizzie, looking at the relationships and seeing tantalizing hints in favor of your proposed mechanism.

    However, IMHO it makes more logical sense that there was programming involved. Step-wise random mutation acting on variation would have been subject to too many obstacles in the environment to be a viable mechanism.

    For example, we spot evolution the first abio-genesis event. OK, but where to go from there? Replicating amino acids does not equal a replicating cell. There is not only a chasm from the Ediacara Fauna to the Cambrian explosion, but right there in the first proto-cell coming into existence and immediately having the capability to replicate by Darwinian means. It makes no logical sense. So many variables in the nascent environment to skew the coordinated replication of several components. How could it get off the ground without already existing scaffolding machinery to protect against perturbations in the environment. We see modern organisms have these systems and for good reason. How could the first proto-cell replicate without scaffolding machinery?

    Besides, what would ‘compel’ the first proto-cell to replicate in the first place? The inevitable result of physics and chemistry? If so, then we should be able to demonstrate that in the lab or at least mathematically, correct?

    Programming makes more sense, is testable and falsifiable.

  5. Omagain,

    Programming is a hypothesis. It is testable and falsifiable. You(pl) keep claiming ID is not testable or falsifiable. Programming molecules will put paid to that assertion; i.e putting ID on solid ground, experimentally.

    Regarding the evidence for programming, that is what research would give us. If we discover molecules are amenable to programming, then the sky is the limit. We could have a full fledged research program to engineer molecular machines similar to ATP synthase, bacterial flagellum, etc, etc.

    Furthermore, if we do succeed in programming molecules we can analyse our molecules in comparison to natural molecules and see how they differ. Or we can ask how we know our molecules are programmed; ie what features, what tags (as a result of the design, not as a separate marker or label, if you will) confirm this is a designed molecule and not some jumble resulting from offal washing up from the beach.

    Building and programming molecules i think would make it easier to discover some molecular constant or law that we cannot now elucidate from studying natural molecules. so right now it ‘appears’ there are no tags, no constants, no golden rations, no way to empirically verify if molecular machines are in fact designed.

    But that seems an out-of-sight-out-of-mind argument.

  6. What would constitute evidence for “programming” in molecules? Write a research proposal laying out how one would go about detecting programming. How would that show up in an experiment? What kind of experiment would one do?

    Just to emphasize the issue more clearly, how would a 747 emerge from a tornado ripping through a junkyard if there were “programming” involved?

    But in order for this to be a fair comparison to atoms and molecules, the junkyard parts would have to have the same charge-to-mass ratios as protons and electrons and be governed by the same quantum mechanical rules.

    That means that one kilogram masses separated by distances on the order of a meter would have interaction energies on the order of 10^26 joules, or 10^10 megatons of TNT.

    The kinetic energy of a one kilogram mass traveling at the wind speed of an EF5 tornado is only about 10^4 joules. Compare that with 10^26 joules of interaction energy.

    How would one detect “programming” in the midst of all that energy?

    When one scales back down to the nanometer scale of the molecules of life, we are looking at soft matter near its melting temperature. Interaction energies are on the order of 0.02 to 0.05 electron volts. The thermal kinetic energies are of the same order.

    Using atomic force microscopy, one can measure the forces with which “walking” molecules can pull. These are on the order of several piconewtons (10^ -12 newtons). A potential energy gradient of 0.01 electron volts over a distance of about a nanometer is a piconewton.

    How would “programming” show up in the measurements of the interactions among atoms and molecules; which, by the way, are already well-understood?

    How would “vital forces” and “supernatural” forces escape detection? And if they cannot escape detection, how would “programming” show up in the experiments that study these molecules?

  7. Steve,
    You originally said:

    However, the Ediacara Fauna as the immediate preceeding phase of an executed biological program resulting in the Cambrian explosion is supporting evidence for intelligently designed programming.

    Now you say

    Regarding the evidence for programming, that is what research would give us. If we discover molecules are amenable to programming, then the sky is the limit. We could have a full fledged research program to engineer molecular machines similar to ATP synthase, bacterial flagellum, etc, etc.

    No research along those lines would show that any aspect of the Cambrian was so programmed even if we could make flagellum to order.

    Building and programming molecules i think would make it easier to discover some molecular constant or law that we cannot now elucidate from studying natural molecules. so right now it ‘appears’ there are no tags, no constants, no golden rations, no way to empirically verify if molecular machines are in fact designed.

    Ah, you think this. So just another armchair ID scientist sitting in a cardboard pyramid.

    Wake me up when you get your hands dirty in a lab somewhere.

  8. Steve: Programming is a hypothesis.

    Hypothesizing is philosophy. Even when scientists do that, it is philosophy.

    The essence of science is data. If a scientist hypothesizes, he tries to find ways of getting data to support the hypothesis. Until he can do that, his hypothesis is only speculation.

    When we ask ID people for data on CSI, they make excuses. They are not doing science.

    If you want to hypothesize about programming molecules, then give us ways of getting data, and show us that the data supports the hypothesis.

  9. Steve:

    Programming is a hypothesis.It is testable and falsifiable.You(pl) keep claiming ID is not testable or falsifiable.Programming molecules will put paid to that assertion; i.e putting ID on solid ground, experimentally.

    Please define what you mean by ‘programming’ molecules. Do you mean physically ,manipulating them using outside forces into a preplanned configuration? Humans do so using custom built tools such as laser ‘optical tweezers’ to physically move atoms. How did the Magic Designer do it?

    Please provide your hypothesis to test that such ‘programming’ was used to construct the animals back in the Cambrian era over 500 million years ago. Please describe the mechanism used to physically manipulate the molecules, the timeline for such work, and who (or what) was doing the construction.

    Please provide your falsification criteria for such a scenario.

    Regarding the evidence for programming, that is what research would give us.If we discover molecules are amenable to programming, then the sky is the limit.We could have a full fledged research program to engineer molecular machines similar to ATP synthase, bacterial flagellum, etc, etc.

    Please explain why having evidence that humans can manipulate biological molecules is evidence a similar manipulation took place over 500 million years ago.

    Furthermore, if we do succeed in programming molecules we can analyse our molecules in comparison to natural molecules and see how they differ.Or we can ask how we know our molecules are programmed; ie what features, what tags (as a result of the design, not as a separate marker or label, if you will) confirm this is a designed molecule and not some jumble resulting from offal washing up from the beach.

    Please identify and describe these tags and how you determined them. Be specific.

    Building and programming molecules i think would make it easier to discover some molecular constant or law that we cannot now elucidate from studying natural molecules.so right now it ‘appears’ there are no tags, no constants, no golden rations, no way to empirically verify if molecular machines are in fact designed.

    OK, so you’re just wildly speculating, not offering any specific hypothesis. Making it up as you go again. Got it.

    I’d ask you again your ID scenario for life in the 3 billion years before the Cambrian and the 500+ million years after, but we already know you have no answer for those. You can’t even imagine an answer that fits with your Design claims.

  10. Is Steve arguing for front loading?

    The conjecture that evolution is just what the word originally meant? The unfolding of a program, perhaps as automata?

    A couple of observations argue against that scenario.

    One would be the observation — as in the Lensky experiment — that mutations occur without regard to function or need and tend to saturate the entire nearby landscape.

    The second observation is that population change is steered by negative feedback rather than by intention.

  11. This is why ID proponents really need to be more specific. There’s a sense in which (only a sense) in which DNA is a “program” (or at least a database). Changes to DNA alter how the organism develops, and thus the phenotype.

    So one hypothesis would be that that DNA sequences are intelligently varied so as produce some desired phenotype.

    We know that DNA sequences vary spontaneously. We also know that those that result in more reproductively successful phenotypes will, by definition, become more common.

    So where does the Designer come in? By intervening in the reproductive process so that new intended sequences of nucleotides are formed? How? Are the laws of chemistry suspended so that something other than that which would otherwise happen, happens? Or is it all still chemistry, but somehow manipulated at the level of quantum randomness (does the designer perhaps preselect a universe in which THIS event happens, rather than THAT)?

    In other words, how are the actual molecules moved into the desired configuration, and against the configuration they would adopt if not so moved?

    Steve? Mung?

  12. Steve: Programming is a hypothesis. It is testable and falsifiable. You(pl) keep claiming ID is not testable or falsifiable. Programming molecules will put paid to that assertion; i.e putting ID on solid ground, experimentally.

    You know, you say this like you mean it but on what basis?

    If Programming was really a hypothesis you could explain how it would also be testable and falsifiable, as you say. Or at least take a stab at it, do something, build on the results of that something and refine as you repeat, publishing as you go?

    You know, actual fucking work.

    You(pl) keep claiming ID is not testable or falsifiable.

    Actually, to be more accurate it’s ID supporters who continue to never test or attempt to falsify ID. All I do typically is point out the gulf between their claims and the reality. Much as I’m doing right now.

    What’s it to me if some idea someone had never get’s further then the “think-poof” stage? It’s your idea!

    Programming molecules will put paid to that assertion; i.e putting ID on solid ground, experimentally.

    Then you can presumably link to something along those lines, or is this whole Programming is a hypothesis thing a new fundamental aspect of science you are inventing right here and now so no prior references are available just yet?

    Demonstrate it’s more then just words on a page or questions about existing science.

    How could the first proto-cell replicate without scaffolding machinery?

    Perhaps the scaffolding machinery happened to be there first and the proto-cell just took advantage. Who knows what amazing systems have come and gone in that possibility space. I think what is often forgotten by the ID math crowd is that while I can write some numbers on a page and be “limited” by them there is still plenty that can happen anyway. Shit, here we are eh? Their dials are set to “impossible” so everything is.

    And Steve, the first proto-cell? Well, what was 1 molecule before that? And 1 before that? I mean, it’s possible in theory if not practice to follow the trail back to the OOL. But at what point would you stop the tape Steve?

    What exact point would the OOL of life be? If the thing that happens then depends on something that previously happens then according to your “scaffolding” argument we need to go back still more steps. And on and on.

    You talk about a “proto-cell” like you know for a fact that the first replicator resembled what we call cells today. I’m genuinely interested.

    Besides, what would ‘compel’ the first proto-cell to replicate in the first place? The inevitable result of physics and chemistry? If so, then we should be able to demonstrate that in the lab or at least mathematically, correct?

    Ohh, killer questions dude!

    What causes ice to melt man? Have you ever looked at your hand? I mean really looked?
    Demonstrate what in the lab? What compelled the first proto-cell to replicate?

    I can let you in on a little secret actually Steve. You know what, it was not the first damm cell that got things going! From what I remember, it was about the seventh in (I seem to recall) a batch of nine that day. The first 6 just sat there, wobbling about, keeping their insides separated from the outside. But would they replicate? Only pandas are so troublesome, that’s all I’ll say. But number seven! What a star! Started replicating from the get-go, almost spooky how robotic it was in effect.

    So I think what compelled the first proto-cell to replicate was the sight of the first six just sitting there wasting their lives like so much protoplasm. Seven of Nine got on with it’s life, lived it to the full.

    So now you know! And there’s more detail there then in any single ID account of the OOL! And that’s a fact!

  13. Lizzie,

    An answer that wouldn’t please many in the ID community would be selective breeding (as in dog breeding). The designer wouldn’t be responsible for the creation of mutations, but for promoting them more quickly through the population.

  14. rhampton:
    Lizzie,

    An answer that wouldn’t please many in the ID community would be selective breeding (as in dog breeding). The designer wouldn’t be responsible for the creation of mutations, but for promoting them more quickly through the population.

    Gpuccio speaks of intelligent selection as the answer to how new proteins are made.

  15. That’s one of the things which is so endearing about those loveable loser ID-Creationists!

    Ask ten of them to explain their most basic understanding of ID “theory” and you’ll get ten “make-it-up-as-you-go” completely different answers.

  16. Mung,
    If you don’t believe in an interventionist designer then why are you quoting the bible on UD?

  17. Meyer’s Mistake? What mistake?

    The claim that Meyer does not know the difference between phylum and phyla has been abandoned. It originated from a lack of actually reading what Meyer wrote.

    So what is “Meyer’s Mistake”?

  18. Cross posted here so Mung will have no excuse for ignoring the discussion on Meyer’s ideas. Of course “Truth Lover” will still run from the discussion, guaranteed.

    Mung:

    I’ve read the book, you haven’t. Why are you unable to discuss Meyer’s ideas? Because you haven’t read the book.

    I’m perfectly willing and able to discuss Meyer’s ideas. You seem to be the one who always finds something else to do when the questions show up.

    Here’s a summary Meyer provided today at EN&V:

    Meyer: “Instead of exemplifying a fallacious form of argument in which design is inferred solely from a negative premise, the argument for intelligent design formulated in Darwin’s Doubt takes the following form:

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

    Premise Two: Intelligent causes have demonstrated the power to produce large amounts of specified/functional information (and integrated circuitry).

    Conclusion: Intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate, explanation for the specified/functional information (and circuitry) that was necessary to produce the Cambrian animals”

    Premise one is complete bullshit with the usual IDiot undefined terms and unwarranted assumptions. That makes the conclusion worthless.

    You willing to discuss the idea? Or do you have to go wash your hair again?

  19. Meyer ends with general thoughts on ID, similar to his arguments at the end of Signature in the Cell. His experience, like mine, is that some people literally can’t “see” God as an explanation, because they have defined God-explanations as non-explanations. Meyer doesn’t go into detail about the jump from knowing what human intelligence can do, to invoking non-human (presumably divine) intelligence as a similar causal agent, but the case can be easily made. I have addressed myself in an essay available at christianscientific.org.

    writes physicist, David Snoke, in his review of “Darwin’s Doubt” at Amazon

    Does mung think Snoke’s review is charitable? Snoke seems to confirm that there is no real alternative ID hypothesis to evolutionary theory. Is Snoke mistaken?

  20. Premise two is bullshit because every known intelligent entity has a physical brain that implements evolutionary learning algorithms.

  21. Mung:
    Meyer’s Mistake? What mistake?

    The claim that Meyer does not know the difference between phylum and phyla has been abandoned. It originated from a lack of actually reading what Meyer wrote.

    So what is “Meyer’s Mistake”?

    Oh, Mung. Give over. My suggestion that Meyer did not know the difference between phylum and phyla was a parenthesis to an ETA, and originated in an actual mistake in a diagram by Meyer which contained a far greater howler, as I stated at the time. I have struck out my allegation that Meyer did not know the difference between singular and plural, as you well know.

    That fact that you cannot change your focus from a minor error on my part about a minor error on Meyer’s is, well, odd. If you want to know what Meyer’s Mistake is, read the OP. Stop at the ETA if you want. It explains it clearly as it always has. The struck-out stuff is, was, and always has been, trivial.

  22. Meyer at EN & V:

    In fact, the argument for intelligent design developed in Darwin’s Doubt constitutes an “inference to the best explanation” based upon our best available knowledge.8 As I note in Chapter 17 of the book, to establish an explanation as best, a historical scientist must cite positive evidence for the causal adequacy of a proposed cause. Unlike an argument from ignorance, an inference to the best explanation does not assert the adequacy of one causal explanation merely on the basis of the inadequacy of some other causal explanation. Instead, it asserts the superior explanatory power of a proposed cause based upon its established — its known — causal adequacy, and based upon a lack of demonstrated efficacy, despite a thorough search, of any other adequate cause. The inference to design, therefore, depends on present knowledge of the causal powers of various materialistic entities and processes (inadequate) and intelligent agents (adequate).

    link

    H/T thorton.

    How is this not the classical “God-of-the-gaps”argument?

  23. The problem of course is that Meyer’s alternative, which he claims is “adequate” is completely vacuous.

    Intelligent agents have to operate on matter to get it to move.

    Meyer offers absolutely no mechanism by which his postulated intelligent agent can move matter around, nor any evidence that it even does so.

    On the other hand, when I lift my beer glass to my lips, I do so by sending signals to my arm muscles that judge the precise degree of lift and grip necessary to accomplish the task, readjusting as I go to the actual degree of resistance encountered.

  24. Elizabeth:

    Intelligent agents have to operate on matter to get it to move.

    Let me rephrase that for you:

    Intelligent agents have to operate on matter to get matter to move.

    Great! Matter is inherently inert. It does not move without intelligent guidance.

    So what’s the objection to ID?

  25. Mung:
    Elizabeth’s completely vacuous response is noted.

    Mung’s complete avoidance of all attempts to get him to discuss the ideas in Darwin’s Doubt as expressly described by Meyer himself is noted.

  26. Mung:

    Great!Matter is inherently inert. It does not move without intelligent guidance.

    So what’s the objection to ID?

    How did the Intelligent Designer get the matter to move? By what physical mechanisms?

  27. Mung: So what’s the objection to ID?

    None at all. And, likewise, there is no objection to Intelligent Falling either.

  28. Mung:
    Elizabeth:

    Let me rephrase that for you:

    Intelligent agents have to operate on matter to get matter to move.

    Great!Matter is inherently inert. It does not move without intelligent guidance.

    So what’s the objection to ID?

    Could you support your statement that matter does not move without intelligent guidance?

    That seems to be a rather crucial assumption.

    However, even if I were to accept the assumption that there was a Prime Mover, that accelerated the first cosmic cueball, are you really saying that all subsequent interactions between one moving blob of matter and another require “intelligent guidance” over and above the assumed guidance of that original acceleration and/or the positioning of the balls?

    That a stationary snooker ball requires something over and above the impact of a second moving snooker ball to get it to move, or to determine its subsequent trajectory?

    And to get away from that example (it’s an example, btw, not a metaphor), if the forces of physics and chemistry push and pull a set of molecules in such a way as to result in DNA sequence A, how does an Intelligent Agent intervene in order to produce, instead, sequence B?

    Because it seems to me that is what the Designer proposed by Meyer must do (and must therefore be an interventionist Designer, contrary to your own view).

    If you think that Meyer is proposing something different (non-interventionist) what do you think he is proposing?

  29. In other words, how are the actual molecules moved into the desired configuration, and against the configuration they would adopt if not so moved?

    My hypothesis would be via observer effect quantum collapse. The fundamental indeterminacy of non-collapsed states of matter allows god, via observational intent, to move matter into the necessary configurations. That fundamental interface of some sort exists between mind and matter was established long ago via quantum research.

  30. William J. Murray: My hypothesis would be via observer effect quantum collapse.The fundamental indeterminacy of non-collapsed states of matter allows god, via observational intent, to move matter into the necessary configurations. That fundamental interface of some sort exists between mind and matter was established long ago via quantum research.

    Someone’s been hanging around batshit77 far too much.

  31. William J. Murray: My hypothesis would be via observer effect quantum collapse.The fundamental indeterminacy of non-collapsed states of matter allows god, via observational intent, to move matter into the necessary configurations. That fundamental interface of some sort exists between mind and matter was established long ago via quantum research.

    OK, thanks for stepping up to the plate. How would you test that hypothesis?

  32. Lizzie,

    I’m not a scientist, but maybe your answer can be found here:

    Quantum Evolution, at Amazon.com:

    The hairiest heresy of evolutionary biology, the one most likely to get scientists figuratively burned at the stake, is the notion that any force more selective than blind chance could drive mutation. Such “directed evolution” smacks too much of a retreat into creationism for most science-minded readers to be comfortable with, but there’s no a priori reason to reject the idea. Molecular biologist Johnjoe McFadden risks the Inquisition by suggesting just such a possibility in Quantum Evolution: The New Science of Life. Directed at a general but somewhat sophisticated readership, the book covers the basics of both standard evolutionary theory and quantum-level physics, then synthesizes them in an interesting theory of made-to-order mutation that explains enough to warrant attention and is, importantly, testable.

    If I were to throw in a layman’s suggestion, scientists have done all sorts of research into the observer-collapse phenomena, including demonstrating retroactive (back through time) collapse. I don’t think it would be too hard to start testing molecular sequencing, say in DNA, for some kind of obsever-collapse effect.

    From The Spiritual Brain, by Neuroscientist Mario Beauregard & Denyse O’Leary:

    In the interpretation of quantum physics created by physicist John Von Neumann (1903-1957), a particle only probably exists in one position or another; these probable positions are said to be “superposed” on each other. Measurement causes a “quantum collapse”, meaning that the experimenter has chosen a position for the particle, thus ruling out the other positions. The Stapp and Schwartz model posits that this is analogous to the way in which attending to (measuring) a thought holds it in place, collapsing the probabilities on one position. This targeted attention strategy, which is used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorders, provides a model for how free will might work in a quantum system. The model assumes the existence of a mind that chooses the subject of attention, just as the quantum collapse assumes the existence of an experimenter who chooses the point of measurement.

    From Genetic ‘telepathy’? A bizarre new property of DNA at physorg.com:

    Scientists are reporting evidence that intact, double-stranded DNA has the “amazing” ability to recognize similarities in other DNA strands from a distance. And then like friends with similar interests, the bits of genetic material hangout or congregate together. The recognition — of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits — occurs in a way once regarded as impossible, the researchers suggest in a study scheduled for the Jan. 31 issue of ACS’ Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

    I think the right kind of experiments could determine if observational expectations are capable of collapsing quantum indeterminancies into specified configurations in DNA or other biological molecules, and even into how chemicals and molecules arrange themselves under observation.

    I think there’s already research being conducted on this matter, though.

  33. Thanks. I’d forgotten about McFadden. I haven’t read his book, but I’ve read some of his articles. I haven’t been impressed so far, but I’ll give it another go.

    William J. Murray: I think the right kind of experiments could determine if observational expectations are capable of collapsing quantum indeterminancies into specified configurations in DNA or other biological molecules, and even into how chemicals and molecules arrange themselves under observation.

    I think there’s already research being conducted on this matter, though.

    Can you cite any? And what do you mean by “the right kind of experiments”?

  34. Liz,

    I think I’ve said plenty. It’s easy enough to look into, if one so desires. Along with McFadden, John Wheeler and many others are convinced that mind must be a fundamental property of the universe, certainly not reducible to or caused to exist by matter. There’s quite a bit of material on primacy of mind available to anyone wanting to delve into it – and they’re the experts, not me.

  35. Well, you’ve said scarcely anything, William. For example what makes you find the arguments persuasive?

    Many people are convinced by astrology or homeopathy, and there is plenty of material on both subjects. That’s not enough to convince me that the ideas have merit.

    What makes you think McFadden et al are correct?

  36. I’ve said enough for those that wish to, to make the choice to look into it. I’m certainly not here to attempt to convince anyone of anything.

  37. Lizzie,

    Convinced? You apparently do not remember how I hold beliefs, or why. Do you ever remember anything I write at all?

    Nothing can convince me that a proposition is true; I choose to believe (act as if true) certain propositions because they are valuable in helping me live a good and enjoyable life. As long as the belief doesn’t contradict my actual experience, and apparently aids me in my goals, I’m unconcerned with whether or not it is actually true.

    That doesn’t make me a particularly good poster-boy for ID, but it’s my view that no argument, and no evidence, ever “convinced” anyone of anything. The human mind has the capacity deny and reorganize and ignore and interpret beyond what evidence and argument can possibly penetrate, IMO.

  38. I do remember what you write, William, and you often disparage those of us who do come to conclusions, and whose conclusions differ from the views you apparently choose to hold.

    I find that odd.

  39. Lizzie:
    I do remember what you write, William, and you often disparage those of us who do come to conclusions, and whose conclusions differ from the views you apparently choose to hold.

    I find that odd.

    I also disparage males, females, people with dark hair, blonde hair, and the old and young on occasion, perhaps mostly when my less than noble qualities win out, but I do not disparage them because of those things, nor do I disparage people because they come to conclusions, or because their conclusions are different from mine.

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