KF vs Toronto & Petrushka

Over at UD, KF has started a new thread criticizing Toronto.  He had earlier started a thread criticizing Petrushka.

It would have been nicer if KF had joined here to launch his criticism, instead of taking pot shots from UD where it is my understanding that both Toronto and Petrushka have been banned.

In any case, this is where the two accused can set the record straight by explaining what they actually meant.  Others can join in.  I may add something later.

Let’s keep it polite.  No character attacks.  Let’s stick to clear explanations of positions that KF might have misunderstood.  And let’s remember the rules of The Skeptical Zone and keep it civil.

Open for discussion.

192 thoughts on “KF vs Toronto & Petrushka”

  1. petrushka

    I forget. What was his thesis, other than infomation is always physically instantiated, that information transfer is always physical, and that translation is analogous to code deciphering? I don’t believe we refuted that so much as wondered what it had to do with ID.

    Unless it was the claim that since humans are the only known entities that have made codes, they must have made the genetic code. Or something like that. I can never follow that.

  2. Toronto

    His main focus seemed to be “recorded information” which begs the question, “Then who recorded that first information and how was it done?”

    He never said but he did dig himself a big hole in a wet lawn!


  3. Mark Frank

    UB make this “case” every so often.  I can never get beyond the first three steps (his text in italics, my response in plain).


    1. A representation is an arrangement of matter which evokes an effect within a system (e.g. written text, spoken words, pheromones, animal gestures, codes, sensory input, intracellular messengers, nucleotide sequences, etc, etc).

    This includes all sorts of different things – but let’s go with it and see what happens.

    2. It is not logically possible to transfer information (the form of a thing; a measured aspect, quality, or preference) in a material universe without using a representation instantiated in matter.

    False – although exactly when it is false depends on what is meant by a representation. Suppose I want to inform someone that badgers regularly visit my garden. I can transfer this information in many ways

    1) Writing them a letter telling them. This presumably falls into the category UB was expecting.

    2) Showing them a footprint. This shows them the size and shape of the feet and thus informs them about at least this aspect of the animal. If they have background knowledge they may be able to learn more. Does a footprint count as a representation?

    3) Getting them to observe the trail leading to a badger! Is the trail the representation?

    4) Getting them to come along one night and see the badgers. Not sure what counts as the representation here

    3. If that is true, and it surely must be, then several other things must logically follow. If there is now an arrangement of matter which contains a representation of form as a consequence of its own material arrangement, then that arrangement must be necessarily arbitrary to the thing it represents. In other words, if one thing is to represent another thing within a system, then it must be separate from the thing it represents. And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    This is quite hard to understand. In my examples above the footprint and the trail are definitely seperate from the badger – but materially arbitrary? – I really don’t know what that means.

  4. Patrick

    Onlookers will notice that TSZ successfully refuted every claim he made.

    Indeed.  Barry needs to refine his statement to “No one we allow to comment here has bothered to refute UB’s thesis after 129 comments.”

    I’m trying not to give UD any additional traffic — has anyone bothered to reference the discussion here on those threads?

  5. petrushka

    That seems to be a problem with UPB’s argument. The more you clarify it the less there is. The more you weed out obviously absurd interpretations and examples, the less relevant it is to biology.

    It boils down to chicken and egg. You can’t have one without the other. Therefore Designer. All the verbiage is horsefeathers.

  6. petrushka

    Actually I think Barry is dissembling. Mphillips was well on the way to disemboweling UPB’s argument before KF’s warning and before Barry ditched the thread where mp had made some significant hits. This was a transparent effort to shove that down the memory hole.

    The fate of mphilips will remain one of those internet mysteries. I have a theory, but it will have to remain private.

  7. Toronto

    Joe: “Well TSZ claims to have refuted every one of UB’s claims. And if bald assertions, misrepresentations and nonsense were refutations they would have a point. “

    What about bald assertions of the existence of an intelligent designer?

    Do they count for your side?


  8. damitall2

    Upright Biped is reported as saying:’

    And if it is separate from it, then it cannot be anything but materially arbitrary to it (i.e. they cannot be the same thing).

    What a very curious – (and altogether wrong) use of the word “arbitrary” – which means “arrived at by free choice”

    It does not mean “separate”

    A badger’s tracks are anything but arbitrary. They are necessarily, and without choice, made by a badger – however far separated that badger may be from its tracks when they are seen.

    We can add the misuse of this word to that of “semiotic” and “protocol” in UB’s efforts.

    Come to think of it, he is assigning arbitrary meanings to these perfectly good words! – which is a thing to be avoided if one hopes to be understood

  9. petrushka

    Come to think of it, he is assigning arbitrary meanings to these perfectly good words! – which is a thing to be avoided if one hopes to be understood

    Cui bono?

  10. Toronto

    kairosfocus: “A claimed cause of a effect must have empirical support that it is adequate. No observation, no empirical support. KF “

    Do you have empirical support that the designer, ID’s claimed cause of life, had adequate ability to cause the effect we call life?

    Have you ever observed the designer at work?


  11. Toronto

    UPB’s misunderstanding:

    RB: May, 2012

    “I assert (not suggest) that you do not understand entailment, and due to your failure to grasp entailment you have constructed an argument beset with a fatal logical flaw.”

    UB: June, 2012

    “Bill, if a specific thing only exist under specific conditions, then does it existence entail the existence of those specific conditions? Or is that illogical?”

    RB: June, 2012:

    Yes, it does. So that would be a valid use of “entailment.” …”

    UPB should read more carefully.

    In May, RB refers to an *invalid* use of entailment.

    In June, UPB demonstrates a *valid* use of entailment, i.e., not the *invalid* one in his “semiotic theory” argument.

    RB, points out that the June statement is a *valid* use of entailment.

    This in no way implies a change in opinion by RB that his “semiotic theory” argument is now considered by RB to be *valid*.

    I too agreed that this June statement by UPB is *valid* and also still consider his “semiotic theory” argument is still logically flawed.


  12. Toronto

    Joe: “Hey Toronto- how do we know someone had the ability to build Stonehenge? Answer = Stonehenge! “

    Hey Joe, how do we know “no designer required evolution” would result in us? Answer = us!

    Joe’s logic is even easier to use than UPB’s!

  13. Toronto

    Joe:”It didn’t result in us as we are not the result, just another link and we are not alone on this planet. “

    We are the result of either ID or “no designer required evolution”.

    Logically, the cause of us is either A or (~A) where A = ID.


  14. Reciprocating Bill

    UB’s choice of venue in which to (mis)characterize the course of our previous discussion here speaks for itself. 


  15. Toronto

    Joe: “You want to discuss how we know the abilities of designers and I told you. “

    No, you said your premise results in your conclusion.

    I responded that my premise results in my conclusion.

    You claim that’s not good enough.

    Okay then, we’ll set aside both our assertions and just focus on mechanisms.

    Our side has a mechanism that you say is lacking but your side is lacking a mechanism.

    That makes us the winners by default.


  16. Allan Miller

    Information. Hmmmm. I haven’t checked in with UD today, but my guess (if we aren’t talking of derails and jokes-that can’t-possibly-be-jokes) is that we are being invited to consider representations and instantiations and how the codon-acid mapping IS an informational relationship, not a chemical one …

    Given that the DNA-protein relationship takes place at the molecular level, just what IS information at this level? Molecules are collections of atoms that share an interest in charge. Protons and electrons attract. If an atom has spare space in its orbitals, it will share electrons with another. But atomic nuclei, being positive, repel each other. The result is a stable, lowest-energy arrangement, where nuclei sit as far away from each other as possible but get a slice of their electrons’ orbits. Nuclei like electrons, hate other nuclei. The result of these competing tensions is a 3D arrangement in space, with positive charges localised and negative charges somewhat more diffuse shuttling between them (and the charge pairs bouncing photons off each other all the while).

    What ‘information’ is there in this arrangement? It really depends what you are. If you are a neutrino, you can barely see atoms, and could pass right through the earth without knowing it is there. If you are a photon, you could bounce off matter or be absorbed by it. If you are matter, your interaction depends on whether or not you are charged. But in all cases, interaction means a change in energy. If you react chemically and spontaneously, you give off heat and adopt a lower energy configuration. If you interact physically, such as folding interactions in a newly synthesised protein, again you adopt the lowest accessible energy configuration and shed heat as you do so. Or you might just bump into matter, and interchange  kinetic energy. But: no interaction, no ‘information’. And it is all about what the interactors can ‘see’ – 3D orientation and charge density, mostly. 

    There isn’t really much else. At the molecular level, ‘information’ means interaction. So when people talk of a codon ‘representing’ an amino acid, or ‘informational (sequence) entropy’, I have no idea how to translate that into chemistry.

    A tRNA molecule is essentially an L shaped stick. An aaRS interacts with one end of the L. The charge densities and shape of the 3D structure behind the Acceptor stem determine whether a particular aaRS will interact with this tRNA or not. If it does, it glues a specific amino acid to it. In such manner, a set of charged tRNA molecules builds up – baited sticks. The other end of the stick has a triplet of bases – the anticodon. The ribosome passes along an mRNA strand and, for each triplet of bases, binds the tRNA with the strongest affinity for the currently exposed triplet (sometimes it is a tie). The winner docks, the amino acid is oriented against the growing peptide and is peptide bonded to it.

    But there is no meaningful sense in which the mRNA (or original DNA) represents the amino acid that ultimately gets put in place. It causes it, as part of a whole web of causation, but it does not represent it. One end of a stick does not represent the other symbolically, still less the hole that that end happens to fit.

  17. Toronto

    kairosfocus: “Similarly, it is not an unfair challenge to demand that a claimed causal factor held to be sufficient to cause an effect be demonstrated as actually doing so in our observation. That boils down to that in science — and common-sense day to day life — claims are subject to empirical observational tests. “

    Demonstrate that your design process can see the future “specific functionality” required for its designs.

    If you can’t, your designer is as blind in the search-space as “non-guided by an intelligence” evolution.


  18. Allan Miller


    …demonstrated as actually doing so in our observation

    There is the extra difficulty for ID of demonstrating not only the capacity of their mechanism (if such it could be claimed to be) to produce the effect, but to do so when there is no complex physical substrate to contain it. If it can’t, it is a hopeless causal factor in explaining the generation of complex physical substrates. 

    But the matter of demonstrations is a red herring, from a purported despiser of these distractive fish. There are many phenomena that are not amenable to direct demonstration – nucleosynthesis in stars, the transition from massive star to black hole, galaxy formation, the existence of quarks, transistion to/from ice ages … for the historic phenomena, the ‘best inference’ cause, from oft-invoked Newton onwards, has been mechanisms reasonably inferred to have been available at the time in question.

  19. Allan Miller

    It is a puzzle how intelligence can help on a search of a space whose ‘fitness map’ is unknown. If there is any ‘information’ helping to guide the search, it is available to dumb processes as well as intelligent ones. Bury a few gold doubloons, eliminate anything that could be construed as a clue, then have one digger given co-ordinates at random, while the other applies his intelligence to the task. 

    If ‘being intelligent’ means knowing the map – knowing, for example, which peptides are functional and which are not at a given length in a given organism – that really is not the same phenomenon that they pointed to at the commencement of their chain of inference. They have smuggled something in.

  20. dr who



    Of course, we see from Venter et al that it is reasonable to expect that a sufficiently sophisticated molecular nanotech lab can do a living cell. As as been repeatedly pointed out and insistently ignored.

    Certainly not ignored here on TSZ, (the place where people are allowed to say what they want!). In my last post, I agreed with KF that it’s very reasonable to suppose that humans will design life in the future. I also pointed out why that doesn’t justify the inference that humans (obviously) or unknown intelligent designers designed life as a best explanation. KF, we know that we can make things that are found undesigned in the wild. If you didn’t like my example of dammed rivers forming lakes, you could think of some things we make can make in the lab. Start where you want. Snowflakes, maybe?

    But even that is too much.

    The basic thing is that we have good reason to see the only observed cause of FSCO/I, and to see why the lottery to get to it by chance and blind mechanism will not be winnable. So, what we do is we look at a key signature in cell based life and infer that the known and reliably observed cause of such, design is the best explanation.

    Look at the first phrase of your first sentence. Your observed cause is human design, thus showing that A (humans) cannot be responsible for all B (FSCO/I), as FSCO/I, however you precisely define it, would be a prerequisite for our existence. You like to make abductive and inductive inferences, so here you’re missing an obvious induction. As FSCO/I is a prerequisite for the existence of all known intelligent designers, it is reasonable to infer that it is a prerequisite for all intelligent designers. Call that “dr. who’s law”. Your second phrase, about the unwinnable lottery, is an unsupported claim unless you can demonstrate that a non-telic OOL breaks laws of physics/chemistry. All of which means your second sentence is completely unsupported, and you clearly have no theory of I.D.! Not even a good hypothesis to build one on.

    Not hard, but rather inconvenient for those who wish to insist that that which has never been seen doing such, and which runs into a major sampling theory challenge to look like a credible winner of a lottery, is what “must” have happened.

    I wasn’t aware that non-living intelligent beings had been observed at all, let alone observed designing things, let alone observed designing FSCO/I without themselves containing or requiring it for their existence, let alone observed designing life. When I say things like the above, you, Kairosfocus, seem to think that they are metaphysical statements. They are not. Just observation about the world we’re in. Doesn’t it ever occur to you that pointing to the behaviour and abilities of living intelligent beings is an inherently faulty basis for making abductive inferences about the origins of the life system of which they are a part?

  21. Toronto

    kairosfocus: “[k –> As long as such evo is a search, and as long as it depends on chance for variations to be culled out by differential reproductive success, it is amenable to examination on the credibility of chance based trial and error search, and analysis on signs. “

    How does your designer get around the problems associated with your “search space”.

    Unless your designer can foresee the future, he also has to work with trial and error.

    If you claim that he already has working models of life that he can make small modifications to, then so does evolution.

    You need a designer who can reliably see the future to the point of making 100% reliable prophecies.

    Show the onlookers something with that capability.


  22. petrushka

    KF’s argument has always hinged on the concept of “isolated islands.” That and irreducibility. It’s the molecular equivalent of no intermediate fossils. And, of course, the ID advocates think the argument is airtight because there are no molecular fossils.

  23. dr who

    On “broughtupcy”:

    I made a comment on Kairosfocus’s abductive reasoning further up the thread, which started our first exchange. He prefaced his first reply with this:

    Looks like Dr Who is trying for at least a bronze in the poster-child category:

    Which puzzled me slightly. Here’s my post:

    A comment on Kairosfocus’s abduction to arrive at a best explanation for the OOL.

    A is known to be a source of B

    No other source of B is known.

    Therefore, I infer that A is the best available explanation of any B.

    That kind of abduction seems to work well when A and B are specific well described things. Humans and written language, for example. If archaeologists discovered an ancient tablet with symbols that appeared to be writing, they could reasonably infer that humans were responsible. It’s not a proof. Aliens could conceivably have visited the planet and done some scribblings, for example, but humans are currently by far the best explanation.

    The above type of abduction is what Kairosfocus seems to believe he’s doing.

    But this is what Kairosfocus really does.

    A is known to be a source of B

    No other source of B is known

    Therefore, I infer that an unknown C which shares a property with A is the best explanation of any D which is similar or analogous to B, and could be given the same broad description.

    And he ends up with non-living intelligent designers, something not known to exist, as a best explanation for the origin of life.

    I looked at the top of the thread, and found that “poster child” meant I’d been highlighted as a poster child of illogic and want of civility:

    KF: Over the past several days, I have been highlighting poster children of illogic and want of civility that are too often found among critics to design theory

    This all seemed very odd. If someone is so concerned with civility, why would that person preface their first reply to me with what seemed to be name calling. After another post from me (completely devoid of name calling or insults), KF replied again, upgrading me from a bronze poster child to:


    Dr Who is today’s poster-child no 1, for this parody — he CANNOT have meant this seriously — of abductive reasoning (with a healthy dash of strawman false statement after repeated correction on the side):

    This, apparently, is an expression of the “broughtupcy” he encourages in others. Now, I suspect, I’ll no longer be replied to, having been conveniently categorized amongst the poster children. KF starts a post today with this:


    This morning, we are not dealing with a poster child of irresponsible and outrageous conduct….

    Which presumably means he’s not addressing those to whom he has recently been uncivil. Going by this experience of a first exchange with KF, I don’t really find it surprising that he attracts some genuinely “uncivil” comments. But I get the impression that he’s so lacking in self awareness that he can’t percieve his own very apparent lack of “broughtupcy”, as he puts it.

  24. petrushka

    Does that mean he took Umbridge at your post and elevated your status to Undesirable No.1?

    It is a bit uncivil to laugh at people when they have been unintentionally funny. So consider yourself warned. Stronger measures of correction to follow.

  25. Toronto

    Joe: “For all this blah, blah, blibbidy-blibbidy blah, no one has put forward any evidence that blind and undirected processes can produce the transcription/ translation system we observe in living organisms. And no one even knows how we could test such a premise. “

    No one has produced any evidence that an “intelligent designer” can get around the “search space” problem unless he knows what to design for an unseen future.

    KF says “designed” life can adapt itself just as evolutionists said it does.

    KF says evolution has nothing to say about the OOL, just as evolutionists have always said.

    Looks like we don’t have a problem anymore.

    Teach “unguided by an intelligent designer” evolution in schools and teach your ID theory about the OOL in Sunday School where it belongs.


  26. Allan Miller

    Hmmm … I’ve been ‘corrected’. Me and my stupid degree in the subject an’all! And my job as a code-monkey!


    OK Allan, just because there is a lionk-up between the tRNA and the codon (in the ribosome) does NOT mean there is a physio-chemical connection between the codon and the amino acid. As UD said the relationship is arbitrary which means there isn’t any law that determines it- the choice of amino acid to specific codon.
    Joe, AM needs to observe the discussion and diagram here at Wiki, and to understand that the CCA-coupler that carries the AA is a standard bloc. It is the loading enzyme that “recognises” a given tRNA and loads it with the correct AA. Indeed, this has been used to load tRNA’s with artificial AA’s and used onwards to create new, unnatural proteins. In short the connexion USES the standard chemistry, but the AA for a given tRNA with a given anticodon is assigned on an INFORMATIONAL basis not a chemical basis. The transcription-translation protein synthesis process USES chemistry but is not driven by blindly forced chemical interactions. Instead, the crucial step is plainly informational, i.e a given codon tells the tRNA entering the Ribosome and coupling to it, to couple the loaded AA as the next in the chain. Then the Ribosome ratchets the mRNA tape forward one slot, and the next tRNA is used to add, until the stop codon comes along.

    Approximately right on the detail but a confusion of categories of interaction. Sticking in words like ‘recognises’, ‘tells’, even ‘informational’ are just anthopomorphisations that assist in conveying the essence of the process to laymen or students. Nothing ‘tells’ tRNA to snuggle up to the growing peptide – certainly not the currently exposed codon. It is driven there by energy – gradients and binding affinity. 

    It does not matter a hoot if a different acid can be attached to the ACC stem. The mechanism by which you alter aaRS activity is by messing with the physics of the system – by retooling ACC-stem bases, aaRS binding site or anticodon such that binding affinities for tRNAs or acids are redrawn. Which, of course, a human genetic engineer can do, completely non-controversially.

    The ‘law-bound’, chemical nature of this system is not waved away simply because the two ends of tRNA are independent (another way of presenting the ‘arbitrary’ case, ie codon XXX does not lead with chemical inevitability to acid A). tRNA acts more-or-less like a bent stick with two ends, having spontaneously (exothermically) folded from its primary sequence by physical interaction between its atoms. One end binds with one chemical arrangement, the other with another – the aaRS binding site and mRNA respectively. Both interactions are entirely physico-chemical, and ‘informatic’ only in the sense that all of chemistry is – molecular ‘information’ is solely the spatial distributions of atoms and charges, and the energies of interaction that generate forces between them. To say that an interactor binding to some of the atoms at one end semiotically ‘symbolises’ a molecule brought in by one binding to some atoms at the other stretches the category ‘symbol’ well beyond breaking point.  

    This is an informationally controlled, algorithmic, coded, step by step process. KF

    It is controlled, in that the energy of the serial transitions is not released all at once. It is step by step in the same sense. It’s algorithmic in that there are a series of actions which (given that they follow the laws of physics) will operate with reasonable fidelity. But ‘coded’? In what way? What makes the the physical independence of the two ends of tRNA into a symbolic code, or the following of thermodynamic gradients a trick requiring programming? You don’t have to program an electron to be attracted to a proton, nor does it need any ‘information’ beyond the Coulombic field.

  27. Allan Miller

    In fact – to short-cut the guff – it is precisely the independence of the two ends of tRNA (the so-called ‘arbitrariness’) – that allows the possibility of protein synthesis evolution, from a minimal-acid system to a multiple, and from a few-codon system to 61, without the simultaneous changes that would be demanded if coupling were tighter.

  28. damitall2

    And what they’re all fighting shy of saying is, that for all their use of bastardised meanings of words like “semiotic”, arbitrary”, and “protocol”, they absolutely believe that the codon triplets were arbitrarily (sensu stricto) assigned to amino acids.

    By an Assignor/Designer/god.

    In other words, they are assuming their conclusion – plus of course using the old “can’t see how that could have happened in nature, must have been designed” trope.

    Who’d a’ thunk it? 

  29. Toronto

    kairosfocus: “4: Is it therefore reasonable to identify that functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information (FSCO/I, the relevant part of Complex Specified Information as identified by Orgel and Wicken et al. and as later quantified by Dembski et al) is – on a broad observational base – a reliable sign of design? Why or why not? “

    Definitely NOT a reliable sign of design.

    How do you know what “specific functionality” is required for a future that hasn’t arrived yet?

    Is the designer someone who can see into the future?


  30. Patrick

    I remain appalled that kairosfocus can continue to use the terms FSCO/I and “Complex Specified Information” as if they had referents in reality when he has never been able to define them rigorously or show how to calculate them.  Until he can do so, using those terms simply emphasizes his intellectual dishonesty.

  31. petrushka

    I note that Shapiro, for all the interest he generates in folks like UPB, denies that his “natural engineers” can forsee need.

  32. Toronto

    Joe: ” And we are appalled that Patrick/ MathGrrl can still insist that FCSO/I has not been rigorously defined when in fact it is more rigorously defined and measured than anything his position has to offer.

    I take he is is still upset that his position has nothing.”

    How do you know what “specific functionality” will be required in a yet unknown future?

    Does the “designer” have powers that are not bound by physics or is he just a materialist who knows the future can only unfold in one way?


  33. Patrick

    So Joe is still lurking about, hoping for an opportunity to demonstrate his rhetorical skills by posting more links to genitalia?

    Did he actually post a rigorous mathematical definition of kairosfocus’ metric and some example calculations or did he just, as per usual, claim to have done so without providing any evidence?

  34. Toronto

    What bothers me is that they’ve never assigned a weight to any of their values.

    For instance, does a human eye have a complexity of 1.6, a functionality of 1.2 and a specification of 1.8.

    What about an octopus or insect’s eye?

    Are they less complex but more specific?

    How do you measure that?

    If all we care about is that the description exceeds 500 bits, why bother with the other terms?


  35. Toronto

    Joe:”You write a GA to allow for “built-in responses to environmental cues”. “

    Then your UPB is useless as a metric if you’re willing to accept that the environment can drive evolution to solve fitness problems as they arise.


  36. Toronto

    kairosfocus: “I have seen absolutely no reason to reconsider my utter lack of interest in commenting at TSZ. The fundamental problem there being selective hyperskepticism. The rhetorical antics of several objectors to design theory there deserve iconic status as poster-children for irresponsibility on serious matters. “

    I wonder what would happen in a Dover-like trial. Would kairosfocus just fold and walk away because his feelings were hurt when the evolution side said, “We think you’re wrong”?


  37. Toronto

    Joe: “YOU need POSITIVE evidence and all you have are bald declarations. “

    I have never met or heard of anyone walking into a lab, putting some chemicals together and designing life.

    Show me some positive evidence that such a person exists and has those capabilities.


  38. petrushka

    It warms my little heart thinking of a Dover trial with Dembski, Joe, BA77, and KF witnessing (so to speak) for ID.

    I proudly hold the badges of first Poster Child and first Undesirable Number One. As for my seriousness, during the Weasel debates I took the trouble to learn a bit and invent my own GA that does not have an explicit target. Just to improve my own understanding.

    I believe there was an ID supporter who did the same thing, and I have wondered why he stopped posting. He seems to have been the first on the ID side to disagree with KF and Dembski.

  39. Allan Miller

    Ah, you don’t need POSITIVE evidence when you can make inferences…

    The bottom line is mutual incredulity. ‘Nature’, undirected, cannot achieve a certain kind of complexity (says one). ‘Design’ certainly can’t, since it is only manifest in entities with that very kind of complexity (says the other).

  40. petrushka

    To see that there remains a problem for evolution in all this, we need to look more closely at the connection between search and information and how these concepts figure into a precise formulation of conservation of information. Once we have done this, we’ll return to the Miller-type examples of evolution to see why evolutionary processes do not, and indeed cannot, create the information needed by biological systems. Most biological configuration spaces are so large and the targets they present are so small that blind search (which ultimately, on materialist principles, reduces to the jostling of life’s molecular constituents through forces of attraction and repulsion) is highly unlikely to succeed. As a consequence, some alternative search is required if the target is to stand a reasonable chance of being located. Evolutionary processes driven by natural selection constitute such an alternative search. Yes, they do a much better job than blind search. But at a cost — an informational cost, a cost these processes have to pay but which they are incapable of earning on their own.

    This seems to be the keystone of Dembski’sID argument from incredulity.

    Unfortunately for him, the very experiments he cites support evolution doing a blind exhaustive “search.” Lenski says this explicitly.

  41. Allan Miller

    Selective hyperskepticism? What a cheek! That is the UD stock-in-trade. Unless someone can point to a piece where they congratulate a ‘Darwinist’ for getting something right. And as for rhetorical antics …

    I do wonder who among the UD regulars would submit to cross-examination at a Dover ll. And, for any who might, who among their peers would want them to. I actually think Joe might be up for it, given his apparent belief that he can correct geneticists on genetics, programmers on programming, physicists on physics, chemists on chemistry …

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