The Demise of Intelligent Design

At last?

Back in 2007, I predicted that the idea of “Intelligent Design” would soon fade into obscurity. I wrote:

My initial assessment of ID in my earliest encounter with an ID proponent* was that ID would be forgotten within five years, and that now looks to me an over-generous estimate.

*August, 2005

I was wrong. Whilst the interest in “Intelligent Design” (ID) as a fruitful line of scientific enquiry has declined from the heady days of 2005 (or perhaps was never really there) there remain diehard enthusiasts who maintain the claim that ID has merit and is simply being held back by the dark forces of scientism. William Dembski; the “high priest” of ID has largely withdrawn from the fray but his ideas have been promoted and developed by Robert Marks and Winston Ewert. In 2017 (with Dembski as a co-author) they published Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, which was heralded as a new development in the ID blogosphere. However, the claim that this represents progress has been met with scepticism.

But the issue of whether ID was ever really scientific has remained as the major complaint of those who dismiss it. Even ID proponents have admitted this to be a problem. Paul Nelson, a prominent (among ID proponents) advocate of ID famously declared in 2004:

Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a problem. Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as ‘irreducible complexity’ and ‘specified complexity’ – but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.

Whilst some ID proponents – Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe are perhaps most prominent among them – have tried to develop ID as science, the general scientific community and the wider world have remained unimpressed.

Then a new young vigorous player appears on the field. Step forward, Eric Holloway! Dr Holloway has produced a number of articles published at Mind Matters – a blog sponsored by the Discovery Institute (the paymasters of ID) on artificial and “natural” intelligence. He has also been quite active here and elsewhere defending ID and I have had to admire his persistence in arguing his case for ID, especially as the whole concept is, in my view, indefensible.

But! Do I see cracks appearing? I happened to glance at the blog site formerly run by William Dembski, Uncommon Descent, and noticed an exchange of comments on a thread entitled Once More from the Top on “Mechanism” The post author is Barry Arrington, current owner of UD and a lawyer by trade, usually too busy to produce a thoughtful or incisive piece (and this is no different). However, the comments get interesting when Dr Holloway joins in at comment 48. He writes:

If we can never be sure we account for all chance hypotheses, then how can we be sure we do not err when making the design inference? And even if absolute certainty is not our goal, but only probability, how can we be confident in the probability we derive?

Eric continues with a few more remarks that seem to raise concern among the remaining regulars. ( ” Geeze you are one confused little pup EricMH.” “Has a troll taken over Eric’s account?) and later comments:

But since then, ID has lost its way and become enamored of creationism vs evolution, apologetics and the culture wars, and lost the actual scientific aspect it originally had. So, ID has failed to follow through, and is riding on the cultural momentum of the original claims without making progress.

Dr Holloway continues to deliver home truths:

I would most like to be wrong, and believe that I am, but the ID movement, with one or two notable exceptions, has not generated much positive science. It seems to have turned into an anti-Darwin and culture war/apologetics movement. If that’s what the Discovery Institute wants to be, that is fine, but they should not promote themselves as providing a new scientific paradigm.

I invite those still following the fortunes of ID to read on, though I recommend scrolling past comments by ET and BA77. Has Dr Holloway had a road-to-Damascus moment? Is the jig finally up for ID? I report – you decide!

ETA link

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822 thoughts on “The Demise of Intelligent Design

  1. newton,

    Specifically, which grand claims and what circular reasoning?

    Universal Common Descent…grand claim

    Circular reasoning- Homology two genes related by common descent

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  2. faded_Glory, to EricMH:

    I think you would find it much easier to convince people if you could provide some clear examples of actual natural processes that are ‘stochastic’ in your terminology, and that converge on something.

    I have mentioned a few, such as plate tectonics and rainfall, and you keep studiously avoiding engaging with these. I honestly do not see how and why such processes would necessarily ‘converge’ on anything.

    Seconded.

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  3. colewd: Universal Common Descent…grand claim

    It’s a conclusion drawn from looking at the data. You’ve inverted the history here.

    Nobody really cares whether all species are related, or if a smaller subset of clades have independent origins. Except maybe creationists, who are desperate to deny Human-rest-of-life genealogical realtionships.

    It could be the case that the bacterial and archaeal clades have separate origins. Scientists aren’t somehow mindlessly claiming that they share common ancestry just because. It’s the data that led them to that conclusion.

    Circular reasoning- Homology two genes related by common descent

    Where is the circular reasoning again?

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  4. EricMH:

    To be clearer about my article, I am talking about a specific, isolated entity.

    Humans aren’t isolated from their environments.

    If it operates entirely by stochastic processes, then the events we observe from the entity will converge to a probability distribution. On the other hand, if it is non-stochastic, then we will not see convergence occur.

    The “time-to-repeat” is vastly greater than the length of a human life, so this isn’t testable for humans.

    Also, you need to be clearer about what does and doesn’t qualify as an “event we observe from the entity”, and how these events are converted into a sequence or sequences of numbers.

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  5. Rumraket,

    It could be the case that the bacterial and archaeal clades have separate origins. Scientists aren’t somehow mindlessly claiming that they share common ancestry just because. It’s the data that led them to that conclusion.

    It’s possible that there are dozens or more origin events. How can we know how many there were? We know the chemistry is common but the code varies. We don’t know the origin of the code of complex adaptions. We don’t know the origin of the eukaryotic cell. The only explanation you can give is an un modeled un tested speculation.

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  6. colewd:
    Rumraket,

    It’s possible that there are dozens or more origin events.How can we know how many there were?We know the chemistry is common but the code varies.We don’t know the origin of the code of complex adaptions. We don’t know the origin of the eukaryotic cell.The only explanation you can give is an un modeled un tested speculation.

    Thanks Bill for once again sharing you scientifically illiterate layman’s unsupported opinion. We’ll park it over there with the rest of your ignorance based personal incredulity. 🙂

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  7. colewd: It’s possible that there are dozens or more origin events.

    There we go, the classic possible therefore probable fallacy.

    Mere possibility does not mean it’s probable. All scientific conclusions are tentative, but this “possibility” you suggest has zero basis in evidence. All the evidence points to all known life sharing a common ancestor.

    How can we know how many there were?

    Consilience of independent phylogenies. Shared biochemistry, shared genetic code, shared components of the translation system that physically implements the code. Increasingly ancestral internal nodes in the phylogenies of translation system components taken from separate clades exhibit increasing convergence to the sequences from other clades.

    All of this is data(and there’s a lot of it) which is most parsimoniously explained by a single hypothesis: They share common ancestry.

    We know the chemistry is common but the code varies.

    The code variants are minor, are still implemented by the same translation system components, and are known to be the product of evolution (for example mutated tRNAs, or mutated tRNA-synthetases). Scientists can even use models of code and translation evolution to predict new data from these observations, and compare them to observations.

    We don’t know the origin of the code of complex adaptions.

    We don’t know everything. But we don’t have to know everything, to know something. And we do know something. We know all life hitherto discovered shares common descent. Among other reasons for those mentioned above.

    We don’t know the origin of the eukaryotic cell.

    We know they share common descent with the rest of life, because all the above mentioned facts apply to eukaryotes too. The eukaryote host cell was an archaeon, and mitochondria are derived alphaproteobacteria. We really do know this. Stop saying provably false things.

    The only explanation you can give is an un modeled un tested speculation.

    This is golden coming from a guy who LOVES unmodeled un tested speculation. All of ID is untestable assertions. The designer created eukaryotes. Models? Tests? None. William Cole, double-standard extraordinaire!

    No, there are many different models of eukaryogenesis that make various predictions. Many of the mechanisms are observed facts. There are population genetic models of mitochondrial origins and genome evolution etc. etc.

    As usual you have a bunch of philosophically brain dead objections that exhibit typical dichotomous thinking. They basically amount to the statements:
    Possible therefore probable fallacy.
    We don’t know everything to an absolute certainty, so we don’t know anything.
    And last but not least, a quintessential argument from ignorance.

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  8. keiths:
    Eric’s views on retrocausality

    Right, I knew there was a reason I associated Eric and retrocausatity. I guess I mixed up my IDists at TSZ with the Thomists at PS (in addition to expressing a wrong idea on one of Aristotle’s four causes).

    On convergence of natural processes: presumably, measurements of quantum events will converge to their QM theoretical probabilities, assuming well-constructed measurement techniques.

    I understood Eric differently. I understood him as proposing a way to operationalize detection of a non-stochastic process. I pointed out my concerns with that proposal upthread.

    I understand Eric as defining a non-stochastic process as one that cannot be simulated by a TM (including probabilistic TMs). (ETA: deleted speculation)

    ETA: I am not sure how one could specify scientifically a model of a non-stochastic process. So there would be no issue with detecting non-stochastic models in science, since they all have to be. *

    In any event, it’s the detection of such a possibility in the world that I think is at issue. Eric thinks MN is a wrong approach to science and I believe is looking to define a way of detecting such a possibility since it would falsify MN, at least as Eric defines it.

    —————————
    * I am including deterministic models in the stochastic class, but you can substitute stochastic/deterministic if my grouping bothers you.

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  9. colewd:
    Rumraket,

    We know the chemistry is common but the code varies.

    The variants cluster notably around STOP codons – simplistically put, gaps in the codon set represented by ‘missing’ tRNAs. This pattern strongly supports an evolutionary relationship, in which such gaps are incrementally filled in due to a lesser constraint in that direction, for mechanistic reasons. There is no corresponding ID explanation, as far as I am aware. So on this one, evolution is way out in front.

    Table here

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  10. Allan Miller: The variants cluster notably around STOP codons – simplistically put, gaps in the codon set represented by ‘missing’ tRNAs. This pattern strongly supports an evolutionary relationship, in which such gaps are incrementally filled in due to a lesser constraint in that direction, for mechanistic reasons. There is no corresponding ID explanation,as far as I am aware. So on this one, evolution is way out in front.

    Table here

    Yeah but you see, Paul Nelson mentioned code variants earlier, so now Bill thinks this is a really good argument. Paul said it, it must be amazing!

    This is typical Bill Cole. Someone on “his side” says something and then Bill latches on to it as if it was his religion.

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  11. Rumraket,

    This is golden coming from a guy who LOVES unmodeled un tested speculation. All of ID is untestable assertions. The designer created eukaryotes. Models? Tests? None. William Cole, double-standard extraordinaire!

    All you are doing is spewing rhetoric as you cannot come up with a testable mechanism for generating FI. Minds generate FI and this is tested all the time. A mind is a well tested mechanism for generating FI.

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  12. Allan Miller,

    The variants cluster notably around STOP codons – simplistically put, gaps in the codon set represented by ‘missing’ tRNAs. This pattern strongly supports an evolutionary relationship, in which such gaps are incrementally filled in due to a lesser constraint in that direction, for mechanistic reasons. There is no corresponding ID explanation, as far as I am aware. So on this one, evolution is way out in front.

    Stop condons are code repeated code. What is the mechanistic explanation for observed repeated code? Wait for it :-). Seti has been for years.

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  13. colewd: Minds generate FI and this is tested all the time.

    Is your creator of atoms a mind like yours or mine?

    colewd: A mind is a well tested mechanism for generating FI.

    How much FI is in an atom? If the designer of atoms is a mind like you or I how come neither you nor I can create atoms? Or universes that we can then populate with said atoms?

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  14. colewd: What is the mechanistic explanation for observed repeated code?

    When asked for the Intelligent Design explanation somehow you get back a question instead.

    The point is that ID is supposed to be capable of explaining these things, otherwise why do you support it colewd? It matters not what any mechanistic explanation may be, or even if it exists, it’s unrelated to if you are able to answer the question asked of you.

    This tatic just makes you look desperate.

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  15. OMagain,

    The point is that ID is supposed to be capable of explaining these things, otherwise why do you support it colewd?

    A think it is an interesting argument.I think the grand claims of evolution such as universal common descent are ideology only. DNA, Protein and exon sequences are extraordinary evidence a mind is behind our universe.

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  16. colewd:
    newton,

    Universal Common Descent…grand claim

    We have experimental evidence of common descent. So it must be the Universal part you find unconvincing.

    What does the design experimental evidence indicate? Intervention by the designer at which points in the history of life? Is the genius of Mozart , for example , experimental evidence of direct intervention of a designer?

    Circular reasoning- Homology two genes related by common descent

    Do you find the explanation of the similarities better explained by common design, wouldn’t common descent be a possible design mechanism to accomplish that ?

    Are you saying it is not possible for the unknown designer with unknown abilities and unknown goals and motivations to create a self sustaining system of universal common descent ?

    Seems to me unless we assume a single designer was exceptionally long lived , some self perpetuating mechanism might fit a design criteria. Of course, the strongest indication of design might be the lack of any variation of earlier life forms at all. The design as static and invariable. The perfection of design and replication.

    Or common design also an example of circular reasoning?

    Just trying to see how the position you support deals with your objections.

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  17. newton,

    We have experimental evidence of common descent. So it must be the Universal part you find unconvincing.

    We have common ground here. I agree common descent is a reasonable clam. Universal common descent is the issue.

    I have to run. Will address the rest of the post later.

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  18. colewd: All you are doing is spewing rhetoric

    No, I literally explained some of the evidence for common descent. So that’s your demonstrable falsehood number one.

    as you cannot come up with a testable mechanism for generating FI.

    Mutation and natural selection has been experimentally shown to produce new functional sequences(for example novel proteins that give antibiotic resistance). And we know multiple examples of novel proteins that have evolved, from non-coding DNA, which participate in highly beneficial functions such as DNA repair (like the Bsc4 protein in yeast).

    So that’s your demonstrable falsehood number two.

    Minds generate FI and this is tested all the time.

    No, human beings do. Not “minds”. But human beings were not around to create the molecules of living organisms. You have no way to test whether any minds were around to create the biopolymers of life. So that’s your demonstrable falsehood number three.

    Three demonstrable falsehoods in a a single post. Well done Bill.

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  19. colewd: DNA, Protein and exon sequences are extraordinary evidence a mind is behind our universe.

    And a certain kind of mind ,which at some point ,a mind that did not require a mind to come into being. A mind somehow possessed with the knowledge to create a universe and ability manipulate the physical to translate the mental into material.

    Quite unlike the human mind which is subject to physical restrictions, and as design advocates point out, requires a designer.

    Some say all of nature is evidence of a mind. So natural processes ,by extension, would also be the results of that mind. Design, however posits, such a designer is required at some unnamed point to augment designed processes with direct intervention. Pushing the vehicle to get it started , metaphorically speaking.

    It seems even the designer of the universe is limited in what it can design to the understanding of the contemporary human mind, in a sense.

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  20. colewd: DNA, Protein and exon sequences are extraordinary evidence a mind is behind our universe.

    A mind like yours and mine? As noted above, we cannot do the things you claim that mind can do. Why not?

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  21. newton: Quite unlike the human mind which is subject to physical restrictions, and as design advocates point out, requires a designer.

    Presumably colewd thinks the mind that made us needed to be designed also, as it’s also a mind like ours which as you note design advocates insist need a designer.

    colewd?

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  22. Rumraket,

    <blockquoteThree demonstrable falsehoods in a a single post. Well done Bill.

    Maybe. Or possibly 3 bullshit rhetorical spins. Are you just fooling yourself?

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  23. OMagain,

    A mind like yours and mine? As noted above, we cannot do the things you claim that mind can do. Why not?

    How do you know what the ultimate capability of our minds are?

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  24. newton,

    And a certain kind of mind ,which at some point ,a mind that did not require a mind to come into being. A mind somehow possessed with the knowledge to create a universe and ability manipulate the physical to translate the mental into material.

    This is why the idea of an eternal intelligent entity is probably right.

    Quite unlike the human mind which is subject to physical restrictions, and as design advocates point out, requires a designer.

    It’s like a human mind in that the mechanism can produce functional information.

    Some say all of nature is evidence of a mind. So natural processes ,by extension, would also be the results of that mind. Design, however posits, such a designer is required at some unnamed point to augment designed processes with direct intervention. Pushing the vehicle to get it started , metaphorically speaking.

    This is where I find gpuccio’s ideas interesting. He shows points of large jumps of functional information. This looks like possible points of design intervention to me.

    It seems even the designer of the universe is limited in what it can design to the understanding of the contemporary human mind, in a sense.

    He is limited by matter/energy. He created functional building blocks that are limited as we currently are limited by pixels as building blocks in our simulations.

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  25. colewd: How do you know what the ultimate capability of our minds are?

    Is your god a time travelling human? Or perhaps it started out that way?

    I know you theists worship some odd things, but….

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  26. colewd: He is limited by matter/energy. He created functional building blocks that are limited as we currently are limited by pixels as building blocks in our simulations.

    Then your deity is limited by entropy as well, and will ultimatly die.

    Unless of course you care to pull something else out of your ass?

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  27. keiths: I have mentioned a few, such as plate tectonics and rainfall, and you keep studiously avoiding engaging with these. I honestly do not see how and why such processes would necessarily ‘converge’ on anything.

    The reason is probably too simple, but in plate tectonics and rainfall each subsequent state is entirely determined by a probability distribution conditioned on the prior state.
    If we observe enough plate tectonic and rainfall events, we will learn this distribution.

    All physical processes have this characteristic. This is why I claim my model applies to all of physics.

    BruceS also asked how one would model a non-stochastic process, and that brings us back to the convergence discussion. One way is a process where the events do not converge to a probability distribution. But, there are probably many ways to model a non-stochastic process. The space of non-stochastic processes is much larger than the space of stochastic processes.

    Regarding teleology, Aristotle’s final cause is the reason why something exists. E.g. a car exists in order to transport humans to a destination. But, to have a real final cause, as opposed to a ‘final cause’ that we can reduce to efficient and material causes, such as a robot, we need retro causality of nonexistent future states. And for that we need a non stochastic process.

    Per KN’s other point, the reason why I define MN as stochastic processes is due to the following logic:
    1. MN claims everything reduces to matter.
    2. Matter operates entirely by the laws of physics.
    3. The laws of physics are entirely stochastic processes.
    4. Therefore, MN claims everything reduces to stochastic processes.

    At this point, I feel I’m repeating myself, so I’ll leave it there until I see new content.

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  28. colewd:
    Allan Miller,

    Stop condons are code repeated code. What is the mechanistic explanation for observed repeated code?Wait for it :-). Seti has been for years.

    Sorry, can’t make any sense of this. It appears not to address the point at all. STOP codons represent the absence of a tRNA. Puddles are ‘observed repeated code’ in the same sense – holes. Lots of ’em.

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  29. If every conceivable fact is labelled ‘evidence for design’, what friggin’ use is ID?

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  30. EricMH: BruceS also asked how one would model a non-stochastic process, and that brings us back to the convergence discussion. One way is a process where the events do not converge to a probability distribution. But, there are probably many ways to model a non-stochastic process. The space of non-stochastic processes is much larger than the space of stochastic processes.

    Actually, I was told how in high school. They talked about how objects that were thrown traveled in a parabola. You know, Galileo, Newton, and all that.

    Now, apparently, revealed as evidence for Intelligent Design.

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  31. Joe,

    Eric insists on using ‘stochastic’ in an odd way that encompasses both randomness and determinism (and combinations of the two). So your projectile motion example doesn’t qualify as ‘non-stochastic’ under his usage.

    Eric’s usage causes more confusion than it’s worth.

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  32. EricMH:

    The reason is probably too simple, but in plate tectonics and rainfall each subsequent state is entirely determined by a probability distribution conditioned on the prior state.
    If we observe enough plate tectonic and rainfall events, we will learn this distribution.

    ‘Determined’ isn’t the word you want there.

    Also, the systems in question aren’t isolated, contrary to your earlier stipulation. Nor are humans. Non-isolation means that the systems receive inputs from the environment, so you’d need to account for the behavior of all of the inputs to your systems, all of the time. (They aren’t independent, so they can’t be modeled by simply applying a probability distribution to each one.)

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  33. OMagain,

    Then your deity is limited by entropy as well, and will ultimatly die.

    You misunderstood the claim. There is no claim about the physical make up of the designer.

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  34. Allan Miller,

    If every conceivable fact is labelled ‘evidence for design’, what friggin’ use is ID?

    You consider DNA, Proteins and Exon contain every conceivable fact?

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  35. EricMH: Therefore, MN claims everything reduces to stochastic processes

    For me, MN determines which explanations are scientifically accepted in a domain of science.

    Stochastic is likely necessary but not sufficient to MN. I think you should add something like consistent with physics to get a better approximation of MN as it it practiced by scientists*. I can imagine stochastic explanations of instantaneous ESP (violating SR) or the EM drives (violating conservation of momentum).
    You say non-stochastic models are possible. I don’t see how a non-stochastic model would be used in science. Science is about explanation, prediction, control. How can such a model fulfill all of these goals? Are you saying science should give up on these goals?

    Earlier, I raised concerns with the practical aspects of your proposal to detect non-converging processes in the world. Key ones:

    – how do you control for external variables if you have no model;. such variables could bias your measurements in unpredictable ways, but the underlying model which included them would still be stochastic

    – If you do have a model, how do you know you have the right one if it does not fit your data?

    – Perhaps you are suggesting there is some general statistical test that can detect convergence to an unspecified probability distribution model? Is that it? If so, what is it?

    – Since in general a stochastic process need not have the same distribution at each observation, how can you detect non-converging process under that possibility? Here is one example of this possibility from QM: measure the spin of a sequence of identically prepared electrons at angles given by a the a single quantum of real numbers (eg wait to to radioactive emission). You won’t have convergence, I believe, but the model is stochastic since it uses standard QM.

    ————————–
    *This is still an idealization of practice. I think scientists will in general not look only directly to physics, but to also adjacent scientific disciplines: eg for a biological explanation violations of chemistry would be unacceptable.

    ETA: readability

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  36. Eric,

    Since your proposed detection method for non-stochastic processes depends on building up distributions over possible state transitions, you’d need to have a way of

    1) “reading out” the current state of the system in its entirety without disturbing it;

    2) applying a particular set of inputs to the system at that moment, overriding what they would otherwise be doing;

    3) reading out the state in the next instant to see where the state transition “landed”;

    4) maneuvering the system back to its original state and repeating all of this zillions of times with all possible input combinations; and

    5) repeating the entire process for lots of states.

    It isn’t feasible as an experimental test, and there isn’t enough time to do it even if it were feasible.

    To further complicate things, the composition of the system can change over time, so it isn’t even clear what the “original state” would mean on subsequent iterations.

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  37. EricMH: Per KN’s other point, the reason why I define MN as stochastic processes is due to the following logic:
    1. MN claims everything reduces to matter.
    2. Matter operates entirely by the laws of physics.
    3. The laws of physics are entirely stochastic processes.
    4. Therefore, MN claims everything reduces to stochastic processes.

    I can understand why it behooves the doyens of Intelligent Design to claim that “methodological naturalism claims that everything reduces to matter” but this is called poisoning the well and is generally frowned upon.

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  38. colewd:
    OMagain,

    You misunderstood the claim.There is no claim about the physical make up of the designer.

    There is a claim it( certain type of mind) can manipulate matter to impart functional information. If there is no physical interface , is there any experimental evidence that such is possible?

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  39. OMagain: Then your deity is limited by entropy as well, and will ultimatly die.

    Unless of course you care to pull something else out of your ass?

    Never underestimate the amount of nonsense Bill can pull out of his ass. He has huge reservoirs of IDiocy he hasn’t begun to tap yet. 🙂

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  40. colewd:
    Allan Miller,

    You consider DNA, Proteins and Exon contain every conceivable fact?

    No. But you’ve added the pattern of STOP codons, and wouldn’t need much prompting to add anything else. Give me an example of something not-designed.

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  41. EricMH: The reason is probably too simple, but in plate tectonics and rainfall each subsequent state is entirely determined by a probability distribution conditioned on the prior state.If we observe enough plate tectonic and rainfall events, we will learn this distribution.

    All physical processes have this characteristic.This is why I claim my model applies to all of physics.

    The real world isn’t an isolated system of mathematical equations. It is subject to the second law of thermodynamics which means eventual heat death. It also means that history will never repeat itself.

    Natural systems are not stationary. Each plate tectonics ‘event’ and each rainfall is unique. Analysed over time they may display certain probabilities, but as mentioned above, these probabilities depend critically on the time frame over which we measure them. The probability distributions change all the time, there is no single one that we can ‘learn over time’.

    You are simply ignoring the physical boundary conditions to the real world that don’t exist in your mathematical models, and that is leading you to conclusions that may be valid inside the models, but not in the real world.

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  42. EricMH: The reason is probably too simple, but in plate tectonics and rainfall each subsequent state is entirely determined by a probability distribution conditioned on the prior state.

    Life is a non-stochastic process, but rainfall is entirely stochastic? Entirely? Are you sure?

    Picture from here

    ETA: correction

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  43. keiths: Also, the systems in question aren’t isolated, contrary to your earlier stipulation. Nor are humans. Non-isolation means that the systems receive inputs from the environment, so you’d need to account for the behavior of all of the inputs to your systems, all of the time.

    I too noticed Eric’s claim that the information capacity of an entity is limited by its physical mass, and I wondered how that would be implemented with, oh say, the human genome.

    One copy of the human genome weighs ~4 picograms.

    The entire human lineage and the environment it lived in stretching back billions of years may allow for a bit higher information capacity.

    Which to pick?

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  44. keiths: Eric insists on using ‘stochastic’ in an odd way that encompasses both randomness and determinism

    That’s not just Eric; here is Wiki on degenerate distribution:
    “In mathematics, a degenerate distribution is a probability distribution in a space (discrete or continuous) with support only on a space of lower dimension. If the degenerate distribution is univariate (involving only a single random variable) it is a deterministic distribution and takes only a single value”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerate_distribution

    But it does seem from Joe’s reaction that that usage is a not how scientists might use the term. And I agree it confuses people in internet forums — you can find similar discussions at PS, eg one involving your BFF Mung on the confused team.

    Has Eric ever suggested a non-stochastic process besides free will? I can think of possibilities involving the halting problem, eg solutions of a sequence of randomly generated traveling salesmen problems. [ETA: deletion].

    But science has no use for such models.

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  45. BruceS: Has Eric ever suggested a non-stochastic process besides free will?

    So far we have free will, intrinsic teleology and life.
    I think I have spotted the rules of this game.

    Comment here.

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  46. colewd:
    newton,

    This is why the idea of an eternal intelligent entity is probably right.

    Not probably, it is required.Logically there has to be a undesigned designer , because if ID allows that some set of possible natural, physical conditions in the Universe could result in life ,sans designer, rather than a eternal deity , the camel’s nose is underneath the tent.

    It’s like a human mind in that the mechanism can produce functional information.

    And how does a disembodied human mind know that what information is “creates” is functional?

    This is where I find gpuccio’s ideas interesting.He shows points of large jumps of functional information.This looks like possible points of design intervention to me.

    One would need to know the initial conditions to determine such jumps, is this through the same fossil record as ID points out as inadequate because it is full of gaps?

    He is limited by matter/energy.

    Why, in your viewing , it is his creation.

    He created functional building blocks that are limited as we currently are limited by pixels as building blocks in our simulations.

    Not unless the designer defined the function of those building blocks in such a way the intervention would be required to implement his design. Unless it is logically impossible not seeing why a deity would be so limited except by choice.

    What is the experimental evidence of such a choice beyond analogy?

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