What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

This offers the simplest “neutral” colloquial mixture of “design” and “evolution” that I’ve seen in a long time. The site is no longer maintained, but the language persists.

“As a designer it is important to understand where design came from, how it developed, and who shaped its evolution. The more exposure you have to past, current and future design trends, styles and designers, the larger your problem-solving toolkit. The larger your toolkit, the more effective of a designer you can be.” http://www.designishistory.com/this-site/

Here, the term “evolution” as used just meant “history”. The author was not indicating “design theory evolution”, but rather instead the “history of designs” themselves, which have been already instantiated.

The topic “design is history” nevertheless enables an obvious point of contact between “evolution” and “design”. They both have histories that can be studied. Present in the above meaning of “design” are the origin, processes and agent(s) involved in the “designing”. This differs significantly from the Discovery Institute’s version of “design theory”, when it comes to history, aim, structure and agency, since the DI’s version flat out avoids discussion of design processes and agent(s). The primary purpose of the DI’s “design theory”, meanwhile, is USAmerican religious apologetics and “theistic science”.

The quotation above likely didn’t come from an IDist, and it isn’t referencing “Intelligent Design” theory as a supposed “scientific theory”. The “designer” in the quotation above is a (more or less intelligent) human designer, not a Divine Designer. This fact distinguishes it “in principle” from the Discovery Institute’s ID theory, which is supposed to be (depends on who you’re speaking with in the IDM) about first biology, then informatics, and statistics. The DI’s ID theory is not actually focused on “designing by real designers”, but rather on apologetics using “design” and informational probabilism.

The Discovery Institute’s failure to distinguish or even highlight the differences and similarities between human design and Divine Design, and instead their engagement in active distortion, equivocation, double-talking, and obfuscation between them, are marks of its eventual downward trend to collapse.

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1,506 thoughts on “What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

  1. newton: wonder why if consciousness was so probable with a deity and proof that the deity exists , why so few things are actually conscious.

    I wonder why, if consciousness is so probable through evolutionary processes, so few things are?

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  2. phoodoo: I wonder why, if consciousness is so probable through evolutionary processes, so few things are?

    The calculation Bill made was that the probability of consciousness, given our present state of knowledge , was close to 0, therefore the Christian God. No one else has ventured to put a number on it. Not sure exactly how it would be calculated.

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  3. newton,

    That is what I thought you meant. Does the fact that humans lack of omniscience change that calculation any? There are things we do not know, and things we do not know we don’t know. Current knowledge is a slippery slope to base absolute probabilities.

    It might but at the end of the day simply explaining the origin of any novel living feature is beyond the laws of physics, chemistry and molecular biology. Science is always tentative but this problem is beyond human comprehension IMO.

    Additionally, there is no knowledge of how the deity did what He did. A non-omnipotent deity might be also be bound by certain aspects of the nature of matter.

    Considering the chance of the Bible being true then God gave us advise on where science starts. He provided matter and living populations. So far His advise is working pretty well.

    One might also need to take into account the probability of an both truly omniscient and omnipotent deity existing and actually creating consciousness. I wonder why if consciousness was so probable with a deity and proof that the deity exists , why so few things are actually conscious. Would more conscious things be better evidence than fewer?

    Consciousness is just part of what we are observing. Matter and life most likely require an intelligent cause. Why even a minor segment of our population (including me) got away from this concept is due to a lack of understanding of molecular biology and its organized complexity.

    I have recently discovered that the Bible is in itself strong evidence for the existence of a Deity and who that Deity is. There are very good tools now to investigate this and if you are interested I would be happy to show you.

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  4. Entropy,

    Nope. I’m using it to mock the fantasy nature of the stories in the Bible. There’s no error in that usage.

    First, thanks for your honest response. Mocking can be an effective way to persuade people at times. It is, on the other hand, a very poor way to mutually discover truth through honest dialog.

    The atheist position is very difficult to argue without logical fallacies and techniques like mocking. This is why KN takes the agnostic position. I think that KN is rational and a very good thinker, however given the information available, the Christian worldview is the most rational position available IMO. He does not want any part of that position and therefor I agree, given that, the agnostic position is the most rational.

    Previously, before I became convinced God was real, I used to argue for the agnostic position.

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  5. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: Corneel: Perhaps you need to use a more extreme form of that argument.

    Charlie:I think the problem lies in treating genes as agents.

    Your problem is with a metaphor, then.

    It’s not my problem.

    Look at the multitude of cell types in multicellular eukaryotes. The DNA remains the same but the way it is arranged is highly variable. […] Regulated activity is highly variable depending on cell type.

    You’ll note that these complexities are repeated, over and over, in every organism you choose to examine from a species, to the extent that one can generalise from a few instances. Why is that? What ensures this consistency of expression throughout differentiation and development, across an entire population? It can’t be proteins; they turn over rapidly, in a matter of hours. You could waft vaguely at something undemonstrable, acting by means obscure. Or, you could drop your resistance to the concept and consider the role of genetics.

    Individuals within a species have near identical genomes and they use their genes in a similar way and so they develop in a similar way, depending on the environment of course. DNA provides the means whereby the raw material in its variety of forms is made available to allow the organism to develop normally..

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  6. colewd:
    First, thanks for your honest response. Mocking can be an effective way to persuade people at times. It is, on the other hand, a very poor way to mutually discover truth through honest dialog.

    I wasn’t trying to persuade you. The point was that the default position cannot be what you believe to be the solution. The mocking was just to emphasize that, it’s not only illogical to hold to what you believe as if it were a proper default, but that it was also plainly ridiculous to even imagine that could be a default.

    colewd:
    The atheist position is very difficult to argue without logical fallacies and techniques like mocking. This is why KN takes the agnostic position.

    Mockery is not fallacious. It’s just mockery. Fallacies apply to arguments, not to style of delivery.

    I think you have not been paying attention. the atheist position can be agnostic or pretty strong on the “not only I don’t believe your proposition, I note that it’s also absurd, therefore impossible when it comes to your particular god.”

    Nothing fallacious about it.

    colewd:
    I think that KN is rational and a very good thinker, however given the information available, the Christian worldview is the most rational position available IMO.

    Given the absurdities of the tenets of Christianity it’s no surprise that different sects in the overarching Christian label, disagree, often in profound ways. For example, some believe that their god is a monster, only they don’t call it that, some insist that it’s a god of love. Maybe there’s plenty in between. Therefore, you cannot even talk about a single Christianity, let alone about it being the most rational position.

    colewd:
    He does not want any part of that position and therefor I agree, given that, the agnostic position is the most rational.

    You’re contradicting your statement above, but here I’m close to agreeing with you. However, it depends on the gods. If the gods’s “qualities” and “doctrines” are ridiculously contradictory those gods cannot exist. For an anything that might be superior beings, maybe some that can make whole universes, well, that we can be agnostic about. But absurdity is absurdity.

    colewd:
    Previously, before I became convinced God was real, I used to argue for the agnostic position.

    Wonder how you missed the point of agnosticism only to come back and defend a fairy tale as the default position for most anything. Agnosticism is not just about gods, but about anything we might not have enough information to decide.

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  7. Entropy,

    Wonder how you missed the point of agnosticism only to come back and defend a fairy tale as the default position for most anything. Agnosticism is not just about gods, but about anything we might not have enough information to decide

    I have enough information for me to decide and believe it is the best explanation for what we live in. I think there is enough data to reject the agnostic position at this point. For some reason you fell away from Christianity. You and KN seem to have contempt for it and I am having a hard time seeing why. If most people behaved under the guidance of Christ’s teaching our society would be much easier then a heavy top down Government structure.

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  8. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM,

    Nothing needs to get broadcast because the group already has the potential to express the archetype which encompasses all of the novelties. Individual circumstances limit this expression.

    I don’t see how a novel genetic instance – say an oak – gets to access its oak ‘archetype’. Haploid pollen and ovule come together to form a diploid cell. It divides; in my conception differential gene expression causes leaf and trunk and acorn to develop from the descendants of this totipotent cell. But you don’t think differential gene expression is enough of an explanation. Something is channelling and constraining the development of the oak, interacting in some way with genetic expression or broader form, if genetic expression is itself insufficient to generate full-on ‘oakiness’. I struggle to conceptualise how this additional force might operate, starting with haploid cells.

    The genome is a vital part of reproducing form but it is the living seed or egg as a whole which has the potential within it to express the full life of organism. At no point in the repeated reproduction through the generations are the living entities reduced to below the level of the cell. In the case of organisms everything is relative to cells and above.

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  9. colewd: I have enough information for me to decide and believe it is the best explanation for what we live in. I think there is enough data to reject the agnostic position at this point. For some reason you fell away from Christianity. You and KN seem to have contempt for it and I am having a hard time seeing why. If most people behaved under the guidance of Christ’s teaching our society would be much easier then a heavy top down Government structure.

    Prior to Jesus’ birth and the bibles existence we have evidence that many civilizations existed.

    Given those people did not have the information that you have was their ‘best explanation for what we live in’ sufficient to allow them entry into a Heaven of which they have no prior conception?

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  10. Corneel:

    CharlieM: I think the problem lies in treating genes as agents. Individual organisms are agents, even intra-cellular complexes such as dynein ‘motors’ and chromosomes can be classed as agents. But unless genes are defined as more than just sequences of DNA then they are not productive agents.

    No, I do not think that is an issue. In my book, agents are conscious beings capable of acting with intent. Neither proteins, protein complexes, cells, chromosomes nor genes fit the bill.

    It makes no difference what you consider an agent to be, it is my use of the word that you need to take account of. I was using the word in the sense of something which acts and has an effect. It need not be conscious.

    My assessment is that part of the problem lies in your view of all matter as being passive and inert, ignoring its chemical properties and capacity for self organization. The other issue is your failure to appreciate the central role of heritable variation for evolutionary change.

    I do not view all matter as being passive. There are plenty of active complexes within and outwith cells. Inner activity is a feature of life at all levels.

    I don’t have an issue with heritable variation. I do question the creative power of variation caused by external influences.

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  11. colewd: however given the information available, the Christian worldview is the most rational position available IMO

    What do you say to people who believe the same about their religion? One of you has to be wrong? Is it possible it’s you?

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  12. Corneel:

    CharlieM: A flute is just a hollow tube to the spider that ventures up it.

    … and it is too narrow for her to weave her web there.

    That all depends on the flute and the spider.

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  13. OMagain,

    Given those people did not have the information that you have was their ‘best explanation for what we live in’ sufficient to allow them entry into a Heaven of which they have no prior conception?

    Very good question. I really don’t know but suspect that Heaven is much more open then advertised.

    What do you say to people who believe the same about their religion? One of you has to be wrong? Is it possible it’s you?

    I think all the basic religions have points of truth. Judaism, Islam and Christianity identify the same God of Abraham. Muslims believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. At this point many Jews are starting to believe in Jesus as their Messiah.

    I have looked into all of them and Christianity best fits the biblical story as Christ fulfills the OT prophecies and the evidence for his death and resurrection is compelling. The Biblical corruption claimed by Islam in the Bible is not confirmed by evidence such as the Dead Sea scrolls. Mormon’s make the same iffy claims of Biblical corruption.

    The other religions like Hinduism and Buddhism don’t appear to be in conflict.

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  14. CharlieM: It makes no difference what you consider an agent to be, it is my use of the word that you need to take account of. I was using the word in the sense of something which acts and has an effect. It need not be conscious.

    Does this agent have intent?

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  15. colewd:
    I have enough information for me to decide and believe it is the best explanation for what we live in. I think there is enough data to reject the agnostic position at this point.

    You’re, again, talking about what you believe and insist on missing the point: the default position cannot be what you believe to be the solution. The default position is agnosticism: “we don’t know.” After being convinced about what you imagine to be the right answer, that’s still not the default position, that’s a potential solution to the question under consideration.

    Got it now? Why is this so hard for you?

    colewd:
    For some reason you fell away from Christianity.

    Yep. I realized it required a lot of hypocrisy for me to ignore its fantasy-nature. So that was it. I’m honest with myself.

    colewd:
    You and KN seem to have contempt for it and I am having a hard time seeing why.

    I don’t know about KN, but from where I seat: it’s fantasy. To me, that people believe and act upon fantasies makes it a dangerous belief. If you believe it to be the ultimate source of rules and such, you’re accepting it over any reasoning. That’s worthy of contempt.

    colewd:
    If most people behaved under the guidance of Christ’s teaching our society would be much easier then a heavy top down Government structure.

    Why would those be the only two options? What’s the difference between a heavy top down government structure and a heavy top-down religious structure? It’s still left to someone else to solve our problems and then “rain” or impose their “solutions” onto us.

    Why shouldn’t we aim for a society where we all learn to live together and make it a bottom up structure? One where knowledge and reason help us inform and shape our values, solve our differences, etc, rather than accept the supposedly unchangeable precepts of an imaginary friend?

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  16. colewd: I have enough information for me to decide and believe it is the best explanation for what we live in. I think there is enough data to reject the agnostic position at this point. For some reason you fell away from Christianity. You and KN seem to have contempt for it and I am having a hard time seeing why. If most people behaved under the guidance of Christ’s teaching our society would be much easier then a heavy top down Government structure.

    I have great admiration and respect for much of Christianity, and have always said as much. How you came to believe that I have contempt for it is an utter mystery.

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  17. colewd: I think all the basic religions have points of truth. Judaism, Islam and Christianity identify the same God of Abraham. Muslims believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. At this point many Jews are starting to believe in Jesus as their Messiah.

    A few errors here:

    1. The most recent estimate I can find for Messianic Jews, world-wide, is 350,000. That’s out of a worldwide population of 14.5 million. Is it really correct to say that “many Jews are starting to believe in Jesus as their Messiah” when it’s 2.4% of Jews?

    2. Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet chosen by God, just like Amos, Michah, Zechariah, Hosea — in a lineage that culminates in Muhammad himself, the last and greatest of men chosen by God for communicating a divine purpose. So it’s deeply misleading to say that Muslims consider Jesus to be “the Jewish Messiah”.

    The other religions like Hinduism and Buddhism don’t appear to be in conflict.

    Hinduism and Buddhism are built upon the doctrine of reincarnation through multiple realms of existence, some of which are called “hells” and others of which are called “heavens.”

    But whereas Hinduism teaches that one ought to live in a way that one’s soul keeps ‘ascending’ through realm after realm, Buddhism teaches that there is no such thing as soul or self — one needs to realize that the source of all suffering is craving, that the source of all craving is the desire to hold onto something permanent, fixed, and enduring; that one must learn to let go of this craving; and that doing so leads to release from the infinite cycle of death and rebirth through the annihilation (nirvana) of the self.

    The difference between these teachings and those of Christianity should be rather evident!

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  18. Entropy,

    You’re, again, talking about what you believe and insist on missing the point: the default position cannot be what you believe to be the solution. The default position is agnosticism: “we don’t know.” After being convinced about what you imagine to be the right answer, that’s still not the default position, that’s a potential solution to the question under consideration.

    I am not arguing for what is the default position. I am arguing for what I believe based on evidence.

    I don’t know about KN, but from where I seat: it’s fantasy. To me, that people believe and act upon fantasies makes it a dangerous belief. If you believe it to be the ultimate source of rules and such, you’re accepting it over any reasoning. That’s worthy of contempt.

    This is your opinion that you have stated clearly. I simply disagree.

    Why shouldn’t we aim for a society where we all learn to live together and make it a bottom up structure? One where knowledge and reason help us inform and shape our values, solve our differences, etc, rather than accept the supposedly unchangeable precepts of an imaginary friend?

    An interesting discussion point. Is it possible that Christianity practiced properly could facilitate this type of structure by providing an objective morality?

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  19. Kantian Naturalist,

    I have great admiration and respect for much of Christianity, and have always said as much. How you came to believe that I have contempt for it is an utter mystery.

    You made a very harsh comment about me when I have been arguing for the truth of Christianity. This is where I picked up this impression.

    1. The most recent estimate I can find for Messianic Jews, world-wide, is 350,000. That’s out of a worldwide population of 14.5 million. Is it really correct to say that “many Jews are starting to believe in Jesus as their Messiah” when it’s 2.4% of Jews?

    Messianic Judaism is not very old maybe around 70 years are so. 350k is a large number from that starting point and it may be much larger. I have read a claim that 20% of young Israelis believe Jesus is their Messiah. Are you familiar with the group One for Israel?

    2. Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet chosen by God, just like Amos, Michah, Zechariah, Hosea — in a lineage that culminates in Muhammad himself, the last and greatest of men chosen by God for communicating a divine purpose. So it’s deeply misleading to say that Muslims consider Jesus to be “the Jewish Messiah”.

    Do you think Muslims believe that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament?

    Per Wiki

    As in the Christian New Testament, the Quran (the central religious text of Islam) describes Jesus as the Messiah (al-Masih in Arabic), born of a virgin, performing miracles, accompanied by disciples, rejected by the Jewish establishment, and being raised to heaven.[3] The Quran differs in denying Jesus was crucified or died on the cross, and especially in rejecting the divinity of Jesus as God incarnate, or the Son of God.[3][a]

    It is pretty clear that they believe he was the Jewish Messiah from this and other analysis. I agree that they do not believe he was the son of God.

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  20. colewd: You made a very harsh comment about me when I have been arguing for the truth of Christianity. This is where I picked up this impression.

    The fact that I have no respect for you does not entail that I have contempt for Christianity.

    My lack of respect for you is due entirely to how bad you are at reasoning and how immune you are to correction. (For all I know you could be a lovely human being in your real-life interactions. So my lack of respect for you is intended only at the version of yourself that you portray online.)

    My attitudes towards Christianity are complex, because (like all religions and philosophies) it is not a monolithic single thing. There are people I respect and admire who claim to be acting in the spirit of Christianity, and people I abhor who claim the same thing.

    I suppose that I am basically a Hegelian about Christianity: I gladly accept that there are important ethical truths that first come onto the scene in human history with Christianity, but I think that the Enlightenment gave us tools for expressing those truths without resorting to Christian symbolism and metaphor.

    (Notice that would be a different way of taking up the Enlightenment than using the Enlightenment as a way of mocking or undermining faith. In that respect too I am a Hegelian.)

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  21. colewd: You made a very harsh comment about me when I have been arguing for the truth of Christianity.

    Commenting about Messianic Jews is very different from arguing for the truth of Christianity.

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  22. Neil Rickert,

    Colewd was correctly picking up on my disrespect for them qua online personality, because they insist that they are reasoning correctly (and their opponents are not) even they are failing to conform to basic norms of argumentation and critical thinking and are immune to all correction. It’s a textbook-perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    Colewd’s mistake here was to infer that since I have no respect for them, I have contempt for Christianity.

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  23. colewd:
    I am not arguing for what is the default position.I am arguing for what I believe based on evidence.

    When you write things like “until you have shown a mechanism that can explain the origin of whatever, god did it” you’re engaged in a god-of-the-gaps fallacy and pretending that the default position is what you believe to be the solution to all questions.

    colewd:
    An interesting discussion point. Is it possible that Christianity practiced properly could facilitate this type of structure by providing an objective morality?

    Nope. It’s not possible. The supposedly “objective” morality is an imposition from the religion. Top-down. Nothing to reason about. Mere acceptance that some fantasy’s “rules” constitute the one-true morality. It’s a contradiction of terms.

    Now, that acceptance is necessarily subjective, thus, to talk about objective morality, when a person has to accept the “foundation” and/or the whole “package” is a contradiction of terms too.

    Morality can have an objective basis, but the acceptance of the basis is always subjective, Christian or otherwise. There’s no such thing as objective morality, no matter how objective the foundations for constructing it might be. You first have to agree on what that basis is. Christians make fools out of themselves when they claim to have objective morality, forgetting that it’s their subjective opinion that some magical being in the sky’s rules are the one-true-morality. Whether this magical being existed or not makes no difference. The acceptance of those rules as being the one-true-morality would still be subjective opinions.

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  24. DNA_Jock: CharlieM,

    So glad to see you reference Eric Wieschaus; he and Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard developed the famous Heidelberg Screen: by surrounding the embryos with screens made of different elements, they were able to prevent the embryos from accessing different specific aspects of the fruit fly archetype.
    The bicoid aspect, the Krüppel aspect (one of the gap aspects of the archetype) the pair rule, and the segment polarity archetype.
    [finger to earpiece] What do you mean, “not that kind of screen”?

    Your attempted parody above does give us an opportunity to take a closer look at drosophila embryo development. Most of what I begin with below will no doubt be familiar to you and many others here, but there might be others reading this who are less well informed about drosophila development.

    The maternal effect gene, bicoid is quite a unique gene which is not conserved among flies in general. The flies that do use bicoid have various sizes of eggs.
    Bicoid mRNA is anchored to the anterior side of the egg by the mother and it remains there until the egg is fertilised. After fertilisation the morphogenetic transcription factor, bicoid forms a gradient from the anterior end of the cell. The fact that different sized cells use this protein is good evidence that it does not achieve the necessary gradient by simple diffusion alone. It must be actively transported in some way. Also the concentration of bicoid within each nucleus is maintained even although the actual individual molecules are coming and going.

    The drosophila nuclei can distinguish 700 bicoid molecules from concentrations of 630 or 770 molecules. There are anywhere between several hundred to seven thousand genes capable of responding to bicoid. So if all of these genes are measuring the concentration of bicoid at the same time with only 700 molecules available it would be good to know how this is achieved.

    In this video Johannes Jäger looked at the gap genes kruppel and giant in drosophila. He gives a fairly simple account of how these genes interact and even the actions of this simple ‘genetic toggle switch’ become quite complex when all the necessary factors are included.

    His thinking moves beyond genes, beyond genetic networks, beyond systems biology to a biology that is more in keeping with the latest revelations of the finer details of living systems.

    I am still considering starting a separate thread inspired by Jäger.

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  25. My lack of respect for you is due entirely to how bad you are at reasoning and how immune you are to correction. (For all I know you could be a lovely human being in your real-life interactions. So my lack of respect for you is intended only at the version of yourself that you portray online.)

    This is a fair comment and I am trying to be more reasonable. I do respect your argument skills and appreciate you being patient with me. You have to admit your comment of me spending eternity in hell was a little over the top 🙂

    When correction means someones argument against your position shouldn’t a counter argument be reasonable?

    I completely agree with your comment about the diversity of Christian morality.

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  26. CharlieM: To give an example of a law that applies to organisms but not to inanimate objects compare a rock to a snail. A rock will not move of its own accord but a snail has an intrinsic ability to move around.

    Many inanimate objects move around and many organisms are immotile. The distinction evidently lies in the “of its own accord” and “intrinsic ability” part, which makes it problematic. When a rock rolls downhill does it move “of its own accord”? When an Escherischia coli moves along a sugar gradient does it do so “of its own accord”?

    Looks to me like you just took the trivial observation that only some animals make deliberate movements and tried to make it into a “law”.

    CharlieM: Many consider Darwin’s theory of natural selection to be so well established that it can be considered a law. A law of the living and not of the inanimate.

    And they’d be wrong. Natural selection occurs in every system that satisfies a few simple conditions: trait variation, reproduction, heritability and fitness variation (differential surival and/or reproduction). Living organisms evidently satisfy those requirements but nothing precludes these conditions occurring in an artificial system.

    CharlieM: To ask for the whereabouts of this archetype is to misunderstand it completely.

    I wasn’t asking for its whereabouts.

    CharlieM: In an individual the differentiation does not come from the genome but from the particular way in which the genome is expressed. Likewise with the descent of organisms the variety comes from the way in which that which gets passed on is expressed.

    I wasn’t asking for you to repeat your analogy with cell differentiation either. I repeated Allan’s question how the relationship between archetype and phenotype comes about. You still haven’t answered that question.

    CharlieM: Nothing in life is simple, certainly not as simple as a combination of the letters A,T,C and G arranged in a linear string.

    Whereas the observation that everything can be explained by “living activity” is highly complex and filled with profound insights.

    CharlieM: Beneficial, detrimental, it’s all relative. Antibiotics are obviously fatal to individual bacteria but judging by the appearance of superbugs they lead to higher resistant strains of bacteria in general.

    So antibiotics are detrimental to us in the long run? Then next time you have a bacterial infection, will you refuse the antibiotic? No? Then please stop torturing the meaning of words. It is perfectly clear what “benefit” was supposed to mean in context.

    CharlieM: It makes no difference what you consider an agent to be, it is my use of the word that you need to take account of.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

    CharlieM: I do not view all matter as being passive. There are plenty of active complexes within and outwith cells. Inner activity is a feature of life at all levels.

    I don’t have an issue with heritable variation. I do question the creative power of variation caused by external influences.

    You claim not to view matter as being passive, yet you make an appeal to élan vital to explain its properties. You claim not to have an issue with heritability, yet you take great pains to downplay the role of genetic information in evolutionary change. Needless to say, I am not convinced by your denial of what is plain and clear.

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  27. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: He said these processes are othogonal to the dogma not in opposition to it and so it does not have to involve reverse translation.

    Still no. Not ‘orthogonal’ to it either (such a pretentious word when used in such a way, I find). What does that even mean? If the dogma is not challenged, why mention it?

    You ask what it even means, although whatever it does mean you are sure it is wrong!

    By ‘orthogonal’ I take him to mean that creative changes need not originate at the level of the gene. His lab does research on prions as elements of inheritance and how they induce changes that can be replicated at the level of protein formation without involving the genome.

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  28. Allan Miller:

    Control is from above the level of the gene.

    It’s arguably ‘above the level’ of any given gene (depending on definition), but it is still part of the heritable material – DNA – and not elsewhere. This is still not a valid objection to gene-centrism. Each gene would not have to do everything itself before gene centrism could gain any traction. See #2. I find myself nonplussed even having to type this out – as if gene-centrists ever imagined that each gene acted alone, till Talbott et al came along!

    As to the genetic basis of control itself, I went into this in some detail. If you can find an exception to the rule that control ultimately resides in DNA, I’d be interested to hear it. But make sure it really is an exception, and not an artefact of your failure to follow the causal chain.

    Your detail includes allosteric regulation, chromatin remodelling, histone modifications, DNA modifications, promoter and repressor binding, RNA titration, and you say you could go on. No need. There is no causal chain here, there is an orchestration of interacting processes. The DNA sequence is just one component of the system. All of the processes you mention above involve the action of protein complexes. You are trying to pull apart that which in reality is an integrated whole. If you are looking for a causal chain in the development of an organism such as drosophila then it begins with the process of fertilisation followed closely by the translation of maternal mRNAs into protein. If you want to extend the causal chain back to the mother then it can be taken even further back to the original cell from which the mother developed, and so on. Individual molecules are not causes.

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  29. Allan Miller:

    The opening paragraph includes this: “we have discovered that clonal populations of multicellular budding yeast exhibit a rich variety of cooperative behaviours”

    An important keyword there is ‘clonal’. Care to have a stab as to why I’d say that?

    Because it involves mitosis as opposed to meiosis?

    They are investigating the control of protein conformational changes not governed by the genome. I would say that alternative splicing displays a similar level of control not governed by the genome.

    You would be dead wrong. How else does a tissue-specific isoform arise consistently in every member of a species, if not under genetic control?

    Under the control of cellular processes.

    Again, you’re attaching limpet-like to the work of people you perceive as ‘revolutionaries’ without troubling to learn the basics, or follow the counterargument.

    I’m learning continually. I try to question everything.

    And of course this is just one piece of research from many that Talbott mentions. There is much more there that we could discuss and argue about.

    You’d be better learning to walk. You are impressed by apparent paradigm shifts, which you swallow uncritically. But there’s a reason the likes of Talbott are not widely proclaimed as visionaries in biological circles.

    Time will tell.

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  30. colewd: This is a fair comment and I am trying to be more reasonable. I do respect your argument skills and appreciate you being patient with me. You have to admit your comment of me spending eternity in hell was a little over the top 🙂

    Yes, it was, and I sincerely apologize.

    When correction means someones argument against your position shouldn’t a counter argument be reasonable?

    There’s a crucial difference between objecting to someone’s argument while playing by the same rules of inference and argument and pointing out that the other person isn’t playing by the rules at all.

    My objection to your argument isn’t a disagreement about the conclusions you reach, or even in the premises from which you begin; it’s that your arguments are logically empty, because they rest on fundamentally flawed ideas about how to construct any argument at all.

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  31. Kantian Naturalist,

    My objection to your argument isn’t a disagreement about the conclusions you reach, or even in the premises from which you begin; it’s that your arguments are logically empty, because they rest on fundamentally flawed ideas about how to construct any argument at all.

    Thank you for this comment. Please point out when you see me make this mistake and I will only ask for clarification. I realize that I am not trained in how to form a proper argument.

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  32. colewd: . Please point out when you see me make this mistake and I will only ask for clarification. I realize that I am not trained in how to form a proper argument.

    Atoms are designed.

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  33. OMagain,

    This is a conclusion based on observation and design detection methodology IMO (purposeful arrangement of parts: Behe) and was not what KN is talking about. He can correct me if I am wrong.

    From KN’s comment:

    My objection to your argument isn’t a disagreement about the conclusions you reach, or even in the premises from which you begin;

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  34. colewd: This is a conclusion based on observation and design detection methodology IMO (purposeful arrangement of parts: Behe) and was not what KN is talking about.

    I am pretty sure it is. “Purposeful arrangement of parts” is a rephrasing of your desired conclusion (design), not a supporting argument.

    ETA: For clarity, I am not trying to start another design discussion here. I am just pointing out that your opponent will only agree with the “purposeful” if they had already accepted your conclusion. Hope you can see how that works.

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  35. colewd,

    Here’s what I had in mind.

    Earlier in this thread you claimed that life on Earth was probably due to the intervention of an intelligent being because the probability of life coming into existence from physics and chemistry alone is extremely low.

    The problem is that you don’t know that the probability of life coming into existence from physics and chemistry alone is extremely low, No one knows that. You might believe really strongly that that’s true. You might have a deeply felt, sincerely held conviction that the probability of life coming into existence from physics and chemistry alone is extremely low. But there’s no evidence that this is true — or that it is false. No one knows.

    But when you insist that your subjective beliefs are themselves evidence for the truth of those beliefs, you’re crossing a line — because then you’re confusing what you want to be true with what you have reasons to believe is true.

    2+
  36. Corneel: I am pretty sure it is. “Purposeful arrangement of parts” is a rephrasing of your desired conclusion (design), not a supporting argument.

    ETA: For clarity, I am not trying to start another design discussion here. I am just pointing out that your opponent will only agree with the “purposeful” if they had already accepted your conclusion. Hope you can see how that works.

    I think the problem here is, you draw a distinction between functional arrangements, and purposeful arrangements, and colewd regards these as the same. He simply cannot grasp that something might perform a function unless that’s its purpose. His inability is unfortunately widespread. Many cultures do not seem to distinguish between the function and the purpose of, for example, rain or disease. Amazingly complex structures have been built for the purpose of persuading the “purposer” in order to modify the function. And practiced rituals like child sacrifice.

    I wonder if the distinction you take for granted is culturally recent and limited.

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  37. Flint: I wonder if the distinction you take for granted is culturally recent and limited.

    This is a really interesting question. I know there’s some literature on teleological thinking in young children but that’s all.

    Now I’m wondering if there’s something on the function/purpose distinction in Heinrich’s new The WEIRDest People in the World.

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  38. Kantian Naturalist,

    The problem is that you don’t know that the probability of life coming into existence from physics and chemistry alone is extremely low, No one knows that. You might believe really strongly that that’s true. You might have a deeply felt, sincerely held conviction that the probability of life coming into existence from physics and chemistry alone is extremely low. But there’s no evidence that this is true — or that it is false. No one knows.

    I agree we cannot gain absolute knowledge here. The question is can we make a judgement based on empirical evidence?

    We can estimate the probability of a world with physics and chemistry as the only guiding forces producing life without guidance. We have empirical evidence of a minimal cell that can process energy and self replicate and this is around 400 Genes. We can calculate a range of how rare these 400 genes are in sequence space based on available experiments.

    I agree with you that we will not obtain absolute knowledge of all the possibilities but we can make estimates that show the origin of life functional information is a powerful challenge in a world driven by only physics and chemistry.

    I would argue that there is some quantification around this beyond a deep feeling. Does that make sense?

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  39. Flint,

    I think the problem here is, you draw a distinction between functional arrangements, and purposeful arrangements, and colewd regards these as the same.

    I agree you can have function without an identified purpose. I don’t think atoms fall in that category as you have a universe filled with evidence of purpose.

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  40. colewd: I don’t think atoms fall in that category as you have a universe filled with evidence of purpose.

    What is that purpose?

    0
  41. colewd: We have empirical evidence of a minimal cell that can process energy and self replicate and this is around 400 Genes. We can calculate a range of how rare these 400 genes are in sequence space based on available experiments.

    So you think the first life was a minimal cell? On what basis?

    Out of interest, if the first living cell had 400 genes where did those 400 genes come from? Where did that cell inherit them from, if not from something else that was also living? Or do you think dead things have genes?

    No need to answer. I’m just pointing out the inchorence in such a position.

    1+
  42. colewd: We can estimate the probability of a world with physics and chemistry as the only guiding forces producing life without guidance. We have empirical evidence of a minimal cell that can process energy and self replicate and this is around 400 Genes. We can calculate a range of how rare these 400 genes are in sequence space based on available experiments.

    I’m happy enough to grant for the purposes of this discussion that a minimal cell has about 400 genes, plus some protein machinery, a means of converting energy outside the cell into work done inside the cell, a semi-permeable membrane, etc.

    One could (I suppose) run some back-of-the-envelope calculations about the probability of all this coming together “by chance”, just like Hoyle’s junkyard tornado argument. (Though even then, one wonders how “by chance” or “at random” is determined.)

    But even if we had such a calculation, that wouldn’t tell us anything at all about “the probability of a world with physics and chemistry as the only guiding forces producing life without guidance”.

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  43. colewd: The question is can we make a judgement based on empirical evidence?

    Yes, we can.

    My judgement, based on empirical science, is that we do not currently know how life originated.

    So why do you repeatedly insist on magic poofing, instead of going by the empirical evidence? There isn’t any evidence of magic poofing.

    Why not just accept that this is an unanswered question?

    1+
  44. colewd:
    Flint,

    I agree you can have function without an identified purpose.I don’t think atoms fall in that category as you have a universe filled with evidence of purpose.

    If you start by assuming purpose, I agree you will find it everywhere. If you start by assuming no purpose, I contend that you won’t find any beyond explicit human purposes. Evidence isn’t a useful concept when conclusions are foregone. Look around the internet, and you will find absolutely preposterous conspiracy theories whose proponents insist are supported by evidence.

    The universe is filled with evidence. What that evidence MEANS is whatever you wish to superimpose on it.

    1+
  45. colewd: We can estimate the probability of a world with physics and chemistry as the only guiding forces producing life without guidance.

    My estimate, based on the available data, is 1.0. Of course, I may be assuming my conclusion; there’s a lot of that about…

    We have empirical evidence of a minimal cell that can process energy and self replicate and this is around 400 Genes.

    This sentence is grammatically tortured in a way that suggests an equivocation of “minimal”. If by “minimal” you mean “really simple”, then sure. If, on the other hand, you are trying to claim that we have “empirical evidence” that the minimum number of genes needed to make a cell that can process energy and self-replicate is 400, then you would be wrong.

    We can calculate a range of how rare these 400 genes are in sequence space based on available experiments.

    Yes, we can do that, but it has no bearing on the probabilities that you want to calculate, for reasons that have been explained to you many, many times.
    I find it difficult to believe that you are truly that dense.

    1+
  46. Where would Creationism be without this Hoyle-o-matic numeroproctology?

    How many genes do you need? Ooh … loads! How long do they need to be? Ooh … dead long! How rare are they? Ooh … like hens’ teeth! So that’s a chance of hens’ teeth in (20 raised to the power (loads x dead long)) …

    1+
  47. DNA_Jock: Yes, we can do that, but it has no bearing on the probabilities that you want to calculate, for reasons that have been explained to you many, many times.
    I find it difficult to believe that you are truly that dense.

    I don’t find it difficult to believe at all.

    1+
  48. We can empirically calculate the number of angels that fit on a pinhead. First, we carefully measure the pinhead. Then we divide that by the number of angels that will fit. The dividend will exactly equal the size of an angel, and we know this because we just measured it!

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  49. Neil Rickert,

    DNA_Jock,

    Yes, we can do that, but it has no bearing on the probabilities that you want to calculate, for reasons that have been explained to you many, many times.
    I find it difficult to believe that you are truly that dense.

    I think I don’t know is an acceptable answer.

    I also think a mind being responsible is a hypothesis to be considered as we have currently no model with a mechanism that is less powerful. A “mind” solves the probability issues that natural explanations face. The conclusion of a mind helps let us know the answer may be outside of science.

    So if one has philosophical problems considering a mind behind what is being observed just go with I don’t know.

    , for reasons that have been explained to you many, many times.

    Are you saying I should accept your argument from authority? If you are talking about your TSS argument with gpuccio that was a poor argument IMO.

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  50. Flint,

    If you start by assuming purpose, I agree you will find it everywhere. If you start by assuming no purpose, I contend that you won’t find any beyond explicit human purposes. Evidence isn’t a useful concept when conclusions are foregone. Look around the internet, and you will find absolutely preposterous conspiracy theories whose proponents insist are supported by evidence.

    Start by observing atoms and see if there are purposes behind their function. If you observe car tires do you then claim there is no purpose?

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