Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Signature in the Cell 4 (RJS)

posted by Jesus Creed Admin

Stephen C. Meyer has published a (very long, but readable) book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design,
outlining his argument in favor of intelligent design. This book
essentially argues that life is very complex, the origin of life is a
puzzle, and the information content in DNA cannot be explained by
natural means.  

The central chapters in Meyer’s book discuss the issues in origin of life research. He takes a somewhat meandering path – but this is the goal. The origin of life is a complex problem – and that is putting it mildly. Textbooks and such, especially at the K-12 and even undergraduate level often leave the impression that it is a solved problem – all that remains is to fill in minor details, dot the i’s and cross the t’s so to speak.

One website www.kidsbiology.com puts it like this:

Earth’s ancient oceans, while lifeless, but were filled with the chemicals needed for life. These chemicals were not alive, but they were there, sloshing around. They call these chemicals “Primordial soup”. Instead of alphabets, this soup was filled with amino acids, proteins, lipids, and other basic components that are commonly found in life forms today.

It is believed that life began on the shores of these ancient oceans, in pools of water called tidal pools. These shallow pools would have been full of this “life soup”. Over many millions of years, as the ingredients of life splashed around in these pools, possibly helped by lightning strikes, they formed the first cells.

Another site – geared toward helping students prepare for the SAT (sparknotes.com) says:

Life on Earth began about 3.5 billion years ago. At that point in the development of the Earth, the atmosphere was very different from what it is today. As opposed to the current atmosphere, which is mostly nitrogen and oxygen, the early Earth atmosphere contained mostly hydrogen, water, ammonia, and methane.

In experiments, scientists have showed that the electrical discharges of lightning, radioactivity, and ultraviolet light caused the elements in the early Earth atmosphere to form the basic molecules of biological chemistry, such as nucleotides, simple proteins, and ATP. It seems likely, then, that the Earth was covered in a hot, thin soup of water and organic materials. Over time, the molecules became more complex and began to collaborate to run metabolic processes. Eventually, the first cells came into being. These cells were heterotrophs, which could not produce their own food and instead fed on the organic material from the primordial soup. (These heterotrophs give this theory its name.)

Not only are these broad brush descriptions simplified – they are,
quite simply, wrong. The atmosphere likely contained little ammonia or
methane, rather a good bit of CO2 – more like Mars or Venus
today. Electrical discharge, radioactivity and ultraviolet light make a
mixture better classed as goo – and goo that is not exactly conducive
to life. Even if there were shallow pools of amino acids, proteins, lipids – and organic soup – formation of life by chance  as the textbooks suggest is not a plausible hypothesis.

If there is a wide open field to look for evidence of intelligent design – this is it.

What have you been taught about the origin of life?

In chapters 8-14 (pp. 173-295) Meyer looks first at probability and pattern recognition, and then turns to the study of the origin of life. This has been an active area of both research and speculation for decades, many have tackled the problem and many more have dabbled. Meyer gives something of a historical description of many of the proposals and why they fail. For the most part his discussion is uncontroversial, all of these proposals and ideas have serious flaws, only a few devotee’s would claim otherwise. Meyer does a pretty good job of describing the constraints under which origin of life theories must operate. At the base there must be a self-replicating molecular system capable of carrying information from one generation to the next. 

The core of Meyer’s case for intelligent design is the conservation law he proposes at the end of chapter 14.

In a nonbiological context and absent intelligent input, the amount of specified information of a final system, Sf, will not exceed the specified information content of the initial system, Si, by more than the number of bits of information the system’s probabilistic resources can generate (p. 294)

Probabilistic resource, a key concept in Meyer’s book, requires a bit of definition (see Ch. 8 and 10). This is a bit of an over simplification but … assume you flip five coins and want all heads.  There are 25 = 32 possible outcomes of a single toss. To have a reasonable probability of all heads you must have time toss a substantial fraction of 32 times. Probabilistic resources means there must be an opportunity for there to be a reasonable probability for an event to have occurred. As biological problems are complex – probabilistic resource can become an important constraint on plausibility.

Consider a relatively simple biological problem with which I have some familiarity – the protein folding problem. Proteins are large complex peptide chains composed of an aperiodic string of amino acids. The upper two images to the right show an atomistic view and a ribbon view of myoglobin, a small protein with 153 amino acids. For a protein to perform a useful function it must fold into a highly specific three-dimensional shape as shown for myoglobin. Yet even a small protein of ca. 100 amino acids will have some 1095 possible configurations of which very few are functional. This leads us to ask how a protein finds the right configuration. Is folding the result of a random sampling of available configurations? An upper limit for sampling each conformation would be one every picosecond (10-12 sec). As there have been less than 1030 picoseconds since the big bang (14 billion years ago) it is clear that the “probabilistic resource” is not sufficient for protein folding to be a chance occurrence – a random sampling of available configuration space.  This statement of the protein folding problem is known as The Levinthal Paradox. Proteins fold in a small fraction of a second in some kind of a directed process governed by both chance and necessity, elucidation of the mechanism is an active research problem. Some large proteins use other proteins called chaperones to assist in folding. Protein misfolding can be a problem – as in diseases such as mad cow and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The origin of life is also not a chance driven process. The complexity of a simple cell leads to problems with “probabilistic resource” much larger than that calculated for the protein folding problem. This in turn leads to a conclusion that the origin of life is also governed by both chance and necessity.  In some fashion the origin of life is encoded into the natural laws of the universe.  This is not a controversial statement. I think that it is agreed to by most  origin of life researchers and provides something of a constraint for the consideration of potential mechanisms for the origin of life. Given a hospitable environment life will develop  with reasonable probability. Mechanisms that are proposed should generally acknowledge this.

Simon Conway Morris (Life’s Solution), Owen Gingerich (God’s Universe), and Alister McGrath (A Fine-Tuned Universe) all suggest that we may, in fact, see evidence for God in the design of a universe conducive to inevitable life. Francis Collins has made similar suggestions in lectures that he has given.

Meyer takes this one step further – he proposes that the origin of life problem cannot be solved by chance and necessity (i.e. the kind of combination of random sampling and natural law proposed for protein folding), but in fact requires design at the level of the information content of the first cell. His hypothesis is that the “probabilistic resource” of the universe is insufficient for life to have developed from self-organization operating under the laws of chemistry and physics.

Enough for one post.

Response, ideas, questions? Do you think that the origin of life is evidence for a designer and where would you see this evidence for design?



Advertisement
Comments read comments(120)
post a comment
pds

posted January 21, 2010 at 7:08 am


http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/
Excellent post!
I first started looking deeper into the evolution/origin of life issue when I heard about Gould’s “punctuated equilibrium” theory many years ago. I had no idea from my high school and college education that the fossil record demanded such a theory.
Then I learned about the true state of origin of life research. My high school biology class had given me the impression that the Miller Urey experiment had figured things out and that scientists had a good idea how it all happened. I was stunned when I learned the reality.
I recently had dinner with a very bright classmate from an Ivy League school who insisted that scientists had “created life in a test tube.” I clarified that he meant life from non-life. He refused to believe me when I said they had not.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 7:47 am


pds,
I think that there are serious problems with Meyer’s argument … but I will try to address them step by step. I am sure that you will jump in on the next several posts if you think I go wrong.
But the idea that origin of life has been “solved” by scientists is ludicrous. We are not even close. And any reasonable discussion must acknowledge this.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 9:04 am


“For the most part his discussion is uncontroversial…” Numerous reviews and comments appear to indicate the contrary — Meyer’s “discussion” of Abiogenesis research appears to be about as “uncontroversial” as ‘The Hitler Diaries’.
Let’s be blunt, “specified information” and “probabilistic resource” are bogus concepts lacking any information theory or statistical validity. See http://recursed.blogspot.com/2009/10/stephen-meyers-bogus-information-theory.html for a dissection. Likewise the “conservation law” is a mere regurgitation of earlier Dembski humbug — long debunked and oft laughed at.
“…he proposes that the origin of life problem cannot be solved by chance and necessity…” Yet another creationist argument from personal incredulity — Meyer doesn’t understand how it could work, so it can’t work. The trouble is that experts in the area, with greater familiarity with the primary literature, say that it can.
Finally, the claim that “origin of life has been ‘solved’ by scientists” is a strawman. Scientists don’t make this claim, only that a number of promising avenues of enquiry remain open. In fact it is more than likely that a unique ‘this is how it happened’ solution will not be found, and that we’ll be left with multiple ‘this is how it could have happened’ solutions.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 9:13 am


Hrafn,
We could pick at aspects of the discussion in these chapters that seem in error, or that miss the point – certainly there are many.
But that would be a waste of time I think. And Meyer is right when he pokes at the grandiose claims occasionally made by scientists, at least in popular discussion.
As to whether his overall theory makes any sense …. that we will get to in future posts. At best he identifies a gap in current understanding and I don’t see how he can avoid the critique that this is a “God of the gaps” argument. But I will lay this out as we go so that we can actually discuss the salient points along the way.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 9:38 am


Hrafn,
“Specified information” has not entered my discussion yet.
With respect to probabilistic resource – I have not heard the term elsewhere, but I think that the point is the point that I make in my illustrations. Certainly the protein folding problem uses this argument – not for the conclusion of design, but to rule out random sampling as a viable mechanism.



report abuse
 

bob johnson

posted January 21, 2010 at 10:09 am


If you flip 5 coins there always is the possibility they will come up all heads the first time. I don?t put lottery ticks because I think the odds of me winning are to remote but people keep winning millions of dollars. So I don?t think setting up a probability problem and saying there is not enough time for life to happen so since life happened there must be something else other then probability and there for there is a designer.
When you start with the premise life is too compacted to happen naturally or the probability of an event happening is so low then it is easy to conclude there is a designer but it does not prove there is a designer.
One problem with a designer is who designed the designer? Couldn?t the entity that designed the designer just skip the middle man and designed life it self? What created the entity that designed the designer? Is it turtles all the way down?



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 10:12 am


It is not “aspects” that are in error. The “core of Meyer’s case for intelligent design”, as you yourself put it, is a nonsense ‘law’ of William Dembski’s creation, based upon a fatally flawed (and repeatedly debunked) definition of ‘information’ and pseudomathematics that has been dismissed by a prominent mathematician as “written in jello” (as well as numerous other dissections).
Unlike Meyer I have a formal background in Statistics. His “probabilistic resource” is complete nonsense — and appears to bear more than a passing resemblance to Dembski’s ludicrous (and long-debunked) ‘Universal Probability Bound’.
Further, statistical calculations are wholly dependent on precise information as to the probability distributions and relationships being modelled (themselves dependent on a complex interaction of the physical conditions). Anybody who claiming such to be calculable is flat out lying. I could set up a calculation demonstrating that your own existence is impossible, if I permitted myself the same statistical latitude as Meyer (and a long line of ‘evolution is statistically impossible’ creationists before him) does.
Finally what are these “grandiose claims occasionally made by scientists”, and where were they made? Scientists tend to be fairly cautious in their claims — as making unfounded claims tends to damage their reputations.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 21, 2010 at 10:14 am


The Design Spectrum
Hrafn,
You said,

Let’s be blunt, “specified information” and “probabilistic resource” are bogus concepts lacking any information theory or statistical validity.

That link you point to does not support this claim at all. In fact, that blogger at times does not even seem to realize that Meyer is talking about the origin of life problem! (“How does biology magically manage to violate this law?”)
You seem to rely on simplistic dismissal, ridicule, and vague arguments from authority. Absent are cogent arguments based on evidence and sound logic. This seems to be the pattern by those who are attacking Meyer’s book.
What’s the difference between an “argument from personal incredulity” and an “argument based on serious plausibility analysis”? Are you suggesting that we not engage in any plausibility analysis at all? Why don’t you propose a better framework and method?
Why don’t you propose an alternative inference to the best explanation using evidence and good logic?



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 10:18 am


A far bigger problem than “who designed the designer” is the question of exactly what was ‘designed’, how this ‘design’ was implemented, when this implementation occured, what the capabilities of the designer were and/or what the designer’s reasons for this were. Lacking such details the core contention of ID is both vacuous and unfalsifiable.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 21, 2010 at 10:42 am


The Design Spectrum
Hrafn #9,
You suggest that we throw out any design inference until we can answer all the detail questions you raise? That is simply absurd.
But thanks. You demonstrate the kind of absurd logic that plagues much of the scientific community.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 10:43 am


pds:
1) (a) Dembski’s claims about ‘specified information’ and his faux-law (regurgitated by Meyer) have been debunked numerous times and (b) have never been subjected to peer review in any legitimate peer-reviewed Information Theory journal. Why would I feel the need to provide a further argument against it? If you cannot find these denkings for yourself, I’m sure I can scratch up several of them.
2) The difference between an “argument from personal incredulity” and an “argument based on serious plausibility analysis” is that a “serious plausibility analysis” should (i) be performed by somebody who is an expert in the field (so that they are intimately familiar with the primary literature — a familiairty that a number of commentators have called into question vis a vis Meyer and Abiogenesis research) & (ii) be subjected to, and pass, rigorous peer review.
ID is not an “explanation” at all, let alone a potential “best explanation” — as it ‘explains’ nothing’. It provides no explanatory detail on who/where/how/when/why/etc this purported ‘design’ took place.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 10:46 am


“All the detail questions”? No.
ANY of the detail question? Most emphatically!
Because until ID provides AT LEAST SOME detail, it remains both vacuous and untestable.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 10:50 am


Until at least some detail is provided, ID is directly analogous to Russell’s Teapot.



report abuse
 

Robert

posted January 21, 2010 at 11:04 am


@Hrafn
Might be helpful to tone down the rhetoric here.
It?s simply false to say that ID is unfalsifiable. If a random selection mechanism could be naturally identified that explained the information we find in the cell then ID would be false. So let?s be a little more fair here.
In addition, Meyer did not make the argument about flipping a coin, RJS did. I think his point would be more favorably put by the idea of throwing a 1000 piece puzzle into the air and seeing all the pieces land in their designed (or designated if you will) spots. Is it theoretically possible? Sure. But if the amount of time for it occur has not even transpired in the known time of existence, then we have a powerful argument from probability.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 11:26 am


Robert:
1) PDS misrepresented (“all the detail questions you raise”) my comment. That calls for a blunt response.
2) It is not “simply false” to say that “the core contention of ID is … unfalsifiable”. (a) You do not demonstrate how your ‘test’ will falsify the “core contention of ID”, that an undefined designer did undefined things at an undefined time on undefined lifeforms. (b) Your test is malformed in that it does not give reference to (and most probably is meaningless in the context of) any scientifically recognised definition of ‘information’.
3) Whether the explanation is Meyer’s own or RJS’s does not alter the fact that the concept of “probabilistic resource” appears to have neither basis in the field of Statistics nor validity. If you want to argue otherwise, then you are welcome to present statistical texts/journal articles/etc that support it.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 21, 2010 at 11:40 am


The Design Spectrum
Hrafn #11,
You said,

2) The difference between an “argument from personal incredulity” and an “argument based on serious plausibility analysis” is that a “serious plausibility analysis” should (i) be performed by somebody who is an expert in the field (so that they are intimately familiar with the primary literature — a familiairty that a number of commentators have called into question vis a vis Meyer and Abiogenesis research) & (ii) be subjected to, and pass, rigorous peer review.

Great, so who is doing this in the origin of life field? What is their methodology?
Aside from your “arguments from authority” (which is not how science works), you have not shown why Meyer’s methodology is wrong. You have only passionately asserted it, and linked to a blog post that does not support your claim.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 21, 2010 at 11:46 am


hrafn #15,
I did not misrepresent your statement.

A far bigger problem than “who designed the designer” is the question of exactly what was ‘designed’, how this ‘design’ was implemented, when this implementation occured, what the capabilities of the designer were and/or what the designer’s reasons for this were. Lacking such details the core contention of ID is both vacuous and unfalsifiable.

Despite the clarification of what you meant to say, this statement is still logically flawed.



report abuse
 

T

posted January 21, 2010 at 11:46 am


I found this statement most interesting:
“The complexity of a simple cell leads to problems with “probabilistic resource” much larger than that calculated for the protein folding problem. This in turn leads to a conclusion that the origin of life is also governed by both chance and necessity. In some fashion the origin of life is encoded into the natural laws of the universe.
Am I following the argument right to say that the highlighted “conclusion” is almost entirely a restatment of the assumption that there are always natural explanations for everything in the world? I just want to make sure I’m following the thinking.
Regardless, I can see why scientists would legitimately scoff at the suggestion, implied or explicit, that they should just stop researching the question because Meyer or anyone else has concluded there is no more physical explanation left to be found. They clearly should not. But I can also empathize with the folks who have rarely if ever heard statements like these from someone within the scientific community: “formation of life by chance as the textbooks suggest is not a plausible hypothesis,” and “the idea that origin of life has been ‘solved’ by scientists is ludicrous. We are not even close.”
It seems like it is an accurate statement to say that there are–right now–no plausible physical/scientific explanations for the origin of life. If this is the current state of things (excluding for the moment statements of faith from naturalism or theism or anything in between), then I see no reason for presenting anything beyond that statement in scientific textbooks on the issue. Anything beyond that isn’t “science” (unless we want to call scientific assumptions and unproven theories “science.”) Regardless of whether it’s a naturalist or theist or some other flavor, we’re now talking about faith, assumptions and inferences. Once we’ve identified the “gaps” in our scientific knowledge (which is important in and of itself), I see no reason to favor, a priori, naturalist “gap theories” over others.



report abuse
 

Ray Ingles

posted January 21, 2010 at 11:58 am


Robert – a “random selection mechanism”? Please, please, please be careful with your terminology.
Mutations are random. Natural selection is not random. That’s the whole point.
As Hrafn has pointed out, Meyer’s information theory is muddled and ill-defined where it’s not incoherent. On the other hand, when ‘information’ is defined the way it is in actual information theory, the source of “the information we find in the cell” is a lot more clear.
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/11/entropy_and_evolution.php
“Styer also estimates the Earth’s total entropy throughput per second, that is, the total flux involved from absorption of the sun’s energy and re-radiation of heat out into space. It’s a slightly bigger number:
420 x 10^12 J/K
To spell it out, there’s about a trillion times more entropy flux available than is required for evolution.”



report abuse
 

dopderbeck

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm


Here is what I like about all this: the best science available to us seems to suggest that the development of life was not “random” in the colloquial sense of that word. Most people thing “random” means “anything at all goes.” Instead, the development of life was probabilistic. Not “just anything” could have happened.
What I don’t like is this: Myers’ specific argument seems to be a God of the gaps proposal. Also, as others have noted, the specific “filter” he’s using is derived from information theory, which as I understand it presumes the “signal” has some directed content — which assumes what Myers wants to prove.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:07 pm


pds:
1) No scientist would attempt such ludicrously speculative calculations.
2) If you want a genuine expert researching the feasibility of abiogenesis, then I’d suggest Professor Michael Yarus, MCD Biology Dept, University of Colorado Boulder.
3) Suggesting that a “serious plausibility analysis” should be performed by somebody with the expertise and knowledge to competently perform it is not an “argument from authority”.
4) There is nowhere near sufficient information to make a serious attempt — Meyer’s calculation is not so much “wrong” as “not even wrong”. If you want to prove otherwise, then kindly cite (i) the probability distributions used (ii) the dependence relationships assumed & (iii) the basis for making such assumptions.



report abuse
 

RickK

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm


There are many questions in science that have not been solved.
Throughout history, there have been questions about our natural world that have not been solved. Throughout history, the supernatural has been put forward as answers to these questions. Throughout history the supernatural has been wrong.
Stephen Meyer is much more sophisticated in his approach. He has put great energy into his appeal that in this case, a natural phenomenon does not necessarily have a natural cause. Meyer’s motivation to do this is well articulated in “The Wedge”.
But fundamentally, the argument is the same as before: science doesn’t understand this yet, so it must be the creation of a super-entity. And Meyer absolutely avoids discussing in any way the possible nature of this super-entity.
Arthur Clarke said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” A flashlight would be magic to the authors of the Bible. But most of the world’s understanding of technology has caught up enough to realize that flashlights aren’t magic.
Life represents an amazing technology evolved over billions of years. Humanity is working hard to understand that technology, but to some of us, apparently, it is still magic.
Science IS making progress, slowly, in abiogenesis research – much has happened since Miller/Urey. The gap in our understanding will steadily close based on the evidence that it always has before.
And eventually there will be no room for magic, because that’s what’s always happened before.



report abuse
 

Ray Ingles

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:11 pm


T – you write,

It seems like it is an accurate statement to say that there are–right now–no plausible physical/scientific explanations for the origin of life.

Except that’s putting it rather too strongly. We do have some ideas and models about how life may have gotten started that certainly strike me as plausible. (E.g. the “RNA world”.) These models are actively being investigated, and Meyer seems quite unaware of them.
(Quoting from Wikipedia on ‘abiogenesis’, “A new article in Discover Magazine points to research by the Miller group indicating the formation of seven different amino acids and 11 types of nucleobases in ice when ammonia and cyanide were left in a freezer from 1972?1997. This article also describes research by Christof Biebricher showing the formation of RNA molecules 400 bases long under freezing conditions using an RNA template, a single-strand chain of RNA that guides the formation of a new strand of RNA. As that new RNA strand grows, it adheres to the template. The explanation given for the unusual speed of these reactions at such a low temperature is eutectic freezing. As an ice crystal forms, it stays pure: only molecules of water join the growing crystal, while impurities like salt or cyanide are excluded. These impurities become crowded in microscopic pockets of liquid within the ice, and this crowding causes the molecules to collide more often.”)
It’s true that there’s no demonstrated, well-established theory of abiogenesis yet. But there are definitely proposed explanations.

I see no reason to favor, a priori, naturalist “gap theories” over others.

Well, one reason is that, as long as we’ve been keeping track, things have been moving from the “explained via the supernatural” to the “explained without the supernatural” column. I’m not aware of anything moving the other way.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:18 pm


Ray,
Meyer does discuss the RNA world in chapter 15. We will get to this in the next post – next Thursday. Meyer does not think it is a good working hypothesis. I do think it is a good working hypothesis.
But it is also true I think that RNA world, even if a plausible case is built, still leaves a great deal of speculation and uncertainty for the origin of the RNA world.



report abuse
 

RickK

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:23 pm


RJS says: “And Meyer is right when he pokes at the grandiose claims occasionally made by scientists, at least in popular discussion.”
As opposed to the claims of supernatural intervention, which have been grandiose for 2000 years, and have a 100% failure rate?
Meyer is motivated by the desire, in his words, to: “To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.”
The fact that parts of nature look designed prove nothing other than parts of nature look designed.
A natural process that takes a few minutes can make snow formations that look designed:
http://seawayblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/self-rolling-snow-bales.html
A natural process that took millions of years can make a formation on Saturn that looks designed:
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/12/saturn-hexagon/
A natural process that builds cumulatively for 3 billion years can make a formation that looks designed. It is up to science to figure out how.
It is not up to science to point out how complex it all is and declare it must be the work of a divine designer.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:24 pm


Reading through RJS’s explanation the distribution assumed would appear to be an incredibly thin uniform distribution — resulting from the apparent sequential creation, ex nihilo, of each candidate configuration — a situation with no relevance whatsoever to any actual (or even conceivable) avenue of abiogenesis research.



report abuse
 

Robert

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:24 pm


@ Ray
I will stand by my statement but distinguish between that of macro and micro.
I wonder if you or Hfran have even read Meyer’s book or are just ad hoc calling his argument ill-defined. Sounds lazy to me.
@hfan
I have no need to cite journals and articles when you are the one making the assertions. Before dismissing probability resource you must demonstrate that it is broadly conclusive to all this is dead avenue. I am sure you could cite some, but there would be others who would disagree.
If you would like to explain or offer a reason for how something could happen by chance that there has not been enough time for it to occur than I am all ears.



report abuse
 

RickK

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm


A “great deal of speculation and uncertainty” does NOT equate to “a designer”.
…. unless your goal is “replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.”



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:36 pm


Hrafn (#26),
I don’t know why you are arguing with my statement of the protein folding problem – it is simply an argument that says we must consider mechanisms other than random sampling.
The illustration is used to try to give an idea of how such arguments work in the investigation of scientific questions.
RickK (#25),
The fact that scientists sometimes make grandiose claims is not really debatable – it happens. The fact that others also do is also beside the point.
Meyer’s motives are also beside the point here. I want us to look at his arguments and evaluate his arguments. This post is only the beginning.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:36 pm


David O. #20 and RJS #4,
It is not a God of the Gaps argument if you understand the full argument, which has both a positive prong and negative prong. I summarized it here:
http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/the-form-of-design-arguments-from-nature/
A well crafted design argument is not a God of the Gaps argument, and all the leading Christian philosophers agree with me (Willard, Kreeft, Plantinga, etc.).



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:43 pm


pds,
I think that the bottom line is that it is a God of the Gaps argument. But I have not demonstrated that yet. I am sure that we will have some interesting conversations as we work through the book.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm


Robert:
The “assertions” I am making is that “probability resource” has neither acceptance nor validity in mathematics. The former can be demonstrated by its failure to turn up, in the context Meyer is using it, in the mathematical literature (as a quick search appears to demonstrate). The latter is probably unprovable, as PR, like so many other ID concepts, appears to lack a rigorous definition (and thus there is nothing sufficiently solid to disprove (Wolpert’s “written in jello” problem with ID mathematical claims).



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:55 pm


PDS:
Your argument on your blog appears to be deeply flawed.
1) (a) “appear designed” does not mean ‘is designed’. (b) “appear designed” is an extremely subjective evaluation — one that IDers have completely failed to come up with any workable test for.
2) Lacking ANY specific details of the hypothesised ‘design’ process, a natural process, not matter how sketchy, will remain more plausible.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm


RJS #31,
I am curious to know why you think it is, and how you define “God of the Gaps” argument. Do you disagree with the design arguments of Willard, Kreeft, Keller and Collins, or do you think you are being consistent with them?
By the way, I have posted on part of what I mean by “the design spectrum” (and briefly where Francis Collins and Tim Keller fit in) here:
http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/2010/01/21/what-is-the-design-spectrum/
I will elaborate over time. Would love your thoughts.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 1:17 pm


RJS (29):
1) My point was that nobody thinks that proteins come into existence that way, so the probability calculation is meaningless. Also, it misses the point that many such ‘trials’ are performed in (at times massive) parallel, and with often an inscrutably large number of possible paths to a ‘success’.
2) What “grandiose claims” relevant to this discussion have scientists made?



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm


A detailed dissection of ‘probabilistic resources’ and related ID mathematical arguments can be found here: http://www.talkorigins.org/design/faqs/nfl/



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 1:47 pm


Hrafn,
Actually each protein folds quickly (no massive parallel attempts) – generally within a fraction of a second and there are very few pathways to success. Some 40 years ago random sampling was proposed to play a major role – but this cannot be (and is not) the case. The general hypothesis today is a free energy funnel with relatively few traps and relatively few ultimate minima.
Protein folding occurs by a combination of random sampling and natural law where the natural law is in the weak van der Waal’s interactions and hydrogen bonding interactions of the amino acid chain.
The questions to ask about evolution and origin of life are in some respects similar … is a combination of natural law and chance sufficient? If so how?
Meyer argues that a combination of natural law and chance is insufficient and we will look at his argument.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm


RJS (36):
1) “no massive parallel attempts” implies that there is only a single protein strand in existence at any one time in the universe. you’ll pardon me if I don’t take that assumption seriously.
2) Meyer (i) has not evaluated every conceivable “combination of natural law and chance” (the set of which would be near infinite) and (ii) serious questions have been raised about whether he has sufficient expertise to evaluate the few combinations he has considered. (iii) In any case the ‘sufficiency’ of “natural law” (natural selection and genetic drift) and chance (mutation, recombination and genetic flow) to explain evolution have been documented in exhaustive detail. There is also a vast difference between the two fields in that abiogenesis has almost no hard facts to constrain speculation, whereas evolution has a vast mountain of such facts — which constraints mean that any refinement of the Theory of Evolution will, of necessity, bear a striking resemblance to its predecessors.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 2:33 pm


URLs seem to get a post shuffled into the moderation queue, so I’ll repeat an earlier one without the URL.
A dissection of the concept of “probabilistic resources” and the related ID mathematical arguments can be found in an article by Richard Wein on TalkOrigins Archive titled ‘Not a Free Lunch But a Box of Chocolates’ (people should have no problems using Google to search for it).



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 2:34 pm


Hrafn,
I took your statement about “massive parallel attempt” to mean that given a large number some will fold.
But reality is that almost every single one will fold. so it is a massive parallel attempt with a “near unity” success rate, not that some will fold but that almost all will fold. This then led to the rest of my comment.
I think – but cannot prove – that the origin of life is probably also the kind of thing where given the right conditions there is a near unit probability for life to develop. Many think otherwise – and this is a question for discussion.



report abuse
 

Ray Ingles

posted January 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm


RJS – You’re right, I overstated. Meyer does seem aware of some of the models. However, he seems to be “quite unaware” of roughly the last decade of work on those models.
This article specifically claims that:
arrowthroughthesun.blogspot.com/2009/11/book-review-signature-in-cell.html
More information on that recent work:
pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/07/what-critics-of.html



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm


pds (#34)
I will elaborate as we continue the discussion of Meyer’s book – and I am sure that you (and others) will challenge at times. But that is how a good discussion works.



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted January 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm


The prion is a window into the evolution – and possible origin – of modern proteins:
Prion protein: Evolution caught en route, PNAS, February 7, 2001
The prion protein displays a unique structural ambiguity in that it can adopt multiple stable conformations under physiological conditions. In our view, this puzzling feature resulted from a sudden environmental change in evolution when the prion, previously an integral membrane protein, got expelled into the extracellular space. Analysis of known vertebrate prions unveils a primordial transmembrane protein encrypted in their sequence, underlying this relocalization hypothesis. Apparently, the time elapsed since this event was insufficient to create a ?minimally frustrated? sequence in the new milieu, probably due to the functional constraints set by the importance of the very flexibility that was created in the relocalization. This scenario may explain why, in a structural sense, the prion protein is still en route toward becoming a foldable globular protein.
Just a few weeks ago, the Scripps Research Institute demonstrated that prions can evolve:
Charles Weissmann, head of Scripps Florida’s department of infectology who led the study, said: “On the face of it, you have exactly the same process of mutation and adaptive change in prions as you see in viruses.
“This means that this pattern of Darwinian evolution appears to be universally active. In viruses, mutation is linked to changes in nucleic acid sequence that leads to resistance. Now, this adaptability has moved one level down- to prions and protein folding – and it’s clear that you do not need nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) for the process of evolution.”
Of course Stephen Meyer was likely unaware of this discovery at the time he wrote the book.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 2:49 pm


RJS (39)
No, my main point is that the “upper limit for sampling each conformation” sequentially provides no real insight as potential occurrences of the origin of life (i) would be massively parallel (as it would happening everywhere with the hypothesised environment) (ii) would not have a uniform distribution (as not all chemical combinations/bonds/reactions are equally likely), (iii) would probably be better modelled by a Markov Process than a single probability (as they would occur by a chain of reactions) & (iv) most probably have multiple differentiable outcomes that would result in (possibly very different) viable proto-lifeforms.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm


Hrafn,
Quite likely.
But the example wasn’t meant to be a direct analogy to origin of life. Rather it was intended to get across to an audience of people with little science background how we can think about complex problems and how chance and law can play a role. There is a certain element of chance in how a bond samples the available configuration space. But there is a great deal of law in how the protein ultimately folds.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 3:10 pm


RJS (44):
The problem is that the described situation has nothing in common with how scientists actually think about “complex problems and how chance and law can play a role” (which quoted description is itself highly divergent from how scientists actually think about their work). “Chance and law” is a framing of William Dembski and has no discernable commonality to how actual SETI scientists/anthropologists/forensic scientists actually work. For one thing “chance” itself has a wide variety of laws, which is the basis of the highly varied and complex field of Statistics.



report abuse
 

Mike Beidler

posted January 21, 2010 at 3:14 pm


The signature’s not in the cell. The signature’s in the person of Jesus Christ. Meyers’ God is one who can’t create human beings via the very natural laws He enacted at the beginning of time. What’s wrong with God’s created cosmos having the capability of evolving intelligent life on its own without interference?



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm


Let’s take a concrete example of the problem of the “chance and law” framing. How would you apply it to discerning whether an ‘image’ of Jesus on a burnt piece of toast (or substitute similar example from news) is a miracle or not. It ‘appears to be Jesus’ would appear to be directly analogous to it “appears to be designed”. The problem is that the actual probability of a toast-burn ‘looking like Jesus’ is a complex (to the point of inscrutability) problem involving such issues as human pattern recognition, variation in depiction of Jesus in art, probability of each type of toaster (or toasting method) burning toast, and the typical patterns of such burns, etc, etc. The paradigm is quite simply unworkable.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm


Hrafn,
I don’t understand your point.
I am a scientist – and I had a colleague who for many years started his lectures on protein folding roughly as I’ve outlined (without connection to origin of life). What is the problem? (A distinctly irreligious colleague by the way.)
Isn’t the goal of origin of life research to try to understand the underlying laws and conditions that allowed life to develop? And isn’t it also true that there is a certain amount of “chance” that is involved in the process?



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm


Hrafn (#47),
Ah – but when you bring in the question of discerning design you are jumping ahead. This isn’t what I am talking about in this post.
Next week we will look at the RNA world chapter, and the following week we will look at Meyer’s argument for design – or at least start to look at his argument for design.
Mike (#46)
I agree.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 3:40 pm


My “point” is that your example is a bit like trying to explain poker by calculating the number of potential card combinations that could occur from a deal. Although not actually “wrong” it offers no actual insight.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm


RJS (49):
No, we are EXACTLY talking about issues you raised above:
1) How the paradigm of “chance and law” can be applied to the toast-Jesus. (Please feel free to suggest another example, if you like.)
2) How to measure the “specified information” content of the toast-Jesus. (Has any ID advocate calculated the “specified information” content of any real-world object or artifact?)
3) Whether a non-intelligent process can add “information” to the surface of the toast.



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted January 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm


Mike Beidler,
The Discovery Institute (the force behind ID) terms what you describe as “frontloading.”
Intelligent Design, Front-Loading, and Theistic Evolution
Third, even if it’s possible for God to frontload things in this way, it hardly follows that this is a better explanation than the one Steve proposes, which is (at least implicitly) (1) that matter shows degrees of freedom inconsistent with such complete front-loading and (2) that intelligence plays an active and detectable role within cosmic history, and probably is not limited in the way proposed (or suggested) by Conway Morris and others.
The Discovery Institute is ideologically opposed to any explanation that contradicts their advocacy of an God who intervenes in the process of life’s development:
Is Darwinian Evolution Compatible with Religion?
There is, however, another way to try to resolve the tension between Darwinism and religion. Darwinian evolution, strictly speaking, begins after the first life has developed, and so I agree with Larry Arnhart that it does not necessarily refute the claim that there may be some kind of ?first cause? to the universe that stands outside of ?nature.? But this ?first cause? allowable by Darwinism seems incompatible with the God of the Bible. It cannot be a God who actively supervises or directs the development of life. The most it could do is to set up the interplay between chance and necessity, and then watch to see what the interplay produces. Such an absentee God is hard to reconcile with any traditional Judeo-Christian conception of a God who actively directs and cares for His creation. In the end, the effort to reconcile Darwinism with traditional Judeo-Christian theism remains unpersuasive.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 3:53 pm


Hrafn (#50),
We will get to these issues, but then I think you will actually find that we agree in explaining why Meyer is unconvincing.
All I am trying to do today is set the problem up stepwise.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm


“It cannot be a God who actively supervises or directs the development of life.”
I don’t think that this is an accurate description. I think it would be more accurate to say that ‘it cannot be a God whose supervision or direction of the development of life is scientifically discernible.’ As long as the God hypothesised is sufficiently subtle, He can supervise/direct without leaving obvious fingerprints — just as His hypothesised supervision or direction of modern people’s lives is generally assumed not to be scientifically discernible.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 4:11 pm


RJS (53):
The trouble is that a large amount of the ‘set up’ involves concepts whose validity goes directly to validity of the argument as a whole.
If one accepts that concepts such as ‘probabilistic resource’, ‘specified information’, ‘law of conservation of information’, and even the simplistic ‘law and chance’ paradigm, then Meyer has gotten a good way towards winning his argument. None of these concepts appear to hold water, and all have been debunked (most of them years ago — Wein covered much of this material in 2002), so admitting them as undisputed ‘set up’ appears to be premature.



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted January 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm


As long as the God hypothesised is sufficiently subtle, He can supervise/direct without leaving obvious fingerprints
Hrafn,
I agree, but that is a losing proposition for the Discovery Institute:
The first option is to insist that evolution is indeed guided by God, but that His guidance is hidden from us. In other words, while the development of life may appear to be the product of chance and necessity, it is in fact following a plan that we cannot detect. This is the view promoted by Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, in his recent book The Language of God … While Collins? view is logically compatible with the idea that God actively guides the development of His creation, it is still in tension with the traditional Biblical understanding of God. Both the Old and New Testaments teach that human beings can recognize God?s handiwork in nature through their own observations rather than special divine revelation.



report abuse
 

dopderbeck

posted January 21, 2010 at 4:23 pm


PDS (#30) — The argument you link to on your blog is not what I understand to be the argument from the OOL problem that RJS outlined in the post. The argument from the OOL problem, it seems to me, reverses the first two points in your syllogism, as follows:
1. It can’t have been random.
2. It looks designed.
3. Ergo, it must be designed.
Even if we make “It looks designed” the first proposition, I don’t see how that takes it out of the category of a gap argument. The bottom line is that “evidence” for “design” depends on a gap in “natural” causation. This fails to take seriously the doctrine of creation and the notion of secondary causes, IMHO.
I appreciate that some Christian philosophers have argued that this is not a gap argument. They’re smart people, but they all tend to come from a particular sort of Thomistic outlook that isn’t by any stretch the only viable form of Christian philosophy (except for Plantinga who comes at it from a very non-Thomistic perspective). And even then, I really don’t understand why any Thomist would have such a problem with the notion of secondary causes.



report abuse
 

dopderbeck

posted January 21, 2010 at 4:25 pm


RHampton (#56): wow, I’d never seen that quote before. It’s theological and exegetical balderdash, IMHO, unless its very carefully qualified in such a way that it no longer serves the DI’s purposes. Have these people ever read any of the Reformers?



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 21, 2010 at 4:31 pm


dopderbeck and R Hampton,
I would say that the Old and New Testaments teach that human beings can recognize God?s handiwork in nature through their own observation. But recognize here does not mean empirical scientific proof – rather the way we recognize beauty in either a fine painting or a mountain meadow.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm


The Design Spectrum
RJS and David O. ##58 and 59,
RJS said,

I would say that the Old and New Testaments teach that human beings can recognize God?s handiwork in nature through their own observation. But recognize here does not mean empirical scientific proof – rather the way we recognize beauty in either a fine painting or a mountain meadow.

I would say “both and” not “either or.” But I find Meyer’s logic to be more persuasive and edifying than “a mountain meadow.” We are all different members in the body with different plausibility structures.
What does Paul mean in Romans 1:20? I really don’t think any of us should make absolute statements that he does not mean what Meyer is talking about.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 21, 2010 at 5:23 pm


The Design Spectrum
David #57,
Are you talking about RJS’s argument or Meyer’s?
Prong #1 is an argument from analogy, not from a gap. DNA and its functioning in a cell looks like the things we know are designed.
I think we sometimes overlook this part of the argument because it is so obvious and based on common sense. Just because something conforms to common sense does not make it wrong (!)
I assume you have seen this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fiJupfbSpg



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 21, 2010 at 11:43 pm


PDS (62):
“It can’t have been random” is certainly a ‘gap’ argument. Further, ‘it looks like it was designed’ is a highly subjective assessment. Finally, nature is full of phenomena that ‘look designed’ at first glance, but for which there is a natural explanation for their regularity.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 22, 2010 at 6:56 am


Hrafn 63,
“It can’t have been random” is dopderbeck’s formulation. As you know, mine is here (and it is a very short summary of the form of the argument):
http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/the-form-of-design-arguments-from-nature/
I put that up mainly to show that design arguments, taken as a whole, including Francis Collins’, are not inherently God of the Gaps arguments.
Are you suggesting that we not weigh the plausibility of proposed naturalistic explanations? As Meyer shows, inferring causes based on plausibility is what science does all the time.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 22, 2010 at 9:37 am


PDS (64):
Your words: “The known natural processes are not sufficient to produce the feature, or it is not plausible that the natural processes produced the feature.” This purported (but in fact totally fictitious) ‘insufficiency’ is EXACTLY the “gap” that you are attempting to create so that you can fill it with your intelligent designer aka God. Intelligent designer of the insufficiency or God of the Gaps — it is exactly the same thing.
As I have already explicitly stated (@33, not ‘suggested’) ANY naturalistic explanation is more plausible than ID’s ‘Russell’s Teapot’ claim “that an undefined designer did undefined things at an undefined time on undefined lifeforms” (to use my wording @15).
Unless and until IDers come up with SOME specific details for their claim., rendering it testable, it remains as plausible as ‘faeries did it’ or “turtles all the way down”.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 22, 2010 at 10:38 am


In fact, given the lack of specifics, we cannot be certain that the “undefined designer” wasn’t a raccoon. We know that raccoons have existed at various times, so it is perfectly conceivable that one existed at an “undefined time”, we know that raccoons interact with other lifeforms, so it could conceivably have done “undefined things” to “undefined lifeforms”. Until we have, at the very least, enough specifics to rule out the raccoon, I would suggest that the hypothesis lacks any credibility.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 22, 2010 at 11:01 am


Hrafn,
You have quite a curious plausibility structure.
I find it remarkable how dogmatic materialists can be.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 22, 2010 at 11:15 am


PDS (67):
My “plausibility structure” is not nearly as idiosyncratic as ID’s dogmatically anti-science one, which appears to be that any naturalistic explanation must be ‘insufficient’ (no matter how Procrustian the argument for insufficiency is) and that a perfectly vacuous (in that it has exactly zero specific content) alternative hypothesis is “plausible” by comparison.



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted January 22, 2010 at 1:55 pm


pds,
Hrafn is correct. Note that the Discovery Institute’s strategy is not to have Intelligent Design taught in public schools, but to highlight the unknown regarding Evolution (a.k.a teach the controversy – and might I add those are some fine t-shirts!).
“[the] Discovery Institute does not support efforts to require the teaching of intelligent design in public schools”, September 21, 2005
If ID were truly scientifically and legally a defensible “theory”, then the Discovery Institute would indeed be calling for its inclusion in public schools. It’s a tacit admission by the DI’s that they do not have the evidence to withstand scrutiny. Instead they offer Christian apologetics to those who might be persuaded to accept a scientific explanation for the natural world.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 22, 2010 at 2:04 pm


R Hampton:
Actually, the DI only started advocating ‘Teach the Controversy’ (and its close relatives ‘Critical Analysis of Evolution’ and ‘Strengths and Weaknesses of Evolution’) after the wheels came off the idea of teaching ID in schools. Prior to this they actually published a book on why they thought it was constitutional to teach ID.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 22, 2010 at 2:13 pm


The book in question was ‘Darwinism, design, and public education’ (2003), John Angus Campbell, Stephen C. Meyer.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 22, 2010 at 2:17 pm


Also ‘Law, Darwinism, and Public Education: The Establishment Clause and the Challenge of Intelligent Design (2003), Francis J. Beckwith



report abuse
 

Unaplogetic Catholic

posted January 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm


For what it’s worth, the earliest DI sponsored effort was the guidebook for teaching intellgient design in school, published in 1999 and based on a Utah Law Review article.
http://arn.org/docs/dewolf/guidebook.htm
Curiously, it seems to have disappeared frm the Discovery Institute website after the Dover debacle.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm


RJS,
You sure do attract the DI bashers. So much misinformation, so little time.
I thought we were talking about Meyer, his book and the arguments he makes. All his critics seem to want to talk about something else.



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted January 22, 2010 at 4:17 pm


Stephen C. Meyer is director of the Discovery Institute?s Center for Science and Culture and a founder both of the intelligent design movement and of the Discovery Institute?s Center for Science & Culture.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 22, 2010 at 4:27 pm


R Hampton and Hrafn,
We are, most of us anyway, well aware of Meyer’s background, employer, and position.
Nonetheless I would like to consider his arguments here unfettered by collateral information. If they are flawed they won’t stand up to examination.
This is an open forum, we welcome (civil) input pointing out the flaws or strengths as we get to his arguments. Actually this is one of the advantages of this forum – generally someone with expertise is able to shed some light on the discussion.
Please stick to the topic. Comments that stray too far (especially long comments) will be “unpublished.”



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm


R Hampton,
I know Meyer’s position too. Misinformation about Meyer’s organization is not helpful.



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted January 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm


pds,
I’m quoting straight from the Discovery Institute and Stephen Meyer. If you believe I am in error, please be specific.



report abuse
 

Steve A

posted January 22, 2010 at 6:49 pm


RJS–thanks for this series and your patience with all of us! On the protein folding question–I’m confused. Are you saying that virtuallly every protein folds the same way? Or does a given protein fold in different ways at different times to accomplish different goals? If it always folds the same way, then I could see trying to describe a “chance plus law” explanation. If it does different things at different times, then the failure of randomness seems very tough to explain. Can you help?
thanks!
Steve



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted January 22, 2010 at 7:36 pm


Steve A,
In my first post on this thread is evidence that prions do just that. Until now prions (misfolded versions of the brain protein PrP) were regarded as more stable than viruses, but the Scripps Research Institute’s discovered that they mutate and adapt just as readily. Prions reproduce by converting normal proteins into copies of themselves. The “twist” to the news is that, while the amino acid sequence remains unchanged, “their already abnormal structures become increasingly twisted” Natural selection then works so that the more successful “mutants” reproduce, passing on the new folding scheme. The team at Scripts were even able to calculate the frequency: “one swa-resistant prion will emerge for every one million new prions that are formed.”



report abuse
 

Unapologetic Catholic

posted January 22, 2010 at 8:22 pm


Ingnore my previous psot and delete please.
Here an intelligible version:
“Meyer takes this one step further – he proposes that the origin of life problem cannot be solved by chance and necessity (i.e. the kind of combination of random sampling and natural law proposed for protein folding), but in fact requires design at the level of the information content of the first cell.”
Any time you use the the words “cannot” and “requires” you are essentially making a god fo the gaps argument.
His hypothesis is that the “probabilistic resource” of the universe is insufficient for life to have developed from self-organization operating under the laws of chemistry and physics.
Without a workable definition of “probabilistic resource” the conclusion is unsupported and unwarranted.
“Do you think that the origin of life is evidence for a designer and where would you see this evidence for design?”
Do I think it “is” evidence for a designer? No. Could it be? Yes, but as multiple people ahve pointed out, the question of how life started is still an open question with a lot of fruitful work still to do.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 23, 2010 at 12:19 am


RJS (76):
The problem is that “his arguments” are mostly simply a regurgitation of William Dembski’s arguments in ‘No Free Lunch’ (2002).
These arguments have been debunked (see for example the Wein article cited above) and have garnered no acceptance from the Information Theory community.
Further, the concepts that Dembski creates are fatally informal (as UC@81 suggests). David Wolpert, the co-discoverer of the No Free Lunch theorems, states of the book: “Like monographs on any philosophical topic in the first category, Dembski’s is written in jello. There simply is not enough that is firm in his text, not sufficient precision of formulation, to allow one to declare unambiguously ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when reading through the argument. All one can do is squint, furrow one’s brows, and then shrug.”



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 23, 2010 at 12:50 am


Hrafn,
I know many people – educated Christians, although not scientists, who take Meyer’s argument seriously (and Dembski for that matter). What is the best approach to showing them what I think is wrong with Meyer’s argument?
Starting a conversation on the ideas and entering into that conversation as friends over coffee…
Or continually stating that the argument is flawed and using ridicule and appeal to authority? Railing against the Discovery Institute? I don’t think that these work.
I am trying the first – starting a conversation.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 23, 2010 at 2:16 am


RJS (83):
Are you, your “educated Christians”, or Meyer himself, experts on Information Theory, such that you are qualified to evaluate the validity of Dembski’s mathematical claims? Do any of you have sufficient expertise to discern the difference between a rigorously-defined informational or mathematical concept and a woolly one? Do any of you have enough mathematical expertise to discern the difference between a valid mathematical conclusion and a subtly-invalid one?
(i) I have some mathematical background (an undergraduate degree), not enough to attempt a formal disproof of Dembski’s claims (even if such were possible, and Wolpert thinks they are too informal to disprove), but enough to intuit that there is something profoundly wrong with them (especially his ‘Law of Conservation of Information’). (ii) A number of well-regarded experts (e.g. Wolpert and Shallit — I’m not sure what Wein’s mathematical qualifications are) have dissected and dismissed Dembski’s claims. (iii) These claims have never been submitted to legitimate peer review. (iv) Dembski has never provided a real-world example of how his concepts would yield workable results.
I think these four points sum to sufficient reason to question whether Dembski’s informational claims (regurgitated by Meyer) form any solid basis for any further discussion of the viability of abiogenesis or evolution.
Do you actually claim sufficient mathematical of understanding of ‘probabilistic resource’, ‘specified information’ or the ‘law of conservation of information’ to claim them to be rigorous concepts, in the teeth of experts statements to the contrary?
If you do, then I look forward to your answers to my ‘toast’ post — which should not be a problem for anybody with such an understanding.
If not, then I would suggest that our “conversation as friends over coffee” needs to avoid relying on these disputed (and in fact discredited) concepts. But I’m not sure that this leaves anything of Meyer’s argument in tact.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 23, 2010 at 2:44 am


On my point (i) above, my intuitions are that:
1) Contrary to the LoCoI, information is naturally created all the time — the temperature at a given place at a given time, the result of a sexual recombination at conception, etc, etc, etc. I would question therefore if any definition of ‘information’ that is ‘conserved’ is a valid one.
2) (a) If information is ‘specified’ then its informational content is limited — as it can contain no more information than is contained in this specification. This renders the oft-used phrase ‘complex specified information’ oxymoronic. (b) The specification itself would appear to be entirely subjective and largely arbitrary — rather than inherent and objective, as would be needed for the concept to have any scientific validity.
3) Reading Dembski’s definition of ‘probabilistic resource’ (NFL p19), it appears to be both (a) completely vague and informal and (b) a complete misrepresentation and gross oversimplification of how the field of Statistics actually works. I cannot imagine any of my Statistics lecturers ever presenting such material, it is so lacking in rigour or relevance.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 23, 2010 at 3:15 am


Relating to my point 2(b) above, ‘specified information’ can be considered to be an employment of the ‘Texas Sharpshooter’ logical fallacy.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 23, 2010 at 8:49 am


Hrafn,
Actually I have an undergraduate degree with majors in chemistry and mathematics, a Ph.D. in chemistry, and quantum mechanics is my favorite course to teach (undergraduate through graduate levels).
I do not think that the information theory concepts as applied by Meyer and Dembski hold up to scrutiny.
The concept of specified information and the role this plays in the discussion of evolution (after we have the first cell) is completely wrong.
The conservation law Meyers poses (from Dembski) does not hold up to analysis.
The idea of “probabilistic resource” (although not with that exact term) is used by “real” scientists to rule out potential mechanisms. The protein folding problem is one such case.
But if I stop here – and don’t actually dissect the book, at least some, – then our friends at the table are left with evaluating the arguments based on choice of believable authority – do they trust me or Meyer? It also does not help anyone understand the real issues on the table.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 23, 2010 at 10:15 am


RJS:
1) My problem was that you presented the concepts without dissecting them — meaning that they are still “on the table” and we would go into any argument built upon them with the incorrect understanding that they were valid building blocks.
2) I could see how some analogue of “probabilistic resource” might be used as some informal/rule-of-thumb ‘back of a matchbook’ test to see if an experiment is worth doing. I would however doubt if it would find its way through to the formal statistical analysis section of the writeup, and for it to be meaningful, it needs to take account of population size (e.g. are you experimenting on a dozen rats or a million bacteria) and probability distribution (e.g. are all folds equally likely).



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 23, 2010 at 11:29 am


The Design Spectrum
RJS and David O.,
Re my comment #34 and RJS’s #42,
One more thing. It seems to me that you are the one making the logical fallacy. To assert a “God of the Gaps” logical fallacy when there is none is its own logical fallacy.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 23, 2010 at 11:36 am


The Design Spectrum
hrafn,
What’s your academic background? Your comment in #9 was so wildly illogical that I began to suspect that you were some kind of crank. Now I can’t figure you out.
Are you still standing by your “logic” in #9?



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 23, 2010 at 1:11 pm


PDS:
1) I have already stated my relevant background (@84 — an undergraduate degree in mathematics, specialising in statistics as it happens).
2) My comment @9 expresses a widely held (among the scientific community) criticism of ID. All ID states is that ‘intelligent design did it’ (with no explanation whatsoever as to what “it” is, let alone anything about when/how/etc it happened). It is without content (i.e. “vacuous”) and therefore also unfalsifiable (as there is nothing concrete there to falsify). Yes, I stand by it.
3) Given your fanatical devotion to arguing in favour of long-discredited pseudoscience, I find your ‘suspicion’ to be ludicrous. The ID movement is the very definition of crankdom.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm


PDS (89):
As I stated before (@65): “Intelligent designer of the insufficiency or God of the Gaps — it is exactly the same thing.” There is most certainly a fallacy there.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 23, 2010 at 1:51 pm


Hrafn #92,
What’s the fallacy? Can you articulate it? Can you show how Meyer is guilty of this fallacy?
Your comment in #9 contains an obvious logical fallacy. If it is widely held in the scientific community, that is an embarrassment to it.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 23, 2010 at 2:12 pm


PDS (93):
I articulated it @65.
If it’s a logical fallacy then specify which fallacy. In actuality, my first point (“vacuous”=”Not properly filled out or developed”) is definitional and my second (“unfalsifiable”) is obvious (as you cannot falify a proposition with no contents).



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 23, 2010 at 2:15 pm


(actually “vacuous”=”Devoid of content or substance” would probably be the more apt definition)



report abuse
 

Unapologetic Catholic

posted January 23, 2010 at 3:13 pm


RJS observes accurately, “I know many people – educated Christians, although not scientists, who take Meyer’s argument seriously (and Dembski for that matter). What is the best approach to showing them what I think is wrong with Meyer’s argument??
Good point. I wonder that too. RJS has patiently been addressing the deficiencies in ID for at least several months. As a scientist and a Christian, RJS has a lot to offer in this respect.
It is my experience that ID is accepted nearly without question in Christian circles. There are several reasons for this, including the DI’s propaganda campaign, the unnecessary injection of good science into the “culture wars” phenomenon and, last but not least, the craven, gutless and immoral actions of a number of ministers and clergy who fail to minister to their flocks by dodging the question of evolution and its impact on religion. William Dembski, of all people, was declared a heretic for identifying himself as an old earth creationist and was forced to argue that old earth creationism, even if a minority view in the Southern Baptist denomination, was not “heretical.” In essence he was ironically criticized for not being wrong enough to be a young earth creationist.
http://oursovereignjoy.blogspot.com/2009/12/book-review-william-dembskis-end-of.html?showComment=1262796237570#c3180405680925148037
Imagine if he had argued Behe’s position that common descent of all life on earth is well established and common ancestry of humans and other primates is confirmed! I can’t overstate the impressive efforts of Scot, RJs and others who have the integrity and confidence in their faith to wrestle with these ideas at the Jesus Creed.
The educated Christians that RJS speaks of are usually completely unaware of the extent to which ID and all other forms of creationism have been devastated by science today. If they begin to explore this subject they can find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information on evolution and are shocked to discover that evolution is light years ahead of “Intelligent Design? and that science has voluminous evidence to support it contradicting anything offered by ID. The DI is acting “sciencey” and uses “sciencey” vocabulary without actually doing any science. That deceptive conduct is not immediately apparent to an intelligent but uninformed person just beginning to delve into this subject.
RJS suggests that ridicule and appeal to authority is not persuasive to intelligent but uninformed newcomers to this subject. RJS has undertaken a considered strategy of taking “bite sized? chunks of the debate so that the audience of intelligent educated and uninformed Christians can digest the volume of the material more easily and convince themselves of the status of the science as they become more informed.
I think this is a wise course of action and I encourage commenters to directly answer the questions posed by RJS. Direct calm informative answers are most likely to be received and understood by the audience that RJS and Scot seek to reach.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm


Unapologetic Catholic,
Well, I don’t like your use of the adjectives craven, gutless, or immoral … these are rather unnecessary in the conversation – and are generally incorrect. Most are trying to do the right thing and do not know enough or are caught in a bind walking a line. It is a tough problem today.
But you get the approach…bite size chunks for conversation. Something like the approach Scot discusses in his post on The Stance I take except that I step in and give my views much more often than he does.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 23, 2010 at 5:34 pm


Hrafn #94,
You did not articulate what the fallacy is, and you did not show how Meyer is guilty of it.



report abuse
 

EricG

posted January 23, 2010 at 5:41 pm


I think we’re very lucky to have someone with RJS’s expertise — and, importantly, patience — to walk through these issues. That’s a rare combination. (Way, way more patience with ID than I have).



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 23, 2010 at 11:25 pm


PDS (98):
All ID argumentation is a ‘God of the Gaps’ fallacy. It purports that there is some ‘gap’, ‘insufficiency’ or ‘plausibility problem’ in evolution and/or abiogenesis and then (via a logical fallacy known as a false dilemma) attempts to offer the bald assertion of ‘intelligent design’ as the only alternative. This is why ID spends ALL its time discussing what it claims evolution/abiogenesis couldn’t do, and none on what it claims its intelligent designer could.
The entirety of Meyer’s SitC is an attempt to create such a ‘gap’, as were Dembski’s books (‘The Design Inference’ through to ‘No Free Lunch’), Behe’s (Darwin’s Black Box’ and ‘The Edge of Evolution’) and Johnson’s ‘Darwin on Trial’.
I note that you have failed to identify any specific fallacy in my statement that ID is vacuous and unfalsifiable.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 23, 2010 at 11:59 pm


UC (96):
I fail to discern the utility of presenting “‘bite sized’ chunks of the debate” from the ID perspective without presenting the scientific evidence and/or (in the case of recycled arguments) pre-existing scientific dissections rebutting it. This makes for a very one-sided “debate”.
This is why I’ve been attempting to present the scientific side — first, for brevity (and because it lies outside my expertise), by citing dissections, and then (because of claims of ‘argument from authority’) by presenting my own (imperfect) intuitions on the subject.



report abuse
 

unapologetic catholic

posted January 24, 2010 at 12:22 am


@ RJS
I accept your chastisement for the distracting comments. I’ll reserve my opportunity to discuss the moral objections to even innocent or uninfomed misrepresentations of science from the pulpit for a later time when such comments are related to the post.
@ Hrafn
Don’t make the mistake of assuming the RDS’s calm discussion means that RJS is an ID supporter. I suspect RJS is just giving Steven Meyer enough rope to hang himself later. It’s much more effective when the destruction is self inflicted.
I think you can figure out for yourself the utility of dealing with some of the other commenters here.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 24, 2010 at 12:39 am


UC:
RJS’s original post certainly gave that impression, although his comments since have disabused it. I would give more credence to the “giving Steven Meyer enough rope to hang himself later” hypothesis, if I could discern any evidence of a noose forming (this is after all the fourth post on the topic). Also, such a strategy always had the strong possibility that a commenter would beat him to the punch.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 24, 2010 at 1:05 am


Drawing my discussions with UC & PDS together, I would point out that we have seen no purported “evidence of intelligent design” (which RJS’s original post led us to expect), only purported evidence against current abiogenesis hypotheses.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 24, 2010 at 1:26 am


Going back to RJS’s original post:
1) The fact that science-as-taught is in some ways outdated, inaccurate and/or over-simplified does not invalidate the underlying science. Schools still teach Newtonian mechanics (outdated, inaccurate and over-simplified), but this does not in some way invalidate relativistic mechanics.
Is RJS aware that scientists (e.g. Hanic et al 1998) have successfully replicated the original Miller-Urey (NH3/CH4) experiments with CO2/N2/H20?
2) What is more “conducive to” primitive/proto-life than “goo”? I would have thought that various forms of goo (e.g. pond scum, slime, etc, etc) would be close to ideal. Can RJS suggest a naturally occurring environment more closely analogous to a laboratory agar plate used for culturing microscopic life?



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 24, 2010 at 7:22 am


http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/
Hrafn #100,
Your explanation of the God of the Gaps fallacy is not very clear. Curious that you link it to the “false dilemma” fallacy.
Your comments on Meyer and ID show that you do not understand his argument in its full and strongest form. I agree that your straw man version of Meyer is getting close to a GotG fallacy.
Your comment in #9 states that a design inference is “vacuous” unless it also contains lots of details that you would really like to know. You have not shown that a design inference, on its own, is “vacuous.” I find it momentous. I can understand why many might find it disconcerting.
You falsify ID by showing a plausible naturalistic pathway. Many ID critics have claimed that this has been done.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted January 24, 2010 at 7:40 am


pds,
That is exactly why I think ID is at its root a gap argument – you falsify ID by showing “natural” mechanism. It has not already been done for everything, but why would anyone want to pin “faith” on such a proposal?
Hrafn,
I see two aspects at work in the thinking of Meyer and Dembski.
The first is the question of abiogenesis – how does a molecular soup become protolife? They claim that the information had to come from somewhere – and couldn’t arise from self organization operating under the laws of chemistry and physics. I think this is a gap argument – but we also shouldn’t give the impression that it is anything close to a “solved problem.”
The second question relates to evolution of species once a protolife is present. Their claims about information conservation are also used to cast doubt on the possibility that natural evolutionary mechanisms could lead to the diversity of life we see. They defend an old earth progressive creation position. The argument is on even thinner ground here. We are, I think, much closer to real proposals for “natural” mechanism.
But I will lay out the arguments as we continue through the book.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 24, 2010 at 7:45 am


PDS:
1) The GotG explanation is perfectly clear. You seem to be the only one unable to grasp it. I am also not the first to link the ID argument to a false dilemma — Judge Jones also did so in his decision (and I suspect he was not the first).
2) Your claim that my dismissal of of Meyer’s regurgitation of Dembski’s ‘No Free Lunch’ jello as “you do not understand” is contradicted by the fact that commentators who, unlike Dembski and Meyer, are genuine experts in Information Theory, agree with my assessment that it is deeply flawed.
3) “vacuous”=”Devoid of content or substance”. The design inference has no contents or substance (it is simply the bald assertion that ‘intelligent design did it’), therefore it is vacuous.
4) A “plausible naturalistic pathway” FOR WHAT? And who gets to assess what qualifies as “plausible”? Given that ID advocates have just a tiny conflict of interest here, and most have a teensy credibility problem beyond that (telling a few too many pork pies will tend to do that), I don’t think we’d want to let them decide what is plausible. No matter how large a stack of evidence is piled in front of them, I can pretty much guarantee that (in the tradition of Michael Behe at Dover), they will declare it to be ‘not enough’.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 24, 2010 at 8:12 am


RJS (107):
The problem with your first point is the “claim that the information had to come from somewhere”. Information as I, and scientists, understand it is created all the time. Dembski and Meyer have failed to demonstrate that their ‘extra special’ form of information (call it ‘creationist information’ as Shallit does, ‘specified information’ as Meyer does and Dembski did, or ‘active information’ as Dembski and Marks now do) has a well-defined existence, let alone is measurable, let alone is necessary for life to exist.
That in turn leads to the problem with your second point — if M&D’s information claims are discredited then there is no credible “doubt” about “the possibility that natural evolutionary mechanisms could lead to the diversity of life we see.”
The core of the issue is their informational claims. If they collapse then Meyer’s entire thesis collapses with it. If you accept them as valid then you can probably accept his rejection of abiogenesis and evolution. As a matter of interest, can your “educated Christians” adequately explain the definition, measurement and importance-to-life of specified information? If not, how can they justify their acceptance of Meyer’s thesis, beyond an assumption of ‘it gives what I think is the right answer (i.e. the existence of an omnipotent intelligent designer that they already believe in) so it must be right’ (formally, the fallacy of affirming the consequent).



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 24, 2010 at 11:02 pm


http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/
RJS 107,
That is only one way to “falsify” ID. It is not the only way.
The best way to defeat ID is to show it is not the inference to the best explanation.
Who is pinning their faith to ID? Behe? Meyer? Citations? I am not. That is another straw man. Theological implications and how you use the design inference in Christian faith is a separate issue. As you know I have said in the past, Keller and I think it is a clue, not something to pin all your faith on. You tack the origin of life design inference onto many others. There is a consilience of design inferences throughout nature. (Including your lovely meadow.)
Until you articulate what you think the fallacy is and why Meyer makes it, I can only assume that you are making a logical fallacy. You seem to be saying “all arguments that contain any negative inferences are fallacies.” That is clearly a fallacy. Then ID loses every time by definition, not because of the evidence.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 25, 2010 at 12:21 am


PDS (110):
The fallacy has already been ‘articulated': it is the fallacy of a false dilemma (also referred to as a false dichotomy, or the either-or fallacy).
It’s fallaciousness is not in there being a ‘negative inference’ but in misreading this negative inference as a positive inference for something else.
“showing a plausible naturalistic pathway” = ‘close a gap’. Given that you did not specify (even when challenged) WHICH pathway, I must assume you meant “showing a plausible naturalistic pathway [for everything]” = ‘close ALL gaps’.



report abuse
 

R Hampton

posted January 25, 2010 at 12:21 am


pds,
You can only prove a negative if the domain is small enough to account for all of the variables. But if the domain is impossibly large – like all the organisms that ever lived, or even only those alive today – there is no way to prove a negative: e.g. a sequence of DNA with 10,000 consecutive adenine bases has never existed.



report abuse
 

pds

posted January 25, 2010 at 7:23 am


RJS,
Do you not see the fallacy in #112? Are you making it too?



report abuse
 

Unapologetic Catholic

posted January 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm


PDS,
“Fallacy.” You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-b7RmmMJeo



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 27, 2010 at 12:29 am


RJS: tell us what you REALLY think. ;)
In http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/01/getting_id_right_more_response.html, Jay Richards states:
“I?m guessing that RJS is a scientist, or is in a sensitive academic position, and doesn?t want to risk banishment for saying reasonable things about an ID argument. If so, that tells us something of the social pressures against writing publicly about this issue.”
One wonders how an anonymous scientist/blogger would be subject to sufficient social pressures to prevent “saying reasonable things about an ID argument.”
The piece only ‘responds’ to the first three posts, with a response to this one forthcoming.
Unfortunately, as always, the DI is only interested in their side of the story, and comments (which might actually dispute their views) are not permitted on their blog. So much for viewpoint freedom & free exchange of ideas.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted January 27, 2010 at 7:46 am


Can someone inform the DI that “RJS” is not a “he” but a “she”.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 27, 2010 at 9:19 am


Shhh! If the dread Darwinist Inquisition[TM] knows RJS is a she, it’ll make it that much easier for them to find her, and ferret out her “reasonable things”. JR was obviously trying to put them off the scent.



report abuse
 

Jonathan Bartlett

posted January 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm


“In some fashion the origin of life is encoded into the natural laws of the universe. This is not a controversial statement.”
While it may not be controversial, what evidence is there that the statement is true, aside from the assumption that life must have arisen from the laws of nature?
There isn’t anything in current origin-of-life research that suggests that the origin of life is encoded there. It seems to tell the opposite.
One interesting thing to note is that one of the bigger origin-of-life researchers from the 1960s (Dean Kenyon, author of Biochemical Predestination) is actually now part of the Intelligent Design movement, precisely because of arguments which showed that the laws of the universe do not provide for the origin of life.
I would agree with the statement “_if_ life had a naturalistic origin, _then_ it is because it was encoded into the laws of the universe.” However, I know of no evidence that would lead one to believe in the antecedent. The fact that it is uncontroversial is simply because it is an article of faith for most of those who work in the field.



report abuse
 

Hrafn

posted January 28, 2010 at 4:42 am


I would question whether Kenyon could, at any stretch, be considered “one of the bigger origin-of-life researchers from the 1960s”. Kenyon only received his PhD in 1965, and would only have been in a position to even start independent research in 1966 (when he became an Assistant Professor). ‘Biochemical Predestination’ was published only three years thereafter, so can hardly have been based upon any extensive independent research of Kenyon’s own.
Further, I can see no indication (other than in creationist polemics) that Kenyon had any particular stature as a researcher in this field. What was his contribution?
Kenyon became a creationist in the late 1970s, was a Creationist expert witness in McLean v. Arkansas and Edwards v. Aguillard, and one of the editors of ‘Of Pandas and People’ which relabelled ‘Creation Science’ as ‘Intelligent Design’. It is therefore not unreasonable to label him as the original and definitive ‘cdesign proponentist’.



report abuse
 

Pingback: Signature in the Cell 6 – The Best Explanation? (RJS)

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.