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# Is it possible to identify the parts of a system objectively?

Author Topic:   Is it possible to identify the parts of a system objectively?
BVZ
Member (Idle past 4125 days)
Posts: 36
Joined: 08-20-2008

 Message 1 of 12 (486117) 10-16-2008 4:35 AM

Is it possible to identify the parts of a system objectively?

This question has some serious implications for ID theory. The reason for this is their reliance on Irreducibly Complex (IC) systems.

It is possible to identify ANY system as an IC system, by simply identifying the entire system as a single part. Removal of that part makes the system stop functioning, since removal of the entire system will leave us without a functioning system.

On the other extreme end, you can identify the parts of any system as the atoms the system is built up out of, and removal of any of these atoms (in virtually all cases) will propably not affect the system much. So removing a single atom from a system commonly regarded as an IC system, will not affect the system.

What this boils down to is this: Whether a system is an IC system or not, depends GREATLY on how the parts are identified. You can identify a specific system as IC, and someone else can identify THAT SAME system, as NON-IC, by simply identifying the parts of that system differently.

Which brings us to the following definition of an IC system by William Dembski:

 A system performing a given basic function is irreducibly complex if it includes a set of well-matched, mutually interacting, nonarbitrarily individuated parts such that each part in the set is indispensable to maintaining the system's basic, and therefore original, function. The set of these indispensable parts is known as the irreducible core of the system. (No Free Lunch, 285)

(emphasis mine).

Notice the bolded part?

Clearly, for IC to be useful as a concept by itself, there should be a method a person can follow, and OBJECTIVELY identify the parts of any system, BEFORE that person can figure out if a system is an IC system, or not.

If I take a 100 people, and tell them to use this method on a specific system (a bicycle for example), the output of the method should be a list of parts. Since there are 100 people, we should end with 100 lists of parts. They should be IDENTICAL. If they are not, the method was not objective.

Now, for any ID proponent to use IC systems as evidence FOR ID, they must first have such a method. Lets call it the PLG (parts list generator) method.

In fact, since the definition of ID provided by Dembski REQUIRES the PLG method to be in place for his definition to have meaning, clearly Dembski must be in posession of such a method already.

I may be wrong when I say this, but I am pretty sure such a method does not exist. If it does not, IC systems are not evidence for ID, since without such a method, IC systems cannot even be IDENTIFIED objectively.

So, can any ID supporter provide me with the PLG method?

Edited by BVZ, : No reason given.

Edited by BVZ, : No reason given.

Edited by BVZ, : No reason given.

 Replies to this message: Message 2 by Admin, posted 10-16-2008 8:26 AM BVZ has responded Message 8 by PaulK, posted 10-17-2008 7:55 AM BVZ has responded

Director
Posts: 12705
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002

 Message 2 of 12 (486129) 10-16-2008 8:26 AM Reply to: Message 1 by BVZ10-16-2008 4:35 AM

 BVZ writes:...thier...effect (should be affect in a couple places)Weather => Whetherdepents => depends

Also, Bio-MolecularTony has proposed a very similar thread, so I'll only be promoting one. Would you prefer to have Tony reply to your opening post, or would you rather use your content here to reply to his? If you have no preference then I'll just promote the one that is more specific and scientific.

 -- Percy EvC Forum Director

 This message is a reply to: Message 1 by BVZ, posted 10-16-2008 4:35 AM BVZ has responded

 Replies to this message: Message 3 by BVZ, posted 10-16-2008 8:54 AM Admin has responded

BVZ
Member (Idle past 4125 days)
Posts: 36
Joined: 08-20-2008

 Message 3 of 12 (486130) 10-16-2008 8:54 AM Reply to: Message 2 by Admin10-16-2008 8:26 AM

Thank you for pointing out the errors. English is not my first language, so errors are bound to creep in. :)

The only proposed thread by Tony I could find is this one:

Assuming this is the thread you are referring to, I don't see any resemblance really. Please point me to the thread you are referring to, and I will check it out to see if it brings up the same issue.

Thanks.

 This message is a reply to: Message 2 by Admin, posted 10-16-2008 8:26 AM Admin has responded

 Replies to this message: Message 4 by Admin, posted 10-16-2008 9:23 AM BVZ has responded

Director
Posts: 12705
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002

 Message 4 of 12 (486135) 10-16-2008 9:23 AM Reply to: Message 3 by BVZ10-16-2008 8:54 AM

 BVZ writes:Thank you for pointing out the errors. English is not my first language, so errors are bound to creep in. :)

Firefox and Chrome both have built-in spellcheckers, and Google Toolbar includes one for Internet explorer.

 The only proposed thread by Tony I could find is this one:Assuming this is the thread you are referring to, I don't see any resemblance really. Please point me to the thread you are referring to, and I will check it out to see if it brings up the same issue.

You're both suggesting ways in which design can be measured. Tony proposes using human design capabilities as the measuring stick, while you solicit suggestions for a reliable and reproducible method capable of reducing designs to constituent parts. In other words, Tony's thread proposal satisfies your request.

So I can promote your thread proposal and Tony can reply to you, or we can do the reverse. Do you have a preference?

 -- Percy EvC Forum Director

 This message is a reply to: Message 3 by BVZ, posted 10-16-2008 8:54 AM BVZ has responded

 Replies to this message: Message 5 by BVZ, posted 10-17-2008 1:55 AM Admin has responded

BVZ
Member (Idle past 4125 days)
Posts: 36
Joined: 08-20-2008

 Message 5 of 12 (486216) 10-17-2008 1:55 AM Reply to: Message 4 by Admin10-16-2008 9:23 AM

I dont want to discuss design at all. I want to figure out if parts can be identified objectively. I don't want to open the 'does IC systems indicate design' can of worms. What I want to do, is show that IC cannot support ID, or anything else, since it is impossible to detect IC systems reliably.

So, I would feel more comfortable with a thread of my own, since I don't think my proposed thread and Tony's thread are compatable at all.

Edited by BVZ, : No reason given.

 This message is a reply to: Message 4 by Admin, posted 10-16-2008 9:23 AM Admin has responded

 Replies to this message: Message 6 by Admin, posted 10-17-2008 6:04 AM BVZ has not yet responded

Director
Posts: 12705
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002

 Message 6 of 12 (486221) 10-17-2008 6:04 AM Reply to: Message 5 by BVZ10-17-2008 1:55 AM

Those are good points, plus Tony hasn't responded to my request to fix spelling and grammar, so I'm going to promote your thread.

 -- Percy EvC Forum Director

 This message is a reply to: Message 5 by BVZ, posted 10-17-2008 1:55 AM BVZ has not yet responded

Director
Posts: 12705
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002

 Message 7 of 12 (486222) 10-17-2008 6:04 AM

Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

PaulK
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 Message 8 of 12 (486230) 10-17-2008 7:55 AM Reply to: Message 1 by BVZ10-16-2008 4:35 AM

Apparently not. For instance the flagellum is classified either in terms of proteins or three larger units ("motor", "hook" and "whip" IIRC). Behe wasn't clear in his book, and readers tended to assume that he meant proteins. Dembski's worthless probability calculation was also protein-based. Yet Behe insists that he meant the larger units.

And that isn't the end of the problems with that definition.

 A system performing a given basic function is irreducibly complex if it includes a set of well-matched, mutually interacting, nonarbitrarily individuated parts such that each part in the set is indispensable to maintaining the system's basic, and therefore original, function. The set of these indispensable parts is known as the irreducible core of the system

The bolded clause was inserted to rule out explanations involving a change of function by fiat. Which is cheating.

 This message is a reply to: Message 1 by BVZ, posted 10-16-2008 4:35 AM BVZ has responded

 Replies to this message: Message 9 by BVZ, posted 10-20-2008 5:09 AM PaulK has not yet responded

BVZ
Member (Idle past 4125 days)
Posts: 36
Joined: 08-20-2008

 Message 9 of 12 (486408) 10-20-2008 5:09 AM Reply to: Message 8 by PaulK10-17-2008 7:55 AM

I wonder why ID proponents are still holding on to IC as if it supports ID. Not only can IC systems not be identified to begin with, but IC systems can only support ID if you assume the function of a system cannot change.

The fact that the function of a system CAN change pretty much demolishes IC as support for ID, but that is off topic.

This topic deals with another way to show IC does not support ID: the fact that IC systems cannot even be IDENTIFIED objectively. If IC systems cannot be identified, and if ANY system can be seen as an IC system, how can it possibly support ID?

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 Replies to this message: Message 11 by Stagamancer, posted 02-11-2009 3:53 PM BVZ has not yet responded

chalu001
Suspended Member (Idle past 4159 days)
Posts: 1
Joined: 02-11-2009

 Message 10 of 12 (498485) 02-11-2009 4:40 AM

Hi guys,

It is possible to identify ANY system as an IC system, by simply identifying the entire system as a single part. Removal of that part makes the system stop functioning, since removal of the entire system will leave us without a functioning system. Thanks

Stagamancer
Member (Idle past 3550 days)
Posts: 174
From: Oregon
Joined: 12-28-2008

 Message 11 of 12 (498538) 02-11-2009 3:53 PM Reply to: Message 9 by BVZ10-20-2008 5:09 AM

 This topic deals with another way to show IC does not support ID: the fact that IC systems cannot even be IDENTIFIED objectively. If IC systems cannot be identified, and if ANY system can be seen as an IC system, how can it possibly support ID?

Not only can IC systems not be identified, but people like Behe arbitrarily focus on molecular IC systems. You can just as easily argue that the human body is a IC system. If you removed someone's heart, they would cease to function. It's not as if biologists are claiming that humans evolved by first evolving a skeleton, and then some skin and muscles to go on it, then a pancreas, then maybe kidneys, then a heart, then a brain, etc. Just as human bodies did not evolve in this fashion, neither did the complex metabolic pathways or molecules within it. More often, traits start out with one function, and as they are slowly modified, gradually take on a new function.
E.g. ID proponents often use the bacterial flagellum as an example of an IC system. However, molecular biologists, investigated this, and found the Type-III Secretory System (TTSS):

 At first glance, the existence of the TTSS, a nasty little device that allows bacteria to inject these toxins through the cell membranes of its unsuspecting hosts, would seem to have little to do with the flagellum. However, molecular studies of proteins in the TTSS have revealed a surprising fact â€“ the proteins of the TTSS are directly homologous to the proteins in the basal portion of the bacterial flagellum. As figure 2 (Heuck 1998) shows, these homologies extend to a cluster of closely-associated proteins found in both of these molecular "machines." On the basis of these homologies, McNab (McNab 1999) has argued that the flagellum itself should be regarded as a type III secretory system. Extending such studies with a detailed comparison of the proteins associated with both systems, Aizawa has seconded this suggestion, noting that the two systems "consist of homologous component proteins with common physico-chemical properties" (Aizawa 2001, 163). It is now clear, therefore, that a smaller subset of the full complement of proteins in the flagellum makes up the functional transmembrane portion of the TTSS.

 Stated directly, the TTSS does its dirty work using a handful of proteins from the base of the flagellum. From the evolutionary point of view, this relationship is hardly surprising. In fact, it's to be expected that the opportunism of evolutionary processes would mix and match proteins to produce new and novel functions. According to the doctrine of irreducible complexity, however, this should not be possible. If the flagellum is indeed irreducibly complex, then removing just one part, let alone 10 or 15, should render what remains "by definition nonfunctional." Yet the TTSS is indeed fully-functional, even though it is missing most of the parts of the flagellum. The TTSS may be bad news for us, but for the bacteria that possess it, it is a truly valuable biochemical machine.

These quotes are from here

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

 This message is a reply to: Message 9 by BVZ, posted 10-20-2008 5:09 AM BVZ has not yet responded

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bluegenes
Member (Idle past 1112 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007

 Message 12 of 12 (498545) 02-11-2009 5:56 PM Reply to: Message 11 by Stagamancer02-11-2009 3:53 PM

 Stagamancer writes:E.g. ID proponents often use the bacterial flagellum as an example of an IC system. However, molecular biologists, investigated this, and found the Type-III Secretory System (TTSS):

If you're interested in the famous flagellum, Stagamancer, you might enjoy these pages from Mark Pallen's blog. Pallen has made his own discovery of homology in the flagellum, but this is mainly about interesting work done by Keiichi Namba's Japanese team. You can see that new discoveries about the little machine are being made (several interesting things in 2008) and that Behe was very unwise to choose this as something he hoped could not evolve.

Amongst other things, on the second link I've listed, you can read this:

quote:

Last year Namba's group published the structure of FliI and confirmed the striking homology with the F-type ATPase enzymatic subunits. At that stage in the game, it had become clear that the ATPase was a universal component not just of flagellar export systems but also of non-flagellar type III secretion systems. Also, it was also clear that if one knocked out the gene for FliI, one abolished flagellar biosynthesis. Thus, just about everyone in the field accepted that FliI was an essential component of the flagellar apparatus and that it energised secretion of proteins through the protein export system. In other words, if there were anything to the idea, put forward by Behe and others in the ID movement, that the flagellum showed "irreducible complexity", even experts might have accepted that FliI was one of the "irreducible" components!!

BUT earlier this year, Minamino and Namba (and independently a team headed by Kelly Hughes in the US) overturned all our assumptions by showing that it was perfectly possible to make flagella without FliI--what you needed to do was knock out FliH at the same time. Somehow or other FliH, which usually interacts with FliI, gums up the export apparatus in the absence of FliI. So, bang goes another pillar of support for the ID argument! In fact, it appears that flagellar protein export is powered not primarily by the ATPase by the proton-motive force.

And there's more.

Pallen blog page one

Flagellum page two (very interesting)

part three (possible new homologies + Japanese video)

Pallen, incidentally, turned up once here on EvC and introduced himself, mentioning his "Rough Guide" book, but I didn't realise who he was at the time, so we missed an opportunity to discuss the flagellum with someone who has actually worked on the damned thing!

The blog stuff concerns new discoveries made over the last twelve months.

 This message is a reply to: Message 11 by Stagamancer, posted 02-11-2009 3:53 PM Stagamancer has not yet responded

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