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Author Topic:   What exactly is ID?
Tanndarr
Member (Idle past 4422 days)
Posts: 68
Joined: 02-14-2008


Message 151 of 1273 (539777)
12-19-2009 9:23 PM
Reply to: Message 147 by Smooth Operator
12-19-2009 3:23 PM


Re: Design of the Rosetta Stone
This is the only time I'm going to reply to a list of one-liners. I understand that you've got a lot of people discussing, but I would rather you not respond than fail to engage my arguments again.

quote:
So if the idea that humans made the Rosetta Stone is the best possible inference, then why are you harping on other inferences? If you can ignore evidence in front of you then all things are possible; which is precisely what you are doing. If you think that aliens and monkeys made the Rosetta Stone then go find some evidence...likewise, if you think Bog in his heaven poofed DNA into being then find some evidence. Ignoring the evidence that exists is just willful ignorance. Failing to take inferences as far as evidence allows makes baby Sherlock Holmes cry.
What evidence am I ignoring?

Do I have to quote the whole thread back at you to address a point? You are saying that the Rosetta Stone shows evidence of being designed, but you seem to be drawing a fuzzy line by saying that it could have been designed by aliens or stone-carving monkeys in order to draw a conclusion that we can identify design without knowledge of a designer.

The problem with this argument is that we have massive evidence of exactly who carved the Rosetta Stone. We can even read it to see that it has a purpose. We know all those things not because the Rosetta Stone stands alone, but because detailed study of Egypt has given us the ability to understand the purpose and context of the Stone. We can't just say anyone could have built it without ignoring all that evidence.

quote:
Here's a clue for you: stone carving monkeys and aliens are natural forces that can be expected to leave evidence of their presence. Unfortunately when the archeologists dig they don't find monkeys and alien stone-carving lasers. Likewise when researchers look at origin of life issues they have yet to see any evidence of the guy in the sky or a miraculous event.
Monkies and aliens are not natural casues. Natural causes are by definition non-teleological. Since both aliens and monkies are intelligent, they are not a natural cause.

I don't think I'm going to let you get away with that assertion unless you can provide some sort of evidence that intelligence is not natural. By saying they are non-teleological I understand you to mean they are not related to the design of the ultimate cause or have someway set themselves apart from the chain of ultimate causality. I don't even agree that there is an ultimate cause or design. That's what you're supposed to tell us.

quote:
In the absence of supporting evidence an inference is nothing but a WAG.
We do have a reason to infer design for both Rosetta stone and DNA.

Well, you're half-right at least. Care to guess which half? Your evidence for design in DNA is nothing but apologetics. Here's a hint: thought experiments are not evidence. If you have a formula let's see you apply it to some real data and look at the results. I sincerely doubt you'll ever come up with an answer equaling God.

quote:
The trouble is that we do have evidence to support human origins of the Rosetta Stone inscriptions and evidence supporting natural origins of life.
Show me that evidence that supports natural origin of life.

We're on a text based message board. If I had the slightest idea that you would fairly evaluate any evidence I showed you I might take the trouble. But no, I'm not going to spoon feed you reality. This thread is about What is ID, not support for abiogenesis.

quote:
To infer design we need knowledge of the designer, without it we are only making up stories to tell the other goat herders.
Explain why.

I would think it obvious, but I'll try. A designed object has a purpose which is intended by the designer and the object will more or less fulfill that purpose based on the abilities of the designer. So, I see two ways to identify a design:

1: We see direct evidence of the Designer in other ways that are easily linked to the artifact. For instance we find similar artifacts in graves or near paintings depicting the creation or use of the artifact.

2: We can clearly identify the purpose for the artifact. I admit that this is potentially tricky. Maybe the artifact looks like something we recognize and still use but without context there's a possibility we are mistaken.

In the case of the Rosetta Stone we have both 1 and 2. We could calculate the probability of it being a human artifact vs the remains of aliens through Bayseian Inference, but sadly there's no data on the alien side of the equation.

In the case of Intelligent Design there is either an assumption of a Designer outside of the design or there is an assumption of purpose which, as pointed out, is open to interpretation.

Selah.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 147 by Smooth Operator, posted 12-19-2009 3:23 PM Smooth Operator has replied

Replies to this message:
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Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 291 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 152 of 1273 (539805)
12-20-2009 3:51 AM
Reply to: Message 146 by Smooth Operator
12-19-2009 3:18 PM


Re: Flaws of ID
DNA is designed becasue of the marks of design it exhibits, not becasue I say so.

DNA evolved because of the marks of evolution it exhibits, not because I say so.

But keep in mind that when I say "information" I mean CSI, which can't be produced by a natural casue.

But keep in mind that when I say "information" I mean genetic information, which can be produced by evolution.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 146 by Smooth Operator, posted 12-19-2009 3:18 PM Smooth Operator has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 161 by Smooth Operator, posted 12-20-2009 7:26 AM Dr Adequate has replied

Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 291 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 153 of 1273 (539806)
12-20-2009 4:00 AM
Reply to: Message 149 by Smooth Operator
12-19-2009 5:50 PM


Re: l
Obviously it doesn't. If by chance a word "HOUSE" was formed by droping of ink on a piece of paper, would it's informational content been any different than if the exact same word was written by a person? No obviously not.

An interesting concession.

RECOMBINATION IS JUST SHUFFLING OF ALREADY EXISTING GENES!!!! It doesn't even remove the deleterious ones. It just puts them on another spot in the genome. They still stay where they were.

Oh good grief.

Read a biology textbook.

Only if we ignore the papers that I showed you which show that populations can die-out because of genetic entropy.

Well, in the light of the fact that this doesn't actually happen (except perhaps for really tiny populations) it does indeed sound like we should ignore papers purporting to prove that it ought to. Or mock them.

The full name Is: "Complex Specified Information"! Yes it's a definition of information! Why the hell are you debating me when you are so clueless about the topic!? You don't even know what you're attacking!

If I say; "Complex Specified Elephants are flurble wurble woo-bing spong", then is that a definition of elephants? After all, the full name is "Complex Specified Elephants". Why the hell would anyone debate with me if they were so clueless about the topic as to deny that that's a definition of elephants?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 149 by Smooth Operator, posted 12-19-2009 5:50 PM Smooth Operator has taken no action

Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 291 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 154 of 1273 (539807)
12-20-2009 4:03 AM
Reply to: Message 145 by Smooth Operator
12-19-2009 3:11 PM


Re: Flaws of ID
quote:
Likely because humans are using technology to counter the disadvantages of a lot of minor genetic problems.

LOOOLOOOOL!

I can't believe you said that!!! That just means that natural selection is USELESS!!! And that we need INTELLIGENT INTERVENTION to remove the deleterious mutations from our genomes.

Good grief.

I too am beginning to wonder if English is your first language.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 145 by Smooth Operator, posted 12-19-2009 3:11 PM Smooth Operator has taken no action

Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 291 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 155 of 1273 (539808)
12-20-2009 4:09 AM
Reply to: Message 138 by traderdrew
12-18-2009 4:01 PM


The Big Lie
Religion has been around for thousands of years and Darwinism has been here for 150 years. A theory such as Darwinism can be rationalized into something that serves evil. Religion has a head start but the Nazis had their roots in Darwinism - "Survival of the Fittest".

"For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties." - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. ii, ch. x

"From where do we get the right to believe, that from the very beginning Man was not what he is today? Looking at Nature tells us, that in the realm of plants and animals changes and developments happen. But nowhere inside a kind shows such a development as the breadth of the jump , as Man must supposedly have made, if he has developed from an ape-like state to what he is today." - Adolf Hitler, Hitler's Tabletalk (Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier)

"The most marvelous proof of the superiority of Man, which puts man ahead of the animals, is the fact that he understands that there must be a Creator." - Adolf Hitler, Hitler's Tabletalk (Tischgesprache im Fuhrerhauptquartier)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 138 by traderdrew, posted 12-18-2009 4:01 PM traderdrew has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 168 by traderdrew, posted 12-20-2009 10:39 AM Dr Adequate has replied

Huntard
Member (Idle past 1535 days)
Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 156 of 1273 (539816)
12-20-2009 5:02 AM
Reply to: Message 138 by traderdrew
12-18-2009 4:01 PM


Re: Flaws of ID
traderdrew writes:

In other words, you have "faith" that it's actually inevitable but you don't know what those conditions that don't involve intelligence are in order to make it possible.


No, I have current scientific evidence which shows me that. And unlike faith based notions, I am not unwilling to change mine when the evidence suggests I was wrong.

It doesn't mean it isn't either if science can't explain it through some sort of spontaneous generation, RNA first, or self-organization model.

True. All evidence we have points in that direction, however.

The height, structure, depth, width are part of descriptions which help describe the nest. The strength is partly determined by its chemical structure which has its foundations in DNA.

First of all, DNA has it's base in chemistry, not the other way around. Second, are you denying the nest has information?

You know that before a language was engraved on the stone, it existed as an ordinary stone.

Exactly, we shaped what was already there.

The linguisitic symbols on it have an orderly, specified and complimentary relationship.

So?

Why are we arguing what is obvious? I am simply pointing out the difference between building a nest and part of the foundation of DNA.

The one being executed by a bird and the other being a result of chemistry?

Well then, maybe you can create a better nest than a bird if you have a better brain than a bird? :-)

I certainly can. I'd make it out of stainless steel, line it with the best isolating material around, place some guns on it to scare off predators.... I think you get the idea.

No I don't think so. There is still that 400 bits of CSI information that remains unanswered.

There is still 400 bits of flurble wakles information? What the hell is CSI information?

PaulK can say it doesn't exist but he isn't accounting for the growth onto the original information or how that information can self-organize into specified complimentary parts of an overall whole and the relationship of all the parts in the entire whole.

That's what we like to call evolution.

For self-replication to exist, don't you need machinery among other things?

No, you need chemistry and physics.

Don't you need things such as hydroporins on the surface of the cell in order to regulate water flow and other things to help regulate what comes into and out of the cell?

No.

How does it all deal with potential hypothetical problems?

Why would it have to deal with hypothetical probems? It's better off dealing with real ones.

I'm sure I can think of many other questions.

I'm sure you can. They'd probably either be answered, or nonsensical.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12540920

Also, look up Francis Crick's sequence hypothesis.


Ah, seems like language got in the way again. I was thinking digital as in a computer type of way, turns out that's not the complete definition of digital. My apologies (see, I change my position to suit the evidence ). The question now remains, so what?

And that quote of yours is not science.

I didn't quote anything. Nor do I pretend that what I'm writing here is science. It's based on science, but it's not science itself.

If it was science then you should be able to refute Dr. Dean Kenyon with scientific fact.

If you provide the entire article, instead of quotemining it, perhaps I can.

Then again, you don't disagree with my statement that much of this debate isn't about science around here.

Of course not. Science has settled this issue. It's the religously inclined that are the ones who aren't "buying" it. (quickly, quotemine it like the climate mails and use it to prove the big science conspiracy! )

Religion has been around for thousands of years and Darwinism has been here for 150 years.

Yes, and what understanding has religion brought us? None. And evolution? A whole great big deal!

A theory such as Darwinism can be rationalized into something that serves evil.

Everything can be. Says nothing about the validity of the theory though.

Religion has a head start but the Nazis had their roots in Darwinism - "Survival of the Fittest".

I thank you for losing this debate (Godwin, I like you more each day). Also, Hitler believed he was doing he creator's work (or should I say, Intelligent Designer?).


I hunt for the truth

I am the one Orgasmatron, the outstretched grasping hand
My image is of agony, my servants rape the land
Obsequious and arrogant, clandestine and vain
Two thousand years of misery, of torture in my name
Hypocrisy made paramount, paranoia the law
My name is called religion, sadistic, sacred whore.
-Lyrics by Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead


This message is a reply to:
 Message 138 by traderdrew, posted 12-18-2009 4:01 PM traderdrew has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 170 by traderdrew, posted 12-20-2009 10:56 AM Huntard has taken no action

PaulK
Member
Posts: 17167
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.7


Message 157 of 1273 (539817)
12-20-2009 5:12 AM
Reply to: Message 149 by Smooth Operator
12-19-2009 5:50 PM


Re: l
quote:

Structural elements are the proteins which function by the laws of biochemistry. When the structure of proteins gets changed enough their biochemical properties change too. Which leads to loss of biological functions. Which is what Axe's work shows.

So what you are saying is that the actual structure of the flagellum has no relevance beyond it's ability to catalyse chemical reactions.

quote:

Obviously it doesn't. If by chance a word "HOUSE" was formed by droping of ink on a piece of paper, would it's informational content been any different than if the exact same word was written by a person? No obviously not.

Again your failure to understand Dembski's method is obvious. According to TDI the information content of an object is based on the probability of it forming without design. So if you want to know the information content of the genes you have to consider how they might have formed. Or in short, you don't get to ignore explanations just becuase you don't like them or because you can't calculate the probability.

quote:

Than tell em how do we calculate the complexity of an object according to TDI.

Calculate the probabiliy of it forming without design. That's it.

(For the flagellum the observed probability of an E Coli bacterium growing one without any sign off a designer stepping in seems to be quite high...)

quote:

But that is simply not true. You just keep saying it.

You don't actually know what TDI says, do you ?

quote:

How does it change? Give me an example.

Your measure of complexity is based on random assembly. So your estimate of, say, the information content of a salt crystal would be very high because of the ordered structure. Your estimate of the information in the sodium and chlorine ions in a pool of salt water, and for the sunlight drying out the pool would be rather lower.

quote:

No becasue the final flagellum is always in the same configuration regardless of if it has grown or assembled in any other way.

Unfortunately for you that means that growth is the MOST relevant explanation since it is the non-design explanation with the highest probabiliy, You might even be able to legitmately ignore all the others (you can certainly ignore random assembly !).

quote:

Explain how exactly am I disagreeing with him.

Haven't I provided enough examples ?

quote:

It's an estimate based on Axe's work.

Like I said, it's a fabrication. Axe didn't even LOOK at flagella, let alone consider the differing possible structures or numbers of proteins they might use. You are explicitly limiting the specification to variations of the E Coli flagellum, using variatiosn of the same 50 proteins. That is NOT the specification you said you were using and it is a clear fabrication.

quote:

Yes, you are. You said that genetic entropy is not a problem for "large" populations.

Here's the first sentence of the abstract:


The accumulation of slightly deleterious mutations in populations leads to the buildup of a genetic load and can cause the extinction of populations of small size

quote:

RECOMBINATION IS JUST SHUFFLING OF ALREADY EXISTING GENES!!!! It doesn't even remove the deleterious ones. It just puts them on another spot in the genome. They still stay where they were.

I guess you disagree with the paper you cite:


...mechanisms such as recombination to ameliorate genetic loads may have been in place early in the history of life.

Of course, understanding recombination might help you...

quote:

LOL! YES IT IS!

The full name Is: "Complex Specified Information"! Yes it's a definition of information! Why the hell are you debating me when you are so clueless about the topic!? You don't even know what you're attacking!


And here we see your poor understanding of English. In the real English language the term "Complex Specified Information" would refer to a specific subset of information - that which is "specified" and "complex". It cannot therefore be a definition of information.

(And of course, in English you must be able to substitute the definition for the word, so "Complex Specified Information" would be "Complex Specified Complex Specified Complex Specified..." LOL indeed !)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 149 by Smooth Operator, posted 12-19-2009 5:50 PM Smooth Operator has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 162 by Smooth Operator, posted 12-20-2009 7:57 AM PaulK has replied

Huntard
Member (Idle past 1535 days)
Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 158 of 1273 (539819)
12-20-2009 5:52 AM
Reply to: Message 140 by Smooth Operator
12-18-2009 6:58 PM


Re: Flaws of ID
Smooth Operator writes:

I agree.


Good. Now, the inference made on the available evidence regarding DNA is that it has a natural origin. Case closed (again).

So you are saying that regularity (chemistry and physics) + chance = self replicating machinery?

No. I'm saying chemistry and physics don't need "chance".

Which would make us think it didn't make that stone...

Irrelevant. You said it could have. That's all that is needed to tear down the "it [i]must[/] have been designed" argument.

The likely cause was an intelligence in both causes.

No. The likely cause in one instance was humans. In the other one it was chemistry and physics.

Birds are intelligent. Nut much, but they are intelligent.

Ok, then how about worms making patterns in sand. Are worms intelligent?

Exactly, we do not know anything about him, neither are we interested while detecting design.

But you would need to if you wanted to know if something is indeed designed.

I'm not ignoring any evidence. We do not know the identity of the designer of the DNA in living beings. I'm not ignoring anything.

I was referring to your further generalization regarding the stone. You have to ignore evidence to do that.

That's like saying we have to know the identity of the person who designed the Rosetta stone.

We don't. And I didn't say that. We have to know the characteristics of what designed it though, else we wouldn't know if it was deigned.

And now you will say that we do know that people make things like Rosetta stone.

Yes, yes we do.

And again, I will point out to you that that is the same thing I am saying when I say that DNA is designed. ONLY IN MORE GENERAL TERMS!!!!

No it isn't. For you have absolutely no evidence of DNA being designed, other then your wanting it to. It's a great big circle you're arguing here. The designer exists because DNA is designed. Why is DNA designed? Because it has a designer. Round and round it goes.

Please try to understand that. If you are not able to grasp this simple concept, than please take a look at this picture I made for you.

See Percy's post for a rebuttal. Again, you assume DNA is designed without actually showing it is.

Exactly. That is why a bird is the designer.

An unintelligent designer. Or worms making patterns in the sand...

Why?

Because how else are we to know he can create DNA?

No. That is not an identity.

It's a set of characteristics.

That is a generalization. Mankind is not an identity. The name of the individual who made the stone is the identity. Saying intelligence made the Rosetta stone is the same generalization only on an even more broader level.

And you'd have to ignore evidence to do that.

No. No evidence points to it. You are simply assuming it.

Wrong. All evidence points to it, while no evidence points to anything else.

What evidence?

The evidence that humans use writing, and that humans write in stones.

I'm trying to show you how wrong your argument is.

And in doing so have shown your own argument to be false as well. Again, thank you.

I only said that to show you that it's invalid.

And in the process invalidated your own position. I really can't thank you enough.

Obviously I do not agree with that reasoning.

Then why bring it up, if you think your own reasoning is false?

That is why we have the method of design detection which tells us if it is designed or not.

Would this method by any chance involve the process of simply asserting something to be designed? Because that is what you're doing.

Philosophically speaking yes. But scientifically no.

Changing the goalposts are we? You agreed that something that looks designed can arise by pure chance. Your argument is dead with that admission.

Therefore, Rosetta stone could not have been made by your hippo.

Then why did you agree it could?

It's are reasonable as saying that your hippo made all life on Earth.

I'm not saying that. I'm saying it could have, and you agreed. Also, you're asserting the same thing with your designer.

What evidence?

That humans use writing and that humans write in stones.

Infer based on what?

The evidence.

But no natural law has created anything like DNA, so why would you infer DNA was a natural product?

Because all evidence points in that direction.

Tell em the characteristics of the person or persons who made the Rosetta stone. Was it a male or a female?

Most likely male.

No. You are wrong twice in the same statement.

Not really no. You're ignoring evidence that DNA came about naturally, and adding this unnecessary designer.

I'm ignoring no evidence. Since there is no evidence that DNA can form naturally.

All evidence points to the fact it can.

And you do not understand the difference between ADDING ENTETIES and GENERALIZATION.

So, you're not adding a designer?

By sayign that an intellignece did something, I'm adding nothing new to the explanation.

In this case you are.

I'm generalizing becasue intelligence is not something new to a human. Human is a subset of an intelligent agent.

A subset? And how do you know what all the subsets are?

A lot of possible intelligent agents exist.

Undoubtedly. What's your evidence for them?

Humans are just one possible candidate for an explanation.

So are unintelligent causes, and even pure chance, by your own admission.

I'm actually reducing my chances of being wrong.

Based on nothing whatsoever.

Becasue you actually can be wrong in the case of the Rosetta stone being done by humans.

And so can you. You even admitted that with my hippo example. You yourself even said it could've been by pure chance.

Maybe it was a trained moneky.

Maybe it was a pooping hippo with three horns on its butt.

By saying that an intelligence did it I am reducing my chances of being wrong becasue a monkey is a subset of intelligent causes.

While ignoring the unintelligent causes you admitted could've made it as well.

Therefore if a trained monkey designed the Rosetta stone, you would be wrong, and I would be correct.

And if a pooping hippo did it, we would both be wrong.

Great. Tell me was he/she/it talkative? Was he/she/it tall? Was he/she/it blonde?

No idea. He was most probably human though.

Yes, but it's still not an identity.

It's much more then you have, however.

It's a generalization. A subset of intellignet causes. So sayign that an intellignece did it is equally valid.

No, for then you are ignoring evidence.

It's more general with less chances of being wrong.

Nope. Pooping hippo.

Why is it not the same thing? Do you not agree that the explanation only differens in the level of generalization?

No. You add unnecessary agents, and ignore evidence.

What evidence?

The evidence that points to a natural cause for DNA.

Besides the point. The point is that saying that it was human is not the identity. It would not pass in the court of law.

Did I say it would? Nor is it relevant to the point. The point is we can tell it's a human because we know the characteristics of a human.

Heh, well, you see, you are actually the one who is ignoring evidence. DNA is full of CSI. And CSI is the mark of intellignece. So yes, DNA does point to an intellignet cause.

So, DNA is full of made up stuff, which was made up to be able to say that DNA must have been designed.

Of course it has. DNA is an instance of CSI.

It's an instance of hippopoop.

For an example. human genome is about 3 billion base pairs long. Which is about 6 billion bits. It's complexity surpasses 10^120. This number is needed for a random chance to specify 400 bits of information. Anything that is above 400 bits is outside of the reach of our entire universe.

So, creatures with more base pairs then humans don't exist?

Not only that but it is specified in that it conforms to an independently given pattern. Therefore, it's a case of specified complexity, or short - CSI. Which is a reliable indicator of design.

It's full of hippopoop, and that is a reliable indicator of non-design.

It' snot circular, and I do not "want" it to be designed. I'm simply saying that if we find soemthing that is designed, that simply means that there was a designer.

You assert it is designed, however, and then say it therefore requires a designer. You have not shown it is designed, nor have you produced any designer capable of designing it.

No, I do not agree with that reasoning, I'm simply showing you how moronic the argument is.

You don't agree with your own reasoning? Then why bring it up?

Show me that evidence.

Have you got a while to read?

Yup, we do. CSI is a reliable mark of intellignece. DNA is CSI.

Hippopoop is a reliable mark of unintelligence. DNA is hippopoop.

We infer design.

No, you assert design.

Philosophically yes, scientifically no.

Scientifically as well. I don't know any scientist that would sy it is impossible for a hippo with three horns on its butt to have pooped out the Rosetta stone. They will be quick to point out however, that no evidence points to that conclusion, and that until it does such things should be disregarded.

Why would I need to know the characteristics of the designer?

Because else you can't say what he designed.


I hunt for the truth

I am the one Orgasmatron, the outstretched grasping hand
My image is of agony, my servants rape the land
Obsequious and arrogant, clandestine and vain
Two thousand years of misery, of torture in my name
Hypocrisy made paramount, paranoia the law
My name is called religion, sadistic, sacred whore.
-Lyrics by Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead


This message is a reply to:
 Message 140 by Smooth Operator, posted 12-18-2009 6:58 PM Smooth Operator has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 163 by Smooth Operator, posted 12-20-2009 8:43 AM Huntard has taken no action

Smooth Operator
Member (Idle past 4353 days)
Posts: 630
Joined: 07-24-2009


Message 159 of 1273 (539827)
12-20-2009 7:10 AM
Reply to: Message 150 by Percy
12-19-2009 9:11 PM


Re: Flaws of ID
quote:
The concept of CSI is made up.
It's made up? You mean it took a person to construct the definition of CSI and it's not a natural thing that all living beings know? Yeah that's true, but so is Shannon Information. It has also been made up. You do understand that before Shannon made it up, there was even no theory of information? So what's your point?

quote:
It has no units
The units are in bits.

quote:
or method of measure,
This is the latest and the most improved methods of measuring CSI.

http://www.designinference.com/.../2005.06.Specification.pdf

quote:
and the degree to which anything, including DNA, possesses this imaginary quality cannot be determined.
Yes it can, see above.

quote:
Someone could as easily make up the concept of NSC (Naturally Sourced Complexity) and claim that DNA is natural because of the degree to which it exhibits NSC. Like CSI, NSC has no units or method of measure, but it does have one thing CSI doesn't, a method by which it comes about: through the physical laws of nature which we've observed and know exist, in marked contrast to your designer.
True. When you do that come back and present your argument in full detail.

quote:
That's the problem with entities like your designer - it's just not possible to tell the difference between the imaginary and something that's never been seen or detected.
No, that's what YOU can't do. Other's can.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 150 by Percy, posted 12-19-2009 9:11 PM Percy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 164 by Percy, posted 12-20-2009 9:36 AM Smooth Operator has replied

Smooth Operator
Member (Idle past 4353 days)
Posts: 630
Joined: 07-24-2009


Message 160 of 1273 (539831)
12-20-2009 7:23 AM
Reply to: Message 151 by Tanndarr
12-19-2009 9:23 PM


Re: Design of the Rosetta Stone
quote:
This is the only time I'm going to reply to a list of one-liners. I understand that you've got a lot of people discussing, but I would rather you not respond than fail to engage my arguments again.
I don't like your tone anyway so if you don't feel like talking to me, I advise you to go visit some other topic.

quote:
Do I have to quote the whole thread back at you to address a point? You are saying that the Rosetta Stone shows evidence of being designed, but you seem to be drawing a fuzzy line by saying that it could have been designed by aliens or stone-carving monkeys in order to draw a conclusion that we can identify design without knowledge of a designer.
I said that becasue it's true. The best possible explanation is that it was designed by humans. But that's it, it's not a FACT it's an explanation which could be wrong.

quote:
The problem with this argument is that we have massive evidence of exactly who carved the Rosetta Stone.
Well than tell me the name of the person who carved it already!

quote:
We can even read it to see that it has a purpose.
Yeah it has a purpose, so how does that tell you who the edsigner was?

quote:
We know all those things not because the Rosetta Stone stands alone, but because detailed study of Egypt has given us the ability to understand the purpose and context of the Stone.
Again, how does that give you the name of the person who made it?

quote:
We can't just say anyone could have built it without ignoring all that evidence.
WHAT EVIDENCE!?!?!?!

quote:
I don't think I'm going to let you get away with that assertion unless you can provide some sort of evidence that intelligence is not natural. By saying they are non-teleological I understand you to mean they are not related to the design of the ultimate cause or have someway set themselves apart from the chain of ultimate causality. I don't even agree that there is an ultimate cause or design. That's what you're supposed to tell us.
By natural I don't mean "outside of the universe". I simply mean not reducible to material causes.

quote:
Well, you're half-right at least. Care to guess which half? Your evidence for design in DNA is nothing but apologetics. Here's a hint: thought experiments are not evidence. If you have a formula let's see you apply it to some real data and look at the results. I sincerely doubt you'll ever come up with an answer equaling God.
I have already shown how we detect design based on the data we have on the flagellum. If you disagree with it, explain why.

quote:
We're on a text based message board. If I had the slightest idea that you would fairly evaluate any evidence I showed you I might take the trouble. But no, I'm not going to spoon feed you reality. This thread is about What is ID, not support for abiogenesis.
Than why birng it up if you don't want to discuss it?

quote:
1: We see direct evidence of the Designer in other ways that are easily linked to the artifact. For instance we find similar artifacts in graves or near paintings depicting the creation or use of the artifact.
How do you know that those artifacts you find are the ones depicted? Maybe they just look like them and are actually just done by chance?

quote:
2: We can clearly identify the purpose for the artifact. I admit that this is potentially tricky. Maybe the artifact looks like something we recognize and still use but without context there's a possibility we are mistaken.
This does nto tell us anything about the designer.

quote:
In the case of the Rosetta Stone we have both 1 and 2. We could calculate the probability of it being a human artifact vs the remains of aliens through Bayseian Inference, but sadly there's no data on the alien side of the equation.
No we don't since there is only one Rosetta Stone. And you do nto know what it was made for. Maybe it was made to fool somebody into thinking what Egyptian language is like.

quote:
In the case of Intelligent Design there is either an assumption of a Designer outside of the design or there is an assumption of purpose which, as pointed out, is open to interpretation.
No there isn't. The starting point is the pattern the object exhibits.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 151 by Tanndarr, posted 12-19-2009 9:23 PM Tanndarr has taken no action

Replies to this message:
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Smooth Operator
Member (Idle past 4353 days)
Posts: 630
Joined: 07-24-2009


Message 161 of 1273 (539832)
12-20-2009 7:26 AM
Reply to: Message 152 by Dr Adequate
12-20-2009 3:51 AM


Re: Flaws of ID
quote:
DNA evolved because of the marks of evolution it exhibits, not because I say so.
What marks are those?

quote:
But keep in mind that when I say "information" I mean genetic information, which can be produced by evolution.
Where is the evidence for that?

quote:
Well, in the light of the fact that this doesn't actually happen (except perhaps for really tiny populations) it does indeed sound like we should ignore papers purporting to prove that it ought to. Or mock them.
What is a small population?

quote:
If I say; "Complex Specified Elephants are flurble wurble woo-bing spong", then is that a definition of elephants? After all, the full name is "Complex Specified Elephants". Why the hell would anyone debate with me if they were so clueless about the topic as to deny that that's a definition of elephants?
Well you are supposed to elaborate on your definition. You are yet to do that.

quote:
I too am beginning to wonder if English is your first language.
No, it's not. Do you have a hard time understanding me?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 152 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-20-2009 3:51 AM Dr Adequate has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 166 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-20-2009 10:06 AM Smooth Operator has replied

Smooth Operator
Member (Idle past 4353 days)
Posts: 630
Joined: 07-24-2009


Message 162 of 1273 (539841)
12-20-2009 7:57 AM
Reply to: Message 157 by PaulK
12-20-2009 5:12 AM


Re: l
quote:
So what you are saying is that the actual structure of the flagellum has no relevance beyond it's ability to catalyse chemical reactions.
Relevance to what?

quote:
Again your failure to understand Dembski's method is obvious. According to TDI the information content of an object is based on the probability of it forming without design. So if you want to know the information content of the genes you have to consider how they might have formed. Or in short, you don't get to ignore explanations just becuase you don't like them or because you can't calculate the probability.
That doesn't answer my question. Is teh informational content the same or not?

quote:
Calculate the probabiliy of it forming without design. That's it.
And that's what Dembski did. Your point is?

Oh, wait, your point is that it grows. Yeah, I know it grow, and agaon, that's irrelevant because you still need to account for those 50 proteins one way or another. The fact that the flagellum grow is a whole another piece of machinery and a whole lot of new information. So if you think that the probability has increased, it didn't. Because now you have to account for the information that grows the flagellum. Which actually is besides the point.

quote:
You don't actually know what TDI says, do you ?
You don't know what FOF stands for, do you?

quote:
Your measure of complexity is based on random assembly. So your estimate of, say, the information content of a salt crystal would be very high because of the ordered structure. Your estimate of the information in the sodium and chlorine ions in a pool of salt water, and for the sunlight drying out the pool would be rather lower.
Which information? CSI? No. Because salt crystals do not have an independently given pattern. They have no specification, therefore they have no CSI.

quote:
Unfortunately for you that means that growth is the MOST relevant explanation since it is the non-design explanation with the highest probabiliy, You might even be able to legitmately ignore all the others (you can certainly ignore random assembly !).
LOL! That's like saying that cars are NOT designed becasue they are assembled by machines. Cars are designed and so are the machines that assemble them. The same goes for the flagellum and the machinery that assembles it.

quote:
Haven't I provided enough examples ?
You did, but they are all wrong.

quote:
Like I said, it's a fabrication. Axe didn't even LOOK at flagella, let alone consider the differing possible structures or numbers of proteins they might use. You are explicitly limiting the specification to variations of the E Coli flagellum, using variatiosn of the same 50 proteins. That is NOT the specification you said you were using and it is a clear fabrication.
He didn't need to! His woork was on protein in general. We extrapolate this finding on the flagellum becasue it's also made of proteins.

quote:
Here's the first sentence of the abstract:
Yes, that mean that smaller populations are more at risk of experiencing the genetic meltdown. If you actually understood what is happening you would know that the same thing goes for any population. But if the population is larger, more time will be needed for the effect to happen. If you disagree, please expalin what is a "large" population, and how can tehy escape genetic meltdown.

quote:
I guess you disagree with the paper you cite:
The papers clearly says that it MAY, which means they are assuming, and it says AMELIORATE, which means it reduces, not removes the effect.

In otehr words, genetic entropy is still going on, but a a slower pace with that mechanism in place.

quote:
And here we see your poor understanding of English. In the real English language the term "Complex Specified Information" would refer to a specific subset of information - that which is "specified" and "complex". It cannot therefore be a definition of information.
I don't care what you say, Dembski defined it as "Complex Specified Information". Because it's complex and specified. Yes, it is a subset of what information is. Because there are a lot of definitions of information.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 157 by PaulK, posted 12-20-2009 5:12 AM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 175 by PaulK, posted 12-20-2009 11:28 AM Smooth Operator has replied

Smooth Operator
Member (Idle past 4353 days)
Posts: 630
Joined: 07-24-2009


Message 163 of 1273 (539847)
12-20-2009 8:43 AM
Reply to: Message 158 by Huntard
12-20-2009 5:52 AM


Re: Flaws of ID
quote:
Good. Now, the inference made on the available evidence regarding DNA is that it has a natural origin. Case closed (again).
No, becasue 1.) You have no evidence of natural forces eve creating DNA. 2.) DNA exhibits CSI which is a mark of design.

quote:
No. I'm saying chemistry and physics don't need "chance".
Oh I see. Well that's just the problem. You are claiming that natural laws have self-organizing properties. Which is, as much as we know false.

This here paper explains the difference between self-organization and self-ordering. Life is organized, ice cristals are ordered. Big difference. Natural laws have minimal complexity and they can produce self-ordered patterns like ice cristals. But they can not produce organized patterns like living cells. There simply is not information in those laws to build such a pattern.

quote:
Self-ordering phenomena should not be confused with self-organization. Self-ordering events occur spontaneously according to natural “law” propensities and are purely physicodynamic. Crystallization and the spontaneously forming dissipative structures of Prigogine are examples of self-ordering. Self-ordering phenomena involve no decision nodes, no dynamically-inert configurable switches, no logic gates, no steering toward algorithmic success or “computational halting”. Hypercycles, genetic and evolutionary algorithms, neural nets, and cellular automata have not been shown to self-organize spontaneously into nontrivial functions. Laws and fractals are both compression algorithms containing minimal complexity and information.]
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=...

quote:
Irrelevant. You said it could have. That's all that is needed to tear down the "it must have been designed" argument.
Philosophically yes, scientifically not. If we are going to talk philosophy, than your hippo could have done anything. A car, a house, the Earth, the whole universe. He could have even done your mom, and so you came about.

quote:
No. The likely cause in one instance was humans. In the other one it was chemistry and physics.
Where is the evidence that DNA comes about by natural causes?

quote:
Ok, then how about worms making patterns in sand. Are worms intelligent?
Maybe. But we can for sure say bacteria and viruses are not.

quote:
But you would need to if you wanted to know if something is indeed designed.
Explain why.

quote:
I was referring to your further generalization regarding the stone. You have to ignore evidence to do that.
No I'm not ignoring any evidence. Because saying that rosetta stone is designed by people is the subset of a statement that the Rosetta stone was designed by an intelligence.

quote:
We don't. And I didn't say that. We have to know the characteristics of what designed it though, else we wouldn't know if it was deigned.
Explain why.

quote:
No it isn't. For you have absolutely no evidence of DNA being designed, other then your wanting it to. It's a great big circle you're arguing here. The designer exists because DNA is designed. Why is DNA designed? Because it has a designer. Round and round it goes.
Wrong. You are constantly misinterpreting me. I never said that. I said that DNA is designed becasue it exhibits CSI, which is a mark of intelligence.

quote:
See Percy's post for a rebuttal. Again, you assume DNA is designed without actually showing it is.
That's not a rebuttal that was a joke.

quote:
An unintelligent designer. Or worms making patterns in the sand...
Birds are intelligent.

quote:
Because how else are we to know he can create DNA?
By detecting CSI.

quote:
It's a set of characteristics.
But it's not an identity. If you are saying that we need to know the identity of the designer to infer design, than you can't infer that Rosetta stone was designed, because you don't have the identity of the designer. Set of characteristics are not the identity.

quote:
And you'd have to ignore evidence to do that.
No, becasue humans are a subset of inteligent agents. Saying that Rosetta stone was designed by an intelligence is a more general term of saying that it was designed by humans. Both are true.

quote:
Wrong. All evidence points to it, while no evidence points to anything else.
Show me that evidence.

quote:
The evidence that humans use writing, and that humans write in stones.
Yes they certainly do. But how do you knwo that the Rosetta stone is a writing in stone? Maybe it's just another piece of rock that only LOOKS like writing in stone?

quote:
And in doing so have shown your own argument to be false as well. Again, thank you.
So by not agreeing with you, I am also not agreeing with myself?

quote:
And in the process invalidated your own position. I really can't thank you enough.
How is that possible when your argument is opposite to mine, and I disagreed with you?

quote:
Then why bring it up, if you think your own reasoning is false?
I brought it up to show you that it's invalid. An I certainly do nto disagree with myself.

quote:
Would this method by any chance involve the process of simply asserting something to be designed? Because that is what you're doing.
Nope it has something to do with calculating the probability of the pattern arising by chance,a nd finding the matching pattern that it exhibits.

quote:
Changing the goalposts are we? You agreed that something that looks designed can arise by pure chance. Your argument is dead with that admission.
I'm not changing the goalpost, I gave you the benefit of the doubt that you will not twist my argument. But you did.

quote:
Then why did you agree it could?
See above.

quote:
I'm not saying that. I'm saying it could have, and you agreed. Also, you're asserting the same thing with your designer.
When you said that it could have made the Rosetta stone, than it's as if you said that it made life on Earth. Liek I said, he could have alos made you. Maybe he is your dad.

quote:
That humans use writing and that humans write in stones.
How do you know Rosetta stone is writing? Maybe it just looks like it?

quote:
The evidence.
What evidence?

quote:
Because all evidence points in that direction.
What evidence?

quote:
Most likely male.
How do you know that?

quote:
Not really no. You're ignoring evidence that DNA came about naturally, and adding this unnecessary designer.
Where is the evidence that ic could have?

quote:
All evidence points to the fact it can.
Show me that evidence.

quote:
So, you're not adding a designer?
No because if a human designed the Rosetta stone he is the designer.

quote:
In this case you are.
What else did I add?

quote:
A subset? And how do you know what all the subsets are?
I don't know, neither do I have to know. I know that humasn are since they are intelligent.

quote:
Undoubtedly. What's your evidence for them?
Animals are intelligent. Aliens are hypothetical.

quote:
So are unintelligent causes, and even pure chance, by your own admission.
No, that's a twist of my argument.

quote:
Based on nothing whatsoever.
Based on the fact that intellignece creates information.

quote:
And so can you.
Of course, but I have less chance of being wrong.

quote:
You even admitted that with my hippo example. You yourself even said it could've been by pure chance.
No. That is a misrepresentation of my argument.

quote:
Maybe it was a pooping hippo with three horns on its butt.
How doy ou know it isn't that or a monkey?

quote:
While ignoring the unintelligent causes you admitted could've made it as well.
No. That is a misrepresentation of my argument.

quote:
And if a pooping hippo did it, we would both be wrong.
Nope since animals are intelligent.

quote:
No idea. He was most probably human though.
So you admit that you don't know the identity of teh designer of teh Rosetta stone, yet you infered the design without it.

quote:
It's much more then you have, however.
How?

quote:
No, for then you are ignoring evidence.
No becasue saying that I hold a piece of metal in my hand is equally valid as saying I hold a hammer in my hand. I'm not ignoring any evidence. One explanation is more specific than the other that is all. I didn't ignore that I was holding a hammer in my hand I just described it in a more general way.

quote:
Nope. Pooping hippo.
He is also intellignet. Unless you are claiming he is not, than you are stepping into philosophy.

quote:
No. You add unnecessary agents, and ignore evidence.
What unnecessary agents am I adding and what evidence am I ignoring?

quote:
The evidence that points to a natural cause for DNA.
Show me one.

quote:
Did I say it would? Nor is it relevant to the point. The point is we can tell it's a human because we know the characteristics of a human.
No we can't. You only assume it was a human.

quote:
So, DNA is full of made up stuff, which was made up to be able to say that DNA must have been designed.
It's as made up as much as any otehr definition of information liek Shannon information that tells you how much space is taken up on your HDD.

quote:
It's an instance of hippopoop.
Based on what did you come to that conclusion?

quote:
So, creatures with more base pairs then humans don't exist?
Who said the don't? And what does that have to do with my argument?

quote:
It's full of hippopoop, and that is a reliable indicator of non-design.
Explain your method in detail. Where is it explained? On the otehr hand I can link you to my method. Can you do the same for your?

http://www.designinference.com/.../2005.06.Specification.pdf

quote:
You assert it is designed, however, and then say it therefore requires a designer. You have not shown it is designed, nor have you produced any designer capable of designing it.
I have, based on the method above.

quote:
You don't agree with your own reasoning? Then why bring it up?
That's not my, that's your reasoning.

quote:
Have you got a while to read?
None of those point to an actual DNA or RNA being made by natural force. Those articles are at best hypothetical, not real evidence. And what they are all concerned with is how the material itself formed. Which is not what is important. What is important is how the nucleotides that makde the DNA got their sequence just right so that they would specify biological functions. None of those articles explains that.

quote:
Hippopoop is a reliable mark of unintelligence. DNA is hippopoop.
Show me where your method is explained.

quote:
No, you assert design.
No, we infer design based on this method. If you disagree witht he method, explain why.

http://www.designinference.com/.../2005.06.Specification.pdf

quote:
Scientifically as well. I don't know any scientist that would sy it is impossible for a hippo with three horns on its butt to have pooped out the Rosetta stone. They will be quick to point out however, that no evidence points to that conclusion, and that until it does such things should be disregarded.
Maybe because such enteties do not exist.

quote:
Because else you can't say what he designed.
Neither can I say what he desigend even if I knew his characteristics. Do you know what a person did just by looking at him?

Edited by Smooth Operator, : No reason given.

Edited by Smooth Operator, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 158 by Huntard, posted 12-20-2009 5:52 AM Huntard has taken no action

Percy
Member
Posts: 20770
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 164 of 1273 (539848)
12-20-2009 9:36 AM
Reply to: Message 159 by Smooth Operator
12-20-2009 7:10 AM


Re: Flaws of ID
Hi Smooth Operator,

CSI is made up because it is not based upon observations from the real world. Shannon information, Newtonian and Einsteinian physics, Maxwell's laws, etc, are not made up because they developed out of observations of the real world with whose laws they are consistent.

Smooth Operator writes:

quote:
It has no units
The units are in bits.

quote:
or method of measure,
This is the latest and the most improved methods of measuring CSI.

http://www.designinference.com/.../2005.06.Specification.pdf

CSI is measured in bits? And you have a reference that shows you how to calculate CSI? Then could you please show us the calculation for the CSI of something, preferably something simple? For instance, how much CSI is in the single DNA codon AGT? How would you contrast it with the CSI for a tiny fragment of rock with three minerals in a row, say, quartz-calcite-magnetite?

I only ask in order to focus attention on the inability of anything from Dembski allowing you to perform this simple task, one that I've done many times at this forum using Shannon information. If you'd like to see it again just ask.

This is why your diagram is false when it defines DNA as an example of design. No one's ever researched the relationship between CSI and intelligence, nor the threshold of CSI that might indicate the involvement of an intelligence, plus CSI is based upon the false assumption of instantaneous formation of structures that actually took billions of years to evolve (this is the 10120 coefficient that appears in Dembski's equations).

Since there is no empirical nor even theoretical foundation for CSI, classifying things like DNA and books as being instances of design based upon their CSI is completely bogus.

I'm sure the people here would be delighted to discuss with you the details of Dembski's CSI calculation to the extent you understand them, so whenever you're ready to start presenting his method in this thread then please proceed, by all means.

quote:
That's the problem with entities like your designer - it's just not possible to tell the difference between the imaginary and something that's never been seen or detected.

No, that's what YOU can't do. Other's can.

No kidding! You can tell the difference between the imaginary and the undetectable! Could you explain for us how you do this?

--Percy

Edited by Percy, : Grammar.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 159 by Smooth Operator, posted 12-20-2009 7:10 AM Smooth Operator has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 196 by Smooth Operator, posted 12-21-2009 10:08 AM Percy has replied

Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 291 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


(1)
Message 165 of 1273 (539849)
12-20-2009 9:41 AM


Some Remarks On The No Free Lunch Theorem
1: Introduction to Optimization Problems

Suppose you have a set of options (call this set X), and suppose that there is a function f (the fitness function) which, for any x which is a member of X, will assign it a numerical value.

Suppose that you want to find the member x* of X such that f(x*) gives the highest value; and you are allowed to go about this by trying out various values of x and seeing what f(x) is; and you try to use the information you gather in this way to locate x* (which we shall call the optimum).

To be certain that you had found x* you would have to examine the value of f(x) for every x in X --- that is, you would have to perform a "brute force search" of X. In most cases, this is not practical, because of the size of X; and in the end it turns out to be more economical to look at only certain choices of x, saving valuable time but risking ending up with a suboptimal solution which has a fitness reasonably close to the optimum.

Now, (excluding for the effort your algorithm puts into choosing the values of x to examine) the computational cost of your algorithm will depend on the number of cases you examine. If you calculate f(x) for n different choices of x, then we may call this a search algorithm of order n.

2. Random Search

In a random search of order n, you randomly pick n members of X (call them x1 ... xn, calculate the values f(x1) ... f(xn), and then pick as your answer that member of x1 ... xn which yields the highest value of f.

This is not at all a bad way to do a search: for, by elementary probability theory, the expected result is that your solution will lie in the top 1/nth of X. If n is a hundred, for example, then your solution will (on average) lie (just) in the top percentile of the possible solutions in the whole set X.

This very efficient search technique might well put you in mind of evolution, depending as it does on random variation plus selection of the fittest. However, you will note one difference: all the variation is produced in just one "generation", followed by one massive act of selection that culls all but one winner. In that respect it is more like the adaptive immune system --- indeed, the immune system is a natural instance of a random search algorithm, and shows just how effective this technique can be when n is reasonably large.

3. No Free Lunch

Now, you might contemplate coming up with some cleverer algorithm than that: something which, for the same value of n, will (on average) produce a better solution. This is possible: but only if it happens that f has a structure for which your algorithm is a good fit.

Let's take a simple example. Suppose that X is the numbers from one to a million, and suppose that you happen to know that f is drawn from those functions on X such that f(x) = 0 when x is even and such that f(x) > 0 when x is odd. Then armed with that knowledge, you can perform a search which only looks at the odd values of x (and which is otherwise a random search).

As we have already noted, a random search of order n will (on average) produce a result in the top 1/nth of X. But this new and cleverer search, if it has order n, will produce a result in the top 1/2nth of X.

On the other hand, suppose you applied this search technique to a function f which was the other way round --- such that f(x) = 0 when x is odd and such that f(x) > 0 when x is even. Well, then it would produce simply awful results, for its best candidate would have a fitness of 0. And suppose that you applied it to a function f such that the values of f(x) were random with respect to X, then it would on average produce result which were no better or worse than a random search.

This simple example illustrates the essence of the No Free Lunch Theorem. If a certain search technique is better than random search when applied to one sort of fitness function, then there must be another sort of fitness function for which it performs worse than random search. There can be no search algorithm of order n which performs better than a random search of order n for every fitness function.

4. Creationist Blunders, Part #1

The major creationist blunder concerning this subject comes in two parts.

First, they maintain that since the evolutionary process was not designed to be well-suited to the fitness function that it optimizes, therefore it can't be well-suited to this optimization problem.

But of course it can: and on the face of it it seems that it is: for evolution works by taking small steps away from existing organisms which were already fit enough to reproduce. Now, it so happens that organisms with similar genomes have similar levels of biological fitness. This procedure therefore at least gives us a strong probability that any given genome in each generation will describe a viable organism, which has evident advantages when you consider the vast proportion of potential genomes that don't describe a viable organism. The evolutionary method of sticking close to what worked in the previous generation might therefore be considered well-suited to the task at hand.

We may note in this connection that evolutionary algorithms have been highly successful in solving other problems for which they were definitely not designed, from computer programming to architectural design to the design of electronic circuits. Evolution simply happens to be a good method for tackling the sort of problems that occur in the real world. It would be no better than a random search --- indeed, it is practically guaranteed to be worse --- if it was applied to a random fitness function, but it happens that the sort of fitness functions relevant to the real world are not random.

However, creationist maintain that as no-one designed it to be good at solving biological problems (or, for that matter, architectural problems) therefore it mustn't be well-suited to such tasks. (Explaining how something which is obviously true in practice can't be true in principle is one of the quaintest of creationist customs.)

Therefore, they conclude, evolutionary processes can't be better than a random search at optimizing biological fitness. The argument seems to be that as the evolutionary method wasn't chosen to be well-suited to the fitness functions, therefore it isn't well-suited to this task, and therefore the fitness functions can be regarded as random with respect to the method.

5. Creationist Blunders, Part #2

This brings us on to the second, and even more ridiculous, aspect of the creationist blunder. For it seems that when the typical creationist gets some half-digested notion of the No Free Lunch Theorem into his head, what he understands by "random search" is a search which produces an entirely random member of the set X --- that is, a random search of order 1!

But what the No Free Lunch Theorem actually tells us is that, applied to a randomly chosen task, an evolutionary algorithm will be no better (on average) than a random search of the same order. Now, the order of the search is just the number of samples that have been made of the set of all genomes, or, to put it more simply, the order of the evolutionary search so far is the total number of organisms that have ever lived.

It is hard to put a figure or even an order of magnitude on this: however, if you consider the facts that there are an estimated 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bacteria alone living today, that they are thought to have been around for 3,000,000,000 years or so, and that they reproduce about once every three days, you begin to get a feel for the hugeness of the figures.

On the basis of these figures alone, one would expect a random search of that order to produce as its optimal candidate an organism somewhere in the top tredecillionth of all possible organisms: a degree of perfection that would make an engineer weep. If creationists wish to claim that evolution could do no better than that, let them make the most of it.

Creationists wish to denigrate the efficiency of evolutionary mechanisms by comparing them to a random search algorithm. It is worth restating that a random search is very effective. In fact, the No Free Lunch Theorem shows that, on average, there is nothing better. As we have remarked, the adaptive immune system is based on a random search, and one of a much smaller order than one comparable to evolution. Yet this random search produces lymphocytes which appear tailor-made to target specific diseases: doubtless if we had no idea of the mechanism by which they formed, creationists would suppose that a measles-specific lymphocyte was designed to combat measles, and William Dembski would be touting it as an example of Complex Specified Information.

6. Written In Jello

The No Free Lunch Theorem is the brainchild of mathematicians David Wolpert and William Macready. Wolpert has trenchantly criticized William Dembski for his vague blather about Wolpert's theorem in an article entitled ""William Dembski's Treatment of the No Free Lunch theorems is Written in Jello".

One might indeed wonder what the purpose of these vague, imprecise, and fataly flawed arguments can be. They seem to serve several purposes in the creationist movement.

First, they give the impression that creationists are at least trying to engage in some sort of science. Why, they even got no less a luminary than David Wolpert, the discoverer of the No Free Lunch Theorem, to disagree with them about what it means! If this seems like a trivial victory, or even a humiliating defeat, remember that during the Dover Panda Trial creationists insisted that Intelligent Design must be a real scientific idea because real scientists had debated with them.

Second, it gives the creationist-in-the-street something else to be wrong about. You might think that they have enough to be wrong about, but they can always use more; and the more abstruse it is, the better. They often find themselves in the hopeless position of arguing about biology with people who know about biology, and this is never going to go well for them. How much better if they can argue on a subject about which the average biologist knows no more than they do. Ignorance on both sides levels the playing field. This also accounts for the former popularity of their gibberish about the Second Law of Thermodynamics: but as this has become a standing joke, they need something new.

And, related to the previous point, it relieves them from even having to think about biology. The question that a sensible person would ask is whether the mechanisms of evolution can really do all that has been attributed to them, which would involve looking at the reality of mutation, selection, genetic drift, and so forth. This makes creationists uncomfortable --- as well it might. Their avoidance of the words "natural selection" in particular amount to a phobia.

Their nonsense about the No Free Lunch Theorem allows them to place a comforting level of abstraction between themselves and reality, for then all their discourse about the theory of evolution can refer only to three very abstract facts about it: it behaves like an optimization algorithm; it is claimed to have produced some degree of optimization; and no-one designed it to do so. They can then ignore all the facts about natural selection, mutation, and all the pesky observations of the real world which so distress and vex them.


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