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Author Topic:   Is complexity an argument against design?
Fosdick 
Suspended Member (Idle past 4051 days)
Posts: 1793
From: Upper Slobovia
Joined: 12-11-2006


Message 121 of 142 (477352)
08-01-2008 11:26 AM
Reply to: Message 120 by New Cat's Eye
08-01-2008 1:41 AM


"Complexity" in science
CS writes:

"Complexity" is not some thing that science has to worry about. It is the problem of the creationists.


The information scientists like to make a fuss over it. For example, using principles of information theory some info scientists differentiate "complexity" from "ascendency," "redundancy" and "average mutual information". But sometimes they will take it all the way into metaphysics, which always makes me feel uncomfortable. (Information, of course, is so non-physical that it tends to invite spirits in through the bathroom window.)

In information theory it is fair to ask if New York City's telecommunication infrastructure is measurably more complex than that of Hicksville, OH. And those theorists also like to ask which one has a greater signal-to-noise ratio. It goes from there. And I've spent (wasted) a lot of time trying to fit information theory and its version of "complexity" into biological structure, organization, and evolution.

—HM


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andorg
Junior Member (Idle past 4236 days)
Posts: 9
From: London, UK
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 122 of 142 (480314)
09-02-2008 11:24 AM


Complexity is a relative, not absolute notion
Complexity is not an absolute notion. It is like velocity - relative.

Complexity of any object relatively to the process that have created it is measured by logarithm of number of all objects that this process could have created.

For an automatic plant creating Windows XP installation disks, the complexity of such disks is zero - they are just exact copies of the original. For the Microsoft company the complexity of this disk is much larger, it took about two years of work of thousands programmers to create such a disk. And its complexity (relatively to the modern Microsoft company) is logarithm of number of all possible operating systems that this company could have produced. Perhaps this number is large. But logarithm of it is not so large.

This disk contains 700 MB information. And if we ask an alien to create Windows XP disk, then the alien will have to choose between all 2 in power 8 x 700,000,000 possible combinations of bits, as he has no process which creates the Windows XP disk. So for the alien this disk will be tremendously complex!

The same is for complexity of living organisms. Complexity of an elephant which is clone of an existing elephant is zero. Complexity of an elephant that is born in the Africa elephant population is log of total number of all possible elephants that could be born there. This number can be evaluated.

This is a common illusion, when people say that some object is complex and other is simple, based on the number of parts comprising these objects. A big rock consists of more atoms, than an elephant. Is the rock more complex?

This question is absurd. The correct question is: "Is the rock more complex than an elephant relatively to the process of creation of each one?"

Suppose, there is an island, populated with elephants. And all of the elephants are clones (or twins), i.e. possess the same DNA. Each time a new elephant is born on this island, it is a clone of its parent. And there are no mutations on this island and the elephants are hermaphrodites.

(I think, modern science could create such an island, just each time clone a new elephant).

So - what is the complexity of a newborn elephant on this island?

Its complexity is ZERO! There is only one possible elephant, so the number of possibilities is one, log (1) = 0. This is a completely simple elephant. But this is the same elephant, that we see in any zoo!

By the way, in everyday life we give the complexity the same meaning. One could say: a car engine is very complex. His/her friend would say: Not at all - it is very simple. The first one does not know how the engine is built, the second knows well. So if the first one was asked to build an engine from given parts, he/she would have to choose from lots of combinations of connecting these parts, while the second person would choose from a very small amount of combinations.


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andorg
Junior Member (Idle past 4236 days)
Posts: 9
From: London, UK
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 123 of 142 (480319)
09-02-2008 11:40 AM
Reply to: Message 118 by Adminnemooseus
07-29-2008 8:55 PM


Re: OFF-TOPIC SIDE NOTE and topic abandonment warning
The complexity argument is AGAINST design.

This is because only SIMPLE things can be designed. The complex things can only be evolved. Let's think, what any human being can design? Just what he/she learned to, just what is simple for him/her.

If you haven't studied airplanes - can you design them? No. But one who studied - can. But can this one (who studied airplanes) design some airplane that is not similar to any existing airplane?

Of course not! How airplanes are designed? An existing airplane model is taken, changed a bit and a new one is built. Could Boing 747 have been designed before the second world war?

Of course not! Even a million of designers together could not design such a thing at that time.

Why? Because Boing 747 required step-by-step, trial-and-error long way to appear. And at each step the current airplane model had to be checked by the environment - is it good or bad.

Of course you can just take airplane parts and connect them somehow and here is the new model. But the chance of this model to be GOOD is ZERO!

So to DESIGN is to do things that you already know to do. It is possible to create SIMPLE things by design, not complex. When designing, we are choosing a solution from a set of possible solutions.

The larger set of possible solutions, the more complex the solution. Complexity is related to number of possibilities. But if you need to choose from a very large set of solutions - you chance to choose a good solution vanishes! Because you never know in advance what is good.

Only the ENVIRONMENT knows. Only when a thing is created and put into environment where it needs to exist, it is possible to know if it is good or not.


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Mylakovich
Junior Member (Idle past 4235 days)
Posts: 20
From: Cambridgeshire, UK
Joined: 08-29-2008


Message 124 of 142 (480388)
09-03-2008 5:05 AM
Reply to: Message 117 by John 10:10
07-29-2008 8:36 PM


Re: Yes, still a theory, a validated scientific based on evidence theory, but ...
So you "respect" science when it provides you comfort and benefit, but as soon as it has something to say that contradicts your narrow interpretation of an ancient story, you have been instructed by your superiors that you are to indignantly lash out with misinformed and misguided sophistry in an attempt to prove yourself against the forces of evil. Let me repeat what other's have said: Whatever version of evolution you think you know is false and incorrect. You do yourself no favors by being willfully ignorant of it. You desperately need to learn what you are talking about if you want to be able to comment on any part of it without being laughed at.

I will tell you that when you trot out bible verses and condemnation, you earn the scorn and ridicule of everyone here. The reason you think that calling evolution a "religion" is such a grave insult is because you think of the world in terms of rival dogmas vying for converts. What you fail to understand is that science is a philosophy for learning by observation and experimentation in a natural world. Knowledge passed down from on high has no legitimate place in a empirical philosophy. So your contention that ToE is some machination of satan who’s sole purpose is to corrupt god's children with secular lies is a paranoid delusion foisted upon you by your leaders to keep you scared. You can justify in your imagination that your God smiles upon your valiant struggle against a rival dogma but in reality you are a cartoon-character of ignorance.


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miosim
Member (Idle past 4229 days)
Posts: 57
From: NH, USA
Joined: 04-07-2007


Message 125 of 142 (480843)
09-06-2008 8:34 PM
Reply to: Message 123 by andorg
09-02-2008 11:40 AM


andorg,

I agree with you that Complexity is relative category.

Complexity, in most general form, is a level of uncertainty in problem solving (task performing) by a particular intelligence. It is why Complexity cannot be separated from a specific intelligence that is solving a particular problem. In the same time, and for the same reason, we can’t define Intelligence without referring to a particular problem it is solving. Therefore the definitions of Complexity and Intelligence (and probably information also) are inseparable and all categories aren’t absolute, but are relative to each other.

Complexity of a specific problem could be measured only in reference to a specific intelligence that attempts to solve this problem. For example, what is more complex: to build a house, surgically remove an appendix, or solve a linear differential equation? The answer depends on whom you ask- Carpenter, Surgeon, or Mathematician.

The same way Intelligence is measured by interacting with a specific problem. It is why a result of the measuring depends upon the type of chosen problem. For example if the problem to perform a protein folding, then any cell (or even single molecule of protein) is much more intelligent that we are.

Now, how does complexity relate to intelligent design?
Irreducible complexity is an argument, made by proponents of intelligent design, that certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved by chance only. Scientific community at large rejected this argument, but I don’t belif that they have a good answear. The respond of scientific comumy was rather ideological than scientific.
I think, that Irreducible complexity is a real chalenge still awaiting an explanation.


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Coyote
Member (Idle past 657 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 126 of 142 (480845)
09-06-2008 9:15 PM
Reply to: Message 125 by miosim
09-06-2008 8:34 PM


Irreducible complexity falsified
Irreducible complexity is an argument, made by proponents of intelligent design, that certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved by chance only. Scientific community at large rejected this argument, but I don’t belif that they have a good answear. The respond of scientific comumy was rather ideological than scientific.
I think, that Irreducible complexity is a real chalenge still awaiting an explanation.

IC, as presented by Behe, has been falsified.

I believe the specific examples he relied on have all been discounted.

The following page contains a lot of information, as well as links to pertinent articles:

Irreducible Complexity and Michael Behe: Do Biochemical Machines Show Intelligent Design?


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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miosim
Member (Idle past 4229 days)
Posts: 57
From: NH, USA
Joined: 04-07-2007


Message 127 of 142 (480852)
09-07-2008 12:36 AM
Reply to: Message 126 by Coyote
09-06-2008 9:15 PM


Re: Irreducible complexity falsified
The following page contains a lot of information, as well as links to pertinent articles:
Irreducible Complexity and Michael Behe: Do Biochemical Machines Show Intelligent Design?

Coyote,

A few months ago, on Antievolution forum
http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=48c348551c5e0d20;act=ST;f=14;t=5199;st=1410,
I asked to refer me to the statistical analysis that demonstrate random mutations are sufficient to cause adaptive changes in biological systems. In respond I was referred to the same site (Irreducible Complexity and Michael Behe). I also was told that Genetic Algorithm is an answer to my question.
As I found, GA unable to demonstrate Evolutionary changes based on random mutations. Instead GA is just optimization tool that “brainstorms” a predefined SET OF POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS (see references below):

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/genalg/genalg.html#
Given a specific problem to solve, the input to the GA is a SET OF POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS …
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_algorithm
…GAs cannot effectively solve problems in which the only fitness measure is RIGHT/WRONG, as there is no way to converge on the solution. (No hill to climb.) In these cases, a random search may find a solution as quickly as a GA.”

The gradual, step-by-step changes are the most important concepts without each Darwinism wouldn’t be able to explain evolution. The main argument of Behe against gradualism is that it is impossible to define existence of the “appropriate fitness function” that would provide gradual evolution of the so called “Irreducible complex” systems. Dawkins’s counterargument is that regardless that we can’t reproduce these conditions now, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t exist millions or billions years ago. Dawkins expects that sooner or later the “appropriate fitness function” will be found and he has tried to demonstrate that this isn’t an impossible proposition.

I don’t share Dawkins’ optimism, but I wouldn’t waste time attempting to prove the nonexistence of these conditions billions years ago. How one can prove a non-existence. We may prove a non-existence only in the absolutely defined area of knowledge. For example I may prove to my self the non-existence of a wallet in my empty packet, but only after thorough search and even then I may have some reservations.

Therefore I wish Dr. Dawkins a lock in search of what may happen on Earth million a million years ago, but until these evidences are not discovered, the Neo-Darwinism, in its current form, isn’t proved Theory, but a Hypothesis instead.

I am not proponent of ID, but I think that science doesn't have yet an answer to the Irreducible Complexity challenge.


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Rahvin
Member (Idle past 206 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 128 of 142 (480855)
09-07-2008 2:09 AM
Reply to: Message 127 by miosim
09-07-2008 12:36 AM


Re: Irreducible complexity falsified
The gradual, step-by-step changes are the most important concepts without each Darwinism wouldn’t be able to explain evolution. The main argument of Behe against gradualism is that it is impossible to define existence of the “appropriate fitness function” that would provide gradual evolution of the so called “Irreducible complex” systems.

It's unnecessary to do so. Irreducible Complexity is refuted by the very simple fact that, as the Theory of Evolution predicts, all features of all organisms are not unique, but are rather slightly modified versions of the same feature in another organism. Those slight modifications eventually add up to significant differences, where features that share a common ancestor can have wildly different functions.

It's the core of evolutionary theory.

The refutation of irreducible compelxity is not so much a matter of providing examples of the gradual changes, as this cannot be done in every case and is not required. Irreducible Complexity is an attempted rebuttal of Evolution, and as such must provide an example of an irreducibly complex feature that cannot be the result of gradual changes over time. Each example Behe and his few disciples have given has failed to do so, and this is why the mainstream scientific community regards it as absolute rubbish.

Therefore I wish Dr. Dawkins a lock in search of what may happen on Earth million a million years ago, but until these evidences are not discovered, the Neo-Darwinism, in its current form, isn’t proved Theory, but a Hypothesis instead.

This is a highly inaccurate statement. The Theory of Evolution meets every requirement of a scientific theory, being a widely accepted framework explaining the diversity or life observed on Earth that is based wholly upon observation and objective evidence and has undergone rigorous testing over the past 150+ years and whose predictions have proven to be highly accurate. A theory does not become a mere hypothesis simply because a small group objects, particularly when that small group has not published a real challenge to the theory in an actual scientific journal.

Behe has been soundly rejected by his scientific peers, and so he chooses to fight his battles in the public arena, publishing books ratehr than entries in scientific journals, where his audience is not typically well-educated in science and is more easily swayed by arguments that would be immediately rejected by scientists.

You must understand that, from the perspective of Behe or any common Creationist, this is not about science or the scientific method. This is about the predetermined conclusion that evolution is wrong, regardless of the evidence. It's nothing but apologetics, where the conclusion is known at the beginning and evidence is sought (and twisted, and ignored, and outright fabricated) in support of that predetermined conclusion.

It is, ironically enough, precisely what Creationists insist "evolutionists" are doing. But the scientific method requires evidence and peer review, and is designed from teh ground up with the specific intent of following the evidence wherever it leads, especially if it means proving accepted theories to be incorrect.

Behe has abandoned the scientific method, and is not playing a game of popularity with the public at large. Creationists never wanted anything to do with teh scientific method in teh first place. Their common goal has nothing to do with following evidence where it leads and ensuring accuracy via repeated testing and peer review, but rather upholding their religious dogma at any cost.

Don't pretend their nonsense is a legitimate example of science, or that they are actually presenting credible challenges to the Theory of Evolution. They have no connection with reality or science whatsoever.


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miosim
Member (Idle past 4229 days)
Posts: 57
From: NH, USA
Joined: 04-07-2007


Message 129 of 142 (480868)
09-07-2008 10:24 AM
Reply to: Message 128 by Rahvin
09-07-2008 2:09 AM


Re: Irreducible complexity falsified
Rahvin,

I agree with you more than it seems from my previous post. That post was a bit provocative to emphasize my view on Modern Evolutionary Theory.

I do not have problem with Darwin’s theory of evolution and with Darwin’s explanation of its mechanism in terms of gradual changes and selection – it was a very clever explanation given how little was known at that time. But I do have a problem with the current state of affairs where we are religiously repeating the mantra about random genetic mutation, as driving force, pretending that this is a sufficient explanation. The problem is that a basic statistical analysis doesn’t support this mechanism in term of how much time it would require.

In the Antievolution forum I asked their participants, trained in genetics, to help me find the references demonstrating that probability of random genetic mutation in the process of gradual changes and adaptation don’t contradict with a statistical analysis. However I get no satisfactory answer, regardless the overwhelming confidence that there is abundance of appropriate data.

I think that Modern Evolutionary Synthesis is fundamentally incomplete and that Irreducible Complexity question is a very good one, even I do not accept Behe’s and Dembski’s explanation.


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Coyote
Member (Idle past 657 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 130 of 142 (480875)
09-07-2008 11:23 AM
Reply to: Message 129 by miosim
09-07-2008 10:24 AM


Re: Statistical analyses falsified
The problem is that a basic statistical analysis doesn’t support this mechanism in term of how much time it would require.

Statistical analyses only produce reliable answers if you are correctly modeling the correct variables, and attributing to them the correct weightings. What are the chances of a mathematician coming up with all of the correct variables with their correct weightings when biologists can't even come close to such a model? (Reminds me of the tale wherein a mathematician proved conclusively that a bumblebee can't fly.)

In the Antievolution forum I asked their participants, trained in genetics, to help me find the references demonstrating that probability of random genetic mutation in the process of gradual changes and adaptation don’t contradict with a statistical analysis. However I get no satisfactory answer, regardless the overwhelming confidence that there is abundance of appropriate data.

Try this online lecture:

Making Genetic Networks Operate Robustly: Unintelligent Non-design Suffices, by Garrett Odell

    Description: Mathematical computer models of two ancient and famous genetic networks act early in embryos of many different species to determine the body plan. Models revealed these networks to be astonishingly robust, despite their 'unintelligent design.' This examines the use of mathematical models to shed light on how biological, pattern-forming gene networks operate and how thoughtless, haphazard, non-design produces networks whose robustness seems inspired, begging the question what else unintelligent non-design might be capable of.

This suggests that the mathematicians have been modeling biological systems very poorly, and calls into question all of their "not enough time" conclusions.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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miosim
Member (Idle past 4229 days)
Posts: 57
From: NH, USA
Joined: 04-07-2007


Message 131 of 142 (480908)
09-07-2008 5:28 PM
Reply to: Message 130 by Coyote
09-07-2008 11:23 AM


Re: Statistical analyses falsified
Statistical analyses only produce reliable answers if you are correctly modeling the correct variables, and attributing to them the correct weightings. What are the chances of a mathematician coming up with all of the correct variables with their correct weightings when biologists can't even come close to such a model?

Coyote ,

I agree that mathematical modeling in biology is too often misleading, because we don’t know enough about subject of modeling. However when a Theory of Evolution based on randomness is proposed, as a minimum requirement, it must be demonstrated that proposed mechanism is at least passible. Indeed, it had been plenty of attempts to perform such analysis, but results were rather negative. Unfortunately, expert in this field can’t admit that, and instead widely popularize failed models (Weasel program, Genetic Algorithm and Artificial life systems). Evolutionary theory became too politicized for the open and honest scientific discussion.

This suggests that the mathematicians have been modeling biological systems very poorly, and calls into question all of their "not enough time" conclusions.

The irony is, that an OFFICIAL result of this mathematical analisys, per Neo-Darvinism comunity, is that there is no problem with a time and there is no problem with Irreducible Complexity. Check this
in Discovery magazine:

http://discovermagazine.com/2005....t:int=1
“…When the Avida team published their first results on the evolution of complexity in 2003, they were inundated with e-mails from creationists. Their work hit a nerve in the antievolution movement and hit it hard. A popular claim of creationists is that life shows signs of intelligent design, especially in its complexity. They argue that complex things could have never evolved, because they don’t work unless all their parts are in place. But as Adami points out, if creationists were right, then Avida wouldn’t be able to produce complex digital organisms. … “What we show is that there are irreducibly complex things and they can evolve, says Adami…

and original article in Nature:

http://myxo.css.msu.edu/lenski/pdf/2003,%20Nature,%20Lenski%20et%20al.pdf
Abstract
A long-standing challenge to evolutionary theory has been whether it can explain the origin of complex organismal features. We examined this issue using digital organisms—computer programs that self-replicate, mutate, compete and evolve. …These findings show how complex functions can originate by random mutation and natural selection.

Would be interesting to know your opinion about this article. Take a time; it took me a week to figure this out.


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Coyote
Member (Idle past 657 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 132 of 142 (480922)
09-07-2008 6:21 PM
Reply to: Message 131 by miosim
09-07-2008 5:28 PM


Re: Statistical analyses falsified
It looks like the results of the Nature article are remarkably compatible with those in the online lecture I linked you to above.

In both cases there is a great deal of robustness in the systems, and more than one pathway led to the same result.

I don't see how this in any way lessens the theory of evolution or advances irreducible complexity. It is just another study that shows that irreducible complexity is neither irreducible nor too complex.

If you are reading something more into this, you are ahead of me, as well as the authors.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1249 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 133 of 142 (480929)
09-07-2008 6:59 PM
Reply to: Message 122 by andorg
09-02-2008 11:24 AM


Re: Complexity is a relative, not absolute notion
Hi, Andorg.

andorg writes:

The same is for complexity of living organisms. Complexity of an elephant which is clone of an existing elephant is zero. Complexity of an elephant that is born in the Africa elephant population is log of total number of all possible elephants that could be born there. This number can be evaluated....

...So - what is the complexity of a newborn elephant on this island?

Its complexity is ZERO! There is only one possible elephant, so the number of possibilities is one, log (1) = 0. This is a completely simple elephant. But this is the same elephant, that we see in any zoo!

That's an interesting concept.

What I find interesting about your model is that, if it is correct, and if we apply it to a system where mutation is happening and where all the elephants are not clones... than we see that all mutations have equal "complexity," because each represents a random selection from the same number of alternatives.

If, for instance, there are 32,756,888,123,451 possible mutations that could happen, each one has an equal likelihood of happening. So, if it can be shown possible that any mutation can happen, it has also been proven that beneficial mutations also can happen.

So, if we use the "information theory" stuff used by Dembski and the rest of the ID mafia, we see the scientist, locked in the room, trying to make a single combination to unlock the door by randomly selecting each number from a bucket, and, whatever combination he comes up with, it is equally improbable as any other example. But, the shear fact that he is capable of coming up with any combination is proof of the principle.


-Bluejay

Darwin loves you.


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miosim
Member (Idle past 4229 days)
Posts: 57
From: NH, USA
Joined: 04-07-2007


Message 134 of 142 (480952)
09-08-2008 12:02 AM
Reply to: Message 132 by Coyote
09-07-2008 6:21 PM


Re: Statistical analyses falsified
My first impression was that this article using rigorous scientific method addressed and solved the long-standing challenge to evolutionary theory, what Behe refers as Irreducible Complexity. But it was a wrong impression. Instead the article is flooded with phenomenological details.

By using digital organisms of Avida program, the authors traced the genealogy from an ancestor that could replicate only to descendants able to perform multiple logic functions requiring the coordinated execution of many genomic instructions. To demonstrate that complex systems evolve from simpler precursors authors set up small rewards for simpler operations and bigger rewards for more complex ones and this way provide an “incentive” to evolve through the gradual process. However when the researchers took away rewards for simpler operations, “digital organisms” never found a final solution.

Another word, Avida program didn’t teach us anything new that we already knew from Weasel program and Genetic Algorithms. Neither models lead to evolution, unless the small changes are artificially rewarded, while in reality prohibited amount of simultaneous mutation must occur in order to produce a “jump” to a better solution. Weasel program demonstrate this with a grate transparency: if the small improvements in the “Hamlet line” wouldn’t be rewarded the final line from Hamlet wouldn’t evolve.

Authors of this article understand that they didn’t disprove argument of Irreducible Complexity. They were careful enough to not mention Irreducible Complexity argument or Behe name. However in the article in Discovery magazine they were “loosen up” a bit and proclaim that “What we show is that there are irreducibly complex things and they can evolve…”

You may read these articles and may be you will be more successful reconciling authors statements in Nature http://myxo.css.msu.edu/lenski/pdf/2003,%20Nature,%20Lenski%20et%20al.pdf
and Discovery
http://discovermagazine.com/2005....t:int=1.


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Coyote
Member (Idle past 657 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 135 of 142 (480953)
09-08-2008 12:33 AM
Reply to: Message 134 by miosim
09-08-2008 12:02 AM


Re: Statistical analyses falsified
I read the Nature article, but the Discover article has a bad link in both of your posts.

The Nature article is not kind to the hypothesis of irreducible complexity, as it shows how organisms can develop "irreducibly complex" features through a multi-step process.

I believe that all, or almost all, of Behe's examples have been shown not to be irreducibly complex and that his hypothesis is now being disregarded by all but creationists.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

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