I was given a link to this forum, which I found interesting. What I don't understand is what the purpose would be in posting someone else's words to attack my argument, if not to avoid the argument altogether.
I don't have a great deal of time to participate in the conversation, but I think at a minimum you ought to at least use my own words to attack my position. The argument is based on the material conditions required to translate form through a material medium into a physical effect. After all, its a physical process, so it must have physical consequences that can be observed. I can give the argument to you in a single paragraph:
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In a material universe, it is not possible to translate any form of recorded information into a material effect without using an arrangement of matter (or energy) as an information-bearing medium. If that is true, then other material necessities must follow. Firstly, such a medium must evoke an effect within a system capable of producing that effect. Universal observation and logical necessity demonstrate this to be true. Secondly, if a medium contains information as a consequence of its arrangement, then that arrangement must be physically arbitrary to the effect it evokes. Again, universal observation and logical necessity demonstrate this to be true. And thirdly, if an arrangement of matter requires a system to produce an effect, and if that arrangement is arbitrary to the effect it evokes, then the system itself must contain a second arrangement of matter to establish the otherwise non-existent relationship between the arrangement of the medium and its effect. Once again, universal observation and logical necessity demonstrate this to be true. If each of these things are true, then in order to transfer and translate any form of recorded information, the process fundamentally requires two arrangements of matter operating as an irreducible core within the system. And because Darwinian evolution requires the transfer and translation of recorded information in order to exist itself, it cannot be the source of this system. Given these observations, a mechanism capable of establishing this semiotic state is necessary prior to the onset of Darwinian evolution and information-based organization.
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I might also say, the flagrant dismissals are substantially off the mark (i.e. comparing biosemiosis to astrology and creationism is merely avoiding the content of the material observations, which can be verified in any collegiate-level biology textbook).
Anyway, as I said, I will not have time to participate, so those who have nothing but character assassination and who obfuscate into irrelevant issues, will certainly have a chance to work their craft.
"I think what he's trying to say is that in order to for nucleotides to be translated into proteins, there has to be a mechanism to translate nucleotides into proteins."
"The argument seems to boil down to the idea that evolution cannot explain the origin of the original replicators from which all known life is descended."
The issue at hand is the material conditions which must be met in order to translate information, that is, the physicochemically arbitrary relationships which are fundamental to the rise of the genome. Without them, there is no biological organization, and no cellular life.
It requires an arrangement of matter (a medium) to evoke an effect with a system, where the arrangement is physicochemically arbitrary to the effect it evokes. It also requires a second arrangement of matter within the system to establish the otherwise non-existent relationship between the medium and its effect. These material conditions are found nowhere else in the physical world except in the transfer of recorded information. You might try reading something along the lines of Howard Pattee “The physics of symbols and the evolution of semiotic controls” (Professor Emeritus, Physics, SUNY) as a primer on the issues.
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"It doesn't bode well when it starts with In a material universe,...... I mean, we've only got one example of a Universe. We live in it. And it is material."
"This immediately warns me of a hidden agenda and that I can expect some long, religious word salad to follow. I'd rather not even bother struggling through it."
So, in not finding your expectations, you mention them as if you had, in place of a substantive response.
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"If a self-replicating molecule that occasionally produces variants of itself counts as a semiotic system, then this might be true. If it doesn't, then it's false, because such a molecule would be subject to selection on the variants, and therefore to "Darwinian evolution".
I cannot parse what you intended to say here, but I think it’s important not to conflate your map for the territory. Darwinian evolution operates by means of changes in the genotype being translated into the phenotype. (This is not even controversial). So in order to exist, Darwinian evolution requires recorded information and a system to translate it. Darwinian evolution cannot therefore be the source of these requirements. To say otherwise, is to say that a process which does not yet exist on a prebiotic earth (Darwinian evolution) can cause something to happen.
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"Its just chemical reactions."
This is typically the weakest of all objections. All symbol systems are material/chemical. You can’t demonstrate one that isn’t, so it’s not even a distinction. Of course, you can simply insist that any local “relationship” instantiated in the system is merely an anthropocentric projection; however what you cannot do is derive the effect of the medium from the chemistry of medium itself.
Marshal Nirenberg used radioactive phenylalanine to establish its relationship to the input of polyuracil into the ribosome. He did so because that local relationship could not be established from the mere chemistry of the polyuracil. As the investigator, he did not impute that relationship on the system, he observed it in reality. If he had ignored those relationships, we would not know the genetic code today. But he wasn’t doing the experiment to ignore the relationships; he was doing it to discover them. That’s the point. Ignoring the relationship is an obvious non-starter; superseded in its ignorance only by overlooking the fact that if those relationships had not been instantiated in a physical system 3 billion years ago, we would not be here to ponder whether or not they’re anthropic projections.