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Origins Theology Forum for the discussion of Creation Science (Young/Old) vs Theistic Evolution. Discussion of Atheistic Evolution should be taken to the Discussion and Debate forums.

View Poll Results: Can Intelligent Design be Identified Scientifically
Yes 17 44.74%
No 16 42.11%
Possibly (explain) 4 10.53%
It's a stupid question (really explain) 1 2.63%
Voters: 38. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 22nd August 2010, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Mallon View Post
shernren's point is that you are conflating intelligent design with Intelligent Design (capital I, capital D). The former is the belief that the universe was brought into existence by an intelligent, all-powerful being -- something all evolutionary creationists accept. The latter is the belief that an intelligent, all-powerful being created life with irreducible/specified complexity -- something evolutionary creationists reject. Therefore, the terms are not synonymous. It's entirely possible -- and Christian -- to accept the former without necessarily accepting the latter.
I was hoping you would get back into the discussion. Sure it's possible but it's unlikely that you could reject God as designer and still accept God as Saviour.


Those aren't even questions, so I don't know how I'm supposed to answer them. If your point is that life appears too complex to have evolved, I'll answer you as I always do: That's a classic argument from personal incredulity. It's negative evidence. A logical fallacy. The last time I told you this, you got all up-in-arms and accused me of ad hominem attacks. If you can't recognize a logical fallacy when you make one, I don't see how I can help you any further.
Of course they are questions, how does that happen? The information does not produce itself it requires a designer, that is commonly understood to be God. What is your explanation for the exponential rise of information?

Those are real world questions and if you abandon them you admit by default you are without answers.

Have a nice day
Mark
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  #122  
Old 22nd August 2010, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by mark kennedy View Post
Of course I would, it's a self evident fact, God created the world and everything in it. The question is nonsensical from a Christian perspective.
There you go, folks, mark has admitted that
even if life was not irreducibly or specifiably complex
it would still have been created by God.
In other words, one can believe intelligent design without accepting Intelligent Design. I'm glad that mark has finally found himself on the Biblical side of the debate.

Originally Posted by mark kennedy View Post
Yep, never doubted it for a minute. It's your denial that is making all the difference. Sorry you can't admit your error and it's not semantics, it's moral. That's how I eventually took down sfs, he could not admit the obvious fact of a transcription error being a mutation even though it is exactly that.
Hey guys, mark took down sfs! Isn't that amazing?

But why stop at such small fry? Since you are capable of defeating a highly-published geneticist in his own field with no formal training, I suggest you do the rest of Christendom a favor and start cracking on Richard Dawkins. I mean, the guy hasn't published a new scientific paper in five years!

I'm sure he'll be child's play to you, O thou hallowed champion of evangelical apologetics and slayer of heathens and compromisers. I'm sure you could teach Alister McGrath, Alvin Plantinga and John Stott a thing or two.
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  #123  
Old 22nd August 2010, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by mark kennedy View Post
I was hoping you would get back into the discussion. Sure it's possible but it's unlikely that you could reject God as designer and still accept God as Saviour.
As I said, no evolutionary creationist rejects God as designer. Rejecting Intelligent Design is not the same as rejecting intelligent design. You don't appear to be grasping this. It is not necessary that, for something to be designed, it must be irreducibly complex.

Those are real world questions and if you abandon them you admit by default you are without answers.
First, I'm not a microbiologist, nor do I have much interest in the subject, so I don't claim to have answers for something I know relatively little about. I will say that there is good evidence that cells were not simply poofed into existence; they evolved. I presented that evidence earlier here:
http://www.christianforums.com/t7488488-5/#post55434935
Second, as I've said before, claiming that cells did not evolve simply because you're not convinced by that evidence is an argument from personal incredulity (logical fallacy). You don't get to claim victory for your pet theory simply because we cannot yet describe every minuscule step involved in the evolution of a cell. We don't have a complete understanding of gravity yet, either, but that doesn't mean you get to invoke Intelligent Falling as a viable alternative.
Third, if you're genuinely interested in looking for answers about cell evolution as you claim, then why are you looking for them on an internet message board for Christians? There's a vast literature out there on the subject of cell evolution, and there are many qualified researchers who would be more than willing engage your questions. Why not ask them? Or better yet, do some original research of your own.
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  #124  
Old 22nd August 2010, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Mallon View Post
As I said, no evolutionary creationist rejects God as designer.
How many more times are we gong to have to say that before Mark figures it out? I think we're past 100 now.
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  #125  
Old 22nd August 2010, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by mark kennedy View Post
If the mutation does not happen during the replication process then it is somatic, it is never the less a mutation and I think you know that.
Why do you never learn terminology before you start throwing it around so heedlessly? "Somatic" is a term that applies to cells; we have germ cells (ova or sperm depending on gender) and somatic cells (everything else.) Mutations happen in both. Replication happens in both. Transcription happens in both.


Replication refers to making a copy of the same thing. DNA replication means new DNA is formed. If the new DNA is not (as it should be) an exact replica of the DNA is was copied from, that is a mutation. Very often, miscopying is corrected to keep the new DNA an exact replica of the original DNA. So "failure of DNA repair" is not a bad definition of mutation, but it can only apply when there is newly replicated DNA in need of repair.


Are you with me so far?






Now your claim is that replication happens during transcription. Transcription does not produce new DNA. So where is the replication?

Not one of your videos, images or diagrams shows a new strand of DNA being produced.

No new strand of DNA means no miscopying from the original DNA.
No miscopying means no need for DNA repair.
No need for DNA repair means no failure of DNA repair.

And since your definition of mutation is "a failure of DNA repair" no failure of DNA repair means no mutation.

Now you can show you are right and I am wrong by pointing out the new strand of DNA (not mRNA) that was replicated during transcription.

Go for it.
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  #126  
Old 23rd August 2010, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by mark kennedy View Post
Just as the meaning of a sentence depends upon the specific arrangement of the letters in a sentence, so too does the function of a gene sequence depend upon the specific arrangement of the nucleotide bases in a gene. Thus, molecular biologists beginning with Crick equated information not only with complexity but also with “specificity,” where “specificity” or “specified” has meant “necessary to function” (Crick 1958:144, 153; Sarkar, 1996:191)...

...Molecular biologists have recently estimated that a minimally complex single-celled organism would require between 318 and 562 kilobase pairs of DNA to produce the proteins necessary to maintain life (Koonin 2000). More complex single cells might require upward of a million base pairs. Yet to build the proteins necessary to sustain a complex arthropod such as a trilobite would require orders of magnitude more coding instructions. The genome size of a modern arthropod, the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, is approximately 180 million base pairs (Gerhart & Kirschner 1997:121, Adams et al. 2000). Transitions from a single cell to colonies of cells to complex animals represent significant (and, in principle, measurable) increases in CSI.Intelligent Design: The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories Stephen C. Meyer
Actually, Meyer disproves his own points in his latest book Signature in the Cell. He first notes (his own distinction, not mine) that there are two kinds of CSI: a popular, engrossing forensics show on national television, and a sterile, nebulous concept about genetic information that has never been quantifiably measured by ID practitioners (who nevertheless say it has "increased") and is never used outside their isolated little enclave.

No, actually, he says that CSI can be either "functional" or "meaningful". (Those with the book, see page 359.) That is, the information can be specified either by virtue of the physical and chemical properties of the system conveying the information, or it can be specified because of some layer of abstraction imposed on top of the concrete physical and chemical properties.

So, for example, a photograph of the Statue of Liberty and a photograph of the Eiffel tower both carry information. However, the information they carry is not based on the physical and chemical differences between the two photographs: they have the same shape, size, and weight, and if you took them to a chemical lab for analysis their chemical compositions would be almost identical. Rather, they carry abstract information which transcends their physical realities as colored sheets of paper. Indeed, a culture which does not build tall buildings or does not photograph them will not be able to derive any CSI from these photographs, even though the physical composition of the photographs presented to them is the same.

Now, Meyer explicitly states that DNA's CSI is functional:
Although DNA does not convey information that is received, understood, or used by a conscious mind, it does have information that is received and used by the cell’s machinery to build the structures critical to the maintenance of life. DNA displays a property–functional specificity—that transcends the merely mathematical formalism of Shannon’s theory.
(Signature in the Cell, p109). But immediately his attempts at a syllogism collapse like a house of cards. Which intelligent designer has ever tried to create information that is not received, understood, or used by a conscious mind? I have never tried to write an essay which could not be read, compose a song which could not be sung, or filmed a video which could not be watched - yet that is precisely the kind of information Meyer himself calls DNA.

And since no example Meyer cites anywhere has ever shown intelligent designers creating purely functional CSI, he cannot claim that there is an inductive argument that the purely functional CSI of DNA was produced by an intelligent designer. Indeed, here is a direct example of CSI being produced by natural processes:
In the bigger picture, this example [antibody production] shows how a homogeneous population of pre-B cells is transformed to a dynamically diverse population of B cells, with a tremendous increase in information content. This complex information then becomes highly specified by fine-tuning to match the antigens to which they are presented. The result is a high degree of specificity and complexity with no involvement of an intelligent designer as an immediate cause. This does not, of course, preclude the sustaining involvement of an Intelligent Designer at a metaphysical level.

... The random process of gene rearrangement is necessary to ensure a sufficiently broad range of binding specificities, such that some of them are almost sure to bind to one part of each pathogen. His example also illustrates clearly how highly complex and highly specified information is derived directly from a population of relatively low-information cells. Hence, the argument that Meyer makes that all complex specified information comes from an intelligent source does not withstand scrutiny.
The full explanation of antibody production is here, and the full argument against Signature of the Cell here. Both pages are maintained under the ASA Book Discussion forum/blog.
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  #127  
Old 23rd August 2010, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by mark kennedy View Post
1. Intelligent Design proponents' portrayals of "design" do not accurately reflect optimal design principles.
Design principles you never define or even describe.
Well here are two lists:
Good design:
  1. is a good investment.
  2. is all encompassing.
  3. does not exist in vacuum.
  4. satisfies all requirements.
  5. is beautiful.
  6. is innovative, logical and clever.
  7. is intuitive and uncomplicated.
  8. is strategic.
What are your Principles of Good Design? | Design Sojourn
Good design:
  1. Good Design is innovative
  2. Good Design makes a product useful
  3. Good Design is aesthetic
  4. Good Design helps a product be understood
  5. Good Design is unobtrusive
  6. Good Design is honest
  7. Good Design is durable
  8. Good Design is thorough to the last detail
  9. Good Design is concerned with environment
  10. Good Design is as little design as possible
Dieter Rams and his 10 Design Commandments | Design Sojourn

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  #128  
Old 23rd August 2010, 07:50 PM
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I'll just note that my criticism of irreducible complexity is sidelined by Behe's more recent definition of irreducible complexity:
An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway.
In Defense of the Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade:Response to Russell Doolittle, Ken Miller and Keith Robison: Behe, Michael

The irreducibility is now in the originating pathway, not the final mechanism itself; that of course renders many of my criticisms about redundant components irrelevant.

But in return, it would make it almost impossible for ID advocates to ever show that something was irreducibly complex. Let's turn that definition around, see: if any system has even one evolutionary pathway, along which all the steps have some selective advantage, then the system has a "reducible" pathway. It doesn't matter if the system has ten thousand irreducibly complex pathways, the one reducible pathway is enough for evolution to work on - just as it doesn't matter that there are ten thousand ways in which the murderer could not possibly have killed the victim, as long as there is one plausible possibility.

Does Behe seriously intend to elucidate every possible evolutionary pathway for, say, the blood clotting cascade? And does he then intend to show that every single pathway has at least one selectively neutral step? More than that, is he prepared to show that those neutral steps are in fact neutral with respect to any possible selective pressure, not just the ones that lead up to the target system? I'm sure Behe will agree as well as anyone else that adaptations for one purpose are often co-opted for another (just as serine proteases, originally digestive enzymes, were co-opted into the blood clotting cascade).

The fact of the matter is that we do have the systems themselves before us; we don't have a catalog of all the possible evolutionary pathways that lead up to those systems - and if we thought we did, science has only taught us over the centuries that nature has a way of surprising those who believe they have understood it exhaustively. As such, the "pathway"-oriented definition, even if it is more reasonable, is also now profoundly untestable (as are, to be fair, some of the more fine-grained necessities for evolution). So we could revert back to the "systems" definition (no superfluous parts) - but then all the complaints about redundancy in real intelligent design float back into view.

(Interestingly, would IDists think that the national power distribution system is irreducibly complex? After all, the system fails when just a few power stations cut out. So not only can IC systems be assembled gradually (instead of instantly by fiat), even their very irreducible complexity can be an unintended consequence!)
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  #129  
Old 24th August 2010, 03:54 AM
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It isn't just untestable because there are a multitude of possible pathways, it is also untestable because we do not have the organism the mutation first appeared in. How can you possibly tell if the mutation was beneficial or not when it first appeared? A bigger problem is that unless a new mutation actually kills the cell or stops it reproducing, it will still keep on reproducing, though at a slower rate than others. Eventually this could wipe out the line with unselected mutations, but they can be around a very long time trying out new mutations with every new cell. You just need one of these new mutations to be advantageous and the organism is fully back in game, previous unselected mutations included.

Behe's definition would only work is the step was not just unselected but lethal, but even then you would have to show the step was lethal in a cell we simply do not have.
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Old 24th August 2010, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Assyrian View Post
It isn't just untestable because there are a multitude of possible pathways, it is also untestable because we do not have the organism the mutation first appeared in. How can you possibly tell if the mutation was beneficial or not when it first appeared? A bigger problem is that unless a new mutation actually kills the cell or stops it reproducing, it will still keep on reproducing, though at a slower rate than others. Eventually this could wipe out the line with unselected mutations, but they can be around a very long time trying out new mutations with every new cell. You just need one of these new mutations to be advantageous and the organism is fully back in game, previous unselected mutations included.

Behe's definition would only work is the step was not just unselected but lethal, but even then you would have to show the step was lethal in a cell we simply do not have.
You are right that the original genome is inaccessible.

But re: the second objection, I think you must take a population genetics view instead of looking at a single organism, since the IC traits are not simply variant alleles but are in fact largely fixed in the populations of interest.

Mutations take time to fix, and neutral mutations take even longer to fix (and can only do so in a portion of the population). Behe's argument as an absolute argument (unselected step -> can't evolve) is silly; but as a probabilistic argument (unselected step -> less likely to evolve, given limited time) it may hold some water. And I think Behe is aware of this too:
If the improbability of the pathway exceeds the available probabilistic resources (roughly the number of organisms over the relevant time in the relevant phylogenetic branch) then Darwinism is deemed an unlikely explanation and intelligent design a likely one.
Behe's argument somewhat fails because his mutations, by definition, do interact with each other. If two individually neutral mutations together have a positive effect, then their joint fixation will be far faster than one would expect for two uncorrelated neutral mutations.

Nevertheless, if this is considered (though there is no evidence that the IDists get it yet), and if we could hypothetically get over the problem of searching all possible evolutionary pathways (theoretically slightly possible for very small changes - three point mutations can only happen in six possible orders, and each transition state is well-defined), this idea of complexity has some merit in the vein of confidence testing. That is not to say that any IDist has ever (or will ever, probably) come close to properly doing any such quantitative confidence testing on the (somewhat!) known times that it has taken to derive some important evolutionary traits.
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