Darwin's Black Box - Michael J. Behe and Intelligent Design

goyacobol

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you, dugdeep for the clarification, reply 114.

Many times the meaning of a word changes from one region/country to another and this produces lamentable or disastrous results, preventing us from knowing the true history, since when the narration is translated, the writer, either by imprudence or with a defined purpose, changes the meaning of some fact; we already know that this happens very often in matters of religion or politics in general.

caballero reyes,

An easer way to direct someone to reply 114 is to right click on #114 and then just do copy link and paste it into your reply like this:

#114

Not to take away from your post, just thought it might help you.
 

zak

Dagobah Resident
Regarding the Cambrian, read Meyer's book from my list above: Darwin's Doubt. That's its main theme. I started a thread about it some years ago here: Darwin's Doubt, by Stephen C. Meyer

As for an explanation for why life seems to be periods of stasis punctuated by sudden bursts of new forms (i.e., injections of information), there's another section in Griffin's chapter that deals with this. We'll be talking about it on the show on Saturday, and when I get the chance, I'll either write up a summary here or paste in the text.
A little summary of the debate on the Cambrian explosion 6 years after Meyer's DD:
In Cambrian Explosion Debate, ID Wins by Default
 

hlat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Behe in the Edge of Evolution dismisses the theory of infinite possible universes in a multiverse and also dismisses a Matrix reality. He does not dismiss those theories with any evidence, but dismisses them because they remove his anchor to reality through observation and because he can't deal with infinite possibilities resulting in freak observers; he wants to trust his observations as real. But at the end of the book, Behe derides Darwin for dismissing intelligent design due to Darwin's revulsion of wasp larvae eating caterpillars; Behe says that revulsion is not a scientific argument. It seems to me that Behe is doing something similar Darwin did, making scientific conclusions without evidence on the basis of personal preference. I will note that the infinite multiverses idea provides a backdoor for random mutation and natural selection, as Behe explains that infinite possibilities eliminates problems of low probabilities, and that anything that is not strictly impossible becomes possible and is reality in one of the multiverses.

I also thought it was strange that Behe thought that the universe was designed around us humans, and he uses the example the movie The Truman Show; it seems to me placing universe's focus on humans is full of hubris. Behe only in passing mentions the possibility that humans were designed not by God but by advanced physicists in a lab experiment, but he doesn't seriously consider this option. So it appears that he doesn't think there are 4D STS feeding on humans.

On a strictly scientific note, I think Behe makes a mistake when he assumes that the rate of mutations is constant in his extrapolations. There are many things that could massively accelerate mutations, eg nuclear blasts, tunguska events, comet strikes, extraterrestrial plagues. Tree rings are not constant so why should the rate of mutation be constant. A higher mutation rate still doesn't explain design, though it changes the edge of evolution by increasing the likely possibilities of random mutation and natural selection.
 

fabric

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I will note that the infinite multiverses idea provides a backdoor for random mutation and natural selection, as Behe explains that infinite possibilities eliminates problems of low probabilities, and that anything that is not strictly impossible becomes possible and is reality in one of the multiverses.

That doesn’t really make all that much sense to me. Even if there is an infinite number, within that particular universe you would still need to reach impossibly high numbers of generations to see a beneficial mutation. Perhaps if that universe had completely different laws of physics there could be something to that but then we’d be comparing apples to oranges. Then again, as far I understand randomness has the net effect of destroying information and without some kind of directing force you will only end up with an infinite number of dead universes.

On a strictly scientific note, I think Behe makes a mistake when he assumes that the rate of mutations is constant in his extrapolations. There are many things that could massively accelerate mutations, eg nuclear blasts, tunguska events, comet strikes, extraterrestrial plagues. Tree rings are not constant so why should the rate of mutation be constant. A higher mutation rate still doesn't explain design, though it changes the edge of evolution by increasing the likely possibilities of random mutation and natural selection.


I don't think he's necessarily making a mistake there (and he was being generous with his estimates). What he is referring to as the edge is what benefits or real adaptive changes random mutation and natural selection can provide. From everything that has been observed so far, it seems that it can’t go much further beyond 1 at best 2 steps (such as a simple change to a protein's structure). So increasing the number of random mutations still doesn’t appear to do all that much to change the edge as he describes it, especially when trying to bridge the gap between 5 or 6 changes that need to happen at the same time – and the odds again become so astronomical (I think it becomes something like 10 320) it’s not even worth considering.

Additionally, in Evolution 2.0 he describes the experiments where they induced mutations (therefore changed the rate) by exposing fruit flies to low level radiation and nothing came of it except defective flies. Those events also tend to kill off most of the parent populations thus reducing the pool from which a potentially beneficial mutation could randomly arise. Which again, don’t really help the case in changing what the limits of Darwinian evolution are because it is so improbable.
 

caballero reyes

The Living Force
caballero reyes,

An easer way to direct someone to reply 114 is to right click on #114 and then just do copy link and paste it into your reply.


Thank you, goyacobol
 

hlat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Even if there is an infinite number, within that particular universe you would still need to reach impossibly high numbers of generations to see a beneficial mutation.
Behe in the infinite multiverse discussion brought up the example of a dead universe with a exception of a spontaneously generated brain, all alone and self aware of being alone in the universe; which is much more improbable than our existing reality, but possible nonetheless. Unreasonable improbability is not impossibility. Hence, the backdoor for darwinism no matter how tiny the odds would be.

I'm not trying to argue that darwinism is correct, and I don't think it is. I'm talking about Behe's discussion of the multiverse, and he rejected the infinite multiverse because he didn't not want to face that everything would be possible in the infinite multiverse.

This ends up back to the points that Pierre made. There's not going to be ultimate proof. There's just the best information we can gather about the reality we're in and uncertainty about the rest, and free will to decide.
This being said, what the point of invoking evidence on a topic (the existence of God) that can't be proved or disproved?
And when you think about, the fundamental choice between STS and STO, the two consubstantial principles of the Universe, is not driven by some evidence, but by the deepest nature of the entities that face it and exercise their free will.
 

goyacobol

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Well we're all kind of in over our heads sometimes I think.

I'm not trying to argue that darwinism is correct, and I don't think it is. I'm talking about Behe's discussion of the multiverse, and he rejected the infinite multiverse because he didn't not want to face that everything would be possible in the infinite multiverse.

This ends up back to the points that Pierre made. There's not going to be ultimate proof. There's just the best information we can gather about the reality we're in and uncertainty about the rest, and free will to decide.

About universes the Cs mentioned some possibilities:

Session 4 January 1997:
Q: (L) Are the words "universe" and "dimension" synonymous?

A: Yes and no.

Q: (L) In what sense yes?

A: For you, these are "grey" areas, and no matter how hard you try, until your perception shifts fundamentally, you ain't gonna get it!

Q: (J) I guess it is a question of faith. (L) Are all universes "Free Will" universes?

A: If chosen.


Q: (L) Are there universes where everything is predestined?

A: Within the framework of a cyclical separation bond.

Q: (L) What is a "cyclical separation bond?" I think I'm getting in over my head...

A: Only because "you ARE in over your heads."

Q: (L) But you didn't tell me what a cyclical separation bond is!

A: And if we do, you will ask: "What do you mean by that?"

So it seems the possibilities may be endless but that doesn't mean we can not choose to at least fault Darwin's weak incomplete arguments in favor of a more informed view of the creation which by common sense would imply a creator/designer.

The whole above session is very thought provoking. Another question that had an interesting answer was:

Q: (L) Well, that is certainly true, considering the stuff that is coming back to me about the "Wave." But, all my internet postings are dated, so it would be fairly easy to track. We have some questions here: Physicists talk about multi-dimensional universes. The idea is that our 3 dimensional space and 1 dimensional time is an illusion of plane beings, while the true universe has more dimensions perpendicular to the above ones. Physicists have different guesses here: 5, 6, 7, 11, 256. How many dimensions does the true universe have?

A: Not correct concept. Should be: How many universes does the "true" dimension have?


Q: (L) Alright, then. I think that from a previous session we were told that the number of universes was not countable. Is that correct?

A: Infinite, maybe, but more to the point: variable and selective.
 

goyacobol

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Some of the early background of the takeover of materialist science.

Much of that video seems like yesterday to me. I wonder if most of those wanting to emigrate to the U.S. are not in search of that American Dream.

One of the saddest things now is we have gone from the "Melting Pot" of hope with welcoming arms to a country that wants to build a wall to keep it all for ourselves. After impoverishing more countries and pillaging their resources we continue to take and give back nothing.

I shouldn't say "we" because it is not the lower and middle class (or maybe even "elite"} who are in charge.
I think what the Cs say is the United States is not what we think it is.

Session 29 March 1997:
Q: (Laura) Well, yes, it could be unsubstantiated rumor, we don't know that it's the Rockefellers behind Lindemann. OK, let me ask this. Is it the United States government?

A: There is no such.

And all that "science" lured us into the dream. If we had used our science better then and now we could have shared it and avoided all the pollution and destruction we are in now.
 

John G

The Living Force
Behe in the infinite multiverse discussion brought up the example of a dead universe with a exception of a spontaneously generated brain, all alone and self aware of being alone in the universe; which is much more improbable than our existing reality, but possible nonetheless. Unreasonable improbability is not impossibility. Hence, the backdoor for darwinism no matter how tiny the odds would be.

I'm not trying to argue that darwinism is correct, and I don't think it is. I'm talking about Behe's discussion of the multiverse, and he rejected the infinite multiverse because he didn't not want to face that everything would be possible in the infinite multiverse.

This ends up back to the points that Pierre made. There's not going to be ultimate proof. There's just the best information we can gather about the reality we're in and uncertainty about the rest, and free will to decide.
I would think the tiny odds universe version of life like us would more likely have less diversity of lifeforms than what we have aka less of the tiny odds events happening. More likely would be some kind of Thomas Nagel-like teleological evolution. It would be like comets in the future correlating with human behavior in the present. You could have non-local physics probabilities in the present determined by possibilities in the future thus you get the present subtly moving towards certain possibilities in the future like comets and intelligent life.

Besides this time traveling designer information, you can also have time traveling lifeforms doing bioengineering. Comets could have wiped out dinosaurs to make room for a path towards us. That the billions of years to get to us is of the same order of magnitude as the lifetime of the sun could fit with subtle non-local teleological evolution. Course with time travel, one could loop back a lot and the age of things happening in the universe can be much more than it seems.
 

whitecoast

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I've been thinking about another argument against neo-Darwinism. I can't remember if I read it somewhere or if thought of it myself, and I'm not sure it's entirely correct, but hopefully those of you who know better will tell me.

If evolution is about the survival of the fittest, and in general the simplest life forms are the fittest, then why are there complex organisms like mammals at all?? Remember we are always told that cockroaches will survive a nuclear holocaust, but not us. And bacteria, as species, are much more capable of surviving than cockroaches. Some of them live in volcanoes! So how can we explain that higher organisms ever evolved past the point of the simplest forms of life?

I'm glad you asked! This really comes down to how you construe fitness. To ask about an organism's fitness is to ask about its ability to survive and reproduce with respect to a certain environment, which includes the other organisms in the community, physical features, as well as changes to the same over a certain scale of time, and black swan events. A good example to look at are plants. In a temperate forested or meadow ecosystem you find several types of plant types: ephemerals, annuals, and perennials. Ephemerals have the simplest genomes, followed by the annuals and then perennials.

The ephemerals sprout from the seeds, grow rapidly, reproduce in large amounts and then promptly die off as soon as the ideal springtime conditions leave. So if you took a small slice of the ecosystem in the height of spring you would say the ephemerals are the fittest and will out-compete the annuals and perennials. Over larger time scales however, you see annual plants surviving longer as individuals, taking advantage of some of the conditions that ephemerals can't deal with and so on. The same case is with perennials, which survive multiple growing seasons, weather disasters, and so on while the seeds of the ephemerals need to hunker down in the mulch and dirt until their "golden age" returns, and even then they are seeds and so technically are not the same individuals, and so (excluding clones for the time being) cannot strictly be said to be fairly incorporated into the same fitness metric as can be done with the individual perennial that sticks around for a number of years.

Another good example is that of tardigrades, or water bears. They get a lot of fame in the pop science world for being able to survive extreme heat, cold, deep space, radiation, probably electrocution, you name it. What don't they do well against? Virtually everything else. Larger animals (i.e. most of them) swallow them all the time, they get stepped on, etc. They may still stick around if the earth goes the way of kantek, but that doesn't count for much at the current scale of looking at it.

As for the other question of why do complex organisms arise, it's because it changes the dynamics of the playing field and reduces competition for resources. When you look at the formation of Eukaryotes via the endosymbiosis of bacteria into archaea species, you end up with an adaptive and cooperative relationship that can survive a lot more succesfully and adaptively than either just the bacteria or archaea on its own. The same goes with the leap to multi-cellular organization, where cells gang up together to take on other cells. Bacteria and yeasts can do this as well, true, but the key ways they specialize is a lot more rudimentary compared to even the most primitive animals (eg, sea sponges).

Typically its to the entire ecosystem's advantage that organisms diversify and find new niches, since, while Darwinism is often characterized as survival of the fittest, it paints a misleading picture that competition is the key to evolution. That may work on an intra-species level, where animals do often compete for resources and mates (and even then there are gregarious or (eu)social animals which benefit from cooperation). But inter-species competition is a very bad idea for both species, since it weakens both. So one usually drives the other out of the niche, after which it can either find another niche or expect its numbers to dwindle.

If you look at a population of birds in the area, while their food may often be similar, their feeding habits may not necessarily be. Some birds may only eat insects in the under-story of trees in the morning, while others may only eat in the canopy in the afternoon. And those bird calls? Other birds warning eachother to stay in their respective foraging territories (in addition to bragging about their territory's size to entice females). If you make some n-dimensional measurements of the types of food, foraging times, locations, etc. you would likely not see overlap in the n-dimensional objects of each species in its niche, since competition is a heavy waste of resources for everyone involved.

I live in in an urban environment where there are both a lot crows and seagulls around. Both of them are scavenger omnivores, but with the seagulls being bigger they often can bully the crows away from larger scores of plunder (say, some abandoned mcdonalds lunches). In spite of this, the seagulls tend not to rut round in parks and gardens looking for insects the way the crows do, since they are larger and I think are just more inclined for urban environments near the ocean as well as beaches.

So in conclusion evolution of more complex life is related to greater ability of individuals to adapt and continue reproducing over a longer time, as well as the bonus of creating/finding new niches and reducing intra-species competition, thereby increasing the overall biomass and biodiversity. (I am a heavy proponent of the Optimizing Gaia Hypothesis, which is a branch of the Gaia Hypothesis which says that living organisms alter the environment in such a way as to allow more life to arise in greater diversity and ability to regulate the planet's non-living ecology.) Biology is fun.
 

aaron

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
May I say a thank-you to all that have participted in this thread. I find find it inspirational and a balm to the spirit.

To see the world a little more clearly by removing the Darwinian filter restores something deep inside me. Thank-you again.
 

Joe

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I like that! Well, they explained it more nicely than I did. And reading the above, I realize that there is an implication to this argument. If Darwinism were correct, life would not evolve, since it is best fit for survival at its most basic levels - or there wouldn't be any life at all to begin with because being dead is so much easier than being alive. Yet there is life, and not only that, but it evolves in ways that do not guarantee better survival/fitness. Complex organisms are swimming (evolving) against the Darwinian current, so to speak. Which means that life has a purpose other than simply being alive!

It's like Darwinian scientists look at life in a purely materialistic, mechanistic way, as if the life they are looking at is in no way related to them or their own experience of life, yet they are fully part, or a prime example of, that which they are observing and describing! How utterly obtuse of them!

Can the mechanics of life be separated from the experience of life of any living organism? Of course, we can't know the experience of life of other organisms we can only really know (in an experiential way) our own, but clearly no living, conscious being could separate the mechanistic details of their life from their own experience of life.

So basically, Darwinists seem to dismiss consciousness as an inherent aspect of life, and in doing so, act as if they themselves have no consciousness, or that it is merely an ethereal and unreal phenomena with no bearing on life, but it CLEARLY IS a major component of life. In fact, it is THE VERY THING that allows these Darwinists to actually observe the mechanics of life that they say contains no consciousness!

What empty-headed cretins!
 
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mkrnhr

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So basically, Darwinists seem to dismiss consciousness as an inherent aspect of life, and in doing so, act as if they themselves have no consciousness, or that it is merely an ethereal and unreal phenomena with no bearing on life, but it CLEARLY IS a major component of life. In fact, it is THE VERY THING that allows these Darwinists to actually observe the mechanics of life! What empty-headed cretins!
Indeed. I've read Dawkins' "Selfish Gene" some twenty years ago, and basically gave up reading because it explains nothing. One can note the irony that the title itself attaches an attribute of consciousness to the genes, while we as individuals are unconscious automatons, slaves to these genes. Why is the gene selfish? What does it want to perpetuate itself? Why, under the survival of the fitetst paradigm would any organism try to survive and reproduce it they are mindless machines? Why bother? Neo-Darwinism would argue that reproduction was a chemical accident in the beginning, that kept rolling continuously through eons of time, like a snowball rolling down a hill. They dont know what they're talking about.
 

zak

Dagobah Resident
It's like Darwinian scientists look at life in a purely materialistic, mechanistic way, as if the life they are looking at is in no way related to them or their own experience of life, yet they are fully part, or a prime example of, that which they are observing and describing! How utterly obtuse of them!
Exactly !
This petty tyrant of R.Dawkins wrote himself:
Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.
And also:
We may say that a living body or organ is well designed if it has attributes that an intelligent and knowledgeable enginner might have built into it in order to achieve some sensible purpose such as flying, swimming, seeing...
Any engineer can reconize an object that has been designed, even poorly designed, for a purpose he can usually work out what that purpose is just by looking at the sructure of the object.
To finish the quotes, a last one:
Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view. Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the apparence of design as if by a master watchmaker, impress us with the illusion of design and planning.

Again:
It's like Darwinian scientists look at life in a purely materialistic, mechanistic way, as if the life they are looking at is in no way related to them or their own experience of life, yet they are fully part, or a prime example of, that which they are observing and describing! How utterly obtuse of them!

And again Laura:
Studying the machine from all angles, learning everything we can about it, reminds me of Castaneda's "Three Phase Progression" which begins with holding your own against petty tyrants; there seems to be nothing more tyrannical than our own nervous system!

And never before in recorded history have people had the possibilities that we have of learning these things because of science and the exchange and promulgation of information.

We have to keep in mind bad science, too; science that is driven by politics. But I think that if we keep political agendas and trends in mind, we can sift the wheat from the chaff. And again, that is a process of holding your own against petty tyrants. All of this reading and learning is part of becoming aware and "paying close and careful attention to reality, right and left".

I know that, for myself, doing this course of reading/study during my recovery from serious physical injury and disablement, has played a big part in that recovery. And that makes me think that study/learning can have a profound effect on the psyche/psychology which underpins achieving wellness or - Damasio's concept - homeostasis.
 
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