Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Iconic Delusions

 
I don't have much time for blogging these days 'cause I'm in the middle of writing a textbook—trying to be as accurate as possible.

Watch Paul Nelson making comments about the authors of biology textbooks. He sounds very sincere. I think he actually believes that biology textbook authors are deliberately lying. Poor deluded Paul Nelson. That's why we call them IDiots.



130 comments :

  1. He sounds like performing for an audience of third graders. Speaking very slowly and enunciating very clearly, he takes a long time to say not very much.

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  2. So "icons" is used in a pejorative sense due to it's religious connotations ?

    Absolutely no sense of irony what so ever.

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  3. Larry wrote:

    "I think he actually believes that biology textbook authors are deliberately lying."

    No -- I think they're human, and make mistakes, such as trusting the authority of previously-established textbooks.

    One of your heroes (and mine), Stephen Jay Gould, wrote on many occasions about this problem. In his essay on the falsity of the standard Darwinian account for the origin of the giraffe's long neck, for example, Gould argued:

    "The standard story, in fact, is both fatuous and unsupported...Several reasonable alternatives scenarios exist, and we have no evidence for preferring any plausible version over another. Caveat lector."

    "Why then have we been bamboozled into accepting the usual tale without questioning? I suspect two primary reasons: we love a sensible and satisfying story, and we are disinclined to challenge apparent authority (such as textbooks)."

    (S.J. Gould, "The Tallest Tale," Natural History May 1996, pp. 18-26)

    Lying (by definition) requires a conscious motive to deceive. Nothing I said in the video clip attributes such motives to biology textbook authors.

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  4. You don't think that he is openly lying about it?
    It seems to me that someone who has been told by experts why the "icons" are not a problem for evolution should no longer be talking about peppered moths, Miller-Urey, etc. as if they were errors in textbooks.
    He is clearly a professional propagandist for the Disco-tute who will lie if it advances their agenda.

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  5. "…the standard Urey Miller story, you know, that they synthesised life and so forth .."

    What? When? How? Why wasn't I told?

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  6. How do the liars of the DI live with themselves? His two examples are bald faced lies on his part.

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  7. One of your heroes (and mine), Stephen Jay Gould, wrote on many occasions about this problem.

    Now, Paul, that is lying. Gould was very clear, every time, that creationists such as yourself are fools if not knaves. You are a liar too for turning to Gould to support your assertion that text book authors are liars. Gould criticised certain evolutionary accounts, not the theory itself. You know that, so quit lying.

    Truti

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  8. Paul Nelson: "we love a sensible and satisfying story"

    Indeed. You mean uncorroborated stories like men walking on water, or virgins giving birth, or talking donkeys - that kind of thing?

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  9. I like Gould too. But I have noticed that ID+creationists (I assume Nelson do this too [And this Nelson is not Nelson Mandela]).

    They mess with concepts of "wrongly understood evolution" and evolutiontheory itself.

    When Gould talks about iconic picture of human evolution, he is talking how evolution is understood poorly. That means that there are many people who are believing or opposing something which is "deluded evolution". That does not mean that real evolution of man is bullshit.

    This conseptual error is just a bit different in different places.

    PS:
    Paul Nelsonis great man. He have his own day and all! And we all need to celebrate it. And remind everyone not to forgot this important day.

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  10. Nelson, Nelson [Definetly not Mandela]. You claimn that lying is definetly intentious.

    Do we actually remember what Icons of Evolution says about this topic? If we don't, perhaps we can read+remember it? I don't know why I got sort of strange feeling.

    Or is there something definitiondifference between lying about something and making out a fraud? If it is, then I must apologize. Nelson is not a liar. He is a fraud!

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  11. and we are disinclined to challenge apparent authority

    Here's some irony, coming from someone who works at an institution with a doctrinal statement which they could get fired for violating.

    "The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are without error or misstatement in their moral and spiritual teaching and record of historical facts. They are without error or defect of any kind."

    That's pretty hard core, considering there are many contradictions in the Bible.

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  12. Paul, if you're still reading these comments, I'd like to ask you if you think that, in these more than twenty years since Pandas, ID authors have come with any (false) icon of their own. If so, which one(s)?

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  13. Is there, in fact, any current text book that says that the Miller-Urey experiment synthesized life?

    I've certainly never been taught that.

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  14. Gave up listening to it because of his tendency to slur some words and background musak made it hard to follow.

    What I did make out of it was that he seemed to be busy pointing the finger at textbooks, whilst not pointing the finger at worse efforts of "science education" by those motivated by religious interests.

    Sure everyone would like better textbooks, but pointing fingers in this way can't be used to argue that those writing from a religious motivation are doing better.

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  15. Let's face it: Evolutionism is built on an unfalsifiable and untestable edifice. It is an historical reconstruction that lends itself to subjective inference and not objective and observable demonstration.

    I would say 63% of the papers released every year on evolution, lack any empirical foundation whatsoever.

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  16. What textbook are you writing?

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  17. Would you have time at some point to tell us how you write? ie the steps/procedures to be productive writer for those of us who get writer's block.
    Thank you

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  18. No textbook has ever said the Miller-Urey experiment created life.

    It's an experiment, anybody can repeat it and generate some amino acids along with an assortment of other organic molecules.

    Whether or not the starting conditions of the experiment duplicate the Earth's early atmosphere is an interesting question and not one that we would look towards the DI for an answer, unless one was interested in pseudo scientific gibberish.

    I would have to conclude that Paul Nelson has a conscious motive to deceive in this matter.

    I don't really care why Nelson believes this shite but as far as I am concerned he is a child abuser trying to project his fear of the dark and death onto the next generation and should be held accountable and sanctioned for his actions.

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  19. Is there, in fact, any current text book that says that the Miller-Urey experiment synthesized life?

    "Current" book? Heck, I defy anyone to find this claim in an old book. I learned my science in the sixties and I never saw anyone claim more for the Miller-Urey experiment than the generation of basic organic compounds. Not life, just some building blocks of life. Creationists are correcting an imaginary error when they say evolutionists used to claim that Miller-Urey generated life. Or they're lying (again).

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  20. «What better transitional form could we expect to find than the oldest human, Australopithecus afarensis, with its apelike palate, its human upright stance, and a cranial capacity larger than any ape’s of the same body size but a full 1,000 cubic centimeters below ours? If God made each of the half-dozen human species discovered in ancient rocks, why did he create in an unbroken temporal sequence of progressively more modern features—increasing cranial capacity, reduced face and teeth, larger body size? Did he create to mimic evolution and test our faith thereby?

    Faced with these facts of evolution and the philosophical bankruptcy of their own position, creationists rely upon distortion and innuendo to buttress their rhetorical claim. If I sound sharp or bitter, indeed I am—for I have become a major target of these practices.

    (...)

    Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists—whether through design or stupidity, I do not know—as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups.»


    I'm sure everybody knows where this comes from.

    Paul Nelson, could you please stop relying upon distortion and innuendo to buttress your rhetorical claim?

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  21. @Anonymous:

    we love a sensible and satisfying story

    He was, of course, quoting Gould.

    Creationists, especially of the "Intelligent Design" variety, are famous for not offering a description of what happened.

    TomS

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  22. To all concerned about my Miller-Urey comment: obviously, I erred (meant to say "synthesized the building blocks of life," but this interview was done quickly and I did not review it before Discovery put it up). I'll make sure a correction is attached to the ENV blog post.

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  23. @Reza I would say 63% of the papers released every year on evolution, lack any empirical foundation whatsoever.

    I would say 100% of your posts lack any empirical foundation whatsoever.

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  24. @ Paul Nelson To all concerned about my Miller-Urey comment

    My concern is about your propensity for distorting the truth to meet your agenda, of which the Miller-Urey comment is but one example from many.

    but this interview was done quickly

    When your primary tactic is moving the goal posts, you would need to pump this stuff out as quickly as possible.

    and I did not review it before Discovery put it up

    I understand completely, it made me physically ill as I watched it.

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  25. we love a sensible and satisfying story

    Like believing in an invisible man with a long white beard in the sky who, by FANTASTIC good fortune, just happens to believe and endorse EXACTLY the same moral and cultural things that that his believers do, no matter where in the world or when in history they happen to be; that kind of thing?

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  26. Reza:

    I would say 63% of the papers released every year on evolution, lack any empirical foundation whatsoever.

    And I would say that you just pulled a statistic out of the hinder of your two gastric orifices, without "any empirical foundation whatsoever."

    Let him with empirical foundation cast the first fact! :)

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  27. Paul Nelson wrote

    Lying (by definition) requires a conscious motive to deceive. Nothing I said in the video clip attributes such motives to biology textbook authors.

    Oh yeah Paul and that’s why you praise this piece of crap.

    Remember…..

    Jonathan Wells wrote

    «Fraud is a dirty word, and it should not be used lightly. In the cases described in this book, dogmatic promoters of Darwinism did not see themselves as deceivers. Yet they seriously distorted the evidence—often knowingly. If this is fraud when a stock promoter does it, what is it when a scientist does it?»

    That’s why we call you IDiots :-)

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  28. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller-Urey

    Paul,
    I'll make sure a correction is attached to the ENV blog post.

    Your problem is way bigger than that. For a start check out wikipedia. We are talking of several experiments some earlier than Miller-Urey. But if you did that you'd be "teaching the controversy" right? And that would be fatal for your pretentious little swindle of creationism. And your fellow liar at DI - Meyer - would have to trash his latest pamphlet.

    Truti

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  29. "...the standard Urey Miller story, you know, that they synthesised life and so forth..."

    Oddly enough, this is not a standard story that I've ever heard in a classroom setting or read in a textbook. Perhaps you can provide some citations.

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  30. Paul Nelson - "To all concerned about my Miller-Urey comment: obviously, I erred (meant to say "synthesized the building blocks of life," but this interview was done quickly and I did not review it before Discovery put it up)."

    Well. That' interesting. Throughout the interview you spoke slowly and deliberately. I my opinion the Miller-Urey story is too fundamental and well known to do an oopsy like that if you know what you're talking about.

    And holding up the Miller-Urey experiment as a standard incorrect story by saying "...synthesized the building blocks of life..." (which is fundamentally correct, with the possible exception that saying some of the building blocks would be more accurate) instead of what you actually said makes little sense in the context of the narrative.

    Or, are you actually implying that there are textbooks (or even a single textbook) somewhere that claim(s) the experiment synthesized all of the building blocks of life? I've never seen that claim either. If that's your implication can you provide some citations?

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  31. I would say 63% of the papers released every year on evolution, lack any empirical foundation whatsoever

    That's just wrong. Everyone knows the number is 64.87%

    You're welcome.

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  32. Paul Nelson,
    You are nothing more than a liar. You dream in lies; you daydream in lies; and, when the opportunity presents itself, you willingly allow yourself to be recorded telling lies. In this video your lying words were chosen for another audience, one accustomed to hearing your lies but unable to recognize them for what they are.

    Wells, too, is a liar. He has many times stated in public that he pursued his degree expressly to defeat evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory threatens the cashflow of Well's Reverend Moon who paid for him to get his degree and who benefits financially from having people not understand the world with the clarity that science allows. Wells is a useless liar willing to concoct any fabrication at all to do the bidding of Moon.

    Do us all a favor and stop the lying. Given that we have no way to know that your god-thing exists or that other god-things exist, we are fully justified in seeking to explain the world and the rest of the cosmos completely naturalistically. Until you can show the existence of a god-thing, any god-thing, the 100 percent supernatural-free explanation stands. To adopt an approach assuming other than naturalism, plops us squarely into an ocean of imaginary beings, thousands of gods having characters that contradict one another. Hell, even in your beloved Christianity there are thousands of contradictory versions of gods. Naturalism is the only hope for logical consistency in how we explain the world. So, stop lying.

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  33. @Paul Nelson

    Common sense about giraffe necks had of course a basis in observation, even if nobody had gone scoring:

    E.Z. Cameron & J.T. du Toit, 2007. Winning by a Neck: Tall Giraffes Avoid Competing with Shorter Browsers. American Naturalist 169:130-135.
    abstract: With their vertically elongated body form, giraffes generally
    feed above the level of other browsers within the savanna
    browsing guild, despite having access to foliage at lower levels. They
    ingest more leaf mass per bite when foraging high in the tree, perhaps
    because smaller, more selective browsers deplete shoots at lower levels
    or because trees differentially allocate resources to promote shoot
    growth in the upper canopy.We erected exclosures around individual
    Acacia nigrescens trees in the greater Kruger ecosystem, South Africa.
    After a complete growing season, we found no differences in leaf
    biomass per shoot across height zones in excluded trees but significant
    differences in control trees. We conclude that giraffes preferentially
    browse at high levels in the canopy to avoid competition
    with smaller browsers. Our findings are analogous with those from
    studies of grazing guilds and demonstrate that resource partitioning
    can be driven by competition when smaller foragers displace larger
    foragers from shared resources. This provides the first experimental
    support for the classic evolutionary hypothesis that vertical elongation
    of the giraffe body is an outcome of competition within the
    browsing ungulate guild.

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  34. I agree with Paul - lying is a purposeful act of deception. Like Christian creationist Steve Austin, who despite writing creationist articles under the pen name Stuart Nevins as early as 1976, likes to tell the tale that he was 'converted' to YECism after studying at Mt. St. Helens after the 1980 eruption. Or like when Walter ReMine declares that Haldane's Dilemma disproves at least humkan evolution. Wait, that might not be a lie, just an incredible act of Dunning-Kriger effect inspired invincible ignorance.

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  35. The correction has now been posted beneath the video link at ENV and YouTube.

    Jimmiraybob asked about textbooks which say that the Miller-Urey experiment produced the building blocks of life. Wells documents this point in Icons (for example, the 1998 edition of William Purves et al., Life: The Science of Biology, says that Miller produced “the building blocks of life” using “a reducing atmosphere such as existed on the early Earth”). I found the following in the evolutionary biology textbooks on my office shelf (Wells doesn’t mention these books):

    “The importance of a reducing atmosphere lies in the discovery by Miller and others that if a reducing mixture of gases containing oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen is treated with high energy, a number of small highly reactive molecules are formed. In the presence of water and ammonia these react to form more complex organic molecules, including sugars, amino acids and nucleotides. On the primitive earth the relevant forms of high energy would have been ultraviolet light, electric discharges from thunderstorms, and high temperatures generated by volcanoes. It has now been shown in the laboratory that almost all the molecules which are the building blocks of proteins and nucleic acids can be formed in this way.” (John Maynard Smith, The Theory of Evolution [Penguin, 1979], p. 99)

    “Now, under conditions such as these [reducing atmosphere], could the process of chemical evolution have actually started? Answering this question brings us to what is perhaps the most exciting item of all pertinent to the origin of life, that which convinced many that the idea of a natural chemical evolution is a real possibility. This was an experiment performed by Stanley L. Miller and Harold C. Urey, at Chicago, in the 1950s. Assuming that one would have a cooling Earth like the one just described, they attempted to simulate the conditions, and to see if they could produce experimentally the monomers necessary for life. In other words, they tried to reproduce the second critical stage in the evolution of life. As is well known, Miller and Urey succeeded beyond all expectation! They ran their simulating apparatus (see Fig. 6.2) for a week or so at a time, and, by varying the initial mixture, they were able to produce all kinds of amino acids, the essential building blocks of proteins – the matter of the structural materials and catalysts within the cell.” (Michael Ruse, Darwinism Defended (Addison-Wesley, 1982, pp. 161-2)

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  36. Lone Primate:

    Evolutionism has become the science of adaptive story telling. People who have the gall to call themselves "scientists" think that speculation and conjecture substitute for carefully controlled observation and demonstration. Evolutionism is an historical and not an empirical science for the most part. It leaves much more to interpretation than other disciplines.

    Just look at how Larry disses the manifest function of large swathes of ncDNA.

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  37. Paul Nelson,

    You are still dodging the issue, in other words lying. As it always happens the IDiot Institute and its pack of liars always manage to reduce the discussion to one obscure sentence in some text. The study of the early synthesis of bio-molecules encompasses much more than the Miller-Urey experiment. And there is much more the Miller-Urey experiment than what you choose to talk about. There's Miller's experiment that worked at creating a volcano like stream, there is the 2008 analysis of the reactants left over from his experiments in 1953, there are a plethora of studies that have examined the "early atmosphere was not a reducing one" idiocy (because it is idiotic to claim that total atmospheric composition equates to identical composition in small confines). There is so much that is wrong, false and stupid with your assertion that you should be ashamed of yourself for persisting with this vile stream of lies.

    Truti

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  38. Reza:

    Evolutionism is an historical and not an empirical science for the most part.

    You don't say. That may have something do with the fact that the evidence for much of it is tens, even hundreds millions of years old. That need not make it merely speculative. This is to say, the cops don't have to be in the room when a murder's committed to piece together blood splatters, a knife with finger prints, and DNA from someone other than the victim to complete a picture. In fact, that's the nature of science.

    Even if the fossils didn't exist, the evidence for evolution would be compelling. We have seen speciation in the lab and even in nature among beings with fast enough reproductive cycles. There's little other plausible explanation for shared gene sequences between fairly distinct beings (such as humans and oaks), or matching insertion or transposition events in the genomes of related species. The real storytellers aren't those who lay out the facts of evolution to the world... they're the people who spin their way around them.

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  39. @Reza,

    I think this last argument is bass-ackwards. Ignoring all of the the observations that sections of animal DNA are not conversed, and can be deleted or disrupted without organismal effect requires either a "science of adaptive story telling" or "god did it". Not the other way around.

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  40. Dr. Nelson,

    I appreciate your response. However, how do these citations support the narrative of standard stories that have taken on a life of their own but diverged from the evidence? Do the citations you provide diverge from the evidence?

    In other words, how would saying "...synthesized the building blocks of life..." instead of "...synthesized life and so forth..." have supported the point of the narrative. The second makes sense in light of the story you are building and the correction does not. Or at least that's the way I see it. Can you clarify?

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  41. There’s fascinating and extremely compelling evidence that the early atmosphere was markedly different than it is today. In Gabon, there are sixteen known natural fission reactors. They were discovered in the 1970s as a result of uranium mining. The uranium mined there had a statistically significantly lower percentage of U-235 than exists elsewhere on Earth today; so much so that an investigation was started to see if someone was poaching it for nefarious purposes. The investigations led to the discovery of the sixteen natural reactors, which were active about two billion years ago, over a periods of several hundred thousand years. They were activated by ground water seepage, which acted as a moderator and would enable the ore to spontaneously chain react for periods of roughly a half hour, until the heat evaporated the water and shut down the reaction. Over the next 2.5 hours or so, the ore would cool, and the process would start all over again. This was possible because two billion years ago, the percentage of U-235 in uranium ore on Earth was higher than it is now (precisely how much more is a relation of time and the half-lives of uranium's various isotopes).

    Where this is significant for the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere is the question of why this was going on two billion years ago, and not earlier, when the percentage of U-235 in ore would have been, obviously, even higher. One of the other requirements for this process was that the uranium had to be dissolved in the water. Uranium only dissolves in water in the presence of molecular oxygen. Ergo, if this process wasn’t going on even when water was available and the amount of U-235 was even higher, it indicates that there was no significant amount of free oxygen in the atmosphere at the time available to facilitate the reaction. This corresponds with other studies that suggest the “oxygen catastrophe” began about 2.4 billion years ago, when photosynthesizing plants began polluting the atmosphere with molecular oxygen, killing off most of the life on Earth, for whom it was toxic. For the most part, only cells that could persist in the presence of oxygen, or better still make some use of it, survived. And here we are – survivors of the oxygen catastrophe, able to discuss indications of how we can determine the atmosphere of the ancient Earth was not like the atmosphere we have today.

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  42. Jimmiraybob,

    The passages I cited from Maynard Smith and Ruse say, without qualification, that “the building blocks of life” (Maynard Smith says “almost all”) were obtained from the Miller-Urey experiment.

    This is not true:

    “The experiment performed by Miller yielded tar as its most abundant product. Of the smaller molecules that were produced, perhaps thirteen may be considered as preferential products. There are about fifty small organic compounds that are called ‘building blocks,’ as they are used to construct the four larger types of molecules important to life. Only two of these fifty occurred among the preferential Miller-Urey products. These were glycine and alanine, members of a class that was favored by the design of the experiment.”

    (R. Shapiro, Origins: A Skeptics Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth [Bantam, 1987, p. 105)

    The 2008 re-analysis by Bada et al. of another of Miller’s 1950s experiments, cited by Truti, above, actually concerns a different experimental set-up, not the classic Miller-Urey experiment discussed in textbooks. You can read their 2008 paper here:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/322/5900/404.full

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  43. Hitchens, as per usual, is spot-on: He evaluates Icons as "unlikely even to rate a footnote in the history of piffle."

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  44. Nelson - "(for example, the 1998 edition of William Purves et al., Life: The Science of Biology, says that Miller produced "the building blocks of life' using 'a reducing atmosphere such as existed on the early Earth')"

    You will have to provide the complete 1998 passage. Otherwise it's a useless, selective and likely misleading quote mine.

    In the 7th ed. (2009)* of Life: The Science of Biology in section 4.2 starting on page 68, we find:

    In a side box:

    Hypothesis: Organic chemical compounds can be generated under conditions similar to those that existed in the atmosphere of primitive Earth.

    Method: a method description including diagram.

    Results: reactions in the condensed liquid eventually formed organic chemical compounds, including purines, pyrimidines, and amino acids.

    Conclusion: The chemical building blocks of life could have been generated in the probable atmosphere of early Earth.

    From the text:

    "After a few days of continuous operation, the system contained complex molecules, including amino acids, purines, and pyrmidines – some of the building blocks of life.

    "The results of this experiment were profoundly important in giving weight to speculations about the chemical origins of life on Earth and elsewhere in the universe. The experiments showed that, under the conditions used by Miller and Urey, many small molecular building blocks of life could be formed: ..."

    Although the 1998 edition may have mischaracterized the experiment (not proven with selected quotes given) it doesn’t take much creativity to alter meaning through biased selection of text. For instance, the 2009 text could be selectively altered to “The chemical building blocks of life” were “generated in the…atmosphere of early Earth.” Or, “reactions in the condensed liquid eventually formed…the building blocks of life.”

    Regardless, even if the 1998 edition contained an intentional or unintentional mischaracterization (not proven with selected quotes given) it has obviously been corrected in later editions, which would be counter to "taken on a life of its own" - at least in this example.

    *here

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  45. Nelson – "The passages I cited from Maynard Smith and Ruse say, without qualification, that ‘the building blocks of life’ (Maynard Smith says 'almost all') were obtained from the Miller-Urey experiment."

    As to the John Maynard Smith passage cited, he does not say what you think he says. He does not state that “the building blocks of life” were “obtained from the Miller-Urey experiment.” He says explicitly that, “The importance of a reducing atmosphere lies in the discovery by Miller and others that if a reducing mixture of gases containing oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen is treated with high energy, a number of small highly reactive molecules are formed.” So far true.

    Smith, a few sentences later, states, “It has now been shown in the laboratory that almost all the molecules which are the building blocks of proteins and nucleic acids can be formed in this way.” It’s unclear as to what the selected passage refers with respect to “It has now been shown in the laboratory…” It is not clear at all that he’s referring specifically to the Miller-Urey experiment(s). It is more consistent with referring to the accumulated data up to 1979 or it might be referring to something altogether different, Perhaps he’s referring to a more recent experiment or experiments, which would be consistent with the use of “now”. And as to the use of "almost all," Ruse is writing from the perspective of 1979 when more data was available. Was he a bit too exuberant? Perhaps, I don't know. I'd have to see what data he was referring to.

    As to the Ruse passage cited, Ruse refers to the Miller-Urey experiment as “perhaps the most exciting item of all pertinent to the origin of life, that which convinced many that the idea of a natural chemical evolution is a real possibility.” So far true. He goes on, “They ran their simulating apparatus (see Fig. 6.2) for a week or so at a time, and, by varying the initial mixture, they were able to produce all kinds of amino acids, the essential building blocks of proteins…” Also true. They did produce all kinds of amino acids (see below). So again, this passage does not say, “…without qualification, that ‘the building blocks of life’ … were obtained from the Miller-Urey experiment."

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  46. Nelson – "’Only two of these fifty occurred among the preferential Miller-Urey products. These were glycine and alanine, members of a class that was favored by the design of the experiment.'"

    Not so true.

    In miller’s 1953 paper, the products glycine, α-alanine and β-alanine were reported (and with less certainty, aspartic acid and α-amino-n-butyric acid). But miller also says, "A more complete analysis of the amino acids and other products of the discharge is now being performed and will be reported in detail shortly."

    In Miller’s 1955 paper, a wider range of products are identified with some additional amino acids not specifically identified.

    "Glycine, d,l-alanine, β-alanine, sarcosine, d,l-α-amino-n-butric acid and α-aminoisobutyric acid have been identified by paper chromatography and by melting points of derivatives. Substantial quantities of several unidentified amino acids and small amounts of about 25 amino acids are produced, while glycolic, d,l-lactic, formic, acetic and propionic acids make up most of the acid fraction."

    "Evidence is presented that polyhydroxy compounds of unknown composition are present. HCN and aldehydes are direct products of discharge.”

    As to “Bada, et al.” I assume that you are referring to Johnson, et al. (2008), which is also available here
    in full. They did not rerun the experiments but instead reanalyzed residues produced in Miller’s original 1953-54 experiments, that did incorporate three different apparatus configurations: 1) “the classic discharge apparatus”, 2) “an aspirating nozzle to increase the gas flow rate through the apparatus” – possibly simulating “the spark discharge synthesis by lightening in a steam-rich volcanic eruption”, and 3) and “the third incorporated the aspirator device, but in place of the spark discharge electrodes it used a silent discharge device.”

    Residue produced by the first apparatus (old sparky) produced glycine, alanine, β-alanine, serine, isoserine, α-amino-isobutyric acid, β-amino-isobutyric acid, α-amino-butyric acid, β-amino-butyric acid, γ-amino-butyric acid, aspartic acid, valine, isovaline, norvaline, glutamic acid, methylamine, ethylamine, ethanomine, isopropylamine, and n-propylamine.

    Additional amino acids were indentified in the other residues including, a “greater diversity of amino acids synthesized in the volcanic spark discharge apparatus (second apparatus) and, “Besides the amino acids listed, several 6-carbon amino acids were also detected but these were not quantified.”

    In Ruse’ words, “they were able to produce all kinds of amino acids.”

    continued below

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  47. It’s apparent that in these experiments that not all constituents were quantified. Given the additional analytical results of Miller (1955) and Johnston et al. (2008) – not to mention any other subsequent additional experimental/analytical results (for instance regarding HCN), it is arguably a fair summary in a broad sense to characterize that the original experiment(s) produced many/most of the building blocks of life (remember, not all constituents were specifically identified), especially if additional detail is given and especially if the characterization of “most” includes a summation, implicit or explicit, of cumulative experimental data. So, instead of being “not true” at best it is a mild over characterization. And, regardless of the quantification factor, the purpose of the experiments and analyses were to support a general assessment of the possibility of prebiotic physico-chemical mechanisms leading to organic constituents. In this they were wildly successful.

    Miller, S.L., 1953. A Production of Amino Acids Under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions. Science, v. 117, pp. 528-529.

    Miller, S.L., 1955. Production of Some Organic Compounds Under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions. Journal of the American Chemical Society, v. 77, no. 9, pp. 2351-2361.

    Johnson, A.P., Cleaves, H.J., Dworkin, J.P., Glavin, D.P., Lazcano, A., and Bada, J.L., 2008. The Miller Volcanic Spark Discharge Experiment. Science, v. 322, no. 5900, p 504.

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  48. I'm not sure if all replies to Dr. Nelson made it through, which would maybe cause confusion. While getting a "too long" error message, I also saw that the comment had been save for review. I've seen this happen before and the comment eventually make it through in the correct order posted.

    If needed, I' fill in blanks.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  49. jimmiraybob above - And as to the use of "almost all," Ruse...

    This should read Smith and not Ruse.

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  50. Jimmiraybob,

    I fear you are missing the point, and why I cited Robert Shapiro.

    Read again Ruse’s, and Maynard Smith’s, descriptions of the yields of the Miller-Urey experiment(s): “all kinds of amino acids” and “almost all the molecules which are the building blocks of proteins and nucleic acids.” See any mention of intractable tars?

    Often, after my public lectures dealing with the origin of life, students (and professors!) ask me about the Miller-Urey experiment, or similar experiments done later. Haven’t such simulations produced as their major yield, they ask, a rich broth of biologically relevant molecules, ready to polymerize into proteins and nucleic acids?

    The accurate answer to that question is an unequivocal No (see below). Most of what such experiments produce is material suitable for paving roads, not building organisms. But it’s not hard to see why students and teachers have this “rich broth of biologically relevant molecules” picture in their minds. Neither Ruse, nor Maynard Smith, nor indeed most biology textbooks with which I am familiar, mention the fact – well-known to origin-of-life researchers – that by far the main products of Miller-Urey-type simulation have zero relevance to biology, and only by the intervention of intelligence can the relevant products be extracted from the mess:

    “A problem which is familiar to organic chemists is the production of unwanted by- products in synthetic reactions. For prebiotic chemistry, where the goal is often the simulation of conditions on the prebiotic Earth and the modeling of a spontaneous reaction, it is not surprising – but nevertheless frustrating – that the unwanted products may consume most of the starting material and lead to nothing more than an intractable mixture, or gunk. The most well-known examples of the phenomenon can be summarized quickly: Although the Miller–Urey reaction produces an impressive set of amino acids and other biologically significant compounds, a large fraction of the starting material goes into a brown, tar-like residue which remains uncharacterized; i.e., gunk. While 15% of the carbon can be traced to specific organic molecules, the rest seems to be largely intractable. Even if we focus only on the soluble products, we still have to deal with an extremely complex mixture of compounds.”

    (A. Schwartz, “Intracable Mixtures and the Origin of Life,” Chemistry & Biodiversity 4 [2007]: 656-664.)

    [continued]

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  51. “…most of the material [yield of the reaction] is usually unanalyzed polymeric tar,” notes A.G. Cairns-Smith (1982, 20), and that’s worrisome. As Cairns-Smith continues,

    “First of all there is a problem which is seldom discussed. The starting monomers [i.e., biologically-relevant amino acids] would have been grossly impure. On the basis of simulation experiments they would have been present in complex mixtures that contained a great variety of variously reactive molecules.”

    “No sensible organic chemist would hope to get much out of a reaction from starting materials that were tars containing the reactants as minor constituents. Perhaps because they are sensible organic chemists most experimenters, in trying to establish some prevital path to biopolymers, do not start with such complex mixtures. Instead they say something like this: ‘monomer A has been shown to be formed under prebiotic conditions and so has reagent B: so we treated A and B (obtained from Maxipure Chemical Corporation) under prebiotic conditions such and such and made the biochemically significant molecule C’. Suggestions as to how A and B might have been purified under prevital conditions are seldom made….Pratical organic chemistry is not easy. Very much has to be engineered. It is not sensible to suppose that an uninformed geochemistry would fortuitously be expert in such things.” (A.G. Cairns-Smith, Genetic Takeover and the Mineral Origins of Life [Cambridge University Press, 1982], pp. 45-6; emphasis added)

    So here’s an accurate description, by way of a question, of what the Miller-Urey experiment(s) showed:

    “How was tarry chaos avoided?”

    That’s Cairns-Smith wonderment (1982, p. 60), and it has not been answered. Thus, any biology textbook which reported the actual yields of either the original Miller-Urey experiments, or later such simulations, would read something like, “Mostly tar, with some amino acids, etc. – but because the products are a hopeless gemisch of this and that, the relevance to what life would need is unclear at best.” No one moves to the next step in simulating abiogenesis by using the products of Miller-Urey experiments. Rather, they order reagents from Maxipure.

    Bottom line: it is wrong to describe the Miller-Urey experiments as producing “the building blocks of life.”

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  52. Jimmiraybob:

    While getting a "too long" error message

    I read recently that this can be ignored so long as you don't exceed the 4096 character limit of a single post. From what I'm told, the comment isn't reflected in the page immediately, but is converted to a URL for display. Since it's apparently converted to hex, it's longer than what you actually wrote, and there's some upper character limit to how long a URL can be. If your post exceeds that, it's read as a truncated URL and you see that error.

    So I'm told. :)

    ReplyDelete
  53. Miller's 1950s experiments used, besides the apparatus known in textbooks, one that generated a hot water mist in the spark flask, simulating a water vapor‐rich volcanic eruption. We found the original extracts of this experiment in Miller's material and reanalyzed them. The volcanic apparatus produced a wider variety of amino acids than the classic one. Release of reduced gases in volcanic eruptions accompanied by lightning could have been common on the early Earth. Prebotic compounds synthesized in these environments could have locally accumulated, where they could have undergone further processing.
    Science 17 October 2008:
    Vol. 322 no. 5900 p. 404
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1161527

    Paul Nelson, you are a liar with a Capital L.

    Organic molecules are ideal for highly evolved forms of life (such as bacteria) if only because of the enormous number of different molecules that can be made from a construction kit of atoms composed mainly of C, H, O, N, P, and S. Extrapolating from results of Henze and Blair (1931), I concluded (1971, p. 2) that there are more possible ways to connect 200 carbon atoms with 402 hydrogen atoms than the number of electrons in the Universe, which according to a famous estimate is about 1079 (Eddington 1935, p. 221). And most protein molecules contain many more atoms than 602, and more kinds of atoms too.
    The Great Virtue of such richness in the world of possible organic molecules is that it allows the kind of complex molecular engineering found in all the organisms around us now. The Great Snag is that with so many possibilities there are so very many ways to go wrong—and end up being a speck of dark intractable tar instead of an exquisite piece of sub-nano-engineering. To make particular organic molecules, detailed control is needed all the way. In today's organisms a crucial part of this control is provided by enzymes, which bring about virtually every biochemical reaction taking place...
    An enzyme is a highly tuned molecular machine. It selects and binds...Such a set-up is indeed ideal for manipulation by Nature's engineer, natural selection. This is because the active site of an enzyme—its critical "groove"—can be tuned by natural selection. This can happen through occasional arbitrary changes...Such changes in or near the groove...But it is far from anything that might have "just happened" as part of a primitive organic geochemistry. Manifestly, the situation that now allows the evolution of organic-chemical competence must itself have evolved. How did that happen? Our Fix has worsened with our increased understanding of the necessary complexities of the biochemical machinery. We need to think about an earlier phase of natural selection that did not in the first place depend on high organic-chemical competence, but could evolve to produce it. Is this feasible? I think it is, but only if we abandon the idea that organic molecules were always the stars in the play of evolution, as they are today. Even the smallish molecules, amino acids, and so on, owe their present significance to being parts of incredibly high-tech machinery. What we are looking for are low-tech beginners at evolution, and it is here that inorganic geochemistry is more likely to hold the keys.


    Guess who said that Paul? While you are at it you might as well quote Graham Cairns-Smith in full, this is from
    Sketches for a Mineral Genetic Material; A. Graham Cairns-Smith; Elements; June 2005; v. 1; no. 3; p. 157-161; DOI:10.2113/gselements.1.3.157.
    [Cont’d]
    Truti

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  54. Cont'd from last post
    [Larry I may have repeated [[Submit]] - sorry for the multiple postings]

    So painting a complete picture requires Paul Nelson, Jon Wells, Casey Luskin and other liars of the IDiot Institute to say thus,

    I used to blabber "The accurate answer to that question is an unequivocal No. Most of what such experiments produce is material suitable for paving roads, not building organisms." But now I will be honest. I quoted Graham Cairns-Smith selectively to imply that he rules out any possibility of a Miller-Urey like history of early biochemical molecules. What he is actually talking about is the possibility of an even earlier stage of inorganic molecules being subjected to NS. I lied. Sorry

    Of course you don't have to add that Cairns-Smith and every scientist (that does not include a an intellectual fraud like Behe) thinks you and your collaborators at the IDiot Institute are a bunch of liars and cheats for quote mining and misrepresentation.

    You have a problem with the science of early biochemistry? Spend IDiot Institute money to produce some research.

    Bottom line - Paul Nelson, you are a liar with a Capital L.

    Truti

    ReplyDelete
  55. Dr. Nelson - "intractable tars," "a hopeless gemisch of this and that" & "How was tarry chaos avoided?"

    By using standard scientific methods available at the time (as detailed in Miller, 1955 and Johnson et al., 2008). You might want to look up "intractable" (hint: not the same as impossible or "a hopeless gemisch of this and that"). Germ and atomic theory were once intractable problems - then knowledge increased and methods and instrumentation improved and once apparently hopeless gimishes were sorted out.

    Dr. Nelson - That’s Cairns-Smith wonderment (1982, p. 60), and it has not been answered.

    See above answer. You'd have to ask Cairns-Smith his current views on the subject. At the time he was championing a competing clay-template model. Regardless, your selectivity bias has again been noted (when there are thousands of available articles by organic and geochemists to the contrary).

    Dr. Nelson - Bottom line: it is wrong to describe the Miller-Urey experiments as producing “the building blocks of life.”

    OK. Help me clear this up.

    1) Is it acceptable to colloquially refer to amino acids as "building blocks of life?"

    2) Did the Miller-Urey and subsequent experiments produce amino acids?

    3) Is it wrong that if both 1 and 2 are correct then one might generally conclude that building blocks of life were produced?

    Although most people would say no, I can understand why you won't.

    The point of the experiments, and the point of presenting them in an introductory text on possible prebiotic origins of organic compounds is to demonstrate that it is possible to get "building blocks" such as amino acids under early Earth conditions. There are complexities in every subject (e.g., biology, geology, philosophy) that are far beyond the general survey of information possible to present in an intro textbook. Wouldn't you agree?

    Should we deny that babies are born just because there's a whole lot of other rather unpleasant goop, some might say a gimesh of this and that, the comes along too?

    So, it is not wrong or dishonest to say that some, most, many "building blocks" of life were created and identified in these experiments. Because they were.

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  56. How much is Paul Nelson gaining financially to have such an untenable position academically?
    Or is he just another rent-boy like the Templeton ones?
    Still have problems understanding seemingly rational people lowering themselves in this manner, because I take it for granted that PN isn't really THAT daft.

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  57. Hi Paul,

    OK, fine, so evolution and abiogenesis are all fake, wrong, whatever.

    Can you or any of your brethren at the DI provide some actual evidence that would warrant a skeptic's acceptance that ID or creationism or whatever you folks are espousing these days has scientific merit?

    Please keep in mind that I have acknowledged that evolution and abiogenesis are all wrong and kaput, so bashing Stanley Miller or Darwin don't count (not that they do now).

    Let's see what you people have actually got.

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  58. Jimmiraybob, in response to the question "How was tarry chaos avoided?" replied:

    "By using standard scientific methods available at the time..."

    On the prebiotic Earth?

    "Tarry chaos" refers not to the Miller-Urey experiments, but to what those experiments are putatively simulating, namely, prebiotic conditions. Cairns-Smith is arguing that, if MIller-Urey type experiments show anything, they show that undirected chemistry will yield products of zero biological relevance (unless one cheats, and, via intelligent intervention, isolates the fraction of interest). This failure of chemistry to cooperate with the prebiotic soup model led Cairns-Smith to postulate his clay template theory.

    "Intractable" is not my adjective, btw -- it's in the title of Alan Schwartz's 2007 review of the problem of complex mixtures in origin-of-life experiments. In context, the word simply means heterogeneous, biologically irrelevant polymers (tars) of unknown composition, which are by far the main products of Miller-Urey simulations.

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  59. @Anonymous -

    Evidence would be nice, but first of all let's hear the creationist/designer description of what happened, when, where, why and how. And maybe even who did it. And what they did not do.

    If we don't have at least a sketch of what happened and when, then how can we tell whether the evidence fits the act? Someone could bring up anything at all and claim that it is evidence.

    TomS

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  60. ID is a perfectly valid scientific inference using the inductive method. Larry doesn't realize it, but he uses the same principles and approach in his research.

    Here are are two examples of scientific papers that apply the design inference in their research:

    1) McPherron SP, Alemseged Z, Marean CW, Wynn JG, Reed D, Geraads D, Bobe R, Béarat HA. (2010). Evidence for stone-tool-assisted consumption of animal tissues before 3.39 million years ago at Dikika, Ethiopia. Nature.;466(7308):857-60.

    2)Carlotto, MJ. (2007). "Detecting Patterns of a Technological Intelligence in Remotely Sensed Imagery". J British Interplanetary Society 60: 28–39.

    Enjoy.

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  61. Creationists are indeed dishonest when they try to use the many doubts that do exist concerning the origin of life to raise doubts about the soundness of evolutionary theory. Also, since Darwin's times our understanding of evolution has been progressively refined, and there, again, creationists often make a deceitful use of the tensions that exist among the many currents of thought, to induce the general population to believe that the whole edifice of evolutionary knowledge is about to collapse.
    However it is equally dishonest to picture a branch of science in which so few certainties exist, such as the origin of life studies, as a solid enterprise. The Miller-Urey experiment might have looked promising at the moment if was first revealed to the world, but very little light came from that apparatus in the subsequent decades. The products obtained in all the variations of the experiment are simply products of the random recombination of the radicals formed in the gas-phase reaction, and are not much more complex than the original mixture. It is unsurprising that among hundreds of simple organic compounds, some biologically important amino acids are present.
    No purines or pyrimidines have ever been formed in these experiments and I am sure that Cairns-Smith, who is apparently no longer working on his "clay model", would repeat all the words related to the problem of prebiotic synthesis that he published back then. The idea that the primitive atmosphere was not reducing is not an idiocy, and it is being actively championed nowadays by an important group of geologists (eg: Ohmoto H, et al , 2006. Sulphur isotope evidence for an oxic Archaean atmosphere. Nature, 442, 908). And finally, there are today many competing models and ideas about the origin of life, most of which do not rely of the results of the Miller-Urey experiment.

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  62. @Anonymous:

    Before bringing up "what evidence?", let's see an answer to "what happened?" Evidence only makes sense in the context of evidence for something. "Something, somehow, has got to be wrong with evolutionary biology, please" is not enough.

    TomS

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  63. I hope you plan to release your textbook in an open source format... anyway it will be open source about 4 days after it releases

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  64. @Huey Freeman I hope you plan to release your textbook in an open source format

    It would be interesting to get Larrys take on electronic format textbooks; open source/creative commons versus proprietary licensing, use of DRM, incompatibilities between various ebook formats, pirating etc.

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  65. I would never call you a liar, Larry, because you are not. However, how does one square the fact that Eugenie Scott, Director for the U.S. National Center for Science Education, says that it’s acceptable to leave the Miller-Urey experiment in biology textbooks, because it’s a good example of how evolution may have worked to make life from non-life? As described in "Icons of Evolution" and factually, she knows that the “experiment” came to a flawed conclusion and was based on grossly flawed assumptions. Yet, she encourages uninformed students to be taught that the “experiment” is scientifically valid for purposes of teaching a naturalist’s way of seeing origins – evolution. This may not be a lie, but it doesn’t seem honest either.

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  66. "Tarry chaos" refers not to the Miller-Urey experiments, but to what those experiments are putatively simulating, namely, prebiotic conditions. Cairns-Smith is arguing that, if MIller-Urey type experiments show anything, they show that undirected chemistry will yield products of zero biological relevance (unless one cheats, and, via intelligent intervention, isolates the fraction of interest). This failure of chemistry to cooperate with the prebiotic soup model led Cairns-Smith to postulate his clay template theory.

    Paul Nelson, you are a pathetically worthless liar. Graham Cairns-Smith is arguing that inorganic synthesis and evolutionary activity came before large organic molecule synthesis of the Miller-Urey type. He is most certainly not arguing that your sky fairy worked at that time to give a push to the synthesis. Someday when your your dog and pony makes a stop in my town some scientist is going to replay these lyings words of your back to you and leave you exposed as a fool and/or a knave.

    Where I come from (in southern India) I was taught that it to conceal a truth it takes one lie, and to conceal that lie it takes another 100 and so on.

    You are such a pathetic liar that you think your readers won't care to read the sources you cite and quote mine from. You should learn from the example of that other foolish knave of your colleague, Phillip Johnson. When he offered to debate scientists on usenet in the early days of your IDiot theorizing it got so hot that the fraud slunk out with his tail between his legs. Stop making a fool of yourself.

    Truti

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  67. Reza:

    This is just another take on the "find a watch on the shore" creationists saw. You're comparing two instances where we know items were the result of intelligent design and where we also know the nature and identity of that intelligent designer (in these cases, proto-human hominids) with life, something we DON'T know to be designed, by a designer we DON'T know either the identity of or even existence of. In the first case, the evidence gives rise to the theory; in the second, the theory gives rise to the "evidence" (that is, first PRESUMES the existence of a god and then takes the natural world and retrofits it as evidence to suit the premise, putting the explanatory cart before the evidentiary horse). That's why religion isn't science. It works backwards.

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  68. Denny:

    This may not be a lie, but it doesn’t seem honest either.

    So long as it's published with the caveat she took pains to state, why not? If the point is not to say "this is how it happened", but simply "it is possible for inorganic chemistry to spontaneous give rise to organic chemistry (that is to say, without the necessity of an invisible man moving the atoms around like checkers)", then I think it serves a purpose. It IS possible. A god MAY exist, but doesn't have to for us to grasp how life could begin from non-life.

    Part of the problem is simply the mysticism applied to the word "life". You throw that in there and instantly it's filled with the metaphysical for many people. All that life really is, fundamentally, is a highly organized chemical matrix. The fact that we're in awe of it in no way implies it isn't perfectly natural.

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  69. @Lone Primate

    Intelligent design is a valid inference to make and is used by evolutionist scientists themselves: deal with it.

    The most parsimonious explanation for the appearance of design evident in life and Nature is that there exists a designer or designing agency.

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  70. Paul Nelson, I am quoting Jefferey Shallit one of the many scholars who have mauled you IDiots, including your Fig-Newton of Information Theory the pompous poseur Dembski (who when he heard Shallit would be rebuttal witness at Kitzmiller v. scampered away like a coward)
    http://recursed.blogspot.com/search?q=phillip+johnson

    I remember the time that Phillip Johnson arrived at the Usenet newsgroup talk.origins, back in 1993. He arrogantly rode in on his evangelical high horse to do battle with the godless evolutionists, confident that his rhetorical skills would hide his lack of biological knowledge. The result was not pretty at all. Johnson had to leave in a cowardly huff because he couldn't handle the criticism from people who actually knew something about the subject.

    You have no business brainwashing young impressionable minds with your nonsense. If you have a point to make write up a paper and present it before the scholarly academies. Don't waste your time on blogs like this one, making a IDiot of yourself.

    This is just another take on the "find a watch on the shore... Another thing with these IDiots is they can't tell you how much "information" is inside the watch and how much in the sand or why they regard the watch an IDiot worthy artefact!
    Truti

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  71. The most parsimonious explanation for the appearance of design evident in life and Nature is that there exists a designer or designing agency.
    For something to be the "most parsimonious explanation" it must be an explanation.

    "There exists a designer or designing agency" is not an explanation.

    Therefore, it is not the most parsimonious explanation.

    For example, if I ask "why is there a smile on the Mona Lisa, it is not an explanation to say, "because it was designed that way".

    To take a very complex specified fact about life: If I ask why the human body has a position in the "tree of life" as a near neighbor to chimps and other apes, it is no explanation to say that a designer is responsible. Without some information about the methods, materials, motivation, means or opportunities of the designer(s), there is nothing explained by saying that some unknown designer(s) did it.

    Can you explain that fact?

    TomS

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  72. Reza:

    I won’t dispute that intelligent design is an inference that can be given rise to by observing biological phenomena; a person is free to draw whatever conclusions he or she likes from anything. The Manson Family drew an inference from Helter Skelter that they should initiate a race war by committing the Tate-LaBianca murders, after all... to say that one may draw an inference is not the same thing as saying that the inference is therefore correct, or applicable to reality, or necessarily of equal value to other inferences drawn from the same source.

    Part of the issue with the notion that the most parsimonious explanation for the appearance of design being a designer is the way it’s phrased. First of all, it relies on a presumption implied by the word “design”. Design by definition implies a designer, and so is actually just a circular argument. That’s not to say it rules out a designer, but it doesn’t establish one, either; simply attempts to pluck one into existence by fiat of choice of words. Another problem with it is admitted by the choice of words: “appearance of”. This is actually an argument against design; in effect, it suggests that something is like design, but therefore need not necessarily be design itself – something no evolutionary biologist would have any problem admitting. And finally, with that in mind, the argument itself – that a designer is the cheapest explanation – fails to support itself, particularly given the words “appearance of”: the simplest explanation is the one that takes into account known and demonstrable properties, and in this case, those are the chemical nature of the universe, and the fact that allele populations change over time. An unproven but “inferred” designer adds a vast layer of new complexities to the matter (that are rendered superfluous in the first place by the words “appearance of”): where/when is the designer and what is its nature, when did it act to design, by what methods and agencies does it effect its design in the material universe, who designed the designer (and who designed that designer, at so on). It is not by any stretch of the imagination the most parsimonious of explanations when the inference leads to a potential infinite regression of ever more complex designers of designers; and to simply insist that the designer of life itself is eternal and undersigned is simply special pleading, without evidentiary establishment, and can just as easily be said of the universe itself, saving a step.

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  73. Reza:

    "Intelligent design is a valid inference to make and is used by evolutionist scientists themselves: deal with it."


    I always get a kick out of how ID advocates try to use this sort fo bait and switch as some sort fo evidence for their position.

    ID, as most not interested in obfuscating understand it, is the notion htat non-natural forces, i.e., some superbeing, at the very least played a role in the origin and subsequent proliferation and adaptation of life on earth.

    Claiming that evolutionists use the 'design inference' and thus ID is valid science is rather, no - it is TOTALLY dishonest nonsense.


    "The most parsimonious explanation for the appearance of design evident in life and Nature is that there exists a designer or designing agency."

    This assumes that there IS the appearance of design. This seems to be in the eye of the beholder. Or in this case, in the eye of the ID advocate.

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  74. Hi Paul Nelson,

    It appears that you missed my post, so with Larry's permission, I will re-post it for you:

    Hi Paul,

    OK, fine, so evolution and abiogenesis are all fake, wrong, whatever.

    Can you or any of your brethren at the DI provide some actual evidence that would warrant a skeptic's acceptance that ID or creationism or whatever you folks are espousing these days has scientific merit?

    Please keep in mind that I have acknowledged that evolution and abiogenesis are all wrong and kaput, so bashing Stanley Miller or Darwin don't count (not that they do now).

    Let's see what you people have actually got.

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  75. Reza said...

    "Intelligent design is a valid inference to make and is used by evolutionist scientists themselves: deal with it."

    Holy logical problem, batman. Hominids make tools = god had to design the universe? Please....

    ReplyDelete
  76. Paul Nelson is not particularly up to date on the Pepped Moth.

    The actual evidence on the Peppered Moth can be found here:

    "Industrial Melanism in the Peppered Moth, Biston betularia: An Excellent Teaching Example of Darwinian Evolution in Action.
    Michael E. N. Majerus
    Evo Edu Outreach (2009) 2:63–74
    DOI 10.1007/s12052-008-0107-y"

    or here:
    "http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/research/personal/majerus/majerus.html
    > The Peppered Moth: The Proof of Darwinian Evolution [talk delivered at ESEB2007; 11th Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, 20-25 August 2007, Uppsala, Sweden] Text of the talk and Powerpoint presentation both available as pdf files "
    http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/research/personal/majerus/Swedentalk220807.pdf
    http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/research/personal/majerus/SwedenPepperedmoth2007Ppt.pdf

    Mostly, Paul Nelson gives the impression of never having been in touch with any scientific environment.

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  77. Hi Paul (if you are still around),

    You probably do not remember me, but we exchanged emails many years ago regarding a few issues. I also believe that you and I exchanged comments via Helen Fryman, who acted as an intermediary, on the CARM discussion forum (it may have been Wells - Fryman would not say exactly who her contact was)around the same time. And this is what I would like to mention.

    It was probably 9 years ago, and the issue of 'Icons' and molecular phylogenetics had come up. You see, I caught Wells' dishonestly editing a quote in his book on the issue (see my review here), which you/he defended, of course.

    But one issue that came up was researcher bias in constructing the alignments that are used in phylogenetic analyses. So, I took an alignment I had been working on, scrambled the order of the taxa in the alignment, replaced their names with numeric codes, removed any gaps, etc., and sent the file to you/Wells via Fryman and invited you/Wells to perform the alignment and analysis yourself so we could compare the outcomes to see if your/Wells' claims of researcher bias really played the role you/Wells claimied it did. You/he acknowledged receiving the file, then bowed out, claiming to be just so busy that you/he did not have the time to actually, you know, test your claim.

    The list of taxa and their numeric codes still hangs on my bulletin board. But no test of the claim was ever performed, as best I can tell.

    Why do you suppose that is?

    Sincerely,
    Scott L. Page

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  78. Anonymous,

    If you're serious in asking about ID's scientific case regarding the origin of life, may I suggest you take a look at Steve Meyer's book Signature in the Cell (HarperOne), now available in paperback. Steve disusses in comprehensive detail why ID theorists regard intelligent design as the best explanation for the first cell.

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  79. hi dear professor
    I am a plant pathologist, I want to pass an exam for MSc. of Toxicology. one of my examination is Biochemistry, I love it, but actually I don't know how should I memorize those big formulas of chemicals and biochemistry cycles,

    I really request you dear professor to guide me and tell me how I memorize them PLEASE. lots of respect and best wishes

    ReplyDelete
  80. Lone Primate:

    “So long as it's published with the caveat she took pains to state, why not?” (leave the impression that the failed Miller – Urey experiment was valid.)

    - One reply to “Why not” is that presenting one view does not foster critical thinking.
    - Another is, as the emergence of life is pushed back further, and the time available for gradual evolution shrinks, and the proposition for miraculous intervention increases, the Miller – Urey experiment becomes increasingly irrelevant, except to naturalists.
    - Another is, it seems significant that while the last several decades have produced an incalculable avalanche of scientific discoveries in all fields of science, the lack of testable posits for in-organic to organic origins is a serious challenge to naturalists, and the “experiment” looks more like a hopeful posit vs. a valid scientific posit. How does the “experiment” benefit general education?
    - Another is, as naturalistic explanations for origins fail to meet the expectations of evolutionists, non-naturalistic explanations that fit the trend of scientific discoveries (design) deserve consideration.

    “A god MAY exist, but doesn't have to for us to grasp how life could begin from non-life.”

    It seems to me that it’s getting harder and harder to avoid the implications of nature’s ‘apparent design’, just as it got harder to avoid the implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

    “All that life really is, fundamentally, is a highly organized chemical matrix. The fact that we're in awe of it in no way implies it isn't perfectly natural.”

    Certainly life is of nature. But, do you view yourself and your family as of no more “natural” significance that a cockroach?

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  81. @Lone Primate

    If yourself, or Larry, can tell me how this highly complex and specified protein sequence (below) was constructed by random mutations and selective pressures, I will freely admit that ID is useless and redundant.

    RKRRVLFTKAQTYELERRFRRYLSAPEREHLASLIRLTPTQVKIWFQNHRYKTKRAQ

    Btw, it is the DNA-binding homeobox motif. Thanks.

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  82. @Paul Nelson:

    I make it a habit to look for design explanations. In particular, I looked in "Signature in the Cell" for one. But I didn't find one. Perhaps you (or someone else) could point me to the pages where I could find a description of what happened and when. Or why such-and-such resulted, rather than something else. Or something about the materials and methods used. Or about the motivation and limitations of the designers.

    TomS

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  83. Hi Paul,

    You write:

    "If you're serious in asking about ID's scientific case regarding the origin of life..."

    I am serious, but not specifically about the origin of life. I would settle for evidence for ANY IDEcreationist claim.

    As for Meyer's book, from what I have read of it and the reviews I've seen, it utterly fails in what you portray it as doing. Arguments from awe and claims that 'evolution can't do it' are not really evidence.

    Sorry.

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  84. @Reza,

    Who designed the "intelligent designer"?

    ID ends up being a circular argument, and "god is eventually needed to close this circle.

    As to your protein sequence question, that logical fallacy was tackled earlier on this blog.
    http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2010/10/edge-of-evolution.html

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  85. TomS,

    It's unclear to me which of your listed criteria you see as necessary for the explanatory adequacy of a design explanation. What do you see as the minimal evidential requirements for an ID explanation?

    Anonymous, have you actually read Signature in the Cell?

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  86. What is most shocking to some of us who maintain a more objective posture with respect to the elements of Evolution is the loss of objectivity within the Evolutionary Biology camp.

    Significant contributions have been made to our understanding of Evolution but some of the dogmatic statements being made for EB far exceed the standards of good science.

    I don't know how well respect the National Academy of Science is but in their publication - Science, Evolution, and Creationism - "Because of this immense body of evidence, scientists treat the occurrence of evolution as one of the most securely established of scientific facts. Biologists also are confident in their understanding of how evolution occurs."

    If you are not familiar with this piece of work it is a classic. In the Acknowledgments it has a very distinguished list of scholars. Then it states - "Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release."

    What kind of game is this? You either list the authorities or you don't.

    It is one thing to claim we have made progress but there are still many elements left unexplained to that of the above.

    EB is clever in never separating common descent from random mutation. But this is exactly where the problem is.

    Random mutation as the major driving force behind Evolution is far from being established. There are many examples in the small but none that I am aware of in the large.

    Some of the attacks on EB are being brought about by its own actions,

    d

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  87. Paul Nelson - "Tarry chaos" refers not to the Miller-Urey experiments, but to what those experiments are putatively simulating, namely, prebiotic conditions. Cairns-Smith is arguing that, if MIller-Urey type experiments show anything, they show that undirected chemistry will yield products of zero biological relevance (unless one cheats, and, via intelligent intervention, isolates the fraction of interest). This failure of chemistry to cooperate with the prebiotic soup model led Cairns-Smith to postulate his clay template theory.

    Why don’t you go to the literature – current literature – and see what’s being reported? The clay-template model argues for a template that catalyzes the polymerization of organic compounds. But it is one proposed model. There are others that you choose to ignore that may be more in tune with modern understanding of early Earth conditions (Hadean ocean, hydrothermal vents) and thermodynamics. These models also provide some insight into solving the “tarry chaos” problem that you cite [see for instance Walchhauser and others (Pyrite template, sulfur geochemistry), or Deemer and others (protocells), or Everett Shock and others (thermodynamics, hydrothermal mixing)].

    Again, it’s not as if there aren’t valid critiques of various models, but citing Cairns-Smith in an effort to squash the validity and results of Miller-Urey type experiments is inadequate at best and certainly selective. I don’t think that you yet comprehend, intentionally or otherwise, what they were attempting to do and how they succeeded – they were trying to show that organic molecules could be assembled from inorganic precursors given certain assumptions, and they did. That is how they are reported. They were not trying at the time to answer all possible questions of prebiotic chemistry, which has gone onto ever more fruitful research.

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  88. RaulFelix - No purines or pyrimidines have ever been formed in these experiments…

    The Miller-Urey experiments have never balanced my checkbook either but that has no bearing on anything just as what you cite has no bearing on the validity and success of their work. However, subsequent work has identified prebiotic pathways that produce purines and pyrimidines. Google ‘prebiotic purines pyrimidines HCN’. And yes, Miller-Urey experiments produced HCN.

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  89. @Anonymous

    Who designed the "intelligent designer"?

    An infinite regression of designers terminates in a designer of infinite proportions.

    Keep adding sides to a polygon and you end up with a circle.

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  90. @Paul Nelson:

    Pick your own criteria. If you don't have "materials", then how about "methods"? If you don't have either of those, how about "when"? (Like, specify within a couple of orders of magnitude.) Whatever, as long as it isn't merely "something's wrong with X".

    TomS

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  91. An infinite regression of designers terminates in a designer of infinite proportions.


    This statement is obviously self-contradictory as infinity does not terminate, by definition.

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  92. Hi Paul,

    Yes, I have read Meyer's book. Well, parts of it. One of my co-workers has a copy and lent it to me but I did not have the time to read it all. I found much of it to be space-filler, i.e., 'explanations' of things that did not need explanations.

    It reminded me of a talk by Werner Gitt I saw a few years ago. The talk was titled "In the beginning was information: evidence for God in science." The talk was about 45 minutes long. The first 35 minutes was simply some 'big numbers' about the typical cell - how much DNA it contains, how small it is, etc. Then he went over his 'levels of informaiton' spiel. Then he ended with a prayer. No evidence for god was ever presented.
    I got the same ipression from what I've read of Meyer's book.

    The only 'evidence' for ID was not actually evidence at all, it was the usual ID fluff. Nothing empirical at all.

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  93. Denny:

    It seems to me that it’s getting harder and harder to avoid the implications of nature’s ‘apparent design’

    No, actually, it’s been getting easier and easier as we learn more and more. It was very difficult to exclude a god even in Darwin’s time, and virtually impossible (except to the bravest minds) much before that. Ignorance was always the ally of superstition; new knowledge frees people from it.


    the implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

    Which are what, exactly, according to you? You’ve mooted this a couple of times without actually saying what it means.


    But, do you view yourself and your family as of no more “natural” significance that a cockroach?

    To the universe at large, yes. I would hope that other human beings, fellow social animals, might take a more biased view; but that’s hardly obliging on the universe. Like roaches, we’re born, live, and die. They do what they do during the course of existence and we do what we do. It’s not elegant, but it’s at least and honest and mature – and humble – admission of reality.

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  94. TomS,

    You wrote:

    "I make it a habit to look for design explanations. In particular, I looked in 'Signature in the Cell' for one. But I didn't find one."

    It follows from this that you found the case for ID, presented in Signature, to be insufficient -- measured by your own criteria for explanatory adequacy.

    So I repeat my question: what are your criteria? In particular, what are the minimal requirements for a design explanation?

    The same question applies to you, Anonymous. Since you've read Signature, you should be able to say how Meyer failed to make his case, as assessed against your criteria for explanatory adequacy.

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  95. What do you see as the minimal evidential requirements for an ID explanation?

    That's easy Paul. Stop making statements in the passive voice. And this discussion isn't about the "first cell". It is about the history of carbon macromolecules. In case you didn't know it, there is a tonne of research in pre-cellular chemistry. And besides do you have anything to offer other than empty assertions by your fellow swindlers at the IDiot Institute?
    Truti

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  96. @Anonymous

    An infinite progression does indeed terminate - after an infinite number of steps.

    A circle represents the terminus of a infinite progression consisting of adding one more side to a polygon.

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  97. @Reza An infinite progression does indeed terminate - after an infinite number of steps.

    And would this take an infinite amount of time ?

    You seem to have painted yourself into a logical corner in a finite number of steps.

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  98. @Paul Nelson So I repeat my question: what are your criteria? In particular, what are the minimal requirements for a design explanation?

    You are the one making the claim for design, the onus is on you to define your terms, an area where IDiots seem to have a lot of trouble.

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  99. @Paul Nelson -

    You don't care to state what criteria you have. So I will rely on what most of us learned in secondary school about writing an expository essay, the 6 W's. Please point to somewhere in "Signature in the Cell" where we can find Who, What, Where, When, Why, or How. Or anywhere else in the literature of ID.

    Of course, I realize that you can continue on the path of refusing to offer something positive or substantive. That has been the pattern established for "Intelligent Design" and I don't expect you to do any different.

    You have nothing to say, and with every response without anything to say, as with every book written about ID which says nothing about ID, it becomes clearer and clearer.

    If you need some guidance on what people have been saying for a long time about the lack of substance in creationism, take a look at the references to Cicero, Spencer and Sahotra which you can find, for example, at http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Scientific_theory#Creationism_is_not_a_theory.
    And just to anticipate your further excursion into obfuscation, I am not citing RationalWiki as an authoritative source. I am only using it as a handy reference point for Cicero, Spencer and Sahotra. (Maybe you need to look up the 6 W's as well, so go to the Wikipedia article on that, for starters.)

    TomS

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  100. TomS wrote:

    "Please point to somewhere in "Signature in the Cell" where we can find Who, What, Where, When, Why, or How."

    So are these criteria jointly necessary and sufficient to warrant a design inference?

    In other words, unless we know 'why" some object, event or pattern was designed, we cannot infer that it was designed -- even if we knew the rest (who, what, where, when, how). Or, if we knew 'why,' but not 'how,' we could not infer design. And so on.

    I ask because I see the case for ID presented in Signature as more than sufficient, and you don't. Thus we need to find out what separates us.

    So please indicate if you see Who, What, Where, When, Why, or How, as jointly necessary and sufficient to infer design, or if some of these criteria may be set aside.

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  101. Just a note that I named "Sahotra", where I should have given his full name, Sahotra Sarkar.

    TomS

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  102. Steve:

    Like it or not, a circle represents the termination of a infinite addition of sides to a polygon.

    When you are looking at a circle, you are indeed staring at a representation of infinity and eternity.

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  103. What if Craig Venter existed 3.7 billions years ago??!! He could be the creator we've been looking for!!!!

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  104. @Paul Nelson:

    If you are unable or unwilling to tell us what you are talking about, that's fine with me.

    You are asking me for criteria which are necessary and sufficient for scientific explanations. I am not going to get into a philosophical debate about the demarcation problem.

    You continue to make a claim that somewhere in "Signature" there is a description of ID, and I continue to ask you where someone can find it. And in response, you have the gall to ask me what necessary and sufficient conditions are for being a description of ID. You're the one making the claim that there is a description. And then you ask me what a description is?

    I've made a good-faith effort to help you, by making the simple request to tell us things like: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. And you are telling us that you can't imagine what a description of ID might be? Because you don't know necessary and sufficient criteria for what a description is, that excuses you from backing up your claim that there is a description of ID?

    Is there a description of ID, in "Signature" or anywhere else? If you don't know what a description is, then find out, or withdraw your claim that there is a description.

    I looked for a description in "Signature", and I didn't find one. Give me a page number. Give me what you think a description should look like. For a change, actually say something rather than engage in sophistry.

    Respond to Cicero's questions. Respond to Spencer's essay. Respond to Sarkar's article. Say something positive, substantial, or relevant to the issue.

    Or continue to let the world know that you are full of empty rhetoric.

    TomS

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  105. I ask because I see the case for ID presented in Signature as more than sufficient, and you don't.

    Paul, you reek self-righteousness, almost to the point of farce. Just like that G.I. marching out of step who insists that everyone in the troop but him is marching out of step!

    You don't get it do you? In the sciences you don't make a case for anything unless you have evidence. And as I said get used to making your "sufficient case" statements in the active.

    Truti

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  106. Paul, may I ask again: Do you think ID authors (in the modern sense) have come with any (false) icon of their own? If so, which one(s)?

    I I'm genuinely interested in your answer.

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  107. @Reza,

    Apologies for being away from the board so long, and for not getting back to you on my creator of the creator question.

    I am interesting in how one can find that simple strings in a 20-bit protein sequence is too complicated to evolve by natural processes, yet somehow an infinite set of increasingly complex matryoshka dolled creators - of which this infinitely complex one at the end just poofed into existence - is more probable.

    In general this is the critique of any ID proponent. You argue something that we can demonstrate in the lab (eg. specific ligand binging properties of RNAs, proxied by SELEX experiments - just wait until we engineer a method for protein copying/amplification!) is way too complicated, but offer an alternative that is far more complicated.

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  108. TomS wrote:

    "You are asking me for criteria which are necessary and sufficient for scientific explanations."

    No -- I'm asking for the criteria that you would say validly warrant an inference to intelligent design.

    To review:

    1. I recommended the book Signature in the Cell (SITC) to another participant in this thread.

    2. You said that SITC failed to support its case for design, because you couldn't find a valid "design explanation" anywhere in the book.

    3. Since I do find such explanations in SITC -- indeed the whole book addresses that issue -- I asked you for your criteria defining what counts as a valid design inference.

    4. You then said What, Where, Who etc. These are your criteria, and (presumably) they lead you to reject the case for ID laid out in Signature.

    5. I then asked if you considered these criteria jointly necessary and sufficient to warrant a design inference, or if some of them are optional.

    That's where we stand. BTW, do you have a copy of SITC available, to follow up any page references I give?

    This isn't evading the issue. As I explained earlier, when two people disagree about something, they need to find what divides them. I'm trying to learn what you would consider adequate evidence for design, and what criteria inform your judgment.

    To Physeter: yes, I think some ID authors have false icons. For instance, I do not think calling anyone who disagrees with ID a "Darwinist" is fair or accurate. I try never to use the term in my own writing or speaking, unless a scientist has used the term to describe himself (e.g., Jerry Coyne).

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  109. @Paul Nelson:

    I don't care to argue about who said what to whom.

    All I want is an exposition of something substantive that ID has to say. Not "there's something wrong with something else". Not promises that "if there were something to ID, it would be nice".

    For example, give me page numbers in "Signature" where ID is described, where ID makes an attempt to describe something. If you are up to the task, tell us why you think that it is a positive, substantive response.

    I will be busy with other things for a couple of days, so don't expect an immediate acknowledgment of your response.

    TomS

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  110. Reza said... Like it or not,

    Reality is not amenable to my likes or dislikes.

    Something that both you and Paul Nelson need to get over.

    The business with the circle is a tired old rehashing of zeno's paradox.

    Polygons by definition have a finite number of sides. You can make a polygon arbitrarily close to a circle but it never becomes one.

    And like the ideal gas, euclidian plane or point, perfect circles do not exist in nature so neither you nor I have ever gazed on one.

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  111. Reza:

    Like it or not, including us as a point on that circle requires us to be creator gods in this infinite loop of causation (either that or it ends with us and is therefore not a circle). There's no more evidence for this for the existence of the god who supposedly created us, or the god who created him, all for whom we ourselves, as a point on the circle, are ultimately creators in turn. This circle explanation is a typical philosophical conceit that might be amusing over wine before a roaring fire, or exciting after a few pulls on a bong, but is ultimately -- and literally -- a non-starter.

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  112. I think it may be time for a Samuel Johnson moment here ("I refute him thus").

    So Mr. Nelson, if you would, using the design inference, please answer one simple question:

    Why do guys have nipples?

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  113. @ Jud, who asked: Why do guys have nipples?

    That's easy. The intelligent designers wanted guys to have nipples. And who are we to deny anything to the designers?

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  114. TomS,

    Let's take a specific biological system discussed in Signature: the genetic code. (See the discussion of the code on pp. 246-249.)

    1. All organisms possess a genetic code: either the so-called 'universal' code, or some variant of it.

    2. The only known (i.e., sufficient) cause of codes is intelligence. (pp. 330-333)

    Signature concludes, therefore:

    "Logically, one can infer the past existence of a cause from its effect, when the cause is known to be necessary to produce the effect in question. If there are no other known causes -- if there is only one known cause -- of a given effect, then the presence of the effect points unambiguously back to the (uniquely adequate) cause." (p. 343)

    Which is intelligence, or a mind.

    The premise you will need to attack here is number 2, by showing that codes have causes other than minds.

    (BTW, since you did not explain how What, When, etc., defined the validity of a design inference, I take it that you see these criteria as irrelevant. Thus we can focus our discussion on the particular question, the origin of the genetic code, outlined above.)

    I will be traveling and away from Internet discussions until Monday, January 10.

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  115. Thanks Paul. Glad to know you don't abuse the term. I'd like to hear more about ID icons from you someday. If you feel ID is a nascent science, sure this is the right moment to start excising them.

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  116. Cause God likes nipples, obviously.

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  117. TomS:

    give me page numbers in "Signature" where ID is described, where ID makes an attempt to describe something.

    Try the section of chapter 18 entitled ID Is a Testable Theory (pp. 404-407 hardback edition). Actually, chapter 15 - The Best Explanation (pp. 324), and all of chapter 18 - But Is It Science? (pp. 396) contain detailed descriptions of and what ID describes.

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  118. Paul Nelson wrote;
    1. All organisms possess a genetic code: either the so-called 'universal' code, or some variant of it.

    2. The only known (i.e., sufficient) cause of codes is intelligence. (pp. 330-333)


    Nope.

    The "genetic code" is a biochemical phenomenon, where a series of specific reaction occur, based on ligand specificity and RNA-RNA interaction specificity. We humans have applied the term "code" in describing the phenomenon. Our descriptive choice of language in this instance does not cause the logical conclusion you infer in point 2.

    If it were truly a designed "code" it would not error-prone, but real protein translation is. The errors are predicted based on the phenomenon being a biochemical reaction, and not a designed, code-reading machine.

    Point 1 is actually strong support for the idea of common descent of all life on earth.

    Next attempt?

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  119. @Paul Nelson -

    I don't have enough time right now, but I want to make one quick preliminary note:

    First of all, thank you.

    Your example addresses the question of evidence for ID. I didn't ask for evidence, but for a description. What happens when an ID event takes place? What sort of thing is, or is not, the result? What change happens, from what, to what, ending in what? What would it look like if someone saw it happening?

    I don't have the time to write anything more.

    TomS

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  120. @Paul Nelson, jcc, and, by the way, Anonymous, too (see at the end):

    After looking at the suggestions offered, I see that I haven't made myself clear. (I realize that I am not the best of writers, but I had thought that someone would check the references to Cicero, Spencer, and Sarkar and respond to them, if not to me.)

    I was not asking for a demonstration that Intelligent Design is true, nor for a demonstration that evolution (or naturalism) is false.

    What I was asking for is a description of Intelligent Design.

    In my reading of the literature of ID, I have not come across such a description.

    Not even a partial description. A partial description might treat just one or two of the 6 W's. (Young Earth Creationism does say Who did it, and When.)

    I have often seen claims that such-and-such a phenomenon must be due to ID. You don't have to tell me about those claims.

    What I haven't seen is something like this: The difference between things that are designed and those that are not is such-and-such. (Maybe just an example of something which is not designed, so might get a clue about what difference design makes.)

    Or: When an ID event takes place, this is what happens ….

    Or: Individual living things are transformed by the process of ID from being X into being Y. (Or is it "species of living things" that are designed, rather than individuals? "Populations of living things"? "Molecules, one at a time, in certain living things"?)

    I am not looking for assertions that such-and-such cannot be the result of purely natural processes. That sort of assertion does not tell me anything about what the alternative is.

    Tell me something positive about what ID is like.

    I brought up the 6 W's, because I assumed that everybody remembers this from their school days, when the teacher asked for an expository essay. The 6 W's are a helpful start for giving a description of something.

    When I was asked to write an expository essay about a sport, and I wrote about was how baseball was fun to play and taught good teamwork and sportsmanship, I would get a bad grade on that essay. Not because I didn't give a good argument for the good points of baseball, but because I didn't give a description of baseball. Not because the teacher doesn't like baseball. Not because basketball is a better sport.

    When I ask for a description of ID, I do not expect answers about why ID is true.

    It would be fair of you to say that I have no right to demand that of you. You could tell me that you aren't going to answer the question. Or you could continue to talk about other things. Of course, I can continue to point out that you aren't giving any description, and to hope that the reader notices that none of the other advocates of ID do, and wonders why.

    @Anonymous, who wrote If it were truly a designed "code" it would not be error-prone:

    If we knew anything about what the design process was, about what sorts of things it can and cannot produce, then we would be able to say whether it would produce error-prone codes. But as long as the advocates of ID decline to tell us anything about ID, then, as far as anyone knows, it could produce an error-prone code. There is no point in talking about a something-or-other-I-know-not-what.

    TomS

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  121. @ TomS

    I am critiquing the "it is a code, and we all know codes have to be designed" "logic". If they wish to argue that the code is deliberately error prone, and therefore just looks like a chemical reaction and not really a code, they are deflating their own argument. If they wish to do down that line, they are free to do so ;-)

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  122. Hi TomS,

    If you're still reading this thread -- I'm back from my trip, and catching up (although this will not be a good week for me to spend time on blog discussions).

    You wrote:

    "What I was asking for is a description of Intelligent Design."

    Thanks for the clarification. I did indeed misunderstand you.

    How about a physical description of your drafting of your replies here? I infer, from the text I read when I come to this blog, that "TomS" exists, is motivated by certain philosophical concerns, etc. Probably "TomS" is using a computer like mine, is physically embodied, a member of Homo sapiens, and so on.

    But are those facts really adequate to the explanatory task? Shouldn't I ask for a physics-level account, which eliminates the apparent agent "TomS," and explains the generation of the character strings here in terms of strictly physical causes?

    You see what I'm getting at. Descriptions can be more or less detailed, depending on the criteria of adequacy one proposes. But what I don't see is why a physical description, of whatever detail, would make any difference to the inference THAT some object or pattern was designed.

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  123. @Anonymous:
    I understand and appreciate your point. My guess is that if you get a response, it will be a variation on, "Saying that something is designed does not tell us anything about that thing."
    TomS

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  124. @Paul Nelson:
    In other words, you have nothing to say.

    Just for the record:
    I did not ask for a physical description.

    TomS

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  125. To TomS,

    You wrote:

    "I did not ask for a physical description."

    You did. Read again what you've written in this discussion.

    Who, What, Where, When, and How all capture spatiotemporal (physical or physically describable) features of an event. Only "Why" arguably refers to metal states or intentions (e.g., goals, desires). So you asked for a physical description of a design event, or, if not, it's unclear what you want. This is why I asked you to explain whether you saw these criteria as jointly necessary and sufficient, or if at least some of them were not required.

    Do you reject the indicators of intelligent design, as articulated in Signature? See, for instance, pp. 352-3.

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  126. @Paul Nelson:

    You continue to refuse to give a description.

    If you think that "When" and "Where" are physical questions, then (1) you are saying that "Young Earth Creationism" gives a physical description (2) you have the option of saying "design is not an event that takes place in space and time".

    I fail to understand how "Who" and "How" are physical questions.

    "What" is a physical question? Are we talking about things like the bacterial flagellum or baramins, DNA or the nested hierarchy of all living things, or are we talking about souls? You refuse to tell us what sorts of things you are talking about because that would mean that you are giving a physical answer?

    TomS

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  127. To TomS,

    Your last comment is so opaque and out of left field -- souls, baramins, YEC, flagella, nested hierarchy? -- that I no longer wish to participate in this discussion. I thought we were going to review your objections to Signature, in detail. That seems not to be happening, so I have no interest in continuing.

    Back to basics, however, before I quit. When you infer -- as you do, as indicated by your behavior -- that "Paul Nelson" (an agent, not a physical law or chance event) wrote the comments under that name here, you make a design inference. Nothing spooky about it. Now, If I understand you correctly, you said that a physical description of the design event, "Paul Nelson wrote a blog comment to reply to TomS," is not necessary validly to infer that design occurred, and indeed that's not what you were asking for. But then, in your latest post, you seem to be asking again for a physical description...can't sort out what you want.

    I suggest that the indicators of design, sketched by Meyer on pp. 352-4 of Signature, are at work in design inferences. Human beings ordinarily employ such indicators reliably to infer intelligent causation, and the only question of interest is whether they will be allowed to try the same approach in fields (such as biology) where naturalistic assumptions have long held sway.

    That's it for me in this thread.

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  128. @Paul Nelson:

    You have made it quite clear that you have no intention to give any explication of what you mean by "intelligent design".

    TomS

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  129. Denny:

    Among all your words, where is the reason you get up each morning?

    There are all kinds of reasons to get up in the morning. To find out what happens next. To interact with friends and acquaintances. To learn new things. To prove to oneself and others that one can accomplish the tasks that yesterday left unfinished. To try a new restaurant. To learn something you didn't know before. To do something nice that a friend will remember your for. Or even just to earn some money so you still have a place to get up from and out of tomorrow. These are reasons to pursue your life with or without the conviction that a god exists; with or without the belief that life goes on after death. We're here now. We can either use the life we know for sure we all have, or squander it. If you mean to suggest that reaching the conclusion there is no god robs you of all the rest of your reasons and motivations for living, I can tell you first hand that it doesn't. I stopped believing in god a long time ago, but I didn't stop living my life.

    If you're wrong about the existence of a god (I'm assuming that's what your question posits), then you were wrong about one thing you believed. You life adjusts to conform to your new reality. If you're right, and by extension people like me are wrong, then we've still done the best we could according to the gifts furnished us by this god. The questions still remain, though, as to the identity of this god (or gods), its nature, and what it truly wants for and expects of us, if anything.

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  130. Reza said...
    "I would say 63% of the papers released every year on evolution, lack any empirical foundation whatsoever."

    Damn. You've got the same figures as mine. And I've just pull them out of a hat.

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