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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Information Matters part two

Information matters. One of the first to assert this specifically was the man who introduced the concept of the Watchmaker, William Paley.

Born in July 1743, in Peterborough, England, William Paley trained for the Anglican priesthood, graduating from Christ's College, Cambridge in 1763. He was appointed a fellow and tutor of his college in 1766, and rose through the ranks of the Anglican Church. He died on May 25, 1805.

Paley wrote several books on philosophy and Christianity, which proved extremely influential. His 1794 book A View of the Evidence of Christianity was required reading at Cambridge University until the 20th century. His most influential contribution to biological thought, however, was his book Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature, first published in 1802. In this book, Paley laid out a full exposition of natural theology, the belief that the nature of God could be understood by reference to His creation, the natural world. He introduced one of the most famous metaphors in the philosophy of science, the image of the watchmaker: . . .

when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive. . . that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g. that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, or placed after any other manner or in any other order than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it. . . . the inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker -- that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its construction and designed its use.

Living organisms, Paley argued, are even more complicated than watches, "in a degree which exceeds all computation." How else to account for the often amazing adaptations of animals and plants? Only an intelligent Designer could have created them, just as only an intelligent watchmaker can make a watch:

The marks of design are too strong to be got over. Design must have had a designer. That designer must have been a person. That person is GOD.

Quoted from William Paley (1743-1805)

Paley inspired a host of scientists and authors to expand upon his thesis -

"If we received a single intelligent signal containing information from space then we would conclude that there is intelligent life out there. Each cell in the human body contains more information than in all thirty volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It's certainly reasonable to make the inference that this isn't the random product of unguided nature, but it's the unmistakable sign of an Intelligent Designer."
Walter Bradley, quoted in The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel, p110
(The human genome, has 80,000 genes arranged in 3 billion DNA molecule pairs.)

Another modern version of Paley's watch is the 'Anthropic Principle', the fact that the physical constants of the universe are 'just right' to support life - the universe 'appears' designed to support life. In other words the universe is not just the result of chance.

Another example is the "irreducible complexity" of structures at a molecular level demonstrated by Michael Behe.

"We distinguish between intelligent and natural causes every day--every time a detective investigates a possible homicide, every time an archaeologist picks out an arrowhead from a pile of rocks, every time radio astronomers at the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence listen for patterns in the noise coming from outer space. In these cases, modern science doesn’t have a problem assuming some intelligent being is responsible for the evidence--a human, even an alien. But if you try to distinguish between intelligent and natural causes in basic biological systems, things get a little messier. If you find intelligence in biology, then who or what was the intelligent designer? It’s a question science doesn’t want to pose, let alone answer." Lauren Kern Houston Press December 14, 2000

Intelligent Design begins with the observation that intelligent causes can do things which undirected natural causes cannot. Undirected natural causes can place scrabble pieces on a board, but cannot arrange the pieces as meaningful words or sentences. To obtain a meaningful arrangement requires an intelligent cause. This intuition, that there is a fundamental distinction between undirected natural causes on the one hand and intelligent causes on the other, has underlain the design arguments of past centuries. William Dembski


Ken Ham presents the dialogue between the Paleyian, scientific viewpoint and the orthodox, religious viewpoint of Humanism in the response to Paley's Watchmaker.

Dr. Richard Dawkins, holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, has become one of the world’s leading evolutionist spokespersons. His fame has come as the result of the publication of books, including The Blind Watchmaker, which defend modern evolutionary theory and claim to refute once and for all the notion of a Creator God. He said, “We have seen that living things are too improbable and too beautifully ‘designed’ to have come into existence by chance." from The Blind Watchmaker

There is no doubt that even the most ardent atheist concedes that design is evident in the animals and plants that inhabit our planet. If Dawkins rejects “chance” in design, what does he put in place of “chance” if he does not accept a Creator God?

Who—or What—Is the Designer Then?

Design obviously implies a designer. To a Christian, the design we see all around us is totally consistent with the Bible’s explanation: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), and “For by him [Jesus Christ] all things were created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).

However, evolutionists like Richard Dawkins, who admit the design in living things, reject the idea of any kind of a Designer/God. In reference to Paley, Dawkins states:

Paley’s argument is made with passionate sincerity and is informed by the best biological scholarship of his day, but it is wrong, gloriously and utterly wrong. The analogy between telescope and eye, between watch and living organism, is false. Ibid.

Why? It is because Dawkins attributes the design to what he calls “blind forces of physics” and the processes of natural selection. Dawkins writes:

All appearance to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way. A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconnections, with future purpose in his mind’s eye. Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind’s eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker [emphasis added]. Ibid.

Dawkins does, however, concede that “the more statistically improbable a thing is, the less can we believe that it just happened by blind chance. Superficially the obvious alternative to chance is an Intelligent Designer.”10

Nonetheless, he rejects the idea of an “Intelligent Designer” and instead offers this “answer”:

"The answer, Darwin’s answer, is by gradual, step-by-step transformations from simple beginnings, from primordial entities sufficiently simple to have come into existence by chance. Each successive change in the gradual evolutionary process was simple enough, relative to its predecessor, to have arisen by chance. But the whole sequence of cumulative steps constitutes anything but a chance process, when you consider the complexity of the final end product relative to the original starting point. The cumulative process is directed by nonrandom survival. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate the power of this cumulative selection as a fundamentally nonrandom process." R. Dawkins, The necessity of Darwinism, New Scientist 94:130, 1982.

Basically, then, Dawkins is doing nothing more than insisting that natural selection and mutations together provide the mechanism for the evolutionary process. He believes these processes are nonrandom and directed. In reality, this is just a sophisticated way of saying that evolution is itself the designer.

So Evolution has replaced God as the Creator in the Humanistic religion!

In the Beginning Was Information was written by Dr. Werner Gitt, an expert in information systems.

Dr. Werner Gitt makes it clear in his book that one of the things we know for sure from science is that information cannot arise from disorder by chance. It always takes (greater) information to produce information, and ultimately information is the result of intelligence:

"A code system is always the result of a mental process (it requires an intelligent origin or inventor) ... . It should be emphasized that matter as such is unable to generate any code. All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required...
There is no known natural law through which matter can give rise to information, neither is any physical process or material phenomenon known that can do this...
“There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter."

Among his conclusions:

Since the DNA code has all the essential characteristics of information, there must have been a sender of this information. Since the density and complexity of the DNA information is millions of times greater than man's present technology, the sender must be supremely intelligent. Since the sender must have encoded (stored) the information into the DNA molecule and constructed the molecular biomachines to encode, decode and run the cells, the sender must be purposeful and supremely powerful.

Now, this is pretty simple to understand. Dr. Ken Ham wrote a treatise in which he culled quotations from several reliable sources both creationist and evolutionist to conclude that not only does information matter, it basically proves the existence of God. That link will take you to entire posting. Let me share some of the thoughts along with some of my own to expand on the information idea. For instance, commenters questioned why I would use a factory as an example. Here is how Dr. Ham says it:

"Imagine yourself sitting in the seat of a 747 airplane, reading about the construction of this great plane. You are fascinated by the fact that this flying machine is made up of six million parts—but then you realize that not one part by itself flies. This realization can be rather disconcerting if you are flying along at 500 mph (805 km/h) at 35,000 feet (10,668 m).

You can be comforted, however, by the fact that even though not one part of an airplane flies on its own, when it is assembled as a completed machine, it does fly.

We can use the construction of an airplane as an analogy to understand the basic mechanisms of the biochemistry of cells that enable organisms to function.

The complexity of the cell

Scientists have found that within the cell there are thousands of what can be called “biochemical machines.” For example, one could cite the cell’s ability to sense light and turn it into electrical impulses. But what scientists once thought was a simple process within a cell, such as being able to sense light and turn it into electrical impulses, is in fact a highly complicated event. For just this one example alone to work, numerous compounds must all be in the right place, at the right time, in the right concentration—or it just won’t happen. In other words, just as all the parts of a 747 need to be assembled before it can fly, so all the parts of these “biochemical machines” in cells need to be in place, or they can’t function. And there are literally thousands of such “machines” in a single cell that are vital for it to operate.

What does this mean? Quite simply, evolution from chemicals to a living system is impossible.

Scientists now know that life is built on these “machines.” Dr. Michael Behe, Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, describes these “biochemical machines” as examples of “irreducible complexity”:

Now it’s the turn of the fundamental science of life, modern biochemistry, to disturb. The simplicity that was once expected to be the foundation of life has proven to be a phantom; instead, systems of horrendous, irreducible complexity inhabit the cell. The resulting realization that life was designed by an intelligence is a shock to us in the twentieth century who have gotten used to thinking of life as the result of simple natural laws. But other centuries have had their shocks, and there is no reason to suppose that we should escape them [emphasis added]. Darwin's Black Box


Dr. Michael Denton wrote in Evolution: A Theory In Crisis: "It is the sheer universality of perfection, the fact that everywhere we look, to whatever depth we look, we find an elegance and ingenuity of an absolutely transcending quality which excels in every sense anything produced by the intelligence of man. Alongside the level of ingenuity and complexity exhibited by the molecular machinery of life, even our most advanced artifacts appear clumsy."

Dvar Torah yields some conclusions on this subject as part of considering the arguments between Moses and Pharoah.

Even the words of Charles Darwin betray more than a particle of uncertainty in these words written only twenty years after publication of his "Origin of the Species" ; "There is still considerable difference as to the means, such as how far natural selection has acted or whether there exists some mysterious innate tendency to perfectibility."

There is the institutional inertia of social thinking and teaching to contend with as (Fred) Hoyle described; "Once the whole of humanity becomes committed to a particular set of concepts, educational continuity makes it exceedingly hard to change the pattern."

Nobel Prize winning chemist Dr. Harold C. Urey admitted: "All of us who study the origin of life find that the more we look into it, the more we feel that it is too complex to have evolved anywhere. But we believe as an article of faith that life evolved from dead matter on this planet. It is just that its complexity is so great, that it is hard for us to imagine that it did.

George Wald who won the Nobel Prize for medicine wrote in Scientific American the following: "

The reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation; the only alternative was to believe in a single, primary act of supernatural creation. There is no third position. For this reason many scientists, a century ago, chose to regard belief in spontaneous generation as a 'philosophical necessity'. I think a scientist has no choice but to approach the origin of life through a hypothesis of spontaneous generation. (He concludes) One has to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet, here we are, as a result I believe of spontaneous generation." (Were their awards for accomplishments in science or philosophy?)"

Excuse me, but didn't Pasteur disprove spontaneous generation back in the 19th century?

Aldous Huxley, of "A Brave New World" fame in an essay titled "Confessions of an Atheist" bravely expressed the heart of Pharaoh's hardened heart, "I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. For myself, as no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument for liberation from a certain political and economic system and a liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom."

~

Sir Julian Huxley said something similar: “[I suppose the reason] we all jumped at the Origin [Origin of Species] was because the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores."

Again, because scientists realize that information is the problem that macroevolution has no answer for, it (Darwinism, Humanism, Neo-Darwinism, whatever your preferable label) has become a religion to defend with pontification and jargon and intimidation and long, involved fairy tales with little evidential content.

I'll let Dr. Ham end this post with the logical conclusion to this discussion thus far:

So what is the logically defensible position? Is it that matter has eternally existed (or came into existence by itself for no reason) and then that, by itself, matter was arranged into information systems against everything observed in real science? Or did an eternal Being, the God of the Bible, the source of infinite intelligence, create information systems for life to exist, which agrees with real science?

If real science supports the Bible’s claims about an eternal Creator God, then why isn’t this readily accepted? Michael Behe answers with this:

The fourth and most powerful reason for science’s reluctance to embrace a theory of intelligent design is also based on philosophical considerations. Many people, including many important and well-respected scientists, just don’t want there to be anything beyond nature. They don’t want a supernatural being to affect nature, no matter how brief or constructive the interaction may have been. In other words ... they bring an a priori philosophical commitment to their science that restricts what kinds of explanations they will accept about the physical world. Sometimes this leads to rather odd behavior.29
Evolution—the true blind faith

The crux of the matter is this: if one accepts there is a God who created us, then that God also owns us. If this God is the God of the Bible, He owns us and thus has a right to set the rules by which we must live. More important, He also tells us in the Bible that we are in rebellion against Him, our Creator. Because of this rebellion (called sin), our physical bodies are sentenced to death; but we will live on forever, either with God or without Him in a place of judgment. But the good news is that our Creator provided a means of deliverance for our sin of rebellion, so that those who come to Him in faith and repentance for their sin can receive the forgiveness of a holy God and spend eternity with Him.

God Is the Foundation for Science and Reason

As stated before, the Bible takes God’s existence as a given. It never attempts to prove the existence of God, and this for a very good reason. When we logically prove a particular thing, we show that it must be true because it follows logically from something authoritative. But there is nothing more authoritative than God and His Word. God knows absolutely everything. So it makes sense to base our worldview on what God has written in His Word.

Some people claim that it is unscientific to start from God’s Word. But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. A belief in God is actually foundational to logical thought and scientific inquiry. Think about it: why is logical reasoning possible? There are laws of logic that we use when we reason. For example, there is the law of noncontradiction, which states that you can’t have “A” and “not-A” at the same time and in the same relationship. We all “know” that this is true. But why is it true, and how do we know it?

The Bible makes sense of this: God is self-consistent. He is noncontradictory, and so this law follows from God’s nature. And God has made us in His image; so we instinctively know this law. It has been hard-wired into us. Logical reasoning is possible because God is logical and has made us in His image. (Of course, because of the Curse we sometimes make mistakes in logic.)

But if the universe were merely a chance accident, then why should logical reasoning be possible? If my brain is merely the product of mutations (guided only by natural selection), then why should I think that it can determine what is true? The secular, evolutionary worldview cannot account for the existence of logical reasoning.

Likewise, only a biblical worldview can really account for the existence of science—the study of the natural world. Science depends on the fact that the universe obeys orderly laws which do not arbitrarily change. But why should that be so? If the universe were merely an accident, why should it obey logical, orderly laws—or any laws at all for that matter? And why should these laws not be constantly changing, since so many other things change?

The Bible explains this. There are orderly laws because a logical Law-Giver upholds the universe in a logical and consistent way. God does not change; so He sustains the universe in a consistent way. Only a biblical worldview can account for the existence of science and technology.

Now, does this mean that a non-Christian is incapable of reasoning logically or doing science? Not at all. But he is being inconsistent. The non-Christian must “borrow” the above biblical principles in order to do science, or to think rationally. But this is inconsistent. The unbeliever must use biblical ideas in order to use science and reason, while he simultaneously denies that the Bible is true.


~~~~~~~


We see that the requiement for and the presence of information means that the Universe is a testimony to design. It not only took a Watchmaker to design it, but since we see all things running downhill (energy to entropy), then we can also see that a Watchmaker was required to wind it up in the beginning. It is the only logical conclusion to be reached by the unbiased mind.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

"It is the only logical conclusion to be reached by the unbiased mind."

It seems to me that the path of least bias is to proceed from the observable outward, without presuming conclusions about whether God does or doesn't exist.

-- creeper

bobxxxx said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jorgon Gorgon said...

Behe did not demonstrate irreducible complexity, he only postulated it. Pity all of his examples turned out to be eminently reducible. More pity that neither him nor Dembski can rigorously articulate what exactly they mean by irreducible/specified complexity.

The rest of the post is a pack of standard creationist lies, of course. One would think you people would know better than to reference a douchebag and a liar of monumental proportions like Ken Ham.

Anonymous said...

Now you see, Radar, that's what name-calling looks like.

-- creeper

radar said...

I had to eliminate some comments with x-rated language. If you cannot keep a civil tongue in your head, virtually, your comment will be deleted.

Jorgon, give it up. Irreducible complexity is real and has NOT been disproved, now Darwinists will have to think of some new explanation for it...rots of ruck.

One comment has had merit so far:

It seems to me that the path of least bias is to proceed from the observable outward, without presuming conclusions about whether God does or doesn't exist.

creeper, that is true. I know for a fact that I began my journey of discovery concerning origins with a bias towards evolution. Once I became a Christian, I re-examined the evidence without that bias I had held my entire life. The evidence convinced me, to my surprise, that the Biblical account was a far better fit to the facts than was/is the Darwin model.

I can no longer be unbiased because I have studied and researched and come to a conclusion. Are you unbiased, or have you come to a conclusion?

In any event, a good scientist does come to conclusions after he believes he has found the answers to his questions. He will review those conclusions if important new evidence is revealed.

But Darwinism was invented when long ages were presumed to be represented by the rock records rather than catastrophism and cells were thought to be little more than protoplasmic blobs. All that is long disproved.


The rest of this is name-calling. Jorgon Gorgon just asserts things that are not defensible

Taxandrian said...

Poe's Law:

"Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing."

Well done, Radar. You fooled us all!

Anonymous said...

Taxandrian,

sorry to say but I'm more inclined to come to the opposite conclusion - this is, sadly, not a parody.

Oh, and along with the X-rated language, a fun link also went missing. Here it is.

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

"Irreducible complexity is real and has NOT been disproved, now Darwinists will have to think of some new explanation for it..."

Irreducible complexity is an interesting concept, and it's not really that a "new explanation for it"(?) has to be found. What needs to be found for it to stick is an incontrovertible example. And so far that is missing. That's what Jorgon was saying. Behe postulated it, fine, but without an incontrovertible example, so what?

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

Radar,

"creeper, that is true. I know for a fact that I began my journey of discovery concerning origins with a bias towards evolution. Once I became a Christian, I re-examined the evidence without that bias I had held my entire life. The evidence convinced me, to my surprise, that the Biblical account was a far better fit to the facts than was/is the Darwin model.

I can no longer be unbiased because I have studied and researched and come to a conclusion. Are you unbiased, or have you come to a conclusion?"


First of all, having come to a conclusion is not the same as being biased, so you're presenting a false dichotomy here.

I think the preponderance of the evidence tends toward naturalistic evolution, yes. The significant rate at which you have evaded and misrepresented arguments on your blog the last few years is an indication (not a big one, since you're only a small fish in this scenario) that YEC is a very troubled concept, held together only by the religious beliefs of its adherents. If YEC were in actual fact true, there would be many more testable predictions that YECs could proudly present to the world. Since - despite their determination - all YECs can do is take potshots at evolution, quote the Bible and speculate on elaborate, vast conspiracies in the scientific community, it doesn't speak well of the strength of the concept at all.

Since a Christian believes that God created nature, I see no inherent conflict between science and religion in that regard. God would have had to accomplish this by some mechanism, so why should the mechanisms we observe in any way contradict the existence of God? What they contradict is a literal reading of the creation myth contained in the Bible, and since when are creation myths ever taken literally?

I consider myself open-minded in terms of what the evidence will show, and unlike you my beliefs do not depend on what this or that scientific experiment will show. Even if some unknown entity that you choose to call God created the Universe, I don't think that has anything to do with our world today, which it seems to me requires considerable equivocation and twists of reasoning to make compatible with a divine being that is omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent at the same time.

The fact that you are so married to the conclusion involving the literal accuracy of the creation myth is a severe handicap to you in any discussion on evolution. You can not make a statement like "It is the only logical conclusion to be reached by the unbiased mind" when at the same time your mind is so biased that it will only accept one outcome.

-- creeper