A Challenge to both Evolution and Intelligent Design

How does science work? And what's all this about quantum mechanics?

Moderators: AMod, iMod

Nikolai
Posts: 232
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:36 pm
Location: Finland

Post by Nikolai » Thu Dec 18, 2008 2:45 pm

Rortabend

Can I just point out that I am not from the Intelligent Design camp either -as the title of this thread suggests. This is a philosophical argument targeted at the notion of life, as opposed to non-life. Both evolution and intelligent life depend heavily on a clear distinction between the two - my point out that this distinction cannot be made empirically. It is an a priori distinction, which can vary widely according to one's perspective.

Mick
You point seems to be this: because we cannot answer all questions of life and death, we cannot distinguish them at all. I think that is nonsense, Nik.
The distinction can be made, but it is an arbitrary distinction. It is a line drawn in the sand, nothing more. There is no discernable disitnction between them in nature - we impose the distinction arbitrarily, and in order to do this we posit a metaphysical vital substance that putatively animates the duck in the water, but not the whirlpool in the water.

Life is just a pattern in the flow, an eddy in the flux. It is entirely continuous with all that surrounds it. We cannot reify the concept of life without paradox and confusion, we cannot separate it from the whole except in our minds. Either all is life, or nothing is.

Nikolai

Nikolai

mark black
Posts: 167
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:28 am

Post by mark black » Thu Dec 18, 2008 2:52 pm

Nickolai,

Are you blanking me, offended or defeated? Maybe you missed my post -I reproduce it here:
Nickolai,

I'm not sure that it is vitalism. From what little I know of it - no more than a wiki definition, I see there are certain compatabilities, but my discourse is rational scientific.

In terms of this discourse, the distinctions between a lifeform and the energy a lifeform uses to maintain a state of negative entrophy have already been mentioned. Negative entropy, DNA based reproduction/evolution, and biological intelligence apply to lifeforms, and do not apply to energy. These are scientific phenomena that can be identified, observed, tested and so on. There's nothing metaphysical about them.

Similarly, the organism may be made up of 20c worth of chemicals, but you go too far to suggest that there's something magical/metaphysical in the fact that 20c worth of chemicals are more than just chemicals. It's amazing - I'll grant you that, mind bogglingly complex, but it's all entirely compatible with known elements and scientific forces.

Except for the ultimate sceptical doubts we may harbour - that reality is an illusion, discounting this, evolution is not based on faith. Evolution is based on observation and the exhaustive testing of the hypothesis that follows from those observations.

There are fossil records and DNA evidence that all point in the same direction. There's biology, genetics, agronomy, climatology, geology, archeology - and a host of other discplines welded into a grand narrative by the modern evolutionary systehsis.

In comparison, your thin sceptial doubt - based soley on chopping the logic of definitions is measely and wicked. I do hope you're playing devil's advocate for kicks.

mb.
mb.

Nikolai
Posts: 232
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:36 pm
Location: Finland

Post by Nikolai » Thu Dec 18, 2008 3:55 pm

Mark,

I am sorry, but i am home with my ten-day old baby and can only write when time allows. I shall put baby in a drawer and devote myself to you!
Negative entropy, DNA based reproduction/evolution, and biological intelligence apply to lifeforms, and do not apply to energy.
Entropy is not a thing - it has no existence independent of the energy that charcterises it. Entropy is just a pattern of energy flow, nothing more. It is something that energy does - just as vortexes form in water/air, entropy forms in energy. Life, as defined as a negative entropy is therefore just the same old energy doing its thing. We might call it Life, and try to distinguish from 'positive' entropic patterns, but really it is the same old stuff. Life is entirely continuous with its energetic surroundings, and obeys the same laws as the energy around it. Energy is not trasnformed by negative entropy, and matter is not transformed when it becomes life. To see that one evolves and not the other is therefore an entirely irrational position.

When you talk about DNA based reproduction and biological intelligence not applying to energy, I hardly know whether to take you seriously I'm afraid. Intelligence cannot be perceived 'in itself'. We merely observe patterns in nature and designate them as intelligent. What does and sdoesn't get designated is entirely arbitrary. If I believed that the universe as suffused with nous, i would view the rattling of the shingle on the beach as intelligence. If I disn't believe that, then the rattling beach wouldn't be intelligent. Yes DNA replicates, but is merely the transformation from some compounds into others. It is no different in principle from the 'spontaneous' transformation of atomic oxygen/hydrogen into water.
In comparison, your thin sceptial doubt - based soley on chopping the logic of definitions is measely and wicked.
Mark ,I have said to you before that you are no philosopher. You seem impatient with all this ponderous conceptual analysis and seem to want to just get on with things. You are quite happy to accept the intellectual mores of our time, however incoherent, and seem quite blind to the philosophical complexities. Your understanding of science is incredibly naive, I'm afraid, and you seeem to have little insight into the nature of scientific knowledge as well as its epistemological limitations .

You are, in other words, a believer. You hold no truck with scepticism - it irritates you and you want to hurry on without it detaining you any longer. Your scientism is religious in its fervour, and you do not realise that the Christianity you deplore was overthrown by the exact same sceptical arguments that frustrate you.

The chopping up of definitions is the best way out of illusion. It is the practise of recognising that reality does not easily fit into the concepts we impose upon it. You are less interested in truth than on getting on with things. You are an intelligent and irascible man of action - your personality is like a Marx or a Rousseau which is why you call me weasely and wicked. But really, I'm neither of those things - the argument I'm laying out here is good from the philosophical perspective.

I'm sure you'll take this as an insult, but its not meant as one. Men like you are great and trasnform the world- but you'll just get frustrated of you keep hanging out with the philosophically minded. You always seem to be in some spat or other - the amount of frustration you must encounter..? On other blogs, where people are more purposive but less critical you'll probably be regharded as some sort of sage. But here you just seem to me mired in illusion! The philosopher wants out of this - but you don't seem to care!

Best wishes, Nikolai

Jack
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2007 3:09 pm

Post by Jack » Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:24 pm

Nikolai wrote:
I am sorry, but I am home with my ten-day old baby and can only write when time allows.

I just want to say congratulations Nikolai.

Jack

Nikolai
Posts: 232
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:36 pm
Location: Finland

Post by Nikolai » Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:51 pm

Thank you very much Jack :D

mark black
Posts: 167
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:28 am

Post by mark black » Thu Dec 18, 2008 8:20 pm

Nickolai,

I would congratualte you on the baby but according to you there's no will - so it's not like you've done anything you weren't determined to do anyway. Similarly, I would express regret at dragging you away from the infant, but what happens is just what happens, huh?

You say:
Your understanding of science is incredibly naive, I'm afraid, and you seeem to have little insight into the nature of scientific knowledge as well as its epistemological limitations .
For you to make these comments is laughable. You don't even seem to know what entropy is - or be able to distinguish negative from positive entropy. Allow me to explain. Entropy is the tendency of all things toward disorder. It's related to energy because it requires energy to resist entropy. Life resists entropy - and further, by evolutionary development life increases in complexity - contrary to the law of entropy. NOTHING inanimate does so. Therefore 'negative entropy' is a distinguishing feature of lifeforms.

Similarly, biological intelligence is not intellectual intelligence. It relates to the structure of lifeforms - intelligent in the sense that particular configurations of matter are able to internalize energy to resist entropy and reproduce. It absolutely can be seen - and it ends when life ends. When an organism dies, it succumbs to entropy - and begins to breakdown.

You say:
Yes DNA replicates, but is merely the transformation from some compounds into others. It is no different in principle from the 'spontaneous' transformation of atomic oxygen/hydrogen into water.
The formation of water is a positively entropic chemical process, not an atomic process. Don't you know anything? I'll tell you what - you were right fisrt time. I'll let you get back to your baby.

fond regards,

mb.

User avatar
Arising_uk
Posts: 12312
Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2007 2:31 am

Post by Arising_uk » Thu Dec 18, 2008 9:01 pm

mark black wrote:For you to make these comments is laughable. You don't even seem to know what entropy is - or be able to distinguish negative from positive entropy. Allow me to explain. Entropy is the tendency of all things toward disorder. It's related to energy because it requires energy to resist entropy. Life resists entropy - and further, by evolutionary development life increases in complexity - contrary to the law of entropy. NOTHING inanimate does so. Therefore 'negative entropy' is a distinguishing feature of lifeforms.
Seems a bit muddled to me mb. Entropy is not a "tendency to disorder" its the calculation of the possible Work lost due to 'leakage' between two Energy exchange systems(or at least thats the best I got from ibb in this thread viewtopic.php?t=553&start=30). Its not 'disorder' that results but lower Equlibrium of Energy distribution across the combined systems. As IBB pointed out where you set the 'zero-point' of Entropy defines whether you work with negative or positive entropies so I'm confused as to how this becomes a defining feature of Life?

mark black
Posts: 167
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:28 am

Post by mark black » Thu Dec 18, 2008 9:42 pm

A_UK,

Here's a definition from: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/entropy

1. Symbol S For a closed thermodynamic system, a quantitative measure of the amount of thermal energy not available to do work.
2. A measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system.
3. A measure of the loss of information in a transmitted message.
4. The tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity.
5. Inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.



There's also this from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy

Entropy and life
Main article: Entropy and life

For nearly a century and a half, beginning with Clausius' 1863 memoir "On the Concentration of Rays of Heat and Light, and on the Limits of its Action", much writing and research has been devoted to the relationship between thermodynamic entropy and the evolution of life. The argument that life feeds on negative entropy or negentropy as put forth in the 1944 book What is Life? by physicist Erwin Schrödinger served as a further stimulus to this research. Recent writings[citation needed] have utilized the concept of Gibbs free energy to elaborate on this issue. Tangentially, some creationists have erroneously argued that entropy rules out evolution.[28]

In the popular 1982 textbook Principles of Biochemistry by noted American biochemist Albert Lehninger, for example, it is argued that the order produced within cells as they grow and divide is more than compensated for by the disorder they create in their surroundings in the course of growth and division. In short, according to Lehninger, "living organisms preserve their internal order by taking from their surroundings free energy, in the form of nutrients or sunlight, and returning to their surroundings an equal amount of energy as heat and entropy."[29]

Evolution related definitions:
Negentropy - a shorthand colloquial phrase for negative entropy.
Ectropy - a measure of the tendency of a dynamical system to do useful work and grow more organized.[19]
Syntropy - a tendency towards order and symmetrical combinations and designs of ever more advantageous and orderly patterns.
Extropy – a metaphorical term defining the extent of a living or organizational system's intelligence, functional order, vitality, energy, life, experience, and capacity and drive for improvement and growth.
Ecological entropy - a measure of biodiversity in the study of biological ecology.

This entirely supports my position, but trying to tell Nickolai anything is pissing into the wind. He seems to think I don't know my stuff. Shows what he knows.

mb.

Nikolai
Posts: 232
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:36 pm
Location: Finland

Post by Nikolai » Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:08 pm

Mark,

I think you do know your stuff - I always find you incredibly well-informed and you seem to know your facts. Your weakness, and I do think it a conspicuous weakness, is that you seem to devoid of the critical faculty required to evaluate your ideas. Your views on science, the nature of scientific knowledge, and science's epistemological status compared to other epistmologies are naive to say the least. You don't seem to grasp the ultimate circularity of all scientific reasoning, and you are a terrible one for reifying what are purely mental concepts. Like the madman who sees the camel shaped cloud - you say 'its not a cloud, its a camel - I saw it with my own eyes'

This is why I have likened you to a religious zealot - you are unable to step outside of your belief system, because you have not yet realised that all your ideas are entirely faith-based. Just as The Christian says that Jesus is not a matter of faith, Jesus is Truth, you spin the same old yarn about science. The moment anyone points out your inconsistency you brand them a pedant, a skeptic or worse. Basically, if any argument contradicts the common sense conventiuons of our time, which you hold, you are unable to take the superordinate philosophical position, and rather see your interlocutor as living in cloud cuckoo land.

People like you belong in politics, or public service - or perhaps you should write a book. You are a purveyor of myths for the unintelligent and you do it well. The philosopher, however, is likely to remain unconvinced.

Best, nikolai

mark black
Posts: 167
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:28 am

Post by mark black » Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:22 pm

Nickolai,

Do you think that what I'm saying now is the opinion I have always held? I have argued it up and down, round and round for years, but I do now know what I think on most topics. Perhaps this seems inflexible - but this is considered opinion. It's very rare that anyone posts an idea on this site that I haven't thought about and come to a position on. Only your persistence in scpeticism is new to me. I've encountered all these ideas before - but I've never encountered anyone who takes them seriously - as if such a fine distinction as the definition of life from non-life would pose a problem for a theory that has such enormous explanatory power in so many fields. No. If there's a problem here it's a matter of definition only - and is not fundamental, not least because language is a system of referents, not definitives. You chop the logic of the definition as if it were definitive - and then cry foul when you show that the language is merely a referent, and not the reality itself.

mb.

p.s. I'm getting pretty pissed off with the insults. I posted in this thread because I care about these issues. It's you who fuckwitting people with your endless line in sceptical shit. I've studied and write about epistemology. I know to what degree language reflects reality and understanding approaches truth - and scientific method is the very best means of ensuring the tentative validity of our understanding.

Nikolai
Posts: 232
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:36 pm
Location: Finland

Post by Nikolai » Thu Dec 18, 2008 11:07 pm

Mark
as if such a fine distinction as the definition of life from non-life would pose a problem for a theory that has such enormous explanatory potential in so many fields.
I'm not arguing about where the distinction between life and non-life should lie but rather whether they can be any distinction at all. My argument is that realiity does not divide between the two at all. In conceptual schemes such as Darwinism a distinction is made by attributing some things with properties that are unseen and metaphysical and which are taken on faith.

This isn't about defintion because Darwinists consider there to be a difference in reality between life and non-life - that are two different things. I am saying that in reality they are the same thing. This issue would arise however we choose to define life (e.g DNA, neg entropy, repruduction, biological intelligence)

You and I probably agree that ultimately everything is energy. I therefore disallow evolutionarty laws to apply to some energy and not other.

Nikolai

User avatar
Arising_uk
Posts: 12312
Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2007 2:31 am

Post by Arising_uk » Thu Dec 18, 2008 11:10 pm

mb,
Nice definitions.
mark black wrote:A_UK,
Here's a definition from: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/entropy

1. Symbol S For a closed thermodynamic system, a quantitative measure of the amount of thermal energy not available to do work.
2. A measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system.
3. A measure of the loss of information in a transmitted message.
4. The tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity.
5. Inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.
1 & 3 are scientific concepts. 2, 4 & 5 are a nice example of how scientific concepts change when they filter out to the rest of us.
How do you understand the words "disorder", "randomness" and "closed system" in 2? In 4. "evolve", "inert" and "uniformity"?
5. just has too many questions.
There's also this from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy

Entropy and life
Main article: Entropy and life

For nearly a century and a half,...
mb.
The above reminded me of how careful Scientists should be about appropriating technical jargon from each others fields and when attempting to explain another field in terms of ones own.

Although I do appreciate this idea that Life could be considered as ignoring a Law of Thermodynamics I'm not sure that the arguments hold up nor that they've been measured to prove it one way nor another(I guess that we don't).

User avatar
Arising_uk
Posts: 12312
Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2007 2:31 am

Re: A Challenge to both Evolution and Intelligent Design

Post by Arising_uk » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:19 am

Hi Nikolai,
In general I think I understand your epistemological position on this matter. Is it not pre-supposing that the 'explanatory potential' of a theory has to start from a position of knowledge? As SGR(I think) used to point out we start from a position of ignorance so not having a clear understanding is not necessarily a hinderance with respect to providing explanations.
Nikolai wrote: I would argue that Life is not something that can be empirically observed, rather Life is a purely mental construct whose application upon phenomena varies considerably from person to person, over time and over place.
If I've understood your 'empirical' correctly then from my point of view the observation of what lives and what doesn't is exactly that. Living bodies that survive upon consuming other living things learn to recognise the difference absolutely or they die. So whilst everything can be a 'mental construct' I think this distinction is 'made' at a lower level than the 'purely mental'.
One thing that can certainly be said is that the dividing line between living and non-living entities is arbitrary. The corollary of this is that the concept of a species adapted to its environment is highly problematic as it is impossible to distinguish between the living organism and its non-living context. They can be viewed as inseparable and entirely of a piece.
What I find interesting is that many cultures have not made this distinction at all and view the context as 'living'. But whether it is or not makes no difference to what Darwin proposed as 'all' he did propose was that 'living' forms evolve into their shape by inherited random mutations which are tested by survival in an environment. He could not conceive of the mechanism so it stayed an hypothesis but with the discovery of DNA and its replication abilities it became a Theory.
In Darwin's day, the notion of vitalism was common currency so this problem didn't arise. But if you discount vitalism, as many materialist biologists do, then how do we define life life? Or what isn't life? The explanatory potential of evolution and Intelligent Design is fatally compromised until this is done.
Nikolai
I think the explanatory potential of ID to Biology is none but the ToE's is and will be immense. I agree with Dennett that it will also have a 'corrosive' effect(in the sense of solubility) in many other fields in future.
So I disagree but am open to arguments against.
Last edited by Arising_uk on Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Duncan Butlin
Posts: 185
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 12:33 am
Location: Chichester, West Sussex, UK
Contact:

Post by Duncan Butlin » Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:26 am

Deary, deary, deary me. What are we going to do with you? Can’t you guys keep your eyes on the ball for one second? We are talking here about the children of the United States; how their education is being undermined by a flight of female fancy. Do you seriously question whether those children exist? That they are alive? That they are in trouble? BOTH sides agree the situation is terrible; we simply cannot agree what to do about it. And yet you gossip on about it like women, while pretending a deep concern. You hypocrites.

In 1992, my friend in Tulsa, Oklahoma was a Sunday School teacher. He was perfectly happy to teach his class about masturbation -- in fact he recommended it as a way of avoiding pregnancy -- but did he dare mention evolution? No he did not; not one word. A deeply humiliating situation, especially for a biologist, and yet his tongue is still tied up to this day -- more firmly than ever before. And now this cancer is spreading to Canada and the UK (I don’t know about Australia).

So the question is what are we going to do about it? How can we capture a children’s nursery tale, that has taken over the American mind? Well how about it men, what do you suggest? What about the DNA, you say? What about entropy? Let’s see how we can define life more precisely. We better get the epistemology right. Life is but a pattern, the whole world is alive. Behold the universe, mankind shrinks into insignificance. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns!

You idiots. Let scientists talk about their esoteric concepts, in their esoteric journals (though I suspect even they go on for far too long). Open your eyes, stop gazing at the heavens (or your navels), and acknowledge what is happening right under your nose. Soon your own children will join the mess. All it is is out-of-control women’s thought, and yet you chatter along with them rather than confront them. What are you thinking of?

Come on, gentlemen, gather your wits about you, focus your minds, and start addressing the problem at hand. These fundamentalists are a formidable bunch, and they unfortunately talk a lot of sense on other subjects. But on this one issue they are propounding real evil, and they must be fought, tooth and nail. They must be defeated, and put back into the nursery where they belong. Fairy tales are all very well, until they infect the adult human brain.

And if anyone mentions one word about relativity, quantum theory, the uncertainty principle, the big bang, or deconstructionism (and does not receive a sound thrashing for his pains); then so help me I am going to abandon you all to your irrelevant musings, and go find a thread that makes a little more sense.

User avatar
Psychonaut
Posts: 465
Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:40 pm
Location: Merseyside, UK

Post by Psychonaut » Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:35 am

Woah, way too much to read through.

So I'll not say much, mark, viruses: life, or not life?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 15 guests