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Freeper Research on Framing the Intelligent Design Argument
Various | June 13, 2005 | Alamo-Girl

Posted on 06/13/2005 7:50:19 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl

The debate between evolution and intelligent design seems endless – not only on this forum but on school boards, news forums, origin-of-life forums all over the web, and so on. Moreover it appears there is a trend in the mainstream media to equate intelligent design with “creationism” and also to declare it the “conservative” view, which implies a political motive.

Perhaps the frequent repetition tactic is to characterize conservative voters leading into the next general election? If so, IMHO, we conservatives ought to be prepared with a ready response regardless of where we stand on the issue of evolution.

To that end, I’m initiating this thread of resources to gather information to help frame the debate in such a way as to remove or diminish the political ammunition of liberal correspondents we might encounter.

This is just a starter set, albeit a long one (my apologies) - so please add your resources to the collection - or extend or critique any of these points with your insights.

Creationism v Intelligent Design

To frame the debate, I suggest the first step is to have a ready definition and understanding of the these two terms and how they compare. Here are a few resources:

Creationism literally is the belief that ”God created the universe”. It is usually associated with Abrahamic religions although there are other origin beliefs which stipulate an act of creation.

In the evolution debate proper, correspondents frequently try to equate, and thus besmirch, all origin beliefs with such phrases as “it’s turtles all the way down”. We may have some of that in the political debate, but I suspect the liberal correspondent wishes to narrow in on “Christian conservatives”. The other belief systems tend to be liberal and/or vote Democrat.

Christian creationism is based these Scriptures which say that Adam was the first man; whether the first mortal man or the first ensouled man depends on the different doctrines:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. - Romans 5:12-14

So also [is] the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit. Howbeit that [was] not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man [is] of the earth, earthy: the second man [is] the Lord from heaven. As [is] the earthy, such [are] they also that are earthy: and as [is] the heavenly, such [are] they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. - I Corinthians 15:42-48

The differences in doctrine among Christians stems more from the interpretation of the above passages than from the reading of Genesis 1; nevertheless, by genealogy, Adam had to be created (either as the first mortal man or first ensouled man) approximately 6000 years ago.

Which is the true doctrine is altogether a theological argument, it has no place in science debates despite all the attempts of the liberal correspondents to make it so. Here are the major categories of Christian creationist doctrines known to me, with source links:

One side - which believes that Adam was the first mortal man - believes that the physical evidence must support a young earth (Answers in Genesis, Institute for Creation Research, et al). Because of archeological evidence, dating methods and the expansion of the universe - to liberal correspondents, these are “easy prey” and thus they seek to characterize all creationists and therefore, Christian conservatives, as this type. That characterization is false as “young earth creationism” is not the majority view among Christians.

Another side – which also asserts that Adam was the first mortal man - believes that God created an “old looking” universe, 6000 years ago. There is no scientific argument against this group at all – because there can be no scientific argument that God did not create ‘all that there is’ last Thursday. This is also called the Gosse Omphalos Hypothesis.

Another side believes that Adam was specially created in some unspecified method and/or place, 6000 years ago, thus he might not be the first mortal man from the perspective of earth, but would be the first ensouled man. This assertion is like stacking marbles and there is no scientific argument against a moving target.

Another side – the official Catholic view - is that Adam was the first ensouled man. It does not dispute evolution theory or the age of the universe and thus, there is no scientific argument against this group. Some of this view self-identify as “theistic evolutionists”.

Still another group (my group) – says that God was the only observer of creation week and therefore those 6 days must be viewed from inception space/time coordinates (inflationary theory and relativity). Using that formula, 6 days at the inception coordinates equals approximately 15 billion years at our space/time coordinates, Genesis 1-3 apply to heaven and earth and Adams’ time begins when he is banished to mortality in Genesis 4 (6000 years ago).

Intelligent Design is defined by the Discovery Institute – Center for Science and Culture as holding that ”certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

Unlike creationism, intelligent design has no basis in theology at all, no articles of faith, no doctrine, no Holy writ. This is crucially important. Creationism is theological, Intelligent Design is not.

Like evolution theory, it is not an origin-of-life hypothesis nor does it seek to explain “all features” of the universe and of living things. If it did, then it would indeed be “creationism” since it would be making the assertion that the universe was created by an intelligent cause and all features of the universe and living things are attributed to the intelligent cause.

Of course, this is a common belief among Christians. As a Christian, I believe that is Truth. But it is not the Intelligent Design hypothesis - it is theology. Theological terms cannot be mixed with Intelligent Design terms in framing the argument.

The intelligent design hypothesis does not dispute the age of the universe, that mutations occur or that natural selection is a factor. Rather, it asserts that an undirected process cannot explain all features in the universe and in living things.

Most importantly, Intelligent Design does not specify, identify or personify the designer, the intelligent cause. The designer could be any volitional entity including God, collective consciousness, or aliens.

Significantly, the intelligent cause could be an emergent property from naturalistic causes which is the mainstream materialistic explanation for intelligence.

If the liberal correspondent understands this point, the notion that intelligent design = creationism = conservatism has been successfully debunked since mainstream science could hardly be labeled “conservative” politically speaking.

Conversely, if the Intelligent Design hypothesis specified the designer as God, it would indeed be theology and thus, not a subject to be raised in publicly funded education, etc.

Of a truth, the intelligent design hypothesis is theologically and ideologically neutral, despite the liberal correspondent’s attempts to characterize it otherwise.

That is all I have for those who are only interested in blocking the false assertions being made by liberal correspondents.

The following is a collection of resources for those who wish to acquit the intelligent design hypothesis itself, particularly without making a commitment to any particular hypothesis. These are just a few ideas gathered up from rigorous debates here on the forum but they’ve held up rather well. All of your insights on the subject are much appreciated!

My two cents…

The following is intended to frame the debate on broad issues in science. After all, the intelligent design argument is basically a collection of objections to the paradigm of scientific materialism to account for the origin of species, i.e. that the current paradigm is tunnel-visioned. By showing that the objections are actually mainstream, the hypothesis may be acquitted as politically motivated.

Information or What is life v non-life/death in nature?

"How, therefore, we must ask, is it possible for us to distinguish the living from the lifeless if we can describe both conceptually by the motion of inorganic corpuscles?"
Karl Pearson The Grammar of Science

The theory of evolution is frankly incomplete – Darwin never asked or answered the question “what is life?” It is a difficult and unresolved question to this day. It is at the root of objections to methodological naturalism. Following are several views which approach the question from what life “is” rather than the larger view of what is life v. non-life/death:

Comparing three views

High School textbooks: movement, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion, nutrition

Ernst Bayr: Living things are complex and can adapt in an organized way; The chemistry of life is made up from a unique set of large molecules; Each living organism is individual, and there is much variability between groups; Living things evolve in a non-predetermined way, but a record of their evolution is maintained in their genetic code; Living things are classified by their genetic evolution; All living things have evolved by natural selection. The processes of life cannot be easily predicted; Living things are best recognized by qualitative rather than quantitative characteristics.

Website: structure, reproduction, metabolism, growth, evolution, irritability, resilience

Ervin Bauer (from a post by betty boop):

According to Ervin Bauer (Theoretical Biology, 1935/1967), living systems are characterized by the following:

(1) Living systems preeminently have the characteristic that they are never in thermodynamic equilibrium and, supported by a free energy reservoir, are able to continuously invest work against the realization of the equilibrium that would otherwise set in, given prevailing outer conditions on the basis of the physical and chemical laws. That is, they do not just radiate entropic entropy away into the environmental “sink”; they are able to store it for use to perform “work against the realization of the equilibrium.”

(2) Living systems are strongly spontaneous systems. Bauer writes, “It is typical for every living system that they show spontaneous changes in their states which are not elicited by causes [that are] external to the living system.” Thus they exemplify the quality of emergence.

(3) Living systems are strongly and sensitively responsive systems. That means they are not only able to recognize inputs streaming in from their external environments, but also inputs triggered by internal systemic changes – and can adjust/adapt their internal (and external) activity in ways that preserve themselves as far away from thermodynamic equilibrium (i.e., “heat death”) as possible.

(4) Living systems are “self-organizing systems,” regulated or “ordered” from the global level. Any “macroscopic” living system is composed of a great number and variety of other living systems – cells tissues, organs, etc. Global governance is required for the control, adaptation, regulation, and communication of the subsystems with each other, and also individually and collectively with the global system – all of which conduces to the organic unity and perdurance of the global system itself.

E. J. Chaisson – A unifying concept for Astrobiology: life is ”an open, coherent spacetime structure kept far from thermodynamic equilibrium by a flow of energy through it – a carbon-based system operating in a water-based medium with higher forms metabolizing oxygen.”

Brig Klyce (panspermiast): life is one or more biological cells. ” Every cell is bounded by its own outer membrane and contains a full set of instructions necessary for its operation and reproduction.”

Lukas K. Buehler website dedicated to ‘what is life?’

George Javor: Evidence for Creation

Rickettsiae, chlamidiae and mycoplasmas, on the other hand, are among the smallest known living organisms, and are very much alive. The fact that chlamidiae and rickettsiae are obligate intracellular parasites only means that they have serious metabolic deficiencies. A clear distinction between living entities and nonliving substances is essential for a consideration of whether it is possible to go from one state to the other. For this reason we need to descend into the submicroscopic world of matter.

The elemental compositions of living and nonliving matter differ greatly.4 The actual chemical determination of living matter is done on "once-living matter". Before chemists can analyze living matter, they have to take it apart to isolate its individual components, thereby killing it. Thus the actual phenomenon of "life" is not amenable to detailed chemical scrutiny. In the very process of laying hold of isolated "purified" components of living matter, "life" slips out between the chemists' fingers, and what remains is an inert, "lifeless" substance. This is so because living cells are composed of lifeless, nonliving components. The implication is that the difference between life and death is a question of how biomatter is organized. Therefore, it should be possible to reverse the killing of cells by restoring them to their pre-disruption state. Why this has not yet been done in the laboratory will be discussed in the next chapter.

… In presenting a case for a tight logical link between analyzing the molecular aspects of life and the creationist paradigm, it is not enough to enumerate the components of living matter. Simply knowing the components of living matter is not enough to account for its biological activity.

As the last entry indicates, purely descriptive definitions for “what is life” tend to run aground when one considers death, non-life, artificial life, collectives such as ants and bees - and the exceptions such as bacterial spores, prions, viruses, mimiviruses, etc.

On the forum, betty boop and I have framed the question to emphasize the full import, namely ”what is life v. non-life/death in nature?”

To visualize the question, one might ask what is the difference between a dead skin cell and a live skin cell taken from the same person when both cells have the same DNA and chemicals?

Another way to view the question is to imagine taking a live albatross, a dead albatross and a 12 pound cannonball to the top of the Eiffel tower and throwing them over. What happens next is quite striking and leaves one pondering what and why.

In that regard, we have offered a mathematical definition of life v non-life/death in nature based on Claude Shannon's mathematical theory of communications. Shannon's theory is the origin of the field of mathematics known as information theory and is used in pharmaceutical and cancer research among other things. The discipline is generally known as "information theory and molecular biology".

Information is that which distinguishes life from non-life/death.

Information, paraphrased as “successful communication” is the reduction of uncertainty (Shannon entropy) in a receiver or molecular machine in going from a before state to an after state. It is the action, the communication itself, the arrows on the chart below. It is not the message. The value or meaning of the message being transmitted has no bearing on the model.

Successful communication includes all of the named elements. In biological systems these elements should be interpreted as follows:

Applied to the enigmas, this definition would interpret all of the following as living with the following restrictions:

Bacteria - autonomous successful communication
Bacterial Spores – autonomous successful communication
Mycoplasmas – autonomous bacterial model parasite successful communication
Mimivirus – autonomous virus model parasite successful communication
Viroids – non-autonomous virus-like noise/mutation contributing to successful/failed communication (no protein coat)
Viruses – non-autonomous virus noise/mutation contributing to successful/failed communication (feeds genetic data to the host)
Prions – non-autonomous protein noise/mutation contributing to successful/failed communication (protein crystallization)

There is so far no known origin for information (the successful communication) in space/time. This should be visualized as activity represented by the arrows on the above chart. Possible origins include a universal vacuum field, harmonics, geometry.

Additional Information Theory and Molecular Biology links:

Schneider: Theory of Molecular Machines
Yockey: Information Theory and Molecular Biology
Adami: Information Theory in Molecular Biology
Biological Information Theory and Chowder Society

Autonomy or What is form?

This is a comparably difficult question. The issue of autonomy goes to the geometry of life and therefore reaches to space/time and beyond. It also goes to the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” issue and thus is related to the questions of complexity and intelligence.

Some thought experiments:

That a man remains himself although every cell in his body is replaced every seven years.

That a car is a thing distinct from the sum of the parts of the car.

That a magnet can be cut into many pieces and still be a magnet.

That a flatworm cut in two parts is two flatworms.

That an army ant acts as an individual, but a colony of ants conducts raids, keeps a calendar, geometry and constant temperature.

The question also involves philosophy and mathematics – namely, does form exist “in” space/time or is it a manifestation of an existent “beyond” space/time, i.e. Platonic form, mathematical structure. In philosophy, this is the nominalism v realism debate. In mathematics, it is the Aristotle v Plato worldview.

Tegmark: Level IV Universe

According to the Aristotelian paradigm, physical reality is fundamental and mathematical language is merely a useful approximation. According to the Platonic paradigm, the mathematical structure is the true reality and observers perceive it imperfectly. In other words, the two paradigms disagree on which is more basic, the frog perspective of the observer or the bird perspective of the physical laws. The Aristotelian paradigm prefers the frog perspective, whereas the Platonic paradigm prefers the bird perspective....

A mathematical structure is an abstract, immutable entity existing outside of space and time. If history were a movie, the structure would correspond not to a single frame of it but to the entire videotape. Consider, for example, a world made up of pointlike particles moving around in three-dimensional space. In four-dimensional spacetime--the bird perspective--these particle trajectories resemble a tangle of spaghetti. If the frog sees a particle moving with constant velocity, the bird sees a straight strand of uncooked spaghetti. If the frog sees a pair of orbiting particles, the bird sees two spaghetti strands intertwined like a double helix. To the frog, the world is described by Newton's laws of motion and gravitation. To the bird, it is described by the geometry of the pasta--a mathematical structure. The frog itself is merely a thick bundle of pasta, whose highly complex intertwining corresponds to a cluster of particles that store and process information. Our universe is far more complicated than this example, and scientists do not yet know to what, if any, mathematical structure it corresponds.

The Platonic paradigm raises the question of why the universe is the way it is. To an Aristotelian, this is a meaningless question: the universe just is. But a Platonist cannot help but wonder why it could not have been different. If the universe is inherently mathematical, then why was only one of the many mathematical structures singled out to describe a universe? A fundamental asymmetry appears to be built into the very heart of reality.

As a way out of this conundrum, I have suggested that complete mathematical symmetry holds: that all mathematical structures exist physically as well. Every mathematical structure corresponds to a parallel universe. The elements of this multiverse do not reside in the same space but exist outside of space and time.

What is Mathematics?

The view [Platonism] as pointed out earlier is this: Mathematics exists. It transcends the human creative process, and is out there to be discovered. Pi as the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is just as true and real here on Earth as it is on the other side of the galaxy. Hence the book's title Pi in the Sky. This is why it is thought that mathematics is the universal language of intelligent creatures everywhere....

Barrow goes on to discuss Platonic views in detail. The most interesting idea is what Platonist mathematics has to say about Artificial Intelligence (it does not think it is really possible). The final conclusion of Platonism is one of near mysticism. Barrow writes:

We began with a scientific image of the world that was held by many in opposition to a religious view built upon unverifiable beliefs and intuitions about the ultimate nature of things. But we have found that at the roots of the scientific image of the world lies a mathematical foundation that is itself ultimately religious. All our surest statements about the nature of the world are mathematical statements, yet we do not know what mathematics "is" ... and so we find that we have adapted a religion strikingly similar to many traditional faiths. Change "mathematics" to "God" and little else might seem to change. The problem of human contact with some spiritual realm, of timelessness, of our inability to capture all with language and symbol -- all have their counterparts in the quest for the nature of Platonic mathematics. (pg. 296-297)

Ultimately, Platonism also is just as problematic as Formalism, Inventionism and Intuitionism, because of its reliance on the existence of an immaterial world. That math should have a mystical nature is a curiosity we are naturally attracted to, but ultimately does not really matter. Platonism can think of a mathematical world as an actual reality or as a product of our collective imaginations. If it is a reality then our ability to negotiate Platonic realms is limited to what we can know, if it is a product of our collective imaginations then mathematics is back to an invention of sorts. True or not our knowledge of mathematics is still limited by our brains.

Do there exist mathematical theorems that our brains could never comprehend? If so, then Platonic mathematical realms may exist, if not then math is a human invention. We may as well ask, "Is there a God?" The answer for or against does not change our relationship to mathematics. Mathematics is something that we as humans can understand as far as we need.

Some envision the form as a singular, the universe or biosphere – an evolution of one, autonomy of one, with many subparts (fractals) - bucking the physical laws to change physical reality. Others see autonomy emerging from quantum mechanics. Others see form as a morphogenic field. And still others attribute form to an intelligent cause. Examples of each:

Swenson: Autocatakinetics, evolution and the law of maximum entropy production
Stuart Kauffman on the autonomous agent
Rupert Sheldrake on Morphogenic Fields
Stephen Meyer (intelligent design)

Kauffman’s hypothesis of an autonomous agent may be the closest attempt by methodological naturalism, but others declare that Maxwell’s demon is dead because it violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Semiosis or How is biological language?

Semiosis is the process that obtains meaning from symbols or signs. It is the language in successful communications – basically the symbolizations wherein meaning is encoded and then decoded. In biological systems, the encoding is DNA/RNA.

The question goes to how the symbols and syntax can emerge by materialistic cause or how/where it may otherwise originate. It extends to how the useful language might grow and diversify over time according to the autonomous form or molecular machinery requiring it.

Pattee: The Physics of Symbols, Bridging the Epistemic Cut
Luis Rocha - Syntactic Autonomy: Or Why There is no Autonomy Without Symbols and how Self-Organizing Systems Might Evolve Them
Rocha: Embodied Evolving Semiosis
Physical Complexity of Symbolic Sequences
Rationality v Randomness
The Panspermia/Cosmic Ancestry hypotheses
The Intelligent Design hypothesis
Schneider: Theory of Molecular Machines
Yockey: Information Theory and Molecular Biology

Complexity or How is biological life complex?

The Santa Fe school takes complexity to apply to absolutely everything. They draw their representative examples from certain chemical reactions, the pattern of the sea coast, atmosphere turbulence, or the structure of a chain of mountains. The complexity of these structures is certainly considerable, but in comparison with the living world, they exhibit in every case an impoverished form of organization, one that is strictly non-functional. No algorithm allows us to understand the complexity of living creatures, this despite these examples, which owe their initial plausibility to the assumption that the physico-chemical world exhibits functional properties that in reality it does not possess. Interview with Marcel-Paul Schützenberger

It seems that whenever one engages a liberal correspondent on the substantive intelligent design objections to evolution theory, the subject turns to complexity – no doubt because the term “irreducible complexity” was coined from the Intelligent Design corner.

But as with the discussion of creationism v. intelligent design – the subject of complexity can be easily twisted to obfuscate the debate. It is a subject rich in math with many different models for complexity and there is a tendency to mix apples and oranges. Perhaps the best approach is to know the various theories, pick a complexity theory, and stick with it in such a debate. Here’s a starting collection:

NECSI: Complex Systems

Complexity is ...[the abstract notion of complexity has been captured in many different ways. Most, if not all of these, are related to each other and they fall into two classes of definitions]:

1) ...the (minimal) length of a description of the system.

2) ...the (minimal) amount of time it takes to create the system.

The length of a description is measured in units of information. The former definition is closely related to Shannon information theory and algorithmic complexity, and the latter is related to computational complexity.

NIST: Kolmogorov Complexity

Definition: The minimum number of bits into which a string can be compressed without losing information. This is defined with respect to a fixed, but universal decompression scheme, given by a universal Turing machine.

Cellular Automata

A cellular automaton (plural: cellular automata) is a discrete model studied in computability theory and mathematics. It consists of an infinite, regular grid of cells, each in one of a finite number of states. The grid can be in any finite number of dimensions. Time is also discrete, and the state of a cell at time t is a function of the state of a finite number of cells called the neighborhood at time t-1. These neighbors are a selection of cells relative to some specified, and does not change (Though the cell itself may be in its neighborhood, it is not usually considered a neighbor). Every cell has the same rule for updating, based on the values in this neighbourhood. Each time the rules are applied to the whole grid a new generation is produced.

Adami: Physical Complexity

In this paper, we skirt the issue of structural and functional complexity by examining genomic complexity. It is tempting to believe that genomic complexity is mirrored in functional complexity and vice versa. Such an hypothesis, however, hinges upon both the aforementioned ambiguous definition of complexity and the obvious difficulty of matching genes with function.

NECSI: Functional Complexity

Given a system whose function we want to specify, for which the environmental (input) variables have a complexity of C(e), and the actions of the system have a complexity of C(a), then the complexity of specification of the function of the system is:

C(f)=C(a) 2 C(e)

Where complexity is defined as the logarithm (base 2) of the number of possibilities or, equivalently, the length of a description in bits. The proof follows from recognizing that a complete specification of the function is given by a table whose rows are the actions (C(a) bits) for each possible input, of which there are 2 C(e). Since no restriction has been assumed on the actions, all actions are possible and this is the minimal length description of the function. Note that this theorem applies to the complexity of description as defined by the observer, so that each of the quantities can be defined by the desires of the observer for descriptive accuracy. This theorem is known in the study of Boolean functions (binary functions of binary variables) but is not widely understood as a basic theorem in complex systems[15]. The implications of this theorem are widespread and significant to science and engineering.

Wikipedia: Irreducible Complexity

The term "irreducible complexity" is defined by Behe as: "a single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning" (Michael Behe, Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference)

Specified Complexity

Life is both complex and specified. The basic intuition here is straightforward. A single letter of the alphabet is specified without being complex (i.e., it conforms to an independently given pattern but is simple). A long sequence of random letters is complex without being specified (i.e., it requires a complicated instruction-set to characterize but conforms to no independently given pattern). A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified...

Metasystem Transition (a kind of punctuated equilibrium)

Consider a system S of any kind. Suppose that there is a way to make some number of copies from it, possibly with variations. Suppose that these systems are united into a new system S' which has the systems of the S type as its subsystems, and includes also an additional mechanism which controls the behavior and production of the S-subsystems. Then we call S' a metasystem with respect to S, and the creation of S' a metasystem transition. As a result of consecutive metasystem transitions a multilevel structure of control arises, which allows complicated forms of behavior.

Concerning complexity of life v. non-life/death in nature – I strongly suggest being familiar with self-organizing complexity as that is the focus of much research these days. It is also compatible with the view that the “intelligent cause” might also be an emergent property:

Self Organizing Systems

The essence of self-organization is that system structure often appears without explicit pressure or involvement from outside the system. In other words, the constraints on form (i.e. organization) of interest to us are internal to the system, resulting from the interactions among the components and usually independent of the physical nature of those components. The organization can evolve in either time or space, maintain a stable form or show transient phenomena. General resource flows within self-organized systems are expected (dissipation), although not critical to the concept itself.

The field of self-organization seeks general rules about the growth and evolution of systemic structure, the forms it might take, and finally methods that predict the future organization that will result from changes made to the underlying components. The results are expected to be applicable to all other systems exhibiting similar network characteristics.

1.3 Definition of Complexity Theory

The main current scientific theory related to self-organization is Complexity Theory, which states:

Critically interacting components self-organize to form potentially evolving structures exhibiting a hierarchy of emergent system properties.

The elements of this definition relate to the following:

Critically Interacting - System is information rich, neither static nor chaotic
Components - Modularity and autonomy of part behaviour implied
Self-Organize - Attractor structure is generated by local contextual interactions
Potentially Evolving - Environmental variation selects and mutates attractors
Hierarchy - Multiple levels of structure and responses appear (hyperstructure)
Emergent System Properties - New features are evident which require a new vocabulary

The above Rocha links describe the rigorous application of self-organizing complexity to biological systems. However, the term itself is used in a variety of disciplines and therefore will mean different things to different correspondents. The term is used to describe complexity in economics, behavior studies and science itself. There is so far no universally agreed definition for the term, but it does have a specific, rigorous meaning with regard to biological systems.

Intelligence or What and how is consciousness, mind, willfulness, soul or spirit?

Intelligence may be seen as awareness with the ability to solve problems. By definition it reaches to consciousness, the mind, willfulness, soul and spirit. Although it is science, it also involves philosophy, ideology and theology. It is also related to autonomy and semiosis.

Concerning philosophy, the debate may turn to dualism v monism. Vitalism and scientific reductionism may also be raised.

In the minds of many a liberal correspondent, the wall between methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism doesn’t exist, much like – in their mind – there is no wall between creationism and Intelligent Design. This is telling in itself, by the way, and perhaps useful as a counter-argument.

Metaphysical naturalism leads to the concept of intelligence as a mere epiphenomenon of the physical brain. To these, the soul cannot exist at all and is demeaned as the “ghost in the machine”. Conversely, we observe intelligence at the cellular level where there is no brain, in swarms which brains are disconnected, in qualia, various experiments with memory and other personal experiences in life.

Following is an example of how philosophical prejudice directly effects the conclusion drawn from experimentation:


We begin this review in the early 1960s when the debate as to the role of cellular chemistry in memory actually became quite heated. The controversy we have in mind was prompted by some animal studies carried out by James McConnell and co-workers at the University of Michigan, which seemed to indicate that planaria (flatworms) which had learned a conditioned response could - simply by being eaten - transfer that learning to the planaria which had eaten them! The initial study was by McConnell, Jacobson, and Kimble (1959, cited in McConnell, 1962). They took planaria which had been classically conditioned to turn away from a light stimulus, and cut them into head and tail halves. Over the next four weeks, each half was allowed to regenerate: each tail grew a new head, and each head grew a new tail. The animals were then reconditioned, and the method of savings used to measure the amount of the original learning which had been retained. What the research team wanted to determine, of course, was which half of the test animal held the memory. The original hypothesis, therefore, was that "head" animals would require little retraining (because the head would have contained the original memory), whilst the "tail" animals would require full retraining (because the tail would not have contained any original memory). Much to the research team's surprise, however, both groups displayed equal and substantial retention over the intervening month. Indeed, tails #2 and #5 actually did better than their heads! There were only two possible interpretations for these surprising results: either the study had been technically flawed with an expectancy effect of some sort, or "memory, in the flatworm, was being stored throughout the animal's body" (McConnell, 1962, p567). Wishing not to be dismissed by the rest of the scientific community as "crackpots", McConnell and his team immediately had the results confirmed in a variety of well controlled (blind-scoring) studies, and time after time the original results were confirmed.

Suspicion then fell on the role played by RNA in memory. Corning and John (1961) repeated the McConnell studies, but arranged for the regeneration phase to take place in a weak solution of ribonuclease - an enzyme which actively destroys RNA. This time, the heads retained the original training whilst the tails did not. If memory was being stored throughout the animal's body at the instant it was transected, then what subsequently happened at the head end was different to what happened at the tail end. Specifically, the head end might have formed a protein-based engram in its rudimentary nervous system, whilst the tail might have formed only an RNA-based engram. Only the latter would then be affected by the ribonuclease treatment.

And then came the cannibalism studies (Humphries and Jacobson, 1961; McConnell, Jacobson, and Humphries, 1961; both cited in McConnell, 1962). In these studies, fully conditioned animals were chopped up and fed to untrained ones, who were then trained up to criterion. Averaged over five separate studies, the "educated" cannibals were initially half as good again as control cannibals who had been fed untrained colleagues (an average of 11.7 conditioned responses in the first 25 trials, against 7.1). [Students tempted to try the Hannibal Lector learning method for themselves should therefore note the need to be selective in their choice of knowledge donor!]

For a short time, it seemed as though engrams themselves - perhaps in the form of single RNA molecules - could survive digestion, make their way to the appropriate point in their new host's nervous system, and act as engrams there. And as to what this meant for memory theory, McConnell could only confess to being unsure: "Frankly," he said, "we are not sure where all this work leaves us" (McConnell, 1962, p572). It was soon suggested, however, that what was happening was merely a transfer of some necessary nutrients from ingestee to ingester, so that the ingester's task of responding biochemically to the need to create new engrams of its own was proportionately eased. Memory per se had not been transferred in the digestive process, merely a few essentials of protein synthesis. By 1964, many reviewers (eg. Dingman and Sporn, 1964) had weighed the evidence one way and the other, and were coming down heavily against the possibility of a purely molecular engram. Thus .....

"None of the experiments just described directly test the proposition that an RNA molecule, or set of molecules, represents the molecular engram. [Instead] they merely stress the fact that RNA metabolism is an important parameter of neuronal function. [..... We] may be able to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of memory if we regard [it] as a property of a neuron or set of neurons rather than solely as a property of individual molecules." (Dingman and Sporn, 1964, pp26-28.)

And so the compromise view (which has held to the present day) is that the engram is best seen as being a diffuse structural neuronal net, or "cell assembly" [glossary], with the processes of setting it up in the first place and accessing it afterwards initiating a variety of molecular level biochemical events. The difference is merely one of level of analysis: you may choose to take a holistic view and look at the neuronal nets, or else take a reductionist view and put each individual macromolecule under the microscope.

A collection of sources from various corners:

Cellular Intelligence
Army Ants as a Collective Intelligence
NASA: swarm intelligence project
Physiology of Learning

Pinker: Blank Slate
Dennett: Darwin’s Dangerous Idea
Juergen Schmidhuber: Artificial Intelligence
PSYCHE: Interdisciplinary Journal on the Study of Consciousness
Kenny: The Science of Collective Consciousness
Grandpierre: The Physics of Collective Consciousness
The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR)

A final note about the unreasonable effectiveness of math…

IMHO, the broad theme, the chief objection to the theory of evolution, is that “randomness” cannot be the prime factor in the formulation: random mutations – natural selection > species.

As the above links illustrate, the mainstream of science and math is also moving away from randomness as it investigates self-organizing complexity, swarm intelligence, etc. Randomness as a concept is also in dispute. Wolfram, for instance, challenged Chaitin’s Omega et al as being only pseudo-random since it was the effect of a cause. Even Brownian motion is the effect of a cause.

In naturalism (whether methodological or metaphysical) everything must be the effect of a prior physical cause (physical causality) and thus never more than pseudo-random. In theology, the corresponding doctrine is hard predestination.

The polar opposite to strong determinism is free will. The difference in view can be seen as geometry: one side comprehends our 4D universe as three dimensional space evolving over time whereas the other side sees time as the fourth dimension. The theory of relativity affirms that time is a dimension.

And a bit of good news for the “free will” corner is that in contrast to strict (4D) physical causality, geometric physics and cosmology suggest even more fundamental, particularly temporal, geometry.

Time before Time
Wesson: Five dimensional relativity and two times
Vafa: Geometric Physics
Vafa: Evidence for F-Theory
The curse of dimensionality
Quantum Entanglement and Information (superposition)
Bell’s theorem (non-locality)

and related essays by betty boop posted on the forum:

Can the Monist view account for ‘what is life?’
On Plato, the Early Church, and Modern Science An Eclectic Meditation
Autocatakinesis, Evolution, and the Law of Maximum Entropy Production
The “Cartesian Split” Is a Hallucination; Ergo, We Should Get Rid of It <<< Her latest essay, just posted! Please visit and comment.

So for all the objections to Intelligent Design – the mathematicians and physicists are already engaged and working on the very things which are necessary to give a complete picture of origin of species: information (successful communications), autonomy, semiosis, complexity and intelligence.

IMHO, it doesn't matter whether the work is done because of Intelligent Design objections or despite them - in the end, the randomness pillar will be pitched and we will be looking for non-corporeal causation for the "will to live", "fecundity principle", "evolution of one" - or whatever one wishes to call it.

But in any case, the objections are cropping up from all kinds of ideological corners – liberal and conservative, mainstream and fringe, metaphysically naturalist and theological.

TOPICS: Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: creationism; evolution; id; postedtowrongforum; vanityvanityvanity
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The article is an initial contribution of resources for the project – whether the Freeper interest is merely to debunk the assertion that creationism is the same thing as intelligent design and that both are conservative, politically -–or whether the Freeper is interested in engaging a liberal correspondent directly on science issues.

Please post whatever resources you have that may be useful to either objective. Your insights are also very much appreciated.

1 posted on 06/13/2005 7:50:19 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop; PatrickHenry; marron; xzins; ohioWfan; TXnMA; Junior; orionblamblam; ...

Just a ping hoping that y'all are interested in this project...

2 posted on 06/13/2005 7:51:34 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl

A most worthy project and bump for all your work on this.

3 posted on 06/13/2005 7:52:51 AM PDT by Peach
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To: Alamo-Girl

Hello Dear, I simplified it years ago; There are those who KNOW and those who don't know.

4 posted on 06/13/2005 7:56:55 AM PDT by Uncle George
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To: Alamo-Girl
not an undirected process such as natural selection.

Natural selection is undirected?!? You are nuts, my dear. Natural selection indeed has a direction and a singular one at that: the suvival of the species.

It is a real shame to see the time and energy that is wasted in chasing "creationist" or "ID" fantasies.

5 posted on 06/13/2005 7:58:24 AM PDT by pickemuphere (Leviticus 13:3)
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To: Peach

Thank you so very much for your encouragement and bump!

6 posted on 06/13/2005 7:59:14 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Uncle George
I simplified it years ago; There are those who KNOW and those who don't know.

Indeed. Thank you so much for your post!
7 posted on 06/13/2005 8:00:07 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: pickemuphere

Thank you for sharing your views!

8 posted on 06/13/2005 8:00:38 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
They are two irreconciliable viewpoints. One must lose. That will inevitably be ID, which is a philosophical point of view, not science.

The criticism of identifying ID with conservatives is legitimate. Doing so is the equivalent of identifying radical environmentalists with the Democratic Party.

9 posted on 06/13/2005 8:00:50 AM PDT by ValenB4 ("Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets." - Isaac Asimov)
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To: pickemuphere
not an undirected process such as natural selection. Natural selection is undirected?!?

You are nuts, my dear. Natural selection indeed has a direction and a singular one at that: the suvival of the species.

It is a real shame to see the time and energy that is wasted in chasing "creationist" or "ID" fantasies.

i agree; more anti-science nonsense.

10 posted on 06/13/2005 8:03:39 AM PDT by thejokker
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To: Alamo-Girl
"...the chief objection to the theory of evolution, is that “randomness” cannot be the prime factor in the formulation: random mutations – natural selection > species."

And on this fundamental mis-understanding, your whole argument disappears. OF COURSE "randomeness" is NOT the prime factor in evolution. The prime factor in evolution is natural selection. It is natural selection that provides the "direction" for evolutionary change. "Randomness" only applies at the cellular molecular level of mutation, providing only that there will be a gaussian distribution of "species characteristics" around some mean value. It is only after the application of some "naturally selective" force (be that changing climate, new disease vectors, or whatever) that "chops off" a part of that gaussian distribution of genetic mutation that evolution acquires its direction, with a new gaussian distribution around the new mean value of species characteristics.

11 posted on 06/13/2005 8:04:25 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: ValenB4

Thank you for sharing your views, ValenB4! Your position statement makes you an excellent sounding board for this project. Did you read the article first though?

12 posted on 06/13/2005 8:04:37 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: ValenB4
They are two irreconciliable viewpoints. One must lose. That will inevitably be ID, which is a philosophical point of view, not science.

Well stated.

13 posted on 06/13/2005 8:04:45 AM PDT by hawkaw
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To: Alamo-Girl
Creationism literally is the belief that ”God created the universe”. It is usually associated with Abrahamic religions although there are other origin beliefs which stipulate an act of creation.

Every culture has a creation story. Creationism seeks to have only one such story taught in schools--the one found in Genesis. Creationism and its recent offspring Intelligent Design want nothing to do with the other thousands or tens of thousands of creation stories. That is why I often post other stories on these threads. Remember, the people who told these stories believed them as much as the Creation/ID folks believe theirs!

The Creation of Men and Women

When the world was finished, there were as yet no people, but the Bald Eagle was chief of the animals. He saw that the world was incomplete and decided to make some human beings. So he took some clay and modeled the figure of a man and laid him on the ground. At first he was very small but he grew rapidly until he reached normal size. But as yet he had no life; he was still asleep. Then the Bald Eagle stood and admired his work. "It is impossible," he said, "that he should be left alone; he must have a mate." So he pulled out a feather and laid it beside the sleeping man. Then he left them and went off a short distance, for he knew that a woman was being formed from the feather. But the man was still asleep and did not know what was happening. When the Bald Eagle decided that the woman was about completed, he returned, awoke the man by flapping his wings over him and flew away.

The man opened his eyes and stared at the woman. "What does this mean?" he asked/ "I thought I was alone!" Then the Bald Eagle returned and said with a smile, "I see you have a mate! Have you had intercourse with her?" "No," replied he man, for he and the woman knew nothing about each other. Then the Bald Eagle called to Coyote who happened to be going by and said to him, "Do you see that woman? Try her first!" Coyote was quite willing and complied, but immediately afterwards lay down and died. The Bald Eagle went away and left Coyote dead, but presently returned and revived him. "How did it work?" said the Bald Eagle. "Pretty well, but it nearly kills a man!" replied Coyote. "Will you try it again?" said the Bald Eagle. Coyote agreed, and tried again, and this time survived. Then the Bald Eagle turned to the man and said, "She is all right now; you and she are to live together.

Salinan Indian creation story, south-central California

14 posted on 06/13/2005 8:04:58 AM PDT by Coyoteman
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To: pickemuphere
You are nuts, my dear. Natural selection indeed has a direction and a singular one at that: the suvival of the species.

Could you tell me why "survival of the species" is the prime directive and from where that directive came?

15 posted on 06/13/2005 8:04:59 AM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: thejokker

Thank you for sharing your views!

16 posted on 06/13/2005 8:05:12 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
A most thoughtful post, A-Girl. I don't know how much I'm going to get into this, but it's certainly worth a ping to the evolution list. Cranking up the ping machine ...
17 posted on 06/13/2005 8:08:24 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: Alamo-Girl

Wow. Great work, Bump. I never new my point of view had a name (omphalos hypothesis)

18 posted on 06/13/2005 8:08:43 AM PDT by delapaz (
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To: VadeRetro; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Doctor Stochastic; js1138; Shryke; RightWhale; ...
A pro-evolution science list with over 280 names.
See the list's description at my freeper homepage.
Then FReepmail to be added or dropped.

19 posted on 06/13/2005 8:09:59 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: Wonder Warthog
Thank you for sharing your views!

Truly, if mutations are not primarily random (Gehring on Master Control Genes) - then there is no disagreement with the Intelligent Design hypothesis.

20 posted on 06/13/2005 8:12:18 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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