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The AP Model and Shannon Theory Show the Incompleteness of Darwin’s ToE
self | January 26, 2009 | Jean F. Drew

Posted on 01/27/2009 6:59:07 AM PST by betty boop

Edited on 01/27/2009 7:16:52 AM PST by Admin Moderator. [history]

The AP Model and Shannon Theory Show the Incompleteness of Darwin’s ToE

By Jean F. Drew

“The commonly cited case for intelligent design appeals to: (a) the irreducible complexity of (b) some aspects of life. But complex arguments invite complex refutations (valid or otherwise), and the claim that only some aspects of life are irreducibly complex implies that others are not, and so the average person remains unconvinced. Here I use another principle—autopoiesis (self-making)—to show that all aspects of life lie beyond the reach of naturalistic explanations. Autopoiesis provides a compelling case for intelligent design in three stages: (i) autopoiesis is universal in all living things, which makes it a pre-requisite for life, not an end product of natural selection; (ii) the inversely-causal, information-driven, structured hierarchy of autopoiesis is not reducible to the laws of physics and chemistry; and (iii) there is an unbridgeable abyss between the dirty, mass-action chemistry of the natural environmental and the perfectly-pure, single-molecule precision of biochemistry.”

So begins Alex Williams’ seminal article, Life’s Irreducible Structure — Autopoiesis, Part 1. In the article, Williams seeks to show that all living organisms are constituted by a five-level structured hierarchy that cannot be wholly accounted for in terms of naturalistic explanation. Rather, Williams’ model places primary emphasis on the successful transmission and communication of relevant biological information.

Note here that, so far, science has not identified any naturalistic source for “information” within the universe, biological or otherwise. And yet it appears that living organisms remain living only so long as they are “successfully communicating” information. When that process stops, the organism dies; i.e., becomes subject to the second law of thermodynamics — the consequences of which the now-deceased organism had managed to optimally distance itself from while alive.

Evidently Williams finds Michael Behe’s irreducible complexity arguments insufficiently general to explain biological complexity and organization, and so seeks a different explanation to generically characterize the living organism. Yet his proposed autopoietic model — of the “self-making,” i.e., self-maintaining or self-organizing and therefore living system — itself happens to be irreducibly complex. That is to say, on Williams’ model, any biological organism from microbe to man must be understood as a complete, functioning “whole,” transcending in the most profound way any definition of a particular organism as the “mere” sum of its constituting “material” parts.

Further, the idea of the “whole” must come prior to an understanding of the nature and function of the constituting parts. Williams terms this idea of the “whole” as inversely causal meta-information; as such, it is what determines the relations and organization of all the parts that constitute that “whole” of the living organism — a biological system in nature.

Just one further word before we turn to Williams’ autopoietic model. To begin with the supposition of “wholeness” flies in the face of methodological naturalism, the currently favored model of scientific investigation, and arguably the heart of Darwinist evolutionary theory. For methodological naturalism is classical and mechanistic (i.e., “Newtonian”) in its basic presuppositions: Among other things, it requires that all causation be “local.” Given this requirement, it makes sense to regard the “whole is merely the sum of its parts” as a valid statement — those parts being given to human understanding as the objects of direct observation of material events. The presumption here is that, given enough time, the piling up of the parts (i.e., of the “material events”) will eventually give you the description of the whole. Meanwhile, we all should just be patient. For centuries if need be, as a collaborator once suggested to me (in regard to abiogenesis. See more below).

Yet subsequent to classical physics came the astonishing revelations of relativity and quantum theory, both of which point to “non-local” causation. The transmission of information across widely spatially-separated regions (from the point of view of the biological organism as an extended body in time) so as to have causative effect in the emergence of biological life and its functions is decidedly a “non-local” phenomenon. Indeed, non-local causation seems ubiquitous, all-pervasive in the living state of biological organisms, as we shall see in what follows.


Williams’ Autopoietic Model
Williams lays out the five-level, autopoietic hierarchy specifying the living system this way (parenthetical notes added):

(i) components with perfectly pure composition (i.e., pure elements)
(ii) components with highly specific structure (i.e., molecules)
(iii) components that are functionally integrated (i.e., components work cooperatively toward achieving a purpose or goal)
(iv) comprehensively regulated information-driven processes (DNA, RNA)
(v) inversely-causal meta-informational strategies for individual and species survival (we’ll get to this in a minute)

Pictorially, the model lays out like this:


Fig 1_The AP Model

Figure 1 summarizes the five-level, hierarchical specification of any living organism, microbe to man. But how do we get a handle on what this hierarchy actually means?

An interesting way to look at the problem, it seems to me, is to look at the available potential “information content” of each of the five “levels” or “manifolds” of the hierarchy.

You’ll note that Figure 1 depicts an ascending arrow on the left labeled “complexity.” For our present purposes, we’ll define this as “algorithmic complexity,” understood as a function that maximally yields “information content.” If we can find complexity measures to plug into the model, we might gain additional insight thereby.

Fortunately, algorithmic complexity measures have been obtained for certain levels of the hierarchy; i.e., Level (i) and Levels (iv) and possibly Level (v). For the latter two, the measures were taken with respect to the living human being. Figure 1 can thus be expanded as follows:

Fig2_ApModel.jpg

Notes to Figure 2:
1 Gregory Chaitin: “My paper on physics was never published, only as an IBM report. In it I took: Newton’s laws, Maxwell’s laws, the Schrödinger equation, and Einstein’s field equations for curved spacetime near a black hole, and solved them numerically, giving ‘motion-picture’ solutions. The programs, which were written in an obsolete computer programming language APL2 at roughly the level of Mathematica, were all about half a page long, which is amazingly simple.”

On this basis, Chaitin has pointed out that the complexity we observe in living systems cannot be accounted for on the basis of the chemical and physical laws alone, owing to the paucity of their information content.

2 George Gilder: “In each of the some 300 trillion cells in every human body, the words of life churn almost flawlessly through our flesh and nervous system at a speed that utterly dwarfs the data rates of all the world’s supercomputers. For example, just to assemble some 500 amino-acid units into each of the trillions of complex hemoglobin molecules that transfer oxygen from the lungs to bodily tissues takes a total of some 250 peta operations per second. (The word “peta” refers to the number ten to the 15th power — so this tiny process requires 250 x 1015 operations.)


A Word about Abiogenesis
Darwin’s evolutionary theory does not deal with the origin of life. It takes life for granted, and then asks how it speciates. Moreover, the theory does not elaborate a description of the constitution of the individual living organism, such as Williams’ irreducibly complex/autopoietic (“IC/AP”) model proposes.

It’s important to recognize that neither Darwin’s theory, nor Williams’ model, deals with the origin of life. It seems to me that evolution theory and ID are not necessarily mutually-exclusive. One deals with the species level, the other the biological structure of living individuals, the “building blocks” of species, as it were.

Yet there is tremendous hostility towards intelligent design on the part of many orthodox evolutionary biologists, which has gotten so bad in recent times that the more doctrinaire Darwinists have run to the courts for “protection” of their cherished beliefs (and interests personal and institutional), insisting that ID “is not science.” Judges are not scientists; in general they are ill-equipped to make judgments “on the merits” of scientific controversies. Yet they render judgments all the same, with profound implications for how science is to be taught. I fail to see how this redounds to the benefit of scientific progress.

If science is defined as materialist and naturalist in its fundamental presuppositions — the currently-favored methodological naturalism — then ID does not meet the test of “what is science?” For it does not restrict itself to the material, the physical, but extends its model to information science, which is immaterial. The problem for Darwinists seems to be that there is no known source of biological information within Nature as classically understood (i.e., as fundamentally Newtonian — materialist and mechanistic in three dimensions).

The problem of abiogenesis goes straight to the heart of this issue. Abiogensis is a hypothesis holding that life spontaneously arises from inert, non-living matter under as-yet unknown conditions. Although evolution theory does not deal with the problem of the origin of life, many evolutionary biologists are intrigued by the problem, and want to deal with it in a manner consistent with Darwinian methods; i.e., the presuppositions of methodological naturalism, boosted by random mutation and natural selection. That is, to assume that life “emerges” from the “bottom-up” — from resources available at Levels (i) and (ii) of the IC/AP model.

There have been numerous experiments, most of which have taken the form of laboratory simulations of “lightning strikes” on a properly prepared chemical “soup” (e.g., Urey, Miller, et al.). At least one such experiment managed to produce amino acids — fundamental building blocks of life (at the (ii) level of Williams’ hierarchy). But amino acids are not life. On Williams’ model, to be “life,” they’d need to have achieved at least the threshold of Level (iii).

For it is the presence of “functionally-integrated components” that makes life possible, that sustains the living organism in its very first “duty”: That it will, along the entire extension of its complete biological make-up (whether simple or highly complex), globally organize its component systems in such a way as to maximally maintain the total organism’s “distance” from thermodynamic entropy. An “organism” that couldn’t do that wouldn’t last as an “organism” for very long.

And so in order for the materialist interpretation of abiogenesis to be true, the “chemical soup” experimental model would have to demonstrate how inorganic matter manages to “exempt” itself from one of the two most fundamental laws of Nature: the second law of thermodynamics.

From cells on up through species, all biological organisms — by virtue of their participation in Levels (i) and (ii) — are subject to the second law right from creation. Indeed, they are subject to it throughout their life spans. A friend points out that the second law is a big arguing point for Macroevolutionists, who try to argue that the second law is irrelevent, i.e., doesn’t apply to living systems, because “it only applies to closed systems and not to open ones.” Thus they say that living systems in nature are “open” systems. But what this line of reasoning does not tell us is what such systems are “open” to.

And yet we know that every cell is subject to the second law — simply by needing to fuel itself, it subjects itself to the effects of entropy, otherwise known as heat death. And although it can and does stave off such effects for a while, doing so requires the cell or species constantly to deal with maintaining distance from entropy in all its living functional components, organized globally. Entropy plays a big part in all life — from cells to completed species.

When the successful communication of meta-information begins to slow down and break down, cells and species then begin to succumb to the effects of entropy, to which they have been subjected all their entire life. This is because they can no longer combat, or stay ahead of the “entropy curve,” due to inefficient communication processes and, thus, degradation of the maintenance procedures communicated to the cells via the meta-information system that is specific to each particular biological entity and to each particular species. After all, any species description is necessarily an informed description.

Yet another origin-of-life approach — the Wimmer abiogenesis experiment — is highly instructive. He managed to “create” a polio virus. He did so by introducing RNA information into a “cell-free juice,” and the polio virus spontaneously resulted.

Wimmer used actual DNA to synthesize polio RNA based on information about the polio virus RNA which is widely available, even on the internet. The RNA information was truly “pulled” from the DNA, which “resides” at the next-higher level. He could not synthesize RNA directly; he first had to synthesize the DNA from the raw information and then synthesize the polio RNA from the synthetic DNA.

Yet RNA information, like all information, is immaterial. In terms of the Williams’ hierarchy, clearly Wimmer had obtained an organism functioning at about Level (iii) — because it had sufficient information to propel it to that level, as “pulled” by the information available at the next-higher level where DNA information “resides” — Level (iv).

Unlike biological organisms expressing all five levels of the Williams model, the polio virus, though fully autonomous as an information processor (leading to its “successful communication” in Wimmer’s laboratory), somehow still doesn’t have everything it needs to be fully “autonomous” as a living being. A virus, for instance, is dependent on a living host in order to execute its own life program. As such, it is a sort of “quasi-life.” Shannon Information Theory helps us to clarify such distinctions.

Before we turn to Shannon, it’s worth mentioning that, according to H. H. Pattee and Luis Rocha, the issue of autonomy (and semiosis — the language and the ability to encode/decode messages) is a huge stumbling block to abiogenesis theory. For that kind of complexity to emerge by self-organizing theory, in the RNA world, the organism would have to involuntarily toggle back and forth between non-autonomous and autonomous modes, first to gather, and then to make use of information content as an autonomous living entity. The question then becomes: What tells it how and when to “toggle?” Further, it appears the source of the information content that can toggle non-life into life remains undisclosed.


Shannon Information Theory
The DNA of any individual life form is exactly the same whether the organism is dead or alive. And we know this, for DNA is widely used and proved reliable in forensic tests of decedents in criminal courts of law. And so we propose:

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 which facilitates any successfully completed communication. Thus Shannon’s model describes the universal “mechanism” of communication. That is, it distinguishes between the “content” of a message and its “conduit”: The model is indifferent to the actual message being communicated, which could be anything, from “Don’t forget to put your boots on today — it’s snowing,” to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The value or meaning of the message being transmitted has no bearing on the Shannon model, which is the same for all messages whatever. Pictorially, the Shannon communication conduit looks like this:

Shannon Model

Information is further defined by its independence from physical determination:

“I came to see that the computer offers an insuperable obstacle to Darwinian materialism. In a computer, as information theory shows, the content is manifestly independent of its material substrate. No possible knowledge of a computer’s materials can yield any information whatsoever about the actual content of its computations. In the usual hierarchy of causation, they reflect the software or ‘source code’ used to program the device; and, like the design of the computer itself, the software is contrived by human intelligence.

“The failure of purely physical theories to describe or explain information reflects Shannon’s concept of entropy and his measure of ‘news.’ Information is defined by its independence from physical determination: If it is determined, it is predictable and thus by definition not information. Yet Darwinian science seemed to be reducing all nature to material causes.” — George Gilder, “Evolution and Me,” National Review, July 17, 2006, p. 29f.

Referring to the Shannon diagram above, we can interpret the various elements of the model in terms of biological utility, as follows:

Shannon Elements

Note the head, “noise.” Biologically speaking, with respect to the fully-integrated, five-leveled biological organism, “noise” in the channel might be introduced by certain biological “enigmas,” which broadly satisfy the requirements of Williams’ model and, thus, are living organisms. Shannon Information Theory describes such “enigmas” as follows:

Bacteria — typified by autonomous successful communication; bacteria are single-cell organisms. Because they are autonomous entities, communications follow the normal flow in Shannon theory — source, message, encoder/transmitter, channel, decoder/receiver. The bacteria’s messages are not “broadcast” to other nearby bacteria but are autonomous to the single-cell organism.

Bacterial Spores — typified by autonomous successful communication. Bacterial spores, such as anthrax, are like other bacteria except they can settle into a dormant state. Dormant bacterial spores begin regular successful communication under the Shannon model once an “interrupt” has occurred, for instance the presence of food. Anthrax, for instance, may lay dormant for years until breathed into a victim’s lungs, whereupon it actively begins its successful albeit destructive (to its host) communication, which often leads to the death of its host; i.e., the bacterium’s “food source.”

Mycoplasmas — typified as an autonomous bacterial model parasite successfully communicating. Mycoplasmas are akin to bacteria except they lack an outer membrane and so often attach to other cells, whereby they may cause such events as, for instance, the disease pneumonia. In the Shannon model, mycoplasmas are considered “autonomous” in that the communications are often restricted to the mycoplasma itself; e.g., self-reproduction. But because they also act like a parasite, they might alter the host’s properties and thus result in malfunctions in the autonomous communication of the host by, for instance, interfering with the channel.

Mimivirus — typified as an autonomous virus model parasite successfully communicating. Mimiviruses are gigantic viruses. They are viruses because they are parasites to their host, relying on the host for protein engineering. But the mimiviruses (unlike regular viruses) apparently do not need to be a parasite, and thus they are “autonomous” with regard to the Shannon model. But like the mycoplasmas, the presence of mimiviruses can alter properties of the host and thereby result in malfunctions in the autonomous communications of the host by, for instance, interfering with the channel.

Viroids — typified as non-autonomous virus-like noise/mutation contributing to successful/failed communication. Viroids have no protein coat. They are single strands of RNA that lack the protein coat of regular viruses. They are noise in the channel under the Shannon model; i.e., messages only that are not communicated autonomously within the viroids themselves. They can also be seen as “broadcast” messages, because viroids may cause their own message (RNA) to be introduced into the host.

Viruses — typified as non-autonomous virus noise/mutation contributing to successful/failed communication. Viruses feed genetic data to the host. They are strands of DNA or RNA that have a protein coat. Viruses are parasites to the host, relying on the host for communication; e.g., reproduction. In the Shannon model, viruses are either noise or broadcasts that are not autonomous in the virus and appear as noise messages to the host. It is possible that, unlike the polio virus which is destructive, there may be some viruses (and viroids) whose messages cause a beneficial adaptation in the host.

Prions — typified as non-autonomous protein noise/mutation contributing to successful/failed communication (protein crystallization). Prions are protein molecules that have neither DNA nor RNA. Currently, prions are the suspected cause of bovine spongiform encephalopathy — Mad Cow Disease. In the Shannon model, prions would be incoherent in the channel because they have no discernable message; that is, neither DNA nor RNA. Thus the prion would lead to channel or decoding malfunctions.

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

Shannon’s mathematical theory of communications applied to molecular biology shows genuine promise of having some significant implications for the theory of natural selection in explaining the rise of information (successful communication), autonomy, and semiosis (language, encoding/decoding). — S. Venable, J. Drew, “Shannon Information and Complex Systems Theory,” Don’t Let Science Get You Down, Timothy, Lulu Press, 2006, p. 207f.

It seems worthwhile to note here that, under Shannon’s model, the thermodynamic “tab” is paid when the “molecular machine” goes from the before state to the after state. At that moment, it dissipates heat into the surroundings. Level (v) meta-information successfully communicated to the organism provides it with strategies to counter and compensate for local thermodynamic effects. Ultimately, when the organism reaches a state in which it is no longer successfully communicating, the entropy tab must be paid by ordinary means. And so eventually, the living organism dies.


Putting Williams’ IC/AP Model into Context
So far, the autopoietic model — though it provides an excellent description of the information flows necessary to establish and maintain an organism in a “living state” — seems to be a bit of an abstraction. Indeed, in order to be fully understood, the model needs to be placed into the context in which it occurs — that is, in Nature.

Each living entity as described by the model is a part and participant in a far greater “whole.” Niels Bohr put it this way: “A scientific analysis of parts cannot disclose the actual character of a living organism because that organism exists only in relation to the whole of biological life.” Including the species-specific meta-information unique to any particular species, which also controls and dictates how the entire biological system works as a “whole”; i.e., at the global level. And arguably, not only in relation to the entirety of biological life, but to the physical forces of nature, to inorganic entities, and to other biological beings, including the “enigmas” described above, which appear to be a sort of “quasi-life.” For even though they may be autonomous communicators, some of these “quasi-life” examples suggest an organic state that is somehow not “sufficiently informed” to stand on its own; i.e., they exemplify a state that needs to latch onto a fully-functioning biological entity in order to complete their own “program” for life — the very definition of a parasite.

The single most telling point that Williams’ model makes is that information is vital to the living state; that it flows “downward” from the “top” of his model — Level (v), meta-information — and not from the “bottom” of the model flowing “upwards” by the incremental means characterizing Levels (i) and (ii) — not to mention orthodox Darwinist expectation. On this model, Levels (i) and (ii) “do not know how to fit themselves” into the “biological picture.” For that, they need the information available at Levels (iii) to (v).

Many questions relevant to our exploration of the fundaments of biology have not been touched on in this article — e.g., what is the meaning of “emergence?” What is the manner in which “complexification” takes place in nature? What do we mean by “open” and “closed” systems? What do we mean by “self-ordered” or “self-organizing” systems in nature? (And what does the prefix “self” mean with respect to such questions?)

But since we’re out of time, we won’t be dealing with such problems here and now, though I hope we may return to them later. Instead, I’ll leave you, dear reader, with yet another depiction of Figure 1, this time elaborated to show the total context in which the irreducibly complex, autopoietic model is embedded:

Fig 3_AP Model in Context

Note the model now sits, not only with respect to its natural environment, but also with respect to the quantum domain of pure potentiality, and also with respect to a (proposed) extra-mundane source of biological information.

I think for the biological sciences to actually progress, a model such as Williams’ IC/AP model is worthy of serious consideration. Remember, Darwin’s theory is wholly classical, meaning dimensionally limited to 3-space, to local, mechanical, largely force-field-driven material causation. Relativity and quantum theory have both moved well beyond those precincts. It’s time for the Darwinian theory of evolution to “catch up” with the current state of scientific knowledge — and especially with the implications of information science.

©2009 Jean F. Drew



TOPICS: History; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Religion & Science
KEYWORDS: autopoiesis; darwinism; evolutiontheory; id; information; toe
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To: doc30
How does a living thing stave off the effects of entropy? What does it do?

I want to make sure I understand your question. Are you asking how biological information is physically implemented?

351 posted on 01/28/2009 4:51:02 PM PST by betty boop
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To: betty boop
I want to make sure I understand your question. Are you asking how biological information is physically implemented?

Well, that's a different question, but an interesting one. What I want to understand is how a living thing fights the effects of entropy. If a living thing does that at the base cellular/chemical level, learning how it does it might help battle the effects of entropy in other areas, don't you think?

352 posted on 01/28/2009 5:39:02 PM PST by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what an Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: betty boop
Re: What appears as phenotype in any progeny will be elements of the set of what's possible, nothing else.

"What or who defines "what is possible?"

The possibilities are not defined. They're the possible phenotypes that can arise from the dynamics and reactions that can occur in the given physical system.

353 posted on 01/28/2009 6:19:21 PM PST by spunkets
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To: hosepipe

[[Neils Bohr and Einstein looked at each other funny..
One was looking out the other was looking in..]]

I heard einstein’s eyes were in love with each other- one kept staring at hte other


354 posted on 01/28/2009 7:06:38 PM PST by CottShop (Scientific belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge)
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To: doc30

Sceicne I bleeive dos know fairly extensively how cells stave off entropy- Nutritionists do as well- understanding what elements contribute to cell health and fitness, and what elements contribute to accelorated degredation. Some nutritionist explanations for elements and their effects on cells goes quite deep- explaining actions,m reactions, and so on and how htese changes affect other systems as well.

Staving off doesn’t mean defying- it means prolonging fitness in the face of entropy. I find it curious that it has taken some of htem ost brilliant minds to understand this process, and htey’ve barely scratched the surface- intelligent minds deconstructing intelligent design and discovering a controlling metasystem of info.


355 posted on 01/28/2009 7:15:08 PM PST by CottShop (Scientific belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge)
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To: CottShop
I don't doubt it, dear CottShop.
356 posted on 01/28/2009 8:44:37 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: metmom
Truly, methodological naturalism focuses on a subset of "all that there is" - more specifically, it focuses on things governed by physical laws, physical causation and physical constants. Ironically, those things are not themselves physical.
357 posted on 01/28/2009 8:47:56 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: CottShop
Thank you so very much for your encouragements, dear CottShop!
358 posted on 01/28/2009 8:49:05 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: hosepipe
Thank you! Now to get some milk ...
359 posted on 01/28/2009 8:50:06 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Coyoteman; betty boop; TXnMA
What you are in fact practicing is the exact opposite of science.

Not at all.

Science v. faith is a false dichotomy. They are not mutual exclusive.

360 posted on 01/28/2009 8:55:27 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: allmendream
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.

because you refuse to learn

Attributing motives or otherwise reading the mind of another Freeper is a form of "making it personal."
361 posted on 01/28/2009 8:59:49 PM PST by Religion Moderator
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To: spunkets; Alamo-Girl; shibumi; hosepipe
They're the possible phenotypes that can arise from the dynamics and reactions that can occur in the given physical system.

And yet unguided physical systems have not been shown to get anywhere. Indeed, Newton worried that such "dynamics and reactions that can occur in the given physical system" would, if left on their own, eventually culminate in the disorder of the system, such that it could no longer preserve its physical integrity.

If you're interested in Newton's take on this problem, maybe this article might help.

362 posted on 01/28/2009 10:12:54 PM PST by betty boop
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To: Alamo-Girl; Coyoteman; metmom; betty boop
Alamo-Girl wrote: "As you know, I freely disclose that the most certain knowledge I possess does not come from sensory perception or reasoning but from the revelations of God in (a) the Person of Jesus Christ, (b) the Person of the Holy Spirit, (c) Scripture and (d) Creation both physical and spiritual."

js1138 wrote:

"The self imposed limitation of science is that evidence must be verifiable by anyone who uses the same methodology.

The self-imposed limitation discussed by AG is that the best evidence, by definition, cannot be verified by others."

Coyoteman wrote: "What you [A-G] are in fact practicing is the exact opposite of science."

Alamo-Girl responded: "Science v. faith is a false dichotomy. They are not mutual[ly] exclusive.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There is, indeed, no dichotomy between faith and science.

I, as a scientist, routinely verify (and have verified by peers) observations and experimental results by employing the same methodology.

I as a Christian, routinely verify (and have verified by peers -- specifically, Alamo-Girl in this case) mutual experiences, revelations and insights by employing the same methodology (faith, prayer, study of Scripture, etc...)

js1138 and Coyoteman are wrong. There is zero conflict between my practice of science as a professional and my sure knowledge that I have a personal relationship with the One Who designed, specified, and created the physical, chemical, and biological materials and phenomena that I study.

js1138 is incompetent to aver that "The self-imposed limitation discussed by AG is that the best evidence, by definition, cannot be verified by others." -- because he refuses or is unable to employ the same methodology.

Likewise, Coyoteman is incompetent to declare a dichotomy between science and faith -- because he insists on excluding part of the applicable methodology for making that determination.

Coyoteman and js1138 are no more competent to pontificate on the faith aspects of this discussion than is the YEC adherent who denies the existence of galaxies beyond our own -- and refuses to look into the telescope.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alamo-Girl is correct: "Science v. faith is a false dichotomy." Only those who refuse -- or are incompetent --to practice one or the other insist that the "dichotomy" exists

363 posted on 01/28/2009 10:29:19 PM PST by TXnMA ("Allah": Satan's current alias...!!)
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To: js1138

My apologies! I did intend to include you in the addressees to my #363..


364 posted on 01/28/2009 10:33:06 PM PST by TXnMA ("Allah": Satan's current alias...!!)
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To: js1138; doc30; Alamo-Girl
Single-celled organisms do not undergo Apoptosis or necrosis. Is that clearer?

Well yes, js1138 — thank you for the clarification!

A couple thoughts. It seems to me that apoptosis and necrosis must be quantified by different information measures, since — while both lead to death — one is an "orderly" or "controlled" process, and the other a "random" process. The distinction between the two seems to be a purely "informational" one.

Another thing, "biological immortality" is, as you know, a technical term currently in favor in some circles of biology. It describes the situation where a sustained, cumulative increase in the rate of mortality as a function of chronological age is absent. Biological entities so characterized are said to be exempt from the Hayflick limit, which is essentially a description of the situation in which cells no longer divide.

But to extend "biological immortality" beyond the range of this narrow, technical understanding would be absurd.

For there is no logical sense whatever in claiming that a being incapable of death was ever actually alive in the first place. Or so it seems to me, FWIW.

365 posted on 01/28/2009 10:53:49 PM PST by betty boop
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To: betty boop; Alamo-Girl
[ For there is no logical sense whatever in claiming that a being incapable of death was ever actually alive in the first place. ]

I'm not sure what death is, has been determined yet..
To determine death you must shall have determined what life is..
I'm not sure any has determined that..

Romans 8 seems to imply life is in the spirit and is not physical.. So many have been dead(physically) (for many minutes) yet have been resuscitated.. How can that happen?.. Is a carrot alive?.. If so then when is a carrot dead?..

Just so when the physical body becomes non functional does that mean death?.. Is life totally functionality?.. If functionality is life then what is being alive?.. Is being alive a matter of degrees?.. Meaning are some thats alive barely functional?.. therefore almost dead?..

What is life?. seems to be a quite large question..
-OR- will all humans live forever somewhere eternally?..

Meaning death may be an illusion.. no one gets off that easy..

366 posted on 01/29/2009 12:03:11 AM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: betty boop
For there is no logical sense whatever in claiming that a being incapable of death was ever actually alive in the first place.

Single celled organisms are not immune from being killed. But your discussion of entropy seems to imply that living things die from some sort of wearing out. Feel free to clarify this.

Cells do not, for the most part, die from entropy or wearing out. Single celled organisms -- those that are living -- have never died.

367 posted on 01/29/2009 5:42:05 AM PST by js1138
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To: betty boop
Thank you so much for that link - it was missing from my bookmarks but no longer!
368 posted on 01/29/2009 7:29:14 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: TXnMA
Thank you oh so very much for your wonderful essay - your insights, your testimony and your encouragements!
369 posted on 01/29/2009 7:37:09 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop; js1138; metmom; hosepipe; CottShop; GodGunsGuts
Thank you so much for this fascinating sidebar!

For the Lurkers, I'd like to explore further why we say that information (Shannon) is that which distinguishes life v. non-life/death in nature - and how it relates to this sidebar.

Apoptosis is a programmed cell death - a functional cell within the autonomous larger organism receives the message to die now. Conversely, necrosis of a functional cell within the autonomous larger organism occurs which the successful communication does not occur, e.g. the message to isolate the dead cells as in apoptosis was not sent or received successfully.

Relevant to this sidebar, it must be noticed that a single cell organism is autonomous. It is self-contained. Except for noise, communications is internal to the single cell organism.

And some of them, e.g. bacillus anthracis (anthrax) - enter a dormant state (spore) until a food source is present (e.g. it is inhaled.) This is like putting communications (e.g. your computer) in a stand-by mode until the mouse or keyboard moves.

Once the cell - whether a functional cell in a higher organism or a single cell organism - no longer communicates (or is no longer communications capable, e.g. in standby) - it is dead.

In "information theory and molecular biology" the thermodynamic tab (2nd law) is paid by heat dissipating into the local environment when the receiver (molecular machine) of a message goes from a before state to an after state. As the old adage goes, in death a person achieves room temperature.

In sum, communications are temporal, time-bound. The 2nd law (entropy) is universal, it applies consistently over all of time, i.e. after communications stop.

This can also be envisioned by a thought experiment.

Take a live rabbit and a recently dead rabbit and hypothetically break them down. The live rabbit has a higher temperature than the dead one because it is successfully communicating.

As you break the rabbits down to their component functional subsystems all the way to the individual cells, it becomes obvious that communications has stopped in the dead rabbit. The heart is not pumping, the blood is not flowing, etc.

But as you continue breaking the rabbits down to the chemicals and then particles or fields of which they consist, you see that both the dead rabbit and the live rabbit are made of the same "stuff."

And so betty boop and I have said that the difference between life v. non-life/death in nature is information (Shannon, successful communication.)

370 posted on 01/29/2009 8:25:56 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl; betty boop
[ And so betty boop and I have said that the difference between life v. non-life/death in nature is information (Shannon, successful communication.) ]

NOW thats a heroic attempt at explaining physical life.. and death..
Very informative.... thanks...

Amazing what one can learn by paying attention and communicating..
Excellent metaphors.. that say more than the words convey..

So the intercourse or merging of two data streams can bring new life?..
Maybe thats what "born again" means..

And what "the spirit" is, a data wave or field.. producing a new data set or database..
The "body of christ"(metaphor) then takes on a whole new dimension..
Information merged into a common (or universal)database..
With a life all its own..... Hey... THIS IS FUN...

371 posted on 01/29/2009 9:16:17 AM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: hosepipe; betty boop; metmom; CottShop
Precisely so, dear brother in Christ!

We mortals tend to think life is the body or flesh or physical components (the donkey in your metaphor) - it nags at us continually especially as we get older or face poor health.

But if one understands that life is the information (Shannon, successful communication) - he gains a new perspective like you have expressed.

Truly, it is "about" successful communication at myriad levels in the hierarchy - and as you have noted. the harmony (or lack thereof) of those communications whether internally, or by offspring or in being "born again" in Christ.

With that view, this passage takes on new meaning:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. [There is] no speech nor language, [where] their voice is not heard. - Psalms 19:1-3

As does this one:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life. – John 6:63

As does this one:

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. - Matt 4:3-4

And most importantly, this one:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. – John 1:1-3

Knowing you, I'd imagine a dozen more passages have come to your mind.

To God be the glory!

372 posted on 01/29/2009 9:44:32 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: js1138

[[Cells do not, for the most part, die from entropy or wearing out.]]

When the cell no longer has the necessary energy to recieve and act upon information/fuel/instrucitons, it dies. As well, outside forces that interupt the ability to receive and utilize information/fuel/instrucitons will kill the cell. The effects of Entropy works to disrupt this information/fuel/instructions process- not in a ‘conscious effort’ to disrupt, but rather as a purely natural process of degredation. Healthy cells can prolong their fitness, but eventually the process of prolonging takes it’s toll wearing hte cell structures out to hte poiont they can no longer fight the effects of entropy, as their parts and ystems become worn an tired out.

Repair mechanism systems that help prolong cell life, but these repair systems also undergoe stress during hte course of their ‘lives’, and these eventually break down too.

Every beat a heart takes is one beat closer to death. Anytime a system converts- fuel to energy for instance, this process contributes to wearing out. Like the car engine, every move of the piston creates wear and tear- This wear and tear can be ‘reduced’ by making sure you have good clean oil to help maintain the cylinder in good working order, but there is still a process of heat and friction going on that contribute to wearing out. Every workign system is bound to this principle. Nothign is eternal but God, Time, and my horrible spelling


373 posted on 01/29/2009 9:49:25 AM PST by CottShop (Scientific belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge)
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To: Alamo-Girl
Once the cell - whether a functional cell in a higher organism or a single cell organism - no longer communicates (or is no longer communications capable, e.g. in standby) - it is dead.

But no living single celled organism has ever died this way. All I am saying is that cells may be killed or may die from starvation or asphyxiation, but non-specialized cells do not die from entropy or information degradation.

374 posted on 01/29/2009 10:01:02 AM PST by js1138
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To: TXnMA
js1138 and Coyoteman are wrong. There is zero conflict between my practice of science as a professional and my sure knowledge that I have a personal relationship with the One Who designed, specified, and created the physical, chemical, and biological materials and phenomena that I study.

Thanks for the ping. As for Coyoteman, I don't think you need bother pinging him anymore.

I don't recall ever saying there is a conflict between science and faith, although there can be a conflict between science and specific assertions about physical reality made by people in the name of religion. I'm curious why I was included in such a sweeping statement.

Is your "sure knowledge" in conflict with some specific finding of science?

375 posted on 01/29/2009 10:10:10 AM PST by js1138
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To: js1138; betty boop; hosepipe
An autonomous single celled organism which is no longer communicating (Shannon, information) or capable of communicating (e.g. spore) - is dead.

The cause might be anything from physical destruction or malformation to environmental changes (absence of food, extreme changes in the environment, radiation, etc.)

But once the autonomous single celled organism is no longer communicating - it "achieves room temperature" (2nd law) just like the dead guy. It succumbs to entropy.

376 posted on 01/29/2009 10:15:43 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
But once the autonomous single celled organism is no longer communicating - it "achieves room temperature" (2nd law) just like the dead guy. It succumbs to entropy.

But no living single celled organism has ever done that. Each and ever one that is now alive has been alive for as long as there has been life.

377 posted on 01/29/2009 10:19:02 AM PST by js1138
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To: js1138; Alamo-Girl
I believe I've pinged you asking for observed instances of foreknowledge.

A code is an instance of foreknowledge. In every case where the origin of a code (defined as a communication channel with an input alphabet A and an output alphabet B) is known, it is the result of foreknowledge. DNA code is a encoding / decoding mechanism isomorphic with Shannon's model. The DNA molecule represents something other than itself. It is reasonable therefore to infer as a defeasible hypothesis that it too, is the product of intelligence.

The hypothesis of invention by incremental change than you mentioned in your #279 as a possible source for chemistry evolving by 'trial' and 'error' an instance of a structure that can continue evolving, eventually into the staggering specified complexity of a genetic code, would come at a cost; namely, a huge amount of time (not to mention other insurmountable costs such as genetic load and biological constraints)

Even given an astoundingly fortuitous series of concatenations of atoms and molecules that would be necessary to eventually produce a genetic code, if such a thing were possible, consider all the types and varieties of codes under the sun in the animal kingdom that are themselves derivatives of genetic code. Bee waggle dance code; pheromone codes, variously operating by smell or contact reception; acoustic signals code, as in bird songs; electrical signals code, in with sharks and some fish, etc. What the law of invention would require is for chemistry to evolve not only DNA code, but then DNA code evolving these many other types of codes independently!

I think the sun would have already suffered heat death before these derivative DNA codes that we observe would ever have come to pass, without some higher force or power than mutation noise plus blind trial and error at work.

Cordially,

378 posted on 01/29/2009 10:24:05 AM PST by Diamond
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To: js1138
But no living single celled organism has ever done that. Each and ever one [single celled organism] that is now alive has been alive for as long as there has been life.

Not every single celled organism that was ever alive is alive today.

Go ahead, kill an amoeba and see what happens to its remains. I'll wait.

379 posted on 01/29/2009 10:31:30 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Diamond
A code is an instance of foreknowledge.

I'm not sure I understand you here. Are you saying that a code can predict the future?

In some way other than incorporating rules for dealing with regular or recurrent phenomena?

380 posted on 01/29/2009 10:32:25 AM PST by js1138
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To: Diamond
Thank you oh so very much for sharing your insights, dear Diamond!
381 posted on 01/29/2009 10:33:41 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: js1138; doc30; Alamo-Girl
But your discussion of entropy seems to imply that living things die from some sort of wearing out.

I think that, for a multicellular organism, this is generally the case, and is especially noticeable at the level of the most complex biological organism that we know of, the human. Senescence seems unavoidable; and seems to entail a degradation of the organism's ability to "successfully communicate" in the meaning of Shannon's theory. When "the center will not hold" — that is, when the meta-information or biological information at increasing rates fails to be successfully communicated to the organism — eventually things "fall apart."

382 posted on 01/29/2009 10:36:39 AM PST by betty boop
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To: Alamo-Girl
Go ahead, kill an amoeba and see what happens to its remains. I'll wait.

No amoeba that is currently living has ever been dead. Biological immortality is not magic. Amoebas are not Superman and immune to physical trauma.

No amoeba that is currently alive has succumbed to entropy or information degradation. There is no law of biological or genetic entropy that causes all living things to degrade.

383 posted on 01/29/2009 10:37:44 AM PST by js1138
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To: betty boop
Senescence seems unavoidable;

It's avoided by human cancer cells and by human germ line cells. The cellular machinery and organelles of human beings have been working as least as long as there have been humans.

384 posted on 01/29/2009 10:42:34 AM PST by js1138
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To: hosepipe
Information merged into a common (or universal)database.. With a life all its own..... Hey... THIS IS FUN...

"With a life all its own...." Believe it or not, there are "cosmologies of wholeness" emerging that postulate the entire universe is a living being. One Logos — an algorithm from inception? — constitutes a "common" or universal information set, a/k/a "meta-information" or biological information. David Bohm referred to this as "the implicate order" of the universe....

This IS fun!

385 posted on 01/29/2009 10:47:43 AM PST by betty boop
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To: js1138; Diamond; betty boop
Er, if I may, a "code" has two uses in successful communications (Shannon information) - the sender for encoding, the receiver for decoding.

The sender and receiver must speak the same language. The sender must have foreknowledge of the code, how it will decoded by the receiver. Hence, the foreknowledge.

Again, the Wimmer experiment like Szostak's planned experiment (according to his bio) - began with the message. The code was presupposed along with autonomy and information (Shannon, successful communication.)


386 posted on 01/29/2009 10:50:50 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
Again, the Wimmer experiment like Szostak's planned experiment (according to his bio) - began with the message. The code was presupposed along with autonomy and information (Shannon, successful communication.)

The question remains whether chemical evolution can lead to a genome based replicator. So far it's all been pre-game show and the associated trash talk. I'm looking forward to the game, which will take place in the laboratory.

My problem with ID and related criticisms of evolution is that they have downplayed or dismissed the need to test hypotheses.

387 posted on 01/29/2009 10:56:05 AM PST by js1138
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To: js1138
I am not arguing for information degradation in a single celled organism.

I do say that everything in space/time - whether a live amoeba or a dead amoeba - is subject to the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

The live amoeba pays the thermodynamic tab when it successfully communicates (Shannon) - by dissipating heat into the local environment as the receiver (molecular machinery internal to itself) moves from a before state to an after state.

Again, communications is autonomous. The single celled organism is autonomous, self-contained.

In autonomous higher organisms, communications are multi-cellular.

388 posted on 01/29/2009 11:00:50 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: js1138; betty boop; Diamond; CottShop; metmom
Again, I am not particularly interested in Szostak's experiment because it doesn't progress any further than Wimmer's did to answer the questions raised by the mathematicians and physicists: origin of autonomy, semiosis (language or code) and information (Shannon, successful communication.)

But I'm sure many will be watching and will be pleased if he is successful.

I'm heading out now. See you later.

389 posted on 01/29/2009 11:04:27 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: js1138; Alamo-Girl
No amoeba that is currently living has ever been dead.

You didn't really just say that.... did you?

390 posted on 01/29/2009 11:08:33 AM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: Alamo-Girl
I am not arguing for information degradation in a single celled organism. I do say that everything in space/time - whether a live amoeba or a dead amoeba - is subject to the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

It would be remarkable if something were found to be unaffected by thermodynamics.

But there is a common notion amongst evolution critics that living things degrade as a result of entropy, and that this is an inescapable law of nature.

I'm merely offering a counterexample.

391 posted on 01/29/2009 11:12:04 AM PST by js1138
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To: Alamo-Girl; betty boop
[ Knowing you, I'd imagine a dozen more passages have come to your mind. ]

Indeed... "he that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying"..(multiple entrys).. even more passages the same is implied or metaphorically intoned..

Listening with both ears or seeing with both eyes or detecting the odor of logic with both nostrils.. can increase your ability to absorb information/data/data sets..

Especially the hidden message(s) of metaphorical data..
"Literal" truth seekers(opposed to metaphorical) can be inhibited..
There is a place for both wave-forms of data..

392 posted on 01/29/2009 11:21:20 AM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: js1138; Alamo-Girl; betty boop
"Is your "sure knowledge" in conflict with some specific finding of science? "

Not in the least. My "sure knowledge" falls in domains that are not (and should not be, IMHO) addressed by scientific inquiry and explanation -- such as my confidence that my Creator exists, and in my relationship with Him.

If there is a near-overlap, it is at the point where science (so far) "poops out": at the point of explaining what happened to start this whole universe, and in accepting that truths like PV=nRT appear to have been established to make things progress as planned by the One who claims to have started it all.

Because I understand, accept and apply relativity, I have zero problem accepting the accumulating evidence for a universe age that is probably in the vicinity of that which you perceive: ca 13 billion years +.

Although I have the acadmic requirements for BS in biology, I am no particular fan of Darwin. I simply accept his work -- and that built upon it by his successors -- as our best (but still flawed) explanation to date of how life here on Earth reached its present state. I am not on a mission to "prove" anything. The fact that I see that progression as following the Creator's plan does not color my investigations -- because I view myself as being - like all good scientists -- on a continual journey of discovery.

In cosmology, I have the same questions as many of our colleagues: what is that "dark matter/energy" stuff? And how did we miss such a large portion of our universe for so long? And...what else have our observations missed?

~~~~~~~~~~~

BTW, it was your two statements to A-G re "verification" that I viewed as expressing a dichotomy: verifiability of science results versus non-verifiability of spiritual truths. My point was that -- if you use the same methodology that the reporting observer used, both are equally verifiable.

I do not mix my science with my religion. The closest I come to doing so is the continual sense of enjoyment and awe I feel as I make ever-newer discoveries of the beauty and majesty of what I believe to be His handiwork. No matter whether I am at the controls of the SEM or am adjusting the alt-azimuth of the telescope, that thrill of discovery makes scientific investigation just plain fun! In addition, the thrill of praise I feel for each revelation of His masterful work simply adds to my enjoyment of life... Science without religion would be, to me, far less enjoyable!

Such a deal: double joy -- while improving our understanding of our universe!

393 posted on 01/29/2009 11:23:59 AM PST by TXnMA ("Allah": Satan's current alias...!!)
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To: betty boop
[ "cosmologies of wholeness" ]

Animism goes along this line of thought..
My brother the buffalo, sister the grass.. "the great Spirit".., even Cargo Cultism, like that..

Could be the animists are detecting the Spirit "on some level".. "Primitive minds" can have a hard time with long winded rational.. and tend to simplify to the point(maybe) of being simplistic.. Not every one can be as "smart" as materialist scientists.. {cough}...

Could be all seeking of God can have an element of the truth in it.. Even MINE!..

394 posted on 01/29/2009 11:32:13 AM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: TXnMA
if you use the same methodology that the reporting observer used, both are equally verifiable.

I'm not aware of any methodology for resolving conflicts in personal spiritual experience.

Science is not perfect, but over time it tends to converge on descriptions of phenomena. Religion seems to splinter and diverge. We have, for example, three major versions of the Abrahamic revelation, two major versions of Christianity, and half a dozen newer revelations with a million or more adherents.

I'm familiar with a dozen or so controversies in science, some of which extended over several decades, but they were resolved through research, and science moved on. I don't know of any similar history or pattern of resolving conflicting religious revelations.

395 posted on 01/29/2009 11:35:17 AM PST by js1138
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To: js1138; TXnMA; betty boop; Alamo-Girl
[ I'm not aware of any methodology for resolving conflicts in personal spiritual experience. ]

So then, if you experienced a "miracle" it would scare you?..
You know, "scare you" so you would not be open to having one?..

I have experienced many of what I deem as miracles..
Many conflicts have been resolved in my life..
But then I am open to accepting and honoring miracles as what they are..
Meaning I am not afraid to experience one or many of them..

There is a methodology if you would be open to it..
In my experience some are NOT open to them..
Yet they still expereince them even while denying them, I think..
Only way I can explain this is they are scared of them..
You know...... scaredy cats..

396 posted on 01/29/2009 11:56:31 AM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole....)
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To: hosepipe
There is a methodology if you would be open to it...

I supposed if everyone agreed with everyone else, there would be no disagreements.

But I'm just observing the fact that people disagree on religious revelations, and there appears to no history or tradition of reconciling divergent revelations.

397 posted on 01/29/2009 12:55:46 PM PST by js1138
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To: js1138; Alamo-Girl; CottShop; GodGunsGuts; shibumi; hosepipe; marron; metmom; spirited irish; ...
[Senescence is] avoided by human cancer cells and by human germ line cells. The cellular machinery and organelles of human beings have been working as least as long as there have been humans.

I’m perplexed by these statements, js1138. I don’t know whether to read them as if they were simply discrete facts, or whether you intended me to discover some meaning from the way the two statements correlate. If the latter, then the sense I get is you’re saying that ultimately, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between organisms that avoid senescence and those that do not. And yet for you to say that the “cellular machinery and organelles of human beings have been working as least as long as there have been humans” rather ironically (considering the source) suggests that evolution has had no role to play in the increasing complexity of cellular machinery and organelles, that whatever influenced the development of these systems, it was in place at once, in the “beginning.” Which is to make the case for William’s IC/AP argument, and its centerpiece, meta-information. You cannot have wanted to do that.

Perhaps the explanation for organisms that avoid senescence is really very simple: They are so relatively “simple” themselves that there’s little to “senesce.” At any rate, such organisms can probably be classified according to the algorithmic complexity requirements at Level (iii) of the AC/IP model. Why you think we can get exhaustive information about the astronomically more complex living systems described at Level (iv) (and above) from the Level (iii) information is beyond me. I figure it must be some kind of Darwinian prejudice.

Darwin’s theory is an incremental build-up from the “bottom,” i.e., from Levels (i) and (ii). The presupposition is that evolution bottoms out in chemistry, as “shaped” by “blind” random mutation and natural selection. And the theory’s fundamental assumption would appear to be that “the biological ‘whole’ is merely the sum of its parts” at any given point in the evolutionary development. This being the case, deal with the simplest “part” you can imagine — say, the single-celled organism — and extrapolate from that to a description of all the other "parts."

But to me, this procedure will not work. For the disparities in necessary information, of algorithmic complexity, between the simplest and the most complex organisms — many, many orders of magnitude difference between them — militates against this expectation.

Certainly, one cannot speak about biological functions in [the] case of chemical evolution. I note that this point requires ramifications in the context of the problem of continuity of life with the apparently inanimate world, as many scientists [have] suggested; e.g. Editorial, 2007, “The meaning of “life,” Nature 447, pp. 1031–1032.
— A. Grandpierre, “Fundamental Complexity Measures of Life,” Divine Action and Natural Selection: Science, Faith and Evolution, World Scientific, 2008;, p. 600.

To get to the point Dr. Grandpierre was making here, let’s do a “thought experiment” in which we “reduce” both a high-entropy entity — a rock — and a low-entropy entity — a rabbit — to their physical and chemical constituents. We will do this by mercilessly pounding on these two entities with a heavy cudgel, repeatedly as necessary. Eventually (this would take longer for the rabbit than the rock), both are “reduced,” not only to atoms, but more significantly, to their fundamental constituent sub-atomic “particles.” We are now (figuratively speaking) in the quantum world — in Fig. 4, this is represented as underlaying Level (i). The point is, all existents in nature ultimately “boil down” to the quantum level, which is wholly undeterministic. It is pure, i.e., “unformed,” potentiality. SO: What “determines” whether the “quantum possibilities” are to express as rock or rabbit?

The point seems to be: It is not the “matter” itself that makes them one type of thing or another; it is the information that specifies them.

In closing, just a little extra something to think about:

… [West-Eberhard, in] “Gaps and Inconsistencies in Modern Evolutionary Thought” … (2003, Developmental Plasticity and Evolution, Oxford University Press) [presents] a whole list of basic problems of evolutionary theory…. It becomes more and more clear that Darwinian theory is so logically flabby it can “explain” anything by subtly changing the terms of the debate. Evolutionary theory can show only that systems of functions may evolve in a changing environment, but does not explain how an individual cell selects from the astronomically large domain of biological possibilities. Evolutionary theory concerns only the historical life forms appearing on the earth. It considers only a part of biological phenomena, instead of working out the general theory of biological processes and deriving the more special phenomena from the more general laws as it is possible in physics. In contrast, the theoretical biology of Ervin Bauer established the most universal law of biology in an exact manner which is quite compatible with the exactness of physics. These arguments indicate that selection is not the cause but the result of biological organization. Therefore, ultimately, the [bird’s] flying instinct, together with the phenomenon of evolution, is based on the Bauer principle. — ibid., p. 602. Emphasis added.


398 posted on 01/29/2009 1:02:23 PM PST by betty boop
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To: hosepipe; js1138; Alamo-Girl

What a deeply insightful post, dear hosepipe!


399 posted on 01/29/2009 1:04:50 PM PST by betty boop
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To: hosepipe; Alamo-Girl
Animism goes along this line of thought.

Indeed. That is its most primitive formulation. And it seems to me there is some degree of truth in it. Not the most exhaustive, perhaps. But certainly not outright false. Same for the way all of us "explain" the spiritual aspect of human reality, provided, of course, that we haven't ruled it out as a matter of principle. Then I think, all that's left is: nihilism.

400 posted on 01/29/2009 1:11:18 PM PST by betty boop
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