Thursday, December 10, 2009

Design Without A Designer?

1. Software upgrades contain large amounts of functional information.

2. Intelligence is the only known source of this kind of information.

3. Therefore software upgrades require intelligent programmers.

* * *

1. Living things contain within their genomes large amounts of functional information.

2. The only cause known to be capable of generating large amounts of functional information is intelligence.

3. It is therefore reasonable to infer that the functional information in living things must have an intelligent source.

Here, here! Operative words: "reasonable to infer".

The predictable darwinian response: Large gobs of information -- whole libraries of it -- formed one tiny bit at a time, by a mindless, directionless, goalless process -- a process which just "happened" into existence.

6 comments:

Ted Betts said...

The comparison of our knowledge of the universe to our knowledge of how software is made (like the comparison to "a watch must have a watchmaker) shows how shallow is the analysis.

We don't infer a designer of software. We know it was man-made. Same with the watch.

However, I would say, as vaccuous as that comparison is and as useless as it is in understanding anything, it is indeed reasonable to so infer an original designer.

Or, perhaps more accurately, given the state of our knowledge at present date, it is not completely unreasonable to make that inference.

Just like it was not completely unreasonable for humans at an earlier date to think that there was a god of wind, a god of water, a god land, etc., and it was not completely unreasonable for humans at an earlier date to think that the sun and stars circled around the moon (and that it was the sign of insanity or the devil to think otherwise). Nor was it completely unreasonable to think, at a different point in our history, that if we did this X and Y and Z, that the weather would be favourable or our enemies would be smited or the crops would grow.

All of this was completely reasonable in its time and within the context of our knowledge at that time.

Only difference now is, in the last couple of hundred years, we've taken a scientific approach to questions. We do not conclude from inferences; we conclude from verifiable and predictive data.

And while all verifiable and predictive data does not allow us to reach a complete understanding and definitive conclusions about how the universe began, we can say that (a) as our knowledge expands, we get see a new tidbit of the big picture, (b) none of what we have seen supports a conclusion that supports your designer inference.

But, as I said, it is not completely unreasonable to think there is some guy billions and billions and billions of years ago who lit a match that caused all gasses to heat up instantly and start expanding and contracting and eventually, like a single snowflake becoming an avalanche, turning into the universe as we know it with the intelligence (or lack thereof in some cases) that we know.

RkBall said...

"We know it was man-made."

How do you know?

RkBall said...

"we've taken a scientific approach to questions."

All questions, or some questions?

RkBall said...

"We do not conclude from inferences"

Really? You are concluding all kinds of things via inference in your post.

Ted Betts said...

This is the tactic of the anti-scientific approach of the religious right Mr. Ball and, judging from other posts of yours, I know you are smarter than that. Trying to punch a logic chain out of questions.

And I don't really have time but the mindset of the religious when it comes to science really and truly does intrigue me so, too quickly:

1. how do we know? Because, to put it extremely simply, we have a world of evidence and, most importantly, we have the actual claims by the actual "designer" stating that he or she "designed" it. We also by a box that says who did it. We have no evidence anywhere that it just magically appeared, which would conflict with far more pieces of evidence and data we have.

By contrast, with belief, we only have some claims by some humans that "they know" because, well, "there must be".

2. I would say a scientific approach to all questions. But we are also humans and vulnerable to error, ego, competition and personal ambition, incompetence. Over time, though, the body of knowledge generated by science becomes far larger than the individuals who first put it forward. And the areas science has displaced faith and belief - like the belief that disease can be eradicated by stronger faith and medicine is evil given by witches, as still persists in some places in the world (including the western world) - grows and does not retreat as it is subjected to generation after generation of scientific re-testing and proven (or displaced) by new testing. But when science has displaced faith, it has never gone back.

3. The lines between what is a conclusion and what is mere inference and what is a hypothesis or theory can be easily blurred in casual conversation among non-scientists like you and me. So forgive me forgive me for asking but where do I draw any conclusion based on inferences? (And truly, it is my hope that you are not one of those who say 'evolution is only a theory' because all science is theory, even Newton's "Law" though some theories are, with our knowledge to date, as good as a scientific law.)

lastchancetosee said...

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/revolutionary.png

I must say that I always wondered about the design argument. Defenders always say that the world looks designed and therefore must be designed. I wonder what they are looking at, because the world I perceive absolutely does not look designed.

Take DNA for example. Yes, it does contain a bunch of information. But it contains even more garbage. Much, much more. What kind of designer programs something and than basically dumps the 4K of code into 1M of random characters?

Concerning information:
Information is not meaning. Every structure contains information. If a vase falls down and breaks, it assembles new information.
Intelligence is not the only known source of functional information. In the case of evolutionary processes we know where the information is coming from. It is transferred from the environment into the genome by way of natural selection and heredity.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"