Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Signature in the Soup

"The ultimate question in origins must be: Can information increase in a purely materialistic or naturalistic way?" -- Andy McIntosh

Indeed. To ask the question is to answer it.

You are eating alphabet soup. You swirl your spoon and the letters spell out, "SOUP", is this really information? Or is this just the illusion of information? How about "IM SOUP" -- real information, or just a bigger coincidence? How about "IM TASTY SOUP"?

What if you were told the spoon you were using was a special soup-stirring spoon?

If you had a Library of Congress worth of alphabet soup messages, would you be willing to admit this is real information, or just information-like?

The answer is in the soup. The message is in the soup. Whether the intelligence is embedded in the spoon or the spoon is directly guided by an intelligent hand, it doesn't matter. Information means intelligence and intelligence means mind.

From primordial slop to the signature in the soup -- oh, the humanity!

Philosophical darwinism rests on the twin peaks of illusion of design and, now, the illusion of information.

Darwinism: "All the really important stuff is just an illusion".

Reclaim reality. Rebel against the atheist machine.™

25 comments:

jonathan said...

I disagree with this. Information doesn't mean intelligence.

"From primordial slop to the signature in the soup -- oh, the humanity!
Philosophical darwinism rests on the twin peaks of illusion of design and, now, the illusion of information."

That primordial slop you are mockingly referencing is a lot more complicated than you think and what do you mean by "signature in the soup"? I also believe it's the illusion of design that creationists or ID proponents grasp to to show that there is a designer rather than what is suggested in your statement.

RkBall said...

J-man:

Information:
1. Knowledge derived from study, experience, or instruction.

2. Knowledge of specific events or situations that has been gathered or received by communication; intelligence or news. See Synonyms at knowledge.

3. A collection of facts or data: statistical information.

4. The act of informing or the condition of being informed; communication of knowledge: Safety instructions are provided for the information of our passengers.

5. Computer Science Processed, stored, or transmitted data.

6. A numerical measure of the uncertainty of an experimental outcome.

7. Law A formal accusation of a crime made by a public officer rather than by grand jury indictment.

Which of these does meanings not imply an intelligent agent?

RkBall said...

J-man.

Primordial slop is a riff on primordial soup -- which is exactly how the conditions that led to first life were once described.

It was all so simple and easy back then.

RkBall said...

Plus, it's not just information that is found in the cell. It is stored, communicated, and translated information.

What, in the real world, is associated with a) the act of storing information, b) the act of communicating information, and c) the act of translating information?

I'll tell ya. Intelligent agency.

RkBall said...

Gotta tell ya. I feel a lot more rational in attributing stored, communicated, and acted-on information to an intelligent source than denying it.

jonathan said...

I have to say, I've never quite liked the listing of various definitions for a word used in sentence that could have many different takes on it. I could do the same thing many of the words in your statements, but I don't because that is not a meaninguful, or concise way of having a discussion. There is information everywhere so I think that before you can state "Information means intelligence and intelligence means mind" you first need to specify what information you are talking about exactly.

"Primordial slop is a riff on primordial soup -- which is exactly how the conditions that led to first life were once described.

It was all so simple and easy back then."

I understand it is a riff on primordial soup but I also need to state that 'primordial soup' was essentially a cauldron of organic and inorganic molecues and various chemicals as well as thermodynamic, chemical, and geothermic mechanisms. These processes allowed non-life to eventually form life.

"Plus, it's not just information that is found in the cell. It is stored, communicated, and translated information.

What, in the real world, is associated with a) the act of storing information, b) the act of communicating information, and c) the act of translating information?

I'll tell ya. Intelligent agency."

Once again before I can proceed I need to know what you are referring to when you state information; information in something this specific cannot be vague or the contents of this discussion will also be vague. You must also remember that the storing, communicating, and translation of 'information' is completely chemical. In refernce to the a, b, and c:

a) what information do you mean
b) what information do you mean
c) what information do you mean

I can understand how it would be easy to attribute a designer to processes that seem to be completely impossible with a limited knowledge on how they actually function or where they could have possible come from, but I don't think a "designer" can be assumed before trying to understand it.

"Gotta tell ya. I feel a lot more rational in attributing stored, communicated, and acted-on information to an intelligent source than denying it."

Well that's what makes discussions interesting. There is conflict in both of our views and this conflict will make this discussion either proceed further or not. Would you like to discuss abiogenesis or cell communication and protein translation?

xn--hrfn-woa said...

"The ultimate question in origins must be: Can information increase in a purely materialistic or naturalistic way?"

The answer is (i) yes it can (and in fact it does so every day), (ii) this in fact has nothing whatsoever to do with "origins", (iii) let alone being some "ultimate question" on the subject. in fact the only people who ask the question are creationists who, like McIntosh, have no grounding whatsoever in Information Theory or Abiogeneis research. No scientist working in either field gives such inane claims the time of day -- they're "not even wrong".

P@J said...

Notwithstanding XN's excellent point...

Your premise is interesting. If you stirred enough alphabet soup, eventually you would happen upon "information" we recognise as words. "If", "or", "it", would arrive soon, "soup" very rarely, and "primordial" likely to only occur very, very rarely (but nothing stops it from being the first 10 letters, as that is no less likely than the 1 billionth combination of ten letters).

But of course, that is not a good analogy of the Primordial soup (for lack of a better term), because some molecules had propensity to stick to others, and some did not. Even simple interactions between molecules are complex, as easily demonstrated when you try to dissolve a tablespoon of salt in a cold glass of water, then try the same with a table spoon of sugar. It is almost like every time you stirred the soup, the “q”s always stuck to the left side of any “u” it encountered and the “g”s always repelled the “x”s, the “i”s tended to go to the other side of the “e” in the presence of a “c”, etc. That would marginally increase the chance that “information” we recognize as English words would form.

Interesting, the pattern we see when we look at the genome is exactly as we would expect if this is the way it was assembled.

P@J said...

As for information without intelligence. I give you sea floor paleomagnetism (sequences that provide a chronological record of the Earth’s magnetic field orientation over the last 150 million years or so). I give you fluid inclusions and isotope signatures in ice cores, which provide a sequence of historic atmospheric conditions. I give you Tree rings, information about local climate changes over hundreds of years. I give you cross-beds in sandstones, which provide information about fluid flow regimes, wave patterns, and river morphology from millions of years ago. I give you craters on the moon which provide details about bombardment history of inner solar system bodies. I give you willow trees which tell you which way the wind is blowing. Even an arm of a snowflake “knows” what the other arms look like, and have no problem repeating the pattern: H2O, or information?

Of course, all of these types of “information” must be interpreted and put into a context before we can “read” it. But so must we with DNA. I honestly don’t understand the difference.

RkBall said...

"Interesting, the pattern we see when we look at the genome is exactly as we would expect if this is the way it was assembled."

I'm sure you know that this is not true, and you are just testing me. The fact is there is no reason chemical reason why DNA is patterned the way it is -- it is not based on chemical law, and chance is just too wildly improbably. Inference to the most likely explanation says it was directed by an intelligent source.

Even if you are right, it just raises the problem a level of abstraction. If my soup spoon is able to mechanically produce meaningful sentences, then that is a big hint that the soup spoon itself is a product of intelligent design. So, to demonstrate that this is all just a natural process does not make the problem go away.

RkBall said...

"I've never quite liked the listing of various definitions for a word used in sentence that could have many different takes on it."

J. PJ demands it.

RkBall said...

"Of course, all of these types of “information” must be interpreted and put into a context before we can “read” it. But so must we with DNA. I honestly don’t understand the difference."

Honestly? OK. Here it is. The information in the cell is recognized as information, treated as information, processed as information. Whereas, nature "does" nothing with tree rings or moon pocks. Plus, in DNA, the information is not direct information like length, breadth width, etc. as in the case of tree rings and moon pocks -- it is encoded information. If you had tree rings, and beside it you had code which, when translated exactly translated into the tree rings, that is what you have in DNA.

P@J said...

Sorry, but I think you are incorrect about the nature of DNA. It is simply a sequence of base pairs. Just like the other examples I have given. If you mash up DA and count the cytosine particles, you don’t get info (except the percentage of cytosine). If you line it up and check it off every angstrom or so, you get what looks like a “code”. If you look at the sea floor, you get some north and some south signatures, but if you line it up and take a measurement every few kilometres, you get what looks like a code.

Note the two codes below. We will use A-T and G-C to indicate the two base pairs in a DNA sequence, measures over a few angstroms of DNA, and N-U and S-D to indicate north or south orientation of seafloor magnetic signatures, measured over a few thousand kilometres of sea floor. You tell me the difference:

A-T A-T A-T G-C A-T G-C G-C A-T A-T G-C G-C A-T
N-U N-U N-U S-D N-U S-D S-D N-U N-U S-D S-D N-U

Nature “does” lots with moon pocks and tree rings, you just may not recognise it. Just how do you suppose a snowflake branch “knows” what the other branches look like?

RkBall said...

"Just how do you suppose a snowflake branch “knows” what the other branches look like?"

The difference between the simple snowflake algorithm and the information in DNA is detailed in Signature in the Cell and any number of talks by Stephen Meyer. Of course, I would argue that all of nature points to God, including all the natural processes that produce e.g., snowflakes and crystals, and not just the information embedded in DNA.

Presumably you are against SETI?

jonathan said...

"The fact is there is no reason chemical reason why DNA is patterned the way it is -- it is not based on chemical law, and chance is just too wildly improbably. Inference to the most likely explanation says it was directed by an intelligent source."

This is a mighty big assumption. The chemical reason that DNA or even RNA are patterened they way they are was purely chemical at the beginning of abiogenesis. In DNA you have four base pairs: adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine; in RNA you have adenine, uracil, cytosine and guanine. These base pairs will only attach to one other base pair. In DNA it's adenine to thymine and cytosine to guanine; in RNA it's adenine to uracil and cytosine to guanine. They are predisposed to chemically combine in that way. These chemical laws (as well as thermodynamic and geothermic laws) would also govern how this non-life would grow, metabolise and REPLICATE.

Replication is significant in what you think would be improbable in the way RNA is patterened; I speak of RNA specifically because it is believed to be the precussor to life. If a non-life entity were to have an RNA chain that allowed it to grow faster by consuming it's neighbors components (due to chemical, geothermic, and thermodynamic laws) then when it came down to replication its non-life offspring would bear a very similar, if not exact, RNA chain to continue the cycle. However, due to what we now view in evolution, there will be mutations, and these mutations could be either neutral, beneficial, or detremental. If the chain is beneficial then it will continue to replicate in the same fashion as it's parent and during replication and mutation this could allow for either better or worse non-life offspring which continues the cycle. This entire process did not require any form of intelligence.

"Even if you are right, it just raises the problem a level of abstraction. If my soup spoon is able to mechanically produce meaningful sentences, then that is a big hint that the soup spoon itself is a product of intelligent design. So, to demonstrate that this is all just a natural process does not make the problem go away."

So if I dump a bag of scrabble pieces on the floor and get the word "bee" this is a sign of intelligence? Or is it that because there is more e's that the chances are high it would form a meaningful word?

RkBall said...

J-man. Your post made my day. Your very own arguments buttress my conclusion that the DNA world indicates intelligence in action.

If you get "Bee", that can be either coincidence, or direction. If you get "Be good" that looks mighty suspiciously like intelligence -- because there is grammar, syntax. If you get "Be good or else there may be adverse consequences", it's game-over. Oh, that the minimum amount of information to form the first replicable living cell were as simple as this sentence!

RkBall said...

I do like the way you are extrapolating darwinian assumptions back into the pre-living world. PJ and JoeA wham me with the reminder that darwinism only applies to origin of species, not origin of life. When of course, you and I both know that darwinian assumptions are being extrapolated back not just into nature prior to life, but from the big bang onwards.

RkBall said...

"I speak of RNA specifically because it is believed to be the precussor to life."

Based on darwinian assumptions. The theory demands a naturalistic explanation; RNA provides one; therefore, the scientific view is that RNA was the precursor, and this "confirms" the theory! The reasoning is entirely circular. The theory suggests the mechanisms, the postulated mechanisms prove the theory -- it's brilliant!

Plus, there are big problems these days with the RNA precursor scenario, as you are aware.

RkBall said...

Having said this, I am not against the darwinian assumption as a seek-and-find working assumption that spurs further research. We need to keep unravelling. At some point, the sheer wonder and intricate interdependent complexity of it all is going to shift things in the direction of intelligence as the inference to the best explanation.

I just wish those who use it would be a bit more precise in distinguishing between assumptions and facts.

jonathan said...

For my agruments to "buttress" your day means that you don't understand anything I just said, which is disheartening. You continue by suggesting if you get more complex combinations that this would suggest intelligence which implies that an intelligent force is trying to directly communicate with you to give you a message. You finish by stating that if you got the sentence "Be good or else there may be adverse consequences", which is actually more interesting pyschologically than it is an argument against abiogenesis or evolution. That one sentence has a lot of information I can extrapolate that describes in detail your pyschological condition, but that's neither here nor there.

Can you provide any evidence that what I said in my previous post was incorrect THAT is not some probability equation, which are usually incorrect as they do not factor in every variable; I still don't know why this argument is brought up against the beginning of life and so forth.

"I do like the way you are extrapolating darwinian assumptions back into the pre-living world. PJ and JoeA wham me with the reminder that darwinism only applies to origin of species, not origin of life. When of course, you and I both know that darwinian assumptions are being extrapolated back not just into nature prior to life, but from the big bang onwards."

I have been rather civil in all of my exchanges on this blog so I would appreciate it if you did not make accusations of what you presume me to believe or not believe without verifying first. Did I mention the first signs of natural selection in my pre-biotic example, yes I did. Did I mention it as being non-life, yes I did. Did I mention that the fine line of non-life to life is still being discussed and the that the introduction of a natural selection type mechanism is probable grounds for that non-life being classified as life, no I didn't. So yes, I do believe that natural selection and BIOLOGIC evolution occur only in life and yes your assumption that I believe otherwise is incorrect. Please verify with individuals before you make assumptions about what their beliefs are or aren't, it makes you look irrational.

jonathan said...

"Based on darwinian assumptions. The theory demands a naturalistic explanation; RNA provides one; therefore, the scientific view is that RNA was the precursor, and this "confirms" the theory! The reasoning is entirely circular. The theory suggests the mechanisms, the postulated mechanisms prove the theory -- it's brilliant!"

No, the evidence supports the theory that life could have formed from natural laws. It is entirely not circular as it is not the end of the search for more evidence. This is where you are incorrect.

Your way:

1. Theory suggests the mechanisms
2. Postulated mechanisms prove the theory

The correct, scientific way:

1. An observation is made either from or not from another theory
2. Hypothesis suggests mechanisms for observation
3. Experimentation attempts to find evidence for hypothesis, which is then retested multiple times in multiple environments by multiple people
4. Experimentation provides evidence that either falsifies the hypothesis or supports the hypothesis. More experimentation can be done to provide more evidence or find evidence against which will subsequently lead to it being falsified or classified as a theory.

"Plus, there are big problems these days with the RNA precursor scenario, as you are aware."

Please, describe what the problems are with RNA precursor scenario.

RkBall said...

"I have been rather civil..."

J-man -- I meant what I said as a compliment! -- I think you must have misunderstood me.

RkBall said...

If you Google RNA World DNA Precursor Problems, you'll get a whole raft of discussion. I have a particular quote in mind; I'll try to dig it up, but not sure if I can find it.

jonathan said...

The problem with googling RNA world hypothesis problems is that you will get a small amount of actual data incorporated into a large amount of biased speculation to why it is wrong that has no evidence supporting it. If you can't find the specific quote then can you say what it is implying?

RkBall said...

Let me mull this today. I may be able to dredge it up.

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