“DNA is a Program, and Programs Demand a Programmer”: a Response

DNAOne popular science-y argument for God is that DNA is information. In fact, it’s not only information, it’s a software program. Programs require programmers, so for DNA, this programmer must be God.

For example, Scott Minnich, an associate professor of microbiology and a fellow at the Discovery Institute, said during the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, “The sophistication of the information storage system in nucleic acids of RNA and DNA [have] been likened to digital code that surpasses anything that a software engineer at Microsoft at this point can produce.” Stephen Meyer, also of the Discovery Institute, said, “DNA functions like a software program. We know from experience that software comes from programmers.”

I wonder why DNA brings anything new to the conversation. The idea that the human body is like a designed machine has been in vogue ever since modern machines. The heart is like a pump, nerves are like wires, arteries are like pipes, the digestive system is like a chemical factory, eyes and ears are like cameras and microphones, and so on. But let’s ignore that and respond to the apologist’s claim that programs (in the form of DNA) require programmers.

Nature vs. machine

As a brief detour, notice how we tell natural and manmade things apart. Nature and human designers typically do things very differently. This excerpt from my book Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change explores the issue:

By the 1880s, first generation mechanical typesetters were in use. Mark Twain was interested in new technology and invested in the Paige typesetter, backing it against its primary competitor, the Mergenthaler Linotype machine. The Paige was faster and had more capabilities. However, the complicated machine contained 18,000 parts and weighed three tons, making it more expensive and less reliable. As the market battle wore on, Twain put more and more money into the project, but it eventually failed in 1894. It did so largely because the machine deliberately mimicked how human typesetters worked instead of taking advantage of the unique ways machines can operate. For example, the Paige machine re-sorted the type from completed print jobs back into bins to be reused. This impressive ability made it compatible with the manual process but very complex. The Linotype neatly cut the Gordian knot by simply melting old type and recasting it. . . .

As with typesetting machines, airplanes also flirted with animal inspiration in their early years. But flapping-wing airplane failures soon yielded to propeller-driven successes. The most efficient machines usually don’t mimic how humans or animals work. Airplanes don’t fly like birds, and submarines don’t swim like fish. Wagons roll rather than walk, and a recorded voice isn’t replayed through an artificial mouth. A washing machine doesn’t use a washboard, and a dishwasher moves the water and not the dishes.

With DNA, we again see the natural vs. manmade distinction. It looks like the kind of good-enough compromise that evolution would create, not like manmade computer software. Not only does the cell have no CPU, the part of a computer that executes instructions, but we’ve created genetic software that changes and improves in an evolutionary fashion. This software can be used for limited problems, but it must be treated as a black box. It looks nothing like the understandable, maintainable software that humans create.

As another illustration of the non-software nature of DNA, the length of an organism’s DNA is not especially proportionate to its complexity. This is the c-value enigma, illustrated with a chart comparing DNA length for many categories of life here.

We actually have created DNA like a human programmer would create it, at least short segments of it. The Craig Venter Institute encoded four text messages into synthetic DNA that was then used to create a living, replicating cell. That’s what a creator who wants to be known does. Natural DNA looks . . . natural. (See more on the broken stuff in DNA here and how this defeats the Design Hypothesis here.)

If God designed software, we’d expect it to look like elegant, minimalistic, people-designed software, not the Rube Goldberg mess that we see in DNA. Apologists might wonder how we know that this isn’t the way God would do it. Yes, God could have his own way of programming that looks foreign to us, but then the “DNA looks like God’s software!” argument fails.

Consider more broadly this supposed analogy between human design and biological systems.

  • Human designs have parts purposely put together. We know they are designed because we see the designers and understand how they work.
  • Biological systems live and reproduce, and they evolve based on mutation and natural selection.

But these traits of human designs don’t apply to biological systems, and vice versa. So where is the analogy? The only thing they share is complexity, which means that the argument becomes the naïve observation, “Golly, biological systems are quite complicated, so they must be designed.” This is no evidence for a designer, just an unsupported claim that complexity demands one. And why think complexity is the hallmark of design? Wouldn’t it be elegance or something similar?

The software analogy leads to uncomfortable conclusions

The DNA = software analogy brings along baggage that the Christian apologist won’t like. The apologist demands, “DNA is information! Show me a single example of information not coming from intelligence!”

This makes them vulnerable to a straightforward retort: Show me a single example of intelligence that’s not natural. Show me a single example of intelligence not coming from a physical brain (h/t commenter Benjamin Bastin). These apologists are apparently quite comfortable with things that have no precedent (and far too comfortable with things that have no evidence, like the supernatural).

Actually, we find information in lots of nonliving natural things. The frequency components of starlight encodes information about that star’s composition and speed. (h/t commenter Greg G.) Tree rings tell us about past precipitation and carbon-14 fluctuation. Ice cores and varves (annual sediment layers) also reveal details of climate. Smell can tell us that food has gone bad or if a skunk is nearby.

Genetic software is another example of information creation. The apologist will object that genetic software doesn’t qualify because it’s created by humans. That’s true, but the software is simply a concrete demonstration that proves the idea. Drop the software and make it a thought experiment.

The popular DNA = software analogy should be retired for lack of evidence.

Next: A response to evolution deniers: how complex comes from simple

To ask an atheist what evidence would change their mind
is to admit we’re in a naturalistic universe
and thus make the question void.
— commenter primenumbers

Image credit: AndreaLaurel, flickr, CC

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Michael Neville

    DNA is not a program or a blueprint. DNA codes for chemicals and it doesn’t take a chemist to make chemicals, they are made spontaneously and naturally from other chemicals like DNA.

    • Halbe

      Not completely true. The making of the chemicals that DNA codes for requires quite a lot of machinery inside a living cell. “Naturally” is correct, but “spontaneously” is not I would say.

      • eric

        I would agree. Biological development (I.e. the building up of structures based on DNA replication) almost certainly doesn’t meet the definition of spontaneous in thermodynamic terms. Take away whatever sources of energy the system is using, and it stops.

      • Kevin K

        Not in prokaryotes. In eukaryotes, I’d agree. But prokaryotes are quite a bit simpler.

        • Halbe

          DNA does absolutely nothing “spontaneously”, not even in a prokaryote; this requires at least ribosomes, cytoplasm and an “encasing” (cell).

    • Objective Judgment

      Explain yourself then

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        The answer doesn’t involve any Gods-SPOILERS!

        • Objective Judgment

          I agree – it sure does involve DNA as a program/blueprint though

        • Michael Neville

          DNA is not a program or blueprint. Argument by analogy is generally weak. Analogies are a teaching tool. They are for describing a difficult concept to someone who has no experience with that concept. To a grade school student, I would make the analogy that DNA is like a blueprint. It tells the cells how to make proteins. I would not use that “DNA is like a blueprint” analogy in a discussion with anyone who had the least idea about what DNA actually is.

          It’s arguable that DNA is digital information. True, DNA is made of nucleotides (which are the important bit) attached to a common sugar backbone. Those four nucleotides could be described digitally using two bits. Because of binary notation two bits can represent four things, in this case the four DNA nucleotides: A, T, C, and G. So four bits covers the four nucleotides for DNA. But you need another bit to get include RNA, which acts as a enzyme to change DNA. So, that’s pretty important.

          But DNA is more detailed than that. We need to another bit to cover methylation. Basically, the molecule for the nucleotide gets changed and has a methyl group attached to it. That can have a variety of effects including stopping other things from happening. In fact, there are over 100 known chemical changes that can occur to various nucleotides. Each one being either present or not, so we need over 100 bits to deal with those.

          The real problem in dealing with DNA as digital information is that DNA pieces aren’t taken in isolation. The entire gargantuan molecule that is a DNA chromatid interacts with itself and with other DNA strands. It folds around a histone molecule (most of the time) and certain portions of DNA are more likely to be in certain locations on those histone molecules. That can have an effect on how the DNA is copied, translated, and mutated. So, our digital model has to account for that. Oh, and there are multiple types of histone too.

          I could go on but it becomes obvious that DNA is a chemical which interacts with itself and other chemicals to produce various other chemicals. We can’t even model protein folding very well and DNA is orders of magnitude more complex. DNA is not a program or a blueprint except by very simplistic analogy.

          Information cribbed from Ahmed Abouelmagd’s Basic Genetics.

        • Objective Judgment

          “DNA is not a program or a blueprint except by very simplistic analogy”

          Thanks, that’s what I thought.

        • Joe

          You know what an analogy is, right?

        • Objective Judgment

          I do, yes.

        • Kevin K

          I would think DNA would be more analog than digital.

        • Kuno

          digital=/=binary

          I made that mistake myself a while ago.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          DNA is as much a “program/blueprint” as a body of water and a downward slope of land next to each other are a “program/blueprint” for a river. Both are a complex string of physical reactions of matter with matter. It only looks like a complex plan when interpreted from hindsight (including labeling certain outcomes as “defects, exceptions, abnormalities, etc” when those outcomes follow from their string of reactions. This is special pleading to defend the idea that we “normal” humans are designed).

        • Objective Judgment

          I disagree – the river is not self-replicating in any way – it does not produce exact copies of itself, nor is the final course of the river determined almost entirely by the river rather than the environment it passes through. A human is not materially changed (there are of course minor environmental effects) by the environment in which the human is created/grows up. I accept that DNA is a naturally occurring blueprint/program, and blueprints/programs have a designer. But there is no reason to say that the mass of other material similarities between them should be disregarded just because one is designed and the other not. Of course creationists are wrong – about linking the necessity of a designer to the characteristics of DNA as a blueprint, but it is just as illegitimate to pretend the obvious similarities between the two do not exist just because it helps in the argument – it just makes you look equally as dishonest and stupid as they do.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “the river is not self-replicating in any way – it does not produce exact copies of itself”

          The river was a simplistic comparison using a non-living object forming by complex interaction of matter. A forest fire might be another example. Also, life does not produce exact copies of itself, which is why we have mutation and evolution. That body of water could form a river that increases in dimension each year. Much later that river could connect to a new body of water or pool and form a new one. Eventually it could cut deep into the earth and form canyons as well as follow paths of least resistance to make islands. Maybe it will run into rough spot with looser ground on either side and create new rivers and the other things mentioned. Perhaps one path will get blocked from the source and become a lake or estuary. If rain and ground water can’t sustain it it might dry up. This may not be the complex chain of chemical reactions we call life, but there is still a mind-numbing amount of complexity in this water/land interactions set.

          “nor is the final course of the river determined almost entirely by the river rather than the environment it passes through.”

          Nor does any one element present in DNA/RNA make up the entire chemical reaction. I wanted to show that the water and land interacting was part of a whole. The “environment” of the water, land, and likely air (wind erosion) interactions is the vacuum of outer space, which does have matter not directly connected to this interaction set that can come into contact with it and affect it (like a meteor strike or heating/cooling).

          “blueprints/programs have a designer”

          We are only able to design based on existing properties of matter and interactions of matter. Blue prints/programs are merely our descriptions of how we will use these properties. Everything a blue print/program describes is a set of physical interactions (examples: parts of a building connecting to each other/tiny switches flipping from either 1 or 0 within a computer processor). I’m not trying to be dishonest. I just see DNA/RNA like my river analogy. Just because we can design rivers for our own use doesn’t mean useful rivers could not have come about completely by simple natural forces working in complex concert (because of each part’s intrinsic properties) over a relatively long period of time.

        • Objective Judgment

          Well I don’t necessarily disagree with any of that (apart from replication – mutations are hardly an intended, integral or significant element of the process). Perhaps we are just emphasising different elements of DNA – what part it plays and how it operates.

        • Greg G.

          Mutations provide the variation that selection works on. Most of it is against the mutations but a small number are beneficial in certain environments until the mutation becomes the norm for the population and no longer appears to be a mutation.

        • Objective Judgment

          Yes, I know. Its certainly fortuitously beneficial and a significant factor in adaptation/evolution, but its also nothing to do with the purpose of DNA, which is to create/operate you/me and allow us to replicate. To put it another way, DNA would operate just fine if there were no incidental mutations.

        • Greg G.

          DNA would operate better with no mutations but it would still be in a rudimentary state, which likely would not be better than it is now.

      • Michael Neville

        What specifically do you need explained? I agree with Halbe’s correction about spontaneity but other than that I thought my comment was simple and straightforward.

        • Objective Judgment

          If DNA can’t be accurately likened to a program or blueprint, explain why you ended up the way you are, compared to all the other organisms on the planet (which coincidentally have different DNA). To put it another way, if DNA is not the program or blueprint for what you are, then what is?

        • Michael Neville

          See my comment below.

        • MNb

          “explain why”
          Wrong question. The correct question is “explain how come”. MN actually already answered it; for more details you could consult a textbook on biochemistry.

        • Objective Judgment

          MN’s aknowledgement I was correct wasn’t up when I posted my comment (or if it was I didn’t see it)

        • MNb

          It’s still a wrong question.

        • Objective Judgment

          It may well have been the wrong terminology, but you understood the intended question perfectly well.

        • MNb

          Actually not. Or do you happen to be a mind reader?

        • Objective Judgment

          Nope, but you pointed to MNb’s answer to the question, demonstrating you perfectly well understood what was being asked. Piss off and bother someone else if you can’t be honest, I do dislike liars, especially those who tell stupid, transparent ones.

        • Otto

          >>>”If DNA can’t be accurately likened to a program or blueprint, explain why you ended up the way you are, compared to all the other organisms on the planet (which coincidentally have different DNA).”

          Evolution explains this issue quite well, and is also explains why while some of our DNA is different much of it is shared, which makes sense since evolution says we all share common ancestry.

        • Kuno

          A program doesn’t build the computer it runs on. And a blueprint isn’t part of the device or building it depicts.

          Seems they aren’t much like DNA.

        • Objective Judgment

          Those are not materially defining characteristics of either programs or blueprints. If they were self-replicating (and a computer program with the right hardware could easily be self-replicating), they would still be programs/blueprints. Try again.

        • Kuno

          Yet they are defining characteristics of DNA. Seems DNA isn’t much like blueprints or programs.

        • Objective Judgment

          You miss the point. The blueprint/program part of blueprints and programs is materially the same as the blueprint/program parts of DNA. Sure DNA has other unique characteristics which are to do with self-replication, how it operates etc, but so what. A motorhome is still a vehicle, even though its also a home. no one would say its not a vehicle just because it has other additional elements that all other vehicles don’t have.

        • Kuno

          You seem to miss the point. Blueprints and programs are used as analogies for what DNA is and how it works. But every analogy only works to a certain level. After that the analogy no longer fits, because if the analogy would be simply the same.

          To keep with your example, it is if you were trying to explain what a ship is to someone who has never seen one. So you say “A ship is like a motorhome, only it drives on the sea.” On a superficial level, this analogy works, it conveys the idea that as a motorhome is a device for travelling on land, a ship is a device for travelling on sea.

          But if you go to another level, say the person asks “So, a ship has wheels?”, the analogy breaks down.

          So DNA is in some aspects analogue to a blueprint or program, but that doesn’t make it a blueprint or program.

          And to get back to you original question “To put it another way, if DNA is not the program or blueprint for what you are, then what is?”: Who says we need a blueprint or a program to make us what we are?

        • Objective Judgment

          Well yes of course. I accept that at some level a digital computer program or a written blueprint is physically different and operates in a physically different way from DNA. If you thought that I was saying that DNA is a paper plan or a computer program then I can see why you had difficulty seeing my point.
          As for your last point, well science says we do. Without DNA acting (analogously) to a blueprint or program, you wouldn’t be what you are. ‘You’ (as in you self aware combination of matter, energy and chemical reactions) wouldn’t be at all.

        • Kuno

          Yes, we need DNA to determine some* of what we are. But DNA is neither a program nor a blueprint. This is what I am trying to get across. That DNA is in some aspects analogue to them doesn’t make it to them.

          Your question seemed to imply that a human needs a blueprint and/or a program to make them what they are. They don’t. They need DNA, but DNA isn’t a program or a blueprint.

          Let’s make another analogy. DNA is analogue to the set of rules for a board game. It determines the rules which every game has to follow, but thanks to external variables (dice rolls, card shuffling, number of players, decisions of players, etc.) the outcome is slightly different every time while it still is the same game.

          You could even explain copying errors (the players make a mistake about the rules without noticing it) or cancer (a player cheats) with this. Or genetic manipulation (houserules).

          I would argue that this analogy fits in some aspects even better than the blueprint or program.

          But would you say that DNA is a set of rules for a boardgame? If not, why would you say that DNA is a blueprint or a program?

          Would you say that a human being needs a set of rules for a boardgame to make them what they are?

          *Not all, otherwise identical twins really would be identical. They aren’t.

        • Objective Judgment

          I see the points you are making, but on that basis surely you could see a set of building plans just as equally as the rules for the game of building a house. Replace the workers and their human fallacies for chemicals and the risk of mutations and voila, no two houses, like twins, are the same. I think DNA and blueprints/programs still serve materially the same function, but happy to agree to disagree.

        • Kodie

          I don’t really understand how it’s awfully different, but the one thing I’d say is I don’t think humans would program computers based off what DNA is like. From what I know, it takes a lot of information just to change one word to a 30-point font and blue. I mean, I don’t think people got the idea for coding from DNA, so it would have to be a huge coincidence if they were really similar.

          I’ve seen blueprints, they don’t do anything. A human has to interfere and interpret it and order materials and building contractors for anything to be built. A blueprint can’t do shit!

        • Kuno

          IDer or creationists were overjoyed when someone first made the blueprint and program analogy. So they could say “See, DNA is a blueprint. This is proof that it was designed!”

        • MNb

          Yeah, Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy is one of the three or four pillars of IDiocy and other creacrap.
          That’s why I don’t care if DNA is a blueprint, program, language or not. The analogy remains false. What IDiots and other creationists (and also many apologists who accept evolution) always neglect is

          1. design of a watch, blueprint of a plan and human/ computer language are created by humans, made of flesh and blood, ie material and natural beings.
          2. DNA also is material and natural – but suddenly we must make the salto mortale towards an immaterial and supernatural creators/ designer.

        • Kuno

          I know. Every piece of design we know has been created by humans. If humans are designed, we must have designed ourselves.

        • epeeist

          And one that I stole from another post the other day. All the designers we know of had mothers…

        • TheNuszAbides

          that works much better than Kuno’s would with a cross-reference to beavers’ dams … https://kcts9.pbslearningmedia.org/uua/login/?next=%2Fresource%2Feng06.sci.engin.design.littledam%2Fbuilding-a-dam-like-a-beaver%2F

    • RichardSRussell

      Actually, aside from hydrogen and helium, the rest of the chemical elements came from supernovae.

      “Forget Jesus. Stars died so that you could be here today!”
      —Lawrence Krauss

      • Kuno

        Wasn’t there also a bit it lithium at the start? And only the ones heavier than iron come from supernovae, the lighter ones come from the nuclear fusion within stars.[/nitpick]

        • RichardSRussell

          Don’t know about the lithium. Might have been, perfectly plausible, I’m just too lazy too look it up.

          Yes, nuclear fusion created the lighter-than-iron elements within the stars, but it took supernovae to FedEx them to a useful location.

        • Kuno

          Fair point.

        • BlackMamba44

          I know this thread a just a little old but I’ve been wanting to use this and you two gave me the opportunity :) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6b9f68506a429f40f3c2d9ef110b6af66b69b4f709ff3f984ec04b401424f142.png

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A fascinating chart, thanks.

  • Tony D’Arcy

    The “design” of the Bible convinces me that there is no God !

    • Robert Templeton

      I like this line of reasoning. God can create hyper-complex structures like DNA but when it comes to providing a ‘direct message’ to his little minions, total cock-up. Something is amiss. It is sometimes true that computer programmers aren’t the most socially adept. 😉

      • TheNuszAbides

        the AutismGod Spectrum!

      • Kevin K

        I mean really. God can’t even be consistent about what parts of a bacon cheeseburger are OK to eat!

      • Kuno

        He couldn’t even get his own date and had to send a friend to ask Mary out!

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    … digital code that surpasses anything that a software engineer at Microsoft at this point can produce.

    That’s not saying much.

    • Michael Neville

      Another satisfied Windows 10 user.

      /snark

    • RichardSRussell

      Originally told as occurring somewhere near Redmond, Washington:

      A man wakes up to find himself in a hot-air balloon, floating above a field. He peers over the basket and spots a person walking below. He calls out “Hey! Where am I?”

      The person replies “You’re in the basket of a hot-air balloon, floating above a field.”

      The man, irritated, snorts “You must be in tech support!”

      “How did you know?” asks the fellow on the ground.

      “Because your answer was technically correct but completely useless!”

      “Yeah? Well, YOU must be in management!”

      “How did you know?”

      “Because you don’t know where you are, how you got here, where you’re going, or what you’ll do when you get there; you have no idea how to get out of the mess you’re in; and yet somehow it’s all my fault!”

      • Michael Murray

        Nice. I’ve always told (against myself) the pure mathematician version. Here the guy in the balloon pauses before answering. Then the response characterising pure mathematicians is “you paused before you answered, the answer is completely correct, the answer is completely useless”.

  • Herald Newman

    The apologist demands, “DNA is information! Show me a single example of information not coming from intelligence.

    Look at the weather! Unless the apologist still believes that all weather systems are controlled by God. http://recursed.blogspot.ca/2009/10/stephen-meyers-bogus-information-theory.html

    • http://webpages.charter.net/silkroad/ kermit

      I would offer DNA as an example…

  • Akira625

    Judging by all of the genetic defects that far too many people suffer from, God’s a shitty programmer who doesn’t even bother to release bug fixes.

    • Robert Templeton

      Debugging wasn’t one of his strong suits at Creator of the University.

    • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

      Because God’s the only [sufficiently powerful?] actor with moral agency?

  • kraut2

    Another one for the resumee…
    but with all that noncoding junk DNA around…it shouldn’t emphasize the job experience in this field…

    • Jim Jones

      It’s like 21st century code IMO.

      The 21st century: 8 billion lines of bad code.

  • dala

    There’s also the fact that computers programs can utilize evolutionary processes. Once you design a program that allows for generational variation, mutation, and selection processes, you have a program that can evolve.

    • Halbe

      You describe the somewhat obscure but interesting branch of self-modifying genetic algorithms. Genetic algorithms that are not self-modifying are widely used to find optimal solutions to problems with many interdependent variables. Those algorithms clearly show that evolution based on heredity, mutation and selection pressure works to create specimen with high ‘fitness’.

  • chemical

    “DNA is information! Show me a single example of information not coming from intelligence!”

    I’ll do you one better and show you information being created ex nihilo. Classic photon double-slit experiment. Where a photon will appear in a double slit experiment hasn’t been determined when the photon is emitted from its source. The quantum information isn’t available until after the photon has been detected on a screen. In addition, the idea that the quantum information is hidden in the photon is not only testable, it’s been proven false (through a complicated experiment I’d have a hard time describing). The only conclusion one could make is that the information is created upon detection.

    • Michael Neville

      Schrödinger’s photon.

    • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

      Interesting thought, but not necessarily true: de Broglie–Bohm theory.

      • chemical

        I knew this as pilot-wave theory. The PBS spacetime youtube channel covered this; it’s still considered a bit controversial among physicists.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Oh, it’s definitely controversial. But it allows for determinate paths. :-)

        • MNb

          Not anymore when expanded to cover Quantum Electro Dynamics. Then it becomes a regular probabilistic theory again.
          Plus “hidden variables” fall under Ockham’s Razor.

  • Jim Jones

    > Airplanes don’t fly like birds, and submarines don’t swim like fish.

    I’ve yet to see a propeller on an animal – although some plant seeds have them. But when you see a shark swimming I do wonder why we can’t do that.

    • Greg G.

      Do you ever wonder why tortoises are so aerodynamic?

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        They can be deadly to everyone in the environment if you hop on them twice. GET OFF THE GROUND!

      • Jack Baynes

        They’re also nature’s suction cup

        • busterggi

          Yet poodles still can’t fly.

        • Kevin K

          Damn them and their earthbound ways!!!

        • Kuno

          May they can and just keep it secret?

        • Kodie

          I’ve seen a poodle fly. It went by quick.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Biological inspiration is a separate issue (that also gives no support to the Creationist side). I attended a lecture by a prof of marine engineering (or maybe mechanical) and, IIRC, the energy required to drag a dead fish through the water at a certain speed is 5x the energy the fish itself needs. The tail flapping is that much more efficient.

      Color that comes from a butterfly’s iridescence, flying like a bee, climbing walls like a gecko (Van der Waals force), and so on might give new inspiration for engineers.

      • TheNuszAbides

        so far, my favorite “wish we could do that” is the acceleration of ‘dung cannon’ fungal spores.

        • RichardSRussell

          “You can do anything if you want it bad enough. That is why we see so many people who can fly.”

          — Elden Carnahan, Laurel

        • busterggi

          Ssshhhhhh…that’s The Secret.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and did you know desire’s a terrible thing
          the worst that i can find
          and did you know desire’s a terrible thing
          but i rely on mine
          did you know desire’s a terrible thing
          it makes the world go blind
          but if desire, desire’s a terrible thing
          you know that i really don’t mind

          –the Sundays

        • Kuno

          Flying is easy. You just have to fall towards the ground and miss.

    • eric

      IIRC there has been a recent (last 5-10 years) revolution in swimwear for professional speed swimmers, where the old “as smooth as possible” design concept has been replaced with suits that use microscopic-sized scales like a shark’s skin…because it’s faster.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        A vortex-shedding issue, I think?

        And IIRC, the best suits have been banned in international competition because they were too good. It’s often a technology vs. natural balance.

      • Kuno

        The same reason golf balls have dimples. At their size and speed it is more aerodynamic than a smooth surface.

  • rubaxter

    Response is absolutely on the point.

    ‘Information’ may be a concept that is the real issue, here, but that is not somming that requires a ‘creator’. Boltzmann’s Demon relies on information, but that’s not somming that requires a Gawd to intervene, unless it’s a huge micromanager.

    The original twaddle is just an attempt, once again, to invoke a Gawd of the Gaps to fill in for the scared-of-the-dark fools until the process that initiated the RNA/DNA world is uncovered.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Unfortunately, that it’s a bad argument does little to frighten away the apologists’ audience. They got their pat on the head, and that’s what they came for.

  • MNb

    “I wonder why DNA brings anything new to the conversation”
    Because it doesn’t. It’s just another version of Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy.

  • http://webpages.charter.net/silkroad/ kermit

    As a retired SysAdmin who has done only a little coding, I’d like to observe:
    1. I always documented. DNA has no documentation.
    2. If the managers allowed the time, I always cleaned up the left over crap in programs, not being used. DNA is – IIRC – mostly junk DNA.
    3. If I wrote a subroutine that was useful, I’d use it in a later program, even if that program was not otherwise derived from the earlier one. Terran organisms only have characteristics modified from their ancestors. There are no birds that produce true milk, and bats don’t have feathers. Why would God producing species by magic constrain himself that way? Engineers have no trouble using a nifty little device in a new machine, even if it were developed in a completely unrelated one.
    4. I wanted my scripts to consist mostly of subroutines triggered by a command or value, and each subroutine doing only one task. This makes it easy for anybody else, or me years later, to fix bugs or add functions. DNA may have two genes located on different chromosomes interacting to produce a hormone at a given level, which in turn produces results on some distantly coded gene. Geneticists despair sometimes trying to track down where the information is that generates a chemical, behavior, or structure.

    DNA is nothing like a human program, especially a good one.

    • Jim Jones

      Sometimes you hire programmers who write code like DNA.

      You always have to fire them.

      • TheNuszAbides

        is it because they eat up too much time/memory/space? i suspect i would/might be that type (though i’ve thus far not motivated myself to learn any language to any grad/professional-useful degree).

        • Jim Jones

          Because they really don’t know what they are doing. Their code can’t be maintained if it runs at all. I’ve also seen code that looks like it works but actually does nothing.

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve also seen code that looks like it works but actually does nothing.

          I’ve written code like that.

    • Robert Templeton

      DNA is about as correspondent to computer programming as we can associate with it. But, it is much deeper and I beg to differ that what we know of it uncovers an ‘intelligent designer’. It is a blueprint for construction, a running program in action, an active agent in evolution, and probably much more than we have determined. In that sense, it is more like an OS with programs running within it. Shock and horror. I will tell you this: if this is the best that an extra-universal being can manage, he needs to hire more H2B-Visa programmers and support specialists.

      Making analogies to what we know to what exists is always perilous – and those who simply say, “Wow, this is so frigging complex, I think God did it” really pisses me off. God’s EULA and upgrade path are sub-par.

      • eric

        DNA is about as correspondent to computer programming as we can associate with it.

        Actually, I tend to think there’s a meta-principle at work here: when trying to create an analogy for something complex that we don’t fully understand, we tend to reference whatever our most advanced technology is at the time. Thus when we could only build clockwork, people said humans ran like a clockwork. When we could build electrical devices, people said we functioned like an electrical machine. We invent computers, and suddenly the stuff we don’t fully understand about our bodies is analogized to computers. Fifty years from now, our grandchildren will probably look back at us and think “silly grandparents, thinking that DNA is like software! The much better analogy is to a quorgle.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Right. If God did it with magic, why do natural explanations suffice? Maybe he’s just tricking us.

      • Herald Newman

        One of the obvious problems is that, given the evidence we have, evolution is the best explanation, and if ID is true, then our designer is necessarily deceptive, and wanted to make it look like we evolved.

        This is what Ken Miller had to say: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK3O6KYPmEw

        • MNb

          With all respect, Ken Miller is wrong. This doesn’t shut up any creacrapper. He doesn’t realize there is an import creacrap principle:

          1. Evidence X is evidence for the Grand Old Designer.
          2. Evidence -X is also evidence for the Grand Old Designer.

          Thinking otherwise demonstrates you (and me) are a darwinist, communist, nazist, athiest evilutionist, who without any justification limits himself to the narrow boundaries of materialism (which is creaspeak for methodological naturalism, ie the scientific method).
          Creacrap and its subset IDiocy can’t be beaten by using reason, as Ken Miller wrongly assumes.

        • Ficino

          Basically, the people who believe in Evolution believe in it because they love sin. /s

        • Michael Neville

          And they hate God.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s spooky how they can see into our very souls to prove that there are no atheists.

        • TheNuszAbides

          they love sin.

          And they hate God.

          but we repeat ourselves. i mean, how do you do one and not the other, amirite?

        • Herald Newman

          > Creacrap and its subset IDiocy can’t be beaten by using reason, as Ken Miller wrongly assumes.

          Yes, because they lead, or otherwise ignore, the evidence in order to get to their preferred conclusion. This certainly seems to be the case for the apologists, who I’m sure know what the evidence is.

          To anybody who is actually intellectual honest, I don’t know how you accept ID and a non-deceptive God, unless you haven’t encountered the evidence.

        • MNb

          Golden Rule of MNb: anyone who accepts IDiocy or other forms of creacrap is lying until proven otherwise.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          They couldn’t just be stupid or ignorant?

        • MNb

          Have you ever tried to point out a stupidity to a creacrapper or tried to remedy his/her ignorance?
          Note “until proven otherwise”. When a creacrapper admits “that was stupid of me” or “I didn’t know that” I accept that as proof of being honest. On that point.

  • Loren Petrich

    There are further problems that must be mentioned. Even if some of the evolution of life was a result of genetic engineering, there are plenty of questions that one can ask.

    Were there multiple designers? Human ones are multiple.
    Did the designers have finite capabilities (not omnipotent or omniscient)? Human ones are finite.
    Did the designers make mistakes? Human ones are fallible.

    So one concludes that any designers involved in the evolution of life were likely multiple, finite, and fallible.

    • epeeist

      There are further problems that must be mentioned.

      Yes, this comes up whenever one encounters Paley’s watch type arguments (of which this is one form). One should also mention that human designers/engineers are made of the same material as the rest of the universe and are also mortal.

      In other words, weak analogy.

    • D Rieder

      and all designers I am aware of had mothers.

      • epeeist

        all designers I am aware of had mothers

        I am stealing that one.

      • Kevin K

        The vast majority had fathers as well, I’m sure.

      • TheNuszAbides

        somewhere there is a [possibly pseudo-]Trinitarian stoner who thinks it’s wicked awesome that Yahwehjesus sent an avatar of Himself to Earth via the uterus of a perpetual virgin just so He could finally experience having a mother.

    • Kevin K

      Multiple designers would be at least one solution to the problem of why there are damned many potassium channels. And tyrosine kinases.

      • TheNuszAbides

        if people keep throwing away resources at this shite, there’s bound to be an offshoot Design By Committee movement.

        • Kevin K

          Aka, paganism. Too late, barn door’s open.

        • TheNuszAbides

          functionally no different, but they’ll never admit that, rather insisting that theirs is the most un-pagan sect.

    • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

      And who the hell would spend so much time and effort designing so damn many species of beetles? I mean, really?

  • quinsha

    I learned in 3rd grade science class that a scientific model is just THAT. A model. And if you push the analogy too far, then the model breaks. Saying that gas molecules are like little bouncing balls don’t mean that the molecules are made out of rubber. And and saying that DNA contains information don’t mean that there was an intelligent creator that made it.

    • Kuno

      Exactly. I understand the software analogy is used to provide a quick superficial understanding of how DNA works, but it breaks down pretty quick.

      DNA is simply a molecule. A quite complex molecule but still just a molecule that’s reacting and combining with other molecules and atoms according to the laws of chemistry and physics.

      That’s nothing like a computer program.

  • Geoff Benson

    I find it interesting (annoying?) how apologists hang onto the coattails of science in order to advance their agenda. Science makes fantastic discoveries that churches, especially the catholic church, have done their level best to repress since time immemorial (literally in the legal sense of the phrase). Then, now they no longer have the ability to prevent technological and scientific advances, they start pretending they understand it, that the bible predicts it in some way, and that it’s all evidence of god.

    Actually the more we delve, as this article demonstrates, the more it becomes clear that the universe has naturally evolved because, well, no designer would have designed it the way it is.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      Nor do we even have a “God” who claims to have designed the universe. Only humans make such claims in place of a “God”.

  • Mojohand

    This reminds me of the infamous Far Side cartoon ‘Cow Tools’. It drove thousands of people crazy trying to figure out what the purpose of the ‘tools’ which were clearly ‘designed’.

    Only to find out…there was no design, and…they were from and for a cow for shits sake! You can google Mr. Larson’s story behind one of his greatest creations.

    Moral: Don’t try to force human perspective/methods onto the natural world.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-sebJ2ghSjT4/UCNTfUPACYI/AAAAAAAAARM/QGlbroVihmM/s400/2006-11-27_142614_cow_tools.jpg

    • Michael Neville

      Cow tools, udderly ridiculous.

      • Greg G.

        What, you’ve never seen a cowpenter before?

        • Joe

          You guys are really milking it with these puns.

        • Michael Neville

          We’re just amoosing ourselves.

        • Kodie

          Low humor.

        • busterggi

          Behooves me to agree with you.

        • Kevin K

          You’re being udderly ridiculous.

        • busterggi

          This requires a pilot study.

          See wiki

        • Michael Neville
        • Greg G.

          Not to toot my own horn, but I am out standing in the field.

        • Kevin K

          Are you “cud”ly?

        • Greg G.

          Are you chewing me out?

        • MNb

          Please guys, stop pulling that old cow out of the ditch. Instead grab one at her horns.

        • Otto

          Almost cowardly

        • busterggi

          You got a beef with that?

        • Kodie

          Now you’re trying to steer the conversation.

    • TheNuszAbides

      oh come on. one is obviously a backscratcher.

  • epeeist

    Oh and given we have had myintx equivocating like there is no tomorrow, try and pin down what the creotards mean by “information” and watch the equivocation that goes on.

    • Kevin K

      This “information” thing is misunderstood by lots of people. And there were a few people in the cosmology community who didn’t make it any better with semi-metaphorical assertions that the universe was “conscious”. This led to all manner of mischief, including the entire misguided career of Deepak Chopra and similar woosters.

      “Information” is an emergent property of a physical system. Any system. All systems carry “information” — it’s fundamental. Protons, neutrons and electrons carry the information of their mass, charge (or lack), and spin. Photons carry information of their frequency. And on and on.

      Snowflakes carry information, as do the water droplets that snowflakes are made from. There’s nothing “magic” about information. Nor supernatural. There does not have to be an “information giver” nor an “information receiver” in order for information to exist.

      It’s true that in quantum physics, the “wave function” collapses when it is “observed” — but again, this does not require a sentient “observer”.

      • epeeist

        It’s true that in quantum physics, the “wave function” collapses

        For some interpretations of QM.

        when it is “observed” — but again, this does not require a sentient “observer”.

        Very few people actually working on the foundations of QM think that the observer has a distinct role in observation (source).

        • Kevin K

          What fun!

          I also didn’t think Copenhagen would get so many votes. I’m more of a “many worlds” person myself — as far as I’m able to grok the whole quantum thing without being able to actually do the math myself.

          Somewhere, some 10-year-old in some Chinese or Indian classroom is just starting to learn about this stuff…and she will be the one to explain it all to us (in about 20-30 years). I hope I’m still around.

        • MNb

          One common mistake is that “the observer effect” refers to a sentient being of flesh and blood.
          A couple of years ago I’ve disqualified myself to takes sides in discussions about QM interpretations. I only understand the problems of the Bohm-De Broglie interpretation (hidden determination) well enough to reject it.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Good point. Snowflakes are a record of the conditions present during their formation.

  • Kevin K

    My multi-part reply.

    1. No, it fucking isn’t.

    Oh wait, there is no 2.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You’re eloquent and succinct.

    • Odd Jørgensen

      Elegant in its simplicity.

  • RichardSRussell

    … Scott Minnich, an associate professor of microbiology and a fellow at the Discovery Institute …

    Let’s call the self-proclaimed Discovery Institute for what it truly is: an oxymoronic propaganda mill masquerading as a research facility but completely dedicated to pushing the dominionist dogma of “intelligent design” as if it were real science. What has it ever actually discovered since it was founded in 1990? Nothing! That’s because it employs no scientists, operates no laboratories, conducts no experiments, sponsors no colloquia, publishes no papers, and has no intention of ever ever ever submitting its hypotheses for peer review.

    • Kevin K

      They did publish a few things…but they were mainly of the nature of mathematical models of protein folding, that never even came close to claiming that “it’s so complex only a disembodied brain could do it”.

      I think they’ve even given up those endeavors. Mainly, they seem to be fund-raising a lot.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        The Lord’s work ain’t cheap, my brother.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      What?? You mean that $1000 donation I gave to the Disco Institute went for PR and not research?!

  • RichardSRussell

    “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is a program, but I don’t think it has an intelligent programmer.

  • Sophia Sadek

    People who cannot tell the difference between hardware, firmware, and software are so very quaint.

  • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

    With DNA, we again see the natural vs. manmade distinction. It looks like the kind of good-enough compromise that evolution would create, not like manmade computer software.

    Or perhaps DNA is fantastically better than man-made computer software. Is that a possibility in your world†?

    † Or set of … “sufficiently close by” possible worlds?

    • adam

      “Or perhaps DNA is fantastically better than man-made computer software.”

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b6e9c7edc0424ae229731b657e578c29099206ffd21075dd3a5cdeef56da60d.jpg

      • Susan

        6237 genetic diseases

        And that’s only counting a small portion of innate suffering for one particular species in the history of this planet.. It ignores hundreds of millions of years of nervous systems and their diseases.

        It also ignores that healthy specimens of all other species by their very nature are set against each other and immense suffering is standard in every cycle.

        Not a speck of evidence for a sufficiently potent/ moral agent.

        All explained so far by natural mechanisms.

        How many comments by Luke now in the service of Yahhehjesus?

        Like a creationist, he provides nothing. He’s O fer all of them.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          So it’s evolution and not god that is ‘responsible’ for any mental illness? Oh, how I prefer the analytic descriptive methods to these forms of argument, whether it be within the areas of science or metaphysic. After all it’s not just the animals but as well, the rational scientists et al, and yes religion as well as politics which by ‘their very nature are set against each other and immense suffering is standard in every cycle’ and in so many, many of these comments. Can anyone explain or find a way to avoid another holocaust! Please… No more for me here. No more…

        • Greg G.

          There are many causes for mental illness. Some of the causes are genetic which may come from one of the mechanisms of evolution. It seems to me that one would prefer that a genetic disease was just a variation that was less than optimal or was detrimental than it was given by a god for “mysterious ways”.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          You guys just ‘don’t get’ the humor, sometimes, do you. Perhaps irony can be as difficult and complex for some rational materialists, as science can be for those not as rational…
          Please read my submitted link. It’s I believe a good attempt to find a scientific evolutionary explanation for ‘god’. Or perhaps, your comment was indeed also an attempt at satire, but I missed it because for some philosophers, metaphysicians and …..unmentionables…. science does indeed work ‘in mysterious ways’…..
          If you are into recent modern and post modern philosophy, since the emphasis has been put on language, there is more understanding regarding the differences and distinctions within even ‘common’ language that can be almost as difficult to translate as tracing down the meaning within Bergson’s ‘idee fixee’, or what in other terms could be called a ‘psychosis’. (Even ‘falling in love’!!! :)) I read a lot about these soft sciences, because I try to be a good secretary for my son, and so forward him findings that are on line, which he might miss because of time constraints. P.S. If the source of a mental illness is genetic, it could be thought by one who received such a diagnosis to be a prison/death sentence, because the implication could be that it would be incurable… This is also the case with the drug mefloquin, which is classified as genetic, merely because it causes toxic effects within the brain, that are believed to possibly be permanent.

          A lack of possible ‘cure’ however, is no longer the dictum regarding even schizophrenia. Attitudes are changing within the context and because of the growth of such movements as ‘hearing voices’, as well as the use of methods such as those promoted as early as r.d. laing, which include listening and discovery within interactions often avoided previously between psychiatrist and psychotic… could be more helpful than even medication in certain cases. Of course, this would require developments in areas such as empathy, perhaps, which could even inhibit some of the more gross ‘reactions’ (from the hippocampus and the amygdala… https://www.thoughtco.com/amygdala-anatomy-373211.) in contrast to the more rational ‘responses’ – which would evolve/emerge from a greater ability for the neural connections with the cortex… (Use of words again is relevant here) Have yet to verify whether/if there is any relationship between two different scientists named Sean Carroll. (Like I feel I have to at least demonstrate, give empirical evidence, if not proof, that I am at least capable of a Google search) …https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_B._Carroll Hope you are satisfied, and don’t ‘react’….!!! Onward to the heavens… Thank you.

        • Greg G.

          No, it’s just that I have seen such statements that I thought were just meant to be funny when they weren’t meant as jokes but as serious claims. I tend to not assume jokes about mental illness unless I know the person and his/her sense of humor.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Well, I’m breaking new ground with my philosophical satire on this subject then. Thanks. (The question would be however: what is being satirized????) :) There are portals. There are paradoxes. And thank you for your support of those ‘classified’ as mentally ill. There is, I assure you a broad movement that has been initiated to change certain parameters of belief!! in this regard.

        • MNb

          And why should anyone care?

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          It really doesn’t matter whether anyone does or not. The advantage for me is that writing has and hopefully will continue to be a way to discover ‘my’ world. Even though it is but a model, to use your scientific terminology, of the ‘territory’. What is your world like MNb?

        • MNb

          No, to you only you matter.
          My world is a lot less narcissistic and egoistic than yours.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Unfortunately, I am unable to ‘understand’ any other ‘worldview’. without them being a reflection of my own understanding. So yes, I admit to being a Narcissus, and that you within this context can be perceived as a mirror, or even as the pool of water, which serves as a basis for reflection. And yes, that Nietzsche put forth the idea that each of us presents to the world a mask of ourselves, a characterization of how we attempt to represent ourselves ‘within the empirical realities’ of day to day experience. Perhaps you can acknowledge that it is indeed difficult within this context to present one’s ‘true self’, and that I like others do not intentional attempt to become a messianic figure within the traditional interpretation. Yes. I do find the need to be egoistic within such circumstances as a means even of defending myself, and often feel that this duty as within the words – love thy neighbor ‘as’ thy self, suggests to me that if I couldn’t find a basis to love myself, how could I have the understanding to love others. Perhaps that is what is meant by placing this within a universal context, even only within a regulative context, rather than that deemed to be absolute within such an idea (real or not) of a ‘living god’…

          Even, perhaps even within any scientific perspective, if I had the ability to gain such knowledge, this would also perhaps be but another reflection of my capacity to think; a reflection of the state of my consciousness. Who I truly am then would remain (at least until possibly science is indeed able to chart all the neurons within the brain) I suggest invisible to others, and indeed often to ‘me’. Thank you for being a means of presenting the possibility of new discoveries to me. Please excuse that I have no other alternative in this case, to respond to you, except for this opportunity you have given me of ‘writing them down’…. This I trust you understand would also characterize other comments I have made. May you enjoy living your life, and learning from and through your ‘own ‘ discoveries.

        • Kodie

          Why do you think anyone cares what advantage it is to you to maintain personal correspondence with someone we are all BLOCKED BY, who is too egotistically protective of his beliefs to read any posts he doesn’t want to read, but narcissistic enough to think his presence here is necessary?

          GET HIS EMAIL. If it helps you to write to Luke, get his fucking email and stop interfering with the blog.

        • MNb

          No need to read your link.

          “It’s I believe a good attempt to find a scientific evolutionary explanation for ‘god’.”
          Taking literally this is nonsense. God by definition belongs to a supernatural reality. The scientific method only researches our natural reality.
          Taking metaphorically (ie “belief in god”) you use the wrong branch of science. Belief in god is a cultural phenomenon and hence Evolution Theory isn’t very relevant.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          What is your ‘definition’ of super-natural. There are perhaps other options to explore than what has been traditionally held as orthodoxy when it comes to defining ‘definition’!!! Is the term ‘belief’ a metaphor within the Platonic context of: Knowledge is justified true belief. Can everything you say or think be so justified. Yes. I admit that I cannot understand, even all of the technical terms within your individual scientific studies. But you might find that philosophical study is also more richly ‘defined’ that what might be expected by anyone who has not explored the depths and complexity of this discipline. But yes, I would agree with you if the distinction is that belief can be a cultural phenomenon, while faith could be said to be necessarily ‘personal’. But I’m not going to get into any argument or further detail. I would merely put your naturalism within the external world, and the faith in my internal being within a micro cosmos that is perhaps more intricate, more challenging to science, than what could be expressed as beliefs according to the terminology used by scientists as what defines the limits of cultural/educative discourse.

          Like – why have I never been able to believe that the original singularity was – they say – the size of what – a kernel of ??? – Well – they don’t very often bring in the factor of time in their discussion, and that there is some lack of correspondence between what I understand to be the Big Bang and the possibility that the existence of that ‘kernel’ perhaps needs to be explained as but a period of time, which is so infinitesimal that it could not/ can not be calculated. Indeed such a preliminary period of ‘time’ which would proceed that process of expansion, which is indeed talked about, a possible origin of this ‘singularity’ in contrast to the expansion that follows,presents for me possibilities which I can only express within an astonishment that could only be described as ‘beyond belief’. And as at the moment such a though is also not comprehensive even within the conceptual framework of ‘faith’, certainly as such cannot be perceived or observed, surely or indeed even ‘certainly’! what comes before the ‘singularity’ could not described merely as a cultural phenomenon.

          Now I shall acknowledge that I have plunged into a conversation which admittedly is beyond my limits. May I thus give you my assurance that I have some awareness that my conjecture will not be regarded as a scientifically grounded hypothesis. Indeed, I could even say I aml prepared to be called ‘crazy’? But… Do you know for sure that this ‘singularity’ represents ‘the beginning’. or whatever other descriptions can be given by those more competent than myself? I am merely baffled. How can anyone, according to a/the standard ‘definition’ – describe this scientific description as ‘true’ and justified’ – and thus a knowledge that has a/the scientific credentials by which, even as a hypothesize supported by the logical universals of mathematics, fulfills a criteria as what constitutes the beginning of the universe in a way that could be classified as a knowledge. Knowledge since Kant, my understanding, has been regarded as that which is based on empirical evidence, and is therefore distinct, as you say, from what would necessarily be qualified, through definition. as a ‘belief’. What happened between that hypothetical ‘other universe’ , or that hypothetical ‘nothingness’ or that causality of an ‘unmoved mover’ which could within Kantian terminology be regarded logically as an ‘identity’ or ‘categorical’ solution within the problematic of the law of contradiction. (Hey, rather than criticize this,my first attempt to express such a perspective, perhaps you could be a tutor, and rather, as with a child, educate me rather than punish me with any cryptic statement)… But thanks… If nothing else this was for me another interesting thought experiment, or if you would allow, another exercise in ‘creative’??? writing. And oh yes, I’ll have to give myself a little time, before I can hope to see any debilitating mistakes that have passed me by, within this initiating attempt to tackle such a difficult subject. But such is often the case with writing that is based merely on subjective intuitions and the comprehension of a mere and limited individual.

        • MNb

          “What is your ‘definition’ of super-natural.”
          Everything that does not depend on mass/energy.

          “Is the term ‘belief’ ….”
          Dunno. I don’t believe in god. You tell me.
          Thanks for not addressing what I actually wrote. It confirms that there is no need to read your link.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Just thought of a brief, but obviously limited – definition… Super natural – above or beyond the natural, taken as having knowledge, that is a justified (with perhaps through scientific observation), true (perhaps seen in a relationship with a specific hypothesis, theory, or mathematics and/or logical construct) belief. (Belief being, as put forward within another’s comment being defined as that understood within a cultural context). But within particularly the Christian context, belief is said to be justified by ‘faith’. I have in another comment, already distinguished belief from faith, by suggesting that faith points to a more individual contest, even defined a a theological virtue, which entails a ‘state of being’. The can also be contrasted with the word ‘a’ as distinguishing the particular or perhaps better the singular, from the more indefinite reference we associate with ‘the’ table rather than ‘a’ table. Interesting observation perhaps, that ‘the’ occurs within the word ‘theology’ and ‘a’ is suggested by both the terms ‘an’ a-logy, or similarity, and ‘a-theist’ – implying that it is an apposite to a specific – if I may use the term – orthodoxy.. But we’ve just involved ourselves perhaps in another paradox, and perhaps contradiction… for now the meaning of analogy could be interpreted as being more specific than the term ‘theology’. But to hopefully soothe any apprehension this also reflects philosophical studies of the relation between law and agency, intellect and will. and so it goes. Oh Oh. we are getting into linguistics and philology, as well as philosophy and theology… Sometimes I just extend my pay grade. Perhaps that’s why I often remain so ‘broke’…. Good thing I can often define my lack of competence through the excuse (a form of justification?) that it is merely satire, or humor, or whatnot – and therefore you aren’t really obligated to ‘believe’ me!!!! Are you? (Can I say grin grin).

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          From what I have studied about Catholicism, it is consistent with their dictum that faith (belief) needs to be supported by reason. If you’re not even going to give the article a try, though – what’s the point . Except perhaps to say that he’s talking about emergence, and a developing complexity which would, as per many religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, give credence to the possibility that mankind is indeed preparing for the coming of the Messiah… or something (Short form – I don’t want to be literal, when I know you won’t even attempt to consider the possibility when you read it as a story without allowing the possibility of even an analogy with a more scientific terminology.

        • Greg G.

          faith (belief) needs to be supported by reason.

          That sounds nice but faith begins where the reason ends. They are mutually exclusive.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Yes. There is the expression ‘beyond reason’, which however does not always admit that this also points to the limitations within human reason. Please know therefore that I have not been offended with respect to any of your comments regarding my allegedly poor ‘mental health’. If we all could step back a bit within our relationship with ‘others’ we would have to face the dilemna we are in when we ‘know not who to ‘blame’ for our miseries, or to thank for the benefits we may have the ‘humility’ to recognize. Often we blame the other, or complain about certain inadequacies of ‘others’ that we cannot see in ourselves. The gods and devils express within an abstract context, these failings, we well as the hopes and dreams that indeed can be described as merely illusory, but can be regarded also as but means to express those visionary ‘realities’ that can neither be seen, or understood by those ‘others’. In this sense both gods and devils cannot be denied as ‘realities’. These gods and demons than can indeed be considered to be merely projections of ourselves, including our own inadequacies. But it must be admitted that ‘these thoughts’, even considered to be ‘mere’ imaginings, are expressions of this human dilemna; that of facing the difficulty of identifying our own inadequacies, and thus the need need to recognize that ‘madness’ can be regarded as but the attempt to give meaning or expression to realities that can only be identified within the context of aligning with ‘the gods’: whether of good or evil. I have attempted for many years, to explore how the human mind works within such contexts, by attempting to become more conscious of my own internal workings. Yes. In a way it could be said that I have often attempted to ‘be’ mad, in order to understand madness, and have purposely attempting to cross the thresholds that could distinguish the distinctions between such realities. Yes, the gurus and visions of all religions have demonstrated the need to develop such awareness. There is indeed a very fine line between the various forms of insanity, and indeed what can legitimately be recognized to be so, rather than be designated the to be a blessing given through a ‘compassionate’ genius. Mankind’s dilemna therefore becomes merely another projection, when we blame these inadequacies on ‘religion’, rather than attempting to placate these dilemmas within ourselves.

          The article I intended to send to my friend, Luke, which is consistent with a choice I can always make, and therefore that it can always be considered it to be a better choice, to regard others as my friends, rather than regarding them as my enemies. This idea, known within what can be regarded as understood within many superficial contexts even as the basis of all ‘religions’, speaks of becoming more aware of the complexities within this ‘great divide’.

          The article I refer to then, promotes the development of an awareness which can appreciate and absorb the ever increasing complexities within the ever present assents and dissents into a madness that can be described as both human and divine. It can thus perhaps be regarded as an attempt to articulate a ‘scientific’ recognition of the inevitability of the paradoxical reality that we cannot merely escape these dualities by refusing to recognize them. We therefore must first recognize our own madness that lies within, and take ownership of our own gods and demons, whether or not they are articulated within the languages of science or religion.

          Qualification: The article is however a scientific exploration of such complexities, and is not written within the language of this, my attempted ‘translation’ which as an expression of my personal interest, you may regard as being more ‘philosophical’, and yes, even ‘religious’ – rather than ‘scientific’. Thank you.

        • Greg G.

          Yes. There is the expression ‘beyond reason’, which however does not always admit that this also points to the limitations within human reason.

          But going beyond the limitations of human reason is unreasonable.

          Please know therefore that I have not been offended with respect to any of your comments regarding my allegedly poor ‘mental health’.

          Are you using “your” as a plural or something? I have never mentioned your mental health. I am sensitive to mental health issues because of my step-mother.

          I have attempted for many years, to explore how the human mind works within such contexts, by attempting to become more conscious of my own internal workings.

          By now, you should be able to recognize how religions can exploit and manipulate the internal workings of your consciousness. I am also fascinated by how art and music can do the same. Maybe it is time to step back from the subjective religion angle and look at the internal workings of your brain objectively

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Thank you. But your proposal of ‘looking at my subjectivity – objectivity’ I would suggest is that very ‘idea’ that is put forth within the concept of the ‘objectivity’ that can only be found in ‘God’. Yes, it is always ‘difficult’ to distinguish one’s ‘self’ from the ‘crowd’. (Notice my awareness of the intentionality of using what I have been told are recognized by some as scare quotes). So yes, perhaps one of the religious definitions of the term ‘fear’ can indeed be useful, within certain contexts, and according to the understanding of some as ‘awe’. Such uses of language can perhaps be seen within the classification of objectivity as possibilities, with the recognition that such possibilities as possibilities can never be ‘known’ to us. I just read a quote by the poet Rilke which states that we best live our lives, as within even the context that language also remains as is said by such intelligentsia from Wittgenstein, to Rilke, to yes, biblical sayings, and express as well the difficulties involved in even the Socratic notion of ‘knowing oneself’. So why argue, when this is often done with the intention to proving to others, what one, if the above quotations are recognized as ‘real’ possibilities, cannot ‘know’ oneself. There is perhaps a distinction between knowing in order to live, and living in order to know. Or “I do not live to eat, but eat in order that I may live”. The reality is thus in the living, in attempting to understanding our subjectivity, the person-hood of our internal world, that remains invisible to others, and unfortunately also and very often, invisible to ourselves. Sure we can think we’re being objective about this, even when we even unknowingly, make this the case, by insisting on their objectivity by ‘projecting’ them, almost as our own personal religion, upon others.
          I wonder now, do you think I have achieved any ‘objectivity’ within the previous ‘paragraph’. Or can I still subscribe to the other Socratic saying, that I do not ‘know’.

          With respect to your initial statement, is it not possible that there is no alternative but to go beyond the limits or reason, if we make this acknowledgement that ‘we do not know’. I have made these comments, hopefully not within the personal context, which was the focus of the first ‘critique’ I encountered, but simply, as within the direction established by same, responding within the problematic that was set forth initially, by posting a comment to Luke B. as a means of forwarding an essay I found on line that I thought was relevant to this discussion. This apologetic tone, therefore has remained the undercurrent which prompted the many responses that followed within a similar perspective. “Your”, yes, can be seen within an objective or universal context, as well as within an immediate/particular/personal context. Perhaps, in order to attempt to avoid being influenced by others, our individual response, not only the sphere of religion, but within the spheres of politics and even scientific hypothesis, will depend possibly on our ability to find an interpretation which will further our capacity for understanding. But I do not want to argue any case, because I feel that perhaps the only way to be objective with respect to this paradox, is to leave you to make your own decisions. Is that possibly what the biblical statement which says that we have ‘free will’ is all about? Ask yourself. Discover your own truth. Live within the hermeneutic circles of your own experience, and logical conundrums. I am not your god…. I leave you to search for your own ‘objectivity’ within your ‘soul’…..

        • MNb

          I don’t care what catholicism says and what you’ve studied about it. It has zero authority regarding scientific matters. With this you only confirm that there is no need for anyone to read your article.
          So is your last sentence. Analogies using scientific terminology about non-scientific stuff invariably suck worse than the Detroit Pistons against the Brooklyn Nets several days ago.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          I do hope however, that there will be continual development of fields of study accessible to scientific confirmation, particularly in such areas as cognitive science, and even political ‘science’. Do you distinguish, I wonder, between an application of a possible distinction between the Pistons and the Nets, on the basis of such terms as ‘soft’ and ‘hard’…… Or is it difficult to find the ‘balls’ to do so….!!! :)

        • MNb

          I don’t understand you anymore.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Could I ‘justify’ my comment as an attempt to be satirical about what I understood to be your original objection: “I don’t want to be literal, when I know you won’t even attempt to consider the possibility when you read it as a story without allowing the possibility of even an analogy with a more scientific terminology.”
          So you objected to the possibility of analogy. I merely attempted to point out that there were differences in scientific standards. One of the terms used to make this distinction I believe is that between the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ science. Many forms or modes of our thinking, (I suggest) are not (yet) accessible to scientific methods. True? The examples I gave – such as political science – are therefore described as the ‘soft’ sciences. This is the case as well of what are called scientific studies based on qualitative evidence. They general ask people who volunteer to complete such surveys, for instance, to assess the ‘evidence’ (hard! science perhaps would discount this reference) on the basis of being ‘good to better’ or from (l to zero) – etc. – Yes? Some studies called scientific surveys proliferate this practice. Yes?
          So (in hopefully an ironic rather than ‘statistic’ application of this ‘method’ – I merely wondered whether it was possible to assess your basketball teams with the same method: statistical? a survey? what? Well,I granted to you your premise that it could be difficult to refer to such as a ‘hard’ or precise ‘science’. I therefore, really, really, didn’t expect you to determine scientifically which team held the hard or soft ball. because the results, the balls would be so difficult to ‘find’. Whether or not you even had the ‘ball’s – the basket balls, that is, to do it? So this whole ironic response, which may or may not be considered humorous, could be interpreted as actually – conceding your point.
          But I did point out I was hopeful that there would be more ‘hard balls’ on the court. Particularly in areas of psychology, neuro science etc, as I’m sure many of you might assess that this would be extremely welcome in the case of those considered to have ‘issues’ within this area. Indeed, in response to another quandary regarding how it would be possible to distinguish between naturalism, and whether what is, or could be referred to as supernatural. – I respond at first by hinting at my dilemna in understanding some ‘scientific’ cosmological theories, which many people besides myself, suggest at least, – are ‘most’ similar to metaphysical – conclusions. In my second attempt at a response, however, I really ‘lost’. How did I attempt to point out the differences between scientific ‘knowledge’ and mere belief – by demonstrating, through an ‘incomprehensible’ deluge of contradiction, contraries, etc. etc. that I could not really ‘toss the ball’ which perhaps demonstrated that it can indeed be difficult to find ‘coherence’ often with some thoughts I present to you, in this case, what turned out to be a futile attempt to ‘define’ the ‘super-natural’. Hopefully, no one sends me another criticism, or question, which I interpret generally as wanting yet another reply, or from a need perhaps, which rises from a kind of ‘self defensiveness’ – a duty to attempt to provide ‘some’? coherence. So whether a continuation of this dialogue depends on the actions taken by you, or ‘all of you’ or me, is what – a matter for scientific study? mere speculation, or another venture into the unknown of what would – or could be meant by being – beyond the natural!!! :) Again, may I say. grin grin.

        • MNb

          You can justify anything anyway you like. I don’t care and still don’t understand you.

          “So you objected to the possibility of analogy.”
          Nope, I didn’t. I object to a specific type of analogies.
          Master some comprehensive reading skills.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Actually, perhaps you go no further. Have just finished reading some of the comments below. So I was correct that the article I posted a link to was/is relevant to this conversation. Can a comparison, though, still be made between the presentation of the scientific and ‘religious’ or ‘biblical’ story. This argument could – yes – go on forever. Indeed, during a reading of Genesis in the 60’s for instance, I could ‘see’ a relation between what I had heard or understood about natural selection. I felt they were compatible. But there is fault and blame on each and every side in life. Question, like – who might be ‘stealing ideas from who’? – I would also ask – which presentation would/could be easier to understand (by who??) and can comparisons (scientific and or narrative) be made – by analogy (which you object to) – when it is almost obvious to me that in many cases, neither ‘side’ is indeed capable to understanding the language of the other side, let alone making the kind of analogy, which on principle, you say you object to. (Discarding the reality that I’m not really in a position to do so, not having for example the knowledge of the author of the article I posted a link to). Anyway, this question is obviously not answered within the comments on this site, – so even if my attempt is somewhat ‘incomprehensible’ – which in my awareness of same I perhaps hoped that this could be justified by my use of irony???? perhaps??? …. So what is to be done? — Blame the messenger? (Could that be Jesus or an Einstein?)

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          But what if it’s a matter of: Cant find the balls? (the evidence, remember? – by analogy – as yes using or referring to scientific ‘terminology’!!! seriously? or ironically? or….?

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          And then there is our conversation; and difficulties with incoherence, or completeness between the parts and the whole? Contradictions within the association of word/ideas/metaphors/analogies?

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          But allowing the possibility of this within my use of language: “You can justify anything anyway you like.” (Is this possibly one side of an implicit contradiction?) with…

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          But when it comes to ‘analogies’ – you object to a specific kind – but I am still allowed to ‘justify anything anyway you like’ – which does or not not include analogies which use or refer to scientific terminology. Don’t know whether to make this an assertion or a question. Is it me, or you, that could be caught here within a contradiction?

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Don’t know then whether or not you would allow any narrative, or story, or non-scientific discourse to include the possibility of use of analogy with the scientific ‘method’? Could it be possible that there are such comparisons made within other dialogues on this site?

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Would you accept that biblical narratives are stories? narratives? analogies? Would you accept the premise that besides the theory of entropy, there is a recent scientific hypothesis that presents a contradictory thesis that there is as well, a developing process of complexity?

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Perhaps the term used: ‘being on the edge of chaos’ – could be accepted as description of contradictions within language, even in the descriptions of natural events like hurricanes, etc, – within language use that can be interpreted as a product of ‘madness’ – (as the above excerpts) and in religious commentary, such as the story of a messianic transformation of mankind, and indeed the universe, a ‘glorification of the body’ – I believe is the way it is referred to within the ‘holy “analogy” described as ‘the Word’. In all of these narratives the ‘message remains’ that Reality constitutes: Order (new and old) out of chaos.
          If we could only ‘understand’ this process. Would you accept the premise that besides the theory of entropy, there is a recent scientific hypothesis that presents a contradictory thesis that there is as well, a developing process of complexity? Perhaps my attempt to present this thesis/comparison/analogy could perhaps someday be understood, even by someone (yourself) who, I accept, is entitled to take a pass and not make another effort to do so. I conclude therefore that you will not reread any of my comments, and also that you will not read the original link to this article which set of this whole process of endless comments.

          I have already said to you, that like yourself, I do/did not feel obligated to continue, and indeed would like to rest in peace myself – (referring to another of my comments). Again, though I have responded to your comment, although I seriously did consider maintaining a R,I.P. I also considered the possibility that I could edit some of the material, leaving the reader the ability to see the differences made in choice of terminology.

          But, please understand that this is perhaps the first time I have consciously attempted to make such analogies between explicit narratives such as religion and science, and that I have been thoroughly ‘honored’ by what appears to me to be a very ‘consistent’ and ‘genuine’ attempt to understand my attempt to draw such comparisons. As have pointed out already, possibly you would gain more from the author’s comparison in the link presented in the first comment I made to Luke B. But ‘thy will be done’. and yes, I’m hopefully ‘done’ too. Thank you.

        • Michael Neville

          You guys just ‘don’t get’ the humor, sometimes, do you.

          We do get humor. But we have one minor requirement for something to be humorous: It has to be funny.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Gee Michael. Don’t you realize that there is a difference between getting humor and getting ‘the’ humor. And why do so many of these ‘reactions’ use the expression: “we” Is this a collaborative decision, based scientifically on empirical evidence. Or is it perhaps a metaphysical universal of some kind, which is unrelated to any concrete particular. Like the Royal We… which could serve as a perfect example of an emergence of mind which has attained such complexity that it has attained the power historically associated with ‘the’ divine right of kings. Perhaps it expressed the actuality of a god like Nero. Within the various scientific endeavors which I would assume would represent the diversity of your individual interests, it is perhaps little old ‘me’ that is in need of a sense of humor, particularly as even now I can hear your communal ‘reaction’. Does the ‘we’ think I am a clown provoking uncontrollable laughter?
          Gee. I want to leave this ‘conversation’ in order to draw up my will, power of attorney….etc. etc. But maybe I’ll be OK. Don’t think I’ll drop dead due to any kind of assault on aesthetics. . Not when I can hope to reach of a higher ethical standard than what can be intuited as differences in values. If comedy has to be funny, perhaps tragedy has to be noble. But I’ll leave these alternatives to rest within a silence of contemplation, for as an individual I understand that how anyone regards what I say or think can never be reduced in value by any laughter that is but an empty abstraction. I’m glad you did not find this humorous.

        • Michael Neville

          Don’t you realize that there is a difference between getting humor and getting ‘the’ humor

          I see. Humor is funny and ‘the’ humor isn’t. Thank you for explaining at some length and with several gratuitous digressions.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Well my attempt was to enforce my ego with the insistence that my effort at ‘the’ humor was indeed funny. But humor, generally, yes is acknowledge to be traditionally part of the paradoxical relationship between tragedy and comedy. I could elaborate extensively on this subject, but thanks, hopefully you have enjoyed, what I must admit that perhaps my comments generally, over-extended the limits of polite society. yet these of what are often called literary exercises, at least with reference to acceptable ‘literature’ hopefully can really be regarded as ‘gratuitous’ , in the sense of ‘welcome’ – digressions.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          P.S. I have intentionally overlooked a dichotomy expressed within a duality of interpretations: that which is regarded as grace, and that which is regarded with scorn….just to simplify the dictionary definitions. After all, no on in the dock is required to be gratuitous with respect to what in America, i believe is regarded as the ‘fifth’? amendment. (Did I get that!! right????)

        • Kodie

          You and Luke are made for each other. You take a million words to say nothing.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          I guess it would be better if I could say everything in one word. How shall I answer you? Your choice!!!

        • Susan

          I guess it would be better if I could say everything in one word.

          Yes. It is better to use one word to say nothing than a million words to say nothing.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Your choice of word, may I assume, would be ‘nothing’. Interesting- for is that not the way Buddhism refers to the ultimate truth, the experience of nirvana, nothingness, emptiness, comparable may I suggest, within even possible interpretation of such words as ‘God’. Why, then, if we cannot ‘speak’ this truth, is it so difficult to remain in silence, whether within a universal context of ‘millions’, or within the context of the secret and invisible ‘oneness’ that we may identify with our inner being.

          Yes. I acknowledge that I have perhaps written longer comments than any of you within this thread. I do confess that I find it difficult to find answers to the questions you ask of me. But the search for ‘truth’ will continue, even within the context that we often do not perceive the mere conventionality of what we speak. May I therefore be an example to you all, of what to avoid, within this context. May we though, learn to speak our heart as well as our mind, in order to shape the common good, and bring forth a/the higher order of an ultimate truth, whether this is sought within thought, word, and/or deed. Shalom.

        • Kodie
        • Giauz Ragnarock

          This and nope badger- I can’t stop laughing!

        • Kodie

          “Goodbye”

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          True. That truly does say ‘everything’….has an ending? R.I.P.

        • MNb

          So much for Loreen purposely not getting into arguments.
          Yes, no god is responsible for any mental illness for the simple reason that there is no god. A little more complicated: mental illness is a natural phenomenon, god isn’t and hence it doesn’t make sense to say that the latter is responsible for the first.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Can anyone explain or find a way to avoid another holocaust!

          striving for the elimination of destructive divisiveness? skeptically regarding anyone who oversells either individualism or collectivism? tall orders, considering humanity’s propensity for dualities and dichotomies barely coherent and often false.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Within the human condition, it need however, be noted that these dualities and dichotomies be recognized as being inevitable within our human experience. Philosophers have noted their inevitability within the subject predicate divide within language. Indeed this is also the recognition that the concept of contradiction arises, perhaps specifically, as a result of our awareness of relationship, including self and other. The dichotomy between individualism and collectivism perhaps can be justifiably recognized within a universal context, within even the use of terms such as Fascism and Communism. But even within our highest capacity for such expression, our efforts to identify such problematics, perhaps even inevitably, fall short of complete and clear and distinct! enunciation. We have bureaucracies for instance that are political as well as scientific and religious. Money can indeed be regarded as the ‘root’ of most, if not all ‘evils’ – I cannot produce a Venn diagram!!! –
          Yes, I have attempted to explore the realms of madness, and within this project have made an attempt to become more conscious of the processes. This perhaps could be described as an adaptation of my experience with the meditation practices I learned in my study of Buddhism. and yes, I was correct at one point, that the higher forms of mindfulness recognized within this discipline, involve developing such awareness within a social context. This, as many of you know, from being witness to my experience, can present difficulties…. (I’m still working on making the grade, but as I do not have access to any guru, yes, I merely feel I need recognize the possible choice of looking to all others to be my spiritual guides and or the source of any personal reflections)…..

          Do read that article, if you are one of the scientists on this site, as I understand you will necessarily receive a different impression and interpretation of its ‘meaning’ than I did, but perhaps it is time that all of us ‘pool’ our ‘resources’ within a communicative interaction between the various ‘disciplines’…. Thanks.

          (Am now -truly going to get back to ‘my’ life necessities, and indeed hope to finish preparing my will, etc. (MY WILL!!!) and hopefully ‘complete’ my book on the madness of philosophy/the philosophy of madness. This then would be ‘my will’….a concept which for me, I can delight in, only within the context of what is hopefully becoming a greater appreciation of the diversity, and perhaps what can be expressed as the divinity that can find expression even within the poet’s phase, “to see infinity in a grain of sand, eternity in a wildflower”. This is ‘the’ thought that perhaps, within an awareness of the greater complexity whose discoveries we credit to our scientists,can perhaps find expression also within the search for a ‘true’ universality’ that we, within our experience can attempt to discover and present to others, within every thought, word, and deed. Within the social context, then, I guess the personal will need also recognize the necessity of a recognition of the ‘other’, human or divine, within the context of ‘thy will’ be done…. Shalom.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        Christians do love their Texass Sharpshooters, don’t they?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      No, not really possible. In our world, human programmers evaluate anything labeled “software.” DNA looks very, very sloppy.

      It could be very cleverly and efficiently designed but we don’t understand that. In that case, the “DNA is like software” argument fails.

      • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

        DNA looks very, very sloppy.

        Do explain. That DNA can adapt to changing conditions doesn’t seem to necessarily merit the word “sloppy”.

        It could be very cleverly and efficiently designed but we don’t understand that.

        Then why take a stance either way? I thought you only believe things based on the evidence?

        • MNb

          How is evidence for an immaterial/ supernatural/ transcendental designer designing something material like DNA even possible? The evidence says that everything designed uses material/ natural means and follows material/ natural procedures.

        • Michael Neville

          How dare you bring up evidence in a discussion with a Christian? Don’t you know that Christians, at least those of the Luke Breuer persuasion, are allergic to evidence? Have you no shame?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          (1) DNA adapts. (2) DNA is sloppy. Where’s the conflict?

          As to your second point, i already addressed that in my previous comment.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Yeah I don’t understand how you mean the word “sloppy”. With zero flexibility in copying, you get zero adaptability. So unless you can suggest a system that (1) adapts; (2′) is not sloppy, I’m going to say that you are mincing words.

        • Greg G.

          Mutations are random with regard to the environment. Most are neutral but there are more deleterious mutations than beneficial mutations. That is sloppy. If it was designed it would not be so wasteful. Mutations would be targeted to the environment, even anticipating future environments. As it is, there is no guarantee that optimal mutations will even occur. That is sloppy.

          Sexual reproduction improves the process by combining multiple sources of mutations while the mutations are being selected for or against. Natural selection is efficient in approximately optimizing a set of genes that are non-optimal. But still no guarantee that there will be optimal mutations to select.

          Environments can change faster than the gene pool leading to evolutionary dead ends because the production of mutations is sloppy.

          PS: It’s like it is just random with no Divine guidance. K wonder why that is.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Fascinating comment; too bad we have this problem. In particular:

          LB: So, either deal with my attempt at (A) and do not go anywhere near (B), or we will be forever stuck at (A), excepting “what I perceive as attempted character assassination”.

          Unless you want to deal with my attempt at (A), or retract enough statements of yours such that (A) cannot be constructed, I will not engage you except as I described. If you do choose to deal with that knot, we can talk randomized algorithms. :-)

        • Greg G.

          ok

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I don’t mean “gets copied with mutations” as sloppy. I mean that DNA has much junk in it.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Evidence? I mean evidence that it is known to be junk.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’re a slippery fish. So now we’ve moved on to, “How do you know that human DNA has junk?”?

          Because 8% is endogenous retrovirus. And because it contains pseudogenes. But you know all this already, don’t you?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          You’re a slippery fish.

          Slippery? You said “sloppy”—

          LB: Or perhaps DNA is fantastically better than man-made computer software.

          BS: DNA looks very, very sloppy.

          —and I’m challenging you on that word. You’re clearly suggesting that there is a better way DNA could have been done, and I’m exposing that suggestion to criticism. If you don’t want to defend your assertions, then you can merely say that if something “looks like X” to you, that is relatively meaningless. Emphasis on the “looks like”, to someone who has zero established (i.e. evidenced) competence in said domain (that is: adaptable systems).

          Because 8% is endogenous retrovirus. And because it contains pseudogenes. But you know all this already, don’t you?

          And you know those aren’t important for “adaptable systems”? I’d love to see the evidence and reasoning. BTW, my wife is researching chromatin remodeling complexes for her postdoctoral work, so I have some connections for investigating these matters.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “Tune in at 8 for ‘Hairsplitting with Luke’! Critics call it ‘An hour that will seem like eternity.'”

          Any reply I’d make would just be a repeat. But thanks for the opportunity.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Wait, I thought it was the Christian who was supposed to make claims without proper evidence & reason to back them up? I guess for Bob it’s “sloppiness works in mysterious ways”?

        • Kodie

          You’re the Christian, what are the mysterious ways this sloppiness pertains to. I know you coward have me blocked. Well that’s for the theist to answer. If you don’t know, why should the atheist give a shit?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Spending time coaching you through definitions that you’re determined to misunderstand isn’t my idea of a good time. Sorry.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Hahaha, I should try that with “God”.

        • Susan

          Hahahaha, I should try that with “God”.

          DNA is a clear model based on evidence. It was derived from evidence.

          Go ahead.

          Try that with “God”.

        • MNb

          Actually for instance Susan would love to get a good definition from you what you mean with “God”.

        • Kodie

          If your wife is a serious scientist, don’t try to interfere with her work. By the way, Bob said YOU WERE SLIPPERY. DNA IS SLOPPY. If you have some better idea why “design” from an “intelligent creator” would be found to be going in many random directions as though intended to please show us the evidence. You don’t have evidence, you only have persistent grievances.

        • Greg G.

          —and I’m challenging you on that word. You’re clearly suggesting that there is a better way DNA could have been done, and I’m exposing that suggestion to criticism.

          No, it is an efficient way for DNA to work in the absence of a designer. It is obvious that you are trying the “God works in mysterious ways” gambit. It’s the old “God could exist even if it doesn’t look like it” that theists resort to after they realize there is no evidence for gods after all.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          It is obvious that you are trying the “God works in mysterious ways” gambit.

          Liar.

        • Susan

          Liar.

          Of course, he’s not lying.

          You have shifted your burden with no justification.. You are trying to make someone else responsible for disproving your pet unevidenced agent’s motivations and justifications.

          It is exactly “God works in mysterious ways.”

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Just posted this link another site for you to read, then my Disquis account came up in my e-mail box, – and so – on the ‘possibility’ it is relevant to this ‘argument’ – here it is again, for ‘possibly’ – “others” to read. (My use of quotations, etc. are getting to be as bad as they say those on D’s twitter account are… Sad….) http://www.metanexus.net/essay/creative-tension-edge-chaos-towards-evolutionary-christology

        • Kodie

          Goddammit Loreen Lee. We have tons of bullshit from Luke Breuer to deal with in addition to his personal correspondence. Get his message ID or email or something. Your messages on a public blog to correspond with Luke Breuer, it’s like you think you’re on facebook or something. What the fuck.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          My intention was to explain a dual posting of a link previously sent to him, to be found within my comment. I hope you enjoyed at least the attempt to present some self-effacing humor in a self-assessment of my writing style which I hope did not trump the Donald. And by the way, did you read the article? If not, I hope at least that you found the ‘tweet’ interesting. Thanks. (Oh. and I certainly hope this remark is not taken ‘personally’. Tweet. Tweet.)

        • Kodie

          You’re posting personal correspondence publicly on a public atheist blog and you haven’t lurked or anything. We call Luke Breuer the Lukieboy Show for his arrogance and extraneous efforts to take over the whole blog with his ego, and that’s stating it mildly. He has blocked most of us because he is so busy and self-important. No, probably nobody cared about your links.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Thank you Kodie. I purposely don’t get into arguments, even personal ones, or ones about what is personal: be it a comment, a means of expression, or what not. Depending on the definition, possibly a lot of remarks on this site could be termed ‘personal’. I addressed my comment to Luke as it came up on the Disquis notifications, and yes, also because it was an unfamiliar site, something you were aware of somehow as mentioned in your phrase that I do not ‘lurk’. Perhaps the explanation for this is that it is your blog. In any case, I appreciate your polite response, whether or not this is considered to be the essential criteria of what constitutes the standard of acceptability within this blog. Whether the comment be personal, professional, public, or private, I am aware that maintaining an impersonal objectivity can often be a difficult task.

          And I did think the link could be of interest to someone, as I thought its content at least ‘appropriate’ to the ‘discussion’. Anyway, thanks for telling me, at least to my interpretation, that this is an a-theist/naturalistic ‘only’ blog. All the best. …(I trust I am not being too personal!!!) :)

        • MNb

          “I purposely don’t get into arguments”
          You failed. You already are into an argument. On this blog that’s unavoidable. It’s all about arguments. Read the subtitle: “Clear thinking ….” That’s impossible about arguments.
          So if this quote of yours is serious you must stay away from here (and that’s a very respectable thing to do).

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          I am sincerely happy to prove your point by not getting into an argument with you. However, I can only hope this is a clear and distinct idea, if not a statement. At least it means that I have not got involved in a circular argument to demonstrate the validity of Descartes argument. I assume you would not appreciate the circularity in such a proof, particularly because it would involve bringing in the concept of God. Fortunately, I cannot speak math,which was the focus of Descartes interest in clear and distinct ideas. I do not doubt that you have a clear idea about this relationship between idea and agency.
          Please understand that I do believe in ‘narrative arguments’. This implies that the mere use of language would guarantee your premise that ‘something??? (i.e.the avoidance) about arguments is indeed impossible. I think you meant ‘That’s impossible “without” arguments. This seem to to imply that, because I cannot avoid language, I should seriously keep my mouth shut. But I’m not looking for the respectable thing to do with respect to the comments I am reading; comments that could themselves be classified as disrespectful. With all due respect, then, I trust I do not have to prove that I consider self-respect far more valuable than doing anything. I am thus going to take your suggestion ‘seriously’.
          Perhaps sometime we can work out implications of this logic more clearly and distinctly…. and thankfully this ordeal is almost over.

        • MNb

          “I am sincerely happy to prove your point by not getting into an argument with you.”
          You failed. You are already in an argument with me (and not only with me). For instance about this:

          “I think you meant ….l”
          Nope. I didn’t. Sincere advise: don’t think about others. You’re too narcissistic and egotistic to do it properly, because only “your world” matters to you.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Yes. but at least I attempt to avoid interfering with your world, by giving you arguments in order to merely ‘prove’ that my position is more ‘correct’ than yours…. hopefully. I therefore would appeal to your sense of judgment, that my words “I think you meant”
          merely attempt to convey to you an inevitable lack of understanding that is possible for me to have with respect to your individual worldview. Perhaps then it possibly could be regarded as a blessing to you, that I am so narcissistic and egotistic, (edit: if rather than that) this would also not involve an attempt to interfere with your own.

        • Kodie

          When did you ever attempt to avoid interfering with us? You are compelled to reply even when you are told your posts are extremely off-topic, and apparently only interesting to Luke Breuer. We don’t like that guy. Why would we think your contributions to his increase in posts is a good thing? That is what personal messages and emails and texts are for. You don’t have to respond and please don’t.

        • Susan

          You’re posting personal correspondence publicly on a public atheist blog a

          It’s Loreen

          I tried to copy/paste links but the history is too long.

          Suffice it to say that she has demonstrated mental health issues that caused legitimate concerns to people to the extent that we are mostly gentle with her.

          Also, that her mentions of philosphy and science have no depth..

          And that Luke Breuer thinks she’s a peach for taking him seriously.

          (sigh)

          Sometimes, I really hate the internet.

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          Could it be relevant to mention the ethical code among specific statements made in the news by psychiatrists and other mental health professions who alert the public that they defer making any psychological assessments within the current political and cultural wars. Of course, this could be considered to be fake in some way, whether it originated on the left or the right, or even as has been suggested with the Trumpster himself, as the person who received same thought was the case with respect to the ‘leak’ regarding his tax reforms, as he had previous been subject to such ‘leaks’, which it seems never quite ‘drained the swamp’. Good thing I’m not the president…. right?

          In any case, I have always pointed out to you people when I am exploring different possibilities within my creative writing projects, which I hope to relate to the subject matters within the SN/EN discussions. For some time I did indeed do thought experiments. In any case, why do you have such a seemingly prejudiced perspective or cognitive bias with respect to any justification you might have for your treatment of me, as well what – may I describe as a kind of PC form of censorship on what the Overlord will post. Can you read my thoughts? Do you know my motivations? Do these not involve personal judgments or at least opinions? Does this not raise the question as to the possibility of double standard with respect to making personal comments on this site. Lots of love. LOL Please let me know any of you whether this comment is perceived as being in any way crazy, as I would like to avoid any kind of ‘stigma’ – mental or physical…

          Also know that my book which is accessible on my Disquis account does indeed deal with the issues of mental health, schizophrenia, and PTSD, which involve a perspective on issues such as sexual harrassment, and how the triggering effects from same are related to a sexual assault/rape which has been buried within memory,but which end in what is not understood to be a healing process which involves forms of ‘transcendence’. All of this is placed within a philosophical context, within a structure or genre called Menippean Satire. I have often explored possibilities of how to develop this thesis within some creative exercises, and what I have called thought experiments. I have addressed this issue many times, but also suggest that my most interesting dialogues have been with people, including Luke, who without thinking of me as a peach, have expressed at least the opinion that I often have made what might best be referred to within this context as– ‘interesting’ comments.

          Also, within the context of your above critique I would be most interested in what credentials might justify such an assessment of my philosophical ability, as I have read much much philosophy over the last 50 years, and do have a Specialist Degree in the subject. When it comes to Science, I no naught, although I am quite familiar with the analytic philosophers, and some philosophy of science. Please know that I also have degrees in English, graduated from an elite theater school, and was a popular political satirist/comedian throughout the sixties. I also have two children, a successful lawyer, and an epidemiologist .

          Thanks again……But, please know… I’m not looking for a re-engagement, re-charge, re-battle, with any of you, —what ever… but merely posted the link because I do believe it is relevant to the topic, and because I found it by chance.. within a kind of Jungian synchronicity with this ‘argument’… and because it also carries forth the SN-EN dynamic, dispute, discourse, debate…. what ever. Why don’t you be ‘brave’ ye all, and take a little time at least to explore the possibility that you may indeed want to go beyond the first word, sentence, paragraph…..

        • MNb

          “Could it be relevant ….”
          No. What you point out about your personal business with Lukieboy is irrelevant to anyone but Lukieboy and you.

          “which I hope to relate”
          Your hope is false.

        • Michael Neville

          TP; DR (Too Pretentious; Didn’t Read)

        • http://www.webook.com/member/PennyPritchard Loreen Lee

          APC; WE. A priori conclusion, without evidence.

        • MNb

          Your personal business with Lukieboy is totally uninteresting to anyone but Lukieboy and you.

  • oracle

    I’m not sure the DNA as software analogy is so bad really. Software design is evolutionary. Design is evolutionary. Inventions do not simply leap fully formed from the minds of their inventors. Intelligence can virtualize the selection process, but it doesn’t eliminate it. Draw a line from Turing to Tinder using the Designer metaphor and it won’t be half as insightful as the history of mistakes between the two.

    • petergkinnon

      Precisely, oracle.

      Congratulations on being are one of the very few who don’t fall into the anthropocentric trap of believing that the artefacts arising fom human ideas, and the ideas themselves, are not the products of nature’s evolutionary machinery.

      Which, of course, they ARE.

  • petergkinnon

    Unfortunately, Bob, you tend to align yourself with the quasi-religious notion that the artefacts arising from human activities (mental and physical) are un-natural (dare I say supernatural?). I assume that this is unintentional and that, like most, you have just not yet thought it through objectively.

    In actuality, if we can manage to stand aside from our quite natural anthropocentric world-view it becomes quite clear that there is no evidence for ANY designer – including the components of nature’s evolutionary machinery comprised by we snout-less apes.

    For, except in a very trivial everyday sense, there are NO creators or designers

    It can be argued, with strong evidential support, that we do not truly invent, design or create artifacts or systems but that, rather, these are more properly viewed as having EVOLVED within the collective imagination of our species.

    To quickly put this counter-intuitive view into focus, would one not agree that the following statement has a sound basis?

    We would have geometry without Euclid, calculus without Newton or Liebnitz, the camera without Johann Zahn, the cathode ray tube without JJ Thomson, relativity (and quantum mechanics) without Einstein, the digital computer without Turin, the Internet without Vinton Cerf.

    The list can. of course be extended indefinitely.

    Ideas are nor plucked out of the blue. They are not “supernatural” They arise from the evolutionary process that takes place in the shared imagination of we snoutless apes.

    This very broad evolutionary model (extending beyond biology) which lends further support to this viewpoint is explored in some detail in my latest book “The Intricacy Generator: Pushing Chemistry and Geometry Uphill”. Now available as 336 page illustrated paperback from Amazon, etc