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Evolution and the Origin of Biological Information, Part 1: Intelligent Design

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March 10, 2011 Tags: Design

Today's entry was written by Dennis Venema. You can read more about what we believe here.

Evolution and the Origin of Biological Information, Part 1: Intelligent Design

One prominent antievolutionary argument put forward by the Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) is that significant amounts of biological information cannot be created through evolutionary mechanisms – processes such as random mutation and natural selection. ID proponent and structural biologist Doug Axe frames the argument this way (his comments begin at approx. 15:19 in the video):

“Basically every gene, every new protein fold… there is nothing of significance that we can show [that] can be had in that gradualistic way. It’s all a mirage. None of it happens that way.”

The importance of this line of argumentation for the IDM can be seen clearly in Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell (published in 2009). In this book, Meyer claims that an intelligent agent is responsible for the information we observe in DNA because, in his words, natural mechanisms “will not suffice” to explain it:

Since the case for intelligent design as the best explanation for the origin of biological information necessary to build novel forms of life depends, in part, upon the claim that functional (information-rich) genes and proteins cannot be explained by random mutation and natural selection, this design hypothesis implies that selection and mutation will not suffice to produce genetic information … (p. 495)

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this argument for Meyer in Signature, and for the IDM as a whole. In the conclusion to a pivotal chapter entitled “The Best Explanation” Meyer presents the following summary of his case:

Since the intelligent-design hypothesis meets both the causal-adequacy and causal-existence criteria of a best explanation, and since no other competing explanation meets these conditions as well –or at all–it follows that the design hypothesis provides the best, most causally adequate explanation of the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life on earth. Indeed, our uniform experience affirms that specified information … always arises from an intelligent source, from a mind, and not a strictly material process. So the discovery of the specified digital information in the DNA molecule provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a role in the origin of DNA. Indeed, whenever we find specified information and we know the causal story of how that information arose, we always find that it arose from an intelligent source. It follows that the best, most causally adequate explanation for the origin of the specified, digitally encoded information in DNA is that it too had an intelligent source. (p. 347)

Put more simply, Meyer claims that if we see specified information, we infer design, since we know of no mechanism that can produce specified information through an unintelligent, natural process. As a logical argument, Meyer’s position only works if (and this is a big if) – his premises are correct.

The issue is that Meyer’s case is open to refutation by counterexample, and even one counterexample would suffice. If any natural mechanism can be shown to produce “functional, information-rich genes and proteins”, then intelligent design is no longer the best explanation for the origin of information we observe in DNA, by Meyer’s own stated criteria. His entire (500+ page) argument would simply unravel.

The obvious problem for Meyer’s case is that biologists are well aware of a natural mechanism that does add functional, specified information to DNA sequences (and in some cases, creates new genes de novo): natural selection acting on genetic variation produced through random mutation. Not only are biologists aware of some examples of natural selection adding functional information to DNA, this effect has been observed time and again, and in some cases it has documented in exquisite detail. When I reviewed Signature for the American Scientific Affiliation journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (PSCF) what struck me, repeatedly, was that Meyer made no mention of the evidence for natural selection as a mechanism to increase biological information. I fully expected him to dispute the evidence, certainly – but the surprise for me was that he simply denied it to be sufficient without addressing any evidence. The closest Meyer comes in addressing natural selection in Signature is in a section discussing evolutionary algorithms used to simulate evolution. As I said in my review:

Meyer’s denial of random mutation and natural selection as an information generator notwithstanding, in a discussion about evolutionary computer simulations, Meyer makes the following claim:

If computer simulations demonstrate anything, they subtly demonstrate the need for an intelligent agent to elect some options and exclude others- that is, to create information.

Employing this argument, Meyer claims that any mechanism that prefers one variant over another creates information. As such, the ample experimental evidence for natural selection as a mechanism to favor certain variants over others certainly qualifies as such a generator. Meyer, however, makes no mention of the evidence for natural selection in the book.(pp. 278-279)

In the PSCF review I went on to point out a few examples of known instances in biology where random mutation and natural selection have indeed led to substantial increases in biological information, but the limitations of space in that format precluded me from exploring those examples in more detail, or from presenting that information at a level readily accessible to non-specialists. In this series of posts I will attempt to remedy that shortcoming by exploring several examples in depth. The question of how new specified information arises in DNA, far from being an “enigma”, is one of great interest to biologists. While the IDM avoids this evidence to present a flawed argument for design, responding to this flawed argument provides an excellent opportunity to discuss some particularly elegant experiments in this area.

Of course, it should be noted that describing how specified information can arise through natural means does not in any way imply God’s absence from the process. After all, natural processes are equally a manifestation of God’s activity as what one would call supernatural events. So-called “natural” laws are what Christians understand to be a description of the ongoing, regular and repeatable activity of God. As such, the dichotomy presented in ID writings of “naturalism” versus theism is a false one: is not God the Author of nature, after all?

In the next post in this series, we will examine an ongoing experiment over twenty years in the making: the Long Term Evolution Experiment (LTEE) on E. Coli conducted in the laboratory of Richard Lenski at Michigan State University.


Dennis Venema is professor of biology at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. He holds a B.Sc. (with Honors) from the University of British Columbia (1996), and received his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in 2003. His research is focused on the genetics of pattern formation and signaling using the common fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. Dennis is a gifted thinker and writer on matters of science and faith, but also an award-winning biology teacher—he won the 2008 College Biology Teaching Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers. He and his family enjoy numerous outdoor activities that the Canadian Pacific coast region has to offer. Dennis writes regularly for the BioLogos Forum about the biological evidence for evolution.

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DarwinGuyDan - #55436

March 24th 2011

Can’t stay but wanted to comment regards “prebiological natural selection is a contradiction in terms.”  Did Dobzhansky really say that?  Wow.  R. J. P. Williams  (q.v. at Amazon) and J. J. R. Fraústo da Silva would certainly disagree with that thesis.  Their ‘The Natural Selection of the Chemical Elements’ (1996) blurs the line between inorganic and organic chemistry and touches on many topics of interest, including thermodynamics.  E.g., p.326 has “The basic route for uptake of C, H, N, and O into living organisms using energy.”

As a Naturalistic Parallelist and contrary to the standard cliché, I am also one who believes “that [everything] in biology makes [much more] sense without evolution.”

DarwinGuyDan


John - #55440

March 24th 2011

Rich:

“R Hampton (55391):Nice try.  You want to put *me* through a search of all the information theorists in the world who have commented on Meyer, to disprove *your* claim?”

No need, Rich—Google Scholar searches for citations for you, but we all know that you lack the faith to look for yourself. 

The reality is that Meyer is insignificant to information theorists, as well as the information empiricists that you must ignore.

That being said, here’s one of the laughably small number of citations of Meyer’s silly, self-plagiarized, and deceptive book:

Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology  4 (Special Issue 1), 1-21
Mutagenesis in Physalis pubescens L. ssp. floridana: Some Further Research on Dollo’s Law and the Law of Recurrent Variation
Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig

”...there is a significant and steadily growing minority of researchers remaining unconvinced of this vantage point, at least concerning gradualism (see, for example, Gold- schmidt 1940; Nilsson 1953; Goldschmidt 1961; Lamprecht 1966; Eldredge and Gould 1972; Lamprecht 1974; Gold- schmidt 1980; Schwabe and Warr 1984; Denton 1985; Lima de Faria 1986; Lönnig 1986; Schwabe 1986; ReMine 1993; Scherer 1993; Lönnig 1994; Lönnig 1995; Behe 1996; Gould 1996; Kunze et al. 1997; Lönnig and Saedler 1997; Margulis and Sagan 1997; Wesson 1997; Denton 1998; Schwabe and Büllesbach 1998; Kahle 1999; Lima de Faria 1999; Schwartz 1999; Axe 2000; Erwin 2000; Jablonsky et al. 2000; Lönnig 2001; Schwabe 2001; Becker and Lönnig 2002; Becker et al. 2002; Gould 2002; Junker 2002; Lönnig 2002; Lönnig and Saedler 2002a; Lönnig and Saedler 2002b; Schwabe 2002; Swift 2002; Berlinski 2003a, 2003b; Campbell and Meyer 2003; Conway Morris 2003a; Conway Morris 2003b; Lönnig 2003; Müller and Newman 2003; Valentine and Jablonski 2003; Axe 2004; Behe 2004; Behe and Snoke 2004; Erwin 2004; Lönnig 2004; Lönnig and Becker 2004; Meyer 2004; Schwabe 2004; Valentine 2004; Lönnig 2005; Sanford 2005; Theißen 2005; Behe 2006; Junker and Scherer 2006; Lönnig 2006; Lönnig et al. 2007; Behe 2007; Gould 2007; Lönnig 2009; Meyer 2009; Theißen 2009).
  For further authors, see the almost 900 scientists of the Scientific Dissent from Darwinism (see Discovery Institute)...”

Impressive, no?

“The onus of proof is always on the person who makes the claim, not on the doubter.”

Indeed. So why does every ID proponent lack sufficient faith to put even a single ID hypothesis to the test, including you, who stumbled upon a hidden hypothesis nested within Behe’s nest of deception?

Where’s the empirical evidence, Rich? Science doesn’t deal in proof, no matter how many times you try to deceive your audience by setting the goalposts at proof.

Bilbo - #55462

March 24th 2011

Bilbo:”<i>“As soon as you tell me what’s wrong with Mike Gene’s inferences.”

John:  “<i>I’m
trying to SHOW you. I can see why you have to have it as hearsay,
though…
../../images/smileys/wink.gif</i>”

No, you’re not trying to show me what’s wrong with Mike Gene’s inferences.  You have no idea what’s wrong with Mike’s inferences, and you’re afraid to admit it.  You made an unsupported claim that no coherent inference of ID flowed from the start and stop codons.  I directed you to Mike’s essays, which made coherent inferences of ID from the stop codons.  Instead of admitting you were mistaken, you try to get me to make additional arguments to Mike’s.  I already said I was persuaded by Mike’s arguments.  If you think they are bad, say so, and show why.  Otherwise, give it up.


John - #55463

March 24th 2011

nedbrek:

As I said before, I’m not terribly familiar with the ID movement.  Nor am I motivated by their claims.”

What motivates you, then?

“However, why is “ID being driven by faith” bad?  What is wrong with theological arguments?”

I didn’t say it was. I’m saying that the declarations of faith aren’t consistent with their inaction. If one is motivated by faith, shouldn’t that faith at some point motivate real-world action instead of only rhetoric?

It seems to me that evolution denialism is a product of weak faith. 

If the underlying faith were strong, someone somewhere should have been motivated to DO science, yet the hallmark of ID among those who have scientific training is a universal rejection of empiricism (at least when it comes to their own ID hypotheses) and a gross misrepresentation of the scientific method to laypeople to excuse their inaction.

nedbrek - #55469

March 24th 2011

Hello John (55463)

“‘As I said before, I’m not terribly familiar with the ID movement.  Nor am I motivated by their claims.’
What motivates you, then?

Ultimately, it is to glorify God.  Here, it is by proclaiming the truth, and challenging people to apply their arguments to their logical conclusions - and to proclaim the Gospel to those who have not accepted it.

“‘However, why is `ID being driven by faith` bad?  What is wrong with theological arguments?’
I
didn’t say it was. I’m saying that the declarations of faith aren’t
consistent with their inaction. If one is motivated by faith, shouldn’t
that faith at some point motivate real-world action instead of only
rhetoric?”

Ah, ok.  Yes, faith should definitely have real world consequences.  I think both YECs and TEs have a lot of problems with IDers (both from scientific and theological perspectives).

“It seems to me that evolution denialism is a product of weak faith. If
the underlying faith were strong, someone somewhere should have been
motivated to DO science, yet the hallmark of ID among those who have
scientific training is a universal rejection of empiricism (at least
when it comes to their own ID hypotheses) and a gross misrepresentation
of the scientific method to laypeople to excuse their inaction.”
I am a skeptic of evolution, because of the theological implications.  If someone could present a theological case for evolution which was consistent with Christian orthodox, I would consider it.

ID, I think, comes at things entirely wrong.  They often deny that their Designer is the Christian God, and also desire to keep the invalid scientific presuppositions which lead to belief in evolution.

That is, they  are unable to apply theology (being designer agnositc), but they operate under the same logical framework as evolutionists (which is very well developed).  They then struggle to break free from that framework, which is very frustrating for everyone.


R Hampton - #55471

March 24th 2011

Rich,

I did not make up the claim, nor am I going to post the results of numerous citation searches, cross indexed, to disprove your ignorance. If you don’t want to know what is relevant to information theorists, that’s your problem, but my contention is not controversial.

Why not ask an information theorist how Intelligent Design and the work of Dembski and Meyer are regarded amongst their peers?


R Hampton - #55474

March 24th 2011

Rich,

Thanks for acknowledging my correction about Shallit’s academic field

I made no comment on it for the obvious reason that if your reject Shallit then you must also reject Meyer - neither are information theorists. That hurts your argument, but not mine since many others have critiqued Meyer’s work (I offered Shallit’s explanation to you as a primer on the problems with Signature in the Cell).

Nonetheless, both men have made arguments using information theory so they must be judged on their understanding of it. Since you have ignored Chaitin (and I can’t think of anyone living more fundamental to Information Theory) and made little effort to familiarizing yourself with the field beyond Meyer’s claims, I don’t know what else I can do for you.


John - #55476

March 24th 2011

Bilbo:

No, you’re not trying to show me what’s wrong with Mike Gene’s inferences.  You have no idea what’s wrong with Mike’s inferences, and you’re afraid to admit it.”

I know exactly what’s wrong with them, which is why he only wrote about stop mechansims.

“You made an unsupported claim that no coherent inference of ID flowed from the start and stop codons.  I directed you to Mike’s essays, which made coherent inferences of ID from the stop codons.”

Yes, but his criteria fail with start mechanisms. 

“Instead of admitting you were mistaken, you try to get me to make additional arguments to Mike’s.  I already said I was persuaded by Mike’s arguments.”

But you seem to be pretending that Mike’s arguments about stop mechanisms falsify what I said about stop AND START mechanisms.

“If you think they are bad, say so, and show why.  Otherwise, give it up.”

Your hissy fit is doing a fine job of demonstrating your lack of confidence in “Mike’s” analysis.

Does the ability to end protein synthesis with any of the 20 amino-acid residues represent an intelligent design choice, Bilbo?

John - #55477

March 24th 2011

nedbrek:
“Ultimately, it is to glorify God.  Here, it is by proclaiming the truth, and challenging people to apply their arguments to their logical conclusions - and to proclaim the Gospel to those who have not accepted it.”

But if you believe your position to be the truth, wouldn’t it be much more glorifying to demonstrate

it instead of merely proclaiming it? This is what I don’t get.

“Ah, ok.  Yes, faith should definitely have real world consequences.  I think both YECs and TEs have a lot of problems with IDers (both from scientific and theological perspectives).”

ID is horrible theology, as it turns God into something like a cockroach that gets crammed into tiny gaps. I have more respect for YECs because some of them do attempt to test YEC hypotheses.

“ID, I think, comes at things entirely wrong.  They often deny that their Designer is the Christian God, and also desire to keep the invalid scientific presuppositions which lead to belief in evolution.”

News flash, ned. I don’t BELIEVE in evolutionary theory at all. Evolution is a directly observable phenomenon and evoutionary theory has an enormously successful track record for predicting empirical results in the lab and in the field. My conclusion is scientific and therefore provisional. Do you have any evidence?


nedbrek - #55480

March 24th 2011

John, you must be clear on your definition of evolution.  If you mean “descent with modification”, then no one will disagree.

If you mean abiogenesis, common descent, and life progressing from mud to man over 4e9 years - then that is not directly observable.


John - #55501

March 24th 2011

ned,
I’m being very clear with “directly observable.” What about my questions?


nedbrek - #55518

March 24th 2011

Are you saying you have directly observed AB, CD, or ME (macro-evolution)?

As to your question: “But if you believe your position to be the truth, wouldn’t it be much more glorifying to demonstrate

it instead of merely proclaiming it? This is what I don’t get.”

How do I demonstrate light to one who is blind?  I’m serious, not facetious.  What evidence would convince you there is a God?


John - #55521

March 24th 2011

No, ned, I am saying that your conflation of those four terms is bogus. For example, abiogenesis, whether God did it via poof or via natural law, is not evolution.

“How do I demonstrate light to one who is blind?  I’m serious, not facetious.”

You’re not serious, because you didn’t even bother to determine whether I was blind or not.

“What evidence would convince you there is a God?”

I am convinced that there is a God, and nothing convinces me of that more than the wonders of biology. 

What convinced you that He didn’t create the different kinds of life you see all around you by evolutionary mechanisms?


nedbrek - #55528

March 24th 2011

My apologies John, sometimes it’s hard to tell the atheists from the theists here

I disbelieve evolution because it overturns the moral law.  That is: if animals in nature before man/sin was good, and there is no hard line between man and animals, then there is no such thing as sin.


John - #55649

March 25th 2011

I accept your apology, ned, but that leaves my question unanswered:

But if you believe your position to be the truth, wouldn’t it be much more glorifying to demonstrate it instead of merely proclaiming it?

nedbrek - #55656

March 25th 2011

Not always.  The apostles in Acts simply proclaim the resurrection, they do not call for the resurrected Lord.

Similarly, nowhere in the Bible does God argue for His existence.  When challenged by Moses, He replies, “Tell them ‘I am’ sent you.”

The test of truth for a Christian should not be, “show me the experiment”.  It should be, “show me from the Bible”.


Rich - #55484

March 24th 2011

R Hampton (55471):

I’m not the slightest bit interested in whether your contention is “controversial.”  The point is that it is *undocumented*, and hence, for all purposes of public debate, sheer assertion on your part.  You did *not* (a) locate every information theorist in the world who has written about Meyer; (b) read in full what each of those theorists has said about Meyer; (c) count, to ensure that 50% plus 1 of the information theorists agreed with your statement.  Nor could you possibly have accomplished steps (a) and (b) on the internet, since not all responses to Meyer will be published on the internet, or even summarized or cited on the internet.  So basically you just decided that most information theorists would agree with you about Meyer, and made up the claim.  Your bluff is transparent to all readers here.  I know it bothers you immensely when I call your bluffs, but the solution to that problem is to stop bluffing. 

Anyhow, I doubt you could understand the paper by Chaitlin that you are citing.  From your previous comments on Dembski, you don’t understand his mathematical arguments in *No Free Lunch*, so how would you have the theoretical training to follow an advanced critique of the argument?  Or am I wrong?  Tell me where you did your degree in information theory, and verify it, and I’ll retract.

Finally, I note that you’ve dodged my question about reading Meyer’s book yet again.  Three times you’ve avoided it now.  You obviously haven’t read it.  So once again, as in the case of Behe, you have formed an opinion without any textual basis.  And all such opinions are of zero value.


R Hampton - #55492

March 24th 2011

Rich,

My contention is not controversial because it is common knowledge (but not for you, since you have little interest in field).


John - #55502

March 24th 2011

Rich is very interested in the field of tricking his audience into thinking that science is more about debate, opinion, and hearsay than it is about the reality of hypothesis, empirical prediction, and the new evidence that we get from testing those predictions.


R Hampton - #55507

March 24th 2011

John,

Rich means well - he truly does - even if he refuses to learn about information theory from someone other than Dembski or Meyer. As I said before (on several occasions) ID first must revolutionize Information Theory before it can hope to revolutionize Evolutionary theory.


Gregory - #55509

March 24th 2011

TO: R Hampton

Do you know that Rich has ‘refused to learn about information theory from someone other than Dembski or Meyer’? I’m quite sure he has read Shannon’s information, probably Weiner’s cybernetics (2 popular vols.), and likely others too. It seems to me that you & he could both wrestle with better style; you could start by openly telling what/who you base your ‘approach to information’ on, & he could speak of ‘non-ID’ information theories/sts.

It seems (from previous threads & discussions) that you do not seek to ‘revolutionise evolutionary theories’ but rather to ‘evolutionise revolutionary theories’. This of course basically means do nothing at all, it means not going anywhere about the problems of ‘evolutionary theories’ in *many* scientific realms. And, while we’re at it, why not ‘universalise evolution’ (to even subsume ‘revolution’ - revolutions all happen within Evolution!), which is pretty much boring cadet talk. I’d suggest you choose the stick you use a bit more carefully next time, R Hampton.

When it comes to ‘intellectual history’ Rich is above pretty much any ‘material’ that you’ve ever produced here posting at BioLogos. I don’t think you’ve done much work at all here either speaking about the impact of information and language (God’s DNA-language, according to Collins) on even just the RCC’s views of bio-sociality, artificial intelligence, or the interconnection between life and non-life. So pointing fingers at Rich (& vice versa) seems tedious and unnecessary.

You know, R Hampton, that I am not an IDist. My comments are addressed to your Catholic Christian pseudo-Darwinism & failure to place *appropriate limits* on the meaning of ‘evolution.’

It’s likewise a strange Thomist that denies or obscures ‘formal’ & ‘final’ causes, which you tend regularly to do here. But that’s another story…


Rich - #55504

March 24th 2011

R Hampton (55492):

If it’s “common knowledge,” you should have no problem at all naming the names of information theorists who have written reviews or comments on Meyer’s book.  But of course you have not named a single name.  Your claim is all bluff and bluster—business as usual for the anti-ID crowd here.

I notice that in response to a direct question, you didn’t state your qualifications to discuss information theory.  Since you have no reason to conceal your qualifications if you have them, I infer that you have none.

Oh, and the fourth opportunity to make a clean breast of things, by confessing to the readers here that you haven’t read Meyer’s book, has passed you by.  The atheist Alan Fox had the honesty to admit that he hadn’t read a book of Behe’s that he had been bad-mouthing.  Aren’t all Thomistic Catholics duty-bound to equal or surpass atheists in intellectual integrity?  I’m betting that Thomas Aquinas never offered an opinion on a book he hadn’t studied.


Don Johnson - #55523

March 24th 2011

Responding to John 55440

Indeed. So why does every ID proponent lack sufficient faith to put even a single ID hypothesis to the test, including you, who stumbled upon a hidden hypothesis nested within Behe’s nest of deception?

In my “Probability’s Nature and Nature’s Probability” book (see http://scienceintegrity.net/PNNP.aspx for description) I propose a testable hypothesis on page 92.

In the absolute sense, one cannot rule out design of anything since a designer could design something to appear as if it weren’t designed. For example, one may not be able to prove an ordinary-looking rock hadn’t been designed to look as if it were the result of natural processes. The “necessity of design,” however, is falsifiable. To do so, merely prove that known natural processes can be demonstrated (as opposed to merely speculated from unknown science) to produce: the fine-tuning empirically detectable in the Universe, life from non-life (including the information and its processing systems), the vast diversity of morphology suddenly appearing in the Cambrian era, and the increasing complexity moving up the tree of life (with the accompanying information increase and irreducibly complex systems). If those can be demonstrated with known science, the “necessity of design” will have been falsified in line with using Occam’s Razor principles for determining the most reasonable scenarios. If the “necessity of design” is falsified, some may continue to BELIEVE in design, but ID would no longer be appropriate as science.

Many of the questions and comments indicate that my 17-minute www.vimeo.com/21367259 video would be enlightening, especially starting at 9:15 for coverage of information.


Rich - #55535

March 25th 2011

Gregory (55509):

Thanks for your support.  However, intellectual honesty compels me to confess that I have not read Shannon’s work on information theory.  That’s why I would never comment on it, either positively or negatively.  But R Hampton doesn’t object to commenting negatively on Meyer’s Signature in the Cell, which he hasn’t read, any more than he objects to commenting on works of Behe that he hasn’t read.

Note, Gregory, that I have not here said that Meyer’s arguments are correct.  In fact, I earlier admitted to Dennis Venema that I may well disagree with parts of Meyer’s argument. Note also that I have *not* here said the Meyer is an expert on information theory or that he uses it adequately.  I have said only that R Hampton has no proof whatsoever for his claim that most information theorists reject Meyer’s work.  It may be true, or it may not be true, but R Hampton has provided zero evidence for the claim, and when asked for the evidence, has stonewalled, evaded, etc. 

Note that if I had said “Most readers of Biologos comments sections find R Hampton’s posts unenlightening,” R Hampton would want to know how I derived “most.”  He would ask whether I had polled Biologos readers, and whether I had asked them specifically about his comments, etc.  And if I replied to him “I used a variety of search techniques and I am not going to report in detail” (cf. 55471), or if said, “Well, it’s just common knowledge, but you aren’t up on the field of Hamptonology, so you don’t know it” (cf. 55492), I somehow doubt he would accept these as satisfying answers.  Yet these are exactly the answers he is giving me.  And they are exactly the kind of answers someone would give if he had bluffed, and was caught in the act.

By the way, Gregory, on another thread (Design in Nature, Part 1), you asked for a clarification of my definitions of religion, theology, natural theology, philosophy of religion, etc.  I put some time into a substantive and organized reply (55092 on that thread).  I haven’t heard back from you, and I’d be interested in hearing if my answers dealt with your concerns.


Mr.Muhammad Zamiluddin Khan - #56521

April 2nd 2011

It is interesting that this Debate has started in the Super Power of Scientific World United States Of America [clf: BBC HORIZON] I and others are watching how this debate ids unfolding and how the Established Academic Elite on both sides of Atlantic and Pacific react and decide the issue.Ultimately it boils down to preferences made by individuals and groups based on free will and reasoning that is available so far in the realm of human knowledge>But to me the basic query is the Origin of Human thinking and the Mode and Method s of Human thought and I argued in my “SPACE and FREEDOM:A Muslim Perspective-An Essay On Health,Water,Health and Religion” published in Dhaka,Bangladesh in 2008 by me that human knowledge originates from Revelations and Human Reasoning based on human efforts.I received a hand written letter of Appreciation from Professor Henry Rosovosky,Fellow ,Harvard College and Corporation for this book and other publications of mine.Thanks.Mr. Muhammad Zamiluddin Khan[‘92,HSPH,Harvard University]


ben - #66017

November 5th 2011

Dr. Venema, it seems you are arguing against yourself.  You claim natural selection creates information from a non-intelligent process, but natural selection is a byproduct of information.  Natural selection cannot occur without replication of pre-existing information (genes).  In fact, reproduction cannot occur without this pre-existing information.  You also stated that natural selection acts on “genetic variation.”  But genetic variation is just a variation in pre-existing information.

Am I missing something, or is your argument a circular one?


John Heininger - #66793

December 26th 2011

Natural selection sufferers from a TERMINAL perspective crisis. As someone who has spent 30 years involved industrial systems design and IT I have discovered that every system ever designed requires an OVERALL PERSPECTIVE  that involves “Specified information”, to ensure that “specific components” are manufactured to serve a “specific purpose”, to play a “specific role”, in a “specific arrangement.”, to produce a “specific workable whole”, which must then be fully integrated with a vastly complex .“specific arrangement” as part of a vastly complex “specific system”. All of which demands substantial intelligence and “highly specified information” and design”.

 The vastly more complex assembly and function of the human body, together with its vastly complex and fully integrated systems and subsystems, all working together to produce a workable whole requires exactly the same “highly specified information”, placing it well beyond the capability of natural selection and chance mutations.   

 Please note!  Mindless chance mutations and “blind” natural selection has NO OVERALL PERSPECTIVE.   NATURAL SELECTION HASN’T THE FOGGIEST NOTION OF WHERE ANYTHING OR EVERYTHING IS EVOLVING TO, OR EVEN WHY! This reality alone disqualifies evolution as even an “inference” based “explanation” of origins. And places all biological systems well beyond the reach of any natural selection process.

Having absolutely “no perspective” and “no predictive power” there can be no “specified” information, no plan, no specifications, and no upward direction. All that one has is “blind” natural selection working with “mindless” mutations, with no possible plan or purpose. And anything with no “overall” plan, direction or purpose is light years from being “specified information”.  I think you may have harnessed your theistic wagon to a dead evolutionary horse.  Sorry, someone had to say it! 

 The fact that scientists contributing to “biologos” .(a site that supposedly believes in the reality of God ) would have utterly failed to grasp this foundational reality, and attack the concept of “intelligent design” beggars belief, especially when all of science functions on the reality that we live in a tailor made finely tuned universe possessing integrated structures and profound mathematical regularity.  Are scientists involved with biologos all busily applying their vast amounts of reason and “intelligence” to a “non-intelligent” universe, having no intelligent cause? Can you see your problem!    

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