Re: Fw: Fw: economic irreducible complexity

Pattle Pun (
Fri, 29 Nov 1996 13:52:14 -0600 (CST)

On Thu, 28 Nov 1996, Terry M. Gray wrote:

> Russ wrote:
> >
> >
> >So we have two possibilities:
> >1. A biological system arose from simpler systems by evolution in a
> >gradualistic manner.
> >2. A biological system did not arise from simpler systems in a gradualistic
> >manner.
> >
> >Of course, if everything we look at seems to fall into class 1, then we
> >will wonder about whether class 2 is a realistic possibility. My concern
> >is that for over a century the consensus has been that class 1 is the only
> >class. That was an a priori assumption, and it probably never was justified
> >because so many systems were not analyzed well enough so that one ought not
> >to have held that assumption even using the inductive method. Be that as it
> >may, the modern opening up of the black box points strongly to the
> >conclusion--for the present, of course--that some systems fall into class
> >2. And, it is still true that we cannot decide for many systems whether
> >they fall into class 1 or class 2.
> >
> >I think, of course, that class 2 = design. But that is a subsidiary matter.
> >If we want a clean debate on these matters, let's not hang the argument on
> >_both_ the existence of class 2 _and_ some definition of design. It is
> >always dangerous to have two or more starting points that seem at first not
> >to conflict; maybe the fate of Euclidean geometry, resting on one too many
> >axioms, is an example.
> >
> It seems to me that the complexity, self-organization people could agree
> with your class 2 and not call it design. This in my view is the weakest
> link in Mike's argument. Many evolutionists already acknowledge the
> existence of irreducibly complex systems. Mike looks at the complex system
> and says--it's too complicated--it could not have arisen by "natural"
> means. People like Stuart Kauffman look at the complex system and say--I
> wonder if such complexity can be generated relatively easily and then do
> simulations and experiments to check it out. The initial results seem to
> suggest that the answer is yes.
Walter Bradley at the Creation Conference argued forcefully against the
mathematical biology advocated by Kauffman and associates. He quoted one
of them, John Horgan who quotes John Maynard Smith, one of the pioneers
of mathemicatical biology, as referring to such simulation science "as
fact-free science", where the mentioning of observational facts is
considered to be in rather bad taste. Bradley also suggested, and I quote:

"Self organization in complex systems which consist of large numbers of
coupled chemical together have been demonstrated primarily in computer
simulations. Again, the complexity or information that can be produced in
an actual system depends on logistically arranging the many chemical
reactions which take place in a very complicated way so that the required
coupling can occur. While this is not a problem in the computer, it would
be a "nightmare" in a real system of 1,000,000 chemical reactions. In
reality, the information associated with the self organization in such
systems is almost certainly less than the informational requirements to
make the necessary spatial arrangements. Again we see that there do not
seem to be any"free lunches" in nature when one is trying to explain the
origin of information in nature."

Dr. Pattle Pun
Professor of Biology
Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: (630)752-5303
FAX: (630)752-5996