Re: Functional proteins from a random library

Date: Mon Apr 09 2001 - 12:12:33 EDT

  • Next message: Paul Nelson: "Re: Functional proteins from a random library"

    >From Paul Nelson:

    Van Till wrote:
    >> "Extra-natural Assembly" is no more cumbersome
    >> than "Intelligent Design." (However, as you said
    >> the last time I asked you this question, "'Intelligent
    >> Design' just sounds better.")

    >It does sound better. But here's a deal.
    >You find me an example of intelligent design that does
    >*not* involve the action of an agent, and I'll happily
    >use your preferred label. Until then: give it a rest.

    Proximate or distal causation? It seems to me that ID, as it
    is used by the DI, leans toward identifying examples of
    proximate causation. Depending on the individual, these
    examples of proximate, extra-natural assembly may include:
    the human species (pace Paul Nelson), individual phyla or
    other higher-than-species-level (pace Spetner), clotting
    cascades (pace Behe), or the first cell (pace anyone at the DI).

    Perhaps the more meaningful distinction is "proximate ID" vs.
    "distal ID", where distal ID may primarily limit its scope to
    things like the original conditions of the Big Bang. Hence, Van Till
    would be a distal ID'er whereas Paul would be a proximate ID'er.
    However, Van Till's distal perspective might not be properly
    classified as "extra-natural" assembly, in the sense that he
    proposes that an agent did not have to intrude into the
    "natural", regular operations of the universe during the evolution
    of life once the universe was created.

    So Van Till's version is more like a pool player sinking all the
    balls with a single shot, and Nelson's is that of a player
    having to line up a shot on each ball. The difference is that
    the cue ball in Van Till's version doesn't suddenly change
    direction without interacting "predictably" and in a causal fashion
    with the other components of the table. So the distinguishing factor
    is that with Nelson's version of the world, we should expect far more
    examples of breaks with "causality."

    Now a word on "strategy". Given that the passage of time increases
    the difficulty of untangling past events, it seems to me that
    those wishing to demonstrate proximate extra-natural assembly,
    or at least hoping to make the best cases for it, would focus on
    finding the most recent examples. These are the cases where the
    tracks left behind would be the freshest and where breaks in
    "normal" causality should be easier to document. I once mentioned
    this in a discussion on the ARN site. One reply was that the
    focus was on ancient, large and complex systems because they
    wanted to provide an example of something that was obviously
    "irreducibly complex." To me, this seems to be putting the
    cart before the horse, and bad scientific strategy IMHO.
    Scientists typically try to understand the simplest, most
    experimentally tractable systems they can find, in hopes of
    being able to apply their discoveries to more complex systems,
    not the other way around. Certainly, to make a case that the
    general scientific world would accept (and also one that would
    fit within the pages of a journal), I'd be scrambling to work
    on extra-naturally assembled systems which I though were the
    most recent.

    Any word yet on the comparison between human and chip genomes,
    or between different species of Hawaii's fruit flies?

    Tim Ikeda

    Mail2Web - Check your email from the web at .

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