Re: [asa] Molecular Biology and Design

From: David Clounch <david.clounch@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Dec 30 2008 - 19:35:40 EST

 Mike,
You said:
>So I would not expect everyone to agree that a true indicator of design is
in play.

The problem is there is no reliable metric pro or con. So one cannot get a
positive or a negative indication of design.

This doesn't stop folks from alleging that design is impossible. But when
they do that they aren't doing it on the basis of having a metric and having
found negative results.
They do it on the basis of some other argument.

The search for a reliable measure seems to be forbidden because it would
settle the question. Thats politics at work. Not science. Science would
seek a reliable metric and then go out and look at nature. And draw a
tentative conclusion based on evidence.

Cheers,
Dave

On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 9:02 PM, Nucacids <nucacids@wowway.com> wrote:

> Hi Randy,
>
> You write:
>
> "Mike, I'm not sure you intended to say this but it seems that you may be
> implying that the successful use of concepts derived from engineering and
> the information sciences in understanding protein synthesis is an indicator
> that life is designed.
>
> I think we should be careful about such a conclusion. In general, the use
> of equivalent concepts for analysis of two different systems does not
> logically lead to the equivalence of the systems. Let me illustrate with two
> examples from my own field of expertise."
>
>
>
> I think is a very good point, as I would go further and say that we should
> be very careful and very tentative about such a conclusion. In fact, I
> don't actually reach a conclusion based on this. As an indicator, this
> would be a starting place, not an end point.
>
>
>
> Let's go back to the word 'indicator." The dictionary defines it as a
> pointing or directing device. So I view it as a pointer. Perhaps a
> medical analogy will help expand on this, as symptoms are
> indicators/pointers.
>
>
>
> Imagine that someone develops an abnormal stomach pain that persists. At
> that point, it would be rational for the person to become anxious and
> suspect they have stomach cancer. However, it would not be rational for
> the person to conclude he has stomach cancer and quit his job to spend his
> remaining time with his family. The rational course of action would
> neither be to ignore the pain or over-react to it, but to seek out better
> methods to dispel or confirm the suspicion – a trip to the doctors and
> perhaps a biopsy.
>
>
>
> In an investigation, the job of the indicator/pointer is to direct
> attention and focus, not to reach a firm conclusion. The indicator
> becomes a cause for suspicion, not belief.
>
> So when you write, "Similarly, the use of concepts derived from
> engineering and information science to understand protein synthesis is very
> helpful and useful but does not help us conclude or even give us a hint as
> to whether or not life is, in fact, information from an intelligent cause,
> or is designed."
>
> I would mostly agree but rephrase it as, "Similarly, the use of concepts
> derived from engineering and information science to understand protein
> synthesis is very helpful and useful but does not allow us to conclude as to
> whether or not life is, in fact, information from an intelligent cause, or
> is designed."
>
> If I turn to your examples, I suspect we could argue that those can be
> viewed as hints, but, and this is important, we would add, "but we know they
> are not because……."
>
> In other words, returning to the medical example, the doctor could say to
> his anxious patient, "Yes, stomach pain is a symptom of stomach cancer, but
> we know it is not in this case, because the pain you experience is actually
> the result of you having gastritis."
>
> So going back to my engineering example, for me to ignore the
> indicators/pointers, someone would have to make the argument, "yes, the
> breadth and width of the successful extrapolation of engineering concepts is
> an indicator that life was designed, but we know they are not in this case
> because……"
>
> Of course, if someone comes up with a "because", its persuasive power will
> probably be dependent on perspective. So I would not expect everyone to
> agree that a true indicator of design is in play. However, it would help
> if someone would come up with a better alternative. In other words, if
> such shared successful useful of concepts is NOT reason to suspect design,
> then what WOULD constitute reason to suspect design?
>
>
>
> - Mike
>
>
>
>
> Mike Gene wrote:
> "...All of these concepts play key roles in molecular biology's
> understanding of protein synthesis and these are all concepts derived from
> engineering and the information sciences.
> ...If engineering concepts have helped to shape molecular biology, it is
> worth noting that molecular biology has been shaping developmental biology
> for some time. And developmental biology has been rewriting our
> understanding of evolution that renders front-loading more plausible. People
> sometimes ask me what science would look like if life was designed. I say
> it would look a lot like it looks right now."
>
> Mike, I'm not sure you intended to say this but it seems that you may be
> implying that the successful use of concepts derived from engineering and
> the information sciences in understanding protein synthesis is an indicator
> that life is designed.
>
> I think we should be careful about such a conclusion. In general, the use
> of equivalent concepts for analysis of two different systems does not
> logically lead to the equivalence of the systems. Let me illustrate with two
> examples from my own field of expertise.
>
> Firstly, in semiconductor physics we use the concepts and tools for
> understanding electrons to describe and analyze holes. We talk of an
> effective mass, an effective velocity, energy, etc. even though we know that
> the hole is merely the absence of an electron and has no independent
> existence of its own. Usually we omit the adjective "effective" since it is
> well understood. The point is that the same concepts are used to describe
> holes and electrons, but one cannot conclude that holes have a similar type
> of existence as electrons.
>
> Secondly, in my thesis on understanding dislocation motion in
> superconductors, I used my advisor's innovation of using concepts derived
> from the equations of motion for ordinary string to analyze dislocations.
> The string model (not to be confused with string theory!) turned out to be
> superb for understanding dislocations. The latter could be described as
> having tension, mass, damping forces, pinnors, vibrational modes, etc. in
> the same way as strings. The same second order equations of motion could be
> used. But even though I used concepts derived from strings to understand
> dislocations, I could not conclude that dislocations have the same type of
> existence as strings.
>
> Similarly, the use of concepts derived from engineering and information
> science to understand protein synthesis is very helpful and useful but does
> not help us conclude or even give us a hint as to whether or not life is, in
> fact, information from an intelligent cause, or is designed. It just means
> that the same analytical concepts can be used in the two fields. I recall
> that a number of months ago, someone cited a paper published in a
> peer-reviewed journal on molecular biology about Shannon's theorems being
> useful to understand DNA. That may well be true but it doesn't provide
> evidence that DNA is therefore information of the same type as Shannon was
> describing. It just means the same concepts can be useful.
>
> Randy
>
>

To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Dec 30 19:36:29 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Dec 30 2008 - 19:36:29 EST