RE: [asa] RE: (irreducible complexity and evolution) design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich on TE and ID)

From: Bill Powers <wjp@swcp.com>
Date: Mon Jun 15 2009 - 16:45:03 EDT

Bernie:

I'm not quite getting this, I think.

IC is not about "evolution being impossible." That, taken literally would
be clearly false. It is about some realizations being highly unlikely
under the resources available to classically understood evolution.

I suppose that would mean that it would argue that the probability of
creating certain structures (and their complex dependences) by a step by
step, uncorrelated process would be very low. This assertion probably
needs to be fleshed out better.

What would need to be done is to

1) describe a class of possible mechanisms and procedures.
2) take a particular realization and attempt to demonstrate that this
structure could not have arisen or have arisen very rarely under that
set of procedures.

This sounds suspeciously like Godel's incompleteness theorem.
It would seem likely that any description of "evolution" (however defined)
could be found to be a complete theory, inasmuch as every true theorem
could be proved, or shown to be false.

You say that Keith has evidence that there is a "need" for lower level
building blocks. It is not clear from this what you mean.

Do you mean that necessarily "evolution" must have lower level building
blocks. This doesn't seem possible since this is pretty much what
evolution presumes.

Regardless, I don't think IC requires that there be no lower-level
building
blocks. IC appears coherent with a combination of both processes:
something like lower-level non-IC building blocks, and IC constructs,
which themselves could serve as building blocks, perhaps even non-IC
building blocks.

It doesn't seem obvious to me that the issue is building blocks. The
issue appears to be as to how things are put together.

It appears evolutionarily to be important what the lifetime of the parts
is. This is why we have to speak about whether parts, even if useless,
could biologically survive and be around to be used coincidentally as a
part. We are told that such parts do survive, possibly even
disadvantageous parts.

Consider my younger son's construction of a Lego Eifel Tower. The Lego
parts need to survive the entire construction. Perhaps the parts are
found in boxes, where we have safely put them away. Perhaps he finds them
in the dog's dish, the back of the closet, or under his bed. Still
somehow he finds enough to construct something like the Eifel Tower.

I suppose, in principle, we could suggest that such a complex structure
could arise by chance, and we could attempt to arrive at a probability of
a class of such complexity.

Still it must be maintained that the Lego parts must survive and be
available over at least the time of construction, or more carefully, the
code to produce the parts, i.e., a memory of the parts and process.

One might suggest that there is a strong IC claim and a weak one:

1) Strong IC claims that the resources available to Neo-darwinian
evolution could not possibly (or almost impossibly) construct a given
entity.

2) Weak IC wants to compare the probabilities of a step by step
evolutionary process of construction and a nearly simultaneous
construction. That is, that there might be a feature or measure of an
entity that suggests or warrants the claim that it comes together as an
integrated whole. Is it possible that there is such a measure? Something
about an entity (e.g., its complexity and unity) that suggests it is a
whole. It appears that such a measure is behind all arguments from
design. Perhaps there is no such unambiguous measure.

Well, I'm babbling again. Got to get back to work.

Thanks,

bill

  On Mon, 15 Jun 2009, Dehler, Bernie
wrote:

> I said:
> "Evolution is all about building something more complex from more simpler
building blocks. IC is all about this evolution being impossible,
because there is no need for the lower building blocks to be around."
>
> Therefore, the way to disprove IC is to show the need for lower-level
building blocks. Kenneth Miller says this has been done, thus falsifying
the IC (mousetrap) hypothesis.
>
> ...Bernie
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dehler, Bernie
> Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 11:19 AM
> Cc: asa@calvin.edu
> Subject: RE: [asa] RE: (irreducible complexity and evolution) design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich on TE and ID)
>
> Bill said:
> "The issue is the number of elements that must be simultaneously
> available. If all the parts of a mouse trap are present simultaneously
> it might even be possible for a car accident to put it together, but
> highly unlikely."
>
> As I understand irreducible complexity (IC) , it is argued that the parts can't al be around at the same time because there is no use for them to be around. That is the whole point of the argument- since there is no use for them, they must have been created together all at once. Therefore- evolution, guided or unguided, is impossible. Evolution is all about building something more complex from more simpler building blocks. IC is all about this evolution being impossible, because there is no need for the lower building blocks to be around.
>
> ...Bernie
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bill Powers [mailto:wjp@swcp.com]
> Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 10:34 AM
> To: Dehler, Bernie
> Cc: asa@calvin.edu
> Subject: Re: [asa] RE: (irreducible complexity and evolution) design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich on TE and ID)
>
> Bernie:
>
> I'll let Cameron reply for himself.
>
> But clearly your understanding of irreducible complexity cannot be
> correct. After all, we do construct mouse traps and cars all the time.
>
> The issue is the number of elements that must be simultaneously
> available. If all the parts of a mouse trap are present simultaneously
> it might even be possible for a car accident to put it together, but
> highly unlikely.
>
> It is a matter of probabalistic resources. In order to put togehter a
> car, say on an assembly line, it is required that
> 1) the available parts be simultaneously, or more carefully that they
> would be available on the time scale much shorter than the dissipative
> time scale (i.e., some measure of the effects of entropy, friction, or
> chaotic mixing).
>
> 2) That all the pieces would be put together on a time scale short
> compared to the disordering time scale (e.g., the time for the parts to
> rust, etc.).
>
> Irreducible complexity, as I understand it, is a statement that the
> joint probability of both the parts being nearly simultaneously
> available, say over time DeltaT, and the probability of the parts being
> put together over a time DeltaT is vanishingly small for a non-lawful,
> non-intelligent process.
>
> It assumes that there is no necessity in the parts coming together
> (e.g., the parts of a mouse trap have not "lawful" reason to come
> together, although once together they remain together, implying, it
> seems short range forces). The parts must have a lifetime that is long
> compared to the time of preparation, otherwise what is put together will
> not be made of the parts, although it might be possible that even a
> rusty car could become a whole, or an "inferior" mousetrap.
>
> bill
>
> On Mon, 15 Jun
> 2009, Dehler, Bernie wrote:
>
>> Cameron quoted:
>> " If the parts of the universe are so fine-tuned that they cannot help but fall together into certain biologically functional arrangements, then irreducibly complex structures will of course form through a front-loaded evolutionary process."
>>
>> I don't understand. I understand "irreducible complexity" to mean that it is impossible for nature to sequentially build something complex because all the parts would need to appear at once (like the mousetrap needing all of it's basic parts to be present at the same time). This is against evolution- guided or unguided.
>>
>> ...Bernie
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of Cameron Wybrow
>> Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 7:35 AM
>> To: asa@calvin.edu
>> Subject: Re: design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich on TE and ID)
>>
>> Actually, Bernie, that's not the case. Here are just three paragraphs for
>> you:
>>
>> If the parts of the universe are so fine-tuned that they cannot help but
>> fall together into certain biologically functional arrangements, then
>> irreducibly complex structures will of course form through a front-loaded
>> evolutionary process. The evolutionary process would then be analogous to
>> the embryological process, in that the outcome would be planned from the
>> beginning, with the changes all ready in advance. But this would be a
>> planned evolutionary process, unlike Darwin's evolutionary process, the
>> essential nature of which is to be unplanned. Irreducible complexity does
>> not clash with "evolution"; it clashes with "unplanned evolution". Behe
>> assumed that any careful reader of *Darwin's Black Box* would understand
>> that he was talking about "unplanned evolution".
>>
>> Of course, there is as yet no evidence that fine-tuning can accomplish such
>> an evolutionary feat. Fine-tuning at the evolutionary level essentially
>> requires that the earliest DNA has the plan for the whole march of life
>> implicit in it, and this claim is still highly speculative, and will remain
>> so until we understand what all the apparently unused DNA is for. But this
>> view is no more speculative than Darwinism itself. Each view requires one
>> seemingly incredible claim. Darwinism requires us to believe that time
>> after time, over the course of life, accident produces new functional
>> structures, with the whole process conveniently tending upwards toward man;
>> front-loading or fine-tuning requires us to believe that level after level
>> of biological complexity is packed into the fundamental properties of the
>> chemical elements, and this gives to biochemical necessity the awesome power
>> that Darwinism gives to chance. On the face of it, it seems incredible that
>> either chance or necessity could have such powers.
>>
>> The smart money, I would say, is on the view that the evolutionary process
>> is in fact intelligently guided. It's a view consistent with our knowledge
>> of integrated complex systems, and of the limited power of Darwinian
>> mechanisms. It's a view in tune with common sense. It's the view that
>> seems to be held by Ted Davis and George Murphy and Robert Russell, and
>> also, I am told, by Owen Gingerich and other TEs. It is also a view
>> compatible with the arguments of Behe and of many other ID supporters. But
>> it is of course a view which, according to many here, is unscientific, or
>> non-scientific. I never said that intelligently guided evolution was
>> "scientific" in the sense of a formal scientific hypothesis, but I certainly
>> believe that it is compatible with the best scientific data -- more
>> compatible, in fact, than pure Darwinism is. Once again, I think that TE,
>> when it is not afraid to say directly and without ambiguity that God
>> controlled the evolutionary process to produce certain specific results, is
>> in tune with some versions of ID.
>>
>> Cameron.
>>
>>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Dehler, Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
>> To: <asa@calvin.edu>
>> Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2009 3:19 PM
>> Subject: RE: design and the nature of science (was: Re: [asa] Re: Gingerich
>> on TE and ID)
>>
>>
>>> I think one TE could say "yes" (fully gifted creation- Howard Van Till),
>>> and another might say "No" because God needs to guide it somewhat or at
>>> certain times.
>>>
>>> Cameron said:
>>> ID says, "NO -- unless the properties of the atoms and the laws of nature
>>> are fine-tuned, which implies design."
>>>
>>> If ID says it could happen, then that blows apart Behe's mousetrap example
>>> (irreducible complexity), which is a pillar for ID I think ("Icons of ID"
>>> if you will).
>>
>>
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Received on Mon Jun 15 16:45:35 2009

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