Re: Not enough info for your brain (was Re: Dawkins video)

Glenn R. Morton (
Wed, 17 Jun 1998 20:29:54 -0500

At 02:42 PM 6/17/98 -0400, Brian D Harper wrote:
>>but if you have information in the environment affecting development and
>>morphology, then you are an evolutionist. :-) This is precisely what the ID
>>folks are trying to evolve. And besides, information in the environment is
>>fluid as opposed to their concept of a static set of info in the DNA.
>Glenn, I think this is overly simplistic and unfair. There are a
>number of creationists with background in developmental biology
>and I find it hard to believe they don't understand the importance
>of context in development.

OK, I don't want to be unfair. But it isn't context of the information that
I am arguing about. I don't think. Obviously they know that the
dorsal/ventral split in developmental programs depends upon location. But
that is not quite what I was trying (very poorly) to say. The information
for the dog, was not originally on earth except in the potential of the
environment to alter the development pland of some pre-canid. Getting
information from the environment in a feedback loop is evolution. The way I
saw it was that those who hold to progressive creation, special creation or
variants thereof, argue that information HAD to have been placed into the
cells of the various animals by God, not by the environment. Am I wrong?

>I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) your conclusion comes from
>the following type of argument: Against the claim that irreducible
>complexity cannot arise by natural mechanisms someone gives the
>counter example of the development of an oak from a seed. The
>counter to this is that the development is directed by an
>intelligently designed irreducibly complex genetic program. The
>fault here lies in not thinking carefully enough about the
>answer. In my understanding of ID, the cell and its biochemical
>machinery is irreducibly complex and thus designed. Thus, from
>the ID point of view both the genetic information and its context
>(the cell) are part of the irreducibly complex system.

I think you are correct in your assessment, but often the IDers start with
the need for information first.

"Information theorist Hubert Yockey argues that the information needed to
begin life could not have developed by chance; he suggests that life be
considered a given, like matter or energy."~Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black
Box, (New York: The Free Press, 1996), p. 29

Now, I will state, that this may very well be so, that something needs to
kick-start the system and radical reductionists have not proven the case
where it comes to the origin of life. But they may someday.

" "Future research could take several directions. work could be
undertaken to determine whether information for designed systems could lie
dormant for long periods of time, or whether the information would have to
be added close to the time when the system became operational. Since the
simplest possible design scenario posits a single cell- formed billions of
years ago--that already contained all information to produce descendant
organisms, other studies could test this scenario by attempting to
calculate how much DNA would be required to code the information (keeping
in mind that much of the information might be implicit). If DNA alone is
insufficient, studies could be initiated to see if information could be
stored in the cell in other ways-- for example, as positional information."
Behe, Darwin's Black Box, p. 231

"Prigogine won the 1977 Nobel Prize for mathematically showing that under
certain conditions physical matter can undergo a change from a disorganized
state to one of greater organization. He later inferred (without proof)
that life could have come into being this way; and he also failed to
identify any source for the information that it required. Furthermore, in
discussions regarding the question of life, his equations do not account
for the vast magnitude of information existing within biological
structures, which enables them to coherently function as efficient oxygen
burning organic machines." ~ Dr. Robert Gange, Origins and Destiny, (Waco:
Word, 1986), p. 81

>Truth be known, I believe the type things you and Greg are
>discussing are at least as problematic (probably more so)
>for the ultra-Darwinian. Here the concept of a genetic
>program which directs development seems to me to be crucial.

If we are talking about the origin of life, then I fully agree. But once
you have a replicative system, mutation and selection can take over as my
computer programs on my web page show.

>I haven't kept any statistics on this, but my reading
>suggests that an inordinately large proportion of anti-Darwinist
>evolutionists come from a background of developmental or structural
>biology. Is this coincidental? I don't think so. Come to think
>of it, I found out something about Denton that I hadn't
>known previously. For some reason I thought his training was
>in molecular biology, but according to the jacket of his
>new book his PhD is in developmental biology. Another data
>point :).

Who else?

>On this we agree. In fact, if we are discussing design in the
>engineering sense I think organisms are much too complex to
>have been designed.

When I saw you use that argument several months ago, I was absolutely
astounded that nobody had thought of that before (at least no body that I
had read and I read a lot). I was very impressed with your argument and
have used it a couple of times (always saying I saw a guy observe that
biological systems are too complex to be designed.). Unfortunately, it
always gets silence (which is often a sign that an argument is a real
stumper to the anti-evolutionist.

Adam, Apes and Anthropology
Foundation, Fall and Flood
& lots of creation/evolution information