Author Topic: Irreducible complexity  (Read 2145 times)

Squid

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« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2006, 02:29:48 AM »
Okay, I thought I'd have more time tonight, but I guess not.  I'll get back to ya - that work thing seems to take up most of my time.  Too bad I can't get paid to visit messageboards.
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« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2006, 04:37:57 AM »
Saying that humans are irreducibly complex because we can't function without a heart is operating on the assumption that evolution is false and therefore there couln't have been stages in which a more primative heart evolved into what we now see in the human body.

Going with the idea that evolution is true, and I'd say it is since there is so much evidence out there which supports that speciation has occured, modern IDists try to rely more on our ignorance of how much smaller systems can be broken down.  For instance, they'll claim that the basic building blocks of life are irreducibly complex.  This takes us out of the observable universe and into theories of how the universe came to exist in its current state....since much of that would have to be known before boldly considering something at an atomic level irriducibly complex.

Basically, ID is saying that since we don't know how a system could be more simple that it is so perfectly organized that it had to be created by an intelligent outside source.  The key problem with ID is that it rests on our ignorance of the world around us, rather than our knowledge....this is also why it's not science.
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« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2006, 04:57:38 AM »
Quote from: "laetusatheos"
Saying that humans are irreducibly complex because we can't function without a heart is operating on the assumption that evolution is false and therefore there couln't have been stages in which a more primative heart evolved into what we now see in the human body.

Going with the idea that evolution is true, and I'd say it is since there is so much evidence out there which supports that speciation has occured, modern IDists try to rely more on our ignorance of how much smaller systems can be broken down.  For instance, they'll claim that the basic building blocks of life are irreducibly complex.  This takes us out of the observable universe and into theories of how the universe came to exist in its current state....since much of that would have to be known before boldly considering something at an atomic level irriducibly complex.

Basically, ID is saying that since we don't know how a system could be more simple that it is so perfectly organized that it had to be created by an intelligent outside source.  The key problem with ID is that it rests on our ignorance of the world around us, rather than our knowledge....this is also why it's not science.


Excellent points here. Well spake!
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Court

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« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2006, 04:59:57 AM »
Quote from: "Theist"
I apologize for misquoting you then.
But against your last argument, the good must with the bad, good can't very well exist without evil can it? at least from a human's perspective. Because without evil/bad to define and shape what we think of good how would we truly know what is good? it balances out. Yin and Yang as some might say.

I sincerely wish people would stop saying this like it's well-known, verifiable fact. We can understand thousands of concepts that have no opposites just fine. If we can define brown and tile and hat without having any opposites with which to compare them, then we don't need an opposite to define "good." Besides that things are not really that black and white in real life. "Good" and "evil" don't exist in reality; they're constructs to define two extremes that we don't ever actually see.
"Good" is the opposite of "bad," but it's perfectly possible to understand what "good" is without defining "bad."

Quote from: "Thiest"
Perhaps it is very intelligent to design something that works out to perhaps, not function as we feel it should. Perhaps it reminds us to be humble? I'm not normally going to quote bible verses at you but one comes to mind here. Recall the tower of Babel, everyone all of a sudden wanted to see God, be on more of an equal level with him. So instead of that happening, God has them speak in different languages so the job can't very well be done. Or what about 'Lucifer', or 'The Shining One' as he was called. Apparently he was an angel before he turned to what we know him as now. But suddenly he had the urge to become more powerful than God, he wanted to seize his power and be the one to take the reins. That didn't happen because God cast him down to earth. I think we all need reminders that we need to be humble, even if you don't believe in God, humility is a good thing, I'm sure we can all agree on at least that.


No, I don't agree. Humility is fine to some degree, but so is confidence and pride, when deserved. Christianity espouses humility because you can't be as good as God. I don't generally think it's a good idea for people to be humble all the time.
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Theist

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« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2006, 05:46:30 AM »
Quote
I sincerely wish people would stop saying this like it's well-known, verifiable fact. We can understand thousands of concepts that have no opposites just fine. If we can define brown and tile and hat without having any opposites with which to compare them, then we don't need an opposite to define "good." Besides that things are not really that black and white in real life. "Good" and "evil" don't exist in reality; they're constructs to define two extremes that we don't ever actually see.
"Good" is the opposite of "bad," but it's perfectly possible to understand what "good" is without defining "bad."

Is it though? I mean, good could still be good without bad being there, but how would we properly define it being good? We'd merely do good without knowing exactly what 'good' implies if we cannot compare it to something bad. It's what you would call common sense. We know that helping people who need it is good, and we know that crashing planes into buildings full of thousands of people is bad. But if we were completely ignorant of anything being bad, then how would we be aware that what we do has some sort of consequence, whether for better or for worse? It's true that some things don't have opposites and yet we can define them, but hats and tiles really don't have much to say on the matter do they? They can't, they're inanimate objects, thereby rendered practically obsolete when we discuss morality. The fact of the matter is, good does have an opposite, bad does have an opposite, that is verifiable fact. Whether or not they can or cannot exist with or without each other is the point. But that's just my opinion.  


Quote
No, I don't agree. Humility is fine to some degree, but so is confidence and pride, when deserved. Christianity espouses humility because you can't be as good as God. I don't generally think it's a good idea for people to be humble all the time.


I never said confidence and pride are bad things. But there are times where we need to be humble, and believing you can be more powerful than God is one of those times (if you believe in him) where you need to take it upon yourself to be humble.
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« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2006, 06:19:12 AM »
I think it is possible for what we view as good now to exist without there being bad...we just wouldn't have a term to describe it.  If there was no "bad" then everything would be "good."   If you think about how we feel when good things happen then that would be the constant state of things

Anyway, it's really not a question of why an intelligent designer would create anything bad...but if the degree of bad things in the world is really necessary when viewing it as a created system.  For instance, if God created the world then he also created ebola...a very nasty thing to get.  Now, if I was trying to argue that bad is necessary within a created system; I'd argue that it's not necessary state of existence but necessary if you want those in the system to appreciate good....after all, if everything was good then it wouldn't be any more appreciated than what is mundane in our existence.  

Back to the point I was making with an example of very bad things such as ebola....are these extremes necessary in order for us to appreciate good (in this instance, good health)?  I'd say it's not necessary to have very nasty viruses in existence in order to allow those who don't have them to fully appreciate good health; the common cold accomplishes that task very well by itself.  So, in my view, ebola is an unnecessary evil and not something an intelligent designer would create unless it just wanted to cause unnecessary hardship.

The argument from evil (paraphrased):

If god is willing to prevent evil and not able then he is impotent.  If he unwilling yet able then he is malevolent.  Why is there evil?
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Court

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« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2006, 02:09:53 PM »
Quote from: "Theist"
Is it though? I mean, good could still be good without bad being there, but how would we properly define it being good? We'd merely do good without knowing exactly what 'good' implies if we cannot compare it to something bad.

Bullshit. If you pull over to help a woman who's car broke down, do you think, "This is good because I'm helping someone" or "This is good because it's bad to pass her"? I think the fact that you can fully appreciate the moral permissiveness (or obligation) of this act WITHOUT using the second definition at all is a sign that we don't NEED bad to have good. That is assuming, of course, that we didn't already have "bad" in our nature. My point is simply that God COULD HAVE created humans who didn't desire to do bad, or could have created working bodies that were perfect for us, but he didn't. (My answer to this, of course, is that that is because he doesn't exist and we evolved imperfectly via evolution)

Quote from: "Thiest"
It's what you would call common sense. We know that helping people who need it is good, and we know that crashing planes into buildings full of thousands of people is bad. But if we were completely ignorant of anything being bad, then how would we be aware that what we do has some sort of consequence, whether for better or for worse? It's true that some things don't have opposites and yet we can define them, but hats and tiles really don't have much to say on the matter do they? They can't, they're inanimate objects, thereby rendered practically obsolete when we discuss morality. The fact of the matter is, good does have an opposite, bad does have an opposite, that is verifiable fact. Whether or not they can or cannot exist with or without each other is the point. But that's just my opinion.

There's no need to qualify, btw. Anything you don't cite, I'm going to take as your opinion.
I want to address this point:
But if we were completely ignorant of anything being bad, then how would we be aware that what we do has some sort of consequence, whether for better or for worse?
If we are completely ignorant of evil, then yes, I think we can still understand good. In fact, I hardly see how we could know anything else but "good" if evil is not even a concept in the mind.
And if we base all of our actions on the consequences they bring about, we're not really talking about "good" and "evil" anymore. That's a reward/punishment stage of morality and hardly qualifies for the types of behavior we would label "good"/"evil" (the extremes).
Yes, good and evil are opposites. But that does not make it impossible to understand one without the other.

Quote from: "Thiest"
I never said confidence and pride are bad things. But there are times where we need to be humble, and believing you can be more powerful than God is one of those times (if you believe in him) where you need to take it upon yourself to be humble.


And you think what? That God made us imperfect and let "evil" run rampant because he wants us to be humble?
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« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2006, 06:51:27 PM »
I think it shows testimony that we humans must label everything we see and hear and think of.

Anyone ever watch the show Gargoyles? Remember the old one, Hudson, tells their human friend something early on "You humans, nothing exists until it has a name. Does the river have a name?" which she replies, "The river is called the Hudson." so he names himself Hudson out of amusement.

We humans learned early on that certain actions created bad results. Taking a club and beating someone over the head with it killed them. They never returned. It was scary to the people who could slowly grasp that it meant an end. So they devised things like an afterlife, ghosts, goblins, and other things. Man's early world was teeming with monsters waiting to eat, maul, strangle, rape, and gobble up him and his kids. Weird noises at night led to the idea that their was a bogeyman out there. And early, primitive man was afraid.

Then a few of the men got the idea: If I can promise to keep the bogeyman from spoiling crops, preventing good hunts, and winning against the enemy in battle, I would never have to work again. So he began painting himself up in weird colors and symbols, began doing bizarre rituals, and got some tail from the women in the name of transcending a plane of existence. And life was good for the shaman. He quickly learned that in reality, he wielded the power far more than the chief or the warlord.  Hence the need to maintain the power through fear. Fear of an absolute "good" and the absolute "evil".

The concept was born. Instead of merely constructive and destructive actions, it became absolutes. Sure you'll find very few people who think fucking children is ok (one of them is a former black man who resides in a white woman's body if you catch my drift). It's a destructive act towards the child, and for society it then becomes destructive, hence we have a dedicated police force that investigates it. Children who are molested in turn with become molesters if not treated. People who perform these actions need to be detained.

On the other hand we also have another thing that is "evil": drugs. For thousands of years mankind has done drugs. It was used for spiritual and recreational uses. Now it's this "evil" thing that creates "evil" people. Yes the people in the drug war between the government and even themselves do horrific things, but in all honesty, it is not entirely evil. Sure they wield weapons and blow each other up, but that's because they can not settle things in courts like civilized human beings. On the other hand they give peasants jobs that, while not paying great, pay.

So personally I do not believe in absolute evil and good. Everyone does constructive and destructive things to varying degrees. Some are not "evil", such as inflicting harm on yourself (through smoking, binge drinking, shooting up) as some constructive things are not good entirely (building a bomb for the military, etc.). Everything has shades, not just black and white.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Big Mac »
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« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2007, 08:04:35 AM »
Quote from: "Big Mac"
Who designed the designer? If we are complex and we have an "inteligunt desaigner", he or she or it or them must be really really really complex, and who designed them and so forth and so on.


Oh... silly you.  Have you not heard yet?  The designer has always been there.

IT is beyond our logic and theories, as well time and space.  

IT sits within a demension not yet known to humanity.  Some black hole between the milky way and a mars bar.  

 :P
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by mrwitch »

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« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2007, 04:26:36 AM »
So I had a nice post typed up and now I can't find it - probably forgot to save it - baaaahhhh...
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« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2007, 04:38:30 AM »
Quote from: "Squid"
So I had a nice post typed up and now I can't find it - probably forgot to save it - baaaahhhh...


That sucks...and you posts are always very informative (I often learn a few things I didn't know from them and the sources you list).
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Whitney »

Squid

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« Reply #26 on: January 03, 2007, 05:37:02 AM »
Found it.  It was saved in my neuroscience folder in my documents for some reason.  Anyway.

Quote
Michael Behe, a known biochemist once said irreducible complexity is "a single system which is composed of several well-matched interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning" So you take a mousetrap, you remove one part and the whole thing doesn't work anymore.

First off, Mr. Behe is a biochemist at Lehigh University.  However, even in his own biology department, his views are the extreme minority.

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The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and findings that can be replicated by others.

The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of "intelligent design." While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.

Source – http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/news/evolution.htm

As is ID, it is a pseudoscientific minority view.  It considered pseudoscientific in that it is simply creationism dressed up in a lab coat.  ID does not make predictions, has virtually no explanatory power, suffers from the inability to be tested and/or measured as well as not having any sort of operationalized terminology but relies upon vague words like “design” and “information”.

Behe seems to be part of a number of people who let ideology rather than evidence lead them.  One of the continuing rants from the ID camp is that their “theory” isn’t religious in any way.  Behe, however (a devout Catholic) believes this designer to be god (Source).

However, personal views aside, let’s address the IC claim itself.  The mousetrap analogy is fallacious (informal fallacy) itself.  A mousetrap is not even remotely a good analogy for a biological organism.  This fallacy is known as a false analogy or questionable analogy or faulty comparison:

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…consists in “comparing apples with oranges”, that is, in reasoning by analogy when there is not a sufficient or relevant similarity between the items compared. (316)

Source – Kahane, H. and Tidman, P. (1995). Logic and Philosophy: A Modern Introduction. (7th ed). Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing.

Complex biological systems, formations et cetera arise in nature without the aid of any deity.  For instance, snowflakes would fit the requirement to be considered “designed” yet they occur naturally.



Complexity has been shown in computer models to evolve almost inevitably:

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We show that, because natural selection forces genomes to behave as a natural ‘‘Maxwell Demon,’’ within a fixed environment, genomic complexity is forced to increase.

Source – Adami, C., Ofria, C. and Collier, T. (2000). Evolution of biological complexity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97, 4463-4468.

Maxwell's Demon refers to a thought experiment put forth by James Maxwell in relation to the second law of thermodynamics. (Trefil, 2002).

Source - Trefil, J. (2002). Cassell's Laws of Nature. London: Cassell.

Also in (cellular) signaling pathways:

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Our simulations show that such mutational events, coupled with a selective pressure, leads to growth of pathways. These results indicate that pathways could be driven toward complexity via simple evolutionary mechanisms and that complexity can arise without any specific selective pressure for it.

Source – Soyer, O. and Bonhoeffer, S. (2006). Evolution of complexity in signaling pathways. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103, 16337-16342,

Interestingly, recently a team working on nanotubes and freezing water found that nano-ice self-assembled into helical structures one of which resembled the helical structure of DNA:

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High-density nano-ice self-assembled within smaller-diameter CNT (17,0) exhibits a double-walled helical structure where the outer wall consists of four double-stranded helixes, which resemble a DNA double helix, and the inner wall is a quadruple-stranded helix.

Source – Bai, J., Wang, J. and Zeng, X. (2006). Multiwalled ice helixes in and ice nanotubes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103, 19664-19667.

Past the establishing that complexity can be shown to arise naturally and in biological organisms through the process of evolution, we can also focus on the claim of needing all it’s parts or it doesn’t work.  This claim is said to show that certain items cannot have arisen through evolution.  This is wrong for one simple reason – change of function and multifunction.  Acquisition of novel function in biological systems is not unheard of nor is a system showing more than one function.  For instance, in relation to flagellum and cilia (one of Behe’s main examples is the flagellum), a team of researchers found that a certain type of algae’s flagellum also aided it in nutrient uptake:

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By using Volvox carteri, we examine the role that advection of fluid by the coordinated beating of surface-mounted flagella plays in enhancing nutrient uptake and show that it generates a boundary layer of concentration of the diffusing solute. That concentration gradient produces an exchange rate that is quadratic in the radius, as required, thus circumventing the bottleneck and facilitating evolutionary transitions to multicellularity and germ–soma differentiation in the volvocalean green algae.

Source - Short, M., Solari, C., Ganguly, S., Powers, T., Kessler, J. and Goldstein, R. (2006). Flows driven by flagella of multicellular organisms enhance long-range molecular transport. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103, 8315-8319


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You take a look at anything living around you, even ourselves. What if we were designed without a heart? or bones? what if we had no muscle? Do you think we'd be what we are now? certainly not. We have everything we need to survive. Sure we die at some point, but while we live, we've all we really need. In order for all of this to be, there surely must be a creator. Intelligent and intentional design. The big man upstairs says, 'let there be light' there was light and then created everything else. He designed all of us to survive.

This is not the result of any intentional “plan” or “design” by some deity.  This is the result of billions of years of mutation and selection.

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Yes you could argue that there are people out there who die before they are even born, or there are those who are mentally/physically disabled, including myself. I am hard-of-hearing, mild hypotonia, meaning I'm not quite as strong as most people my age, I have what they call Aspergers syndrome which falls under the 'umbrella' of autism, I was born with Ruebella. So you are talking with someone who could quite easily say "No fair and just God could have created me to be like this." But I don't. So perhaps then you say, "he's just naive" but am I? Maybe I'm not naive, but have the ability to come to terms with what I was born with. Perhaps a lot of others like myself realize that there surely must be a reason as to why I'm like this, a purpose. And maybe we need to be humble enough to accept that. We aren't all created equally in our own perception because there are some who have things that others don't, or rather, some who don't have things that others do. That's becuase we have a tendecy, as humans, to compare and judge things according to what we see physically. In the eyes of God we are equal however because we all have a purpose.
So how can all this be, without an intelligent designer?


Purpose is a concept that we’ve created as it applies to the topic at hand.  For instance a child born with Down’s Syndrome – is it to make the parents humble or to give them some challenge? No, it’s an unfortunate genetic mistake.  The poor child was simply born with an extra chromosome.  What is the cause? Nondisjunction during meosis.  What’s the purpose? No purpose.  It just happened.  Many cases of mental retardation are idiopathic (Stoudemire, 1998).

Source – Stoudemire, A. (1998). Clinical Psychiatry. (3rd ed). Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven.

Also, the argumentative form of “I can’t see how it can be otherwise, so this is true” is fallacious.  Specifically an argument from incredulity – a subtype of argumentum ad ignorantiam.  Therefore, the argument itself has no footing logically.
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Faylen

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« Reply #27 on: January 03, 2007, 09:57:38 AM »
Yay Squid!  (Now I'm kicking myself - I know there's one of those Discovery Institute guys who's a mathematician masquerading as a biologist, and I thought it was Behe.  Crud.  Now I'll be googling stuff all friggin' day!)
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« Reply #28 on: January 03, 2007, 05:35:34 PM »
Quote from: "Faylen"
Yay Squid!  (Now I'm kicking myself - I know there's one of those Discovery Institute guys who's a mathematician masquerading as a biologist, and I thought it was Behe.  Crud.  Now I'll be googling stuff all friggin' day!)


William Dembski?
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Faylen

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« Reply #29 on: January 03, 2007, 09:36:42 PM »
Didn't Dembski claim to be a lawyer?  I just can't keep these people straight.  He makes simply hysterical videos, though.
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