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# An Open Intelligent Design Challenge

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In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 12:52:24 PM PDT
Re R R Young, 7-27 10:26 AM: "How many sonnets are written in this form?" No way to tell for sure. If the universe is in fact infinite, the answer is "all of them". But if it isn't, you have to do some math: how many particles are there? Pick a number, and the probable number of sonnets can be calculated.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 12:58:52 PM PDT
barbW says:
I think that at least those electro-chemical traces we call memory - in the lumps of meat we call brains would be an equally good example of a 'code',

but I don't know exactly what you mean by mappings.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 12:59:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 27, 2012 1:13:29 PM PDT
Bill M. says:
"Einsteins brain" strangely reminds me of Charles Dawkins/Brent A. Mortimer, only with worse spelling skills.

>>surely you know that an actual infinite series does not exist...

What do you mean by "an actual infinite series" and "exist"? The MacLaruen series for "e" for example is an infinite series and it mathematically exists. Do you mean to say it's impossible to have an infinite sequence (not the same thing as a series) of events in the natural world?

The whole point of the old "infinite monkeys" (or finite monkeys with infinite time) analogy is that if an independent event has a non-zero probability of happening, then the probability of the event happening after so many trials will increase with that total number of trails you have. As the number of trials approaches infinity, this probability approaches 1. So the lesson is that having an astronomically low probability doesn't really matter when you have an astronomically high number of trials.

In mathematical terms, if the probability of the independent event is p, then the probability that it doesn't happen is 1-p, and the probability that it doesn't happen for n trials is (1-p)^n. So the probability it happens at least once in n trials is 1 - (1-p)^n. Since 0 < p < 1, it follows that -1 < p-1 < 0, so 1 > -(p-1) > 0, and 0 < 1-p < 1. This means lim[n->inf] [ 1 - (1-p)^n ] = 1 - 0 = 1.

>>There isn't enough time for an infinite series of monkeys to generate any
>>significant literary works

Actually, there would be, since you just said we had an infinite number of monkeys. That means we'd have an infinite number of trials going on at some point, even if they were only given a finite amount of time.

Regardless, we don't need an infinite amount of trials for an event for its probability to be ridiculously close to 1. By the definition of limits, given the percent 'p', there exists a finite amount of time that we'd get our outcome with a certainty percentage of 'p'. For example, if I'm rolling a die, there's a 5/6 chance I won't roll a "6" on the first try. But after given the chance to roll it 100 times, the chances of never rolling a 6 on any of those trials is about 1 in 100 million.

So establish whatever certainly level you're comfortable with: 85% sure, or 99% sure, or 99.999% sure, etc. Call this 'c'. Then pick a probability for the given event. Then take those two numbers to calculate the minimum number of trials you'd need to reach that certainty level. You can make your formula by taking 1 - (1-p)^n = c and solving for n. The number will still be finite.

And by the way, the "joke" you gave earlier is a quote from Robert Wilensky.

>>The first such thought experiment that portrays the absurdity of
>>an infinite series is that of Hilbert's Hotel.

Again, you seem to be confusing "series" with "sequence". Regardless, Hilbert's Hotel is just a witty story to illustrate some of the counter-intuitive (at least to many) properties and seemingly paradoxical properties of "infinity". Cantor already mathematically proved that set of Cardinal numbers is an example of what's known as a "countably infinite" countable set, and that a countable set of countable sets is itself countable. He also showed that some other infinite sets, such as the set of all irrational numbers, is not countable.

Of course, none of this helps your argument, because the first DNA strand didn't have to form by complete random chance. Amino acids still follow laws of chemistry.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 1:07:17 PM PDT
Re werranth413, 7-27 12:58 PM: "I don't know exactly what you mean by mappings." It is the set theory idea. A mapping exists between two sets A and B if each entity in one set (say, A) corresponds in some sense to a unique entity in the other set. If every entity in each set corresponds to a unique entity in the other, the mapping is said to be one-to-one. Which is NOT the case with DNA: the mapping from codons to amino acids is many-to-one. Look up "set theory" in Wikipedia, and you can probably find out more, such as the concept of "onto".

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 1:11:50 PM PDT
Bill M. says:
>>And as the annoyance of Haynes grows, I have decided to report all
>>of his posts as abuse since that are all off topic and identical.

The Customer Discussion Guidelines include "Repeated posts that make the same point excessively" as an explicit example of things one shouldn't post.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/forum/content/db-guidelines.html/ref=cm_cd_f_h_help
I'd say Haynes fits that description.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 1:18:46 PM PDT
Re Bill M, above, and other posts about our favorite pest: Consider whack-a-mole. If we beat him down in one hole, he will probably pop up in another one.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 2:29:10 PM PDT
barbW says:
Ok, but that's a very loose analogy for what happens in the chemical presence of DNA. There's nothing else going on but chemistry, so why does this infer a code?

If this involves a code, then what reactions don't? Is it just the complexity of it all that humans are hung up on? After billions of years of evolution we should expect DNA and the chemical activity to be complex. If humans were able to simplify the processes then life processes would be simpler and DNA wouldn't be a code.

There's very complex activity inside the core of a star. Some photons have been traveling for 5 billion light years inside our Sun and have never made it out. lol

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 2:59:41 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 27, 2012 5:10:06 PM PDT
Doctor Who says:
"There's nothing else going on but chemistry, so why does this infer a code?"

The code comes in because the DNA maps ammo acids (its "domain") to proteins (its "codomain").

"If this involves a code, then what reactions don't?"
all of them. And none of them. Chemistry itself could be considered a code, or not. It depends on how you define a code.

I think the root of the confusion is that Biologists like to make their life simpler so they devised a code that maps the DNA onto set of four letters. Moreover, this function is also one-to-one so they can directly use their four letters to express what the DNA is doing by "reading" the sequence. This is where creationists cry "code" even though it is a man made mapping. It does represent a real chemical code, but it is not one the creationists usually identify as one: the laws of physics. So I think both you and Robert Saunders are correct. DNA both is a code and it is not a code. It just depends on how you want to look at it and how you define a "code".

Just my \$.02 here.

EDIT: As Robert Sanders pointed out, that should be many-to-one, not one-to-one.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 3:19:08 PM PDT
noman says:
RE: "Biologists like to make their life simpler so they devised a code that maps the DNA onto set of four letters."

**Errr...biologists didn't *devise* a code. They merely observed what existed. And the "four letters" are simply short hand for the nucleotides, Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, Guanine and in RNA...Uracil substituting for Thymine. And nucleotides are not only in DNA but, for example, Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 3:43:22 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 27, 2012 4:51:34 PM PDT
Doctor Who says:
That also depends on your point of view. I would argue that the there is a simple (and obviousness to humans) mapping from the molecule to Adenine (a word) to A (a symbol), from the molecule to Thymine to T, etc. I am not arguing that this mapping was not a simple and natural one to come up with. Quite the contrary. I am simply saying that it is a mapping from things (acids) to letters. Basically, I am saying that language is a mapping of things to sounds or, as in this case, symbols. Can you imagine what it would be like if you had to call adenine \begin{LaTex} C_5 H_5 N_5 \end{LaTex} all the time? Language is a mapping, and all fields define new mappings when it suits them. That is my argument about professional languages at any rate.

My point about creationists is that they sized on the idea that the set {A,T,C,G} maps to proteins to declare it a "code" even though it is a rather artificial one that hid the mechanics. Since they don't see the mechanism, they declare it to be god when the real "code" is written in chemistry, a fact that they seem to ignore.

Am I making sense?

EDIT: I am not trying to be augmentative. I am just trying to clarify my position.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 5:05:02 PM PDT
Re Physics Geek, 7-27 2:59 PM: Fine post. One flaw: the mapping of DNA to proteins is many-to-one. There is a practical consequence to this: if one starts with a protein and wants to determine the DNA which made it, one cannot do so.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 5:08:19 PM PDT
Doctor Who says:
hmm... Ok, I'll blame the high school text for that one. Thanks for the correction.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 6:08:17 PM PDT
Brain says--"1. Code is defined as the rules of communication between an encoder [and blah blah blah]"

>>JGC: I would like to expand a little on my previous one-word dismissal ("Baloney") of this clever canard. When it became clear that genetic information was passed from generation to generation by hypothetical units called "genes", it was immediately realized that genes and genetic information must have a physical basis. By the mid-40s, it was clear that this physical basis was DNA. I believe that scientists were already talking about the "genetic code", though I have not been able to find the first use of the term (if anybody knows, I would be grateful for the citation). The "genetic code" simply means the mechanism by which genetic information is stored and transferred. Certainly, by the time Watson and Crick discovered the double helical, base-paired structure of DNA, the term was in use. And there are indeed useful things one can learn about DNA based on communication and information theory, but none of those scientists ever thought that the term implied anything about an intelligent designer. Certainly not Watson or Crick, both of whom were atheists. I'm sure that if anybody had thought that their language would be mis-used in this way, they would have been horrified. The scientist probably most responsible for deciphering the genetic code was Marshall Nirenberg. As far as I can tell, he never uttered a single sentence to suggest that he considered that he was studying the work of some cosmic designer (BTW, I recommend his Nobel lecture as a model of clarity in scientific exposition). The attempt of ID enthusiasts to define in a designer because there is a genetic code is subtle nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 6:11:23 PM PDT
"The attempt of ID enthusiasts to define in a designer because there is a genetic code is subtle nonsense"

I'd say "blatant" myself

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 6:41:10 PM PDT
noman says:
I think you've got a good point and are extremely clear (as usual)

My 'argument' is that DNA isn't at all symbolic, it's more like fitting together lego blocks. The 'symbolism' I think you are talking about is simply a linguistic or logical artifact derives from the *human* attempt to describe observations. Which is swhere,IMO, 'creationist/ID' makes it's mistake. They take the attempt to *describe* the real world as actually *being* the real world and hence DNA=Code=designer/creator. But that's simply my off the cuff opinion.

Posted on Jul 27, 2012 6:52:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 27, 2012 6:55:19 PM PDT
Folks its the Creationist Channel

Welcome back to the
Silliest Atheist Contest

Today's Athesit Contestant, he's an old favorite folks
And he's a howl

He kind of goofed a while ago.
He came out with his very own baloney
"Ahem a Perpetual Motion Machine is a device that produces more work than you put in"

Yessiree folks you heard him right
I mean a car engine it does that, huh folks.

The Creationist Channel applogizes
We have interrupted the Silliest Atheist Contest
We cant get our host, or the audience, or the production crew to stop laughing
We hope to be back tommorrow.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 6:52:24 PM PDT
Doctor Who says:
I would completely agree with that.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 7:13:48 PM PDT
Christine: Would you go for subtly blatant?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 8:10:45 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 27, 2012 8:16:48 PM PDT
noman offers this opinion, ..."The 'symbolism' I think you are talking about is simply a linguistic or logical artifact derives from the *human* attempt to describe observations. Which is where, IMO, 'creationist/ID' makes it's mistake.".

Key to understanding the ID argument, and why it is a successful argument, is understanding Information Theory. Claude Elwood Shannon (April 30, 1916 - February 24, 2001) was an American mathematician, electronic engineer, and cryptographer known as "the father of information theory".

Wikipedia goes on to say, "Shannon is famous for having founded information theory with one landmark paper published in 1948. But Shannon is also credited with founding both digital computer and digital circuit design theory in 1937, when, as a 21-year-old masters student at MIT, he wrote a thesis demonstrating that electrical application of Boolean algebra could construct and resolve any logical, numerical relationship. It has been claimed that this was the most important master's thesis of all time. Shannon contributed to the field of cryptanalysis during World War II and afterwards, including basic work on code breaking."... If you get some time, read up on Information Theory. It is both basic and applied science at it's best.

Some here seem to sense a 'trap', and posit that DNA is not a code. But no one is trying to 'trap' anyone. ID researchers are honest in their attempts to identify whatever it is that uniquely defines a 'designed' system. We all seem to know or recognize a designed system when we see one... but maybe not so much when it comes to DNA. This in spite of the fact that DNA displays all the characteristics of what humans recognize as a 'designed' system ... a system that depends on coded information' to function.

So is DNA 'coded information'... and what the definition of coded information'? Think of "Coded information" as a system of symbols used by an encoding and decoding mechanism, which transmits a message that is independent of the communication medium.

DNA transcription is an encoding / decoding mechanism isomorphic with Claude Shannon's 1948 model. The sequence of base pairs is encoded into messenger RNA which is decoded into proteins. Shannon's Information theory terms and ideas applied to DNA are not metaphorical, but in fact quite literal in every way. In other words, the information theory argument for design is not based on analogy at all. It is the direct application of mathematics to DNA, which by definition is a code.

Hubert Yockey, who is one of the foremost living Information Theory researchers writes:

"Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies." (see Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Examples of code include English, Chinese, computer languages, music, mating calls. Since all the above are derivatives of DNA, the challenge is to cite a single example of coded information that occurs naturally - outside the realm of life, outside the realm of DNA.

The information in DNA is independent of the communication medium insofar as every strand of DNA in your body represents a complete plan for your body; even though the DNA strand itself is only a sequence of symbols made up of chemicals (A, G, C, T). We could store a CAD drawing of a hard drive on the same model of hard drive, but the medium and the message are two distinctly different things. Such symbolic relationships only exist within the realm of living things; they do not occur naturally. The point is, DNA is not just 'following the rules of chemistry'. It is considerably more than that.

So, all we need is one example of 'naturally occurring' coded information being generated, and then it might become a plausible proposition to posit that DNA could have arisen by some naturalistic process. The search continues for that naturalistic process...

(original material combined with excepts from the following)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Shannon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_theory
http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/
http://www.uncommondescent.com/

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 8:22:23 PM PDT
Deckard says:
Eb said:
"Since all the above are derivatives of DNA, the challenge is to cite a single example of coded information that occurs naturally - outside the realm of life, outside the realm of DNA."

Got any hints or evidence of the designer yet? And since the designer used codes, there he/she/it must also have a designer. And so on.

So many pretty arguments, all dressed up, but nowhere to go.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 8:43:45 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 8:46:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 27, 2012 8:47:06 PM PDT
Bill M. says:
Einsteins [sic] brain says:

"So, all we need is one example of 'naturally occurring' coded information being generated, and then it might become a plausible proposition to posit that DNA could have arisen by some naturalistic process."

Wow, what a coincidence. That sounds very similar to the claim that both "Charles Dawkins" and (another admitted pseudonym of his) "Brent A. Mortimer" keep trotting out!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 9:04:37 PM PDT
Bill M. says:
>>It is commonly accepted that there are two sorts of existent entities: those
>>that exist but could have failed to exist and those that could not have failed
>>to exist.

The Ontological argument? Really? C'mon, Kant debunked that over 200 years ago.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument#Immanuel_Kant
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theism/ontological.html

>>Note that the first entity in this list is a concrete entity, while the rest are
>>abstract entities

Says who?

>>The bottom line is your logic needs some work

I think I just heard Immanuel Kant face-palming from the grave.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 10:32:06 PM PDT
Brain--"all we need is one example of 'naturally occurring' coded information being generated"

>>JGC: Wake up! It's all around you.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 27, 2012 10:33:44 PM PDT
barbW says:
OK PG, thanks. Was DNA a code a century ago before it was 'discovered' by humans? I would say no.

A template? A large, complex, changeable replicating molecule? An evolved storehouse of info? Much more than a catalyst? Yes, because these phrases apply only to DNA and not to the 'code' for crystal growth or the 'code' for snowflake 'designs'.
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Discussion in:  Science forum
Participants:  120
Total posts:  10000
Initial post:  Jul 23, 2012
Latest post:  Sep 5, 2013