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Atheists riddle - ultimate proof of God or just another watchmaker?

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Rigil Kent
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« on: April 06, 2009, 20:28:30 PM »

Not sure where to post this one as it seems to fall somewhere in-between science and religion. Are you aware of what is being advertised as the Atheist's Riddle in the "Ads by Google" box at the top of the screen?

It is a theistic argument that effectively states that, because DNA is a code, and all codes must spring from an intelligence, it points to a designer. Reportedly this riddle was posted in a sceptics forum called Infidels, and after 300 posts it was still not successfully refuted.

To me it looks like a watchmaker-type argument.

More here:  http://celestialmechanic.com/iidb.htm

ETA: It seems that the argument precariously balances on the assumption that DNA is "code".

Mintaka
« Last Edit: April 06, 2009, 21:15:40 PM by Mintaka » Logged
Mefiante
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« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2009, 22:30:36 PM »

This is a clear case of plagiarism by creationists.  This “DNA = Coded Information” argument was proposed earlier by AiG young earth creationist Werner Gitt who isn’t even acknowledged on Perry Marshall’s page.

But never mind all that.  Creationists don’t actually understand the (scientific) concept of “information” and they conflate “information” with “meaning” but don’t (or can’t) give a scientific account of “meaning” other than possibly a circular one that invokes their creator.  It is simply wrong to think that a string of random symbols has no information content.  As a matter of fact, for any given length, a random string’s information content is maximal because the shortest rule for generating that string is the string itself.  In contrast, a string that can be generated algorithmically generally will have a lower information content because we need to know only the generating rule in order to (re)construct the string.

By their ill-conceived “information” argument, we would, for example, be forced to accept that an ordered sequence of geological strata was deliberately designed, rather than being the result of blind geological processes.  After all, the complexity and meaning (but not the information content) of such a sequence is much higher than it would be in one huge homogeneous sediment because we can discern an objective pattern that tells us of the sequence’s history and development.

Fairly detailed rebuttals to Gitt’s postulations can be viewed here and here.

The unstated creationist assumption is that “information” content (as loosely as they use the term) must be conserved, even preserved.  But this is nonsense.  Bacterial evolution of antibiotic resistance is a clear-cut case of “information” content having increased (even if only slightly), and cave-dwelling fish whose eyes are receding because they live in perpetual darkness are an obvious case of a reduction in “information” content.  There are bacteria that consume nylon.  What did they feed on prior to 1935, and where did the “information” for their additional digestive ability come from?  Another act of special creation, maybe?

The creationist is always eager to lose sight of the natural organising principles inherent in the environment that can change the significance of assorted pieces of “information.”  If such significance increases, one can expect that emphasis will occur.  Equally, if the significance decreases, one can expect that emphasis dwindles.  To state it clearly, heritable traits that are irrelevant will fall away, while those that are important will not only persist but be enhanced.

In short, the claim is bogus that this argument has not been successfully refuted.  Just like all the other creationist arguments, actually.

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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2009, 19:52:09 PM »

Interesting, and I think this also highlights a general pitfall.

If someone who is highly schooled in science, but also with a creationist or I.D. bent decides to construct an argument, albeit flawed, that is so very technical that it's refutation can't be follwed or understood by 99% of the population, it stands to reason that the creationist argument will win ground. It becomes a debate between authorities. And how do you pick your favourite authority? Why, the one who's conclusion favours your own view of course ... and the default view as we all know is that of the supernatural.

The argument is essentially based on confusion, and the creator of such an argument stands to loose little, and gain lots.

If I knew enough science, and had to argue for creationism I'd also go for the most complicated convolution of technical mumbo jumbo possible.

Mintaka
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metari1
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2009, 11:18:54 AM »

By their ill-conceived “information” argument, we would, for example, be forced to accept that an ordered sequence of geological strata was deliberately designed, rather than being the result of blind geological processes. 

If the geological process is blind then why isn't it stupid?
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2009, 11:32:05 AM »

But never mind all that.  Creationists don’t actually understand the (scientific) concept of “information” and they conflate “information” with “meaning” but don’t (or can’t) give a scientific account of “meaning” other than possibly a circular one that invokes their creator. 


What is the scientific account of "meaning" and who did the accounting?
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Mefiante
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2009, 17:21:01 PM »

If the geological process is blind then why isn't it stupid?
Because it isn’t predicated on creationism.  Instead, it follows laws of nature.



What is the scientific account of "meaning" and who did the accounting?
There isn’t one at present.  Therefore, nobody has done the accounting.  It will probably require an adequate theory of mind to be established first, but, as said, that doesn’t stop creationists from surreptitiously pretending otherwise and ignorantly conflating “information” and “meaning.”

'Luthon64
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2009, 19:15:53 PM »

If the geological process is blind then why isn't it stupid?
Because it isn’t predicated on creationism.  Instead, it follows laws of nature.

How did nature give us laws - what is a law of nature ?
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Mefiante
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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2009, 20:08:36 PM »

How did nature give us laws
We don’t know for certain yet, but it seems to have a lot to do with spontaneous symmetry breaking.



what is a law of nature ?
A thing that makes creationists cry because it does away with their sky-daddy.

'Luthon64
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