ID proponent William Dembski's idea of Biological Information

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Dr William Dembski is approaching the objection to evolution based
on a mainstream concept used in Cryptography and in Error Correction codes.

The idea of information is, that we can use probability analysis
to suggest abiogenesis without a creation agent is insanely improbable.

More to come
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(2021-10-25, 12:47 PM)entangled_cat Wrote: Dr William Dembski is approaching the objection to evolution based
on a mainstream concept used in Cryptography and in Error Correction codes.

The idea of information is, that we can use probability analysis
to suggest abiogenesis without a creation agent is insanely improbable.

More to come

This is something I have written about over at Skeptiko before Alex shut most of the forums!

The Discovery Institute (and ID in general) is usually derided as science based on the Bible. In reality I think Neo-Darwinism is probably a dead duck. The fundamental problem is that Darwin's ideas only really worked if genes were fairly simple things. Long strings of DNA bases aren't simple things and one mutation just wrecks them.

Even if you imagine a gene for A (a protein) being successively randomly mutated(RM) into a gene for B, the problem is that that process cannot be guided by natural selection (NS). The intermediate steps confer no extra fitness on the organism. There may be hundreds of steps required, and the combinatorial explosion for that process is immense.

The scientific articles and books from ID people almost invariably stay with the science rather than engage in bible thumping. What they are really proving is that life was created and runs by some sort of intelligent entities.
(This post was last modified: 2021-12-23, 11:21 AM by David001.)
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Amazingly this post at Skeptiko was on March 12, 2019 - doesn't time fly when you are in a pandemic!

As promised, here is an explanation as to why I find Behe's new book exciting!

Behe has written a number of books on evolution, all of which contain strong arguments against the idea of evolution by Natural Selection (NS). In his latest book he introduces a new, and I feel clinching argument against NS (although frankly I don't think more argument against NS should be necessary).

Behe uses evidence from a number of experiments, including one by Professor Lenski, who performed a very simple (conceptually), but arduous experiment. He placed e-coli bacteria in a nutrient fluid in a number of flasks. Every so often, the bacteria would fill the flasks, and a sample would be taken to inoculate a fresh flask of nutrient and provide material to be frozen down so that the bacteria at any stage in this process could be revived and compared with the evolving bacteria in the flasks. This experiment started in the early 1990's and is (I think) still ongoing!

Over time these bacteria would acquire mutations, which allowed them to grow faster. The faster growing bacteria rapidly take over the flasks in a few generations. This was taken to illustrate evolution in action.

However over the years of the experiment, the technology for gene sequencing has improved in leaps and bounds, so that by now it is possible to sequence the bacteria to determine exactly what each mutation did. The result is that almost all the mutations broke one of the mechanisms inside the cell (rather than enhancing the operation of the machinery). To be useful - and therefore spread - these mutations also had to confer some temporary advantage on the cell.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but the idea is quite common. For example, people from malaria infested regions of the planet frequently carry a gene for sickle cell anaemia. This damages the haemoglobin, but prevents the malaria parasite from spreading in infected individuals. Thus the mutation spreads by natural selection in areas with mosquitoes that carry malaria. Carriers of even one gene are protected against malaria, but those with both genes affected get sickle cell anemia.

Behe points out that mutations that happen to be beneficial (let's call them kludge mutations) are far more common than genuinely constructive mutations, because a kludge mutation can attack almost anywhere in the given gene (typically many hundreds of codons in length) because all it needs to do is disable the gene, whereas a genuinely constructive mutation would have to make a carefully targeted change to the DNA.

Now the real kicker, is that any organism will encounter far more kludge mutations than constructive mutations, so between successive constructive mutations, the organism will have accumulated a number of kludge mutations.

Thus evolution by NS must hit a boundary because the precious specified information contained in the genes is gradually squandered by NS! He reckons that you may get new species and even new genus's, but no more substantial changes could possibly evolve.

Please remember that this argument lies on top of other evidence that evolution by NS is a non-starter. In particular, genes specify the amino acid sequence of proteins. To change the gene from one protein into one for a new protein, with a different function, would require hundreds of mutations, most of which would be intermediate changes which would confer no advantage to the organism whatsoever!

Behe then goes on to consider the alternative - that all the machinery in the cell (he gives amazing examples of this) must have been intelligently designed. Although he is (I think) a Christian, he doesn't really mention this - preferring to discuss the way science developed to exclude teleological explanations.

Behe says the book is suitable for anyone to read, but I would say those with at least some understanding of the biology of cells (DNA, RNA, proteins, chromosomes, etc) would get a lot more out of it. I really recommend this book!

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