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  #1  
Unread October 12th, 2005, 05:15 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Default Intelligent Design and Why Not

Intelligent Design and Why Not

"The universe is synchronized and integrated in a manner that reflects intelligence." Of course, this worm covers a hook, a belief that design implies "a designer." Creationists swallow that hook and expect the rest of us to do likewise even though we have a different set of genes and a different set of beliefs.

The Victorians faced a similar confusion. That is, cathedrals and species spilled from a top-down organizer called architect or God. Lots of people knew that oaks grow from acorns but few of those same people considered both St. Paul's and Thom Huxley to be emergents from millennia of simpler organizations, organizations that survived, reproduced, and formed the mosaics for even larger organizations.

A second problem for the Victorians: a clever designer would not waste resources on mistakes. The next stone, a very short step in the middle of this stream, was to conclude that whatever is, is meant to be. According to Loren Eiseley, (1961) fossils, however, provided a substantial challenge to this second idea: the designer became a collage-maker who threw away far more than he saved, a wanderer who frequently traveled down several roads at the same time!

First, the persistence of "Designer Thinking" likely comes from a mental adaptation that shows itself in subtle ways. For example, train a monkey to press a lever for food but have him work in the company of an idle monkey. Shock the worker and he immediately bites the second monkey! A second example: a mother explained a recent earthquake to her young daughter. The explanation was said to be scientific but the little girl later told her father, "A nasty man made the ground shake!" Flip Wilson's antic manic loveable Geraldine exclaimed "The Devil made me do it!" She made us laugh but she also hinted of a far deeper truth about our mentation. We blame males for big events and save the bland PR to those clever round liars, females. Our rendering God as a male rests not on sexism but on fear of our universe. And the "design people" merely follow their instincts and strive for the same outcomes as a Victorian!

Second, I suggest that Intelligent Design will be challenged best when the physics people show us the fossils left by failed universes: designs that represent exploratory throws of the dice, grand experiments that sometimes produced an Earth but also left a trail of abortions, misfits, and failures. Could it be that Dark Matter represents outcomes wherein both the organization of energy and its measured release failed to emerge! Or that black holes are gateways to chaos and stasis on scales that we have not encountered before? Or will we see Neptune and Earth as equally evolved organizations but for different niches?

Physicists might also give a developmental path, a Chain of Being, for suns, planets, and varied types of matter. And how wonderful if we also describe a recapitulation model in which changes in solar systems parallel or somehow repeat the changes that occur in planets!

Finally, they need the equivalent to a "gene": an organizer, a transcriber, a collector and arranger for surrounding materials, a local spider that makes webs from the elemental particles in his immediate vicinity.

Of course, none of this stuff will change the minds of individuals who look for a Designer: their search reflects a gene for flocking and flocks too easily imply a leader and carriers of that gene go nuts if environment doesn't permit one. Even clumps fo grass must have had a first blade! (One alternative finds leadership to be dispersed in a collective intelligence, a whole that depends on sync and synergy between its members as they follow simple rules. The rules for "boids" is an example: "fly toward the middle" and "don't hit another boid." A flock, a school, or a congregation emerge. Thus, it might be that no one duck knows the entire route to Florida. Or does every single duck have receptors that track subtle differences in visible light, differences that correlate with the seasons? Scatter the flock and its members all hit the same pond in the Everglades at about the same time. A relatively simple tool once more replaces a Great Schemer!)

References
Ball, P. (2004) Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another. NY: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
Eiseley, L. (1961) Darwin's Century: Evolution and the Men Who Discovered It. NY: Doubleday. (Still a splendid introduction to Hutton, Lyell, Hutton, Ray, Chambers, and many others. JB)
Gaulin, S. & McBurney, D. (2001) Psychology: An Evolutionary Approach. NY: Prentice Hall. (Limited speculation on the evolutionary foundations for causality. Not sure anyone picked up on their lead.)
Wilson, Flip (1960s). Wherever he is now.

Copyright, James Brody, 2005, all rights reserved.
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  #2  
Unread October 14th, 2005, 11:45 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Intelligent Design and Why Not

Hey JimB, waddup? I finally was banned from the atheist forum—I think it was my lack of reverence for their belief in chance, not to mention my occasional lack of tact.

Quote:
JimB: Creationists swallow that hook and expect the rest of us to do likewise even though we have a different set of genes and a different set of beliefs.
Yes, there does seem to be a “different set of beliefs” among various groups of folk, although I don’t know how much of that difference we can actually blame on a “different set of genes”—brothers have been fighting turf wars and slaughtering one another for millennia.

Quote:
JimB: Second, I suggest that Intelligent Design will be challenged best when the physics people show us the fossils left by failed universes: designs that represent exploratory throws of the dice, grand experiments that sometimes produced an Earth but also left a trail of abortions, misfits, and failures. Could it be that Dark Matter represents outcomes wherein both the organization of energy and its measured release failed to emerge! Or that black holes are gateways to chaos and stasis on scales that we have not encountered before? Or will we see Neptune and Earth as equally evolved organizations but for different niches?
Yeah, actual science/evidence for infinite universe(s) would help—but then with randomness and the infinite universe(s), everything is possible, including a universe where elephants wear pink dresses and atheists outbreed Mormons. Unfortunately however, for those who believe in infinite universes, the current science/evidence actually points only to one universe having one beginning, from a singularity 14 billion years ago, having inexplicably low entropy.

Here’s a short (4½ pages) piece you may or may not be interested in—a July 2005 paper on the Arrow of Time and initial conditions: http://xxx.lanl.gov/PS_cache/gr-qc/pdf/0507/0507094.pdf , Robert M Wald, Enrico Fermi Institute and Dept of Physics, U. of Chicago—the paper notes that entropy at the time of the BB was extremely low, that the “initial state of the observable portion of our universe at/near the BB was “very special”—and argues that it “it is not plausible that these special initial conditions have a dynamical origin [e.g., inflation scenario, currently a popular view among many cosmologists, essentially requiring infinite random cosmic farts that eventually result in our universe].”
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  #3  
Unread October 22nd, 2005, 11:45 AM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Default Re: Intelligent Design and Why Not

Fred,

You and Shelly are welcome anytime the other bars throw you out...

I grant you that it's peculiar to believe in alternate universes but it's also peculiar to believe in only this one. The data are still out. Selection appears so damned flexible and so damned opportunistic.

Brothers against brothers .... only 50% related. Replays of sibling rivalry? The challenge to genes might arise from the fact that identical twins are usually soul mates rather than bitter rivals for the same resources...therein lurks a prize to be won.

Even your devil might choose the most able sinners and roast them one way but we mediocre types another. Would Lucifer turn up the heat for his nearest competitor or welcome her as an ally? And if the latter, imagine the bitterness in cooking your soulmate or in making her scream without screwing her.

A hot question, no doubt. Could get me cooked by a mullah someday!

My best to you both...

Jim
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  #4  
Unread December 2nd, 2005, 10:58 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Intelligent Design and Why Not

Quote:
JimB: I grant you that it's peculiar to believe in alternate universes but it's also peculiar to believe in only this one….
It’s been said that the devil is in the details. But then the principle of parsimony, not to mention a lack of evidence, seems to preclude any rational belief in multiple universes . . . or devils. I find it more reasonable to believe in the 14 billion year old universe that we seem to perceive and find ourselves in, the inexplicably low entropy at the beginning, and, of course, first cause—infinite universes and devils are just too peculiar, unsubstantiated, and extravagant.
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  #5  
Unread December 3rd, 2005, 09:57 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Default Re: Intelligent Design and Why Not

Fred...

I have a traditional Catholic client who asserted: "It is no more rational to believe in a big bang than it is to believe in a creator."

I agreed with him and find that your point reminds me of his. if you insist on a creator, why limit His, never Her, ability in regard to the number of universes?

And the phase transition idea that works so well in physics and in cognition seems adaptable to the evolution of universes...a narrow range of conditions favor chaotic or rigid organizations. Neither of them evolve. And one key variable for pliant, exploratory organizations is the average number of interconnections between participants. About 2.5 worked for Stu Kauffman's simulations, it also appears in many power law descriptions of emergent networks that are characterized by clustering and by close connectivity, a set of relationships that resist jamming...

I dare not believe that so much can unfold from such basic stuff, but just maybe we are on the verge of understanding some very fundamental stuff...

PS: I think I love your wife....

Jim
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  #6  
Unread December 5th, 2005, 04:44 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Intelligent Design and Why Not

I’m inclined to agree that it’s no more, nor no less, “rational to believe in the big bang than it is to believe in a creator"—the current science/evidence points to the one 14 billion year old entropy-only-increases universe that we find ourselves in; and implications of first cause, I think, are unavoidable.

Shortly after we got engaged (after several dates), and the news was out, two of my betrothed’s old boyfriends also proposed to her—I’m not sure how serious they were, but it does seem that guys often miss the mark, wasting energy on coveting, and multiplying entities beyond necessity.

Of course with infinite universes and “randomness,” the probability of a universe like ours, where Shelley marries me, is 1—and sure enough, here we are—as is the probability of other universes, where Shelley instead marries someone else. So with infinite universes, not only are all things possible, all things are 100% probable, with little need for Yahweh. Oh happy day . . . I’m reminded of that old favorite:
Quote:
Now that ain't workin' that's the way you do it,
You play the guitar on that MTV.
That ain't workin' that's the way you do it,
Money for nothin' and your chicks for free.
I want my, I want my, I want my MTV.
But alas, the many universes scenario lacks evidence, science, and elegance. Besides, isn’t one universe, like one wife, more than enough? Nevertheless, if my liver completely shuts down, then you and the others may have an opportunity . . . but probably not—for as my beloved has occasionally said, “Once you go Fred, you never go back.
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  #7  
Unread January 14th, 2006, 06:39 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Default Re: Intelligent Design and Why Not (Parsomony)

"But then the principle of parsimony, not to mention a lack of evidence, seems to preclude any rational belief in multiple universes ."

I think Lewontin pointed out that nature is not parsimonious even though human beliefs attempt such in science. Occam's razor emasculates sexual selection: the displays that Geoff Miller described as an underpinning for human smarts and that Pinker called a "spin doctor."

Jim
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  #8  
Unread December 14th, 2005, 12:23 PM
sk8rgrl23 sk8rgrl23 is offline
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Default Re: Intelligent Design and Why Not

This is all nothign more than a splitting of hairs, the underlying motive being to banish anything from our schools that contradicts the literal word of the Bible. Some people can't tolerate the idea that they will have to send their children forth into the world to be faced with new ideas, and God forbid! end up raising questions their narrow-minded parents can't answer. the whole argument about a higher power creating all this is a false argument, as many if not most evolutionary scientists have a beilef in a higher power and see no conflict with evolution and God.
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  #9  
Unread December 17th, 2005, 03:40 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Default Biology & Atheism

There are data "somewhere" that most biologists are atheists, most astronomers are theists...

JB
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  #10  
Unread December 22nd, 2005, 12:13 PM
Charles McNeil Charles McNeil is offline
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Default Re: Intelligent Design and Why Not

Quote:
Originally Posted by sk8rgrl23
This is all nothign more than a splitting of hairs, the underlying motive being to banish anything from our schools that contradicts the literal word of the Bible. Some people can't tolerate the idea that they will have to send their children forth into the world to be faced with new ideas, and God forbid! end up raising questions their narrow-minded parents can't answer. the whole argument about a higher power creating all this is a false argument, as many if not most evolutionary scientists have a beilef in a higher power and see no conflict with evolution and God.
I'm reminded of an aboriginal belief in existance, but I would describe it differently: reality rests on the back of a "higher power" and it's higher powers all the way up!
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