Hello Zachriel (if you do indeed decide to visit me here), welcome to my humble blog.
My apologies that this is so long, however, I felt that I needed considerable room to describe coded information and what is meant by specificity, as well as providing one testable and potentially falsifiable ID hypothesis.
My comments from the blog at Telic Thoughts will be in green and Zachriel, your comments will appear in blue and will be
With that, Zachriel sets the stage:
design by filling Gaps in human knowledge with some sort of designer. Angels pushing planets on
crystal spheres. Demons causing disease. Faeiry Rings. An angry Sky God hurling lightning bolts.
CJYman: These are eroneous conclusions because they are not created through any scientific
inference or experiment. Tell me, what experience do we have with angels, crystal spheres, demons, or angry sky gods, so that we can use them as causal explanations of phenomenon?
impressive, intricate, specific and detailed planetary movements and say that they are due to agency. If a claim is to have scientific validity, it has to lead to specific and distinguishing empirical consequences.
CJYman: Exactly, and this is where the point re: codes and intelligence as a valid scientific
inference which I usually bring to the table and which stunney continues to bring forward is
“Codes” – I mean coded information, of which cryptanalysis deals with in part. What system creates coded information and the information processor to convert present codes into future integrated systems? Here’s a hint – you possess it.
In fact, cryptanalysis deals with discovering a code's cypher, or specificity. If there is a cypher, causing the code to be specified, then it is possible to process (convert) the code with some type of information processor (ie: "enigma machine"). This is important and I will be discussing specificity further on in this post, and how specificity is one of the main defining factors of coded information.
CJYman: Furthermore, appealing to angels and demons is major orders of magnitude off of
appealing to intelligence, since science is beginning to understand intelligence, can model
intelligence, understands that intelligence and information are intricately related — in fact necessary for each other as far as we can scientifically determine.
assumptions, which we then use to devise specific and distinguishing empirical tests.
Hold on – that certainly did not seem to be “precisely the point” when you seemed to be saying that ID theory is no more scientific than “angels, demons, and crystal spheres theory.” I have just shown that line of thinking to be COMPLETELY incorrect and a horrible obfuscation, and you seem to agree with me now.
So why again, does it seem that you were trying to conflate ID theory with a belief in angels, demons and crystal spheres? What was your point in bringing up angels, demons, and crystal spheres?
It is obviously perfectly scientific to create a tentative assumption that intelligence is necessary to program the appearance of information processing systems. That is one aspect of ID theory.
CJYman: Conversely, there is no scientific understanding of angels and demons, no scientific
models of 'artificial' angels/angelicness or demons/demonicness, and so far no scientific
'inter-relatedness' between angels, crystal spheres, and planetary motion.
Because of that, I am extremely fed up with your irrelevant and nonsensical smoke and mirror obfuscations of ID with angels and crystal spheres.
of these phenomena. Whatever poetic value they have had, invoking agency to explain planetary
motions is scientifically vacuous.
Again, what does this have to do with ID theory? You say “precisely the point,” but I am missing your original point and why you brought up angels and crystal spheres in the first place.
CJYman: Specificity, not merely complexity, is a sign of intelligence.
It is obvious we are not on the same playing field when discussing specificity. You are discussing complex natural laws of attraction (voltaic, magnetic, and gravitational) that cause something to move about in a specific orbit, rather than willy-nilly. However, there is no specification or representation/conversion as the term is used within ID theory.
Let’s look to the dictionary for a start:
-specified: to include as an item in a specification.
-specification: a detailed precise presentation of something or of a plan or proposal for something.
As you can see, when something is specified, it includes, within its detailed plan, a separate item.
– ie: SPECIFIC markings on Mount Rushmore SPECIFY four president’s faces; the SPECIFIC arrangement of the english letters “c” - “a” - “t” SPECIFIES the idea of a four legged mammal which carries her cubs/kittens around by the scruff of the neck and meows/roars; the SPECIFIC arrangement of nucleotides within genes can SPECIFY a molecular machine.
Another small detail is that in order for anything to be specified, it must be converted by an information processor into its specified object or idea.
This is how specification is used in ID theory and in coded information. In fact, this is how one determines if something indeed IS coded information – is there any specificity (representation/conversion). Do the units in question specify a separate function or meaning when processed? Or, as the dictionary puts it, is a separate item included within the plan – a plan being a specific arrangement (sequence)?
When dealing with something that is specified, it causes a SPECIFIC item as based on the SPECIFIC sequence/organization of its plan.
I will admit that there is a slight problem with scientifically deciding whether an object is indeed specified whenever intelligence is the system converting (processing) the object in question into its specification. This is because art (intelligent representation) is subjective and intelligence seems to be able to make subjective interpretations and decide that a pattern merely LOOKS LIKE something else. There is actually no scientific way to decide if a shape which is not composed of discrete units and not chosen from a finite “alphabet” actually represents the object in question.
However, that is not how coded informational systems work, so there needs to be a distinguishing line drawn here. Coded information is measurable because it consists of discrete units chosen from a finite alphabet and it is objectively processed by rules set by its processing system. By objectively, I mean that a specific input always equals one specific output; there is only one way for it to be processed by its compatible information processor, and it will objectively output the function, according to the rules of its compatible processor, which corresponds to the specific input with no subjective interpretation except for any “deeper meaning,” nuances, implications, etc. However any of those “deeper meanings” would be the artistic layers of some intelligently created codes (such as language) and as art those layers can not be scientifically determined to exist as an intelligent construct within the code, even though the code itself can be scientifically verified to exist because it can be processed objectively according to the rules of its governing system as having meaning/function of some type.
Furthermore, there is no ambiguity within a non-conscious information processing system as it will be completely objective as based on its programming. Ask our genetic information processing system what “ACTG ...” is and it will pump out the correct protein or regulation or system, etc. which that specific sequence specifies/represents. But if intelligent systems such as you and I look at the same ink blot or cloud or eroded sand sculpture, we will both be able to decide on separate “meanings” for the systems in question, including no meaning at all.
However, when we are dealing with coded information created by intelligence, instead of merely having an infinite number of possible abstract artistic shapes, we also have an agreed upon language with defined units, rules and words which, although created subjectively, once they are created and implemented they provide an objective set of rules for deciding specificity. Furthermore, unlike possible artistic shapes that might look like something an intelligence could have made, coded information can also be measured according to number of units measured against its available “alphabet.”
Here are two 100 bit strings of shannon information, however only one of them is coded information – or as Dr. Dembski puts it, “specified information:”
Canyouunderstandthis – specifies a question in the English language
oeskysqpqdykvuuzhfeh – specifies nothing
How can you know that one of them is coded information and thus the result of intelligence, rather than merely the result of a random string generator? You can only do so by discovering specificity since specificity is only possible in light of an information processing system (in the above case: an intelligent English speaking human) and intelligence creates information processors and according to ID theory random laws do not. IF THE STRING IS NOT DEFINED BY NATURAL LAWS OF ATTRACTION AND IF IT IS PROCESSED INTO A SEPARATE FUNCTION, IT IS SPECIFIED AND THUS THE RESULT OF INTELLIGENCE, SINCE INFORMATION/PROCESSING SYSTEMS ARE THE RESULT OF INTELLIGENCE.
Of course, Dr. Dembski goes even further for discovering necessarily programmed (intelligently designed) results within an evolving system, and explains that specified information over “x” number of bits does not have the time within our universe to have been discovered through random search (random variation) no matter how many times intermediate lengths of that string were frozen by natural selection. (At least that is how I understand Dr. Dembski’s argument) But that is not what I am discussing right now. I am merely discussing the existence of coded information/processing systems.
So, codes and information processing systems are defined not by how the systems look but by how they are specified according to the rules of its compatible processor which converts the specific arrangement of units into specific functional structure, along with the fact that coded information is not defined by physical laws of attraction between its units. Again, as per the given dictionary definition of “specified,” is a separate item included within the coded plan; and do they specify (represent) a separate function when processed -- are they processed and converted into further functional systems? Within the genome, proteins are one of the separate items which are included in the plan (blueprint) of the genome.
DEFINITION: coded information = an aperiodic sequence of units, in which the arrangement is not defined by physical laws of attraction, chosen from a finite “alphabet” which is processed (converted) into a separate system (of ideas/meaning or objects/functions). Furthermore, because it contains discrete units chosen from a finite “alphabet,” coded information can be measured in binary digits (bits) as per shannon information theory. Basically, discover a cypher (specificity) which is based on a finite alphabet, and you have discovered coded information. As far as I understand, this is the main idea behind code cracking -- cryptanalysis.
Now, let’s apply this to planetary orbits. Sure they move in a definite orbit, but do these orbits or the arrangement (sequence) of the planets themselves contain within them a separate function when processed? Well, I am not aware of any system which processes the sequence of the planets and their orbits to produce a separate item according to the specificity of the planetary orbits. The planetary orbits do not intrinsically (as the nature of the system) specify or represent anything.
Sure, we humans can extrinsically impose information on the regularities of the system (as we can with any system which acts regularly: ie atomic vibrations) and use it as a time keeping device, but that is the result of subjective intelligence and is external to the system in question and is merely a MEASUREMENT OF REGULARITY WHICH IS DEFINED BY PHYSICAL LAWS OF NATURE/ATTRACTION. The planetary system does not contain any coded (sequenced) information within it. If it did, then the planets themselves or their positions relative to each other would contain further function or meaning. That is what is known as astrology. But, I’m quite confident that you don’t see astrology as scientific.
Now, let’s look at life. How do we know we aren’t imposing information upon the system, and as you state a bit later “Is it really a "code" or are we confusing the analogy with the thing itself?”
It is actually quite obvious that life is an actual coded information processing system because it does not need any imposition externally in order to be specified. It processes its own information completely objectively -- specific input = specific output with no multiple subjective interpretations.
First, DNA isn’t a molecule that organizes itself according to physical laws of attraction between its units. Second, DNA specifies amino acids, proteins, and other systems when processed by its information processor regardless of whether we humans measure it or not. And life itself is not just a measurement of regularities – it is an actual processing (converting) of an irregular sequence of units, not defined by physical laws of attraction, into further function.
In fact, as I imply [elsewhere], if DNA existed on its own without any system to process it, it would not be coded information (or at the very least we would not be able to scientifically determine if it was coded information) -- it would merely be a random string of chemicals, probably forged accidentally and randomly since the organization of its units (nucleotides) do not follow any natural laws of attraction between the units. Likewise, if the english language did not exist within this universe and somehow a few lines of random markings organized themselves into the pattern: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...” on the side of a white birch tree, there would be no way to scientifically know if the random patterns were indeed coded information -- in fact these random markings would have no meaning since they would not specify anything without the existence of human intelligence and the English language.
Conversely, with SETI, the reason why a sequence of 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 ... would be seen as coded information resulting from intelligence is because it is not MERELY a random string of units. It is an aperiodic sequence (not merely a measurement of regularities caused by physical laws of attraction) processed by intelligence as “the mathematical idea of prime numbers” AND since its arrangement (sequence) is indeed not defined by physical laws of attraction, unlike planetary orbits, we can be confident in saying we have scientifically verified that “we are not alone.” The pattern 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 ... specifies or represents “a section of prime numbers” and is not a pattern that is created by natural laws of physical attraction as are planetary orbits.
Reminder: the subjective interpretation by intelligence of a periodic system, which is defined by physical laws of attraction and which does not rely on a processing system, as being informative based on its regularities (using planetary orbits as a timekeeper) must not be confused with the objective processing of an aperiodic system of units not defined by physical laws of attraction which has specificity/representation/meaning (life’s processing of DNA), in which processing of the system causes separate items which function together. The former is not coded information; however the latter is coded information.
The main point as I see it is that when dealing with specificity we are also dealing with an information processor of some type, since specificity is only recognizable in light of some type of information processor. There must be something which converts and causes specification. So, since intelligence and information are intricately related – both necessary for each other as far as we can scientifically determine – then, until a random set of laws causes an information processing system to randomly generate itself, ID is the best scientific explanation for specificity (coded information).
Exactly, and there IS scientific ‘inter-relatedness’ between coded information and intelligence.
CJYman: Every example of a code (specificity) that we know the origins has its origination in an
intelligence …… and according to yourself: ...
attempt to identify characteristics of the artisan or art. That's how it's done.
Yes, and that’s why we compare the information processing system of life with all known examples of coded information which has been produced by intelligence.
Ignorance of what? How information processing systems randomly and accidentally generate themselves without any underlying intelligence/plan/information? That’s not even a scientific hypothesis because when dealing with accidental randomness there is no underlying NATURAL LAW and as such there is no way to falsify an hypothesis based on random accidents.
I refer you to a quote from a Professor Hasofer:
"The problem [of falsifiability of a probabilistic statement] has been dealt with in a recent book by G. Matheron, entitled Estimating and Choosing: An Essay on Probability in Practice (Springer-Verlag, 1989). He proposes that a probabilistic model be considered falsifiable if some of its consequences have zero (or in practice very low) probability. If one of these consequences is observed, the model is then rejected.
‘The fatal weakness of the monkey argument, which calculates probabilities of events “somewhere, sometime”, is that all events, no matter how unlikely they are, have probability one as long as they are logically possible, so that the suggested model can never be falsified. Accepting the validity of Huxley’s reasoning puts the whole probability theory outside the realm of verifiable science. In particular, it vitiates the whole of quantum theory and statistical mechanics, including thermodynamics, and therefore destroys the foundations of all modern science. For example, as Bertrand Russell once pointed out, if we put a kettle on a fire and the water in the kettle froze, we should argue, following Huxley, that a very unlikely event of statistical mechanics occurred, as it should “somewhere, sometime”, rather than trying to find out what went wrong with the experiment!’”
So, what really went “wrong” with our universe for it to have created a system of replicating information processing systems which continually (at least for about 3.5 billion years) generate novel information? The reason I ask what went “wrong” is because the very foundation of life is based on a system (coded information) which is not defined by physical laws of attraction between its units. So, if we can not call upon natural laws of physical attraction, then is random accidental chance to blame or, as per the above quote, should we be looking elsewhere in order to generate an actual scientific hypothesis?
Here’s a hint: the very first information processing system in the universe (presumably life) was either created randomly and accidentally or was influenced or programmed to exist by intelligence since the informational units which are the foundation of life are not defined by physical laws of attraction. Since there is no room for physical laws of attraction, then it is either “sheer dumb luck” or it is somehow caused by agency and the only type of agency that we are scientifically aware of is necessarily associated with intelligence. Or, maybe there is a second scientifc option ... any ideas?
Furthermore, how does the scientific knowledge of the ‘inter-relatedness’ of information processing systems and intelligence depend on human ignorance? This ‘inter-relatedness’ depends ENTIRELY on what we DO EXPERIMENTALLY KNOW: intelligence requires information processing and information processing requires previous intelligence. Do you have any scientific data that even remotely suggests otherwise?
IMHO, it is modern evolutionary theory, or at least how it is sold, which depends on the extent of human ignorance. How much do we really know about life, how it operates, and how evolution and abiogenesis occur opposed to what we are sold ... er ... told by the scientific priests among us? I think that the “Edge of Evolution” really served to expose the fact that we are still in the dark ages in actual observation and experimental understanding of evolution.
For more, I refer you to Dr. Shapiro.
designed. So, state it as a hypothesis, and then form specific and distinguishing predictions. If it is designed, then what is the causal link to the designer? How did the designer manufacture the coding device? Who is this designer? Is there more than one designer? Are they aliens or gods? What are they like? Is it really a "code" or are we confusing the analogy with the thing itself? What observations do we make?
These are all excellent questions and are perfectly compatible and would only be explored within an ID paradigm. A few more good question would be:
-“How do you design a program to necessarily produce an information processor within it and how does this relate to our universe and the first information processor within it?” and,
-“How do you design an information processing system to evolve toward intelligence and consciousness as it interacts with its environment and how would this relate to life as we know it?” and,
-“Is there a law of conservation of information, where the generation of a certain amount of new information must be dependant on a specific amount of previous information, so that there is never a true informational free lunch?” and,
-“Is it possible to front load a small amount of information to contain and necessarily produce a larger amount of information upon interaction with its environment: in effect, a type of technologically advanced information compression strategy?”
Of course all of these questions can only be answered as the necessary evidence and data are discovered. Some may be scientifically answerable and others may not. For more discussion of the science of IDT refer to “The Science of Intelligent Design.” (from this blog)
process of investigation.
Now, to wrap this all up, let me try to put it a slightly different way and present my scientific question and hypothesis.
Over the course of time there have been at least four different information processing “events” including that of the “appearance” of the universe (when time/matter began). When I say “events”, I am referring to the appearance of new information and information processing systems.
Here are four of them:
1. The information processor which causes the program we know as our universe (matter and energy). This is a quantum information processor. For more info read the book “Programming the Universe” by Seth Lloyd.
2. Matter and energy in the form of atoms creating the information processing system of the living cell -- abiogenesis. This is a biochemical information processor.
3. Living cells in the form of neurons creating the information processing system of the brain. I would call this a cellular (neurons) information processor.
4. A collection of interacting brains creating systems of language (including further information processing systems – computers and artificial intelligence). These are electronic information processors.
Now, in reference to these information processing systems, I would like to ask a scientific question – one that has the potential of being testable and falsified.
That question is: “will any random set of laws governing the program of an information processing system spontaneously generate even one, much less three information processing systems within the initial program, layering them all on top of each other, or is preceding intelligence (programming) necessary as a cause for this phenomenon?” IOW, what causes information processors? Are they caused by physical laws of attraction, random chance, or intelligence, or ...?
Now, here are some definitions in my own words and brief explanations. BTW: these are only IMO and do not necessarily reflect any ID scientist’s understanding of the matter, however I do see them as defensible, informative, expandable, and perfectly consistent with ID theory.
- Re: coded information -- if you can created a cypher based on a finite alphabet for a group of units and de-code those units into their specific functional integrated items, then you are dealing with coded information.
- Natural laws of attraction do not define coded information, since coded information is not caused by physical laws of attraction between its units. Natural laws, which depend on forces of attraction (such as voltaic, magnetic, and gravitational) on their own are not a cause of coded information.
- Random causes and “anything is probable after enough time” are not scientific hypothesis, since they are not falsifiable (refer to above quote by prof. Hasofer). Science wants hard data, patterns, and repeatable laws, not "pat" answers.
Approaching my above scientific question with the understanding that science is beginning to understand intelligence, can model intelligence, understands that intelligence and information are intricately related -- in fact necessary for each other as far as we can scientifically determine, one can create the scientific hypothesis that intelligence is a necessary cause of information processing systems and that a program producing a random set of laws will not cause an information processing system to randomly self-organize. Thus, we can scientifically infer that information and intelligence were both present at the initial singularity of our universe.
BTW: this is not an argument against abiogenesis. This is a positive argument for intelligent programming for information/processing systems to exist within overarching programs. In order to falsify this, merely produce a program (which can be, for the sake of argument, taken as a given) which causes a random set of laws and see if information processing systems randomly self organize. In fact, it is my personal opinion that if ID were the governing paradigm we would probably be closer to understanding abiogenesis and evolution from an information processing point of view, rather than sticking our collective heads in the sand and only considering those “hypothesis” which allow us to get something (information processing) from nothing. IMO, the search for RANDOM abiogenesis is the search for the ultimate perpetual motion machine (free energy from nothing).
For more, refer to my thread “The Science of Intelligent Design.”