Recognising design

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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Kurieuo
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#46

Post by Kurieuo » Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:43 pm

BGoodForGoodSake wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:
sandy_mcd wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:I think my question may have been missed. Given genetic modifications were made within a labratory, if another group of scientists were handed such a modified form without any information that it had been modified, isn't it conceivable they might be able to work out it had been intelligently modified by examining the modified form and following some sort of methodology?Kurieuo
Guess I can cancel my PM since you have rephrased the question.
Yes, it is possible for certain modifications that a second group of scientists would be very certain that someone had been tinkering with the DNA. For other modifications it would not be clear.
So what signs would the second group of scientists see in order to come to the conclusion that genetic modifications had been made? Beginning to answer this question delves into the thought processes of Intelligent Design - the school of thought believing science can identify whether certain features of the natural world are the products of intelligence.

Kurieuo
I am not sure that it would be easy to detect these changes in the organism alone. However if one were given the liberty to examine natural organisms as a whole and were able to do comparative analysis.
Lets say there is a drastic change in the new organisms genome which includes genetic material originating from organisms which could not have combined their genomes naturally(sexually,virally etc...).
This organism would stick out like a sore thumb.

However if the scientists were not allowed this comparative analysis there would be nothing to suggest design, or evolution.
I can understand that without comparative analysis one couldn't know with as much certainty, but then the scientists may be deceived about the true origin of the organism before them. Are they in any better situation to assume such came about naturally, or should they take a more unbiassed approach to the issue leaving the possibility open either way? Do you think it matters either way what one believes on origins when they conduct science to discover how an organism works?
BGood wrote:Going further lets imagine that genetic modification of organisms became common place. Scientists who were to arrive to this situation would never even conceive of the notion of evolutionary theory, as comparative analysis would not lead to any sort of heirarchy. Perhaps the analysis would lead to the conclusion that organisms were constructed.
I'm not sure I'd agree with this if I understand you, since keeping to the scenario you present here, scientists would have no doubt gradually invented more and more genetic diversity with existing templates. Thus, some sort of heirarchy of genetic development would be seen, though not by natural evolution.

Kurieuo
Last edited by Kurieuo on Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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#47

Post by sandy_mcd » Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:46 pm

BGoodForGoodSake wrote:I am not sure that it would be easy to detect these changes in the organism alone. However if one were given the liberty to examine natural organisms as a whole and were able to do comparative analysis.
I think that familiarity with existing organisms is essential. Someone who examines a rabbit and finds a section coding for a fluorescent green protein found in jellyfish could conclude that it did not get there without intervention. But you need to be familiar with existing organisms to differentiate between natural and artificial changes. For many changes or features, it would not be clear how they came about. I am in over my head here since I do not know much about biology. Also I tend to reason by analogy and fix things by looking at functional models. Nonetheless, being able to examine nature and being aware of capabilities for altering it seems to be the easiest way for detecting design. But this method only works in egregious cases.
I believe the idea of irreducible complexity is perhaps feasible. But since it depends on being convinced that something could not develop naturally, it requires a much broader and detailed knowledge of natural processes. So I feel a study of conventional mainstream biology is very important and don't put much weight in non-scientists (e.g. mathematicians) who are proponents of ID.

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#48

Post by sandy_mcd » Wed Dec 07, 2005 5:52 pm

Kurieuo wrote:I can understand that without comparative analysis one couldn't know with as much certainty, but then the scientists may be deceived about the true origin of the organism before them. Are they in any better situation to assume such came about naturally, or should they take a more unbiassed approach to the issue leaving the possibility open either way?
Scientists are human. If they see something which looks like a natural organism, they will assume that is what it is. If you secretly substitute something artificial for something natural (say instant coffee), they may not catch on for awhile or at all because they have a built in bias. Similarly someone convinced of the existence of Noah's Ark is likely to be convinced by less evidence than a skeptic.

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#49

Post by Kurieuo » Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:11 pm

sandy_mcd wrote:Scientists are human. If they see something which looks like a natural organism, they will assume that is what it is.
That's the catch isn't it? Not all believe that things within biology look natural. Perhaps it is my programming background, but I see information rich code within biological systems. Functions all working together within one large program (an organism), and many templates being re-used from one species to the nest like a programmer would bits of their own code from one program to the next. Such suggests more to me an intelligent programmer, rather than a random generator.

Whatever one believes, they can be deceived either way. Yet, I don't follow strict evidentialism—the thought that a person does not have an epistemic right to believe unless they can provide good evidence for their belief (although I believe evidence still plays an important role and one must still be convinced of their beliefs). I think this may be in a nutshell the difference between BGood and myself—different conceptions of what it takes to be epistemically justified. Yet, in my perspective assuming natural processes without comparative analysis is in no better position than assuming design without comparative analysis.

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#50

Post by sandy_mcd » Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:32 pm

Fortigurn wrote:If it is agreed that we can discern artificially occurring 'non-random' constructs from naturally occurring 'random' constructs, then we are on the way to approaching (1) and (2) with some common ground.
I would say that sometimes a distinction can be made but not always.

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#51

Post by Kurieuo » Wed Dec 07, 2005 7:26 pm

sandy_mcd wrote:I believe the idea of irreducible complexity is perhaps feasible. But since it depends on being convinced that something could not develop naturally, it requires a much broader and detailed knowledge of natural processes.
Disagree. Michael Behe, for example, who is responsible for coining the term irreducible complexity appears to accept both (e.g., see http://www.arn.org/docs/behe/mb_dm11496.htm).

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#52

Post by Cougar » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:08 pm

Ok so here is a somewhat relavent question:

I am sure you are familiar with the "Bible Codes"... do you think these supposed codes were designed for some meaning or they are just random letters makig up words that would happen to be in any literary work if you looked hard enough?

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#53

Post by sandy_mcd » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:21 pm

Kurieuo wrote:
sandy_mcd wrote:I believe the idea of irreducible complexity is perhaps feasible. But since it depends on being convinced that something could not develop naturally, it requires a much broader and detailed knowledge of natural processes.
Disagree. Michael Behe, for example, who is responsible for coining the term irreducible complexity appears to accept both...
I wasn't clear. What I meant was that ID requires at least one biologic feature to be IC; not that all are and that natural change is ruled out. [OTOH, disproving IC requires everything be explained naturally and is thus rather difficult.]

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#54

Post by Kurieuo » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:33 pm

Cougar wrote:Ok so here is a somewhat relavent question:

I am sure you are familiar with the "Bible Codes"... do you think these supposed codes were designed for some meaning or they are just random letters makig up words that would happen to be in any literary work if you looked hard enough?
Irrelevant, and in my opinion any Bible code talk is complete rubbish. I'm not impressed.
sandy wrote:I wasn't clear. What I meant was that ID requires at least one biologic feature to be IC; not that all are and that natural change is ruled out. [OTOH, disproving IC requires everything be explained naturally and is thus rather difficult.]
No it doesn't. Something can be IC and still possibly happen naturally, but just not gradually. (see PM)

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#55

Post by Believer » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:37 pm

Cougar wrote:Ok so here is a somewhat relavent question:

I am sure you are familiar with the "Bible Codes"... do you think these supposed codes were designed for some meaning or they are just random letters makig up words that would happen to be in any literary work if you looked hard enough?
Of course they are fake, just like evolution, you look hard enough for what you want out of it to fit your philosophy and you will get it :wink:.

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#56

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:40 pm

Kurieuo wrote:
BGoodForGoodSake wrote:I am not sure that it would be easy to detect these changes in the organism alone. However if one were given the liberty to examine natural organisms as a whole and were able to do comparative analysis.
Lets say there is a drastic change in the new organisms genome which includes genetic material originating from organisms which could not have combined their genomes naturally(sexually,virally etc...).
This organism would stick out like a sore thumb.

However if the scientists were not allowed this comparative analysis there would be nothing to suggest design, or evolution.
I can understand that without comparative analysis one couldn't know with as much certainty, but then the scientists may be deceived about the true origin of the organism before them. Are they in any better situation to assume such came about naturally, or should they take a more unbiassed approach to the issue leaving the possibility open either way?
Given an organism without knowing if it was modified there would be the bias that it is natural. It would take comparative analysis to really determine the nature of an organism. And only if the genes are found to be strikingly familiar to existing life forms which are distantly related. However with the state of technology today it would be most probable that an organism modified in this manor would not.
a.) Have a well defined niche in any regional ecosystems.
b.) Belong to a large population of animals.
c.) Be optimally adapted to the region they are discovered.
Kurieuo wrote:Do you think it matters either way when conducting science to see how an organism works?
The variability within populations is as important as the study of individual organisms.
Kurieuo wrote:
BGood wrote:Going further lets imagine that genetic modification of organisms became common place. Scientists who were to arrive to this situation would never even conceive of the notion of evolutionary theory, as comparative analysis would not lead to any sort of heirarchy. Perhaps the analysis would lead to the conclusion that organisms were constructed.
I'm not sure I'd agree with this if I understand you, since keeping to the scenario you present here, scientists would have no doubt gradually invented more and more genetic diversity with existing templates.
Yes, of course however at first it is likely scientists would have taken pieces of code from one organism and transferred them to another. And by the time the technology matured there would be very few virgin populations.
Kurieuo wrote:Thus, some sort of heirarchy of genetic development would be seen, though not by natural evolution.
We would expect much reuse of sequences which work best. Some protein forms are more succeptible to degeneration, some protein chains more or less resistant to heat or cold. Some genetic sequences more vulnerable to viral attack or mutations.
Kurieuo wrote:
sandy_mcd wrote:Scientists are human. If they see something which looks like a natural organism, they will assume that is what it is.
That's the catch isn't it? Not all believe that things within biology look natural. Perhaps it is my programming background, but I see information rich code within biological systems. Functions all working together within one large program (an organism), and many templates being re-used from one species to the nest like a programmer would bits of their own code from one program to the next.
I also do a good amount of programming and the analogy doesn't work. Organisms do not use inheritance in the way you see it. The genetic code is slightly different to very different for genes which function in producing the same functional protein. It is as if each organism has the same operating system, however the objects are rewritten each time, with changes corresponding to the similarities of each program. So you have one programming language but a whole different set of COM objects for each implementation. For instance the ADO object works the same way for each but it is copied and then modified each time with different logic and comments as well as different spacing and formatting leading to different file sizes. The program for two different web based solutions have similar ADO objects but with different comments, while the ADO object for a console application has completely different spacing. Also the functions serve multiple purposes in this language sometimes interfering with other processes or even leading to system crashes and opening vulnerabilities. Let me know what you do most of your development in so I can write a better analogy.
=)
Right now I am writing in C# writing windows services so I used .COM
Kurieuo wrote:Such suggests more to me an intelligent programmer, rather than a random generator.
Its not a random generator. Any subsequently modified program must run until it can spawn a child process, if not then no new threads form. However the beauty of it is that each child process is different from the parent process, thus testing all possible combinations within the parameters, and removing the worst solutions.
Kurieuo wrote:Whatever one believes, they can be deceived either way. Yet, I don't follow strict evidentialism—the thought that a person does not have an epistemic right to believe unless they can provide good evidence for their belief (although I believe evidence still plays an important role and one must still be convinced of their beliefs). I think this may be in a nutshell the difference between BGood and myself—different conceptions of what it takes to be epistemically justified. Yet, in my perspective assuming natural processes without comparative analysis is in no better position than assuming design without comparative analysis.
Without comparative analysis evolution could not have been conceived.

I agree with you in that you don't need evidence to back what one believes. I have beliefs myself with no basis in physical proof. However in science evidentiary support is paramount.
Last edited by BGoodForGoodSake on Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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#57

Post by Fortigurn » Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:22 pm

sandy_mcd wrote:
Fortigurn wrote:If it is agreed that we can discern artificially occurring 'non-random' constructs from naturally occurring 'random' constructs, then we are on the way to approaching (1) and (2) with some common ground.
I would say that sometimes a distinction can be made but not always.
Great. So we need to determine how and why such a distinction can be made in some cases but not others.

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#58

Post by Fortigurn » Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:27 pm

Cougar wrote:Ok so here is a somewhat relavent question:

I am sure you are familiar with the "Bible Codes"... do you think these supposed codes were designed for some meaning or they are just random letters makig up words that would happen to be in any literary work if you looked hard enough?
The latter.

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#59

Post by Believer » Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:34 pm

Fortigurn wrote:
Cougar wrote:Ok so here is a somewhat relavent question:

I am sure you are familiar with the "Bible Codes"... do you think these supposed codes were designed for some meaning or they are just random letters makig up words that would happen to be in any literary work if you looked hard enough?
The latter.
Yes, like evolution.

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#60

Post by Kurieuo » Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:58 pm

BGoodForGoodSake wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:
BGoodForGoodSake wrote:I am not sure that it would be easy to detect these changes in the organism alone. However if one were given the liberty to examine natural organisms as a whole and were able to do comparative analysis.
Lets say there is a drastic change in the new organisms genome which includes genetic material originating from organisms which could not have combined their genomes naturally(sexually,virally etc...).
This organism would stick out like a sore thumb.

However if the scientists were not allowed this comparative analysis there would be nothing to suggest design, or evolution.
I can understand that without comparative analysis one couldn't know with as much certainty, but then the scientists may be deceived about the true origin of the organism before them. Are they in any better situation to assume such came about naturally, or should they take a more unbiassed approach to the issue leaving the possibility open either way?
Given an organism without knowing if it was modified there would be the bias that it is natural.
Not sure I'd agree, but I will say such a bias would certainly change if one believes there are significant reasons against believing the organism arose naturally. Furthermore, saying the bias should be that it arose naturally begs the question of whether infact such an organism did or even could arise naturally. Of course, if one is biassed to believing an organism can arise naturally, then like you, they will likely think it quite acceptible to believe by default that it arose naturally.

I provided my analogy of a modified organism to see whether certain methodologies could be employed to detect such modification. Without something to compare, you believe such an intelligent modification can't be detected. Thus, if the scientists handed the modified form did not have the original organism template to compare with, then you believe they should to be biassed towards it arising naturally. I don't see where this bias comes from, unless one assumes the answer from the beginning that the organism in question arose naturally.
BGood wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:Do you think it matters either way when conducting science to see how an organism works?
The variability within populations is as important as the study of individual organisms.
I updated my question to be more clear. I was meaning, do you think it matters either way what one believes on origins (whether it was designed, or natural) when conducting science to discover how an organism works?
BGood wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:
sandy_mcd wrote:Scientists are human. If they see something which looks like a natural organism, they will assume that is what it is.
That's the catch isn't it? Not all believe that things within biology look natural. Perhaps it is my programming background, but I see information rich code within biological systems. Functions all working together within one large program (an organism), and many templates being re-used from one species to the nest like a programmer would bits of their own code from one program to the next.
I also do a good amount of programming and the analogy doesn't work. Organisms do not use inheritance in the way you see it.
I'm not talking about inheritance, but true duplication. The kind of duplication which leads many evolutionary proponents to say things like, "Hey... this piece of junk DNA in 'species A' also corresponds in location and code in 'species B'". Junk DNA isn't the only corresponding thing, but it is one I use as I know it would perhaps bring the least resistence from you since you would likely see it as an argument against intelligent design (only I will add it is based on the premise that junk DNA has no purpose, actually being useless information developed by natural processes). Yet, also at the biochemical level we have the good 'ol blood clotting mechanisms, and very different animals share many obvious features with each other even if the "code" has been adapted slightly to be uniquely their own.
BGood wrote:The genetic code is slightly different to very different for genes which function in producing the same functional protein. It is as if each organism has the same operating system, however the objects are rewritten each time, with changes corresponding to the similarities of each program. So you have one programming language but a whole different set of COM objects for each implementation. For instance the ADO object works the same way for each but it is written from scratch each time with different logic and comments as well as different spacing and formatting leading to different file sizes. Also the functions serve multiple purposes in this language sometimes interfering with other processes or even leading to system crashes and opening vulnerabilities. Let me know what you do most of your development in so I can write a better analogy.
I understand your analogy and would tend to agree with most of it. Still I think there are many cases of duplication across species, and I've certainly seen such cases used in arguments supportive of common descent.

I've written in C, Java, ASP, but mainly keep to PHP now since I am more into web development side of things.
BGood wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:Such suggests more to me an intelligent programmer, rather than a random generator.
Its not a random generator. Any subsequently modified program must run until it can spawn a child process, if not then no new threads form. However the beauty of it is that each child process is different from the parent process, thus testing all possible combinations within the parameters, and removing the worst solutions.
You lost me a bit. However, getting to the heart to the issue—how did the original parent program get there to begin with? Either intelligence, or random processes governed by natural laws. Even disregarding what gets produced by the common language we both appear to agree exists, how did the language itself come about? You create applications in C#, but who created the language you create applications in? Who wrote the system within which the language you use compiles and runs? I think having an understanding of such things really hits home for me personally in accepting design as a common sense explanation.
BGood wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:Whatever one believes, they can be deceived either way. Yet, I don't follow strict evidentialism—the thought that a person does not have an epistemic right to believe unless they can provide good evidence for their belief (although I believe evidence still plays an important role and one must still be convinced of their beliefs). I think this may be in a nutshell the difference between BGood and myself—different conceptions of what it takes to be epistemically justified. Yet, in my perspective assuming natural processes without comparative analysis is in no better position than assuming design without comparative analysis.
Without comparative analysis evolution cannot exist.

I agree with you in that you don't need evidence to back what one believes. I have beliefs myself with no basis in physical proof. However in science evidentiary support is paramount.
It cuts both ways though, as you yourself admitted "without knowing if it was modified there would be the bias that it is natural." Such isn't a very scientific form of judgement.

Kurieuo
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