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Why Neither “Extreme” Can Take Science Literally

A blog reader named Nelson Hernandez said:

There isn’t code in DNA. Those are just letters we give chemical interactions to be able to talk about them. There isn’t a code in DNA. That’s like saying there is a code in the rain/water cycle. Nonsense.

Nelson,

There’s a guy who often comments on this site, his name is Tom Godfrey. He is a young earth creationist. He believes the universe is 6000 years old and only “looks billions of years old.” He says that science cannot be used to determine history, only the Bible.

Nobody but young earth creationists ever says this. Because the YEC worldview forbids people from thinking otherwise.

You believe that DNA only “looks like a code”. You insist code is only a convenient way humans use to describe it, but it’s not really code. My experience is, only atheists say this. Because the atheist worldview forbids people thinking otherwise.

What’s the difference between a YEC who thinks the age of the earth is an illusion and an atheist who thinks the genetic code is an illusion?

Have not both camps invented their own version of science in order to avoid what would otherwise be painfully obvious?

Just to be clear, I’m not asserting that there’s no possible naturalistic explanation for the genetic code. I’ve got a $5 million prize for anyone who can figure it out. http://www.naturalcode.org.

And we don’t even have to argue about whether it’s a code or not. All you need is something that “looks like a code” and you’ll win the money.

Ken Wilber, Involution, and Evolution as a Function of the Divine: Frank Visser and Perry Marshall in Conversation

Frank Visser discovered Ken Wilber’s work in 1982 and contacted him in 1995 by fax, after which they became friends. Frank has written the first popular academic book on Wilber: “Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion” (SUNY 2003).In this conversation, we discuss Frank’s departure from Ken Wilber’s insistence that life itself and evolution are manifestations of the divine. We explore the question of how theology informs specific evolutionary theories. Does invoking God further science? Frank and Perry take a look at the nuances of Darwinism versus Design.

  1. CREATIONISM: Sun corresponds to God. Earth corresponds to nature. Car represents man’s exploration of scientific explanations for origins. The only direction you can go to explore in creationism origins is up.
  • DARWINISM: There is only earth, there is no sun (designer). Clouds obscure any knowledge of what may be outside. All light comes from earth because all explanations are naturalistic.
  • INTELLIGENT DESIGN: Sun (designer / God) is at the far right of picture, somewhere in the distance. We can drive towards the sun and discover more about nature on earth. However, it is presumed nature can only teach us so much because there is an unspecified degree of divine intervention.
  • EVOLUTION 2.0: Sun is at the far right of the picture, indicating the existence of an ultimate source of order. Evolution 2.0 presumes intelligence as a far-off endpoint (perhaps infinitely far) and the earth (nature) as being very, very large. We don’t know how deep nature is. There is no presumed limit to naturalistic discoveries. Instead of presenting God as a source of intervention, God is ultimate source of order and structure. Theology and science are never in competition.

“Darwin Devolves” Review – Perry Marshall & Bill Cole discuss Michael Behe’s controversial new book

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiiV5LgUe5k&t=

Michael Behe’s “Darwin Devolves” asks: Has Darwin solved the design problem in biology? Behe says absolutely not, and backs his position with detailed examples. Furthermore, nobody has really solved the famous problem of “irreducible complexity” that Behe described in “Darwin’s Black Box.” But Perry Marshall insists Behe has still omitted vital details and landmark experiments. Bill Cole works closely with Behe, so Perry and Bill discuss: Will Behe’s approach be effective in addressing the shortcomings of mainstream science?

Podcast Transcript:

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Why Christians have Failed to Reckon with Good and Evil


Evolution 2.0 – Interview with Paul Braoudakis

About the terminology in this interview:

“Evolution 1.0” is Neo-Darwinism, which asserted that evolution is random and purposeless. Neo-Darwinism is obsolete.

“Evolution 2.0” is our 21st century understanding of evolution, which says that cells evolve purposefully in response to signals from the environment, in ways far beyond man-made technology. It is just as cooperative as it is competitive.

“Evolution Alpha” means the same thing as Evolution 2.0.

“Evolution Omega” on the other hand is what mankind aspires to become as we expand equality and human rights. This kind of evolution is wholly different from the meritocracy of Evolution Alpha. Here we explore the religious context from which these ideas came.

Paul:  Hello everyone. My name is Paul Braoudakis and I’m a friend of Perry Marshall, sitting here to my right. We’ve known each other for many years. We used to go to church together and now we do some things together on the business front once in a while. I’ve had a front row seat to Perry’s journey, at least part of it, and I thought it would be really interesting to be able to sit down with him and talk about some of the things that have really taken sort of front and center in his life in the last few years.

He’s written a fascinating book called Evolution 2.0. I know that many of you have read it, and he’s written many articles and blog entries and so on based around that book. I thought it would be interesting to pick his brain a little bit on some of the points that have been brought out from that book and from some of these writings.

We’re going to just spend a little bit of time going through in no particular order, just as questions came to me that were kind of probing, I thought, that Perry could offer a very unique point of view to. There’s really no agenda. Perry has not seen the questions in advance. This is not a scripted kind of thing, so what you’re going to be hearing and seeing right now is pretty raw.

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Profane Faith Podcast: Evolution 2.0

In this brand new podcast interview, Daniel White Hodge of Profane Faith, and Perry Marshall of Evolution 2.0 discuss…

  • Perry’s brother, Bryan – who went from being a Christian missionary in China to 90% of the way to atheism in just 2 years of asking the TOUGH questions about creationism.
  • Perry’s journey from extremely conservative, young earth-creationism Christianity, to almost losing his religion, then back to faith restored and a much more solid revelation.
  • The Untold Story of Evolution.
  • Discerning between junk science and verifiable facts.
  • The true age of the earth.
  • What does a CELL know that we DON’T?
  • Perry’s $5 Million Dollar science prize to anybody who can find a naturally occurring, NON-designed code.
  • Are science and religion REALLY incompatible?
  • Who was Adam (in Genesis), REALLY?
  • How Creationists underestimate God.
  • How Darwinists underestimate nature.
  • The Big Bang and God are ALSO compatible?


Where Did Life Come From? Perry Marshall’s Evolution 2.0 at Penn State University

Perry Marshall grew up in a conservative Christian community; he was taught Young Earth Creationism in church. But when a crisis forced him to question everything, he applied Electrical Engineering to the problem.

This revealed a world of discoveries he couldn’t have imagined… and engineering served him well. Cells employ digital code, error correction, information processing and control systems. These parallel and supersede human-engineered systems. One blade of grass is 10,000 years ahead of human technology.

This led him to organize a $5 million technology prize for Origin of Life and Artificial Intelligence, with judges from Harvard, Oxford and MIT. The prize was featured in IEEE Spectrum and is based on the discoveries of Claude Shannon, the legendary EE from Bell Labs who pioneered Information Theory.

Perry’s bestseller Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design brings fresh eyes to the 150-year old evolution debate. Bill Gates and the founders of Google revolutionized software and the web through their status as outsiders; similarly, Perry harnesses a communication engineer’s outsider’s point of view to reveal a century of unrecognized research and discoveries.

At Penn State, Perry will explore new frontiers of science research. He raises new questions that confront us in Artificial Intelligence and Genetic Engineering today.

Where did life come from? What happens if we crack the code?

Find out in this video…

Teleology: Purpose in Nature – Yes or No?

Jon Perry of Stated Clearly and I do a discussion and debate about purpose in nature which philosophers call teleology. This is the real issue that people are arguing about: Is the hand at the end of your arm an accumulation of random accidents? Or is it purposeful? That is the question. Jon has a popular YouTube channel called “Stated Clearly” and when my Evolution 2.0 book came out he had major criticisms of it. However, we were able to set aside our differences and have a very productive conversation in this video.

Why “God did it” halts science (even if it’s ultimately true)

“We are to press known secondary causes as far as they will go in explanation of facts. We are not to resort to an unknown cause for explanation of phenomena until the power of known causes has been exhausted. If we cease to observe this rule there is an end to all science and of all sound sense.”

-Congregational minister and Geologist George Frederick Wright (1876)

 

Designer Babies are Here to Stay

The world’s first gene edited babies have been born into the world. Chinese twins Nana and Lulu had their DNA edited using CRISPR gene editing technology, by geneticist He Jiankui.

Mr. He is a team leader at Southern University of Science and Technology in China. The twins’ DNA has now been altered to protect them from HIV.

This is the first instance of humans being born into the world with edited DNA….

THAT WE KNOW OF.

I would invite you to consult your life experience on planet earth and ask yourself:

How many designer babies have already been born, and NOT broadcast to the worldwide media?

Mr. He, after all, hired a publicist to help him broadcast the news about this, and notes that another pregnancy is underway with gene-edited babies.

Details about the experiment:

MIT Technology Review

The Atlantic

Everyone has denounced this, including the Chinese government. The genetics community is outraged, anticipating backlash and regulations.

I’m familiar with official ethical statements about gene editing by large bodies such as the National Academy of Sciences. At first glance they seem reasonable.

But what is almost always omitted is any admission that we barely understand the process by which evolutionary systems generated the code in the first place!

The elephant in the room is:

While people talk about humans now improving the genetic code intentionally for the first time in history, they never bother to mention that the best engineers at Microsoft and Google don’t even know how to write code as good as the code that bacteria write all the time!

Bacteria evolve all by themselves. Microsoft Windows does not.

So…. how much are we really going to “fix” nature?

Until we face this question, we’re not being honest with ourselves.

And unanswered questions never go away.

Perry Marshall

Random vs. Stochastic Evolution

In most conversations about evolution, the words “random” and “stochastic” are used interchangeably. They are entirely different.

“Random” means absence of pattern and purpose.

“Stochastic” means:

The word stochastic in English was originally used as an adjective with the definition “pertaining to conjecturing”, and stemming from a Greek word meaning “to aim at a mark, guess”, and the Oxford English Dictionary gives the year 1662 as its earliest occurrence. (Wikipedia)

This conveys the flavor that “stochastic” carries in engineering, where there’s an entire field called Stochastic Control Systems.

A Southwest Airlines 737 flying from Boston to Baltimore is a stochastic control system. The wind is a random variable and the flight path is the goal.

The control system adjusts in response to random variables (wind) in order to land in Baltimore.

The plane’s control system aims at a mark, makes a guess, and corrects as it goes.

Random vs. Stochastic is not arcane quibbling about semantics. It is essential to accurately model evolution.

In Darwinian evolution, mutations were always traditionally assumed to be random; the only correction, or aim, is supplied by natural selection.

When my brother confronted me with this question in 2004, I thought, “In engineering I have never seen a system that is optimized only by replication, variation and selection. It always has some controlling or correcting mechanism.”

Was I wrong? Did the biologists know something I didn’t know? I guessed I might harbor all manner of erroneous notions. I was entirely willing to turn my worldview upside down if this was really true.

I discovered a bevy of error correction, editing, and adaptive systems employed by cells. Evolution is not driven by copying errors or “randomness” in the usual sense. Cells evolve because the cell is a stochastic control system that modifies its own genome in pursuit of its goals.

The real question is: Just how purposeful is this behavior? Denis Noble raised this question in his paper “Was the Watchmaker Blind? Or Was She One-Eyed?”

Noble doesn’t attempt an answer… but he does cite many examples of organisms adapting to the needs of threatening situations. In real time.

We don’t know how purposeful or directional evolution is. What do know is: In systems we do understand, like drones, computers, prosthetic arms, thermostats and guided missiles, “replication + random mutation + selection” are never sufficient to evolve any technology.

If replication + mutation + selection evolved technology, Genetic Algorithms would be all the rage in Silicon Valley. They are occasionally useful.

In his Algorithm Design Manual, Steven Skiena warns against genetic algorithms:

    [I]t is quite unnatural to model applications in terms of genetic operators like mutation and crossover on bit strings. The pseudobiology adds another level of complexity between you and your problem. Second, genetic algorithms take a very long time on nontrivial problems. […] [T]he analogy with evolution—where significant progress requires millions of years—can be quite appropriate.

    I have never encountered any problem where genetic algorithms seemed to me the right way to attack it. Further, I have never seen any computational results reported using genetic algorithms that have favorably impressed me. Stick to simulated annealing for your heuristic search voodoo needs.

    — Steven Skiena

30 years of engineering  are more than enough to convince me that evolutionary theorists are missing something very big (huge – massiveas big as Einstein’s theories) when they toss around words like random… and then refuse to define what they mean.

Eyes and ears and wings don’t emerge because chunks of DNA get randomly shuffled like a deck of cards. Something vastly more sophisticated is going on… right under our nose. Intelligent Design theorists are missing the same landmark discovery when they abdicate to “God did it.” Sure, I believe in God… but the true science has been bulldozed by both sides.

In her 1984 Nobel Prize paper, Barbara McClintock asked: What does a cell know about itself? This is one of the most profound and provocative questions in all of science. Even fragmentary answers promise great breakthroughs in medicine and technology.

We won’t get answers until we use precise language to describe evolution. It’s time to separate the signal from the noise.

By Anthony92931 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

By Abmcdonald (talk) (Uploads) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22507293

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