The most famous, passionately argued, longest-running debate

angry_carlos_hernandez_landeroIn June 2005 I delivered my lecture “If you can read this I can prove God exists” and posted it on my website.

Today, I have to thank a brotherhood of evangelical atheists for making it world-famous. It became the longest-running, most viewed thread on the largest atheist discussion board in the world.

They never successfully countered it.

A few months after I posted my talk, a gentleman named Rob sent me an email that said, “I see right through your sophistry and pseudoscience…” and an intense discussion began.

After a couple of weeks he got flustered, so he went to the largest atheist discussion board in the world, Infidels. He posted a link to my talk and basically said, ‘be nice to this guy while you rip him to shreds.’

I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t nervous. I was nervous. (Wouldn’t you be?) One of me, dozens of them. One slip of the foot and they’d eviscerate my sorry carcass like a pack of wolverines.

If you’ve spent any time on Infidels, you’ve seen – it’s not like those guys are real big on manners. The anger and hostility is so thick you can cut it with a knife. The Infidels website is six thousand pages of rage and spitting vitriol.

It’s do-or-die time. If there’s a hole in my theory, sooner or later these guys will find it.

And I really did fear that at some point someone would pin me down on some technicality. Or at the very least, that I would screw up or say something I didn’t mean and there would be some disaster I’d have to recover from.

Nope. That’s not what happened. What happened was actually a little surprising.

Let’s just say… they used to intimidate me. They don’t anymore.

I called their bluff.

Before this happened, I couldn’t have imagined that any group of self-respecting, educated men and women would actually try to tell me that DNA isn’t really a code. But that’s exactly what they did. (It is formally, scientifically and literally a code. See explanation here.)

They tried to tell me DNA was not a code – then tried to tell me a snowflake is a code – at the very same time!

They mocked me for taking science books and dictionaries literally. They called me every name in the book. One guy got so furious that the moderator had to delete his posts and ban him from the forum.

But after years of trying, they have not punched a single hole in the argument.

_________________

The argument begins with an open question “Did DNA come from natural processes, or was it designed?” and it goes like this:

1. The pattern in DNA is a code (by definition)

2. All other codes we know the origin of are designed (by observation)

Therefore we can explore five possible conclusions:

a) Humans designed DNA
b) Aliens designed DNA
c) DNA occurred randomly and spontaneously
d) There must be some undiscovered law of physics that creates information*
e) DNA was Designed by a Superintelligence, i.e. God.

(a) requires time travel or infinite generations of humans. (b) could well be true but only pushes the question back in time. (c) may be a remote possibility, but it’s not a scientific explanation because it doesn’t refer to a systematic, repeatable process. It’s nothing but an appeal to luck. (d) could be true but no one can form a testable hypothesis until someone observes a naturally occurring code.* So the only systematic explanation that is consistent with science is (e) a theological one.

Therefore:

3. To the extent that scientific reasoning can prove anything, DNA is proof of design.

_________________

That’s it. That’s the argument. It’s that simple.

It’s so elegant, it’s irrefutable. It’s airtight.

There is nowhere for the atheist to go, except to say “I don’t know.”

Which is the truth. We don’t know, we can only infer.

All these guys understand that once they admit they don’t know, I’ll say, “Congratulations. Welcome to the world of agnosticism. Honest inquiry is now possible.”

Die-hard members of Infidels are profoundly committed to their atheist beliefs. They are just as devout as members of any religious sect. They won’t go there.

So they just endlessly argue that DNA really isn’t a code…. or it’s only a code in our imaginations…. or that rocks and snowflakes and cosmic rays are codes. Or that it’s not permissible for rational people to draw these sorts of silly conclusions.

I spent five years answering every single question and addressing every objection. I posted an exhaustive Q&A summary at http://evo2.org/iidb.htm. You can click to six different pages that carefully address all the major arguments.

I noticed that one by one, the ‘smart ones’ dropped out. The moderator refuses to answer any of my questions, even though I’ve answered every single one of his.

One guy said, “If you quote Hubert Yockey one more time, I’m going to scratch your eyes out.”

One guy, screen name “Robert Webb” eventually showed up. He’s an atheist but he’s also a computer programmer and he called them on it. He said, “Perry’s definitions are correct, points #1 and #2 are right and you’re never going to prove him wrong.” They lashed out at him for saying that, and accused him of secretly arguing my side.

So far as I can tell, most of the ones who are still hanging in there haven’t actually read or listened to my presentation. They just go around in circles and call me names.

I stop by every few months and answer questions. Meanwhile this has become the most viewed, longest-running thread in the history of Infidels.

I have proven God exists, and… the place where this has been most thoroughly articulated is the largest atheist website in the world.

I love it!

God has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?

I’ve learned a lot from this. In no particular order, here’s what I’ve observed:

1. When people are backed into a corner and do not want to change their beliefs. They go into denial. No amount of logic, evidence, scientific findings or proof can change their minds. I guess somehow I had thought that if you put enough peer-reviewed, non-controversial textbooks, definitions and examples in front of them they would admit that I could be right.

Nope… not the case. If someone doesn’t want to believe something, there is nothing you can do to change their minds.

NOTHING.

2. Most people do not know that science is based on inference. The idea that there is a law of gravity is inferred from 100% consistent observations. You can’t literally prove it. Belief in all scientific laws rests on faith in something you cannot prove: Namely, that the universe operates according to fixed discoverable laws.

3. Many people also do not know that the core belief of science – that the universe operates according to fixed discoverable laws – was originally a religious idea. To the best of my knowledge, this idea was first introduced 3000 years ago by Solomon, who wrote “Thou hast ordered all things in weight and number and measure.” (Wisdom of Solomon 11:21)

4. People who are well informed about things like the inner workings of computer systems – hardware and software engineers, for example – almost never challenge me on Information Theory. When I gave three different lectures at Lucent Technologies / Bell Labs, for example (the company where Claude Shannon first developed information theory), nobody accused me of applying the theory incorrectly.

The ones who argue are science wannabes, not professionals. People who think that watching the Discovery Channel or the latest Evolution show on PBS makes their opinions scientific.

5. When people feel threatened they abandon facts and resort to name-calling and emotional tirades. They accuse you of practicing “pseudoscience” and they say that you’re an “idiot” and a “creationist”.

They quote passages from the latest Richard Dawkins bestseller as though it were a Holy Book.

6. The real reason some people believe that life was caused by random accident is they have a very, very hard time fathoming that an all-knowing God would allow the world to be so messed up. This is a moral judgment, not a scientific position. “Accidents happen, therefore it’s all an accident.”

This at least appears to relieve them of having to explain why there is evil in the world. (Perhaps that’s true. But the problem is, it leaves them with no objective definition of what is good.)

7. Theologians gave birth to science in the middle ages. People who believed the world operated according to fixed, discoverable laws, began to search for those laws. People like Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, Mendel, Boyle, Maxwell and even Einstein saw science as a way of studying the mind of God.

Science itself got started in ancient Rome, Greece, China and in Islam – but it never went anywhere in those cultures. Why? I would like to suggest that none of those cultures had a theology that described a systematic universe. But Christianity did teach that the universe was systematic and discoverable and that’s why science succeeded in the West after failing everywhere else.

8. Because of my websites www.cosmicfingerprints.com and www.coffeehousetheology.com, I have had literally thousands upon thousands of email conversations with people about science, religion, morality, and all of kinds of deep questions. People from literally every single country in the world, every religion, every race and belief system you can imagine.

And I can assure you – NOBODY argues more stridently than the atheists. Nobody.

Militant atheism is most zealous form of religious fundamentalism in the world today. And yes, based on all my conversations and experiences I do classify atheism as an extremist religion. I’ve heard all the usual objections to that but I just don’t buy them. Modern atheism is not the least bit interested in discovering the truth, it’s only interested in making disciples.

A common stereotype of Muslims, for example, is that they are dogmatic and belligerent. But almost none of the Muslims I have ever encountered are actually like that! Atheists overwhelmingly are.

They’re combative and not only do they fail to show respect, they display burning contempt and derision for religious people. Atheists are more dogmatic about what they believe than anyone else I’ve ever encountered. Again, that’s my own experience from answering thousands of emails and debating in the Infidels forum.

9. Many people perceive science and religion as being in a war with each other. It’s a false war that has been largely invented and perpetrated by a tiny minority of extremely angry people. These people have perpetrated a lot of myths, too – for example they tell you that people believed the earth was flat until 500 years ago.

Wrong. People have known the earth was round for 2500 years.

You may not have known that prior to the mid- to late-1800’s there was far less hostility between science and religion. Yes there are the Galileo vs. the Church stories, but we have an exact reversal of that today: Scientists who are persecuted by secular institutions because of their religious beliefs. I predict that some day the present hostility will subside.

10. Atheists are very good at going on the attack. But they are astonishingly weak when they are called to defend what they believe (i.e. that life was a random accident; that the big bang happened for no particular reason at all; that there’s an infinite number of other universes somewhere.) I’ve found that when I press them for answers, they usually at some point suddenly vanish, never to return.

A very popular biologist, author and prominent atheist spokesman (he is referenced more than 200,000 times on the Internet and was a featured speaker at the 2010 World Atheist Conference in Melbourne Australia) subscribed to this very email series you’re reading right now. He sent me an email just the other day. He said:

“You’re insane, and you’re ignorant. You can stop sending me your foolish twaddle, your info is now in my filters.”

I kindly asked him if I could post his name and his comments on my website. No response.

That’s it. Total refusal to engage.

You know why?

Because he knows he can’t win.

I realize that I am not being terribly kind to atheism here (though I am not being unkind to anyone either). The atheist belief system needs to be punched in the face by people of all beliefs, and forced to account for itself. The infidels debate and this website www.cosmicfingerprints.com is an open challenge for atheists to provide evidence for the things they believe in.

Tossing around words like “rational inquiry” and “science” and “non-sequitur” is no substitute for sound reasoning, actual practice of science, and the use of logic.

If atheism is going to wear the robe of science and reason, it’s time for us to expect it to answer science questions, not evade them. We need to demand reasons, not non-reasons. Open factual discussion, not name-calling and childish behavior from anonymous cowards.

And… if the atheist doesn’t know, let’s allow him to admit he doesn’t know, and be kind to him when he makes that admission.

And once he is open to following the evidence wherever it leads, let us welcome him into the world of honest and rational inquiry.

Perry Marshall

P.S.: I used to say: “If you doubt what I am saying here – go to the Infidels site and see for yourself. Read every single post in the 5+ year thread.” (They took it down and refused my requests to make it public. Screen shot at http://evo2.org/dna-atheists/.) Read every reference you can find to this anywhere on the Internet. If after that you still think that my argument has been dismantled by the Infidels and I’m doing a cover-up job, then come back here and post your questions. Please read the FAQ first.

*P.P.S.: I have a multi-million dollar prize for Origin Of Information at www.naturalcode.org.

316 Responses

  1. Johan says:

    Once upon a time a large .very very large universe began as a singularity. ………..

    Once upon there existed a super being and he created ……….

    This is basically what all the arguments are about, everybody doing their utmost to defend their preferred fairy tale.

    Science is basically only sophisticate curiosity and can only observe. With our present tools of observation science is not even able to come even close to
    an answer.

    The same apply to the origin of life. Science observe fossils and the age to a degree but is still a long way from observing LUCA ( last common universal ancestor) and light years away from explaining the origin of life.

    Here are few Dawkins quotes including one what I regard as a contradiction
    “If you want to understand life, don’t think
    about vibrant, throbbing gels and oozes, think about information technology “.

    “We now have a much more realistic model of evolution than the
    monkeys typing Shakespeare gave us. But the biomorph model is still
    deficient. It shows us the power of cumulative selection to generate an
    almost endless variety of quasi-biological form, but it uses artificial
    selection, not natural selection. The human eye does the selecting.
    Could we dispense with the human eye, and make the computer itself
    do the selecting, on the basis of some biologically realistic criterion?
    This is more difficult than it may seem.”

    “To simulate natural selection in an interesting way in the computer,
    we should forget about rococo ornamentation and all other visually
    defined qualities. We should concentrate, instead, upon simulating
    nonrandom death. Biomorphs should interact, in the computer, with a
    simulation of a hostile environment. Something about their shape
    should determine whether or not they survive in that environment.
    Ideally, the hostile environment should include other evolving
    biomorphs: ‘predators’, ‘prey’, ‘parasites’, ‘competitors’. The particular
    shape of a prey biomorph should determine its vulnerability to being
    caught, for example, by particular shapes of predator biomorphs. Such
    criteria of vulnerability should not be built in by the programmer.
    They should emerge, in the same kind of way as the shapes themselves
    emerge. Evolution in the computer would then really take off, for the
    conditions would be met for a self-reinforcing ‘arms race’ (see Chapter
    7), and I dare not speculate where it would all end. Unfortunately, I
    think it may be beyond my powers as a programmer to set up such a
    counterfeit world.
    If anybody is clever enough to do it, it would be the programmers
    who develop those noisy and vulgar arcade games – Space Invaders’
    derivatives. In these programs a counterfeit world is simulated.”

    Contradiction : Intelligence needed to set up a counterfeit word. I think we all agree that that is something mother nature lacks.

    ‘ Unfortunately, I hink it may be beyond my powers as a programmer to set up such a counterfeit world.
    If anybody is clever enough to do it, it would be the programmers
    who develop those noisy and vulgar arcade games – Space Invaders’
    derivatives. In these programs a counterfeit world is simulated.”
    ( The Blind Watchmaker”)

    At the moment all logic and scientific observations are in favor of the 2nd fairy tale. all the arguments used to contradict Perry are also based on faith.
    Atheism is not a science but also a religion.

    Perry none of the of your opponents could dent your or Paul’s arguments (Rom 1:20)

  2. BiJane says:

    There’s one, pretty minor, theory I’ve seen which can explain this, and it also explains many supposed ‘reasons for God’, but first I’d like to point out one thing that you said: ” All codes we know the origin of are designed”.
    This in itself is a flaw: we could just as easily suppose that, for a rough analogy, if someone only ever saw land then they’d suppose all of Earth would be land. Ok, not the best analogy, but just because we’ve only seen one thing doesn’t mean all things like that are the same.

    There’s a way we can put this in context: flip a coin, say, ten times. You get HTHTHTHTHT say. That’s an obvious pattern; but it was down to luck alone. Try again and you might get HHTHHHTHHH, but flip it two more times and you add HT. This makes it a pattern of an increasing amount of heads, culminating in a tails. 2 heads, 1 tails, 3 heads, one tails etc.
    Is this the work of God? The point is, humanity is adept at seeing such codes even when they may not be present 9I’m not saying it’s 100% that it’s not present, which is why I included my first paragraph).

    Finally, the theory. It fits more into a pantheist (like me) view of the world, and while it isn’t widely known, it’s a thought. I’ll try to add a rough explanation here:
    Everything we know, indeed everything full stop, has some kind of potential energy, whether it be chemical, gravitational etc. These only work in 3D terms however: what about the theorized fourth dimension, time?
    Imagine an apple on a tree. It has the potential to fall; the greater the potential, worked out by, say, its height, how strong the branch is and the force of gravity upon it, the more likely it is to fall. So the force is big, essentially. Now do the same in a four dimensional manner; many possibilities could happen. i could flip a coin and get heads, or get tails. the whole parallel universe idea. But then put this on a greater scale: imagine, say, a cricket game and the flip of a coin. What would cause, say, a freak gust of wind turning it from heads to tails maybe. What would cause the person to say ‘heads’?
    Temporal potential energy, as its called. A possibility occurs if it has a high potential to occur, following on from what we know already. So the greater the potential of an apple, or of a time-line, the more likely it is to fall/the more likely it is to happen. So DNA is a ‘code’ because that achieves more, if that makes any sense. I don’t think I’ve phrased this that well, but in essence: DNA as a code has achieved a greater effect, a greater temporal energy if you will, than if it wasn’t.

    Note: TPE (temporal potential energy) isn’t the basis for my argument, it’s just an alternative explanation.

  3. RicardoHP says:

    Hi there Perry, my name is Ricardo I’m brazilian, so excuse my english.
    I just have to say… it’s all brilliant, really good work. I just see a couple of problems the biggest one being the following:
    DNA is a code, obviously… problem is that it is a code because we, intelligent designers, invented this formula, this code. It wasn’t just laying there and we found it, it’s an invention to try and explain the world. It’s probably not 100% accurate, it makes sense, but logic and intelligence are a human characteristics, we try to explain the world, but maybe there is no explanation.
    So yes… DNA is a code, but it’s a code we invented to try and explain nature in our neverending quest to understand or even tame the universe we live in.
    So there is a designer, he is the human race, and he designed the codes we use to explain or even create things.
    Also your comparison of a snow flake to music, being that one just happens and the other is designed, is a contradiction…. because your are talking about intelligent design in nature, DNA is part of it, and then you say that natural phenomenons are random, differing it from something that was designed like music, basically saying there is no design to nature. I don’t belief you should just pick something in nature and then use it as proof, if there is such a thing as an intelligent design it must apply to the whole of the creation, not just a small part of it.
    I think this is enough for now… I really like your way of thinking, it’s very interesting.
    Thank you and goodnight
    Ricardo

    • We use symbols and language and codes to describe the world around us.

      That doesn’t make everything we see a symbol or a code.

      There is an objective, definite difference between information processing systems and simple physical systems that do not process information. On this site I make a clear distinction between the two.

      • RicardoHP says:

        Hi Perry, long time…

        So… I know I kinda rambled there a bit, but you didn’t answer much. I’ll just formulate proper questions then:

        It seems that in your presentation where you “prove” that there is a designer by comparing evolution to a list of absurd things and by separating what is designed and what is simply chaotic you separated the creations. God should be the creator of heaven and earth and life but it seems like you are saying that there is no design to nature, occurrences like snow flakes and hurricanes are created by chaos and there is no design behind it. So…

        God didn’t plan hurricanes? They just happen?
        Did God simply go “Let there be Chaos”?
        If beautiful things, like snowflakes, can happen in nature with no apparent design, just order from chaos, why can’t life?

        Also DNA wasn’t discovered it was invented. We invented a code system to make sense of our structure. So answering your question… No, there is no language system that comes from nothing, that doesn’t come from a mind. And having answering that you can see how it proves that DNA is a human communication system, we created it.

        Also… we, the human kind as designers, can actually reproduce snowflakes, hurricanes and things of the sort in labs. We can see the order behind the chaos, establishing the pattern and then designing it. Just as we do with DNA. So…

        Couldn’t, in a way, life come from chaos just as everything else?
        Couldn’t what we know as DNA be a rationalization of something that came from Chaos?

        I’ll stop here… and for your answer… see you later, also I really wish i could go to one of your presentations.

        • There is no coded information in nature. There is a sort of design but the highest known level of sophistication is chaos theory as in fractals and so on.

          Hurricanes just happen.

          Yes, I suppose you could say God said “let there be chaos.” In the formal sense of the word.

          Why can’t life? Nobody’s ever seen that such a thing happens.

          DNA was discovered NOT invented. It was encoding and decoding long before we assigned English words to describe what was going on. The genetic code is symbolic whether you are aware of it or not. We did not create it.

          There is no basis for saying life came from chaos until an experiment proves it so.

          Hope to meet you someday!

          • RicardoHP says:

            Ok… valid points, I get how DNA could have been discovered in a sense of the word, just like gravity. The problem is that the laws of gravity we invented is a limited rationalization of something that just happens to occur. Just as the DNA coding system we invented is a limited rationalization of something that just happens to occur.

            Having said that I get that you are talking about DNA as the thing that just happens to occur, the pattern, not as the coding system we invented to make sense of it. But them we have another problem, the problem you proposed. This is, in my opinion, a big problem on your argument.

            Only humans design. By observation and definition. Every code you can think of came from a mind because every code you can think of was designed by a man, or a woman.

            So if only humans design, as far as we know, how can you assume that something else can?

            Therefore to make a scientific argument where you appoint a Superintelligence as the designer of DNA you would have to try and prove that a Superintelligence is capable of design or at least try to prove that it can interfere with matter. If there was a way to test miracles and document them scientifically, then you could try and make that argument. Because as of now you argument is based on instantly discarding other possible “designers” because they can’t be tested or something of the sort and leaving the “God as a designer” explanation unquestioned and therefore the only probable explanation.

            So going back to your five possible conclusions:

            a) Humans designed DNA
            b) Aliens designed DNA
            c) DNA occurred randomly and spontaneously
            d) There must be some undiscovered law of physics that creates information; e) DNA was Designed by a Superintelligence, i.e. God.

            (a) requires time travel or infinite generations of humans.
            (b) could well be true but only pushes the question back in time.
            (c) may be a remote possibility, but it’s not a scientific explanation because it doesn’t refer to a systematic, repeatable process. It’s nothing but an appeal to luck.
            (d) could be true but no one can form a testable hypothesis until someone observes a naturally occurring code.
            (e) just as (d) could be true but no one can form a testable hypothesis until someone observes and documents a miracle.

            In this case we are left with (d) and (e) as the most probable. Note that for the sake of my argument I didn’t protest any of your conclusions other then (e). I could also say that (e) could have the same answer as (c) only changing the words luck to faith, but not for this argument, not today…

            And of course I can see how the Bible could be brought up to be a document to prove miracles, but unfortunately it doesn’t prove anything, as it is not scientific in the least.

            I have high hopes for your answer, I believe in your power of argumentation and also would like to know how I could be wrong, because I can…

            Thank you very much for your consistent attention, consideration and respect even when I sound stupid, goodnight and I hope to read your answer soon.

  4. benito-san says:

    well I’ve read through a lot of these comments and haven’t come across a single response to the ‘give me one example of a code that wasn’t designed’ challenge, so (forgive me if I’m repeating anyone) I thought I’d bring up the idea of human language in general…

    is there a language gene of some kind? (seriously, I don’t know) or did prehistoric hominids just spontaneously start making certain noises to identify certain things (which could’ve arguably led to a language gene if there is one)? almost every language in the world uses the sound ‘mah’ or ‘mah-mah’ to mean ‘mother’… this is probably the simplest sound involving a consonant that the human mouth can make, thus it is often the first ‘word’ a baby says… I would guess that using one particular sound to call to/alert one’s offspring (i.e. naming) would have been an extremely useful survival trait too… is it a leap of faith to think that some clever primate mom in the distant past somehow realized the implication of this and started making different noises, pointing to different objects, and thus creating the concept of language? (the concept of the origin of pointing is another interesting topic too)

    in short, language itself is a code, an ever-evolving one at that, and the very first folks to use it certainly didn’t ‘design’ it, in any real sense of the word, it was a discovered (and highly malleable) tool which served the good of the species… I think that’s a fair statement to make anyway 🙂

    also, regarding the statement that “the laws of entropy eliminate the possibility that the universe is its own cause”… well, what’s wrong with the idea of a universe or ‘multiverse’ going back infinitely in time? the big bang didn’t come from nothing, it came (supposedly) from a singularity, so where did that singularity come from? I would think the likely answer would be ‘somewhere’ and not ‘nowhere,’ but what came before that? etc… just because it is totally incomprehensible (to me anyway) doesn’t mean we should discount it… if God can be infinite why not the universe?…. and seriously, why doesn’t pi have a finite amount of decimal places? I think if we can answer that, we’ll be on the right track, but I digress, I’m mainly interested in the human-language-as-undesigned-code idea… is language an emergent aspect of life, or is it in the DNA? is life an emergent aspect of our universe, or were we (or the code to eventually result in capital-Us) ‘put’ here somehow? is our universe an emergent aspect of …. gahh nevermind

    and for the record I am NOT an atheist 🙂

    • Yes, language is code. Where did the original code come from? All languages I know of are created by minds.

      As for the 2nd question, that is an infinite regress. We simply have no evidence whatsoever that the universe is infinite or eternal, but logic calls for a source of the universe that is both. Thus the inevitable conclusion that there is a metaphysical world and something that is infinite. Related post: http://evo2.org/incompleteness/

      • benito-san says:

        I agree with all of that except the idea that logic inevitably leads to the conclusion that there is a metaphysical world, I would only say that it leads to the Possibility of a metaphysical world… regarding the origin of our universe, isn’t it perfectly logical to speculate that there was another universe that somehow produced our universe? leading to the infinite regress, of course, but what is the fundamental problem with an infinite regress in universes, as opposed to an infinite and eternal Creator? I ask again in all seriousness: if God can be infinite why not the universe?

        and yes, the code that is our language came from the brains of our distant ancestors, but it obvious wasn’t Designed by those folks, right? so, as you asked me, where did the original code come from? well, what’s wrong with the idea that it emerged as a natural progression of life? most or all animals (and even plants) have methods of information-exchange (code), scents, body language, hormone release etc., perhaps the process of building towards more efficient means of communication is an emergent aspect of life in general? and if you can accept that as a possibility, what is wrong with the idea that DNA is an emergent (if improbable) aspect of our universe? which would be far less improbable if you put any credence into the anthropic principle

        just something to think about… I got plenty to say about Godel too but I’ll put that in the appropriate forum 🙂

        • “what’s wrong with the idea that it emerged as a natural progression of life?”

          That doesn’t explain anything. The question is: Where did the first code come from.

          “what is wrong with the idea that DNA is an emergent (if improbable) aspect of our universe?”

          Because there is no such thing as a statistical model that indicates it’s probable. It’s improbable. Thus believing in it is counter to scientific thought.

  5. benito-san says:

    well it took me a while, but I realized that “Where did the first code come from?” is clearly another infinite regress, no different than “where did the first matter and energy come from?”… the “first code” (A) came from (B), but where did (B) come from? etc., ad infinitum, this line of reasoning can never come to an end so let’s drop it for now unless you have a better way of discussing this….

    so I ask for the 3rd time: if God can be infinite, why can’t the universe?

    if one is comfortable accepting the idea of an eternal being/individual/consciousness, then there should be no fundamental problem with also accepting the idea of an infinite space of height/width/depth… and given an infinite variety of universes, the existence of our universe would be at worst improbable, and at best inevitable….

    there is a tendency in human history to underestimate the scale of the physical universe…. from the sail-off-the-edge-of-the-world days to not so long ago (less than a century) when everyone “knew” that the Milky Way was the entire universe, our conception of reality has increased exponentially….. we live in a universe, there is simply no reason to assume that it is the ONLY universe…

    but the main aspect of your emails that really grabbed my attention, was your 5 possible conclusions (stated at the top of this article) on the origin of DNA…. (a) and (b) are clearly insufficient explanations, because they each demand a further explanation, but (e) faces exactly the same problem (where did this superintelligence come from?)…. by the same criteria that you eliminated (a) and (b), you should’ve also eliminated (e)

    as for (c), I don’t think anyone is suggesting that DNA just spontaneously appeared.. on the contrary there are any number of papers you can read which give possible (if unlikely) means in which amino acids could’ve eventually evolved into RNA, etc…..

    and then you discount option (d) because it is empirically untestable, but option (e) is equally untestable in any direct fashion, so what is the difference?

    also, can you point me towards any statistical models that indicate the probability of an omniscient being?

    I apologize if I seem combative in any way, I understand the delicate nature of these types of discussions, I’m just asking questions which genuinely interest me 🙂

    • Benito,

      The universe is measurable and we have no reason of any kind to believe it’s infinite. Go to wikipedia and look up “size of the universe”. FInite size, finite age. Time itself beings 13.8 billion years ago at the big bang.

      There might be just as many people who’ve thought the universe was infinite as thought it was finite.

      An infinite regress is unacceptable; something that is without a beginning is required.

      Therefore since the universe has a beginning then what caused the universe is outside of the universe.

      Actually (d) is a completely valid option and I’m really surprised more people don’t claim it. It would be an easy out for atheists or really anyone who doesn’t like (e). All you have to do is say, “I think we’ll find an undiscovered law of physics that makes codes and I think we’ll discover codes that aren’t designed” and leave it at that. But hardly anybody takes that route. I suspect it’s because they have to admit they’re making a faith statement. They’d rather tell me DNA isn’t a code.

      If you’re in Information Technology like I am, you realize that (c) does not even begin to explain the origin of information. This is a very big problem for all the current origin of life theories. Given that information is immaterial, a metaphysical source fits rather well.

      There are no models that calculate the probability of an omniscient being. There is only the brute fact that a transcendent metaphysical source is the only logical explanation available.

  6. benito-san says:

    well I’m still hopeful that you will address the issues of the anthropic principle and multiple universes and the question of ‘if God can be infinite, then why can’t the universe be infinite?’ on that other page you had linked above

    http://evo2.org/incompleteness/

    but in regard to your 5 possible conclusions on the origin of DNA, I continue to see a number of problems:

    first, I must ask again why you don’t dismiss (e) under the same criteria as (a) and (b), as they all beg the same question (where did the original humans/aliens/superintelligence come from?)

    second, I’ve acknowledged that (c) is clearly a remote possibility if our universe is the ONLY universe, but why assume that? our universe obviously had a beginning, right? can you name anything else in nature that did NOT have a beginning? if not, why must you assume that our universe is the only one of its kind? can you name anything in nature (i.e. not the product of a human mind) that DID have a beginning, and is the only one of its kind?

    and third:

    “An infinite regress is unacceptable; something that is without a beginning is required.”

    but why? isn’t this just another ‘faith statement’? cause-and-effect is an obvious aspect of our universe (an axiom, if you will), but since you consider (d) to be a completely valid option, then you should be willing to accept the possibility that there are laws of physics that do NOT rely on cause-and-effect… maybe reality just IS 🙂

    also, another example of a non-designed code: the fundamental particles of nature obey certain laws, how does positive know to attract negative? there is clearly an underlying list of ‘rules’ to how our universe operates, is this not code?

    you can’t just refuse to consider the possibility of multiple, or re-occurring, or even infinite universes, especially if you’ve accepted (d) as a real option… in short, I think it’s a “faith statement” to accept ANY of the options (a-e) that you put forth, it’s just a matter of taste, which of course there is no accounting for 🙂

    • * why you don’t dismiss (e) under the same criteria as (a) and (b), as they all beg the same question (where did the original humans/aliens/superintelligence come from?)

      Because at some point there has to be an uncaused cause and (a) and (b) are not uncaused causes.

      If there are other universes it does not solve the problem, it only aggravates it.

      I refer you to any philosophy book on why infinite regress is unacceptable.

      Why is God unacceptable? Please, tell me your story. What’s wrong with God?

      The rules that govern the universe are not a code according to the Shannon definition of a communication system: Encoder, code, decoder.

      I don’t consider the possibility of multiple, or re-occurring, or even infinite universes because that is a blatant violation of occam’s razor – it is not permissible to needlessly multiply the number of entities in order to account for a phenomenon.

      And yes, you’re right, A through E all require faith. Some people believe in God with a capital G and others believe in Chance with a capital C.

  7. Jelke Wispelwey says:

    Hi Perry,

    I agree with your basic idea that there is more to evolution than natural selection of accidental mutations.To me, evolution has a goal, a purpose, and this acts as a driving force of the evolutionary process.
    What I do not agree with is your equating a computer, which is a dead machine and needs a programmer, with a living entity which may very well be self- programming. For what is DNA but bits of information, of knowledge and isn’t it possible that Life acquired this knowledge as a rsult of experience? (Just as we do, btw).
    It seems to me that you overlook the whole area of bio-chemistry which studies the process of evolution from, say, hydro-carbons up to the single cell. There is a great book by a Nobel-prize winning bio-chemist called Christian the Duve called: ‘Vilal Dust’ with the subtitle: ‘Life as a Cosmic Imperative’. Note the term ‘vital’ meaning that basic life-processes are already observable in so-called ‘dead’ matter. This is a common tactic with I.D.-rs to make a stark distinction between ‘dead’ matter and living entities and thus the need for an external power. But a closer look at ‘dead’ matter shows that Life can and maybe has to evolve from it. That it is an imperative.
    From this it also follows that the creative power is a natural power and not a personal God. All through history people have used gods to explain natural happenings such as the wind, thunder and lightning but they all have been replaced by natural forces. Some people even claim to have discovered this power. And they may be right. After all, this power has to be within all of us to keep us alive and growing (learning). As Jesus put it: ‘The kingdom of Heaven (and thus God) is within you’. Was he right? I think so……

    Jelke.

    • My article http://evo2.org/evolution-untold-story/ might clarify my position on evolution, which doesn’t sound too different than what you said.

      I am not equating a computer with a living thing. I am saying that the encoding decoding process of both are isomorphic, or mathematically equivalent. And that every encoding decoding system that we know the origin of is designed.

      I am perfectly ok with a hypothesis that life is a cosmic imperative. However I demand proof. No author to date has ever proven this, they have only offered this as a possibility.

  8. billy says:

    Some guys have asserted that the random mutation generator uses 26 characters rather than 4 characters in DNA.

    • DNA has 4 symbols (ACGT) which comprise 64 characters (codons, groups of 3 symbols).

      The RM mutation generator has 2 symbols (1 and 0) which comprise 128 characters (letters in ASCII, groups of 7 symbols).

  9. nuke777 says:

    wikapedia spcificly says that the seeable universe has a given measurable deminsion it also says that we do not know weather or not the universe as a whole is infinite or not. strange though we do no that the universe has a difinitive beginning thanks to fr. lemaitre who’s theory was verified by hubble. we have disscused this. therefore we have a type of proof that the universe is not infinite (that being the law of causality. if this law is wrong the last 150 years of science is one big coincidence) whoever we do not have physical proof at least not according to this source.(which is questionable at the best of times and is not accepted as reference material on any university campus that I know of).

    would you be prepaired to offer an alternative source? I’ll be here. I like your work and have read all of your articles. must of them are facinating and hold water. but this point must be properly articulated. I have heard that this is the first generation that has lived to see the measuring of the universe. Interesting what is the figure? just direct question, please give a direct answer and your source(not wiki-oftenwrongunreliable-pedia)

  10. kevinmsm22 says:

    Hello Perry,

    I have been reading your blogs for perhaps a year now, and was at first thoroughly convinced in the argument for intelligent design of DNA as a code. More recently, I came up with the following and was hoping for your input.

    According to your definitions of code (two sources):

    1. Code is defined as communication between an encoder (a “writer” or “speaker”) and a decoder (a “reader” or “listener”) using agreed upon symbols.

    2. The formal definition of a code according to Perlwitz and Waterman (see below) is a set of symbols that uniquely map a point in space “A” to a point in space “B.” In other words there is special symbolic correspondence between a letter or word (idea) and a real physical entity. The word “coffee” represents a beverage made from cocoa beans, for example. Symbolic relationships of this kind are only created in the mental world; they by definition do not exist in the purely material world.

    I would propose that codes exist in nature in relation to creeks. A flowing creek (the writer) creates a “memory” of its course. When the creek has dried up, this memory exists as a pattern of ditches (the symbols/code). Those symbols are used during the next rainy season to form a new creek (the listener) similar to the last.

    My own first though was to question whether the ditch qualifies as a symbol Yet the ditch exists as an entity in and of itself. Water also in and of itself exists separate from the ditch. The path of a previous creek is communicated to the new creek via alterations in the environment (the ditch). Symbolic communication is transmitted via changes in an environment which is “interpreted” by some select force. The ditch means nothing to, say, a tree. It’s a ditch. Yet to water, this ditch has consequence. Of course the tree and the creek don’t “interpret” the ditch, because that would imply some cognitive thought.

    DNA does not think, nor does RNA or protein. Yet the argument is that these entities yield what I will call “interpretable consequence”. Modification of A results in modification of B results in modification of C. DNA does not create RNA, it is only a template for construction. The same is true of mRNA to protein. Likewise, the ditch is a template from which the form of a creek is constructed through an intelligence-independent, “interpretable consequence.”

  11. Michael Thomas says:

    1. Proof of a “design” is not proof of a designer. Matter and the laws of the universe could also simply exist and have certain properties, which some may perceive as a design.

    2. All other codes we know of were designed by humans, so DNA seems to be unique in that regard if we’re going to call it a code, but regardless, other instances having designers is not any sort of proof.

    3. D is dismissed in a completely unwarranted and unscientific fashion, and is reminiscent of ancient Egyptians and Jews attributing the 10 plagues to God because they couldn’t explain what was happening. The reality is that scientists have actually spontaneously synthesized RNA, meaning we have tested the hypothesis, and that given the right conditions, the nature of matter is such that it does have a tendency to form molecular chains that can then replicate themselves.

  12. Murph Callahan says:

    I argued online with atheists for about ten years. What did I discover about them? Exactly what you reported, above. My long-held image of atheists as clinical, Mr. Spockian creatures, perhaps a little too smart for their own good, was shattered by their messy reality. As you say, they care nothing for facts, let alone truth. Unless you’ve said it somewhere before, I can only add that the one thing that sends atheists over the edge is the thought of a God who judges. Although I never broached the subject myself, they almost always did. Thank you for your article.

  13. Brian Shipley says:

    A God who does not judge is as bad as a universe without purpose.
    I could go on for pages about atheists motives, but as you write, they care nothing for truth or facts. I think they know full well, “science” does NOT support their beliefs, but refuse to examine or admit the facts for fear of having to admit they are wrong and face those facts. About God. Life. Creation. Conscience. Morality. Awareness. They call Theists silly, but want us all to believe this stuff, “Just happened Dude!” And that’s science? Really?
    As it is, they can hide behind the curtain, pull levers, make smoke and fireworks, and boom out “Science!” and people are awed and don’t challenge them.
    Just look for the little man behind the curtain

    • Michael Thomas says:

      But you want us to believe God “just happened Dude!” What science supports is that matter and the principles governing it such as gravity exist, and that universes, life, and even human beings can and will spontaneously arise as a result.

      What it does not support is the idea that any or all of these things are the result of a creator being.

  14. Brian Shipley says:

    That’s not true.
    You cannot give a cogent, probable theory about any of these things “just happening” which is exactly what you want everyone to believe. Take away purpose/direction/intelligence, and that’s all that’s left. “It just happened Dude!”
    Theories about “primordial ooze” and “random selection” are just ways of saying, “Then a miracle occurred” It doesn’t wash. 3 minutes actually thinking on it shows enormous holes. Its desperate grasping at gullible thinking, then calling it “science”
    I could fill pages asking questions that your science cant answer, except with fantastic possibilities, when all you need is a high level mind with a purpose.
    If you were right, then we would be seeing all kinds of critters that “randomly selected” but died shortly after birth, littering the fossil landscape, as random means negative in almost all instances. In fact, the more a critter randomly selected, the quicker its species would die, not evolve, because the negative selections would far exceed the positive ones, randomly.
    And with today? If life could just “happen” from rock and water, an extremely hostile environment then randomly select to cover the earth, again, extremely hostile environment, why isn’t it still popping up all over the place, with such a perfectly nurturing environment? We should have new species out the wazoo. If your theory was true, Godzilla’s would have to wait in line to stomp on Tokyo. They, and all kinds of other critters would be common as weeds. “Just happenin”
    And yes indeed, it DOES support that life, consciousness, conscience, morality, were creations of a Creator being. You just refuse to accept the evidence. Try looking at pictures of the earth from outer space. It really isn’t flat

    • Michael thomas says:

      Uh…we have a cogent theory, and it doesn’t require a creator being to make it happen; all it requires is matter to have the properties that matter happens to have. Theories, after all, are just observations of the mechanisms we see operating on the universe.

      • Michael thomas says:

        And all that stuff you described; that’s not evidence of a creator being. Morality, for example, is evidence that human beings are social creatures, and that we benefit both individually and as a society from developing codes of conduct and the like to govern our interactions. Evidence suggests life didnt need a creator being, but that in the right conditions matter forms proteins that have the ability to replicate themselves. What little evidence we have of consciousness suggests that it is an adaptation that increases chances of survival. Of course the earth is not flat. The other stuff is a faith-based presumption that it must be the work of a creator being. By scientific standards its not evidence of that though; youre just making a presumption based on what you want to be true.

      • Rodney Baker says:

        To form a cogent theory, the individual hypotheses leading to the theory need to have been empirically verified. Tell us again how the hypotheses that lead to this cogent theory (which you haven’t explained) have been empirically tested and verified? Can you point us to some peer-reviewed reports detailing how to reproduce the test conditions and results?

        • little hugger says:

          And the Darwinian theories are empirically proven? Prove yours right, as you claim science. Lets hear the science part.

          • Rodney Baker says:

            My reply was to Michael Thomas, who was claiming that Darwinian theories are “cogent” and “scientific”. I have no argument with the original article. 🙂

  15. David says:

    All this is just unnecessary waffle, you start here with the assumption that God exists and work all your theories into that very small box .
    Just one simple test…bring all that critical observation to mankind’s experience with God, level that sceptical mind of yours towards a deity of any kind, creative and benevolant and realise how myopic your view is.

    • little hugger says:

      It isn’t “us” who are forcing the theory to fit our pet pre-conclusions. Perry’s Theory covers all the faith based miracles Darwinists must rely on.
      It was my understanding, that Perry bent over backwards to avoid hurting the feelings of the faith-based Darwinists by avoiding any direct attribution to God. The Purpose could be an external director, or built in. Either one requires an outside, very superior intelligence.
      Because, and simply because, Perry’s Theory ultimately leads to that conclusion, you are utterly unable to accept it. It MUST support your beliefs, or it cant be true! Now atheists cannot claim science for hating God.

  16. Rodney Baker says:

    The point many seem to fail (or refuse) to recognise is that to properly prove a natural “law” (let’s stay with gravity for an example) is to Test it to the point where it can be said that it never fails. How many times do we have to test it? An infinite number of times, because there is always the (increasingly improbable) chance that it will fail the next time. On the other hand, how many times does the test have to fail to falsify the hypothesis that the law is true in every single case? Only once.

    That is to say, in absolute terms the best we can truly say about any natural law (such as gravity) is that it is “so far unfalsified”. Now, for all practical purposes, we can say that it is accepted as true and axiomatic, but only to a level of certainty around 0.99999999999999(recurring). That number is asymptotic and can never reach 1.

    This really then becomes a question of epistemology – how do we know what we know? How do we know what is true? At what level of certainty do we accept something as true?

    To put it another way, out of the sum total of all that can possibly be known in the universe, how much of that do any of us know, individually or collectively? (I’d wager that it’s a very, very small percentage). Therefore, that leaves an awful lot of stuff that we know nothing of, including lots that we don’t know that we don’t know, That applies to antheists as well as theists. Therefore, for any person to claim dogmatically that they know with absolute certainty that there is no God is to claim that they possess all the knowledge that can possibly be known in the entire universe.

    You are correct, sir; there are no true atheists – only agnostics in denial.

  17. Dima Kotik says:

    Hey Perry! I love your approach and the effort you have put into it. Keep it up!

  18. Anil says:

    I can’t find any indication that you’ve referred to Werner Gitt “In the beginning was information”. Gitt shows how primitive Shannon’s model of “information” is and develops a comprehensive replacement. It’s interesting and supports your proposals even further. Thanks. https://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Was-Information-Werner-Gitt/dp/0890514615

  19. Anil Gulati says:

    Perry, from the content that I read I was looking forward to your “Evolution 2.0” free chapters.

    I was disappointed to find how light the content was and also how uninformed you made your protaganist, Bob.

    Your story about bacteria being killed by an anti-biotic goes like this: “they go on red alert … They search … for a solution … one finds a cell that has a pump … The bacterium pulls that DNA inside its cell wall … finds the … DNA that codes for a pump … and builds itself a pump.”

    Your genius Bob only says “I didn’t know that … but evolution still gives me the heebie-jeebies”. Not much of a challenger is he?

    While there are mechanisms where bacteria gain genetic information from other sources this only goes to show that the information specifying the design had to be already available in other DNA. No new information was created and no “evolution”, either 1.1 or 2.0, occurred.

    Other reasons for increasing anti-biotic resistance are due to broken mechanisms in the bacteria from DNA copying mistakes in their own reproductive processes leading to reduction in overall information and degeneration of the overall accuracy and survivability of the organism.

    http://creation.com/is-antibiotic-resistance-really-due-to-increase-in-information

    I am happy to think of myself as a staunch six-day Creationist, although I don’t have arbitrary permissable or inpermissable interpretations of anything, and I don’t feel threatened by your book.

    Well done for offering the prize.

    Regards

    • Anil,

      I would like you to ponder the following assertion and tell me if you can agree with it:

      -If any cell can make a decision – if it can freely choose “1” or “0” so to speak when editing or re-arranging its own DNA, then by definition the cell itself has the ability to create information.

      Thank you for coming and posting a comment here.

  20. John says:

    Out of genuine curiosity, I’d like to pose a double-barreled question: first, to the atheist. If it could be proved that God does exist, what about the discovery would be most disappointing to you, or would make you most angry. What difference would it make in your life?

    Then, to the theist, if it could be proved that God does not exist, what would be most disappointing to you, make you most angry, and what difference would it make it your life?
    Agnostics may choose to which of the two questions to respond.

    • Anil Gulati says:

      John, I think your question exposes the false assumptions that atheists and some religious people fail to recognise. The assumption is that we’ve all seen the same evidence, and the evidence is so balanced or so vague that there’s no firm conclusion available. Hence they go around saying “It’s ok for you to believe what you want and I can believe what I want” and asking questions like yours.

      Faith in the New Testament is a translation from the Greek “pistis” which pretty much means “forensic evidence”. I already have evidence that God does exist, and I can see the evidence that’s in front of you. We’re not talking about the “you believe what you want” kind of God. We’re talking about the obvious spiritual reality that must be deduced from the observable realm.

      This is not about how clever you are. If you want to see the evidence, just open your eyes. There are plenty of atheists who are angry that God does exist. He who has ears to hear let him hear.

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