"A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth
is not worth many regrets." - Arthur C. Clarke
Note on "FUNCTIONALITY":
A challenger has supplied two strings of digital bits (such as 01011010010100101000100001010111... etc.). One string is supposedly random, while the other supposedly contains information. (They might even be encrypted). -- The challenge is supposedly for Intelligent Design theory to determine which one has functional information.
... Intelligent Design theory is an analytical tool to determine if such a string of figures which has already been recognized as being functional complex specified information (FCSI) in some amount, could have possibly (or reasonably) resulted from a random assembly of the parts, or if it must have originated from an intelligence. That is what ID theory is supposed to do as a tool: Rule out random assembly of parts. ID's purpose as a tool is not to determine if a string functions to effectively do some work (such as communicate a message, or to be a functional protein) in the first place. The ability to perform some level of function must first be recognized by the investigator. --This is a matter of the definition of true information: It is Functional, Complex and Specified Information (FCS Information). --Then, having identified the existence of FCS Information, ID theory presented here can mathematically analyze the functional string of information to determine if it could possibly (or reasonably) have arisen by random processes.
If someone gives a challenge, and argues that ID theory must do what it is not designed to do, then this merely creates a "straw man" which is easy to knock down --but only because the challenge is irrelevant to what ID is supposed to do. --Such a "straw man" argument is a logical fallacy. This is like arguing that a mathematical calculator must translate English into Spanish --or else the calculator is not a valid tool for doing any sort of analysis. Such an argument against the calculator is obviously not valid. --Neither is such a challenge against ID.
One of the unknown strings of digits may be recognized (or revealed) as performing some function (e.g. communicate), and then ID theory can be used to determine whether the string could reasonably result from a random ordering of parts, or if it most probably comes from an intelligence.
--If the informational string is encrypted or unrecognizable, then an outsider might well not be able to determine if it has a function, and it would be beyond the reach of ID analysis. --But this does not invalidate ID as a scientific tool, but merely reveals a limitation of its usefulness.
When information theorists speak about "information", they are not merely referring to functional "order" in any tiny amount. Some more complexity is required.
Very simple functional order in nature is seen in the structure of a crystal, such as in a quartz-crystal, because a large number of the same small grouping of atoms or molecules bond together in a repetitively structured way.
|(...As a matter of fact, one naturalistic theory of the origin of life --proposed by A.G. Cairns-Smith-- proposes that life started out by building upon the "order" exhibited by crystals, using that order as a foundational framework.)|
However, the problem is this : Such simple, basic "order" falls short of the degree to which actual "information" is highly "complex." --Instead, we see low information content in the structure of a crystal, which involves merely the bonding of the same two or three element(s) or molecule(s) over and over in a highly repetitious lineup, such as "A - A - A - A - A - A - A - A - ..." or "AB - AB - AB - AB - AB - AB - AB - AB - ..."
or a frost-crystal is a repetition of the water molecule, "H2O - H2O - H2O - H2O - H2O - H2O ..."
or a quartz-crystal is a repetition of the Silicon Dioxide molecule, "SiO2 - SiO2 - SiO2 - SiO2 - SiO2 - SiO2 - SiO2 - SiO2 ..."
These all exhibit high order, but low information content, which is because of the lack of complexity.
However --in stark contrast-- when you look at actual "information" (such as this sentence), the "order" is not repetitious --it is largely aperiodic-- and its conveyance involves much higher level of complexity in its ordered parts (letters, in this case).
The information-level in the repetitious "H2O" series of the frost-crystal is relatively low, requiring only one item (a water molecule) repeated over and over --so that you have the same amount of information in one molecule of water as there is in a whole field of snow. --However, the information-level of the complex, specified "information" in this current sentence is much higher, requiring every word and letter in it.
We must remember that a structure's "information content" is the minimum number of directions necessary to describe or specify it --so that, thus, the minimum number of items required to clearly describe and specify this sentence, is the whole sentence spelled out letter-by-letter, but the information-content of a very large quartz-crystal is adequately represented by a single molecule.
...Another example of "low-complexity" order, is : If we instruct a computer to print out "wrapping paper," we only need to program it with two simple commands: 1) "Print the word 'Joy' " and 2) "Do it again until the paper is filled." With this process, we end up with a high amount of order, but a low amount of information ...just like the quartz crystal. ---However, in contrast, the letters in a written message (such as in this paragraph) convey information, but they do not repeat in a predictable, periodic pattern ---no one can write a systematized "formula" or algorithm which can prescribe and specify each letter (or element) in such an informational sequence --short of writing each word out. With "informational complexity," basically the entire sequence must be written out word-for-word from beginning to end.
Concerning information's third characteristic, specificity : When information theorists speak about information as being "complex," they are not referring to just any complexity, because there are two sorts of complexity : "unspecified" and "specified."
...As an example of "unspecified complexity" : A wildly gnarled and knotted "rat's-nest" of string may be highly complex and very difficult to describe, or to figure out how to reproduce another one just like it, or even to get it unknotted --however, it is very low in information because its structure is random and unspecified, whereby it does not matter where or how one type of jumbled knot or another is formed.
...However, in stark contrast, as an example of "specified" complexity : When someone takes a different string and uses a crochet hook to produce a very fancy doily containing the words of a sentence around its lacey perimeter --and a picture of flowers and leaves in the middle-- the knotted structure of the string is not at all random, but is highly "specified," so that the doily involves a high amount of information, in which there is a necessary and particular sequential order for the proper assembly of parts (knots) to produce the information-rich structure. The more informationally rich and complex a structure is, the more "specified" instructions are required to describe it.
...For another example of "unspecified complexity": If a computer program were created to spit out a long string of millions of letters and spaces in a totally random fashion --the string would be very complex, but would most probably contain no significant amount of information because it would exhibit almost totally unspecified complexity. It would also exhibit no functionality.
Thus, it is obvious that complexity by itself (without specificity and functionality) is never sufficient to constitute "information."
---HOWEVER, if a person (an intelligence) comes along and arranges the rows of previously random letters and spaces into a newly "specified" order to communicate something, they can then spell out a large amount of information, because the re-arranged letters now exhibit "specified complexity," with the purpose and function of communication.
In Summary: Without a significant amount of functional, complex, specified information (FCS Information) --as described above--, there can be no relevant discussion of Intelligent Design.
Next we will consider:
Analyzing Bio-Information using ID
All biological life is very rich in "functional, complex, specified information" (FCSI), and the basic question is : Could biological information --in the form of proteins (or RNA)-- possibly have initially originated (in any reasonable mathematical probability) by the random processes of nature without any intelligent intervention, ---or (in contradistinction) is intelligent design (ID) the most probable and logical explanation for perhaps some of the biological information in nature?
- - - (Note: If an intelligent designer is detected as the source of some bio-information, it cannot be the function of ID to look for an identity of that designer.)
When information theorists speak about one set of "information", it is described as a systematic ordering and grouping of parts with "specified complexity" which is non-random, "aperiodic" (not repetitious) , and it performs a useful function (it is FCS Information). The elements (such as letters or nucleotides) which convey information must be specifically and correctly ordered in their sequence from beginning to end.
Basically, a structure's "information content" is the minimum number of directions necessary to fully describe or specify it, whether that structure is a crystal or a protein. Crystals have low information content, but examples of things which are information-rich would be: human artifacts, computer programs, written messages, and ---most pertinent to the discussion in this article--- DNA and functional types (classes) of proteins. --The information in DNA and proteins must be laid out "word-for-word" --one nucleotide or amino acid at a time-- in the proper sequntial order for the required information to be adequately described, in order to produce the specified function. If pieces are missing, or the order of parts changed much, the information (and its function) is altered or destroyed.
DNA functions as the carrier of the informational instructions (much like letters in writing) for specifying the building of all the structures in living things, as well as the functions they carry out. Although the parts of DNA and proteins bond together using perfectly normal chemical laws and forces, there are no known laws or properties of chemistry or physics which could probably (without intelligent intervention) initially dictate, determine and produce the sequential order of the nucleotides which build functional DNA / RNA, nor produce the necessary sequential order of the amino acids to build a functional class of proteins ---in fact, we must note that it is precisely the capacity of the coding chemicals of DNA and protein to be combined in virtually any conceivable order, which makes them useful for building DNA and protein. Thus, the coding chemicals are essentially neutral with regard to their position in the sequential order.
Therefore, especially NOTE: There is nothing known in the physics or chemical properties of the coding chemicals which could initially produce the FCS information in DNA, RNA or proteins.
In other words: The sequential order of the building blocks of life (the FCS Information), which is necessary to produce a living thing, has not been shown to possibly have originated from any of the properties or laws of chemicals or physics.
--- The informational building blocks of life are basically just a "medium" ...for example: paper and ink are a medium for conveying information (writing); we could convey information with graphite on paper, ink on cloth, pebbles arranged on a surface, or beads on a string. The medium does not produce, dictate nor control the information. Something else (an intelligence) must have imposed that informational order on whatever medium, because neither the properties of physics, nor chemicals, nor random ordering are adequate to have produced it (if there's a fair amount of information there). --The amino acids in protein can (and almost do) occur in any conceivable order, and the chemical forces do not dictate or produce that order. They are just a medium which can be arranged to contain the bio-information.
Now, some biologists have proposed that the sequential order of the bio-information found in DNA and protein originated from the differences in chemical bonding-forces in the chemical building blocks. So, they are saying that the chemical forces did perhaps dictate or produce the order of the amino acids in some of the first proteins that made up the first life. --However, there have been many experiments designed to confirm such an idea, but they have not turned up any significant ordering effects. --As a result, Dean Kenyon (author of "Biochemical Predestination," 1969) --a former proponent of "chemical sequencing"-- has now himself rejected the chemical ordering theory on experimental grounds. All experiments to date indicate that the sequential order of the informational coding of DNA and distinct types (classes) of protein could not have arisen from just the forces and laws of physics and chemistry along with random natural processes --any more than the informational sequence of the letters and spaces of this sentence could reasonably have been produced by the mechanics and electronics of the computer alone (without a typist), ---namely, by a random selections of letters. -- (For more on this issue, see my article on Abiogenesis)
|NOTE: If anyone can come up with a schema of natural mechanistic properties and laws of chemistry and physics which (with NO intelligent design help, such as chemists) could possibly account for the chance origination of bio-information which could have lead to the first living thing (not how it did happen), then they can submit their ideas to the "Origin of Life Prize" committee and collect the $1 million for doing so --and they will surely win a Nobel Prize as well.|
Many people wrongly suppose that there are no credible scientists, prominent in their fields, who have serious doubts as to the explanatory power and veracity of Neo-Darwinism. On the contrary, there are at present more than 1100 scientists who either hold a Ph.D. in their discipline, or are an M.D. serving as a professor of medicine, who have been willing to sign a public statement declaring their scientific skepticism as to whether Neo-Darwinism seems adequate to explain the high amount of complex bio-information found in natural life. To read their summary statement of "Dissent from Darwinism," as well as some of the justification for signing it, go to:
So, the question here is: Could biological information (specifically in DNA / RNA and proteins) have first originated by random processes of chance in the chemicals in nature? --A good way to answer this is through probability analysis of the functional complex specified information (FCSI) found in living things (eg, in DNA and functional proteins).
Some explanation of what should be included in a "proof" of intelligently designed information is appropriate here: Technically, a "proof" is absolute (based on deductive reasoning), and with no possible exceptions, ...but when using a large amount of empirical evidence (and probabilities), there could (strictly speaking) be a possible chance, however small, that an event may possibly occur. In what sort of an instance can we use probability calculations to create such a virtual proof that some body of information could not be the result of random chance selections?
...The key is that we must eliminate the possibilities of any non-intelligent ordering process, and establish that the probability of something happening by chance is so extremely vanishingly small that the chance of such an occurrence is totally inconceivable, and essentially zero... therefore, it was designed by an intelligence. (It has been said, for instance, that there might "possibly" be a very slim chance that a kettle of water on a hot burner could freeze ...which illustrates the ridiculous nature of some objections to probability analysis).
A Note about "PROOF":|
Actually, something which has a totally formal "proof" is based on deductive reasoning which is absolute, air-tight, and cannot possibly have any other answer, such as a "proof" in geometry or algebra which is based on definitions, assumptions and theorems as the basis for the inescapable conclusions of logical deduction.
But such "proofs" are not technically possible for things in the physical world in which we live, because nature only offers us empirical evidence. Using empirical evidence, we can only use inductive reasoning to reach conclusions, which can never be 100% for sure. For example, we cannot conclude 100% for sure that the sun will rise again tomorrow, even though it has done so for many years previously --and it probably will rise tomorrow. Similarly, we do not know absolutely that the "laws" of chemistry of physics (for example) will hold 100% the same from day-to-day, even though they have done so for millennia. It's only that they have done so thus far for perhaps many years, so we conclude and (based on inductive reasoning) that this situation will most probably continue for many years to come, but this is not an absolute deductive "proof" that such will be the case, because these "laws" might change tomorrow. So, we live by probabilities... and we conclude by inductive reasoning that such "laws" will PROBABLY be the same a day or a year from now. With such reasoning, though, there is at least a small chance of change (or break-down) in the "laws" of all physical things with which we deal... and maybe a larger chance of falsity with many other things. One cannot prove absolutely (by deductive reasoning) that the speed of light or the force of gravity will be the same tomorrow as it is today; one is only going by past evidence, which does not make absolute "proof" possible for future situations. So, again, one is left with probabilities. In the natural world of empirical evidence, even though one cannot produce an absolute deductive "proof" in the technical sense of the word, if one has a large amount of solid empirical evidence, one may use probabilities to produce a "virtual proof" which is very highly probable. - - - Thus, I speak of "virtual" proof in this article, which is not an absolute deductive proof... but the proof here is much more solid than that the sun will rise again tomorrow.
Evidence and "proof" of intelligent design is used daily (though not in a rigorous, mathematical way as here in this present article) to make decisions in human affairs, in instances such as:
If proving intelligent design using probability is so ridiculous and impossible as a few scientists say it is, then they should have no objections of plaigiarism against the person who publishes an extensive amount of information almost exactly like their own research and writings, and who then maintains that it was all "randomly" generated by some computer program.
If you, reader, were to see this current paragraph spelled out with its hundreds of letters and spaces, and you were challenged and given the task to decide whether this paragraph was produced by a computer program which randomly spits out letters and spaces, or by an intelligence who wrote it, could you basically prove mathematically beyond any reasonable doubt that the message did not come about by any random process of ordering the letters and spaces? This article proposes a clear-cut and conclusive way for you to accomplish your task. --If you are able to "rule out" a random ordering of the letters, then you would virtually know that this paragraph must have come from an intelligence. (Unless there is a third option other than random vs. non-random; and what might that be?) --So, how could you prove it one way or the other beyond any reasonable doubt? ...Such a proof is accomplished by probability analysis, as will be shown in this article in relation to proving the intelligent design of FCS information. (Read here about how to figure probabilities.)
To begin with, the series of letters in question must perform the "function" of a discernable communication --something must be communicated. For example, the letters "to" make a word, but without being part of a longer string of letters such as a phrase or sentence, we have no significan degree of assurance that it actually functions to communicate much of anything. And you can choose any language which uses this sort of alphabet: The same issues will apply.
Secondly, we must remember that for something to be information, there is a requirement of having enough complexity: If the set of parts is too short, it lacks the complexity to consider it to be information. For example, if we had a two-letter word, then there could easily be a very good chance that the word may have arisen from a random choice of letters. In such an instance, we could not make a good case for proving that the small word is actually information that came from an intelligent source --because there is not enough complexity.
Here's how we calculate the probability here:
... In the instance of the one-letter word, the chance that someone would come up with that one specific word, "A," by random letter-selection (with each letter or a space equally likely to be chosen), is one chance out of 27, because we choose from among 26 letters in the alphabet and one space. -- But this is very easy to achieve, and does not constitute anything significant in the way of information.
Going to the next step, if we take one specific two-letter word (such as "by"), the chance someone could randomly choose those two letters together in the correct sequence (with each letter equally likely to be chosen), is the product of the two selections, ...so the chance of getting a specific two-letter word would be one chance out 27x27 ---which equals one chance out of 729.
|(Of course, IF we are not targeting one specific word, but are looking for any two-letter English word --there are 96 of them-- we have a 13% chance of getting one of those 96 words with a random draw of two letters... and such facts will be taken into consideration later in the discussion regarding proteins as well.)|
In like manner, the chance of randomly drawing one specific three-letter word (such as "the"), would be one chance out of 27x27x27 ---which equals one chance out of 19683.
It is still very easy to conceive that a three-letter word could be randomly chosen in short order. --But the problem is: A three-letter word does not communicate much at all, is not very complex, and still isn't a significant amount of information.
Going quite a bit further, however, if the level of complexity in a string of functional information is high enough (such as in this present paragraph), then we can make a virtually air-tight case that this string of information could not have arisen (in any reasonable probability) by a random selection of letters, spaces (and punctuations.) --Therefore, we would have basically a virtual "proof" that this specified "information-set" could not reasonably have arisen by random chance selections, but must have originated from an intelligence.
But how much information is necessary to solidly conclude that random selection is no longer reasonable, and intelligent selection is necessary? --That issue comes next:
To arrive at a statistical "proof," we need a reasonable criterion to judge it by :
As just a starting point, consider that many statisticians consider that any occurrence with a chance of happening that is less than one chance out of 1050, is an occurrence with such a slim probability that is, in general, statistically considered to be zero chance. (1050 is the number 1 with 50 zeros after it, and it is spoken: "10 to the 50th power"). This appraisal seems fairly reasonable, when you consider that 1050 is about the number of atoms which make up the planet earth. --So, overcoming one chance out of 1050 is like marking one specific atom out of the earth, and mixing it in completely, and then someone makes one blind, random selection, which turns out to be that specific marked atom. Most mathematicians and scientists have accepted this statistical standard as being considered equivalent to "zero chance" for most practical purposes.
However, for the science purposes of this article, the above statistical criterion is still too small for what we are doing here, considering the size and age of the cosmos. Thus, we will set a much tougher and ultimate standard, which we will call the "Universal Probability Boundary." --We'll establish this probability boundary in the following way:
. . . if we multiply the above three numbers out, we get the number 10147. ----So, 10147 equals the total number of sub-atomic, physical interactions possible since the beginning of the universe (at the "Big Bang").
Thus, we could reasonably let one chance out of 10147 be the "Universal Probability Boundary" ---but just to play it safe and conservative, we'll multiply that by 1000, and say that according to our "Universal Probability Boundary," any chance that is less than one chance out of 10150 is considered to be a chance of zero. Therefore, we can reasonably say that any event whose chance of occurrence is less than one chance out of 10150 has been virtually "proven" to be statistically impossible in all the history of the cosmos, and any event with a slimmer probability than this cannot reasonably be expected to have happened by random chance events.
After such a probabilistic analysis using the "Universal Probability Boundary" as a deciding point, the conclusion of "intelligent design" of a series of letters, or of a series of amino acids, has nothing to do with religious or sectarian beliefs, nor does it arise from general assumptions, but rather, it is a conclusion drawn from a logical mathematical analysis of probable cause and effect.
This similar sort of analysis can be unemotionally and logically applied to conclude that space signals come from ETs, or that plagiarized text was stolen by intelligent design ...and it can also be used to demonstrate intelligent design in the physical parts of living things.
Some people have objected that such probability analysis only disproves random chance selection, but does not virtually prove intentional intelligent selection (ID).
--How so? --What other option is there?
I agree that if any mechanism of physics, chemistry or natural law applies along the way in a process, then the design analysis agrees that those things must be taken into account, but
--IF we have reasonably and thoroughly ruled out any adequate mechanistic selection and ordering process, and there are no natural laws and properties in the matter which can explain the selection of the items in an ordered series (and this analysis must always be open to that possibility), then it would seem that there are only two options:
...CHANCE or NOT CHANCE.
Is there any other option? --Apparently not ...(though we must always be open to any naturalistic options). Such an objection to ID analysis appears to be special pleading on the parts of those who desire to squirm out of the implications, and do not want to rationally follow where the evidence may lead. --This may be mostly an emotion-driven reaction.
Thus, if we have reasonably ruled out chemical/physics mechanisms and "chance" assembly, the only thing left is NOT chance, which is the same thing as intentional selection ...which takes place by an intentional, thinking agent... an intelligent designer.
So, let's go on.
In living cells, proteins are the "machines of life," which build the structures and facilitate (catalyze) the chemical reactions used by all life. Proteins are FCS "informational" molecules, because:
Note: A protein only "folds" properly --and thus is functional-- because the amino acids which comprise the protein are assembled in the correct sequential order. When the sequential order is right, this makes the protein fold properly because of the electrical bonding forces in the amino acids, and the result is a functional protein. -- However, when the sequential order of the amino acids is not correct, the result is junk: a wrong-folding, non-functional chain of amino acids; ...and research has demonstrated that almost 100% of all the possible sequences turn out to be improperly folding non-functional junk (see below).
Going further in our proof: Remember (as stated above under "Information Content") that there are no known laws (or properties) of physics or chemical forces in nature, which would have been sufficient to originally dictate the correct sequential order of the amino acids in any functional (folding) class of proteins adequate to sustain life (so far as anyone has been able to reasonably conceive life). And similarly, there are no known laws (or properties) of physics of chemistry which could have originally dictated the correct sequential order of the nucleotides in the DNA required for the first life (and to build those first proteins of life) --although, again, as scientists we must always remain open to the possibility that it may be demonstrated that there is a series of natural events in nature (unaided by intelligent design) which would accomplish the origination of all 20 required amino acids along with the sequential ordering of them to construct the proteins (&/or the DNA) required for life. Any scientific approach must be able to be negated, and this is the way that this I.D. "proof" is able to be negated. (See my article on Abiogenesis)
Thus, in our proof, we move on to the possibility of the random assembly of proteins: To look most simply at the probability of the random assembly of a protein, note that proteins are made of 20 amino acids, which are linked together into strings or "chains" (polymers). Therefore, if we grant that the supposed "primordial soup" on the early earth had plenty of all 20 amino acids (in equal amounts) available for protein-building, then the chance that the first five amino acids required to build a specific functional protein might randomly bond together in the correct order, would be one chance out of 20 x 20 x 20 x 20 x 20, which equals one chance out of 3,200,000.
Now, of course, this chance is still not that hard to overcome when you suppose that there were many trillions of each of the amino acids present in the primordial soup, along with trillions of trials taking place at the same time, as well as billions of years for trial and error to get the correct five together.
---The problem is: actual proteins of living things are made of an average number of 300 amino acids, with many proteins being 1000 amino acids long --or longer. --As we continue adding each new amino acid to the chain by random selection, we must continue to multiply one chance out of 20 for each additional one. Finally, the chance to have assembled 120 amino acids randomly into the correct sequence to build a very short functional ("folded") protein, would be: one chance out of 10156 (which is a 1 with 156 zeros) ...and one chance out of 10156 is 1,000,000 times more improbable that the "Universal Probability Boundary" (above). ---So, randomly assembling only one such small protein would not reasonably be considered reachable by any random assembly process, even if every star and planet in 1,000,000 universes were composed of primordial soup (made of amino acids).
For a more refined discussion on the probabilities involved in randomly assembling any functional (properly "folded") protein, click on the following link for Dr. Michael Behe's article on:
In the above article, Dr. Behe explains how observed experimental results, gotten from the analysis of actual proteins, have confirmed that "the odds of finding a folded protein are about one in 1065 . . .all proteins that have been examined to date, either experimentally or by comparison of analogous sequences from different species, have been seen to be surrounded by an almost infinitely wide chasm of unfolded, nonfunctional, useless protein sequences." -- The article refers to H.P. Yockey's analytical work on proteins, and the laboratory experiments of R.T. Sauer, which extensively analyzed the make-up of proteins. Despite some degree of amino acid interchangeability at some points along the amino acid chain of a functional protein, the result of these experiments independently confirm the above cited odds of assembling a new type (or class) of properly folding (functional) protein by random processes.
So, random ordering of amino acids would produce useless, non-functional chains 99.99999999999999999999(going out 62 places) percent of the time.
---This would mean, that even if an ocean of primordial soup (having a mass of matter equal to a galaxy) were filled with a random mixture of all 20 of the protein-building amino acids ---and in that ocean one small functional (folding) protein were to assemble at random, then all the rest of that immense ocean of such chemicals would most probably combine so as to be totally bound up in "junk" (non-folding) sequences of amino acids. Thus, that one, lone functional protein would be isolated in a galaxy-sized (in mass) ocean of useless junk (non-folding) amino acid chains. So, a galaxy-mass ocean might be expected to randomly form one small functional protein in 18 billion years.
Beyond this, (using Behe's numbers) the chance that two small functional proteins would occur together at the same time and in the same spot, would be one chance out of 10130 ...and the chance that three small functional proteins would randomly occur together at the same time and in the same spot (in a galaxy-mass ocean) would be trillions of times less likely that the Universal Probability Bound; not at all reasonably reachable. --And no actually living thing is envisaged as only being made of three small proteins.
And Behe goes on to say, "The conclusion that a reasonable person draws from this is that the laws of nature are insufficient to produce functional proteins and, therefore, functional proteins have not been produced through a non-directed search."
This research confirms, then, that the random processes of nature appear inadequate to assemble even a single functional protein of life as we know it, without the work of an intelligence to assemble the amino acids into the complex specified informational sequences required by living things.
Some darwinists propose the idea that many times down through the millennia, a functional (properly folding) protein (or the DNA that codes for it) has been acted upon by random mutations and gene changes, which introduced changes in the amino acid sequence of the original functional protein, resulting in a new type of functional (properly folding) protein which has an entirely new and beneficial function. However, such a schema has not been demonstrated to have occurred. --Such a hypothesis makes no more sense than to say that a computer could turn this present paragraph into another paragraph that makes sense (in any language in the world) by the substitution of randomly selected letters and spaces.
As an illustration of this hypothesis, darwinists often cite the case of sickle-cell anemia. -- Sickle-cell anemia is a genetic disorder which causes red blood cells to be a deformed sickle-shape (making them tend to clump more), which causes sufferers to have poor circulation, janudice, internal bleeding, poor resistance to infection, damage to internal organs, and many infants with the disorder die. Sickle-cell anemia is caused by the switching of just one amino acid along the chain to another amino acid, which changes the characteristics of the hemoglobin protein in the person's red blood cells. -- That one change from one amino acid to another, evidently came from a random mutation in the DNA code which directs the sequence of amino acids in that protein's construction.
It also turns out that this sickle-cell mutation in the hemoglobin also has an interesting "benefit": People with sickle-cell anemia often have protection against the parasite which causes malaria, because it uses red blood cells during its life cycle. -- Therefore, some darwinists propose that this genetic mutation confers a benefit on these people, which is an example of evolution arising from random mutation. This mutation is also proposed as an example of a new protein developing as a result of a random change in the genetics of the DNA.
Well, the problem, first of all, is: This is not a new protein. It is still the hemoglobin protein. It is still supposed to have the function of hemoglobin, however, much of what it is supposed to do in the body has been adversely affected. Thus it is clearly a disorder. --Though there is an affect which to some degree is seen as a benefit, still, this is not a new function which is independent of the old function, which would compel us to find a name for a new protein with a new function. It is still hemoglobin.
Besides, the "benefit" of sickle-cell trait is like a man who --because of a genetic defect-- is born without any feet, but he does have the "benefit" of never having to contract toenail fungus, athlete's foot, flat arches, or bunyons, or many other foot maladies.
Such instances are not what we are looking for when we mean evolutionary innovation resulting in new proteins with new functions. --There must be a new function confered without the destruction of previous beneficial and necessary function. At least, there must be a separation from the "parent" protein, such that the beneficial function of the parent protein is preserved, and the daughter protein confers its own benefits by properly folding in a new and innovative way without being destructive in other ways.
* * *
And in another regard, some have put forward a fallacious criticism of mathematical arguments similar to the one advanced in this present TestingWorldviews article, by offering an explanatory illustration much as follows:
Here is where the above criticism is fallacious and fails:
The card-shuffling illustration assumes that basically ANY ordering of the cards is an acceptable outcome --and, comparing it to life-chemistry, this would be the equivalent of saying that virtually any ordering of the amino acids would work to build a functional protein (which is false), so, whatever one might randomly come up with is basically "easy" to achieve --no matter how "unlikely" the probability calculations might make it seem.
However, the critic unwittingly brings out the correct perspective when he complains we are basically looking for only one "particular ordering of the cards." -- But, yes, that is the point: We are clearly looking for only one particular ordering, because the research just previously cited in this article (esp. see above, from Behe), points out that --in reality-- only about one specific sequence of amino acids out of 1065 possible sequences is adequate to actually produce a properly folding protein which could be used by actual life. The rest are junk, and useless to life. -- In addition, our mathematical analysis brings us to the same conclusion as the researchers.
Therefore --to more accurately represent the life-chemistry situation-- the card-illustration should actually be restricted to say that there are only one very specific ordering of the cards which are the acceptable outcomes of the random shuffles of cards (like Ace down to two --or two up to Ace-- in every suit). These restrictions would be much more like properly folding protein situation. For example ---we would say that only about 2 out of the 1068 possible outcomes will do. The rest (no matter how "unlikely") are useless junk. --Therefore (for example), the only good outcomes in cards would be: a well-shuffled deck must randomly end up with all four suits in proper numerical order starting with the the 2, then the 3, etc., on up through to the Ace. (Or the opposite direction is OK.) All four suits must be so ordered. Every other arrangement is trash. --This is specificity, which is required.
SO, how often in human history have all four suits come up in proper numerical order (Two to Ace, or Ace to Two), after shuffling the deck well? with every other ordering being a failure? --Probably never.
It is the same with the "functional complex specified information" (FCSI) of life.
Such a critic's smoke-screen may sound good on the surface, but it misses the mark.
Irreducible Complexity of "Life" Information
Produces Proof of Intelligent Design in Nature
We saw that the chance of the random assembly of a single type of functional (folding) protein is approximately one chance in 1065. But still, if we use all the time and matter in the universe, one might suppose the random assembly of one such protein might possibly be within reach.
--However, the problem for neo-darwinian naturalists is: There is much more to the simplest conceivable life-form than just one single protein. Even the smallest bacteriophage codes for about nine proteins --but a bacteriophage is not capable of independent life. Evidence indicates there is no independently self-sustaining, metabolizing, reproducing life-form which would require any less than 100 proteins ...to wit:
Biochemist Harold Morowitz estimated that the "minimum" self-replicating cell would include:
The above situation, is essentially one called "irreducible complexity," which has been described in living biochemical systems, by Siegfried Scherer (1983), and also by Michael Behe ("Darwin's Black Box", 1996). In a nutshell, Behe says, a system is irreducibly complex if it is "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning" (p.39). In Behe's book, he illustrates irreducibly complexity by using a common mouse-trap, which is basically made of a wooden base, a wire hammer, a spring with extended ends that press against the base and hammer, a holding bar to hold the hammer back when the trap is set, and a pressure-sensitive catch which, when slight pressure is applied to it, releases the holding bar to spring the trap. This trap system is irreducibly complex, because if any of the five basic parts is missing, the trap will not function. If this trap were to "evolve" it would all have to evolve all at once in order to function. You could not evolve the spring and trap a few mice; and evolve the catch and trap a few more; etc. By definition, the minimum number of parts must be present all at once, or there is no function for evolution to work with.
In the case of Morowitz's minimal cell (if he is right about what is truly minimal), then even six proteins would not be enough to carry on metabolism to keep the minimal cell alive ---and yet, experimental evidence (from actual proteins analyzed) confirms that the chance of one functional protein assembling by random processes, is one chance out of 1065, ...and, thus, the chance of two functional proteins occurring together at the same time and in the same place would be one chance out of 10130 (the product of 1065 times itself).
If you recall, one chance out of 10150 is our "Universal Probability Boundary" which we calculated. Therefore, even with all the time and matter in the universe since the Big Bang, there is a zero probability that even three properly functional proteins could assemble beside each other in the same place by random processes of chance in nature ...and this is only three proteins of the minimum 100 proteins required for the most basic life-form conceivable. Not even the smallest bacteriophage (dependent on complete living cells to exist) codes for only three proteins ...but still, even it could not assemble by random processes.
In addition, Michael Behe describes other information-rich structures in microbiology, which are "irreducibly complex." These could not have (as Darwin said) "been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications", because all of the parts of the system must necessarily be present to have any function for evolutionary selective advantage to take place. Behe cites such microbiological structures as the cilium and the flagellum. With regard to our proof of the high improbability of the random assembly of proteins, consider that a cilium is made of more than 200 different kinds of proteins, and if only 5% of those proteins have evolved, the cilium is non-functional (and, thus, not selected for by evolutionary natural selection). How did the first 5 or 10 of those 200 necessary proteins develop correctly in the direction of cilium construction, if even the first two proteins have a zero chance of random assembly in all the time and matter in the universe?
As another example, a "minimal" flagellum, requiring about 6 different proteins for it's construction, would be (by definition) irreducibly complex ---and if even one of those 6 proteins were missing, there would be no function. How did the complex specified information in the DNA initially arise in order to specify the building of the very first cilium or flagellum?
Therefore, in light of overwhelming evidence, random "trial and error" searching would fail to originate any significant amount of complex specified biological information ...and if random processes did not accomplish it, then the only other logical possibility, is non-random activity. In the same way, if un-guided assembly fails to initially originate information, then the only other logical possibility, is guided assembly. Obviously, if we are looking at "non-random" and "guided" assembly, then this would be the intentional and willfully directed action of an intelligence. Complex specified biological information must be the result of intelligent design. This is a logical scientific conclusion ...even though empirical science does not (so far as we know) help us to determine the identity of the designer(s) in nature.
Michael Denton (an evolutionist at the time) wrote: "If complex computer programs cannot be changed by random mechanisms, then surely the same must apply to the genetic programmes of living organisms. The fact that systems in every way analogous to living organisms cannot undergo evolution by pure trial and error and that their functional distribution invariably conforms to an improbable discontinuum comes, in my opinion, very close to a formal disproof of the whole Darwinian paradigm of nature. By what strange capacity do living organisms defy the laws of chance which are apparently obeyed by all analogous complex systems?" (Denton's, "Evolution: A Theory In Crisis", '85).
Some neo-darwinian evolutionists have attempted to overcome the astronomical odds resulting from honest and open mathematical analyses of the chances of abiogenesis, and they have done this by proposing that DNA or RNA formed first before the proteins.
But what does this accomplish? --One way or another the specified "information" must originate in order to direct the building of proteins, and if it had to arise by chance processes anywhere along the line, then the calculation of the chances of probability would turn up the same results, because the four nucleotides would have to be properly sequentially ordered in order to direct the building of the first functional proteins.
Nothing is gained by such an alternative.
... We would still be asking basically the same questions: How did the informational sequential order of the nucleotides in DNA / RNA initially arise so that they could code for the building of functional proteins which carry on the minimal processes and build the minimal structures of life? --Chance processes (as part of any undirected natural properties of chemistry and physics) do not appear to be adequate at all to explain the origin of any such information.
(Regarding RNA as being possibly the first step to make life, Philip Johnson writes, "The obstacles to prebiotic RNA synthesis were reviewed in 1989 in a lengthy article by G.F. Joyce in Nature. Joyce concluded that RNA is "not a plausible prebiotic molecule, because it is unlikely to have been produced in significant quantities on the primitive earth" " (Darwin on Trial, '93, p.108).
Still others, most notably A.G. Cairns-Smith, have proposed that templates made of clay may have formed the basis for organic molecules to arrange themselves along the line-up of the crystals in the clay. But what would specify the proper ordering of complex specified bio-information? People speak of little mineral "replicators", but fail to show experimentally how this could possibly develop a mechanism leading to the biological information required for life.
The question still remains: How could functional complex specified biological information (FCSI) first originate? Why and how could the clay crystals be arranged in the correct sequential order to afford a template for the correct sequential order of the biological molecules (whether they be nucleotides or amino acids)? There is no experimental evidence to date that any significant ordering of bio-molecules could overcome the odds of randomness. The biochemist Klaus Dose speaks about this mineral origin of life scenario, and says, "This thesis is beyond the comprehension of all biochemists or molecular biologists who are daily confronted with the experimental facts of life" (Dose, '88).
It is often thought that natural selection would choose in favor of any tiny steps that are successfully taken along the way to the development of life. --However, those who suppose this to be a help for their theory, forget that natural selection only selects on operative functionality (not any future or merely possible function), --and for biological function to exist, there are minimal numbers of parts organized into structures in living things (a la Morowitz & Behe) which are necessarily directed by a minimum of complex specified information. Natural selection cannot work without function --and an irreducibly complex system has no function until all the parts (as a minimum) are there to begin with.
And so, random operations of chance totally fail in the origination of any significant amount of functional complex specified information (FCSI), and we can mathematically rule random origination out --whether regarding sentences made of randomly selected letters, or the words in this essay, or the text in a plagiarized work. We do this by a rigorous mathematical analysis of the sequential pieces in a sizeable piece of functional information.
---This is a purely scientific and mathematical analysis and conclusion, and IF we cannot be quite rigorous about arriving at such a conclusion, then we only have hunches and opinions to go by as to whether a string of CFS information is a random occurrence or not (unless the writer or originator is discovered or confesses the act).
But we can quite rigorously and scientifically demonstrate (through probability analysis) that the specified complex order in such information is not the result of random ordering or chance occurrence. So, having ruled out random chance, the opposite of "randomness" and "chance" ---is NOT chance ---which is the same as intentionality and willful purposefulness (unless another ordering principle can be demonstrated). We can scientifically and mathematically demonstrate that someone has intentionally assembled the functional complex specified information.
NOTE: Regarding Plagiarism, we can rigorously and scientifically do the math and prove beyond any reasonable doubt that a continuous sequence of 200 or more letters (with spaces between words) which is identical to a previous work (and not attributed to the original work), was plagiarized (copied) from the earlier work. -- With identical 200 letter sequence, there's very little room for doubt.
The reason detecting plagiarism by this sort of analysis holds true, is because the complex information is "specified" to "function" exactly like somebody else's information which existed previously. The specified pattern of functionality can be shown mathematically to be somebody else's pattern, such that there is an extremely high chance it is plagiarism. (Refer back to the sections on "Functionality" and "Specificity".)
Another way to look at the 200-letter string, is the fact that the average length of an English word is 5 letters, and therefore, there are about 40 words involved (on average) in a 200-letter string. Since the average literate person uses about 15,000 to 20,000 words (according to linguist researcher Richard Lederer), you may calculate the extremely small chance that someone would (on their own) come up with the very same 40 words in the exact same order as a previous writer. -- The chance would be (conservatively): One chance out of 10,000 times itself 40 times ... which is 1 chance out of 10160. -- The judge who finds this person guilty of plagiarism is on extremely solid ground.
This is one example of ID mathematical theory in action.
So, using Intelligent Design theory and probability analysis, we can --for example-- conclude that the sentences in this paragraph were assembled by purposeful, creative intelligence(s) and not random letter and space selection. If we received a sufficient amount of FCSI from outer-space, we could employ ID theory to solidly conclude that it was from intelligence(s). --These would be scientific conclusions, which can be logically and mathematically determined by a cold analysis of the information alone as evidence. It is testable and repeatable. It is also falsifiable by new evidence which might demonstrate a non-intelligent source for the information. --ID theory can and should be applied regardless of religious or spiritual views or implications.
Intelligent design of FCS Information can be scientifically and mathematically determined by analysis of the information itself, without the testimony (or specific identity) of the author being discovered or revealed. Such analysis would be a scientific and mathematically substantiated conclusion, and is not related to any religious viewpoints.
And --in the same way-- we can analyze and conclude that Intelligent Design has taken place in the origination of the information contained in the DNA of living things. Intelligent design of the FCS Information in DNA can be scientifically and mathematically determined by analysis of the information itself. This would be a scientific and mathematically substantiated conclusion, and is not related to any religious viewpoints.
Detecting and demonstrating Intelligent Design of FCSI is a purely scientific and mathematical conclusion arising from the cold and logical analysis of the phenomenon of FCSI itself.
Intelligent Design in living things is a scientific and testable determination, because it can be disproved --for example-- by demonstrating that there are some properties or laws of chemicals or physics which can explain the sequential ordering of the information in the DNA.
--It can also be disproved if the random arrangement and ordering of parts in a sequence is reasonably probable.
-- It can also be disproved if the natural selection of random changes and additions to the DNA can explain the accumulation and ordering of the biological information in DNA.
However --after careful consideration of these issues-- if random arrangement and sequencing of parts is mathematically ruled out as described here, then Intelligent design is the remaining option. Thus, it would seem that anyone with an open mind to the facts of the situation would deduct that an intelligent designer is the only logical explanation for the initial origin of at least some of the FCSI in biological systems. This conclusion is not arrived at by irrational faith, but the deduction comes from a calm evaluation of empirical facts rigorously verified in the laboratory and analyzed by accepted logic and mathematical probability procedures.
So, while ID is increasingly being recognized as a fact in nature by growing numbers of scientists, the discussions and debate about ID are following the pattern of past scientific revolutions and paradigm shifts. People are resisting and struggling against it, and trying to banish it out of "scientific" discussion and research ---but the logic of ID theory combined with the evidence in nature is quite solid.
Limits of the Intelligent Design Conclusion
Beyond the basic determination that some FCSI came from an intelligent designer, science alone is then quite limited:
The determination of ID cannot tell us whether the designed item is very well designed. Perhaps there are some qualities about the design which are less than ideal, and might conceivably be better.
The determination of ID very possibly cannot tell us the name(s) of the designer(s).
ID very possibly cannot indicate the motivation of the designer in assembling the information. Maybe there is planned obsolescence in the design.
The determination of ID very possibly cannot tell us much about the personal qualities of the designer(s) --whether the designer(s) are very kind, or good, or infinitely powerful, etc.
-- Because of such limitations with ID, the science classroom cannot rationally go beyond the limitations of the capabilities of ID to simply indicate that some information was produced by an intelligence. -- Such on-going discussions and implications would be better left to philosophers and theologians.
Historical or Religious Conclusions
Although the scientific proof of intelligent design may be demonstrated quite rigorously, the personal identity of the designer(s) is not a scientific issue, and is outside the realm of scientific inquiry. It is a personal and historical issue, such as whether the writer of the Scrabble sentences has revealed or will reveal himself. It may also be a historical issue, such as whether another person witnessed the making of the sentences. Such an issue is not a scientific one, per se.
Though we have come up with very nearly an air-tight scientific proof that intelligent design in nature is a factual reality, the specific identity of the designer does not seem to be apparent from an investigation of only nature and biological things. It does not appear (for example) that we can necessarily conclude that the designer is an omnipotent being, since all of the designed things we might consider are finite things, for which a finite designer could be adequate. There are also many other things that we may not be able to necessarily conclude about the identity of any designer by only looking at the information in natural things. These items are beyond the scope of science.
My Personal Conjecture ...beyond Science
It is my personal philosophical and religious opinion that a large amount of the information in living things involves a complexity of design which is far beyond the capacity of evolution/natural selection to produce it, and also far beyond current designing capabilities of mankind. -- Therefore, the designer of DNA --and life itself-- must be extremely intelligent.
Furthermore, in view of the design which is evident in the Cosmos (and in the fine-tuning of the Big-Bang, for instance), it would be necessary for the designer to be unimaginably powerful!!
---These are just examples, but still, if you will read further in this website, you may agree that there is an excellent body of evidence which indicates that the Bible is a supernaturally produced piece of literature, ...and the Bible claims to identify the living God (and Jesus Christ) who did the intelligent designing of all things. If you want to read about such evidence concerning the Bible, click on this link: "Prophecy Proves the Bible's Authority."
Relevant Further Reading (links):
DNA and Other Designs - by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer
Intelligent Design is not Optimal Design - by William A. Dembski
Why Evolutionary Algorithms Cannot Generate Specified Complexity - by William A. Dembski
DNA, Design, and the Origin of Life - by Charles B. Thaxton, Ph.D.
Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information, by W.A. Dembski, in ARN Web-Site, 1998.
An Introduction To Probability - by Jim Albert
Basic Probability Theory - by Sanjaya Kumar
Old Earth Articles :
- - (TestingWorldviews.com stance is that the best evidence points to an old earth --and that the Bible teaches this perspective.)
NOTE: ...You, dear reader, are valuable and loved by God, . . .and that's why Jesus Christ came.
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