Disco Goes Digital

Aug 12 2009 Published by under Debunking Creationism, Intelligent Design

It sometimes seems like every day, some "intelligent design" bozo comes out with
another book rehashing the same-old crap. I usually ignore it. But this time, I felt
like the promotional materials for one of the new books really stepped right into my
part of the world, rhetorically speaking, and so I figured I should give it a
quick smackdown.

The book in question is Stephen C. Meyer's "Signature in the Cell". Meyer's argument
basically comes down to one that is seems like we've heard and dealt with a thousand times already. There's stuff in the cell which looks kinda-sorta like a machine if you look at it in the right way, and since machines were designed, therefore so were cells.

If that's all he said, I'd just ignore him. Why rehash the same old shit? But no. This time, the DI needed to add a youtube video, which makes some amazingly strong, unsupported claims.

The official description of this is "This animation shows how the digital information encoded in DNA directs protein synthesis inside the cell and provides a unique look at the evidence for intelligent design as described in Dr. Stephen C. Meyers book Signature in the Cell". The soundtrack, if you pay attention to it, repeats that claim several times in several ways: that DNA is specifically digital information, and that therefore the processes that operate on DNA are effectively digital computations, and since everyone knows that a digital computer required intelligent humans to design it, it's impossible that the "digital computer" in the cell evolved.

As usual, this is an exercise in dishonesty on the part of the Disco folks. They're basically hiding their argument behind the word digital. When a typical person hears about a digital computation, something specific comes to mind: silicon based digital computers. The Disco gang are counting on that - that the comparison will make people think that
the processes inside the cell really correspond very closely to the processes of an electronic digital computer.

They don't. Sure, there's some conceptual similarity. But as we've discussed on this this blog many times, it doesn't take much to produce a system which can perform
computations - and once you've got a system which can in any way be viewed as performing computations, it's very hard to limit it to anything less than turing completeness - in other words, to make it any less powerful, in theory, than an electronic computer.

Let's focus on the real problem. They claim that DNA is "digital information". What
does that mean?

Three possible definitions of digital information:

  1. Information consisting of a collection of numbers.
  2. Information encoded in any discrete form which can be represented by
    a sequence of symbols.
  3. Information which can be stored in the memory of a digital computer.

In a mathematical sense, it's not a well-defined term. There are several different definitions of it, and those definitions have very different meanings. Just
given the term "digital information", you can't necessarily decide whether
or not a given entity can be described using digital information. You need to
pick a specific meaning. That's exactly what the disco gang is relying on: they're using one definition of digital information to claim that DNA is "digital" (definition 1), while using a different definition (definition 3) to argue that the fact that it's
digital implies that it's like a computer.

DNA is, arguably, digital. After all, you can describe a piece of DNA as a sequence - an ordered string of letters. So sure, in that sense, it's digital.

Of course, in that sense, lots of things are digital. All chemicals are, in
that sense, digital information - because you can describe a chemical by a
notation consisting of a series of characters. In fact, you can treat a chemical as a
representation of symbolic information: a crystal of salt can be interpreted as a
representation of "NaCl"; a solution of sulfuric acid can be interpreted as a
representation of the string "H2SO4."

Just pointing out that something is "digital" in that sense doesn't really tell us
anything.

But that's the basic argument that Disco is using: that because we can interpret
DNA as something that is, in some sense, "digital", that therefore cells are just like digital computers that process DNA, and that therefore they must be designed. It's the same old argument from incredulity: "I can't imagine how this could have happened without an intelligent agent doing it, therefore it couldn't have happened without an intelligent agent." The only thing that's new here is that they hide that argument behind the word "digital". DNA is digital information, and since that means that the cell is like a giant supercomputer, it must be designed like our supercomputers.

61 responses so far

  • Not me says:

    There's information lost when you go from chemical to chemical symbol. Galactose and glucose are both C6H12O6, for example.
    That's not to say that you can't represent chemicals by a code of some kind, of course. Just that it's a slightly more complicated code.

  • Pierce R. Butler says:

    It bears mentioning that it's also "digital information" to give someone the finger.

  • Anonymous says:

    Supercomputers are -- as far as I know -- usually designed by a team of engineers with the help of other computers. So Meyer is telling us that our Creator must be a team of engineers with computers. Sacrilege!

  • Aaron says:

    One thing that always ruffles my feathers is when the nutbars refer to DNA as a "language".
    We *interpret* DNA as a language, because it's easier for us to process the sequences that way. But the DNA sequences themselves function because of the CHEMICAL PROPERTIES of those nucleotide-base sequences -- they are not "interpreted" abstractly and coded separately.
    A protein functions because its chemical / biochemical properties emerge from its 3-D form; and sequences of amino acids (which can be VERY easily randomized / shuffled) fold into proteins ENTIRELY based on the emergent chemical attractions/aversions as it peels out of the ribosome. Saying that intelligence is involved in this development is like saying that intelligence is involved in the beautiful crystalline structure of an ice crystal (rather than simply yielding that the bent-angular structure of H2O lends itself to that form).
    ugh. The stupid burns HARD over there.

  • Nate says:

    If the Disco folks did some research on analog computers, or even on basic electronics, they would probably conclude that the entire universe is evidence of an intelligent creator. After all, digital/discrete is not a magic word meaning "created intelligently".
    I also like that the Disco folks assume god is roughly as intelligent as a human. "Well, this looks like something I could do... so [currently popular god] did it!"

  • David says:

    it's beyond the usual stupid argument from incredulity. it throws in a false analogy. an obviously false analogy.
    All computers are designed (if A then B)
    If it's digital, it must be some sort of computer (if C then A)
    The cell is digital ( C )
    Therefore the cell is designed. (if C then B)
    But we already know that the cell is only "like a computer" in a superficial way.

  • Nate says:

    Other things in nature that are discrete/digital and involved in some abstract computation, and thus 'evidence' of god:
    The masses of planetary bodies in a gravitational system (god spent a lot of time balancing planets in orbit... except for the ones that plummeted into the sun, that was the devil).
    The snow particles in an avalanche (god made sure they bounce and ripple outwards in pretty waves... so the next time you're trapped in one's path, pray).
    The rings in a tree (god told all the trees to grow in rings so he can check the date).
    The graph formed by worms traversing dirt (god has the intelligence of a worm).

  • Gray Gaffer says:

    Wasn't a DNA "computer" built that solved the Traveling Salesman problem a few years back? Not that that is in any way supporting the Disco crowd, just an illustration of co-opting Nature. Don't tell them.
    The unspoken corollary to "I can't imagine how this could have happened without an intelligent agent doing it" is "and if I can't imagine it, no-one else can, therefore ...". So, these must be Very Special People indeed, if their imaginations are the best in the world. Though that still does not imply their conclusion, just that nobody can imagine it.
    Amazing hubris and arrogance. Their words predict their fall. Can't wait.

  • Eric B says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with you on this. It is one argument to say that something (such as evolution) could happen by chance and another to say that it is impossible to happen by mere chance alone. It still has not been proven that even given a primordial soup could even produce the most basic building blocks of life in the right morphology. Another chicken/egg paradigm, proteins need to be in the correct shape inorder to be useful biologically, so what came first? The protein or the protein shaper? or the protein that makes the protein shaper? Even in chemistry when boiled down to its core, has to assume that most reactions generally occur between 2 fundamental components.. 3 components is possible but rare, 4 components is so rare that it is practically considered impossible. (imagine 4 objects striking each other at exactly the same time).
    Unfortunately/forunately, We are not omnipotent enough to prove the non-existance of anything (God, evolution, or whatever). And science alone can only point toward truth, but never undeniably prove it.

  • Mark C. Chu-Carroll says:

    Re #9:
    (A) What does any of that have to do with disagreeing with me on this? "This", in this case, is an explanation of how the Disco gang is using the ambiguity of the word "digital" to hide the fact that they're just using a good old argument from ignorance.
    (B) Your ignorance of chemistry is absolutely astonishing. You really don't believe that chemical reactions with more than 3 components ever occur?
    (C) Your whole argument still boils down to the argument from incredulity: "I can't imagine how it could happen, therefore it couldn't happen". That's a lousy argument: the limits of your imagination don't defy the limits of reality.

  • Anonymous says:

    It still has not been proven that even given a primordial soup could even produce the most basic building blocks of life in the right morphology.

    Yes it has.

  • Skemono says:

    Doh. Forgot to sign in for that last post.

  • complex field says:

    "...our Creator must be a team of engineers with computers." That explains a lot.

  • Jud says:

    And science alone can only point toward truth, but never undeniably prove it.
    Howzabout you step off your roof and try to deny the experimental proofs of gravitational acceleration? The impact should give you a quick, pithy assessment of the value of your "never undeniably prove" argument.

  • Michael says:

    Separating faith from science is vitally important. It is fundamentally impossible to "prove" matters of faith via science. In my world-view I choose to see scientific evidence of how things work as essentially the study of how God did it. I believe this because of things I have experienced in my life but trying to prove it is so would be ridiculous.
    Likewise, trying to disprove it would be ridiculous. True matters of faith can't really be proven or disproven nor should they be. If they could be proven, it would not be faith as it would be called science. If they could be disproven, it would be called insanity rather than faith.
    People that put things like this together are doing far more harm than good to their cause.
    To #11: You say "yes it has".... where was the experiment performed that resulted in life from non-life? I missed that one.

  • Anonymous says:

    While I find #9's comments to be the same old rehash of god has to the prime mover, I think his chemistry comment means to refer to the fact that in a chemistry, most compounds react in some sort of progression, even if minutely off in sequence, rather than simultaneously. but wait, what was the point of him/her mentioning that? nevermind.

  • Doug Spoonwood says:

    "Supercomputers are -- as far as I know -- usually designed by a team of engineers with the help of other computers. So Meyer is telling us that our Creator must be a team of engineers with computers. Sacrilege!"
    And a team of engineers with computers doing those computations *outside* of the universe, since Bremmerman's limit implies that we can't compute the relations between all atoms inside the material universe. At least, I think it does, since we can't compute the relations between all atoms on Earth with a super^super computer the size of the Earth. What's funnier, the Disco Institute or Disco clothing?

  • Anonymous says:

    Michael#15:

    True matters of faith can't really be proven or disproven nor should they be. If they could be proven, it would not be faith as it would be called science. If they could be disproven, it would be called insanity rather than faith.... If they could be disproven, it would be called insanity rather than faith.

    Shouldn't be (dis)proven? What, like, how divine messages are better explained through neurological defects or the effects of psychotropic drugs on the brain? A real model that predicts stuff is better than a divine black box.

  • Blake Stacey says:

    The result of 1000 coin flips is also "digital information" — binary, too. Maybe the real prophet of God is Harvey "Two-Face" Dent?

  • Skemono says:

    You say "yes it has".... where was the experiment performed that resulted in life from non-life? I missed that one.

    This is what I was responding to:

    It still has not been proven that even given a primordial soup could even produce the most basic building blocks of life in the right morphology.

  • Richard Wein says:

    It's just ye olde argument from analogy. Behe and others have previously tried to argue from analogy between biological systems and man-made machines (like motors). Now they've just moved on to analogising with computers. The problem is they just point to some abstract similarity (like use of "digital information") while ignoring all the specific details (differences) which show that organisms (unlike man-made machines) have evolved naturally.
    Moreover, all the machines they're analogising with were not just designed, they were designed specifically by humans. So if they took the logic of their argument seriously, they should conclude that organisms were designed by humans.
    It's interesting to note that Dembski has actually rejected the argument from analogy ("No Free Lunch", section 1.8). His Disco colleagues don't seem to have noticed.

  • Marlene says:

    I took them to mean 'digital' in the sense of 'genes can be active or inactive', dependent on whether or not they're expressed in a person's body. But this is hokum - expression rates of a gene are non-linear in that they are correlated to the expression rates of other genes, and have finer settings than simply 'on' or 'off'.

  • Morgan says:

    Unfortunately/forunately, We are not omnipotent enough to prove the non-existance of anything (God, evolution, or whatever).

    It's trivial to prove, empirically, the non-existence of a thousand-kilometer-wide continent in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. You can sail a ship there or fly a plane over the area and see: huh, no continent. Proof of non-existence.
    It's quite easy to prove the non-existence of any hypothetical thing that, if it existed, should be a) detectable and b) in a particular place, by looking and seeing that it's not there.

  • Robert says:

    "True matters of faith can't really be proven or disproven."
    Hence, any proof of the existence of an intelligent designer must be flawed. It is our duty to point out these flaws to the poor deluded fools who try to prove the existence of god.
    "Unfortunately/forunately, We are not omnipotent enough to prove the non-existance of anything."
    Show that the existence of something leads to a logical contradiction and you're done. (The proof of the non-existence of a largest prime number pops into my mind here...) Of course, if you assume god is all powerful he must be able to survive logical contradictions, and so proving the non-existence of god is a bit harder.

  • mafarmerga says:

    When I teach about the coding of information in DNA some student usually makes the same mistake as Meyer and refers to it as "digital." I make the point that it is not digital, it is "modular" just like both spoken and written language it can convey "information" but not in the sense that a computer can. In fact computers have to work damn hard to translate the information that they operate on in a digital sense into something that we can understand in a modular sense.
    In this way the information is infinitely flexible (think language and music here) and provides the varied tapestry on which natural selection can act.

  • Jud says:

    To #11: You say "yes it has".... where was the experiment performed that resulted in life from non-life? I missed that one.
    You're only about 180 years too late on this "life vs. non-life" thing. It was in 1828 that Friedrich Wöhler synthesized an organic compound from inorganic precursors, confounding those who said that organic, or "living," matter was somehow qualitatively different (some sort of "spark of the divine" or something) from inorganic matter. Oh-so-appropriately, what Wöhler made was a component of piss.
    So there's no conceptual reason living matter can't be created through chemical reactions of inorganic compounds. And the Earth has certainly been quite a chemical factory throughout its history, making uncountable numbers of different compounds in vast quantities, some of which we use as natural resources, others of which bacteria, plants, and animals use as food. To say these processes over a few hundred million years couldn't possibly have manufactured the chemical precursors of life is simply arbitrary. It reflects not any principle of chemistry but only your own prejudices.

  • daedalus2u says:

    I like the oxymoron "not omnipotent enough", as if there were degrees of being omnipotent. Is that like being countably omnipotent? Where one's omnipotence can be put in a one-to-one correspondence with something else?

  • sethv says:

    I don’t think you got this one right Mark. To me the main problem in this video is the strenuous effort to say that DNA is not just like a written language but that it actually is a written language and that the cell is not just like a machine but that it actually is a machine. The “ID” movement is just the argument from design repackaged.
    Your argument is that DNA isn’t digital in the same sense as a computer and that the only sense in which it is digital is that it can be represented by an ordered string of letters. But DNA is copied and transmitted and it does contain discrete units that correspond to the amino acids that are assembled during protein synthesis. So I think it is digital in the same sense as digital TV and digital computers.

  • AnyEdge says:

    I believe in God, and I need no evidence. That said, I also HAVE no evidence. Mark is absolutely right about this. Essentially their argument boils down to:
    Guy #1 - "Cells seem to behave in some ways very like a computer."
    Guy #2 - "Damn that's cool, God musta did it."
    I'm sorry, but that isn't evidence. I cannot fathom why people feel the neeed to impose their own God on others. Thus is AnyEdge's Fundamental Quesiton of Religion: "If God is mad at me, how is that your problem?"

  • leonardo says:

    There's lot of analog information around the DNA.
    And that video is fake: thinks inside the cells don't move like that, they act much more randomly, there's lot of Brownian motion too.

  • Blake Stacey says:

    To say these processes over a few hundred million years couldn't possibly have manufactured the chemical precursors of life is simply arbitrary.

    When you think about the timescale involved, asking for a single experiment to demonstrate the entire process is a little like asking for a single bullet, buried in the soil of Gettysburg, to demonstrate the entire course of the American Civil War.

  • daedalus2u says:

    DNA is digital in the same way that analog TV is digital. Charge is quantized, so only a discrete number of electrons are fired at a particular color pixel. That is digital in the same way that a DNA molecule transcribes a discrete number of molecules of a peptide.
    Since everything is digital in the sense that it is quantized, then God did it.

  • daedalus2u says:

    I just realized, if God created everything that is digital, then everything non-digital must have been created by the Devil or the anti-Christ. Proof that mathematicians (who created real numbers) are the spawn of the Devil.

  • sethv says:

    All I'm saying is that calling DNA digital is perfectly sensible and saying that it's only digital in the same sense that a salt crystal is is just silly. The problem is saying that this means the cell must be just like a computer.
    The Disco 'Tute didn't come up with the analogy on their own, you know. See, for example, Dawkins's River Out of Eden. The first chapter is called "The Digital River" (in reference to DNA) and the analogy to computers is made explicitly without implying that cells actually are computers or that they were designed.

  • Bob Carroll says:

    It looks like Eric B(#9) is referring to some reactions in gases, where the rate is controlled by the probability of collisions between the gas molecules. Collisions between two particles occur commonly, three-way ones much less commonly, and simultaneous four-way collisions in gases are extremely rare. That said, even in gases most reactions are more complex than this. The initial collision step need not be rate-determining.
    Reactions in non-gaseous media behave quite differently.
    Also, the "basic building blocks of life" have been found in outer space, if you consider these ill-defined blocks to be simple CHON compounds.
    The chicken/egg comment is another non-starter, often heard in creationist circles. It is likely that the precursors to living systems were much simpler that the proteins/DNA that we see today. Complexity developed with time.

  • Mike Olson says:

    I tend to believe that at this point in time *Blake Stacey*(#31) hit the whole thing pretty much on the head. Of course I'm not strongly informed of the whole process. I tend to believe that folks that are looking to prove the existence of God by examining science are off the mark. Personally, I believe that science, like many other things in life, is best used to provide an analogy of what is perceived to be the correct course of action in a particular moral or ethical situation, not proof of the Divine. I'm not suggesting looking to science for morality or ethics...both positive and negative behavior can be shown to be within a normal range...simply that analogies can be drawn from science to provide a greater theological understanding.

  • Seth Manapio says:

    sethv, the "Digital River" is a metaphor. It is an incomplete and therefore approximate description that relies on imagery to make a point. DNA is only a chemical that reacts with other chemicals. There is nothing silly about pointing out that any argument that makes DNA digital can probably be applied to clay or salt.

  • Mike says:

    Why didn't the Intelligent Designer ditch the legacy codebase and make a clean break from earlier versions? It's pretty obvious that the Designer kept forking the codebase, adding features, fixing some bugs, but creating some new bugs and race conditions too. Legacy support means a larger codebase and more security vulnerabilities, especially if there's no QC team. Unfortunately for us, this is the only product on the market.

  • Tobias says:

    I don't get why you call those guys disco.
    Did I miss something interesting?
    btw. everything is Digital (or Quantisized) if you look to close, this is why they call it Quantum-whatever.

  • Jud says:

    I don't get why you call those guys disco.
    Discovery Institute, Disco 'Tute for short.
    btw. everything is Digital (or Quantisized) if you look too close, this is why they call it Quantum-whatever.
    I think you are correct, people who think Everything is Digital probably do call it "Quantum-whatever."

  • the cell is a computer in the sense that it is something that computes.
    however if that is the definition we are going to give for computer then everything that manipulates any kind of information in any way is a computer. or, more simply, everything is a computer of some sort, which is certanly one way to see the world, and it can lead o interesting thoughts, (see Wolfram, Rucker, Lloyd) but that does not mean that they were designed by someone, evolutionary programming has given us programs to run on our computers that were not designed by anyone in the sense disco talks about.

  • sethv says:

    Re #37:
    Of course it's a metaphor and of course DNA is a chemical. But a DNA molecule consists of a series of bases drawn from small fixed number of available types and each type is chemically indistinguishable from other bases of the same type. And DNA *is* copied and it *is* transcribed to form chains of amino acids.
    These are facts about DNA that are true regardless of whether we choose to describe them with some type of notation. A salt crystal or other chemical doesn't have any similarity to a digital system apart from the superficial similarity of their notation.
    Since these are the same properties we use to distinguish between analog and digital systems designed by humans, I don’t see any reason not to say DNA is digital. If "digital" was a technical or mathematical term with a precise definition that would be different, but it’s not. And saying that DNA is digital doesn’t commit you to ID any more than saying that ASIMO can walk does.

  • John_in_Oz says:

    Dawkins does indeed make much of the fact that DNA is 'digital'.
    I quote http://www.open2.net/dawkins/dawkins_4.html "Even the three founding fathers of population genetics never knew quite how digital it really is. In the light of the Watson-Crick revolution, we now see the very genes themselves, within themselves, as digitally coded messages, digital in exactly the same sense and in the same way to an astonishing level of detail as computer information is digital."
    It's easy to see why creationists think they are co-opting these ideas when they co-opt this language.
    Dawkins justifies his use of this terminology better than I can paraphrase it, in the linked article.

  • Richard Wein says:

    DNA is "digital" in the sense that its codons can be interpreted as 3-digit (base 4) numbers that correspond to indices in a 64-cell look-up table of amino acids. However, this isn't "digital" in the sense of the usual analogue/digital distinction (e.g. in TV broadcasts). That distinction refers to the way that quantities (magnitudes) are represented. I'm not aware of anything in DNA that can be interpreted as representing a digitised quantity.

  • Richard Wein says:

    P.S. I don't think Mark is correct in saying that chemical compounds generally can be considered digital in the same sense that DNA is. In the case of DNA, codons can be seen as symbolic representations of amino acids. Mark invokes a correspondence between a chemical compound and it's notational representation. But, unlike the codon, the chemical notation does not exist in nature; it's just our way of describing nature.

  • sethv says:

    Richard,
    Yep, that's what I've been trying to say. In DNA those codons corresponded to amino acids long before we knew they even existed, and they did so in a way that is very similar to what we call digital. To your previous example, if you had to reverse engineer a digital TV you would never find a number floating around in their either, you would only find that a certain sequence of signals that cause a pixel to light up could be interpreted as a number.
    The fallacy is in claiming that these properties of DNA prove it was designed. The benefits of these properties are the same as the benefits of a digital encoding designed by humans: accuracy in copying and resistance to interference. An analog encoding wouldn’t stand a chance against DNA with natural selection.
    The big offenders in the video are over-emphasizing the resemblance of cells to machines and begging the question by referring to DNA as a "written language" (among others). But they stole this idea that DNA is digital from legitimate biologists and I don't think that it should be granted to them any more than we grant "intelligent" or "discovery" to their cause.

  • Thomas R says:

    Thank you for posting this.
    We need to keep track of the spreading of false information enabling us to counter these arguments more easily.
    One fun way of poking holes in the "new" theory is the flip the bird comment above. As he/she points out it is in a strict sense digital information as well. Digit means finger, and which one is the message...
    Also, pointing out the cheap trick of repetition helps sound the alarm among critical thinking people. Resorting to such means usually imply ulterior motifs.

  • trrll says:

    Another chicken/egg paradigm, proteins need to be in the correct shape inorder to be useful biologically, so what came first? The protein or the protein shaper? or the protein that makes the protein shaper?

    Multiple mistakes here. First, it is not necessarily true that proteins need to be in a particular shape to be useful biologically. Most proteins function as catalysts, and catalytic activity can be found in short peptide chains without clear structure. Structure can enhance this basic function, increasing the rate of catalysis and reducing side reactions, but there is no chicken/egg problem here. The earliest, simplest organisms probably did not employ highly structured catalysts. It is also not true that all proteins require a "protein shaper." Many proteins fold spontaneously into an active conformation, as has been repeatedly been demonstrated in the lab. There are some that fold with assistance, but there is no reason to believe that the earliest life forms required proteins that could not fold on their own.

  • trrll says:

    The most misleading aspect of the video is that it makes the process look like a human assembly line, with orderly movement of components into position for assembly. In reality, most of that stuff is rattling around inside the cell and occasionally falling into place by random chance filtered by selective binding binding affinity. I suspect that one reason why ID/Creationists are so dismissive of a role of "random chance" in the evolution of life is that they don't realize what a huge role random chance plays in all biological processes. Indeed, anybody who really understood biochemistry would end up concluding that if there is a "Designer," it is inordinately fond of using random chance and selection to get things done.

  • MPL says:

    Anything like a computer must have been designed.
    Rocks, like computers, can be kicked.
    Therefore, rocks are the work of an intelligent designer.

  • Argon says:

    When hasn't Monty Python anticipated the IDers? On faulty analogies:
    BEDEMIR: Quiet, quiet. Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.
    CROWD: Are there? What are they?
    BEDEMIR: Tell me, what do you do with witches?
    VILLAGER #2: Burn!
    CROWD: Burn, burn them up!
    BEDEMIR: And what do you burn apart from witches?
    VILLAGER #1: More witches!
    VILLAGER #2: Wood!
    BEDEMIR: So, why do witches burn?
    [pause]
    VILLAGER #3: B--... 'cause they're made of wood...?
    BEDEMIR: Good!
    CROWD: Oh yeah, yeah...
    BEDEMIR: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?
    VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her.
    BEDEMIR: Aah, but can you not also build bridges out of stone?
    VILLAGER #2: Oh, yeah.
    BEDEMIR: Does wood sink in water?
    VILLAGER #1: No, no.
    VILLAGER #2: It floats! It floats!
    VILLAGER #1: Throw her into the pond!
    CROWD: The pond!
    BEDEMIR: What also floats in water?
    VILLAGER #1: Bread!
    VILLAGER #2: Apples!
    VILLAGER #3: Very small rocks!
    VILLAGER #1: Cider!
    VILLAGER #2: Great gravy!
    VILLAGER #1: Cherries!
    VILLAGER #2: Mud!
    VILLAGER #3: Churches -- churches!
    VILLAGER #2: Lead -- lead!
    ARTHUR: A duck.
    CROWD: Oooh.
    BEDEMIR: Exactly! So, logically...,
    VILLAGER #1: If... she.. weighs the same as a duck, she's made of wood.
    BEDEMIR: And therefore--?
    VILLAGER #1: A witch!

  • Alex Besogonov says:

    Re #10:
    "(B) Your ignorance of chemistry is absolutely astonishing. You really don't believe that chemical reactions with more than 3 components ever occur? "
    Actually, #9 is right. Most of chemical reactions involve two components (or three, sometimes the third component serves as a substrate).
    For example, the textbook reaction:
    2Al+ 2NaOH+ 6H2O -> 2Na[Al(OH)4]+3H2
    Is actually two reactions:
    2Al + 6H2O -> 2Al(OH)3 + 3H2
    Al(OH)3 + NaOH -> Na[Al(OH)4]
    That means nothing, though. Since you can combine several two-component reactions to effectively produce a multi-component reaction.

  • Rob says:

    #9
    "Even in chemistry when boiled down to its core, has to assume that most reactions generally occur between 2 fundamental components.. 3 components is possible but rare, 4 components is so rare that it is practically considered impossible. (imagine 4 objects striking each other at exactly the same time)."
    This is only relevant temporally. Simultaneous three-component collisions are rare in solution or in the gas-phase. However, it is also irrelevant, as complex cascades of reactions occur with three or more components in series. I can think of no biologically relevant synthetic transformation that requires simultaneous three-body collision or coupling.
    Transition metal catalysis involves multiple collisions between a variety of components, even reactions as simple as reductive amination involve ten or more individual chemical steps, but they still occur readily and in high yield.

  • Eric B says:

    I may be ignorant about many things, but Down to the very physics/essence of chemistry its difficult to even imagine 4 "objects" interacting at the very same time. Again think of 4 or 3 spheres hitting each other simultaneously this is an incredible improbility. I am not talking about general reactions where you have A + B + C ---> D of course this is a simplified view of what is really happening in a chemical reaction, but we boil down it to this for simplicities sake. Anyway, besides the point, what my illustration meant to point out, is beginning of life can't be simplified as a series of events, it's a parrellel set of events that need to occur. The article you pointed is an intersting one that I have not read before now. Unforunatley RNA is not DNA. Its the difference between a well written book and a small letter written by monkeys, most likely incoherent drivel. Our existence defies the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

  • Rob says:

    Eric B
    Explain your assertion that our existence defies the 2nd Law of Thermo (the entropy in a closed system will spontaneously increase). Before heading off into the wild blue yonder, make sure you are discussing a closed system. The earth is not a closed system.
    Note also, that for complex chemical events to occur between three or four chemicals, that the chemicals do NOT need to interact simultaneously. There are countless examples of chemical reactions that dramatically increase molecular complexity, which occur spontaneously, and which involve more than two chemical components. Any condensation reaction requires more than a single molecular collision.

  • Skemono says:

    Our existence defies the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    Pffft...! Ahahahahaha!!
    Eheh. Do go on. How does our existence defy the 2nd law of thermodynamics? This ought to be fun.

  • Rob says:

    I'll pretend I'm Eric B. Here is my argument.
    Human beings are more complex than atoms. The second law says that more complex systems spontaneously fall apart. Therefore, atoms can't form humans because we would just fall apart back to atoms.

  • curtis says:

    The "same old shit" is true.
    The cell, digital DNA or not, is too complex to have evolved without a designer.
    Science must be observable. It cannot prove the cell's origins without a designer.

  • Robert Vroom says:

    Has the blog author read past page 21? Meyer makes a number of powerful arguments that go far beyond his introduction.

  • Mark C. Chu-Carroll says:

    @59:
    I have not read any part of Meyer's book. In this post, all I discussed was the video. I've read some of Meyer's material in the past, and long ago concluded that he's a lying scumbag. I'm not going to put money in his pocket by buying his book.
    If you're really convinced that reading it will change my mind, you're welcome to send me a copy, and I'll do my best to read it with an open mind. But as I said - I've read plenty of Meyer's stuff before, and everything I've seen of his work has been dishonestly presented rehashes of other peoples' sloppy creationist arguments.

  • Setting aside all the papers I've published on molecular biology, and the Biology courses that I've taught, I came up with this statement to show how fallacious it is to combine 2 meanings of digital.
    "DNA is digital information because there is DNA in my fingers, which are digits."

Leave a Reply

Bad Behavior has blocked 1584 access attempts in the last 7 days.