Friday, June 19, 2009

The Origin of the Ribosome

Design Inteligente is an ID blog in Portuguese. It is a visually appealing blog with substance. O Ribosomma e a Complexidade Irredutival is a blog entry which cites the irreducibly complex nature of ribosomes and links to a YouTube video. The text quotes Harvard Medical School Professor George Church, who was recently referred to in a blog piece authored by Chunkdz at Telic Thoughts. The quote:

Portanto, a questao e, como e que essa coisa apareceu? E se eu fosse um defensor do design inteligente, seria nisso que me focaria, como e que a ribosoma apareceu?

After marvelling at the complexity of the ribosome Church asks how it came to be. He adds that if he were an intelligent design advocate he would focus on that question.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Analysis of a Debunker

I posted an entry at Telic Thoughts about a book review appearing at New Scientist. The reviewer is enthusiastic about a book which is, in his view, a useful tool for debunking the concept of cosmological design. The related argument fails but the fact that it is even made, with reference to what is allegedly a scientific theory, makes one wonder about the author's real purpose.

The title of the post is Reviews. Here it is:

Review: The Universe: Order without design appears at New Scientist. The reviewer writes that NASA physicist Carlos Calle wrote a book in which he addresses the question: does the universe require a supernatural "designer" or are cosmological theories alone able explain the reality? Quoting from the review:

Physics and cosmology alone may have the answers, says Calle. Combine eternal inflation, in which the primordial false vacuum continuously grows and decays, with string theory and you end up with a multiverse - a vast collection of universes, each of which has a different amount of dark energy. We find ourselves in one where it has just the right value for stars, planets and life because... well, we couldn't find ourselves anywhere else.

That caught my attention because I recently posted Leaning on Your Own Understanding which notes Dawkins' view that the eternal existence of God does not explain anything. But is Calle's argument that a cosmological theory, encompassing eternal inflation and innumerable unobserved universes, a plausible explanation? It might be to some who see no conflict between this and Dawkins' position.

So are universes eternal or only their oscillations? This looks less like a comprehensive explanation than an attempt to dress philosophical biases in scientific garb. The last paragraph includes this:

The model doesn't require a beginning, and some theorists suspect that eternal inflation may not either.

So a physical model which incorporates eternal inflation is sufficient. No need to inquire about the origin of matter and energy. 'It just is and always was ' suffices for multi-universes.

Certainly, neither requires a designer.

That's a philosophical presumption the author is entitled to as a matter of personal preference. I suspect it explains his enthusiasm for Calle's ideas.


Monday, June 01, 2009


I wrote an entry at Telic Thoughts (Leaning on Your Own Understanding) which I'll reproduce here. In it Richard Dawkins is quoted as referring to a question thought by atheists to be a telling criticism of theism. It's a variant of the who created God question. But atheists have their own problems with eternity, beginings and ends. So they have no alternative which avoids a causal dilemna. For believers in God his eternal existence adaquately explains creation, namely, the universe and all properties of it. But if all things need a prior existing cause then atheists have their own dilemna and need not be hiding it while asking who created God. Who created matter and energy? Do they have eternal properties? If that is the claim then Dawkins cannot avoid tarring atheism with the same charge he levels at theists.

The link for the Telic Thoughts blog is here. The TT blog entry:

I was reading a paper authored by Dembski and Marks when I came across a quote taken from Richard Dawkins' book The Blind Watchmaker. The quote:

To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer. You have to say something like "God was always there," and if you allow yourself that kind of lazy way out, you might as well just say "DNA has always been there," or "Life was always there, and be done with it.

Dawkins' is expressing a sentiment echoed in the thread PD instead of ID by at least one commenter. But Dawkins is drawing a conclusion supported by an artificial demarcation made in a time/causal pathway depicting the origin of the universe. Specifically, he is drawing our attention to a point in time at which prebiotic earth exists and then posing questions about life's origin. In doing so Dawkins begs some very pertinent questions showing that he, like his theistic counterparts, is unable to present a comprehensive and coherent account running from A to Z. Perhaps this is because human minds are limited both in terms of their capabilities and their knowledge of what preceded them.

Dawkins does not say that God's existence precedes that of our universe. Indeed he thinks this foolishly avoids the question of God's origin. But he does not challenge another assumption inherent to Dawkins' own position namely, that matter and energy have always been there. Of course one might argue that whatever it was, that contained what is called the Big Bang and our resulting universe, was not matter and energy as we know it but that merely moves the causal goalposts back a step and illustrates a dilemna known as infinite regress. Pick your poison. Either matter and energy have always existed and no cause is attributed to this or a trail of infinite causes exists each one preceded by a prior but unidentified cause.

ID critics are fond of utilizing terms like magic to describe causal scenarios involving the action of a deity. Yet magic can be a very subjective term. It seems quite magical to me to assert that the basic components of our universe just exist and always have. Thinking that view is less "magical" than a theistic explanation, positing God at the begining of a causal series of events, is more a matter of personal preference than empirically grounded conceptions is it not? Yet for a theist, whose personal experiences indicate the presence of a deity, the choice between incomprehensible options becomes obvious.