Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Specification and Probability

DaveScot has a post at UD that perfectly demonstrates the vacuity of creationist probability arguments and Dembski’s “specified complexity.” What he intends as a defense of the concept actually provides all of the ammunition necessary to show why analogies between non-biological processes and biological processes, as they relate to probability, are ultimately meaningless. He admits that specification is “a subjective measure” but argues that it can be identified intuitively, as we do every day. He intends to use a deck of cards as an analogy:

To explain I’ll use a deck of cards and a conclusion that just about any reasonable person, with or without knowing what specified complexity is, will recognize and draw the same conclusion based on it. Then I’ll present a like example from a living thing and ask you be the judge of whether there is specification.


And his example with the deck of cards is okay as far as it goes:

Start with a standard deck of 52 playing cards. You are told that it has been shuffled thoroughly. Upon examination you find that the deck is perfectly ordered by suit and rank. Will you still believe it was shuffled? Probably not. Do you know you’ve based that conclusion on specified complexity? Probably not. Our brains are pattern recognition engines. You reach the conclusion intuitively.

Let’s dissect this with a bit of arithmetic. Any arrangement of 52 cards is as statistically likely as any other. A random shuffle has no preferred order as an outcome. One arrangement is just as likely as any other. My windows calculator says there are 8.0658175170943878571660636856404e+67 possible arrangements. That’s 8 followed by 67 zeroes and is calculated by entering 52 and then pressing the n! button which performs the calculation 52×51×50×49×48…x5×4×3×2. That is the complexity part – the number of possible arrangments is huge and there is no physical law that prefers one arrangement over another. Most people intuitively know the number of possible arrangements is a huge number without knowing precisely how huge.

If any one arrangement is as likely as any other why do we conclude the deck was not shuffled if we find it perfectly ordered by rank and suit? Because we intuitively employ the concept of specified complexity. The perfect ordering is a specification. Specification can be defined as an independently given pattern.

But here is where he tries to form an analogy:

Now let us look at an example of specified complexity that exists in all living things. The video depicts the purpose and action of an enzyme called a topoisomerase. The enzyme is far more complex than a deck of cards. It is a sequence of hundreds of amino acids in a folded chain. Any link in the chain can be any one of 20 different amino acids. The order determines how it will fold and what biological activity (if any) it will possess. Does it have specification? You must be the judge of that.

No need to watch the video. Of course the enzyme is extremely complex. But here is where the analogy quickly becomes absurd for several reasons. The first and most obvious is that it almost certainly is not true that this particular enzyme requires all of those hundreds of amino acids in precisely that order to function. Experiment after experiment on enzyme function, including some generated by ID advocates themselves (see Axe 2000 and 2004), have shown that you can make significant substitutions in enzymes and still have the enzyme function.

Such experiments also consistently show that there are some particular places in an enzyme sequence, such as a binding site, where such substitutions may impair function significantly; but at many other places in the sequence, you can make sizable substitutions and only slightly impair function (and by the same token, you can also improve function slightly, or significantly, depending on which amino acids you change out). Axe’s 2000 paper, for example, shows that you could make up to 20 amino acid substitutions and only have a slight effect on enzyme function; you had to knock out as many as 40 amino acids in order to destroy the function. So any claim that there is only one specific sequence that must be hit in order to have the enzyme function is flatly contradicted by the experimental data, even data generated by ID advocates themselves.

But that’s just the first and most minor problem with the analogy. Another obvious problem is that biological organisms reproduce and mutations can accumulate as they do, something that is not present with the deck of cards. And as hundreds of experiments show, not only can changing out one or a few amino acids in an enzyme slightly reduce the efficiency of the enzyme’s function, they can also slightly increase the efficiency of that same enzyme.

And this, of course, is precisely how evolution operates. A given protein has a given function and a mutation may slightly increase or decrease its ability to perform that function. A mutation that improves function is selected for and goes on, where more mutations later can accumulate and the result is the building of a more and more efficient protein. In biological processes, specification can only mean “function”, while with a deck of cards, one can only define specification according to a preset determination. But if you looked at each shuffle and picked the one closest to the target, then shuffled all the remaining cards and preserved the ones closest, and continually did that, then you could mirror what happens in biological processes. That is one more reasons why the analogy is absurd.

Reason #3: in biological processes, you can also use mutations to change the specification, that is the function of the protein. Again, this is something that is seen all the time in experiments with enzymes. If a given enzyme has one function, mutations can also result in a new function for the enzyme. Sometimes that function is closely related, sometimes it’s not. We see in situations like the nylon-eating bacteria that sometimes a mutation or series of mutations can, in a very short period of time, result in an entirely new function, in that case the ability to metabolize a material that did not exist only a few decades earlier.

Lastly, there is one more problem: biological processes allow for simultaneous rather than sequential trials. If you’re looking at a particular enzyme in a bacteria, for example, you’ve likely got a pool of trillions upon trillions of that particular bacteria in the world, all reproducing at an extraordinary rate. Unlike the deck of cards, where you have one shuffle to find one sequence out of 8^67 possible sequences, in the real world of biological evolution you’ve got trillions of decks being shuffled all at once, every single generation, with a remarkably fast rate of generation. All of those things demonstrate the absolute meaninglessness of creationist probability arguments.

Comments

  1. #1 J-Dog
    May 23, 2007

    Thank you for doing the homework and communicating it so clearly that even I can understand it. Now if you could just get DaveScot and his minions to see it! Unfortunately, the odds of that happening are probably so miniscule as to be incalculable.

  2. #2 JW Tan
    May 23, 2007

    Nice take-down.

    Small correction – in the last paragraph you say “…biological processes allow for consecutive rather than sequential trials.” Possibly you mean “concurrent” rather than “consecutive”?

  3. #3 Carl Zimmer
    May 23, 2007

    Many enzymes are also promiscuous–they can have multiple functions at once. See here for some more info.

  4. #4 ZacharySmith
    May 23, 2007

    It’s always appeared to me that ID “specification” arguments are nothing more than 20/20 hindsight.

    Sure, enzymes are highly complex structures that perform very specialized functions. But enzyme structure is not randomly generated – assembly is driven by thermodynamics and kinetics; 3D structure is determined by Van der Waals forces and thermodynamics to minimize energy of conformational variations, etc. etc.

    Selection preserves biologically advantageous functions or structures, to be passed on to future generations.

    We can look back at an enzyme and say, “Enzyme X does such & such because of this structure”, but functionality is an acquired property, the result of a complex interplay of chemistry, physics & selection.

    How can one “specify” an acquired, emergent property or functionality? ID card shuffling analogies are hopelessly irrelevent.

  5. #5 Jim Babka
    May 23, 2007

    Ed, ditto what J-Dog said. This was also very helpful and instructive to me. You put the cookies on the lowest shelf!

  6. #6 Anuminous
    May 23, 2007

    I was playing cards with some friends quite a few years back, and I was dealt a hand consisting of all 13 hearts. More amazingly, we were playing Hearts! Obviously, the hundreds of hands which were dealt before and after were random, but this one was the product of design! Furthermore, since the distribution of the remaining 39 cards was pretty ordinary, my hand was designed, but the rest of them were not. Is that how this works?

  7. #7 mark
    May 23, 2007

    DaveScot goes down one of the old well-traveled roads of ID, clearly showing a lack of knowledge and understanding of biology. Here’s a scientific experiment for him: Put 30 decks of cards into a box (after first recording the order of cards in each). After 6 days have elapsed, check the order of cards in each deck. Has anything changed? Have any little decks appeared?
    Or play poker. The odds for various poker hands are known; but now play with deuces wild. And one-eyed jacks. And suicide kings, cards dealt following queens, threes, fives, and sevens. And relax the rules about how many cards you may hold or discard. And redefine what constitutes a winning hand. Now what are the probabilities?

  8. #8 CCP
    May 23, 2007

    Nice post, Ed.
    A quibble: enzyme function should probably be judged on the basis of “effectiveness” rather than “efficiency” in most cases.
    And another point worth making is that enzyme effectiveness depends not only on amino acid sequence but also environment (of the protein). An enzyme that works great in a human cell at 37C, pH 7.4, 290 mOsm, 10 mM Na+, etc. etc. will not work as well (or at all) in other physicochemical circumstances; it follows that the effect of any given mutation on enzyme function depends critically on where and when the mutation occurs.

  9. #9 Alan
    May 23, 2007

    At the risk of belaboring a point, ANY arrangement of cards THAT WAS SPECIFIED IN ADVANCE would show “specified complexity”, whether ordered by suit or “randomly” arranged. For example, get someone to write down an order on a sheet of paper – ace of spades, three of hearts… If the shuffled deck exactly recapitulates the written order then it must be “specified complexity” even if the order appears otherwise random. It is just because the suit, rank ordering is so obvious that this appears to be the best example of specification, how do we know that all other arrangements were not specified?
    Therefore any enzyme with a recognizable function will appear specified, even if the enzyme is plucked from a randomly-generated pool without any selection at all (this would be a lucky hit, for sure). Once you begin selecting/looking for a function, YOU are specifying the outcome.

    If you do not specify the result or function, then how do you see specified complexity – is it not just random?

  10. #10 Mark Frank
    May 23, 2007

    What struck me about Dave Scot’s post was that it was inconsistent with Dembski’s most recent writing. I often find that ID’s most ardent fans don’t understand what their “leaders” are saying.

    Scot says specification is subjective. Dembski clearly doesn’t believe that. In this paper (his most recent attempt to define specificity) http://www.designinference.com/documents/2005.06.Specification.pdf
    he goes to considerable lengths to try to define specificity in objective terms. It is a complex definition based on the size of the shortest algorithm that will generate the string, and there are some errors, but it is clearly meant to be objective.

  11. #11 valhar2000
    May 23, 2007

    Dumbscot hands us the rope with the knot alreayd made:

    [...]there is no physical law that prefers one arrangement over another.

    In other words, his analogy is only good if there is no physical law that preffers one arangement of an animal over another.

    Man! If only organisms were selected by a natural mechanism!

  12. #12 Alison
    May 23, 2007

    I’m glad to see this taken down point by point as to the science. I looked at it and knew it was wrong, but mostly because it simply reiterated DaveScot’s (and pretty much most IDers’) argument that you don’t need experiments or studies or scientific testing – all you need to do is LOOK! Right there, in front of your eyes, you stoopid scientists! Why are you even bothering to try to prove or disprove anything when it’s right there in front of your eyes???? Just goes to show how much more science laypeople know than scientists do, eh?

    Further down, in the comments, someone makes an argument that a test that suppressed the electric activity of certain sections of the brain caused the related physical actions to ceast, while the damper applied to a memory area roused certain long-term memories instead of completely repressing memory. The author turns it into a very long post by stating, restating, and paraphrasing this particular result along with the conclusion that it proves beyond a doubt that memory is held in the soul or spirit outside of the physical body. After essentially saying this same thing over and over so that it becomes true, the author admonishes scientists to stop looking for things in the brain. Now that this has proven the existence of the soul, they don’t need any more answers. *sigh*

  13. #13 Bill Snedden
    May 23, 2007

    Zachary Smith said:

    We can look back at an enzyme and say, “Enzyme X does such & such because of this structure”, but functionality is an acquired property, the result of a complex interplay of chemistry, physics & selection.

    How can one “specify” an acquired, emergent property or functionality? ID card shuffling analogies are hopelessly irrelevent.

    Nail, head, etc….

  14. #14 Ed Brayton
    May 23, 2007

    JW Tan wrote:

    Small correction – in the last paragraph you say “…biological processes allow for consecutive rather than sequential trials.” Possibly you mean “concurrent” rather than “consecutive”?

    Of course, though I just changed it to “simultaneous.” That was a pretty dumb mistake, thanks for catching it.

  15. #15 Science Avenger
    May 23, 2007

    Nice takedown Ed. There’s also another big flaw in Davescot’s “argument” which I go into in more detail on my blog. We have experience with decks of cards, and we know there are several ways they can end up ordered like he describes, such as after a successful game of solitaire, or when opening a fresh pack. This gives us known alternatives to the chance hypothesis, as opposed to mere personal incredulity or “intuition”. Essentially, the creationist/IDers are making a “prediction” after they know the answer…again.

  16. #16 Tulle
    May 23, 2007

    I have a problem with an early statement, “Our brains are pattern recognition engines”. Nope, our brains are pattern finding engines. So much so that you find pattterns where none exists. Ever glance out the window and think you see a person, but it is just a tree and trash can?

    Oh! look that cloud looks just like a bunny. What was I saying…

  17. #17 CPT_Doom
    May 23, 2007

    So, Ed, what you are really saying (for use complete neophyte biologists) is that evolution is sort of the natural example of the “infinite monkeys” thought experiment. If you have an infinite number of monkeys, banging on an infinite number of typewriters for an infinite length of time, eventually one of them will produce the complete works of Shakespeare (of course, one of them will also produce the complete works of Shakespeare backward, and one will produce the complete works of Milton, although with one nonsense word thrown in, etc…). Given the huge number of reproductive cycles all life has gone through in 3.5 billion years, it is not only not surprising we have the specific structures we do, it would be more surprising if we did not.

  18. #18 Ignatz
    May 23, 2007

    Jesus H. Christ, that’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard!

    You don’t even need to know the slightest thing about evolution to know that card argument doesn’t hold water. Davescot’s saying:

    - My cards are in an order.

    - The order my cards are in has an 8.0658175170943878571660636856404e+67 chance of occurring randomly.

    - Any arrangement of cards with an 8.0658175170943878571660636856404e+67 chance of occurring randomly can’t occur randomly.

    - Any arrangement that can’t occur randomly was purposefully arranged.

    - My cards were purposefully arranged.

    If he believes this, it holds true for ANY arrangement of cards, and there isn’t any such thing as a random shuffle.

    Remind me never to play cards with Davescot. He clearly cheats.

  19. #19 David Heddle
    May 23, 2007

    Ignatz,

    There is plenty to criticize DaveScot about, but the card example is correct. If I shuffle the deck in front of your eyes and then deal all the cards in order AH, 2H, 3H, … JS, QS, KS– then you will certainly not be satisfied with the “so what, every hand is equally likely” explanation–you would agree, I think, that you had just witnessed design in the form of a card trick.

    It’s true that you have to know the pattern in advance. If my card trick produced the cards in a way that encoded the first hundred digits of pi, but your human design inference filter didn’t know the pattern, it’d look like any other fair deal and your deisgn filter would have registered a false negative.

    Or maybe I misunderstood your comment?

  20. #20 Sam Lewis
    May 23, 2007

    Also, let’s not forget that the example DaveScot is one of many that we would look at as “specified”. What if th order were AAAA, KKKK, QQQQ, etc. , or any other familiar patern? How many of those paterns are there. OK, now how many amino acid combinations are there that result in useful (by something) enzyme?

  21. #21 Soren
    May 23, 2007

    Like it has been said, the probability must take into account the “evolution” of the card game.

    Shuffling the cards and coming up with them ordered is unlikely, but add selection and it goes like this

    1. Shuffle

    2. Lay down cards until they are not ordered.

    3. take the not ordered cards, but leave the ordered once on the table.

    4. If there are still unordered cards goto 4.

    At first you shuffle a lot of cards, but eventually the first card to come out is the correct ace. Then you have 51 cards left.

    You shuffle until the first card in the bunch i the deuce.

    Now the average number of shuffles needed to get the right card to the top of the deck with N cards should be roughly O(N).

    So a casual estimate of the number of shuffles needed would be

    52+51+50+…+1
    perhaps you would need to multiply this sum with a nonzero constant.

    But sticking with the sum above it would take at most a 4 digit number of shuffles to get the cards in order. You might get blisters from shuffling, but we are very far from DS’s probabilities.

  22. #22 Sastra
    May 23, 2007

    So, without intelligent intervention, we would expect the deck of cards to be dealt in a pile on the table in random order. And, without intelligent intervention, we would expect plants and animals to exist in their environment with random capabilities. Fish would live in the water without any way to function in the water. Birds would fly through the air without being adapted to flying through the air. That is what Naturalism predicts: spooky, inexplicable violations of the probabilities of biology, chemistry, and physics.

    Good thing supernaturalism saves us from that.

  23. #23 Science Avenger
    May 23, 2007

    David Heddle wrote: There is plenty to criticize DaveScot about, but the card example is correct.

    The only thing Davescot got correct was the odds of shuffling out that one hand, which granted is a big step for a creationist.

    The rest of it is as typically useless as every other probabilistic argument I’ve seen from creationists, because it contains the same two flawed assumptions they all contain:

    1) All arrangements are equally likely
    2) The arrangement in question came about in one fell swoop.

    Until they get over these two flaws, what they produce is gar-bage.

  24. #24 Ignatz
    May 23, 2007

    David,

    I don’t think you misunderstood what I was getting at. I think Davescot’s argument was so intensely stupid that it seems like he must be making more sense than he is.

    You’re exactly right when you say that you have to know the pattern in advance for it to seem significant. The point is that one’s ability to predict a particular outcome has no bearing on whether or not that outcome is randomly derived or not. If you try to make a syllogism out of the argument you realize that the particular order and one’s ability to predict it doesn’t matter at all, and it all falls apart and seems silly.

    Carl Sagan explains this a whole lot better than me in “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors,” a great book with a chapter devoted to showing the flaws of this exact argument. (I’d throw in some quotes/do a better job, but my copy is in a box somewhere.)

    Another way to look at it is that every outcome of a shuffle is fantastically unlikely to be the actual result, but every time I shuffle, one of those fantastically unlikely outcomes becomes real. If, one day, I happened to shuffle and the cards came out in order, I’d be absolutely gobsmacked, but I wouldn’t think God had magically organized my cards.

    You can also dispense with the metaphor and just think about the universe. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the emergence of life is completely random and very, very unlikely; it’d take a really lucky roll of the dice to get life, a one in a gagillion bazillion shot. The universe is unimaginably vast and old, so you get an almost infinite number of rolls to hit the life jackpot. The odds overall become pretty good, even if the odds in any specific place are pretty bad. Now, if you are alive you are by definition in the location of the lucky gagillion bazillion roll, and it seems really unlikely (and it is!). But that doesn’t actually matter because the odds are still the same overall. It’s just that the gagillion bazillion rolls that didn’t produce life don’t have anyone to observe and curse their crummy luck at not ever existing.

  25. #25 David Heddle
    May 23, 2007

    ScienceAvenger:

    What exactly is the flaw in his card argument? Are you disputing the (rather obvious, I would think) fact that any rational person would conclude design of some form or another if the cards are dealt out in order? Just limiting to what Ed quoted from DS about cards (I didn’t follow the link) DaveScot said nothing wrong. He didn’t say, as far as I see, that either he or Dembski could mathematically prove the deal was designed–that would be wrong. He said, in effect, that in this case people intuit the design. He’s right.

  26. #26 Ignatz
    May 23, 2007

    I should note that Davescot muddies the water by having an example where SOMEONE ELSE shuffles the cards. In that case the natural assumption is design. After all, what’s more likely, a 8.0658175170943878571660636856404e+67 chance, or that you’ve wandered into a card trick? It’s more obvious what’s wrong with the argument if you, yourself shuffled the cards.

  27. #27 Ed Brayton
    May 23, 2007

    As I said in my post, what Dave says about the cards is essentially correct. He fully admits that every possible configuration is equally unlikely. The problem is that it’s simply not analogous to any biological process and that makes all such probability calculations and comparisons meaningless.

  28. #28 David Heddle
    May 23, 2007

    Ignatz,

    There is nothing wrong with the argument, even if you shuffle the cards.

    For example, if I shuffled cards for years and one day I shuffled them as thoroughly as I always do (which we assume to be extremely thoroughly) and dealt out the cards in perfect order and then I was given an opportunity to bet my life on one of two possibilities:

    1) I got lucky.
    2) Someone in some manner unknown to me and undetected by me intervened to cheat, perhaps supernaturally or perhaps just in some very clever way.

    I would pick option 2, because while with every shuffle I see a one in 10^67 arrangement, I would never expect to see any arrangement that I specified in advance (given that in my lifetime I could only deal ~10^6 times at most.)

    This part of Dembski’s argument is correct. What follows, where he attempts to create a rigorous methodology that formalizes all of this, is where he fails.

  29. #29 Raging Bee
    May 23, 2007

    David: the mere fact that you consider a particular order of cards more significant than all the other possible outcomes, merely because you had thought of it in advance, does not make that outcome less probable, nor does it point to design. I could just as easily say that a seemingly-random order was designed, based on the mere assertion that that order was significant to me in some way. (Numerologists do this sort of thing better than I do.)

  30. #30 David Heddle
    May 23, 2007

    Raging Bee,

    No, you misunderstand. You are right that the arrangement you specify in advance is not less likely. It has the same likelihood, 1 in 10^67. The difference is that the chance you’ll deal that specific arrangement is 1 in 10^67, while the probability that you’ll deal “some” 1 in 10^67 arrangement is unity.

    There is no creationism here–this is basic probability.

    As for seemingly random arrangements, you are right. If your pattern you specify in advance was generated by a random number generator and then you dealt exactly that pattern, that would be every bit as much an indication of “design” (say, a card trick) as if you dealt the cards in perfect “normal” order.

  31. #31 Tex
    May 24, 2007

    I think ZacharySmith got it right in the 4th comment. The major error in the analogy is in specifying in advance what the surprising outcome should be. Since evolutionary forces respond to the here and now, there is no way to decide in advance what outcome should be surprising.

    Creationists (and even some theistic evolutionists I know)think that because we are created in God’s image, the human form was target specified in advance, much like the ordered hand of cards. The card analogy makes more sense with this assumption, but it is still wrong because the assumption is wrong.

  32. #32 Michael Ralston
    May 24, 2007

    To put it another way:

    The card shuffling analogy fails, not because of a problem in the explanation of the card shuffling scenario – in fact the scenario is perfectly accurate, and we would all agree something was fishy there, I think – but because the analogy fails.

    In other words: Shuffling a deck of cards and getting a “meaningful” sequence is incredibly improbable. (How many sequences can you think of that you’d call meaningful? maybe a few hundred? Maybe a million? That still leaves the odds at 1 in 10^60 or so that a given deal will be “meaningful”, and makes the odds of you personally getting such a thing so astronomically unlikely that the alternative explanations of someone interfering are going to be accepted.) The thing is, as soon as you try to compare that to biology, the proportion of “meaningful” sequences is so much larger that you wouldn’t be that surprised to get a “meaningful” sequence at random, and when you remember that those sequences will stick around and tend to be reproduced …

  33. #33 Coin
    May 24, 2007

    Tex, we specified the outcome in advance after it happened.

  34. #34 David Heddle
    May 24, 2007

    Coin,

    I am not sure whether you are making a joke, or just referring to the trying to make the card trick analogy apply to biology. But just speaking of the card problem, there is indeed a subtlety regarding knowing the pattern in advance. For in the case of Raging Bee’s random looking arrangement, I obviously have to know it in advance. However there is a class of patterns, such as the normal ordering, that I do not have to know it advance to recognize design (a card trick.) What I need is to be able to describe it simply. (How that is quantified and formulated and how the threshold is set is left to the reader.) On the ordering case, I can describe the pattern in just a few words. In the “random” arrangement, I have to give the entire arrangement itself in order to describe it. Some of those in the “simple” class might even look random, and only after studying the arrangement for a long time do I see that “the arrangement is a base 13 representation of Pi” or something like that.

    Dembski did have some good ideas. Because he did not put them on a firm mathematical footing (but claims he did) there is a tendency to characterize those underlying ideas as nonsense. That’s a mistake.

  35. #35 Wesley R. Elsberry
    May 24, 2007

    Specified Anti-Information (SAI), the use of the Universal Distribution on issues of “design”, is not Dembski’s idea. Kircherr, Li, and Vitanyi proposed the Universal Distribution. Jeff Shallit and I developed SAI as an application of it. Further, SAI is on a firm footing; see the appendix.

    Nor is SAI mysterious: it identifies patterns that correspond to the output of simple computational processes. It decouples pattern identification from vague and unfettered notions of agency. As such, SAI completes the process begun in Wilkins and Elsberry 2001, providing a means of identifying “ordinary design”. “Rarefied design” has no means of identification, relying instead on assigning itself to lacunae in our knowledge, and as our argument went in 2001, is always deprecated in comparison to “Don’t know yet” as a statement of our knowledge.

  36. #36 R. Davies
    May 24, 2007

    > Dembski did have some good ideas. Because he did not put them on a firm mathematical footing (but claims he did) there is a tendency to characterize those underlying ideas as nonsense. That’s a mistake. <

    When those ideas are put on a firm mathematical footing, they turn out to be wrong. What’s the mistake?

  37. #37 Paco
    May 24, 2007

    As I thought about the issue of coming across an ordered sequence of cards that have been shuffled a counter-example comes to mind.
    If you take a well mixed soil with many different particle sizes and drop a handful into water, the particles accumulate at the bottom ordered from largest to smallest. On the face of it this is order from disorder and contrary to many claims that natural processes cannot produce information.
    I feel this shows that there are ways to de-shuffle or organize things, relying solely on natural processes.

  38. #38 Science Avenger
    May 24, 2007

    David Heddle asks: What exactly is the flaw in his card argument? Are you disputing the (rather obvious, I would think) fact that any rational person would conclude design of some form or another if the cards are dealt out in order?

    No, I’m disputing, for the reasons I put forth in the post you questioned, and as others here have done nicely, that the card scenario is a good analogy for biological systems. Once again, it assumes:

    1) All arrangements are equally likely
    2) The arrangement in question came about in one fell swoop.

    Neither is even close to true concerning biological systems, so the analogy is invalid. This is one of the oldest canards in the creationist handbook, it’s just another version of Hoyle’s 747, and just as flawed. Frankly it amazes me that it still comes up.

  39. #39 Science Avenger
    May 24, 2007

    David Heddle asks: What exactly is the flaw in his card argument? Are you disputing the (rather obvious, I would think) fact that any rational person would conclude design of some form or another if the cards are dealt out in order?

    No, I’m disputing, for the reasons I put forth in the post you questioned, and as others here have done nicely, that the card scenario is a good analogy for biological systems. Once again, it assumes:

    1) All arrangements are equally likely
    2) The arrangement in question came about in one fell swoop.

    Neither is even close to true concerning biological systems, so the analogy is invalid. This is one of the oldest canards in the creationist handbook, it’s just another version of Hoyle’s 747, and just as flawed. Frankly it amazes me that it still comes up.

  40. #40 Science Avenger
    May 24, 2007

    David Heddle asks: What exactly is the flaw in his card argument? Are you disputing the (rather obvious, I would think) fact that any rational person would conclude design of some form or another if the cards are dealt out in order?

    No, I’m disputing, for the reasons I put forth in the post you questioned, and as others here have done nicely, that the card scenario is a good analogy for biological systems. Once again, it assumes:

    1) All arrangements are equally likely
    2) The arrangement in question came about in one fell swoop.

    Neither is even close to true concerning biological systems, so the analogy is invalid. This is one of the oldest canards in the creationist handbook, it’s just another version of Hoyle’s 747, and just as flawed. Frankly it amazes me that it still comes up.

  41. #41 Science Avenger
    May 24, 2007

    David Heddle asked: What exactly is the flaw in his card argument? Are you disputing the (rather obvious, I would think) fact that any rational person would conclude design of some form or another if the cards are dealt out in order?

    No, I’m disputing, for the reasons I put forth in the post you questioned, and as others here have done nicely, that the card scenario is a good analogy for biological systems. Once again, it assumes:

    1) All arrangements are equally likely
    2) The arrangement in question came about in one fell swoop.

    Neither is even close to true concerning biological systems, so the analogy is invalid. This is one of the oldest canards in the creationist handbook, it’s just another version of Hoyle’s 747, and just as flawed. Frankly it amazes me that it still comes up.

  42. #42 Science Avenger
    May 24, 2007

    David Heddle asked: What exactly is the flaw in his card argument? Are you disputing the (rather obvious, I would think) fact that any rational person would conclude design of some form or another if the cards are dealt out in order?

    No, I’m disputing, for the reasons I put forth in the post you questioned, and as others here have done nicely, that the card scenario is a good analogy for biological systems. Once again, it assumes:

    1) All arrangements are equally likely
    2) The arrangement in question came about in one fell swoop.

    Neither is even close to true concerning biological systems, so the analogy is invalid. This is one of the oldest canards in the creationist handbook, it’s just another version of Hoyle’s 747, and just as flawed. Frankly it amazes me that it still comes up.

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