Discoveroids: The Cosmic Programmer

The Discovery Institute has a powerful message today, dear reader. If this doesn’t convince you to abandon your silly faith in Darwin, then nothing will. The new post (by Klinghoffer) at their creationist blog is New Science Uprising Episode: “Programming Without a Programmer”? [Ooooooooooooh! A Discoveroid podcast!] Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Two remarkable advances in science together sealed the doom of any materialist evolutionary theory. [Gasp!] They are the development of computer software, and the discovery that digital code lies at the foundation of life. That’s the theme of the new third episode of Science Uprising, “DNA: The Programmer.” [Link omitted.]

That might be the most powerful opening paragraph we’ve ever seen, and Klinghoffer is just getting started. He says:

You’d have to be pretty insensitive to watch these six minutes through to the end without getting goosebumps, even if the information argument developed by Douglas Axe, Stephen Meyer [two Discoveroids], and other design theorists is already familiar to you: [Youtube link omitted.]

After that he tells us:

Atheists Craig Venter and Richard Dawkins are famed scientists who freely agree on the analogy between software and genetic coding. Microsoft’s Bill Gates, who ought to know, ups the ante by noting that DNA stands as a far more impressive instance of coding than the software that humans are able to devise.

Wowie — if those guys are impressed by DNA code, then that settles the issue! Klinghoffer continues:

As Stephen Meyer says here, we know from having lived in and observed the world that “information always arises from an intelligent source.” [Ooooooooooooh!] Simply applying that knowledge to the biological information in DNA seems to command an inference to intelligent design.

That’s a scientific law that everyone can agree upon. And in case you’re wondering what “information” is, we recommend Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information.

Hey, Klinghoffer has inspired us. We have another scientific law for you: A huge heap of excrement always comes from a huge colon. You can easily apply that to the Discoveroids and their scientific output. Let’s read on:

We also know [yeah, we know], as Meyer points out, that “random changes in a section of functional code or functional information is going to degrade that information long before you get to something fundamentally new. That’s the problem with the mutation-selection mechanism as an explanation for new genetic information.”

Egad! The mechanism for evolution doesn’t work. Darwin was an idiot! Another excerpt:

“So here’s the question,” asks the masked narrator [Masked?] of Science Uprising: “If our DNA code is more complex than any manmade software, where did it come from? [Wow!] Is it possible it was authored without an author? [Of course not!] Programmed without a programmer?” Materialists are forced back to such a conclusion, which common sense, or what Dr. Axe has called “common science,” tells us is absurd.

Materialists are fools! Here’s the end of it:

The episode also briefly sketches those most precious things in humans experience whose value our culture’s reigning materialism would have us deny. [Huh?] There’s a lot at stake. Please do consider sharing it widely.

Our only question is how to classify the Discoveroids’ brilliant new argument. It’s not quite the Watchmaker analogy, but it’s certainly close. They’re saying “X seems designed, therefore X is designed, therefore a designer exists.” There must be a well-established philosophical term for that. Do you know what it is, dear reader?

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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32 responses to “Discoveroids: The Cosmic Programmer

  1. These idiots keep making fundamental mistakes. The “code” in DNA is not digital. It is like digital codes, but so are lots of other things.

  2. “There must be a well-established philosophical term for that.”
    No, there isn’t. It’s the False Watchmaker Analogy combined with a several more fallacies.
    Information is a serious philosophical topic. Hence here

    you won’t meet any IDiot.

  3. Q. What is green, hangs on the wall, and whistles?
    A. I don’t know.
    Q. A herring.
    A. A herring isn’t green.
    Q. I panted this one green.
    A. A herring doesn’t hang on the wall.
    Q. I nailed this one to the wall.
    A. Whatever you do to a herring, it won’t whistle!
    Q. No analogy is perfect.

    I love it wen the anti-evoltinists overplay their analogies, and tell us that there is no design that we know of that comes close to what we see in nature; therefore it must be designed.

    Alas, I realize, that some day some team of scientists will manufacture a basic living thing. And on that day, the anti-evolutionists will crow: I told you so, life is designed!

    Of course, at that time, we can expect that the scientists will discover how to imitate nature.

    Remember Orgel’s Second Rule: Evolution is smarter than you are.

  4. Desnes Diev

    “That’s the problem with the mutation-selection mechanism as an explanation for new genetic information”

    That’s must explain why scientists who adhere to this problematic view publish the results of their experiments in scientific journals like Nature, Cell or Science whereas ID proponents expose their feelings in Evolution News.

    A better name for the DI would be the NDAI (No Discovery Allowed Institute). But it could qualify a large number if not all creationist institutions.

  5. Michael Fugate

    Peter Godfrey-Smith on Information in Biology

  6. The genetic code is NOT a binary blueprint, it is at best a recipe that was arrived at by trial and error. Citing Bill Gates is especially rich since he is so scientifically illiterate that he previously funded $10M to the DI! (And Gates is not even a good computer programmer.)

  7. I also forgot to mention that digital codes are unique while the genetic code is actually so redundant that lots of substitutions go undetected in the final organism phenotype.

  8. Rule no.1 in science: don’t use common sense to explain things.
    Rule no.2: if common sense tells you something, it’s usually wrong.

    Good example: 99% of the chair you are sitting on is empty space.

  9. Michael Fugate

    99% of your brain is empty space – hence your mind is immaterial?

    “information always arises from an intelligent source” – which is why creationists never generate any?

  10. Michael Fugate

    They still don’t understand population thinking, do they?

  11. “So here’s the question,” asks this (un)masked nebbish on the underside of the flat earth: “If the designer is more complex than the designed DNA code, where did he come from?”

  12. @ChrisS
    Any explanation is subject to that question. If X explains Y, what explains X. This may be the trouble with expecting an answer to “what explains the whole of reality” aka “how come there is something and not nothing”. It may be a case of the Fallacy of Composition: because we can expect an explanation of each thing, that does not warrant an explanation of the totality.

  13. Michael Fugate

    You can have a brain without a mind, but you can’t have a mind without a brain.
    You can have a mind without a brain, but you can’t have a brain without a mind.

  14. @TomS: “If X explains Y, what explains X?”
    This one has a well-established philosophical name: the problem of infinite regress.

    The well known Cosmological Argument is related to it. IDiots use it too; their Grand Old Designer (blessed be MOFO!) is supposed to explain First Design (whatever design means). The problem, as you yourself have pointed out many times, is justifying the First Supernatural Explanation for the First Natural Explanation (whether design, information or something else).
    From the link:

    “Although “justified true belief” is the traditional philosophical definition of knowledge, still in use in modern positions on epistemology, the ancients were already skeptical of this Platonic idea.”
    Obviously apologists and especially IDiots don’t have any use for this kind of skepticism (except when they criticize evolution theory or some other part of science they don’t like). More important is their lack of justification. Ask any believer: they hardly ever try and if they do it’s the god of the gaps fallacy. The smart and honest ones refer to faith, which is OK – such believers don’t mind evolution theory.

  15. Dave Luckett

    Sigh. Here we go again. “If there is a watch, there must be a watchmaker”. That statement is incomplete. There’s a gaping void in it, which goes “if we know that watches are made only by watchmakers.” We may say that about watches and watchmakers, but not about living things and whatever process made them, for we do not know what that process was.

    The DI has spent the last twenty years or more trying to bridge that chasm, and failing miserably – or, more accurately, has spent that time trying to pretend that the chasm isn’t there. This grotesquely incompetent fudge is one more iteration of the same.

    As for the assertion “information always arises from an intelligent source”, that’s a flat lie, an obvious, flagrant, palpable, and particularly reckless one. As a demonstration of the heedless dishonesty of the “intelligent design” crowd, it’s hard to get lower. But there. Every time I think they’ve hit rock bottom, they find another layer of slime to ooze into.

  16. @DaveL sighs: “the assertion “information always arises from an intelligent source” [is] a flat lie”
    Not if you refuse to define “information” but prefer to keep it vague and ambiguous. so that every example we bring up as information without an intelligent source is “no real information”.

    “they find another layer of slime to ooze into.”
    And they find multiple routes into that layer too.

  17. There is a story in several newspapers about the appearance of a new muscle in the evolution of dogs from wolves. (I’m assuming that even YECs accept the descent of dogs from wolves. Even though nobody wonders, if dogs evolved from wolves, how come there are still wolves.) The muscle, levator anguli oculi medialis, or LAOM (Wikipedia hasn’t caught up with this), makes it possible for dogs to have that “puppy dog look” that makes puupies cute. Is the concept of “intelligent design” sufficiently flexible to say that that muscle is the product of an inttelligent design by humans?

  18. Bill Gates is impressed by DNA as “code” because even if random, it is far better written than his P.O.S. operating system.

    Long live Unix.

  19. Michael Fugate

    “If our DNA code is more complex than any manmade software, where did it come from?”
    More complex humans?

  20. @Michael Fugate
    What they are saying is worse than that.
    They are saying that X is beyond the capabilities of any design that we know of, therefore it must be designed. (And I am being generous in not asking what “design” means.)
    A reasonable person, when faced with a problem whch does not submit to “more of the same”, would not first think of trying “still more of the same”.
    For those of us who have experience in driving in snow and ice and freezing rain have learned that when one is in a bad situtation, the worst possible reaction is to try “more of the same” which got us into trouble.
    If you are trying to explain very complex situation X by invoking A. But you realize that A does not explain situations like Y, which are much simpler than X …. Well, I would not suggest that you boast that A cannot explain Y, and thus that a whole lot of A must be the explanation for X. Maybe, I suggest, a different approach might be worthy of attention. Like, maybe, think about what A means, Maybe if you analyze what A means, you will discover that something whch has the perceived benefits of A without its faults?

  21. docbill1351

    We are obviously UNIX because whenever we are out of corn I have a kernel panic.

  22. Michael Fugate

    @TomS, they really do take Genesis to heart – they are created in their god’s image and if they had just eaten one more fruit they could have been gods. They were so close – they could taste it. They also can’t ever take responsibility – when they fail it is always someone else’s fault. It is so telling they blamed it on Eve and keep trying to let their god off the hook. Gotta love authoritarians.

  23. @Michael Fugate
    Genesi 3:12-13
    And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

    But the Lord God did not ask the serpent for its excuse.

  24. Steve Gerrard

    “random changes in a section of functional code or functional information is going to degrade that information long before you get to something fundamentally new. That’s the problem with the mutation-selection mechanism as an explanation for new genetic information.”

    This tired old argument works no better for computer code than it does for genes. Yes, if you had only one copy of your program code, and you changed it randomly, it would very likely fail. But the proper analogy is taking 1,000 copies of your program, changing each one randomly, and immediately tossing out all the ones that fail. When you find one that works better, you keep it, and then start making copies of that and varying them. You can guess what happens if you keep doing that for a while.

  25. And if some inscrutable, but omnipotent designers (whatever that means) decide to change their designs (was there some reason for a change) they will implement that by changes in the DNA in previous versions, rather than just using their omnipotence for the desired product.
    Doesn’t this remind one of the Ompholos Hypothesis? Making things look as if they were the result of an agency constrained by natural processes, as if there is a reason to change things (design those varieties of trilobites and then wipe them out).

  26. @SteveG makes a fatal mistake: “the proper analogy”.
    You can’t expect from people who wants to replace evilutionist athiest Darwinism with Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy and call the latter science to recognize what a “proper analogy” is.

  27. Nevertheless, Steve G’s analogy is a pretty good one. We know that evolution works on populations made up of millions (and more) of individuals, all with billions of slight genetic variations. The mutation-selection mechanism has plenty of raw material, and near infinite possibilities to play with. Anyone claiming that some beneficial mutations can’t arise through natural processes — and be “selected” for — hasn’t properly thought it through. Or is in denial of all the random good and bad things we see happening all around us, every day.

    Creationists aren’t just anti-evolution, they’re anti-reality.

  28. Steve Gerrard says: “This tired old argument [against the results of random changes] works no better for computer code than it does for genes.”

    At the beginning of this humble blog, I posted a three-part series about that creationist fallacy, starting with The Inevitability of Evolution (Part I).

  29. Just went back and reread that series. In the third part, SC wrote: “It’s a big world with lots of room for variations.”

    The very plenitude that creationists point to as testimony for their god’s creative powers is the very thing that makes evolution inevitable. Or, as the hapless reporter said when the creationist zeppelin came crashing down in flames: “Oh, the irony!”

  30. @ChrisS
    And the limitations of the world of life, that all living things fit in the straightjacket of taxonomy and of the other laws of nature bear witness to the finiteness of creation and the constraints on design.
    But if they try to avoid that difficulty by lifitng limitations, that only makes the probabiltiy worse.
    If such-and-such is highly improbable under the limitations, it only is more hghly improbable if the limitations are lifted. (If it is improbable to get dealt a particular hand dealt from a standard 52-card deck of cards, it is more improbable to get that from a deck augmented by extra cards.)

  31. @ChrisS formulates an interesting hypothesis: “Creationists aren’t just anti-evolution, they’re anti-reality.”
    Is it possible to be anti-evolution without being anti-reality?

  32. I don’t know how to characterize the anti of creationists. What they are anti is not just reality. The are anti any possible world, any conceivable world, not just the real world. For example, the world of Biblical myths is too I-know-not-what, they have to rework it, too, cut and paste. Add an Ice Age, delete a Firmament. Imagine a law of nature just so they can ignore it.