Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"Spirit and Mind" -> It's The Complexity, Stupid

I refuse to call myself out as a republican or a democrat. I am a member of no earthly Kingdom. I vote on my heavenly calling.

But, as a marketing professional, I think the all time political brilliant move of the century came from the democrats, when Clinton declared:

"It's the economy, stupid."

With this one phrase, Clinton battered George Bush senior into a bloody pulp. Clinton found the perfect combination of a theme that had all the following:

1. It was true
2. It was simple
3. It was important

A lot of doubters of deity say, "I really need one really good reason to believe in God." To these, all those that deal with these doubters, I simple say "It's The Complexity, Stupid."

Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse


If you have a bedroom, an office, or a garage, you know that nothing in this life organizes itself. Yet, this is central core of all evolution. Out of disorder, order was to come. At face value, there would be no doubt that most stupid people couldn't understand that order can magically step forward from disorder.

The Framing Of Our Story

Being a simple person, you might simply think the following:

1. The world has unbelievable complex organisms in it
2. Life probably can't sprout from nothing
3. Therefore, there must be a creator behind it all

However, there are many people that don't believe the three simple points above. So how does a an atheistic evolutionist support his view?

The atheistic evolutionist must say that there is a mechanism that self orders random material. Most people vastly misunderstand the real issue of evolution. The real core of evolution is NOT that man came from a common ancestor with apes. The real core of evolution is that there is a mechanism that "locks in" any forward progress that is made toward life.

Therefore, if you want to believe in evolution, you need to find a mechanism, like a ratchet on a wrench, that only allows evolution to go forward.

I consider it so important that I will state the key issue again, only with a bit more clarity.

Is it easier for you to believe that the disorganized state of the universe was ordered by:

1. A unique mechanism that automatically sorts through random matter to create life.

or

2. A deity who is not be found by means of scientific experiment.

The Blind Watchmaker

The Blind Watchmaker is the agent of organization in Richard Dawkins's book of the same name: "The Blind Watchmaker." The Blind Watchmaker is just a metaphor for the action of "survival of the fittest."

Now it is important to note, at first glance you will find that Dawkins's blind watchmaker mechanism ("survival of the fittest") has no parallel in any physical reality. There is no natural phenomena where disorganization mysteriously turns into more complex highly organized matter. Things naturally go from a higher organized state to a lower organized state.

Now, we need to embark on a fine point. You might say, "well survival of the fittest is obvious to me, the strong kill off the weak." And while this doesn't really describe what evolutionist really want to say, it is the common man's definition that most people on the street would have. However, let us be clear. This is NOT the Blind Watchmaker. Survival of the fittest describes how more complex or well adapted animals have an advantage over less well adapted animals. It does not, however, describes how that animal became more advantaged in the first place.

So you'll answer, "that's simple, they became more well adapted because of random mutation."

Now, you have really hit the point. We need to explore this a little more closely.

If you got one random mutation that helped, why do you ever think that you are going to get two in a row. Why isn't the next mutation negative?

Now, for the life of me, I wonder if Dawkins has a very large practical joke played on him by God by placing the title of "the blind watchmaker" into his brain.

Dawkins is arguing by analogy saying that natural selection is like a blind watchmaker. He picked the title to go against those that God was the seeing watchmaker. However, for Dawkins to really have an effective analogy, he should refer to anything but a creative agent. He should point to some chemical effect, physical reality, or Newtonian system untouched by human hands. After all, he is arguing against an intelligent agent. By mentioning a watchmaker, he undermines his whole argument. If the best analogy that he can come up with is a watchmaker, then he provides a pretty hollow thesis.

Dawkins on his website declares that it would be impossible for a single cell organism to pop into existence. However, he says that he is not claiming that cells pop into existence. He is claiming that things evolve little by little. Therefore, the complexity "builds" and this makes it very likely that evolution will occur.

Dawkins wrote a computer program call "METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL," to show people the principle of evolution in action. He starts off if a random list of letters, and then randomly spins the letters. If one of the letters is of phrase "METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL," he "locks in" the good letter, then spins all the other letters. In a short while, he has the phrase that he wanted. Thus, he says this is an analogy of evolution. Evolution is simply spinning the letters and locking in the "best" letter.

(For all practical purposes, Dawkins has done a bubble sort and said, "look, I've proven God does not exist.")

In many ways, Dawkins has simply recreated Maxwell's demon. If you are familiar with Maxwell's demon, the following will seem old hat, and I hope you immediately see the significance of the following thoughts. If not, getting to know Maxwell and his demon could be rather fun.

James Maxwell's Demon violates the second law of thermodynamics.

Huh? What is Maxwell's demon? What is the second law of thermodynamics?

The laws of thermodynamics state that closed systems become less organized as time goes on. If you add cold air and warm air, the two mix together to become the same lukewarm temperature. The entropy increases.

Maxwell devised a clever idea (and about everything that Maxwell did was clever) of a closed system where lukewarm air could again become separated into cold air and hot air. All it took was a little creature that could observe individual atoms and make some decisions about a little door. See Wikipedia for details, but I will give a short overview of the demon.

In a nutshell, Maxwell's demon watched as fast moving atoms flew by, and would open a little door to allow the faster "hotter" atoms to collect on one side of a container. The demon was able to "lock in" the hot (fast moving) atoms. Does this sound familiar?

This is very analogous to Dawkins's "Blind Watchmaker" that sorts through all possible combinations of evolutionary life types to allow the healthy ones to exist. Only, rather than catching the fast moving atoms, the Blind Watchmaker allows the better adapted creatures to exist.

So, did Maxwell actually figure out how to break the second law of thermodynamics? After all, it would seem that Maxwell's demon is a very good analogy to Dawkins's thoughts. We just need to send Dawkins an email and tell him to change the title of the book to "The Blind Demon."

The answer, as much as the perpetual motion machines makers hate to hear, is no. Maxwell's demon actually INPUTTED energy into the system. So while Maxwell's demon can separate hot from cold, it is only because Maxwell's demon introduces energy into the equation through an information pathway. In order to separate the hot from the cold atoms, you must observe the atoms. In the act of observing (via photons or other mechanism) you are inputting energy into the system.

Information or encoding or algorithms (which are processes to solve problems) are not found naturally in nature. They are placed into nature by means of energy and effort. Signal (and algorithms) tend to all blend together over time, not be turned into more complex bit so information.

But this is exactly what Dawkins does claim. He claims that signal emerges out of noise. He claims that "survival of the fittest is creating signal. (DNA is just a type of signal.) However, this would violate "information entropy."

This is the real bone of contention between Darwinist and those that like intelligent design. The leading proponent of ID, Bill Dembski, bases his ideas that information has characteristics very similar to energy. (Something that I'm not sure that I agree with, but his ideas are close enough to be to worth thinking about.) What Dembski would say is spontaneous generation of signal cannot happen within the bounds of the universe. If Dembski is correct, then the creation of signal and complexity cannot happen through the filter of natural selection.

We shouldn't be too surprised to find out that information and thermodynamics are linked. When you start to dig into information theory, you will find reuse of principles of and phrases of thermodynamics. One of the central words that is quickly thrown around in beginning course on information theory is "information entropy," which echoes many of the ideas of thermodynamic entropy.

[To give a minute to the Darwinist side, they will argue that information entropy, as use by Dembski, simply does not exist. They do not argue against Information Entropy as Shannon described, but they do argue against the ramification that information is formally equivalent to energy and therefore the idea that information cannot be created ex nihilo ("out of nothing") is not a valid argument against darwinism. To me, however, the burden of proof is not on Dembski to prove that information is conserved, but on the darwinist that ex nihilo information can spontaneously be created through an non-intelligent agent. The main problem with Darwinism is the idea that this self organizing behavior is unique to the process of natural selection.]

The key flaw in Maxwell's demon as well as Dawkins Blind Watchmaker is that there is information usage (algorithms and encoding) in "breaking" the second law of thermodynamics as there is also information usage (algorithms and encoding) in the Blind Watch maker.

Without the use of algorithms, you cannot get hot air and cold air to be created out of lukewarm air.

But the creation of intelligence is not free, and the usage of intelligence is not free. To create an intelligent agent, you must expend energy. Maxwell's demon use of intelligence is a bit like an external bits of cold and hot. The system is not closed because Maxwell's demon is there. Therefore, the second law of thermodynamics stays intact because energy is pouring into the system via Maxwell's demon and his processing.

So lets go back to the Blind Watchmaker.

The whole key to Dawkins's idea is the agent that allows only "positive" changes to stay around. This is the problem because for every positive change, we have a corresponding negative change also happening. So if there is a positive event, it will soon be counteracted by a negative event.

In the same way, Dawkins idea needs an intelligent agent to do the sorting. Considering that there are billions of stars and chemical compositions, would it be possible that two atoms might be joined together in a chemical soup? The answer is yes, but then the idea that this molecule sticks around as a "locked in base" just won't happen, unless an intelligent agent exists. But intelligent agents don't happen unless something creates an intelligent agent. Intelligent agents don't "pop into"existence.

Dawkins intelligent agent "the blind watchmaker" cannot exist unless somebody made the intelligent agent. But Dawkins does not answer this quesetion. He, and the rest of the evolutionist crowd, simply want us to accept that it does exist. The blind watchmaker holds up the whole of evolution. But like Atlas, we must ask ourselves, "What does Atlas Stand on."


This answer, on Altas, was told me many years ago by my Linear Mathematics teacher in college:

Q. What holds up the World?
A. Atlas.

Q. What is he standing on?
A. The back of a giant turtle.

Q. And what holds up that turtle?
A. Another turtle.

Q. What holds up that turtle?
A. Listen, I know where you are going, and I want you to know...it's turtles all the way down.


Guess what. The turtles don't exist.

Maxwell's demon does not exist.

And neither does the blind watchmaker.

So, now we round the bend. Just because the blind watchmaker does not exist, does it even that evolution is impossible? Absolutely not! Evolution is very possible, but the probability is very, very low. See, to get a viable chuck of life, you have to do exactly what Dawkins says he does have to do: You need to roll the dice enough times so that they all come up in the combination that you need to start life. At any time, the same roll of the dice that may make a "higher life form" may also be the roll that "causes the whole game to be reset."

It gets even more problematic when you start to understand that many of the things we take for granted. After the Big Bang, the fundamental fields of the universe (strong, weak, electromagnetic, gravity) are not set. Basically, we are lucky that the universe just "happened" to find the right blend of forces so that all atoms didn't fly apart. I know this sounds like science fiction, but there was no reason for gravity to hold to the equation we have today. (Now some like Hawkins are claiming that perhaps the possible fields are not completely random, but he has yet to prove this.)

The simple problem is one of probability.

It has been said that a billion monkey typing long enough could type out Hamlet. In this nice little link, the author points out the following:

If we imagined 17 billion galaxies, each with 17 billion planets, each with 17 billion monkeys, each of which was producing a line of text per second for 17 billion years, and you had a feature to lock out versions that were already done, you would need to replicate this 18,718,157,355,362 times to make sure that you got all the possible versions of the text done. Of course, one would be Hamlet.

I would guess that atheistic evolution is less likely than this, but tell you what. If you are willing to believe in Hamlet from a monkey, you are probably going to believe in spontaneous generation of life from nothing but the leftovers from the big bang.

Now, if you are willing to have faith in this, I am fine with it. Please just don't say that your version of the universe is the most likely one. You are simply saying that you'd rather take this view than one of a deity. At least have the courage to understand that you are a believer in the anthropic principle. If you don't know what this is, then Wikipedia is your friend.

For me and my household, we'll believe that there is a God.

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