Last Update: 15 May 00
Return to "Evolution vs. Creationism" essay
REPLY #66 TO
"EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM"
At the most basic level, there *is* no difference....
(R) Wow! You actually DO think then, that there is no difference between an automobile, and iron ore, plastics and alumunum? You really can't see the difference?
(MB) Oh, please. Did you notice the "at the most basic level" definition?
All are composed of the very same atomic and sub-atomic particles which don't change their properties when they combine in different ways to form different things.
(R) This is agreed to be by everybody, but so what?
(MB) If everybody agrees to this, why are you disputing it?
At this level, there can be no difference between living and non-living things, so there is no need to dispute that life can come from non-life.
(R) You have not answered my question, about organization. Even on the chemical level, your statement makes no sense. Oxygen and hydrogen atoms are the basis of both hydrogen peroxide and water. So they're basically the same right? Take a bath in hydrogen peroxide and tell me how similar you found it to a water bath. After all, at the atomic level they are composed of the same elements, so there is no need to dispute their similarity, right?
(MB) You seem unable to separate the individual particles themselves from their various combinations. Living things are just different combinations of the same particles which also combine to make non-living things. If you disagree, what unique addition(s) can be found in living things?
Evolution doesn't explain this because there's nothing substantive here that needs to be explained.
(R) You are answering my question by assuming that the process in question (i.e. evolution) is the answer, when it's basis is in fact, the item in question. I believe this process is known as begging the question. Do you want to try again?
(MB) No need unless you can provide some evidence to suggest that living things contain something "special" that is not found in non-living things and which can not be derived from them.
There is no evidence of any special design or of anything that could not have arisen by natural processes.
(R) This is totally untrue. Specified complexity is only known to be generated by intelligence. It is used to differentiate artifacts in archaeology. It is used by SETI researchers in looking for extraterrestial life. It cannot therefore be excluded in questions of evolution and origins of life issues, because you do not like its implications.
(MB) You're looking at the question from the wrong side by assuming that evolution is goal-directed and invariably progressive -- likely with Man being its apex. If evolution started all over again, it's practically impossible for the history of life to be duplicated. Once a particular form of life has evolved, it will have qualities that can be used to differentiate it from others. But, this is always an after-the-fact evaluation.
(R) If every subatomic particle, reacted with every other subatomic particle, during the shortest period of time possible over the entire lifetime of the universe until the heat death, simultaneously, life wouldn't be formed from nonlife, DESPITE, the fact that they are composed of the same things at the atomic level. In fact, you wouldn't come close to forming life.
(MB) The very fact that you and I are having this conversation is conclusive proof that you are wrong. This is true whether or not you believe in a natural or a supernatural origin of life.
As for "information content", there is no more "information" in the component particles of a human being than in an undifferentiated pile of non-living particles.
(R) You are using weasel words here. Define what you mean by "component particles". If you are once again referring to the atomic level, your statement is true. If this is your definition, my answer is once again, So what!.
(MB) And, once again, my response is to ask what then constitutes the essential and quantifiable difference between living and non-living things.
(R) If you are referring to human organs, an eye, a brain, a heart, blood, the immune system, the larynx, the 100 trillion cells, the amount of information is IMMENSELY greater than an undifferentiated pile of nonliving particles, and you know it.
(MB) Oh, really? That would be somewhat of a revolution in information theory if you were right. Arranging a pile of particles into a specific order does not increase the amount of information in those particles any more than would arranging a random selection of letters into a specific phrase in a specific language. There is a law of conservation of information just as there are similar laws for energy and angular momentum.
(R) The brain itself is made for processing information.
(MB) Nope. The brain gathers information and allows us to give it meaning. That meaning is entirely dependent upon who is doing the interpretation.
(R) Or would you like to back up your statement, by for example, stating that the information content in your own brain (using you as an example of a human being) is no greater than in an undifferentiated pile of nonliving particles? Isn't that what you are in fact saying? If not, why not?
(MB) That's what I'm saying. The brain merely arranges that information in a way that we interpret as "memory". Information can neither be created nor destroyed.
Indeed, a living creature and the same creature who is dead contain exactly the same amount of information.
(R) Another specious argument. The dead creature got the information while it was alive. Your statement assumes the information. Once again you are begging the question. The question is how did the information get there, not that it dervied from something else. How did the something else get the information? That's the question. You still haven't answered it. I'd like you to try again, without begging the question.
(MB) What question has been begged? At the very moment of your death, your body will contain exactly as much information as it did a few seconds before. The fact that your body processed information while it was still alive is irrelevant. Information gets into your body from external sources. I think that the argument you seem to be making here is going to have difficulty accounting for the behavior of non-living crystals.
(R) Evolution's foundation (excluding origin of life situations whose discussions I have posted elsewhere), is based on a copying process (cell division) generating the information to make all life extinct and extant from the first living organisms. This information is generated by an error in the copying process (random mutations in whatever form), being selected (natural selection), preferentially, resulting in an upward spiral to all the diversity we see or that has been discovered or is yet to be discovered.
(MB) You are generally correct except that there is no inherent preference for any "upward spiral". The only reason why evolution seems to be progressive is that life began at or near the lower limit of possible complexity. Therefore, the only way for change to occur would have to be towards the higher complexity end of the scale. Yet, the overwhelming majority of living things on Earth still reside at the low end of the complexity scale. "Complex" living things are only a relatively minor exception.
(R) But copying processes do not generate information, they either retain it, or lose it (one part of the process is called natural SELECTION) after all. So whence the information for replication, digestion, movement, replacement and repair of damaged systems both internal and external to individual cells, and a host of other functions, requiring a lot of specified complex information to get performed? The underlying logic of the whole process of evolution does not match reality. In lieu of intelligence and planning, information degrades over time just like everything else.
(MB) The only reason evolution doesn't match your expectations is that your expectations are unreasonable. Duane Gish is the leading proponent of the tactic of inventing bogus scenarios for evolution and then "refuting" evolution because it doesn't follow those scenarios. Intelligent design is merely a more sophisticated version of this same tactic. Its favorite tactic is to demand that complex functions of living things must have suddenly appeared in their entirety and in their modern incarnations.
(R) Even "favorable" mutations do not change this. Survival can be enhanced by information losing mutations, in certain (rare) circumstances. But this doesn't explain information's origin, and neither does evolution.
(MB) This is because you are demanding the wrong characteristics for "information". You are viewing it as the function of a living thing instead of its physical construction. You also make the invalid assumption that evolution "knows" what it wants to produce.
(R) Or are you back to stating that iron ore, alumunum, and plastics can move you around as efficiently as an automobile (i.e. There's no more useful information in an automobile than in the iron ore, alumunum etc)?
(MB) Now, you've distorted my original point along with adding "useful" to "information" where I made no such distinction. "Useful" is entirely dependent on who is using it. After all, a car is exactly the same thing whether an adult or a dog is sitting behind the wheel. But, to which would the car actually be "useful" even though the information content of the car is identical for both?
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