Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby Will » Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:37 pm

A 2009 title from Harper; this work is important. It's subtitle is "DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design". Some chapters are difficult for those of us poorly educated folk, but overall it is a good look at the arguments for and against ID. It is not a work about evolution, but just focuses on the arising of life via the first cell. Also impressive is his unbiased, close examination of the evidence against ID. He is not a preacher for ID who ignores evidence against it in favor of a pre-conceived notion.

http://www.harpercollins.com/book/buy.a ... 0061472787
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Re: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby Will » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:23 pm

An earlier, much shorter survey by Meyer on the origin of life:

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB ... ad&id=1026

How Meyer's essay begins [endnotes deleted]:

Theories about the origin of life necessarily presuppose knowledge of the
attributes of living cells. As historian of biology Harmke Kamminga has
observed, “At the heart of the problem of the origin of life lies a fundamental
question: What is it exactly that we are trying to explain the origin
of?” Or as the pioneering chemical evolutionary theorist Alexander
Oparin put it, “The problem of the nature of life and the problem of its origin
have become inseparable.” Origin-of-life researchers want to explain
the origin of the first and presumably simplest—or, at least, minimally
complex—living cell. As a result, developments in fields that explicate the
nature of unicellular life have historically defined the questions that originof-
life scenarios must answer.
Since the late 1950s and 1960s, origin-of-life researchers have increasingly
recognized the complex and specific nature of unicellular life and the
biomacromolecules on which such systems depend. Further, molecular biologists
and origin-of-life researchers have characterized this complexity and
specificity in informational terms. Molecular biologists routinely refer to
DNA, RNA, and proteins as carriers or repositories of “information.” Many
origin-of-life researchers now regard the origin of the information in these
biomacromolecules as the central question facing their research. As Bernd-
Olaf Kuppers has stated, “The problem of the origin of life is clearly basically
equivalent to the problem of the origin of biological information.”
This essay will evaluate competing explanations for the origin of the information
necessary to build the first living cell. To do so will require determining
what biologists have meant by the term information as it has
been applied to biomacromolecules. As many have noted, “information”
can denote several theoretically distinct concepts. This essay will attempt to
eliminate this ambiguity and to determine precisely what type of information
origin-of-life researchers must explain “the origin of.” What follows
will first seek to characterize the information in DNA, RNA, and proteins as
an explanandum (a fact in need of explanation) and, second, to evaluate the
efficacy of competing classes of explanation for the origin of biological information
(that is, the competing explanans).

Part I will seek to show that molecular biologists have used the term information
consistently to refer to the joint properties of complexity and functional
specificity or specification. Biological usage of the term will be
contrasted with its classical information-theoretic usage to show that “biological
information” entails a richer sense of information than the classical
mathematical theory of Shannon and Wiener. Part I will also argue against
attempts to treat biological “information” as a metaphor lacking empirical
content and/or ontological status. It will show that the term biological information
refers to two real features of living systems, complexity and specificity,
features that jointly do require explanation.

Part II will evaluate competing types of explanation for the origin of the
specified biological information necessary to produce the first living system.
The categories of “chance” and “necessity” will provide a helpful
heuristic for understanding the recent history of origin-of-life research.
From the 1920s to the mid-1960s, origin-of-life researchers relied heavily
on theories emphasizing the creative role of random events—”chance”—
often in tandem with some form of prebiotic natural selection. Since the
late 1960s, theorists have instead emphasized deterministic self-organizational
laws or properties—that is, physical-chemical “necessity.”
Part II will critique the causal adequacy of chemical evolutionary theories
based on “chance,” “necessity,” and the combination of the two.

A concluding part III will suggest that the phenomenon of information
understood as specified complexity requires a radically different explanatory
approach. In particular, I will argue that our present knowledge of
causal powers suggests intelligent design as a better, more causally
adequate explanation for the origin of the specified complexity (the information
so defined) present in large biomolecules such as DNA, RNA, and
proteins.
Last edited by Will on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby Malcolm » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:33 pm

Will wrote:A 2009 title from Harper; this work is important. It's subtitle is "DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design". Some chapters are difficult for those of us poorly educated folk, but overall it is a good look at the arguments for and against ID. It is not a work about evolution, but just focuses on the arising of life via the first cell. Also impressive is his unbiased, close examination of the evidence against ID. He is not a preacher for ID who ignores evidence against it in favor of a pre-conceived notion.



ID is just stealth theology. Total speculative junk.
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Re: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby Will » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:50 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote:A 2009 title from Harper; this work is important. It's subtitle is "DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design". Some chapters are difficult for those of us poorly educated folk, but overall it is a good look at the arguments for and against ID. It is not a work about evolution, but just focuses on the arising of life via the first cell. Also impressive is his unbiased, close examination of the evidence against ID. He is not a preacher for ID who ignores evidence against it in favor of a pre-conceived notion.



ID is just stealth theology. Total speculative junk.


Have you read the book? If not, who cares what your uninformed opinion is.
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Re: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby Will » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:11 pm

For those who have not read the book, here is Meyer versus Ruse in part one of a Think Tank TV debate:

http://thinktanktv.com/media/index.php?a=watch#
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Re: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby Will » Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:20 pm

An essay on ID by a theosophist that rejects the one God in favor of intelligent beings as the architechs & builders:

http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sun ... -wtst3.htm
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Re: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:59 pm

Will wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote:A 2009 title from Harper; this work is important. It's subtitle is "DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design". Some chapters are difficult for those of us poorly educated folk, but overall it is a good look at the arguments for and against ID. It is not a work about evolution, but just focuses on the arising of life via the first cell. Also impressive is his unbiased, close examination of the evidence against ID. He is not a preacher for ID who ignores evidence against it in favor of a pre-conceived notion.



ID is just stealth theology. Total speculative junk.


Have you read the book? If not, who cares what your uninformed opinion is.


Don't need to read the book, the idea of ID is hogwash -- God dressed up in science. We are Buddhists. We do not accept such silly theories on principle. Dependent origination is a much better explanation that allows for natural selection and so on.

N
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:00 am

Will wrote:An essay on ID by a theosophist that rejects the one God in favor of intelligent beings as the architechs & builders:

http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sun ... -wtst3.htm


Endless regress -- who designed the designers?

N
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Re: beings from ???

Postby Will » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:57 am

Namdrol,

Humans come from humans, devas come from devas etc. So was there a first Deva or Adi-Human? Dependent O. makes sense regarding planets, universes & suns, but how does the Dharma explain beings? I seem to recall one sutta that said humans were just degenerate devas who regressed due to greed & ego. Also Je Rinpoche said something similar. If so, what explains the existence of the godly-humans in the first place?
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Re: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby mindyourmind » Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:56 am

Will

Please, find value in ID if you must, but do not use Meyer as a source for your acceptance. He has been roundly criticized by other Christians, even of the evangelical stripe. Google the rather ugly spat between him and the scientifically very well educated folk over at the BioLogos site as an example. Meyer has been very much discredited to the point where even other Christians open to ID have rejected his theories. Some of these rebuttals were so strong that Meyer had to do a little free ebook to try and stop the bleeding.

"Stealth Theology " is a good way to look at it.

And I am also not all that convinced that this is an appropriate topic for a Buddhist site.
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Re: beings from ???

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:13 pm

Will wrote: If so, what explains the existence of the godly-humans in the first place?



Karma; and karma is not "intelligent design".

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

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Re: beings from ???

Postby mindyourmind » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:11 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote: If so, what explains the existence of the godly-humans in the first place?



Karma; and karma is not "intelligent design".

N



And in any event, how does positing an "intelligent designer" (aka God) explain anything?
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Re: beings from ???

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:18 pm

mindyourmind wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote: If so, what explains the existence of the godly-humans in the first place?



Karma; and karma is not "intelligent design".

N



And in any event, how does positing an "intelligent designer" (aka God) explain anything?


Just recall "The variety of the world is created by karma". This is the Buddhist "Intelligent designer" -- not to bright, if you ask me.

It doesn't. It just allows us to collapse into intellectual stupor and relief.

I am betting Will might be a freemason, though, and while masonry is supposedly open to all of any faith (upon invitation, of course), one of the principle requirements is belief in a GAU, a Grand Architect of the Universe. Since Buddhism does not accept a GAU, Buddhists would be technically excluded from masonry on principle.
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Re: beings from ???

Postby Will » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:24 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote: If so, what explains the existence of the godly-humans in the first place?



Karma; and karma is not "intelligent design".

N


How does karma bring the first beings into appearance - do tiny wind wheels spin and presto Adi Buddha & Adi Gandharva & Adi fill-in-the-blank pop up?

At least give me an English source to read that describes this process of appearence of beings - not cosmology, I have such already.
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Re: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby Will » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:27 pm

mindyourmind wrote:Will

Please, find value in ID if you must, but do not use Meyer as a source for your acceptance. He has been roundly criticized by other Christians, even of the evangelical stripe. Google the rather ugly spat between him and the scientifically very well educated folk over at the BioLogos site as an example. Meyer has been very much discredited to the point where even other Christians open to ID have rejected his theories. Some of these rebuttals were so strong that Meyer had to do a little free ebook to try and stop the bleeding.

"Stealth Theology " is a good way to look at it.

And I am also not all that convinced that this is an appropriate topic for a Buddhist site.


Quarrels have little to do with the value of ideas. Buddhists have been snarling at each other for ages.

Have you read Meyer's book?
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Re: beings from ???

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:35 pm

Will wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Will wrote: If so, what explains the existence of the godly-humans in the first place?



Karma; and karma is not "intelligent design".

N


How does karma bring the first beings into appearance - do tiny wind wheels spin and presto Adi Buddha & Adi Gandharva & Adi fill-in-the-blank pop up?

At least give me an English source to read that describes this process of appearence of beings - not cosmology, I have such already.


There are no first beings.

Please read the third chapter of the Kosha where the collapse and formation of the universes is described.

Basically, what happens is that at the end of the last eon, all sentient beings are reborn in the upper two form realms while the rest of the container universe is destroyed. There is a period of twenty dark eons, and then due to the traces of action the wind mandala forms again, and and after the container universe forms due to the traces of karma of sentient beings, a being is born from the upper two form realms into the brahma loka. He looks around, and being unable to remember the loka from which he took rebirth, and being unable to perceive it, thinks he is both self-created, created the whole shebang, and manages to convince everyone else who is reborn afterwards that he did create it all.

The point, Will, is that dependent origination does not permit there ever to be a first anything.

Adibuddha simply refers to the first Buddha of a given eon i.e. the Sambhogakāya. It does not mean some creator buddha, as you know.

N
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Re:

Postby Will » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:29 pm

Namdrol: There are no first beings.

Please read the third chapter of the Kosha where the collapse and formation of the universes is described.

Basically, what happens is that at the end of the last eon, all sentient beings are reborn in the upper two form realms while the rest of the container universe is destroyed. There is a period of twenty dark eons, and then due to the traces of action the wind mandala forms again, and and after the container universe forms due to the traces of karma of sentient beings, a being is born from the upper two form realms into the brahma loka. He looks around, and being unable to remember the loka from which he took rebirth, and being unable to perceive it, thinks he is both self-created, created the whole shebang, and manages to convince everyone else who is reborn afterwards that he did create it all.

The point, Will, is that dependent origination does not permit there ever to be a first anything.

Adibuddha simply refers to the first Buddha of a given eon i.e. the Sambhogakāya. It does not mean some creator buddha, as you know.


OK I will re-read it. But the Kosa and you have just described "first" beings, in any kalpa, which is what I meant - not any other "first". The process sound similar to an individual's rebirth; body dies but mind does not and during bardo (an "upper" realm) waits until "traces of action" reform our "container" and the mind descends. But all of us "being born from the upper two form realms" does not explain the origin of life & beings on this Earth planet.
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Re: Re:

Postby Malcolm » Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:39 pm

Will wrote:
OK I will re-read it. But the Kosa and you have just described "first" beings, in any kalpa, which is what I meant - not any other "first". The process sound similar to an individual's rebirth; body dies but mind does not and during bardo (an "upper" realm) waits until "traces of action" reform our "container" and the mind descends. But all of us "being born from the upper two form realms" does not explain the origin of life & beings on this Earth planet.


Sure it does. The outer elements gradually come together again after the universe cools off, forms solar systems, planets that are capable of bearing life and then life forms evolve on the planets.

It does not require design.

Buddhism does not describe outer dependent origination in detail. But as long as one's version of the universe's formation does not included a creator or a first cause of any kind, then that version will be acceptable to Buddhism.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby mindyourmind » Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:47 am

Will wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:Will

Please, find value in ID if you must, but do not use Meyer as a source for your acceptance. He has been roundly criticized by other Christians, even of the evangelical stripe. Google the rather ugly spat between him and the scientifically very well educated folk over at the BioLogos site as an example. Meyer has been very much discredited to the point where even other Christians open to ID have rejected his theories. Some of these rebuttals were so strong that Meyer had to do a little free ebook to try and stop the bleeding.

"Stealth Theology " is a good way to look at it.

And I am also not all that convinced that this is an appropriate topic for a Buddhist site.


Quarrels have little to do with the value of ideas. Buddhists have been snarling at each other for ages.

Have you read Meyer's book?


I have read parts of it, at the insistence of a friend who wants to convert me to The Real Truth, I have read Meyer's ebook reply, I have read a lot of the articles written by other Christian writers and scientists and I suppose most interestingly, I have read the debates between these parties wherein Meyer himself participated The BioLogos site had an interesting discussion about this for weeks.
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Re: Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer

Postby mudra » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:14 am

Hi Will,

I am a little taken aback at this thread, given that the basic Buddhist view is that there is no beginning to time (beginningless time) as there would be endless regress of "what was before the beginning" and as Namdrol pointed out "who designed god/gods", but also intrigued by your interpretation of Je Tsongkhapa stating that humans are just devolved gods. Is there a citation, and in what context?

For sure we spin around the different worlds since beginning-less time, but did Je Tsongkhapa really posit an ur-being (alias god-form) as the origin of man? I think there is maybe some confusion with the cycle of universes/worlds coming into being, the first beings in the world systems being 'brahmas' - but that doesn't make them our 'creators' nor ur-stock if you like. It's just another phase in the samsaric cycle. You could easily turn that on its head and say gods come from men (as when we perform great virtue and are reborn as gods).

ID doesn't really gel with Je Tsongkhapa's prasangika view at all....

As to karma, it's pretty precise as designs go, but it doesn't make it great. Unfortunately it rules. Cause and Effect didn't need to be designed by a particular being(s). It just is. Of course by being smart and using Cause and Effect properly, one can get the effects that one wants, or a close approximate (just like using gravity feed for irrigation...). But taking advantage of the corrollation between cause and effect isn't creating it. Meanwhile the cycles continue.

As HHDL once said, Buddhists have no problem with the Big Bang theory - in fact Buddhists could easily posit endless Big Bangs!


And no I haven't read the book - just sticking my oar in.
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