Ed Hudgins

Objectivism and Evolution: No Contradictions

Recommended Posts

and that when all the necessary and sufficient conditions are present, the probability of the outcome is 100 percent.

The standard you've imposed of "All necessary and sufficient conditions", for a determinist, will, by necessity, result in an attempt at -- if not an outright claim of -- omniscience. That's easy enough to show.

A coin toss has a probability distribution of 50/50 (50% heads, 50% tails). If you manage to discover "all necessary and sufficient conditions" that determine a heads or tails outcome with a probability of 100%, then you've merely pushed the indeterminacy back one step to the initial conditions. For example, if the "necessary and sufficient" causes of toss 1 ("heads") included the existence of a small air current causing the coin to land "heads", and the "necessary and sufficient" causes of toss 2 ("tails") included the existence of a small bit of skin oil on the tosser's fingers that affected the energy and spin of the toss so that the coin had to land "tails", then the problem is merely pushed back one step: for now you are merely saying that the probability distribution of small gusts of air appearing just at the right time and small bits of skin oil affecting a toss are themselves distributed in the world with a probability of 50/50. If you discover the deterministic causes of small gusts of wind (let's say certain weather conditions) and excess skin oil on one's fingers (let's say certain physiological changes that always occur at a certain time), then, although small gusts of wind and additional skin oil on one's fingers have been completely explained with 100% certainty, we have the same probability distribution of 50/50 applicable to those certain weather conditions and physiological changes.

This is obviously an infinite regress, each prior set of initial conditions showing the original 50/50 uncertainty that we originally attributed to the coin toss itself. Therefore, to know "ALL necessary and sufficient conditions" so that probabilities disappear and every event can be predicted with 100% certainty, one needs to know all necessary and sufficient conditions for each link in the causal chain stretching back indefinitely.

Sounds like a claim to omniscience to me. The fact that you didn't initially recognize it as such -- and, perhaps, didn't intend it -- doesn't change the fact of what it is.

(Oh, and needless to say, everything I posted above about simple coin tosses applies just as much to other events that have probability distributions, such as the appearance of life.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are designed experiments that fairly permit the squirrel to attempt to cross the superhighway without helping him along at each step; if the critter manages to dodge traffic on its own and make it to the other side, then the experiment fairly demonstrates that "It can be done.".

Ta da!

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZvsC-4zROs?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZvsC-4zROs?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZvsC-4zROs?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

I said nothing about experiments with squirrels crossing superhighways, btw.

Ghs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

and that when all the necessary and sufficient conditions are present, the probability of the outcome is 100 percent.

The standard you've imposed of "All necessary and sufficient conditions", for a determinist, will, by necessity, result in an attempt at -- if not an outright claim of -- omniscience. That's easy enough to show.

A coin toss has a probability distribution of 50/50 (50% heads, 50% tails). If you manage to discover "all necessary and sufficient conditions" that determine a heads or tails outcome with a probability of 100%, then you've merely pushed the indeterminacy back one step to the initial conditions....

Our lack of knowledge of particular causes does not entail "indeterminacy." Our present ignorance has no bearing on what happened millions of years ago.

For example, if the "necessary and sufficient" causes of toss 1 ("heads") included the existence of a small air current causing the coin to land "heads", and the "necessary and sufficient" causes of toss 2 ("tails") included the existence of a small bit of skin oil on the tosser's fingers that affected the energy and spin of the toss so that the coin had to land "tails", then the problem is merely pushed back one step: for now you are merely saying that the probability distribution of small gusts of air appearing just at the right time and small bits of skin oil affecting a toss are themselves distributed in the world with a probability of 50/50. If you discover the deterministic causes of small gusts of wind (let's say certain weather conditions) and excess skin oil on one's fingers (let's say certain physiological changes that always occur at a certain time), then, although small gusts of wind and additional skin oil on one's fingers have been completely explained with 100% certainty, we have the same probability distribution of 50/50 applicable to those certain weather conditions and physiological changes.

Wrong again. In a deterministic causal chain, the probability of every event is 100 percent (or 1). Whether or not we know the relevant causes is irrelevant. As I have said before, probability is subjective (epistemological), not objective (metaphysical). After a specific event, such as abiogenesis, has occurred , we know that the "probability" of its occurrence was 100 percent. In this context, subjective probability comes into play before an event has occurred and, lacking knowledge of causes yet to be, we cannot predict the outcome. This is the case with coin tosses.

If we posit an alternate universe shortly after its own Big Bang (this is known as a hypothetical example), then, lacking knowledge of future causes, we could not reasonably predict whether abiogenesis will eventually occur or not. Calculations of abstract statistical probability would be meaningless, because the causal events that will take place will not be independent, and independence (as we find in coin tosses) is a necessary prerequisite of statistical probability. We would need to have knowledge of empirical probability instead, and this would require omniscience.

This is obviously an infinite regress, each prior set of initial conditions showing the original 50/50 uncertainty that we originally attributed to the coin toss itself. Therefore, to know "ALL necessary and sufficient conditions" so that probabilities disappear and every event can be predicted with 100% certainty, one needs to know all necessary and sufficient conditions for each link in the causal chain stretching back indefinitely.

Sounds like a claim to omniscience to me. The fact that you didn't initially recognize it as such -- and, perhaps, didn't intend it -- doesn't change the fact of what it is.

The search for the causes of abiogenesis is the search for causes that have already happened. It does not require predictions, so it does not involve subjective probabilities. Moreover, scientists do not need to know all the causes in every particular case in order to know some of the causes, just as a historian does not need to know all the causes of the French Revolution in order to know some of the causes. This business about omniscience is a figment of your imagination.

(Oh, and needless to say, everything I posted above about simple coin tosses applies just as much to other events that have probability distributions, such as the appearance of life.)

Yes, indeed. Everything you have posted above is equally wrong and equally irrelevant.

Ghs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Then for the sake of keeping his demonstrations relevant to the point he is trying to make -- sound pedagogy, after all -- he should run a computer simulation that's actually like the evolutionary process he wants us to believe in. Run a simulation without a target sequence, and without a "filter" selecting letters by the standard of the target sequence, and see how far you get. Dawkins already admitted how far he'd get: nowhere.

That's hilarious :D being written by somebody whose demonstrations are mostly irrelevant. In evolutionary theory there are filters -- survival and reproduction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The very fact that Dawkins acknowledges that some "cheating" is involved in this particular case indicates that he is not depending on it to make his entire case. He goes on to argue that evolution requires no such predetermined goal.

Then for the sake of keeping his demonstrations relevant to the point he is trying to make -- sound pedagogy, after all -- he should run a computer simulation that's actually like the evolutionary process he wants us to believe in. Run a simulation without a target sequence, and without a "filter" selecting letters by the standard of the target sequence, and see how far you get. Dawkins already admitted how far he'd get: nowhere.

Your method of reasoning is essentially the same as that employed by Dawkins. You posit an outcome or target (the existence of life) and then, working backwards, you stipulate a process (total randomness) that you claim could not possibly produce that outcome.

Similarly, Dawkins posits an outcome (a line from Shakespeare) and then, working backwards, he shows how a filtering process of selection can produce that outcome.

The only significant difference is that you offer a mental experiment, whereas Dawkins offers a physical one. But both of your experiments are designed. Dawkins designed the filtering process, whereas you deliberately select the nonfiltering process of total randomness, thereby excluding any process that will not give you the results you wish to achieve.

Hence, both you and Dawkins are "cheating," but with these differences: First, Dawkins has the honestly to admit that he is "cheating," whereas you do not. Second, Dawkins understands the difference between illustrating a point and proving it, whereas you do not. Lastly, Dawkins actually has a theory, whereas you do not.

Ghs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AA, is getting at the truth the most important thing to you in this discussion?

This is an excellent, direct question. I look forward to AA's direct answer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since I have been commenting on AA's incorrect and misleading use of "probability," I want to continue with one more point. For this I need to return to one of his earlier posts:

When judging a hypothesis, we use a "rejection region"; a threshold above which our initial assumptions no longer hold. The question then becomes: where do we draw the line of demarcation that bounds our rejection region, and on what basis?

For example: someone tosses a coin that we assume to be fair. The odds of landing "heads" or "tails" is 1/2. If our friend tosses 3 heads in a row, we think nothing of it; the odds of 3 heads in a row occurring are 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1 chance out of a total number of 8 possibilities, or 1/8. Do we accept that outcome as resulting from chance? Or did the tosser employ design (such as a two-headed coin)? Most of us would probably consider 3 heads in a row as nothing unusual.

What if our friend tosses 10 heads in a row? Do we accept that sequence as a product of randomness? or design? Ten heads in a row have odds of about 1/1,000. We might still accept this result as having occurred by chance.

What if our friend tosses 50 heads in a row? Chance? Or design? 50 heads in a row have odds of about 1/10^15, or one chance in 100 trillion. Has it crossed our demarcation border yet? Do accept a sequence of 50 heads in a row as a result of chance? or do we suspect that some other -- some additional -- causal agent, such as design was employed? Suppose we accept this result as having been caused by chance.

If our friend tosses 100 heads in a row, we find that the odds of doing that are about 1/10^30 for a fair coin, and assuming chance alone as the causal agent. Question: do we accept odds of 1/10^30 as indicating extreme luck? or do we not accept it as luck, and suspect design?

Apparently, the materialists on this board -- meaning all the Objectivists -- believe that as long as there's a non-zero probability of getting a certain sequence (and 1/10^30 is slightly bigger than zero), it means that chance is as good an explanation as any other.

Given a fair coin and a lack of knowledge about future causal conditions, we say that the probability of getting heads on a coin toss is 50/50. (This is merely another way of saying that we don't know which side will come up and that one guess is as good as the other.) But suppose we flip a coin 21 times and get heads every time. The probability of this particular sequence occurring is 1 in 2,097,152.

If this outcome seems improbable, we need to remember that every other specific sequence is also improbable to the same degree. In my example, the probability of every possible sequence (2,097,152 total) -- whether all heads, all tails, or a combination of the two -- is also 1 in 2,097,152.

The same principle applies to the more extreme examples given by AA. If it is true that "50 heads in a row have odds of about 1/10^15, or one chance in 100 trillion," it is also true that every other possible sequence has exactly the same odds. To throw 50 or 100 heads in a row is no more unlikely than to throw any other specific succession of heads and tails in the same number of tosses. (Of course, to throw, say, 50 heads is far less likely than to throw 25 heads and 25 tails in no particular order, but such combinations differ from permutations, or sequences.)

So what's going on here? Well, the first thing to notice is that the supposed improbability of a specific lengthy sequence means nothing, metaphysically speaking, because every other sequence (with the same number of units) carries the same improbability. Thus, it doesn't matter what the sequence is; given any possible outcome, the Creationist can cite the high improbability of that particular sequence as evidence of design. No matter what the sequence is, if it is long enough it will fall into AA's "rejection region," and his Designer will get the credit, as needed. How very, very convenient.

This deceptive method of reasoning illustrates why we need to keep the subjective (epistemological) nature of probability calculations in mind. In saying that the odds of tossing 21 consecutive heads (or any other particular sequence) are 1 in 2,097,152, we mean that, prior to the tosses, our odds of correctly predicting (i.e., guessing) that a particular sequence will result are 1 in 2,097,152. We manifestly do not mean that a given sequence of causes (i.e., those involved in each coin flip) have a 1 in 2,097,152 "chance" of producing their effects.

AA is playing with smoke and mirrors, nothing more.

Ghs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To add one more "body" to the "football pile" with AA at the bottom of the pile, here is another tactic in the creationist bag of tricks. Suppose each toss is of 21 coins simultaneously. The probability of 21 heads is again 1/2,097,152. The creationist might say that if the experiment were repeated, it would take at least 2,097,152 tosses to get 21 heads. The creationist might then raise the number of coins tossed and follow it with "it couldn't happen in a zillion years." Wrong! Back to 21 coins again, it might happen on the 2,097,152-th toss, the 1,000,000th toss, or the 100-th toss. Equally likely, it could happen on the first toss!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our lack of knowledge of particular causes does not entail "indeterminacy

It's the other way around. Built-in metaphysical indeterminacy entails our necessary lack of knowledge.

As I have said before, probability is subjective (epistemological), not objective (metaphysical).

Nope. Rand was wrong. You are wrong. Indeterminacy -- I prefer Popper's term, "propensity" -- is metaphysical.

After a specific event, such as abiogenesis, has occurred ,

Surely we can't just assume at the outset the very thing we intend to prove! Isn't that called "begging the question"?

This is the case with coin tosses.

And my previous post dealt with that. I'll explain it again, though I warn you: I may have to use words of more than 2 syllables.

You are saying that BEFORE the coin toss, we get to say "there's a 50/50 chance of the coin's landing heads or tails". Presumably because we don't know what causes will appear to determine the actual outcome. But AFTER the toss, when the coin has actually landed, e.g., heads, we can change that statement and say "It wasn't 50/50 after all; the "heads" was pre-ordained to land that way with a probability of 100%." And, by your lights, we'd say the same thing had the coin landed "tails."

So if we already know that the result of a single toss must be either heads or tails, and if we already know that any result must have occurred with complete deterministic certainty of 100%, instead of the current way of describing the situation, which is something like "the probability of a coin landing heads or tails is 50/50, Smithian mathematics would change the expression to something like "the probability of a coin landing heads or tails is 50/50, but the result is 100% / 100%. Once it actually lands one way or the other, we know that it MUST have landed that way because of a network of forces -- the knowledge of which is irrelevant.

As I have said before, probability is subjective (epistemological),

Yes, you certainly have (though Rand, you know, claimed that epistemology was objective, not subjective, but I'll put this down merely to a forgivable senior moment on your part). So, the original 50/50 appraisal made BEFORE the toss was, by your lights, a little bit of epistemological subjectivism, which then, upon reflecting on the matter, becomes an objective certainty of 100% AFTER the toss, when we actually have either heads or tails.

You enjoy living in alternative universes and posing hypotheticals, right? Good.

Suppose, instead of simply blowing off the causes for a coin's landing heads or tails on a given toss, we actually had knowledge of those causes BEFORE the toss and could predict the result (let's say "heads") with 100% certainty. Nothing wrong with that assumption: if, as you say, the coin HAD to land "heads" given the existence of certain causes, there's certainly nothing preventing us from discovering the relevant causes in principle. I understand your profound point, i.e., we NEED NOT know these causes to claim that the result was preordained to happen with 100% certainty. But suppose, like you, we had nothing to do except investigate subtle causes for small events like a coin toss. And further, let's assume that we have the technological means for discovering these causes.

Also, let's take the human element out of it. Let's assume we have a machine that can toss a coin with precisely the same amount of force each time, in exactly the same position (straight upward).

So, BEFORE a given toss, we discover a slight increase in air density a few inches above the tossing machine that we know MUST cause an object to bias toward "heads." We perform the toss, and -- completely as expected -- the coin lands "heads." 100% certainty for the outcome.

We are about to perform a second toss, and this time we discover the dense pocket of air has disappeared and that, instead, there are some very subtle ground vibrations that we can say with complete confidence will slightly alter the machine's normal operation in such a way as to necessitate a result of "tails." We perform the toss and -- completely as expected -- the coin lands "tails". 100% certainty for the outcome.

All you've done is to push the original 50/50 uncertainty that you'd normally assign to the outcome of a coin toss to the next set of causes: each coin toss was 100% determined by its particular cause, but the causes making the determination themselves only have a probability of 50/50. If you discover the 2nd order of causes which completely determine the outcome of the 1st order (i.e., those causes whose effects, 100% of the time, are either small, dense air pockets, or subtle ground vibrations), then you've pushed the 50/50 probability back another step to those 2nd order causes.

Ad infinitum.

To know -- or even to claim without knowing -- with 100% certainty the entire causal chain of any event will obviously require that you push this process back forever; either you have an infinite regress, or you arrive at some First Cause. Either way, it implies omniscience.

It makes no difference if you discover and then objectively demonstrate what these 1st, 2nd, and 3rd order causes are, or if -- as in your typical procedure -- you merely assume things axiomatically. If a certain effect -- the actual result of a coin toss -- is discovered or assumed to be the 100% certain result of a set of causes in link 1, then we say "the effect -- heads or tails -- happens 100% of the time, given a 50/50 probability of either an air pocket appearing or subtle ground vibrations appearing" . . . we can't say which will actually make an appearance."

Whether you actually discover or merely assume that the events in link 1 are completely determined by prior causes in link 2, then we can say "air pockets or ground vibrations happen with 100% certainty given a 50/50 probability of earlier causes -- e.g., certain weather conditions or certain plate tectonic conditions.

Whether you actually discover or merely assume that the events in link 2 are completely determined by earlier causes in link 3, you can say "certain weather conditions or certain plate tectonic conditions occur with 100% certainty given a 50/50 chance of either solar flares occurring or slight magnetic changes to the Earth's nickel-iron core."

So, the causal chain so far looks like this:

A coin toss landed "heads." That result was 100% specified by the prior cause of a dense air pocket. The dense air pocket was 100% specified by the prior cause of a certain weather condition. The weather condition was 100% specified by the prior condition of a solar flare . . .

. .. but the solar flare itself only had a 50% chance of occurring! The other 50% represents the alternative chance of the Earth's core affecting the Earth's tectonic plates; the planet's plate tectonics causing ground vibrations of a specific kind (100% certain), which vibrations will cause the coin tosser to yield a result of "tails" (100% certain). The probability is now "Given a 50/50 chance of either a solar flare occurring or a slight anomaly in the planet's magnetic core, either a "heads" will appear with 100% certainty or a tails will appear with 100% certainty.

You've removed the uncertainty from the coin toss and "redistributed" it outward to a wider, and earlier, set of causes . . . whose probability is still 50/50. To get rid of that probability, you have to push things back to link 4, then link 5, etc. Whether you actually discover the causes by doing research, or only assume the causes axiomatically by mindlessly reciting mantras like "in a deterministic chain, the probability of every event is 100%" makes no difference: like brushing dust under a carpet, then moving it into a corner, then putting it into a dustpan, then finally throwing it into a plastic bag . . . you can move the 50/50 probability of a coin toss around to prior causes, but you can't get rid of it entirely without claiming knowledge -- even by means of axiomatic assumption -- of the entire causal chain.

That claim -- even by means of axiomatic assumptions such as "In a deterministic chain, the probability of every event is 100%" -- is a claim to omniscience. Conversely, to get rid of the omniscience, you have to end the causal chain somewhere and admit that the link that comes before the one you're stopping at is uncertain.

Actually, the only way to expunge the omniscience error is to assume that the probability is not a lack of knowledge but a fact of reality, i.e., probability and indeterminacy are metaphysical and objective, not epistemological and subjective.

Regarding the previous example of a protein appearing by chance:

If a 300-residue protein with a specific sequence of amino acids is calculated to have odds of 1 in 10^600, and if you show that each amino acid, each peptide bond, each optical isomer HAD to appear just where it did with 100% certainty due to certain forces acting on amino acids, then you've simply pushed the probability of "1 in 10^600" back a step to those causal forces: they only had a 1 in 10^600 chance of appearing (once they did, of course, the outcome -- the protein in question -- was 100% given). Etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AA, is getting at the truth the most important thing to you in this discussion?

If getting at the truth of a something were the most important thing to me, why would I waste time on an Objectivist message board?

My goal is strictly altruistic. I'm merely trying to save a few seriously lost and benighted souls. Isn't that nice of me?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AA, is getting at the truth the most important thing to you in this discussion?

If getting at the truth of a something were the most important thing to me, why would I waste time on an Objectivist message board?

My goal is strictly altruistic. I'm merely trying to save a few seriously lost and benighted souls. Isn't that nice of me?

I am surprised that you believe broad-brush insults are the way to do this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our lack of knowledge of particular causes does not entail "indeterminacy

It's the other way around. Built-in metaphysical indeterminacy entails our necessary lack of knowledge.

You charged onto this thread promising to show how deterministic materialism cannot possibly account for the existence of life. But now, having had your head handed to you on a platter, you stipulate metaphysical indeterminism as a condition of your argument.

<object width="560" height="340"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6-si3-6qzU?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6-si3-6qzU?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6-si3-6qzU?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="560" height="340"></embed></object>

You have effectively conceded that deterministic materialism can explain abiogenesis, so we have made some progress, after all.

Ghs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FYI, the advent of life on an earthlike planet with an ocean is not likely to be rare or unexpected, but a virtual 100% likelihood. The DNA-first or self-replicating molecule theory of life is flawed. Rather, cells arose first and later incorporated DNA-like molecules. If you mix oil and water you get bubbles of oil spontaneously, and they split spontaneously as they increase in size. Life basically arose from sea foam. See the work of Stuart Kauffman, author of The Origins of Order

I concur with the praise in the following reviews:

73 of 74 people found the following review helpful:5.0 out of 5 stars A disorderly but brilliant book and among my favorites., July 21, 1997By A Customer

This review is from: The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution (Paperback)If you're looking for popular science, you will be happier with the author's more readable book on the same subject, At Home in the Universe. But if you're willing to do a little more work, this is the most compelling book you'll find about how life can emerge from the natural principles of self-organization. This is a technical book. It isn't filled with equations, but it assumes at least some knowledge of basic math, chemistry, and biology. It was written by an impressive generalist whose talents seem to extend to almost everything except lucid writing, and for that reason alone, it will never receive the attention it deserves. As with all good science, this book is equal parts experiment, observation, and intuition. Computer simulations of randomly generated boolean networks are used to explore: the dyamics of evolution on rugged fitness landscapes; the tendency to react to perturbations by returning to the stable cycle or "attractor" that was active when the perturbation occurred; and the relationship among the different attractor loops within such networks. This experimental work is tied in with knowledge of biology and chemistry to explain the emergence of life, autocatalytic systems of chemicals, cell development, and natural selection. The experience was something like reading Godel, Escher, Bach but in many ways more satisfying. Whereas Hofstadter eloquently contrives a synthesis of three human inventions, mathematics, music and art, Kauffman scrawls out his intuitive synthesis based on the rather empirical fields of chemistry, biology and computer simulation. Hofstadter is looking for an understanding of how the mind networks symbols to create thought, and Kauffman, how the natural universe networks molecules to create life. But Kauffman's work is relevant to all complex systems and offers lasting insight into the mechanisms underlying cells, societies, and even thought. Whereas GEB is largely about appreciating the wonder of intelligent life, The Origins of Order is about understanding how it actually happens. I mention Godel, Escher, Bach for good reason. These book aren't for everybody. If you worked through the examples of predicate logic in GEB and learned sufficient musical notation and theory to understand his points, and if you gained some appreciation for Godel's theorem, then you should plow through Kauffman's turgid prose, risk learning a little more about biochemistry, and delight in a reawakened wonder at the universe and newfound optimism for the future of natural science.Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Report abuse | PermalinkComment Comment

46 of 53 people found the following review helpful:5.0 out of 5 stars The science book to read. Six stars at least., June 15, 2002

By Elias Fehrman (Seattle, WA USA) -

Stuart Kauffman has an MD and is a generalist. The book deals primarily with theory and understanding of computer simulations of state driven systems of large numbers of connected nodes. It examines how such systems evolve through mutation and gives a clear understanding of the limited role of natural selection in comparison to the self-organizing forces at work within such systems. It examines the meta-interaction of sub-systems of interacting states (attractor basins) that occur within a system. In English: it gives the first theoretical framework for understanding just how it is that cells which all contain identical DNA express themselves as some number of stable cell types. Normally a cell will react to a perturbation in whatever way will return it to its base stable cycle (attractor loop). One type of cell turns into another type when just the right perturbation kicks the system from one attractor basin into a different attractor basin.This is heavier reading than his popular science book, At Home in the Universe, but preferable for anyone with the necessary tiny amount of knowledge of genetics and logic operations. There are few equations of any kind. The results apply to more than just biological systems.

The book is long because instead of just presenting a few principles that you can try to remember abstractly, he leads you through all the important steps of his research and gives you a real feel for how complex systems actually evolve and operate. The book raises more questions than it answers, as it should be for a book of such originality and importance.

When you fully grok the contents of this book you'll be so excited you'll want to rush and explain it to someone else, which will be utterly impossible, so you'll probably have to lend them your book, buy them the popular version, or face the fact that you are now relatively alone on a higher plane

Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Report abuse | PermalinkComment Comment

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful:5.0 out of 5 stars New paradigm shift in biology, April 13, 2002

By yves dassas (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviewsThis review is from: The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution (Paperback)The Origins of Order will be viewed in the future as a milestone in shifting the existing Darwinian paradigm in biology from a "survival of the fittest" (natural selection) to a new paradigm focused on explaining the "arrival of the fittest" through self-organisation.

Using a boolean (NK) network model and a extensive amount of biological facts, Stuart Kauffman demonstrates in a powerful

way the central role of self-organisation in the creative process of life. His vision that biology seems to operate

as self-organised non-linear dynamical systems at the edge of chaos will have as much influence in biology that a similar vision offered by Nobel prize winner Prigogyne in the field of thermodynamcis. The book connects a web of fundamental ideas from the fields of biology, physics, mathematics and computer sciences and requires a strong background in biology that I unfortunately did not possess. The laborious style, the lack of clarity in the writing and the (unnecessary) length of the book should not stop anyone from reading this amazing book.

Stuart Kauffman combines an intellect and a vision that only very few scientists possess. This book is a must.

Edited by Ted Keer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AA, is getting at the truth the most important thing to you in this discussion?

If getting at the truth of a something were the most important thing to me, why would I waste time on an Objectivist message board?

My goal is strictly altruistic. I'm merely trying to save a few seriously lost and benighted souls. Isn't that nice of me?

You are indeed one of the nicer dipshits I have ever encountered.

As for your admission that truth is not your top priority, thanks for stating the obvious. And if you believe that you can convert nonbelievers by public exhibitions of stupidity -- well, I suppose that makes you a good Christian. Congratulations. Jesus must be very proud.

Ghs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AA, is getting at the truth the most important thing to you in this discussion?

If getting at the truth of a something were the most important thing to me, why would I waste time on an Objectivist message board?

My goal is strictly altruistic. I'm merely trying to save a few seriously lost and benighted souls. Isn't that nice of me?

You are indeed one of the nicer dipshits I have ever encountered.

As for your admission that truth is not your top priority, thanks for stating the obvious. And if you believe that you can convert nonbelievers by public exhibitions of stupidity -- well, I suppose that makes you a good Christian. Congratulations. Jesus must be very proud.

Ghs

Beware of altruists bearing arguments.

--Brant

he came to poke at the animals on the other side of the bars

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Beware of altruists bearing arguments.

--Brant

he came to poke at the animals on the other side of the bars

My best guess is that AA is a young Creationist Turk in need of an ego boost who thought he would find easy pickings on an O'ist site. His intellectual immaturity is evident from his inability to adapt to unexpected replies; he merely repeats the same arguments over and over again, apparently in the hope that repetition will succeed where his reason has failed.

I'm not at all sure that AA is a fundamentalist Christian, but if he is, his duplicity makes him a miserable specimen of the species. One thing I have always admired about fundamentalists is their willingness to be upfront about their beliefs. If I were a fundamentalist lurking on OL, I would not be at all pleased with his performance -- and make no mistake, it is a performance.

In any case, every public whipping runs its course, and this one is getting tiresome. From now on, I may praise AA's posts to the skies, while thanking him for guiding me away from the wayward path of atheism. :rolleyes:

Ghs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In any case, every public whipping runs its course, and this one is getting tiresome.

Running away, eh? You still need to explain why we don’t have crocoducks running around! And why bananas are so obviously designed for our convenience!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYtgtwJDnyc&feature=related

Now I'll grant there is a sound Darwinian explanation for Dawkins' public career: It gets him laid!!! His eyesight must not be so good though, judging from the second video:

<div style="background-color:#000000;width:368px;"><div style="padding:4px;"><embed src="http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:southparkstudios.com:155351" width="360" height="293" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" base="." flashVars=""></embed><p style="background-color:#FFFFFF;padding:4px;margin-top:4px;margin-bottom:0px;font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:12px;"><b><a href="http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s10e12-go-god-go">Go God Go</a></b><br/>Tags: <a style="display: block; position: relative; top: -1.33em; float: right; font-weight: bold; color: #ffcc00; text-decoration: none" href="http://www.southparkstudios.com/">SOUTH<br/>PARK</a><a href="http://www.southparkstudios.com/guide/episodes/s10e12-go-god-go">more...</a></p></div></div><div'>http://www.southparkstudios.com/guide/episodes/s10e12-go-god-go">more...</a></p></div></div><div style="background-color:#000000;width:368px;"><div style="padding:4px;"><embed src="http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:southparkstudios.com:183613" width="360" height="293" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" base="." flashVars=""></embed><p style="background-color:#FFFFFF;padding:4px;margin-top:4px;margin-bottom:0px;font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:12px;"><b><a href="http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s10e12-go-god-go">Go God Go</a></b><br/>Tags: <a style="display: block; position: relative; top: -1.33em; float: right; font-weight: bold; color: #ffcc00; text-decoration: none" href="http://www.southparkstudios.com/">SOUTH<br/>PARK</a><a href="http://www.southparkstudios.com/guide/episodes/s10e12-go-god-go">more...</a></p></div></div>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My goal is strictly altruistic. I'm merely trying to save a few seriously lost and benighted souls. Isn't that nice of me?

AA,

I suggest reading the posting guidelines. This is a discussion forum, not a preaching organization.

Once preachers get on a roll, they usually derail discussions in progress, so I have found (stumbled across, actually) a policy that allows them to preach to their heart's content, but still preserve the main characteristic of this forum as an exchange of ideas, not an indoctrination to any one dogma or the other.

I restrict preachers to 5 posts a day.

Since this is your explicit goal, that's what I'm doing with you.

From observation, I have found that this even improves the quality of the preachers' arguments.

And, frankly, if a preacher can't get his basic religious message across in 5 posts a day, he needs the practice.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I restrict preachers to 5 posts a day.

Since this is your explicit goal, that's what I'm doing with you.

From observation, I have found that this even improves the quality of the preachers' arguments.

And, frankly, if a preacher can't get his basic religious message across in 5 posts a day, he needs the practice.

I think he was being sarcastic, but he’s certainly worn out his welcome. Here’s a preacher he may as well emulate:

Such a great movie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dennis,

The tone of AA's last remark ("Isn't that nice of me?") was sarcastic, but I'm pretty sure there was truth to the rest of what he said (i.e., I am sure he believes there are "a few seriously lost and benighted souls" that need saving around here and he might be able to do something about it).

To be precise, he is still welcome here--at 5 posts a day. I did this for the health of the forum flow. It was not anything against him, per se, due to his method of discourse.

(I do find it grating, but that was not my reason.)

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My goal is strictly altruistic. I'm merely trying to save a few seriously lost and benighted souls. Isn't that nice of me?

If you're really into that, hook up with the JW's. But, they make you go door-to-door, which is much more tedious (and in my neighborhood, more dangerous) than even here.

On the other hand, sometimes you will get invited in for tea, cookies, or maybe even beer. In return for this, you will be expected to fork over one or two of those scary comic books they publish. It is creepy work, but interesting. Might be a fit.

rde

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't agree that I "owe' anyone anything, really. I don't owe them any respect, nor do I owe them being left unbothered by me. It is to my long term advantage to not PO everyone by attacking them, but that's not OWED to them. Instead, they merely TAKE it from me, by force, or the threat of force, and I come to respect that force. Owing means that I am endebted to them, which I am not. They have done nothing for me, and I owe them the same. I may CHOOSE to help them, or at least, not harm them, but I don't OWE them such nice behavior. It may or may not benefit me to be nice to them, but I don't owe them a thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If computers didn't evolve by means of random mutation and natural selection, then neither did cells. Both require intelligent input.

Cells have been around billions of years (or billyuns and billyuns of years, as Carl Sagan would have said). Computers have been around for less than one hundred years. The line of cell development goes all the way back the Archea, at least 2.5 billion years. Fossils of these one cell critters can be found in the stomatilites.

There is no evidence of intelligent design of living things prior to humans. Now that Craig Venter has made a genuine living cell from non-living components the situation has changed. How do we know Craig and his team did it? They have all reported on their activities and have t.v., photographs and documentation to back them up.

When you can present as convincing evidence of an Intelligent Designer making the earliest living cells on this planet perhaps you have case.

Ba'al Chatzaf

One could also ask the question why this Intelligent Designer designed it all quite 'primitively' in the beginning ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...