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Intelligent design without god

  1. Jul 1, 2005 #1
    Natural evolution up to a human is just as far fetched as saying that a god created man in 7 days (or whatever).

    4 billion years may be too little for evolution to naturally evolve up to us. But if evolved in steps, on other planets, then maybe its total time is 10 billion years. Then again the age of the universe may be largely greater than 20 billion years (I always had a feeling that this age is too short), or maybe there are infinite universes and the age is eternity.

    Also it is possible to have the sum greater than the parts. There is a pseudoscientific theory that claims that our technology is evolving at an ever increasing rate towards a "singularity" upon which computers will surpass human intelligence. After that, the computers would "design" other smarter computers and we as humans would no longer even know what happens.

    Now if some process, in different terms and with different structures occured on other planets with alien structures "designing" structures that "surpass" there own (just as humans may end up designing computers smarter than us) , then you can see how evolution may be quite feasable through this.
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  3. Jul 1, 2005 #2


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    Do you mean you personally have a tough time grasping it? I'll bet you have a tough time grasping the million or so components of a Saturn V rocket, but does that mean you think it's far-fetched?
  4. Jul 1, 2005 #3
    I agree with him that it seems a bit far-fetched as the sole explanation for the diversity in life.

    The Saturn V rocket, however doesn't seem far fetched at all.
  5. Jul 1, 2005 #4
    I agree. I have tried to eplain why in a short essay at http://paulandellen.com/essays/essay120.htm .
    I would appreciate hearing any refutation.

  6. Jul 1, 2005 #5
    4 billion years seem to little to create such complexity as my mind. This is not a "religions" war or christian debate; I can give 2 crap about religion. I am saying that evolution as we know it can't seem to create such complex structures. So I can imagine an alien race creating me just like we created computers.

    I am saying that evolution as we know it may be even mostly correct, but the degree of complexity humans have reached seems way too much for the standard mechanism. I am trying to imagine a case where we could have been designed by other beings even much more "stupid" than us, just as we design computers; consider a case where the speed of calculations was the measure of "intelligence". Well we are alot slower than a computer, but were able to design one that is alot faster than us. Just like the "technological " singularity theory suggest that we may be "surpassed" by our own creation, so some alien civilization may have designed us. This is the point I am trying to make.
  7. Jul 2, 2005 #6

    James R

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    4 billion years. Think about that. 4,000,000,000 years. That's a VERY long time. Can you really comprehend what can and can't be done in that time? Hell, Homo sapiens has only been around for a couple of hundred, thousand years, and we've only had civilisation for the last few thousand. Look what we've achieved in even that short a time!

    That's just a gut feeling on your part, though, isn't it. You have nothing to actually base that view on, I suppose.

    Humans aren't much more complex than mice, to take one example. We're not a whole different ballgame - just one more small step in a particular direction.

    Yes, but there's less evidence of that theory than there is for totally natural evolution.

    Also, if aliens designed us, who designed the aliens? Is it turtles all the way down, or eventually do we reach a point where something evolved naturally, all by itself? What do you think?
  8. Jul 2, 2005 #7
    Lets put it upside down. Imagine that we are the computers trying to figure out how we came to be. We would think first there was a small program then a larger than a different CPU etc. without ever suspecting that there could be a completely different way matter may interact. Then some "program" comes along and says you guys got it all wrong, we were "designed" by a bag of water full of carbon molecules, that there is no silicon or bits or software. That is the position I am trying to imagine.

    Imagine that intelligence "emerges" from a plasma at the center of stars. That these plasmas may create structured electromagnetic fields that are intelligent and that these "self organized" structures emerge as "soliton" solutions to some differential equations.
    We can further imagine these organized EM fields can manipulate atoms and molecules beyond anything we can imagine, and they somehow designed us or DNA completely in one shot just like we write a program. So we have a case where intelligence is explained in a very simple way from the solution of equations and we completely bypass billions of years of "evolution", Or maybe evolution is only part of the story.

    I repeat, look at the parallelism of us designing computers smarter than us. It is like there are 2 ways to add and subtract, with a biological brain with all its neurons and DNA and chemical circuits or with a simple 8 bit silicon CPU. There may be very simple ways matter can organize itself to provide intelligence, without the need of billions of neurons as our brain.
  9. Jul 2, 2005 #8
    http://www.scienceforums.net/forums/showthread.php?t=12562 [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  10. Jul 2, 2005 #9
    If we were made by aliens, don't you think our ancestory would be missing from the fossil records? What about our genetic similarity to modern day apes?
  11. Jul 2, 2005 #10
    Why aren't the aliens that created us still here? How did they get here in the first place?
  12. Jul 2, 2005 #11
    nameta9, Paul Martin and Fliption – care to cite some scientific evidence? Arguments from incredulity are not convincing.

    Please explain your reasoning.

    Ideas that are very similar to your challenge have already been demonstrated:

    • Lenski, R., Ofria, C., Pennock R., Adami C., 2003. The evolutionary origin of complex features. Nature 423: 139-144.

    • Lipson, H., Pollack J.B., 2000. Automatic design and manufacture of robotic lifeforms. Nature 406: 974-978.

    Your claim that "there wasn't enough time for evolution to do what we see has been done" is unfounded. What explanation do you have for transitional fossils? What explanation do you have for vestigial structures? Here are some evidence to refute your claim:

    • Nilsson D.E., Pelger S., 1994. A pessimistic estimate of the time required for an eye to evolve. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Biological Sciences, 256: 53-58.

    • Gingerich P., Haq M., Zalmout I., Khan I., Malkani M., 2001. Origin of whales from early artiodactyls: hands and feet of Eocene Protocetidae from Pakistan. Science. 293: 2239-42.

    • Besharse J.C., Brandon R.A., 1976. Effects of continuous light and darkness on the eyes of the troglobitic salamander Typhlotriton spelaeus. J Morphol 149: 527-546.

    Then how would you explain the gradual intermediate forms of brains between brainless animals and human? In particular, how would you explain the following observations that contradict your statement?

    • Kaas, J.H., 2004. Evolution of somatosensory and motor cortex in primates. Anat Rec 281: 1148–1156.

    • Marino, L., McShea, D.W., Uhen, M.D., 2004. Origin and evolution of large brains in toothed whales. Anat Rec 281: 1247–1255.

    • Preuss, T.M., Caceres, M., Oldham, M.C., Geschwind, DH., 2004. Human brain evolution: Insights from microarrays. Nature Rev Genet 5: 850–860.
  13. Jul 2, 2005 #12
    Hey man , I am no noble prize physicist, no Prigogine etc. I am just trying to imagine a situation where all the "intelligent design" hype that creationists blatter could possibly be true but without implicating a god. The real cornerstone of my "pseudoscientific" theory is that some simpler mechanism like a plasma standing wave inside stars could be smart and manipulate matter. Now the details are a completely other story. First you got to find the right equations, right solutions and right set of physical laws that make this standing wave manipulate matter. Granted, no easy task. But, nonetheless it is a possibilty that parallels our ability to design computers that calculate faster than us, for example.
  14. Jul 2, 2005 #13


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    Only trouble with imagining a non-divine designer is then, who designed them? The point of the divinity is that it's what the philosopher David Dennett calls a "skyhook"; it just arbitrarily ends discussion and invokes a miracle, or at least a "mystery".
  15. Jul 2, 2005 #14


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    No, the reall cornerstone is ignorance. Not you sir. I wish no quarrel with you. But rather the ignorance of man. We really still are in the dark ages; limited by our messy cerebral apparatus. Those limitations reflect in our inability to fully comprehend complexities much beyond an arm's reach. It's easy for me to take the position that I just don't understand. But that does not lead me to conclude that it just cannot be but rather is of a sort we simply have yet to touch.

    I've glimpsed it though, not much, just a little: in the marvelous complexities of the Mandelbrot set, the infinite regression of the Lorenz Attractor, and the singular nature of Catastrophe Theory. :smile:

    Edited statement above: I suppose we conceive of them past an arm's reach but may not always fully comprehend them.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2005
  16. Jul 2, 2005 #15
    Maybe we have reverse engineered evolution. Maybe on some distant planet silicon and electricity evolved microprocessors that then started evolving to the point of being able to manipulate carbon atoms and design us. Then we were thrown on other planets and after many generations rediscovered digital electronics and chips etc. So the cycle may be first silicon itself evolved into computers directly, then these computers got so smart as to design biological matter and then we rediscovered our roots by reinventing chips.
  17. Jul 2, 2005 #16

    I think I need to be completely honest and suggest that you would have more success combatting creationists blatter by sticking to main stream science and the real flaws in the ideas.

    It was fun to drive through Crazy Town and note that intelligent design still doesn't imply God. I wouldn't like to live there.
  18. Jul 2, 2005 #17
    the theory of intellgience does not delve in one field its a multidisplinary.
    It comprises of neuropsychology, biology, chemistry, physics,computability and programming (mainly adaptive learning techniques and sensorysystems.)

    Like people already posted you can't just claim 400billion years seems to short
    to evolve intelligence...what people haven't pointed out is that there are spatial dimensions(which i will write about below). Its nice how the short concept of "time" has disillusioned us from the vastness of space. ANd peoples beefs aren't normally with god creating intelligence but the actuual existence of god.

    nameta9: what is your educational background that is how much have you read up on the above fields? I personally graduated with BSc Neurocomputation with a minor in astrophysics so hopefully you can see where i'm coming from.

    Back to the spatial dimensions:
    people always seem to judge based on the concept of just time and not space-motion(mass-multi systems). For example in our human history of intelligence..imagine only one person existed and that s/he tried to amass all the knowledge that our h istory has developed especially within the last 20-30 years alone. Do you think s/he could do it alone within the 5000-10000 yrs
    that humans have existed. IMO they can't...the reason we have such vast knowledge is because of the MANY people that have existed over time and of course through our writings and now pdf.

    the brain is much the same principle in that the neurons are related in serial but in parallel distribution...

    evolution is also in teh same principle....with the however big spatial dimensions you would liek to think of with the fundamental physical structure being <10e-15m.

    The best computational simulation you could do is a "cellular automata" well its prolly called just a automata...and create a 3D world large enough to house
    10e100 particles let them run on some basica rules and see what forms they can create over some 400 billions of years if you can live that long.

    As for the reverse engineering thing..it'd be a wonder if intelligence can be created through crystallation...and about the comments of silicon/other metals...ther's a reason why organic life is prolly made first C is #6,N is #7,#O is 8 and H is #1(hee carbohydrates,amino acids, fatty acids,lipids and oxygen and water. (He,LI,Be,B,) Si is #14 and the other metals >21(except MG and Al) and if you studied astrophysics you can understand why.(wow i remembered the periodic table)

    As for intelligence of stars..perhaps there could be...i tend to think that it'd be nice if the stars can create a neural like bond amongst themselves...but two problems arise
    [1] how will stars keep intact "synapses" which we attribute in our "higher" intelligence as being one of the dominate features of it. Inside stars motion is always happening and the T is high enough to break almost any molecular/covalent bonds...and there is no complex structure in stars if i remember correctly each area is sectioned off to a type of atom/s. so there is not complex structure that can be forms like the neuron. and if it could be it'd be burned.

    [2]sensory/motor....any one who studies neuropsychology...that the senses
    doesn't matter which just as long as you have atleast 1 are needed to provide for the human brain...however if we talk interms of other forms of sensations and motor skills maybe you can point out what you think the sun might have.

    hope all tha tmakes sense
  19. Jul 2, 2005 #18
    I think evidence is in short supply. But, since you asked, it seems to me that the most obvious piece of evidence that is overlooked by scientists is the phenomenon of sleep. It seems to me that the regular and relatively long periods of loss of consciousness, which cripple the sleepers' ability to fight, feed, flee, and initiate reproduction, would be such a disadvantage that any organism requiring it would have gone extinct long ago. Not only is there a loss of those positive survival activities, but the sleeping organism is in a more vulnerable state wrt to many threats. Of course we know that animals need to sleep but we don't have any idea why. This situation would be similar to the situation where we knew that organisms need to eat, but we didn't have any idea why. In the case of eating, we know very well why eating is necessary to life. We don't know anything of the sort about sleep.

    In light of this mystery, it seems significant to me that it involves consciousness in a fundamental way. It seems to me that some headway might be made if we took consciousness more seriously as a fundamental player in the process of life and of life's evolution.

    I wouldn't go so far as to claim that sleep is a counter-example which disproves evolution. Instead, I would say that perhaps the Darwinian explanation is incomplete and that there may be something more at work -- something related to consciousness.
    Thank you for the references, but with respect and appreciation, I don't think you read much of my essay beyond the first line. The articles you referenced are not similar to my challenge at all and they do not address it.
    I suppose I would have to agree that the foundation is shaky. My claim was founded on my own uneasiness that Darwinism provides the complete explanation for the origin and development of life, and my suspicions that if you performed the thought experiment outlined in my essay that the result would provide evidence that would support my position. My appeal was for someone to consider my thought experiment and point out problems with it. I don't expect anyone to help me with my uneasiness.
    I see no problem with the Darwinian explanation for those appearances in the fossil record. It's just that I don't think there was enough time. My thought experiment specifically addresses the time element.
  20. Jul 2, 2005 #19

    Les Sleeth

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    I myself believe that not only did all life evolve here from scratch, but that we probably aren't going to find any other life in the universe for reasons similar to those outlined in the Ward/Brownlee book "Rare Earth."

    However, I am also not convinced natural selection-genetics alone can explain all the evolution we see (I think that's what some of the posters here are trying to suggest); nor am I even slightly encouraged by demonstrated physical principles/processes that abiogenesis can occur. So to me, "something more" seems necessary (and I'm not necessarily suggesting God) to explain both the origin of life, and the progressive quality of evolution (i.e., beyond simple adaptation) that's led to something like the human brain.
  21. Jul 2, 2005 #20
    Er X-Files, UFO theories, random science fiction novels, some math and physics (the easy parts) alot of the physics books like Hawkins, random everything.

    When you are at the end of the road of possible explanations of how our mind came to be, you must consider even far out possibilities. Maybe there is a planet in some galaxy where silicon dominates and automatically evolves into microprocessors and then they build themselves arms and then manipulate carbon atoms and then create our minds....

    Or maybe we have standing "soliton" waves deep down in stars that self organize and can manipulate matter beyond anything ever imagined. The these EM fields designed us and here we are. I think these theories are really cool.....
  22. Jul 2, 2005 #21
    they are but...at the time being stars are considered to start with H->He->Li,Be,B->C,N,O
  23. Jul 2, 2005 #22
    Obviously you have greatly overestimated its disadvantages. There are many instances in nature where the costs of a trait seem to outweigh its benefits. The tail of a peacock is often cited as such an example. Colorful feathers cost an enormous amount of energy to produce. It also attracts predators and hinders a peacock's ability to flee. However, the benefits gained from sexual selection outweighs the detrimental effects on survival.

    Similarly, your argument has overestimated the disadvantages and failed to recognize the advantages of sleep. The danger of predation during sleep is mitigated by the fact that most animals sleep in secluded places. Furthermore, adaptations in response to the danger of predation during sleep has been observed in many animals. For instance, ectotherms including fish, amphibians and most reptiles merely rest and never enter REM sleep. In addition, some species of Cetaceans and Pinnipeds exhibit unihemispheric slow wave sleep in order to help avoid predators [1]. Unilateral eye closure accompanied by USWS has also been observed in some species of birds [2].

    You have also failed to consider the cost of energy in finding and digesting food. Sleep provide a means to conserve energy while avoiding predators. Reduction in energy expenditure means the animal doesn't have to feed as often. The fact that homeotherm exhibit REM sleep while almost all ectotherms don't is evidence to support this theory [3].

    Evidence indicate that sleep can actually enhance reproduction, contrary to your argument. The decrease in metabolic rate during sleep reduce the body temperature, which has been shown to increase semen quality in men [4]

    Although we don't have a definitive explanation, there are evidence to indicate the functions of sleep. For example, sleep is associated with various biochemical processes and protein synthesis [5]. Sleep is also related to memory consolidation and the dynamic stabilization of motor, visual and other sensory processing circuitry [6, 7].

    I read your thought experiment in its entirety. Have you read the references I cited? They adequately demonstrate that complex structures can arise in a relatively short time, in both biological and digital organisms. Please state specific points of your argument that you think I have failed to address.

    • [1] Lyamin O.I., Mukhametov L.M., Siegel J.M., 2004. Relationship between sleep and eye state in Cetaceans and Pinnipeds. Arch Ital Biol. 142(4): 557-68.

    • [2] Rattenborg N.C., Amlaner C.J., Lima S.L., 2001. Unilateral eye closure and interhemispheric EEG asymmetry during sleep in the pigeon (Columba livia). Brain Behav Evol. 58(6): 323-32.

    • [3] Lee Kavanau J., 2002. REM and NREM sleep as natural accompaniments of the evolution of warm-bloodedness. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 26(8): 889-906.

    • [4] Laven J.S., Haverkorn M.J., Bots R.S., 1988. Influence of occupation and living habits on semen quality in men (scrotal insulation and semen quality). Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 29(2): 137-41.

    • [5] Cirelli C., 2005. A molecular window on sleep: changes in gene expression between sleep and wakefulness. Neuroscientist 11(1): 63-74.

    • [6] Kavanau J.L., 1997. Origin and evolution of sleep: roles of vision and endothermy. Brain Res Bull 42(4): 245-64.

    • [7] Kavanau J.L., 1997. Memory, sleep and the evolution of mechanisms of synaptic efficacy maintenance. Neuroscience 79(1): 7-44.
  24. Jul 2, 2005 #23
    I see that too, but the problem is that no one wants to clarify their position by giving specific examples. Repeatedly stating "there is not enough time to evolve this complexity" is not a very good argument. When I present evidence they simply ignore it and continue to proclaim "I can't see how it can happen!"... :rolleyes:
  25. Jul 2, 2005 #24

    Les Sleeth

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    Just a suggestion. If you really want us to investigate your sources, you can't assume people have these books sitting around to reference. I think you have to either provide an online link, or quote the relevant passages. It doesn't help to have list which looks impressive on the surface, but which we don't have the means to review.
  26. Jul 2, 2005 #25
    You won't find them in books. They're scientific journals that are freely accessible online. You can often find the PDF's just by searching on Google.

    NCBI's National Library of Medicine digital archive would be a good place to start. I reference those publications to show my source and for anyone who's interested in reading more. It's all within the context of my arguments and I provide my own interpretation. It's a fairly standard thing to do when discussing evolution. I agree it would be pointless if no one else can review them.
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