“My God! Its full of stars!”

Posted: July 27, 2006 in Intelligent Design, Theo/Philo



Human beings never fail to be impressed by intelligent use of Imagination. From story tellers to battle commanders to inventors, philosophers and scientists, the list goes on and on. We have an imaginative impulse that has driven history.

One of my favorite expressions of imagination is Science fiction as opposed to science fantasy, I like a dose of reality mixed in with the narrative.

My number one spot for a Science fiction story is occupied by Arthur C.Clarkes 2001 Space odyssey & 2010: The Year We Make Contact. I particularly like 2010 as for me it explains 2001.

The sign of a great story is how it refuses to let go of your imagination long after you have put the book down or switched the DVD player off, 2001 & 2010 is like that for me.

The monolith popping up through history seemingly to impart some boost in development both biologically and technologically, cut to the famous shot from the film 2001, of the tool use of a bone flying skyward only to be replaced in an instant with a docking space ship.

The enigmatic monolith found under ground on the moon a perfect shape -the lack of detail and the blandness of the monolith, it returns a flat-line data stream from probes and acts as a question mark, that continues to inspire (see here).

My interest in intelligent design movement adds a spin to the monolith -how Dr Floyd and co inferred design from a simple object, yet we cannot be permitted by the Scientific elite to infer design on objects of staggering complexity and functionality, is it the ubiquitous nature of say, the DNA molecule that returns a verdict of accident or necessity rather than design?

DNA has the highest information density known, the molecule is 2 nm (nanometers-A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter) in diameter, each spiral holds 10 nucleotide bases (the information holding section of the molecule). The information density of the molecule per cm is188000000000000000000000 bits/cm. This information can be read in more than one direction.

I’ve no idea what the information density is for a hard drive is?

Dr William Dembski published his idea of complex specified information in his infamous book ‘No Free Lunch’, in it he outlines a simple filter used to detect design.

It’s a given that no one has exhaustive knowledge of every phenomena, with that in mind Dembski divides up every occurrence into either Chance, Necessity or design.

He introduces the concept of Complex Specified Information (CSI).

He says ‘When intelligent agents act, they leave behind a characteristic trademark or signature-what I define as specified complexity.’

So information has two characteristics complexity (which is inversely proportional to probability) and specification.

Dembski explains specification ‘Suppose an archer stands 50 meters from a large blank wall with bow and arrow in hand. The wall, let us say, is sufficiently large that the archer cannot help but hit it. Consider now two alternative scenarios. In the first scenario the archer simply shoots at the wall. In the second scenario the archer first paints a target on the wall, and then shoots at the wall, squarely hitting the target’s bull’s-eye. Let us suppose that in both scenarios where the arrow lands is identical. In both scenarios the arrow might have landed anywhere on the wall. What’s more, any place where it might land is highly improbable. It follows that in both scenarios highly complex information is actualised. Yet the conclusions we draw from these scenarios are very different. In the first scenario we can conclude absolutely nothing about the archer’s ability as an archer, whereas in the second scenario we have evidence of the archer’s skill.

The obvious difference between the two scenarios is of course that in the first the information follows no pattern whereas in the second it does.’

So there we are standing on the moon camera in hand photographing this monolith shape that was dug up, why has it generated so much interest?


We know that the probability of an event is more likely, the less complex that event is. Dembski says ‘A probability is never small in isolation but only in relation to a set of probabilistic resources that describe the number of relevant ways an event might occur.’

The monolith shows a pattern; its straight lines and smooth surface plus its impenetrable nature all are highly improbable and leave a counterflow signature.

Del Ratzsch describes the term counterflow to describe something like the monolith, it runs counter to what is seen when natural causes are uninterrupted. The ISCID refers to counterflow as ‘When agents redirect, restrain or constrain nature, they leave counterflow marks.’

Of course the monolith could have just happened by chance couldn’t it?

There is a constraint on how much probability can be invoked for a given event –this is known as the probability bound.

Defined by the ISCID as “A degree of improbability below which a specified event of that probability cannot reasonably be attributed to chance regardless of whatever probabilitistic resources from the known universe are factored in.”

Dembski conservatively calculates this in his book the design inference as:’ Specifically, within the known physical universe there are estimated to be no more than 10^80 elementary particles. Moreover, the properties of matter are such that transitions from one state to another cannot occur at a rate faster that 10^45 times per second. Finally, the universe itself is about a billion times younger than 10^25 seconds (assuming the universe is around 10 to 20 billion years old). …. these cosmological constraints imply that the total number of specified events throughout cosmic history cannot exceed 10^80 x 10^45 x 10^25 = 10^150.’

We are unable to say how the monolith came to exist in the state it is in, we have no Causal specificity (we don’t know how it got to be as it is) for its existence, this means we have less confidence in attributing the monolith to natural causes. Our experience of natural structures has no precedence for the monolith.

The information density of the monolith is low compared to the information provided by DNA; the structural complexity of the monolith is low compared to the structural complexity of the DNA molecule.

The functionality of the DNA molecule is known yet design is not inferred; the function of monolith is unknown yet at the outset of the monoliths discovery design was inferred. Fearing social unrest and cultural shock at the news of the unearthing of the monolith a cover story of a viral outbreak was used to explain why the base on the moon was not contactable.

Why is design inference dismissed so easily? Is it because of metaphysical implications? If so ,how can Science continue to be seen as neutral and aphilosophical ,hasn’t it betrayed its roots of metaphysical naturalism which is not a science but a belief.

“Finally, in this brief summary of the reasons for my growing doubts

that life on earth could have begun spontaneously by purely chemical

and physical means, there is the problem of the origin of genetic,

i.e., biologically relevant, information in biopolymers. No

experimental system yet devised has provided the slightest clue as to

how biologically meaningful sequences of subunits might have

originated in prebiotic polynucleotides or polypeptides. Evidence

for some degree of spontaneous sequence ordering has been published,

but there is no indication whatsoever that the non-randomness is

Biologically significant. Until such evidence is forthcoming one

Certainly cannot claim that the possibility of a naturalistic origin

of life has been demonstrated.” (Thaxton C.B., Bradley W.L. & Olsen

R.L., “The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories,

Lewis & Stanley: Dallas TX, 1992, p.vii)

  1. Cy says:

    The more we know, the more we know how infinitesimal the portion of what we know is, compared against what there clearly is to know. Science becomes more and more a task of compiling questions to be asked. Most of what we do know consists of a long list of things we have yet to discover. None of this is a big deal. How can it possibly be otherwise in these days of the dawn of knowledge?

    One thing we can say is that the idea that there is a guy in the sky able to make matter and also inclined to follow this by cursing Earth with thorns and thistles is the sort of idea that a human might invent. It satisfies many indoctrinated to accept it from childhood. I am not fazed by the fact that we do not have the slightest clue about a vast number of questions raised as we progress in study.


  2. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi Cy,
    thanks for the post.
    I think in science there is a sense that the BIG questions are being answered and what remains are the technical small issues.
    In regard to indoctrination -there isn’t one person who isn’t susceptible to indoctrination.Who is to say which view is as a result of indoctrination?
    My view is that indoctrination is far more likely to occur when theres a monopoly of one worldview such as the atheistics materialistic worlview-this is the majority worldview.Being part of the minority makes Christianity far less susceptable to indioctrination although no immune.

  3. Cy says:

    Hi Mike

    I was indoctrinated with the beliefs of a moderate Christian Evangelical sect. It took me so long to accept that the beliefs of my parents were an invention. The “atheist materialist worldview” is, sadly, far from being the majority on planet Earth. Most people are theists.

    It is the opposite of indoctrination to accept only that which is observed (including that by the microscope and the telescope) and to recognise that beliefs passed from previous generations must be questioned as must all things. I favour the scientific method: observation, theory, testing, and conclusions that are tentative and questioned each generation.

    I call myself a non-theist because theism is so prevalent in discussion. I am not a theist. The word “atheist” has become pejorative. I am in the default position, the position that would be normal to everyone if they were not taught pre-science beliefs by the culture of their parents.

    Cheers, Cy

  4. Cy says:

    PS The view some scientists put about that the big questions are answered is the same view that theists, priests to be specific, put out. It is a wrong view. I repeat, each year (it used to be each century) we find that what we knew is but a tiny part. Cy

  5. Mike Godfrey says:

    Hi Cy,
    I’m like you in that my belief and that of my parents and culture are different.I wasn’t brought up as a Christian-I chose that belief.
    You said:’It is the opposite of indoctrination to accept only that which is observed’
    It seems to me that the assumption that all that exists, is that which can be measured or observed is a indoctrination unless you have proof positive that the metaphysical world is nonexistant.
    As an atheist you must be able to present positive reasons for your belief otherwise the default position would be agnosticism.
    Atheists need to present evidence of there belief that God doesn’t exist outside of people’s imagination -along with this they need a narrative of why we are here that can explain the universes existance and the first cause of the Big bang singularity along with the origin of information and complexity.

  6. Cy says:

    No, I do NOT have to defend my non-belief in “Yehova” any more that I have to defend my non-belief in “Vivzy Vovzy-Smythe”. I just made up the latter. I think it more-likely-than-not that somebody else once made up the former. I see agnosticism as a cop out, not the default.

    I am not convinced that red shift means Big Bang. I think it likely the idea will join fairies down the garden when we put observatories on Selene Farside. The maths cited to support Big Bang is as bad as saying that minus objects must exist because 6 – 8 = (-2) is a logical equation. Yes, but it does not report reality. It merely plays with maths for fun.

    Yes, if I had had non-theist parents they could have told me about theists and declared that they themselves were not theists. I do not call that indoctrination. I figure that data are only doctrine when they are assumptions TAUGHT AS FACT (which theism is in my view). A theist HAS a particular belief (item present). A non-theist has NOT (NO item).

    No, I do NOT need a narrative of why we are here, any more than I need to answer questions such as “when did you stop beating your wife?” All I need is the ability to admit, and state, “I DO NOT KNOW”. Non-theists are content to wait until the data are sufficient to reach a tentative conclusion. Ideas about Origins from past cultures are data for sociology and history, including (sorry!) a guy in the sky with a sacrifice fixation.

    Mike, I hope you will visit my report of this chat on cyquick.wordpress.com and I will make this comment my last here unless otherwise invited in your next response. I trust I reported you accurately on my web-log just mentioned. Cheers, Cy

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