Nature's Destiny - Michael Denton

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Nature's Destiny - Michael Denton

Post #1

Post by otseng »

This thread is to debate the book Nature's Destiny by Michael Denton.

The following debaters are allowed to participate:
Cathar1950
McCulloch
Confused
Furrowed Brow
otseng

Here is the agenda:
- Start off with background info of the author and book.
- Clarify any terms used.
- Cover one chapter at a time and debate the points made in that chapter. We might skip some chapters if we agree to it.
- Give closing arguments and final thoughts on the book.
- Go out for a drink.

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Post #2

Post by otseng »

Michael John Denton (born 25 August 1943) is a British-Australian biochemist who is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Denton is the author of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis and Nature's Destiny, the former book was instrumental in starting the intelligent design movement.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Denton
Michael Denton is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Otago in New Zealand. His primary research focus is on the molecular genetics of retinitis pigmentosa.

Dr. Denton is well known for his two influential books Evolution: A theory in Crisis and Nature's Destiny. His most recent work considers whether organic forms (protein, RNA folds, Microtubular forms, tensegrity structures, cells forms, bodyplans) are intrinsic features of nature and essentially the same as chemicals or molecules. He presented this idea most recently in his December 2002 paper, "The Protein Folds as Platonic Forms: New Support for the Pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law" which appeared in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. In this paper he argued that the way matter is arranged into the higher architecture of life is determined by a set of rules or ‘laws of form’ which determine and predict all biological forms like the laws of chemistry predict all chemical forms.
http://www.iscid.org/michael-denton.php
Michael Denton, Senior Research Fellow in Human Genetics, University of Otago, New Zealand

Michael Denton’s primary research focus is on the molecular genetics of retinitis pigmentosa. He is well known for his two influential books, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis and Nature's Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe. His recent work considers whether organic forms (e.g., proteins, RNA folds, microtubular forms, cells forms, and body plans) are intrinsic features of nature – whether they are essentially the same as chemicals or molecules. He presented this idea in his December 2002 paper, "The Protein Folds as Platonic Forms: New Support for the Pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law," which appeared in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. In his paper, he argues that the way matter is arranged into the higher architecture of life is determined by a set of rules or “laws of form” that determine and predict all biological forms, just as the laws of chemistry predict all chemical forms.
http://www.accelerating.org/acc2003/sub ... rbios.html

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Post #3

Post by Confused »

Just got book. If reading isn't to complex, will be done by friday at latest.
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Post #4

Post by Confused »

I am requesting that Furrowed Brow repost his terminology from the comments site. Only because in the preface, right off and issue seen is the phrase where he equates evolution as a process occurring by chance. Evolution doesn't deny the existence or probability of chance, however evolution is primary by natural selection and adaptation. The fittest survive, not by chance per se, but by adaptation.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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Prologue

Post #5

Post by Confused »

On the final page of the Prologue Michael Denton makes a bold claim:
"The anthropocentric vision of medieval Christianigy is one of the most extraordinary-perhaps the most extraordinary-of all the presumptions of humankind. It is the ultimate theory and in a very real sense, the ultimate conceit. No other theory or concept ever imagined by man can equal in boldness and audacity this great claim-the everything revolves around human existence-that all the starry heavens, that every species of life, that every characteristic of reality exists for mankind and mankind alone. It is simply the most daring idea ever proposed. But most remarkably, given its audacity, it is a claim which is very far from a discredited prescientific myth. In fact, no observation has ever laid the presumption to rest. And today, four centuries after the scientific revolution, the doctrine is again reemerging. In these last decades of the twentieth century, its credibility is being enhanced by discoveries in several branches of fundamental science."
I am not sure how he comes to this bold conclusion. Is this not the same as the ancient model of everything revolving around the earth but replacing the earth with mankind. If we broke this down to just species: looking at the "circle of life" would you think mankind is at the top? Personally, I think viruses quite easily overpower man. Not only can these microscopic organisms cause extreme suffering, and kill man, but they work their way into our DNA to replicate themselves and as a result man can never actually get rid of a virus. Once it is in your genetic code, it is there for life. While we have some "anti-viral" medications, they aren't exactly the most efficient medications, and in some cases the side effects are worse than the virus itself, but retroviruses are showing an ever increasing ability to become resistant to them. So a simple virus can kill a man (in some cases, thousands of men), but man can't kill a virus. Even our immune system must resort to antibodies after exposure to combat them, but still, we can't kill it. We develop vaccines, but they aren't 100% effective and in some cases cause more harm than the virus may have.
Looking at the environement that "exists for mankind and mankind alone" why is it that some forms of bacteria (anthrax) can go into hibernation when in harsh conditions for years only to become active again when conditions are favorable for its growth and reproduction? Tell me what form of mankind can do this? Then we consider the constants that must be exact for life to exist on this planet. There can be not even the slightest change in the cosmological constants if life is to continue. No wiggle room. No room for error. If even the slightest alteration in any of these constants were to occur, life would likely cease to exist (at least mankind would). Hurricanes, volcanos, earthquakes, radiation poisoning, etc.... threaten to wipe out mankind at any given moment. With such fragile bodies and such a fragile hold on our environment, how can anyone claim that every characteristic of reality exists for mankind and for mankind alone?
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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Post #6

Post by Confused »

In addition to what is mentioned above, I have to wonder, astrophysicist see two likely destinies of our universe:

http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/scien ... stiny.html
What is the Fate of the Universe?
Cosmologists envision two possible fates for the Universe: The Big Freeze or the Big Crunch. The evolution of the Universe is determined by a struggle between the outward momentum of expansion and the inward pull of gravity. The strength of gravity depends on the density of the Universe. If the density of the Universe is less than the critical density, then the Universe will expand forever. If the density of the Universe is greater than the critical density, then gravity will eventually win and the Universe will collapse back on itself.
It would appear that neither of these two scenarios are conducive to the survival of mankind or our universe. It would also appear that it isn't possible to avoid the fate of one or the other. So how is this consistent with the claim made in the above post?
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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Re: Prologue

Post #7

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:There can be not even the slightest change in the cosmological constants if life is to continue. No wiggle room. No room for error. If even the slightest alteration in any of these constants were to occur, life would likely cease to exist (at least mankind would).
I guess this is a good time to go into the first chapter in which he briefly goes over the fine-tuning with forces and constants.
page 13 wrote:if these various forces and constants did not have precisely the values they do, there would be no stars, no supernovaie, no planets, no atams, no life.
Then he transitions from cosmology to introducing fine-tuning found in biology.
page 17 wrote:The new teleological current would be challenging enough to the contingent biology even if the life-giving coincidences were restricted to the realm of physics and astronomy. But the coincidences do not stop at the distribution of supernovae or with the resonance of the energy levels of the carbon and oxygen atoms. They extend on into chemistry, into biochemistry and molecular biology, into the very fabric of life itself. Advances in chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, and molecular biology, commencing at the beginning of the last century, but mainly over the past fifty years, have revealed an additional set of mutual adaptations or coincidences in the chemical and physical properties of water and in many other of the key constituents of life - of precisely the kind that one might expect to find if the cosmos is indeed the biocentric whole that astronomy suggests.
Chapter 2 is where he starts to go into details about this and presents the properties of water.

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Re: Prologue

Post #8

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:There can be not even the slightest change in the cosmological constants if life is to continue. No wiggle room. No room for error. If even the slightest alteration in any of these constants were to occur, life would likely cease to exist (at least mankind would).
I guess this is a good time to go into the first chapter in which he briefly goes over the fine-tuning with forces and constants.
page 13 wrote:if these various forces and constants did not have precisely the values they do, there would be no stars, no supernovaie, no planets, no atams, no life.
Then he transitions from cosmology to introducing fine-tuning found in biology.
page 17 wrote:The new teleological current would be challenging enough to the contingent biology even if the life-giving coincidences were restricted to the realm of physics and astronomy. But the coincidences do not stop at the distribution of supernovae or with the resonance of the energy levels of the carbon and oxygen atoms. They extend on into chemistry, into biochemistry and molecular biology, into the very fabric of life itself. Advances in chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, and molecular biology, commencing at the beginning of the last century, but mainly over the past fifty years, have revealed an additional set of mutual adaptations or coincidences in the chemical and physical properties of water and in many other of the key constituents of life - of precisely the kind that one might expect to find if the cosmos is indeed the biocentric whole that astronomy suggests.
Chapter 2 is where he starts to go into details about this and presents the properties of water.
So do we want to skip chapter one altogether?
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
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Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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Re: Prologue

Post #9

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote: So do we want to skip chapter one altogether?
Actually, I was going to suggest the same thing. Chapter 2 is where the meat starts.

OK, on to chapter 2...

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Re: Prologue

Post #10

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote: So do we want to skip chapter one altogether?
Actually, I was going to suggest the same thing. Chapter 2 is where the meat starts.

OK, on to chapter 2...
I have one issue with Chapter one first:
Page 16, Denton claims
Twentieth century biology lagged behind physics in teleology
further saying
Curiously, biology, which was so influenced by the nonbiocentric physics of the nineteenth century, has remained immune to the new bio-centric-teleological physics of the twentieth century.
Page 17 he further clarifies with
The new anthropic vision of the physicist
.

I have searched the internet, gone through more sites than I ever wanted to and have yet to find a site in which Dentons claim that physists are now ascribing to the anthropic vision or the biocentric-teleological vision. He is superimposing a teological viewpoint into physics and then claiming evolutionary biology is behind the ball. He gives no resources to verify that modern day physics are moving toward his superimposed teology.

Also I have major issues with his term "contingent biology". He infers that current biological theories retain a mere chance quality to them because of the evolutionary theory. This is a false claim. While it doesn't exclude chance, it also doesn't rely on it alone either.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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