The Instigator
myrrh
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Oromagi
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Intelligent Design is the most likely to be true hypothesis for the origin of life.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Oromagi
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/25/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,173 times Debate No: 39469
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)

 

myrrh

Pro

1. DNA is a type of code.
2. The only known source by which all types of codes form is intelligence.
3. Despite decades of extensive research there are no natural means by which functional DNA is known to form abiotically.
4. It is therefore logical and follows historical scientific methodology to conclude that an ID explanation for the origin of life's DNA code is the hypothesis most likely to be true.

Rule: Other arguments concerning Intelligent Design (and not Creationism) may be discussed, but Con's retort must include a direct counter to the above argument. To enter this debate means to accept this rule.

I welcome anyone who will assume the role of Con.
Oromagi

Con

Thanks to Pro for the opportunity to debate.

I'll refute Pro's hypothesis as evidence of Intelligence Design on the grounds that each of his 3 premises are less than sound.

I. DNA is a type of code.

A. Let's get a definition of "code" from OED:

1. a system of words, letters, figures, or symbols used to represent others, especially for the purposes of secrecy.

B. Genetic coding is a human construct used to describe the molecular structure and function of genes.

1. In the context of genetic observation, it may be appropriate to describe DNA as a code of genetic instructions.

2. In this context, DNA sequencing can be seen a substitution for the elaborate interactions of nucleotides, but the coding aspect is strictly for human convenience and not inherent to genes.

C. Strictly speaking, DNA is a molecule that carries genetic instructions.

1. Neither the molecule nor its nucleobase perform any kind of symbolic function or substitution.

2. There is no legend that allows that molecule to stand for something else. In coding, there is an element of arbitrariness in the assignment of symbols. There is no particular reason, for example, that the crossed lines in the letter "T" should stand for the ti sound English speakers make, we have just arrived at that particular construct by tradition and shared participation. If everybody agreed tomorrow, there's no reason we couldn't allow the letter "U" to stand for the ti sound. There is nothing arbitrary about DNA.

3. DNA is not a symbol that represents a molecular function, that molecule's function is defined by its shape and composition and never acts in any other way.

D. Therefore, DNA is not a code.

II. The only known source by which all types of codes form is intelligence.

A. Codes don't form, they are applied. Codes are are objects, not subjects.

B. There are plenty of example of non-intelligent codes.

1. Scientists have discerned 34 different types of humpback whale sounds with distinct meanings like invitations to mate or mothers calling for their calves.

2. Likewise, birds advertise for mates, mark territory, or warn of approaching predators via codes of elaborate syllables. Here's a graphic showing the syllabic structure of zebra finch song:



3. Even rocks offer a code to understanding geologic history: When was this area underwater? When was the last earthquake?


C. Codification is a human application to patterns. When some element of a pattern frequently repeats, we substitute a label for the purposes of simplification.

III. Despite decades of extensive research there are no natural means by which functional DNA is known to form abiotically.

A. This premise is a bit of a non-sequiter following the DNA=code, code=intelligence, formulation. How is this premise meant to support DNA=intelligence? We weren't able to replicate an atomic explosion for decades following our understanding of atomic fusion, did that suggest that only an intelligent design could account for the Sun? Did Alamogordo disprove that an intelligence designed the Sun?

B. Simple abiotic experiments like Stanley Miller's have demonstrated that most of the essential organic molecules form naturally in the space of a week just by boiling water, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen and precipitating evaporates through an electrical charge. Ribose is the tricky molecule, but has been abiotically reproduced in a number of experiments

1. Success in synthesizing pyrimidine ribonucleotides under conditions that might have existed in the early earth was reported in 2009. [1]

2. Ribose can be synthesized by the treatment of formaldehyde with calcium hydroxide, molecules commonly found near deep oceanic vents. Experiments have established that ribose can and does form under the specific pressure and temperature ranges documented in hydrothermic environments. [2]

3. So, while ribose synthesis is tricky and conditional, it would be false to say that DNA has not been reproduced abiotically.

IV. It is therefore logical and follows historical scientific methodology to conclude that an ID explanation for the origin of life's DNA code is the hypothesis most likely to be true.

A. I have shown that all 3 of Pro's premises are invalid.

1. DNA is not a code.
2. Codes are human constructs, and humans apply codification to all kinds of natural patterns without necessarily inferring an intelligent source from those patterns.
3. DNA can be reproduced abiotically.

B. Even if the premises themselves were valid, the argument has a kind of anthropocentric circularity. In ancient times, humans discerned patterns in the stars and so applied meanings and portent to astrological signs. But is the Zodiac a code that proves an intelligent arrangement of the stars? No. Those signs are a human application that allows us to organize the geography of space. Likewise, genetic coding is a human application to describe the chemical reactions at work in DNA.

C. One undeniable fact regarding the origin of life is that we humans have insufficient data. We are limited in our understanding of the universe by our confinement to a single solar system in a single galaxy. We barely have the computing power to calculate the infinitesimal fraction of the Universe we are able to observe, much less explore. Even our understanding of observable concepts like human intelligence and sentience is vague and limited. Why then are we so eager to form conclusions about the origins of life? Acknowledging how much we don't know seems like the wiser course.

[1] http://www.nature.com...

[2] http://igitur-archive.library.uu.nl...








Debate Round No. 1
myrrh

Pro

I thank Con for their reply and acceptance of this debate.

"2. There is no legend that allows that molecule to stand for something else. In coding, there is an element of arbitrariness in the assignment of symbols. There is no particular reason, for example, that the crossed lines in the letter "T" should stand for the tisound English speakers make, we have just arrived at that particular construct by tradition and shared participation. If everybody agreed tomorrow, there's no reason we couldn't allow the letter "U" to stand for the ti sound. There is nothing arbitrary about DNA."

This is incorrect. It is not physically necessary that the codon CAA signify glutamine. It would be possible for CAA to denote any other of the amino acids if its respective tRNAs were modified. While it is not arbitrary in the same way that language code used by people is, the association between the codon and the amino acid is still to an extent an abstract one. The same is true for computer programming. If you still want to use that argument to say that DNA does not qualify as a type of code then you must also admit that you don"t consider computer programming to either.

"1. Scientists have discerned 34 different types of humpback whale sounds with distinct meanings like invitations to mate or mothers calling for their calves.

2. Likewise, birds advertise for mates, mark territory, or warn of approaching predators via codes of elaborate syllables. Here's a graphic showing the syllabic structure of zebra finch song:"

You would have to demonstrate how these languages were formed by non-intelligent means for this point to be an effective counter. Also animal and human languages are of a different type (I"ll refer to as type 1) of code than that of DNA and computers (type 2).
With type 2 there are physical characters that chemically and/or physically interact with a system to cause it to perform a function. The specific order of the characters is significant, with different sequences producing different results. Also there is a level of abstractness or potential for interchangeability involved as I mentioned.
Type 1 codes convey messages that flow from one intelligent source to another. The code is read, heard, seen, felt, etc., and then the message is consciously interpreted. Such is not the case with DNA or computer programming, as neither cells nor computers are conscious entities. Instead the code, via chemical and/or physical interactions, forces the system to respond in a certain way.

"1. Success in synthesizing pyrimidine ribonucleotides under conditions that might have existed in the early earth was reported in 2009. [1]
[1] http://www.nature.com...;

There was an article in the NYT discussing this study: http://www.nytimes.com...;

This experiment posited was a hypothesis for how two of the four nucleotides could have emerged through natural processes. Whether or not the described process is probable or even possible still seems up for debate, as Dr. Shapiro pointed out that one of the starting materials needed is very unlikely to have been found in a pure state on the early earth as it is "quickly destroyed by other chemicals". Dr. Sutherland"s response seems very weak. He says that cyano-acetylene (the starting material in question) is the fastest consumed chemical in his reaction. This is only another illustration of the chemical"s high reactivity rate and doesn"t undo the problem of finding it in a pure form in nature. He also defends by pointing out that it has been detected on Titan, so there"s "no reason" it wouldn"t be present on the early earth. This is completely ridiculous as Titan"s and Earth"s atmospheric and surface conditions are extremely different, not to mention that the average surface temperature on Titan is W22;179.2 "C. Lower temperatures result in decreased rates of chemical reactions, so it would make sense that cyano-acetylene would be more likely found on Titan than on Earth as it is far more difficult for nearby chemicals to react with it.

The study gives no indication of how these nucleotides could have arranged themselves in a way that is "informational". Strings of letters can be written out at random, but they do not contain information in the conventional sense until something of intelligence, ie. people, arranges them in a certain way that gives them meaning. The RNA and DNA in living organisms are not randomly assembled, their sequences are arranged in such a way that they achieve a purpose which is the propagation of more copies of themselves.

There has been some success with random RNA libraries that were able to produce sequences that were able to perform a limited number of relatively simple tasks present in living cells. However these achievements are analogous to producing a few short words when you string out random sequences of letters. Creating an isolated word here or there using this method is possible, but to get multiple words to form next to each other in a way that makes sense gets exponentially more and more improbable. These kind of accomplishments are miniscule when considering that the information present in the genomes of bacteria are akin to a ten volume encyclopedia if not more so. A living cell consists of thousands of different kinds of chemical reactions all happening simultaneously and harmoniously working together for a common cause. The random RNA library method may be able to produce isolated strands with certain small scale functionality, but to get sequences in parallel that work together gets exponentially more difficult to achieve the higher you try to go with it, just like the case with random letter generation. And understand that the more improbable the situation gets the larger the libraries you need, which makes any proposed scenario for creating such RNA pools in the first place less and less likely to be possible.

What I just said should also address your second source.

"it would be false to say that DNA has not been reproduced abiotically."

It is true to say that functional DNA has not been reproduced by natural means, which is what I originally said.

I don"t see how your last two paragraphs explain why my main argument is false. However let me give an analogous example to illustrate how my argument follows historical science methodology/logic:
Let"s say scientists discover a large crater on the ocean floor. They first suspect that the crater was either caused by a volcanic eruption or a meteorite. Upon closer inspection they observe that the crater floor is lower than the surrounding environment, that the crater rim is circular and that there is an ejecta blanket covering the surrounding area. Because the scientists know that this combination of features are caused primarily by meteorite impacts, and are not known to be formed by any other natural phenomenon, they logically assume that a meteor hypothesis is the hypothesis most likely to be true. The reasoning of the ID argument I proposed is analogous to the method of deduction used in this scenario.
Oromagi

Con

I DNA is not a code

Pro argues

If you still want to use that argument to say that DNA does not qualify as a type of code then you must also admit that you don"t consider computer programming to either.

I think computer code is a fine analogy for genetic code, both are human applications to complex patterns. Using Pro's analogy, DNA would correspond to a CPU rather than computer code. DNA is no more a code than a CPU is a code. Likewise, computer code is no more proof that computers are intelligent than genetic code is proof of intelligent design. All the code is made by man.

II. The application of codes to patterns does not denote intelligence within those patterns

Pro argues

You would have to demonstrate how these languages were formed by non-intelligent means for this point to be an effective counter.

Not so. We are discussing whether the application of code to patterns inherently suggests an intelligent source for those patterns. Humpback whales and finch may demonstrate a kind of animal intelligence, but the fact that their communications can be codified does not suggest they have the capacity to design the universe. Rocks clearly have no intelligence but the patterns of rocks can likewise be codified. Just because a pattern can be codified does not suggest that it was designed.

III. Abiotic reproduction of DNA

Pro argues:

The study gives no indication of how these nucleotides could have arranged themselves in a way that is "informational". Strings of letters can be written out at random, but they do not contain information in the conventional sense until something of intelligence, ie. people, arranges them in a certain way that gives them meaning. The RNA and DNA in living organisms are not randomly assembled, their sequences are arranged in such a way that they achieve a purpose which is the propagation of more copies of themselves.

There has been some success with random RNA libraries that were able to produce sequences that were able to perform a limited number of relatively simple tasks present in living cells. However these achievements are analogous to producing a few short words when you string out random sequences of letters. Creating an isolated word here or there using this method is possible, but to get multiple words to form next to each other in a way that makes sense gets exponentially more and more improbable. These kind of accomplishments are miniscule when considering that the information present in the genomes of bacteria are akin to a ten volume encyclopaedism if not more so. A living cell consists of thousands of different kinds of chemical reactions all happening simultaneously and harmoniously working together for a common cause. The random RNA library method may be able to produce isolated strands with certain small scale functionality, but to get sequences in parallel that work together gets exponentially more difficult to achieve the higher you try to go with it, just like the case with random letter generation. And understand that the more improbable the situation gets the larger the libraries you need, which makes any proposed scenario for creating such RNA pools in the first place less and less likely to be possible.

It sounds like we are in agreement that the elements of DNA are abiotically reproducible. Although no ribozyme in nature has yet been found that can replicate itself, ribozymes have been synthesized in the laboratory that can catalyze the assembly of short oligonucleotides into exact complements of themselves. The base functions of life probably began with RNA and only later did proteins take over the catalytic machinery of metabolism and DNA take over as the repository of the genetic code. In short, your complaint is that those constituent components have not yet evolved. Scientists have only succeeded in replicating the constituent components in the last 20 years. Pro's argument is that because scientist have not yet reproduced the billion year evolution of RNA into DNA, they never will and therefore DNA must be an intelligent construct. This takes us back to my round 1 argument: We weren't able to replicate an atomic explosion for decades following our understanding of atomic fusion, did that suggest that only an intelligent design could account for the Sun? Did Alamogordo disprove that an intelligence designed the Sun? Pro ignored this argument entirely and failed to respond when I asked how this argument is meant to support dna=code/code=design/dna=design.

I'm not really buying the meteorite analogy or how it is intended to refute my closing argument regarding insufficient data. The advantage of studying meteor impacts is that we have many craters to observe, and have had the good fortune the creation of impact craters. When a new crater is found, we have a lot of discrete incidents to compare. We do not have the same preponderance of data in the case of DNA. We may or may not have some interstellar organic molecules that have formed independent on earth's dynamic environment. We may soon have some real comparisons with organic molecules found on Mars. This hardly seems like enough data to make conclusions about how often or how likely organic molecules form DNA. To use your meteorite analogy, a DNA=intelligent design argument more closely resembles scientists who have discovered their first meteorite impact ever, observed how impressive circularity of the impression and decided that some intelligence must have made it this way (A mistake that early human observers of meteor impacts often made.)
Debate Round No. 2
myrrh

Pro

myrrh forfeited this round.
Oromagi

Con

Pro forfeits so continue my arguments from last round
Debate Round No. 3
myrrh

Pro

I tried to post my argument last night but when I pressed the submit button I was given this message:

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I don't know what this means or why it happened, but it was extremely frustrating as it prevented me from posting my argument and caused me to forfeit the round. Anyways I apologize for that nonsense. Here is my response-

"Using Pro's analogy, DNA would correspond to a CPU rather than computer code."

This is incorrect as my analogy stated that DNA corresponds to computer programming not CPUs. It is more accurate to compare DNA to computer programming and living cells to CPUs. Both DNA and programming are commonly referred to as codes, while CPUs and cells are not. Both DNA and programming are composed of physical strings of characters: Adenine, Cytosine, Thymine and Guanine for DNA and electrical characters represented by 1's and 0's for CPUs. As I stated before the specific order of the characters is significant, with different sequences producing different results. Also there is a level of abstractness or potential for interchangeability involved. Cells and CPUs are systems that are acted on by the DNA and programming codes to cause purposeful actions. You can take the same strand of DNA and same set of programming and put them in seperate cells and CPUs respectively and get similar results between the different cells and different CPUs. A CD can be used to play the same video game on different computers and protein producing sequences can be implanted into different cells and the same polypeptide will be produced. For example insulin is produced when the human insulin gene is injected into yeast cells. For these reasons it makes more sense to compare DNA to computer programming and living cells to CPUs, rather than vice versa (granted you didn't say that cells are analogous to computer programming).

"We are discussing whether the application of code to patterns inherently suggests an intelligent source for those patterns. Humpback whales and finch may demonstrate a kind of animal intelligence, but the fact that their communications can be codified does not suggest they have the capacity to design the universe. Rocks clearly have no intelligence but the patterns of rocks can likewise be codified. Just because a pattern can be codified does not suggest that it was designed."

There is a disconnect in our debate. Simply put I am arguing that since DNA qualifies as a specific type of code, then it is logical to assume that it was intelligently designed. Con is arguing that DNA qualifies as something that can be codified. There are other types of objects that can be codified that were not necessarily intelligently designed (e.g. rock formations), and therefore DNA might not have been either. The problem with this counter is that we are talking about two different categories of things. I am referring to a specific type of code to which DNA and computer programming belong. I have described the features that characterize this type of code. "Things that can be codified", from what I understand of Con's definition, includes anything that is observable and from which information can be obtained. This is a separate and much larger grouping than the one I am discussing. Rock formations do not belong to the same kind of code that DNA and computer programming do. There is not a greater system with which rock formations interact with to produce a specific effect, not in the way that DNA does with cells and programming does with CPUs. Also the level of abstractness/potential for interchangeability does not exist with rock formation 'code'. There is a physical reason why the presence of certain types of stone indicates corresponding features of geological history. The same is not true for why GUU signals the addition of Valine or why 100 0010 translates to "B" in ASCII.

However I should note that I am also at fault here. In my opening argument I stated "The only known source by which all types of codes form is intelligence." I now see this was a mistake as I should have written "The only known source by which the type of code that DNA belongs to forms is intelligence." I apologize for that.

"It sounds like we are in agreement that the elements of DNA are abiotically reproducible."
We are not.

"Although no ribozyme in nature has yet been found that can replicate itself, ribozymes have been synthesized in the laboratory that can catalyze the assembly of short oligonucleotides into exact complements of themselves."
Source please

"The base functions of life probably began with RNA and only later did proteins take over the catalytic machinery of metabolism and DNA take over as the repository of the genetic code."
Conjecture

"In short, your complaint is that those constituent components have not yet evolved."
Which constituent components?

"Pro's argument is that because scientist have not yet reproduced the billion year evolution of RNA into DNA, they never will and therefore DNA must be an intelligent construct."

I didn't say they never will. However until they do whether or not there is a natural process that can cause this is unknown, and the premise of my argument still stands. Also I never stated that DNA 'must' be an intelligent construct.

"We weren't able to replicate an atomic explosion for decades following our understanding of atomic fusion, did that suggest that only an intelligent design could account for the Sun?"

This analogy fails. If instead the situation was: "We have only ever known atomic fusion to occur via intelligent means. We know of no natural process that creates atomic fusion." Then it would be a comparable scenario. It obviously isn't.

"To use your meteorite analogy, a DNA=intelligent design argument more closely resembles scientists who have discovered their first meteorite impact ever, observed how impressive circularity of the impression and decided that some intelligence must have made it this way "

Not so. Scientists have access to numerous instances of DNA's type of code being created by intelligent means. Some early humans may have made the false assumption that near-circular crater rings were intelligently made since they didn't know of any other phenomenon that caused such circular objects. However as soon as we discovered and understood meteorites and the craters they formed their premise was shown to be false. The same cannot be said of the origins of DNA type code.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://www.genome.jp...
Oromagi

Con

Regarding DDO glitch resulting in forfeit:

I can attest to seeing the same errors as Pro. I don't feel that it would be fair to credit Pro with a forfeit due to what looked like a memory fault on the web server side.

I DNA is not a code

It is more accurate to compare DNA to computer programming and living cells to CPUs. Both DNA and programming are commonly referred to as codes, while CPUs and cells are not. Both DNA and programming are composed of physical strings of characters: Adenine, Cytosine, Thymine and Guanine for DNA and electrical characters represented by 1's and 0's for CPUs. As I stated before the specific order of the characters is significant, with different sequences producing different results.

We're drifting deeper into what is essentially a semantic argument. Yes, DNA is commonly referred to as code, but this is just speaking in shorthand which has led to this misnomer. A code is information. DNA contains genetic code, it is a medium for code, it is not itself code. DNA is a molecule, the physical properties of which are expressed by a human invention, genetic code. A living cell is more analogous to a computer in that it is always composed of the same basic components but can assume many forms and functions. If you don't like CPU as an analogy for one of those components, try memory. A memory chip is encoded in ones and zeros, it is not itself binary. DNA is encoded in ACGT, it is not itself genetic code. Genetic code describes the the behavior of DNA strands in the same way that binary code describes the behavior of electric pulses travelling through switches. The codes themselves are human artifacts. The behaviour described does imply a design just because the observation and description imply intellect.

II. The application of codes to patterns does not denote intelligence within those patterns

I am arguing that since DNA qualifies as a specific type of code, then it is logical to assume that it was intelligently designed. Con is arguing that DNA qualifies as something that can be codified. There are other types of objects that can be codified that were not necessarily intelligently designed (e.g. rock formations), and therefore DNA might not have been either.

Not quite. I am arguing that all code is a human application to patterns. Pro is arguing that at least one code (genetic) precedes humanity.

In my opening argument I stated "The only known source by which all types of codes form is intelligence." I now see this was a mistake as I should have written "The only known source by which the type of code that DNA belongs to forms is intelligence." I apologize for that.

I am referring to a specific type of code to which DNA and computer programming belong. I have described the features that characterize this type of code.

By which I think you mean that genetic code and computer code are both programmable. But at its essence, binary is just a human application to the pattern demonstrated by electricity flowing through switches. We can employ this behavior to produce programmable results because the behavior of electricity is static and predictable. Genetic code is a human application to the patterns demonstrated by chemical reactions to the physical properties of DNA. We can employ this behavior to produce programmable results because the behavior of DNA is static and predictable. What evidence do we have to prove that this chemical reaction was designed more than any other chemical reaction?

Request for source regarding synthetic ribozyme

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Response of "Conjecture" to "The base functions of life probably began with RNA and only later did proteins take over the catalytic machinery of metabolism and DNA take over as the repository of the genetic code."

Conjecture, yes, but a conjecture that led Altman and Cech to discover the catalytic properties of RNA and win the 1989 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

From the textbook Life: The Science of Biology, H. Craig Heller, David M. Hillis:

"Given that RNA can be both informational (in its nucleotide sequence) and catalytic (due to its ability to form unique three dimensional shapes), it has been hypothesized that early life consisted of an "RNA world" - a world before DNA. It is thought that when RNA was first made, it could have acted as a catalyst for its own replication as well as for the synthesis of proteins. DNA could eventually have evolved from RNA. Some laboratory evidence supports this scenario:

*When certain short RNA sequences are added to a mixture of nucleotides, RNA polymers can be formed at a rate 7 million times greater than the formation of polymers without the added RNA. This added RNA is not a template, but a catalyst.

*In the test tube, a ribozyme can catalyze the assembly of short RNAs into a longer molecule. This may be how nucleic acid replication evolved.

*In living organisms today, the formation of peptide linkages is catalyzed by ribozymes.

*In certain viruses called retroviruses, there is an enzyme called reverse transcriptase that catalyzes the synthesis of DNA from RNA."

Which constituent components?

17 of the 20 amino acids used in protein synthesis, and all the purines and pyramidines used in nucleic acid synthesis.

I didn't say they never will. However until they do whether or not there is a natural process that can cause this is unknown, and the premise of my argument still stands. Also I never stated that DNA 'must' be an intelligent construct.

That's right, Pro said "most likely to be true."

This analogy fails. If instead the situation was: "We have only ever known atomic fusion to occur via intelligent means. We know of no natural process that creates atomic fusion." Then it would be a comparable scenario. It obviously isn't.

The analogy is fine. Just because a sound hypothesis has not yet been proven doesn't make the hypothesis wrong.

Scientists have access to numerous instances of DNA's type of code being created by intelligent means. Some early humans may have made the false assumption that near-circular crater rings were intelligently made since they didn't know of any other phenomenon that caused such circular objects. However as soon as we discovered and understood meteorites and the craters they formed their premise was shown to be false. The same cannot be said of the origins of DNA type code.

Likewise, Scientists will likely soon reproduce the process by which DNA evolved from RNA in an abiotic environment. The absence of proof of one theory does not stand as proof that another theory is "most likely to be true."

Debate Round No. 4
myrrh

Pro

I appreciate Con"s understanding regarding the forfeiture.

"DNA is commonly referred to as code, but this is just speaking in shorthand which has led to this misnomer. A code is information. DNA contains genetic code, it is a medium for code, it is not itself code."

You are saying that code means the same thing as information. This is incorrect. Code is a medium for information. Letters and words are code. The meaning or message that they express is information.
Even if this semantic argument isn"t resolved it does not affect the validity of my point. DNA and computer programming both belong to a certain grouping that I refer to as "a type of code". I have given clear details of the characteristics that define items that are of this group. Again these features are: composed of physical strings of a limited pool of characters; the specific order of the characters is significant, with different sequences producing different outcomes; there is a level of abstractness or potential for interchangeability involved; there is a system that the string of characters physically interacts with to produce a purposeful result; the same character strands can be put in separate systems (of the same general type) and get similar results between the different systems. I have explained how both DNA and computer programming fit well into this category. I think "type of code" is a good name for this grouping, and you don"t. However whatever title we decide is best does not affect the features of said grouping or the fact that DNA and computer programming are both part of it.

The objects in this category have only ever been known to form as a result of intelligent or artificial guidance. Despite many decades of research there is no scientific explanation for how they can form naturally.

"http://en.wikipedia.org...;

I already provided a response that counters this in round 2. Here it is (with some alterations)-
There has been some success with random RNA libraries that were able to produce sequences that performed a limited number of relatively simple tasks. However these achievements are analogous to producing a few short words when random sequences of letters are strung out. Creating an isolated word here or there using this method is possible, but to get multiple words to form next to each other in a way that makes sense and creates a greater/more intricate message gets exponentially more and more improbable. These kind of accomplishments with random RNA libraries are minuscule when considering that if an average size bacterial genome were written out on paper then the stack of pages would be almost a foot tall. A living cell consists of thousands of different kinds of chemical reactions all happening simultaneously and working in unison for a common cause. The random RNA library method may be able to produce isolated strands with certain small scale functionality, but to get sequences in parallel that work together to achieve more complex tasks gets exponentially more difficult the higher you try to go with it, just like the case with random letter generation.

"Conjecture, yes, but a conjecture that led Altman and Cech to discover the catalytic properties of RNA and win the 1989 Nobel Prize for Chemistry."

That"s true about them winning the Nobel Prize but what you said is still conjecture, as you admitted.

""Given that RNA can be both informational (in its nucleotide sequence) and catalytic (due to its ability to form unique three dimensional shapes), it has been hypothesized that early life consisted of an "RNA world" - a world before DNA. It is thought that when RNA was first made, it could have acted as a catalyst for its own replication as well as for the synthesis of proteins. DNA could eventually have evolved from RNA. Some laboratory evidence supports this scenario"

This is also conjecture. The "some laboratory evidence" was not given.

"*When certain short RNA sequences are added to a mixture of nucleotides, RNA polymers can be formed at a rate 7 million times greater than the formation of polymers without the added RNA. This added RNA is not a template, but a catalyst.

*In the test tube, a ribozyme can catalyze the assembly of short RNAs into a longer molecule. This may be how nucleic acid replication evolved.

*In living organisms today, the formation of peptide linkages is catalyzed by ribozymes.

*In certain viruses called retroviruses, there is an enzyme called reverse transcriptase that catalyzes the synthesis of DNA from RNA.""

Even if all these statements are true (no citations given (unless they"re from the textbook you mentioned but even that does not qualify as a reputable source)), what you have said here does not negate my premise "that there is no scientific explanation of how functional DNA can arise abiotically. What you have just offered has very little explanatory power when it comes to achieving a significant understanding of the origin of genomes.

"Pro said "most likely to be true.""

I said "most likely to be true hypothesis". This is significantly different. "Most likely to be true" means that there is a greater than 50% chance that the statement is correct. "Most likely to be true hypothesis" means that out of our current assortment of hypotheses, this one is the most likely to be true. This does not guarantee that it has an over 50% chance, because as you have pointed out our current understanding of the universe is incomplete. There could in fact be a better explanation, but whether it exists or not is unknown.

"Just because a sound hypothesis has not yet been proven doesn't make the hypothesis wrong."

This is true but I don"t understand how this equates to a defense of your analogy.

A common misunderstanding of the ID standpoint is that when there is a gap in scientific knowledge then ID proponents point to it as positive evidence for their side. This is a false description. The truth is that if something bears the markings of having an intelligent source then IDists will recognize it. If those with an opposing stance say that the object in question can instead be explained by non-artificial means then the IDist will ask for supporting evidence. The other will confess that they do not have sufficient evidence to support their own claim, but then say that the IDist is wrong anyways because they are making a "God of the gaps" type argument. The problem is they forgot or ignored the positive evidence.

"Scientists will likely soon reproduce the process by which DNA evolved from RNA in an abiotic environment. "

Conjecture

I enjoyed this debate and thank Oromagi for playing the role of Con.

Vote Pro!

http://www.lehigh.edu...
https://www.broadinstitute.org...
https://www.google.com...
(it would make me happy if someone figures out why I included that last link)
Oromagi

Con

You are saying that code means the same thing as information. This is incorrect. Code is a medium for information. Letters and words are code. The meaning or message that they express is information.

I offered the Oxford English Dictionary definition of code in round 1 for which Pro has expressed no objection. I did not say that code and information are the same thing. Code is a subset of information, a symbol of a symbol. Patrick Lockerby writes:

"A code is a symbol which stands in place of a symbol. The four letters CAGT most definitely form a code, being symbols for the names of the four major components of DNA. The names guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine are not codes: they are primary symbols. Primary symbols stand for real things and not for symbols. The real physical entities guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine are not codes. If anyone wants to call them codes, let them point to the symbols which might be replaced by these 'codes'.

A computer code is a set of numerical values sufficient and necessary to the production of an end state from an initial state.

DNA is necessary but not sufficient to the production of an end state from an initial state.

To claim that computer code and DNA are both codes is an abuse of the power of words. It is decidedly not scientific.""

http://www.science20.com...

DNA and computer programming both belong to a certain grouping that I refer to as "a type of code".

Yeah, yeah. Most ID advocates call it "specified information" or "specified complexity." What it really boils down to is that Pro lays out a few abstract aspects that computer code and genetic code have in common and then slaps an awkward label on it. Pro's argument is that DNA is a type of code because DNA belongs to a set Pro has labeled "a type of code." Conveniently, Pro has defined the characteristics of this set so that computer code and DNA both belong to a set with the word "code" attached. In response, I have created a set called "a type of amphibian" of animals with four legs which can jump and end with the letters "og", proving that both frogs and dogs are amphibians. Pro can create phony categories all day long, a molecule is not a symbol and DNA is not a code.

II. The application of codes to patterns does not denote intelligence within those patterns

The objects in this category have only ever been known to form as a result of intelligent or artificial guidance. Despite many decades of research there is no scientific explanation for how they can form naturally.


Well, the scientific explanation for how genes transmit genetic information naturally is called "The Theory of Evolution." I don't think many scientists are wondering why computer code does not form naturally.

III. Abiotic reproduction of DNA

There has been some success with random RNA libraries that were able to produce sequences that performed a limited number of relatively simple tasks. However these achievements are analogous to producing a few short words when random sequences of letters are strung out. Creating an isolated word here or there using this method is possible, but to get multiple words to form next to each other in a way that makes sense and creates a greater/more intricate message gets exponentially more and more improbable.

This is an extension of the ID "irreducible complexity" argument: that certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved from simpler, or "less complete" predecessors. The failure of current science to as yet reproduce that complexity does not prove the impossibility of evolution. This is a classic argument from ignorance and sets up a false dilemma: just because a proposition has not yet been proven true does not make it false; even if functional DNA were not reproduced abiotically, it would not necessarily mean that an intelligent designer is the only other possible explanation.

they"re from the textbook you mentioned but even that does not qualify as a reputable source

Life: The Science of Biology is the most popular biology textbook used in American Colleges and Universities. Seems pretty reputable to me.

Pro dismisses 3 of my arguments with a wave of his hand and the word, "conjecture," that is, a conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information. This seems a rather unfair dismissal considering the degree of laxity Pro has been granted in respect to conjecture. Pro's entire argument, after all, is sheer conjecture. Pro has presented no positive proofs, no falsifiable claims, no testable hypotheses to establish the existence of a biological architect. Pro's intelligent designer has no name or nature, no known motive or methodology, no known origin or destination. It is essential that the details are kept as fuzzy as possible, because any statement of fact regarding an intelligent designer has been disproven. ID offers arguments that are designed to be unprovable, and then has the temerity to dismiss science as conjecture because some theories are as yet unproven.

what you have said here does not negate my premise "that there is no scientific explanation of how functional DNA can arise abiotically.

Yes. Yes it does. There are multiple scientific explanations regarding the origin of organic molecules. Just because no scientist has yet synthesized a protocell using basic components which would have the necessary properties of life does not mean that there are no scientific explanations or that every explanation ha been proven invalid. The natural means by which functional DNA is known to form abiotically is known as life on earth.

"Pro said "most likely to be true.""

I said "most likely to be true hypothesis". This is significantly different. "Most likely to be true" means that there is a greater than 50% chance that the statement is correct. "Most likely to be true hypothesis" means that out of our current assortment of hypotheses, this one is the most likely to be true.

Another odd semantic excursion. There's nothing inherent in the adjective to suggest a greater than 50% probability.

I don"t understand how this equates to a defense of your analogy.

Yeah, I'm getting that.

Pro's argument in support of Intelligent Design is twofold.

1) DNA "bears the marking of having an intelligent source."

Pro's only proof in this regard has been to suggest that the DNA molecule is a secret code. Codes are a human application, a system of secondary symbols used to represent and replace primary symbols, which are names or labels. In order for the molecule DNA to be a code, it would have to be as a replacement for some other information. But molecules are not symbols or representations, they are groups of atoms held together by chemical bonds. Because the chemical reactions of DNA are particularly elaborate, humans apply long strings of letters, CAGT, to describe the structure of the molecule. The letters themselves are appropriately called "genetic code" because the the letters stand for cytosine, adenine, thymine, guanine. But this description of the structure and function of DNA is no more code than a description of the structure and function of a tree or a river or a flagpole.

2) There are no natural means by which functional DNA is known to form abiotically.

This is not surprising. Most scientists support the Common Descent theory, meaning that all life is descended from a single ancestor. This implies that the natural, abiotic happens under extremely rare circumstance. If the event were easily reproduced, we would expect to other iterations of DNA and multiple ancestors with multiple trees of ancestry. Scientists have multiple theories about the conditions under which DNA forms naturally. Just some of those theories in good standing that have yet to be proved or disproved include:

Primordial Soup Theory
Reducing Atmosphere Theory
Monomer Formation Theory
Monomer Accumulation Theory
Eigen's Hypothesis
Hoffmann's Hypothesis
Wachterschauser's Hypothesis
Zinc World Hypothesis
Radioactive Beach Hypothesis
Ultraviolet Replication Model
Deep Sea Vent Hypothesis
RNA World Hypothesis
Autocatalysis
Clay Hypothesis

The burden of proof is on Pro to establish that the Intelligent Design Theory is more likely to be true than any of these hypotheses and many others besides. Simply arguing that none of these theories has yet been proven does not improve the relative likelihood of ID. Pro may bristles at any God of the Gaps argument, but that's precisely how ID Theory works in this argument: all unproven hypotheses are discounted and for some reason a non-specified, non-specifiable intelligence (i.e. GOD) is inserted as the best possible explanation. Why?

Pro has failed to prove that DNA is code. Pro has failed to show how Intelligent Design is the best possible theory to explain the evolution of life on Earth.

VOTE CON!
Debate Round No. 5
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by myrrh 3 years ago
myrrh
Thanks for the heads up Oromagi, I might accept that debate.
Posted by Oromagi 3 years ago
Oromagi
Note to myrrh- I thought you might be interested to know there is an open challenger looking to debate dna=code.

http://www.debate.org...
Posted by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
RFD 1/2:

An overall interesting debate.

I will respect Con's stated wishes and not give him conduct for the forfeit. I will say to Pro, though, that if you hadn't been "under the wire" in terms of your time, you would have been unlikely to encounter this error. It's kind of like asking for sympathy for being late to work, when you were going to arrive *exactly* on time but ran into unexpected traffic--you should probably assume there's a possibility of that, and not wait for your round if at all possible. Again, though, no scoring per Con's stated wishes.

S&G was fine.

For sourcing, Con had more, but I didn't think it really warranted scoring.

This brings us to arguments.

Pro's initial case was refuted by Con. And, indeed, by Pro himself. In the first place, Con rebutted the "code" argument in general. In the second, though, Pro conceded that "these achievements are analogous to producing a few short words when random sequences of letters are strung out. Creating an isolated word here or there using this method is possible, but to get multiple words to form next to each other in a way that makes sense and creates a greater/more intricate message gets exponentially more and more improbable."
Posted by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
RFD 2/2:

Perhaps it's improbable, but Pro gave no grounds to think his own case was probable--what "intelligence" is he appealing to? God? Aliens? Regardless, by conceding the possibility of the analogous situation, he concedes the possibility of non-intelligent design. And as such, he leaves us with a thing which is possible contrasted against a thing which is possible in an entirely different sense--possible only because we don't know enough to form a real opinion on its possibility. After the above, Pro had to establish that his own theory was possible (that aliens are reasonably possible, or that God is reasonably possible). He did not do that--he fell into the all-too-common trap of merely rebutting when he had the BoP (Burden of Proof) for his own resolution. The irony of Pro arguing against conjecture, when that's the entirety of his own case, is not lots on me. Arguments to Con.

As always, happy to clarify this RFD.
Posted by myrrh 3 years ago
myrrh
It's true that I forfeited two out of the five rounds in the last debate. However they weren't intentional and I did apologize for them. Anyways you're committing a non sequitur fallacy. The fact that I have debated the same topic twice and have forfeited two rounds does not mean that debating with me would be unproductive and a waste of time.
Posted by Jakeross6 3 years ago
Jakeross6
You've debated this subject twice and have forfeited twice. Why would anyone want to debate you? It would be unproductive and a waste of time.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
myrrhOromagiTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.