All living things on earth are organized by the translation of prescriptive information recorded inside the cell. The system of encoding and translating this information has a unique physical signature, making it exclusively identifiable among all other physical systems. It is identifiable by universal experience, logical necessity, and thermodynamic law. The only other example of this specific type of system (found anywhere else in the cosmos) is in the translation of recorded language and mathematics – two unambiguous products of intelligence.
These observations are all but incontrovertible. They have been documented in the peer-reviewed literature by accomplished researchers in physics, biology, information theory, and genetics. They stem from a series of discoveries on a timeline across the past 150 years, and like other scientific truths, they remain true regardless of the biases and opinions of any individual observer. Yet, to the extent that these observations have become known, they are routinely ignored and/or marginalized specifically due to personal and institutional bias. The simple fact of the matter is that these objective scientific facts do not fit well with the reigning materialist’s worldview in science.
To be fair, it should be recognized that there are three broad groups of people who might respond to these observations. The first group is typically made up of theists and those who hold an intuitive inner belief that there is something more to existence than matter alone. They generally welcome this information because it is more or less consistent with their beliefs, even though it does not (and cannot) prove those beliefs to be true. It is also inevitable that some within this group will inappropriately assume the evidence demonstrates more than it does. The second group is typically made up of materialists and atheists who routinely reject this information, not because it disproves materialism (note: it is not possible to falsify materialism) but because it represents a virtually impenetrable barrier to materialism; showing that a purely materialistic origin of life is almost certainly false. Ultimately it forces materialists to assume their conclusions against physical evidence to the contrary. This is a fairly contradictory position for a group who by and large consider material evidence to be the one and only means of advancing our knowledge of reality. Between these two groups are the agnostics and those who are likely to have never been in contact with such information, and have therefore never reflected upon it in any meaningful way.
The thing that ties each of these groups together is the simple fact that personal biases and preferences ultimately do not matter; none of them changes the physical evidence in any way whatsoever – no more than personal preference could change the rotation of the earth or the temperature that water molecules boil into steam.
The thing that sets these groups apart is the fact that materialists (in lieu of actually demonstrating an unguided origin of semiosis) have sought to re-position their theories as the only ones that can even be considered science. In doing so, they fail to acknowledge that the inference to design is founded on nothing but observable physical evidence. It is as empirically legitimate as any claim made in science. And if it turns out that the implications of physical evidence cause conceptual problems for some scientists, that fact does not (in any way) make the design inference invalid. To suggest otherwise is to say that reality must follow the expectations of scientists, instead of the other way around.
It must be remembered here that every major branch of the sciences (from physics to cosmology to quantum mechanics) has been founded and practiced throughout its history alongside the uncomplicated notion that science simply cannot answer the great questions of ultimate reality. It is only the materialists of the late 20th century who have decided that they can indeed answer these questions through science. And without actually demonstrating that their ideas are true, they've sought to delegitimize all competing ideas. This is a powerful sociopolitical response, but not a scientific one.
The real-world consequence of this situation is that objective physical evidence is being effectively denied in favor of the mere presumption that we "just don’t yet know the details" of how a dimensional semiotic system came into being "by material processes alone". The problems with this position should be obvious to anyone. Firstly, this presumption completely ignores the intractable evidence against it. Secondly, if the opposing position is true, there will not be a purely material explanation to be found in the first place. This effectively cements science into the unfortunate position of forever searching for the details of an explanation that does not exist, while systematically ignoring the explanation already clearly indicated by the evidence. This is one of the reasons that the concept of falsifiability is considered a key part of scientific practice. In order for a claim to be considered scientific, there should be a way to falsify it (if it is indeed untrue). A theory that is ultimately defended by saying “we don’t yet know the details, but we know our claim is true" is a claim that cannot be falsified. There is no way to test its validity, and so it must be taken on faith.
In direct contrast to this, the proponents of design make only the limited claim that an act of intelligence is detectable in the organization of living things, and using the very same methodology that materialists themselves use to identify an act of intelligence, design proponents have successfully demonstrated their evidence. In turn, their claim can be falsified with a single example of a dimensional semiotic system coming into existence without intelligence.
To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with searching for a purely material origin for the semiotic system required to organize the cell. However, if a claim based on those ideas is merely assumed to be true (as is the case across modern biology today), and if that assumption is then used to institutionalize the attack on a valid scientific alternative, then that practice is not only illogical, but is a clear abuse of scientific practice. In fact, it is the ultimate “science stopper”. As it stands right now, if materialism is not true, there is no way under current practices for science to correct itself. And in a perfect irony, it is this concept of self-correction that materialists routinely use to promote their dominance over the institution.
The self-correcting nature of science has been compromised on the issue of the Origin of Life. The fallout from this is that the general public is not being given a true assessment of available information. Yet, it is the public who bestows cultural authority upon science – building institutions, funding research, and holding scientists in high regard – and certainly the general public should have access to the intellectual profit from that investment.
Realistically, it would be naive to expect this situation to change any time in the near future. Moreover, there is no reasonably effective way for members of the public to address these issues with the scientific community. The commonly-promoted notion that there is "no evidence of design" in biology is intellectually unsustainable based on the objective physical evidence, yet any attempt at a genuine discussion on the matter is immediately swept up into cultural politics.
As an alternative to tiresome cultural politics, members of the general public can choose a more reasonable approach. Perhaps the best resolution for the average citizen who is interested in the Origin of Life is to gain a clear understanding of biosemiosis, and then maintain an appropriate discipline as to what can (and cannot) be said in relation to that evidence. This is the primary goal of Biosemiosis.org.
A balanced approach to these issues can begin with two imperative observations:
1. Science cannot answer the ultimate questions of reality
The creation of space and time at the origin of the universe is an event forever hidden in the deep unobservable past. We are likely to never know, with any objective certainty, what the source of this event was. The same is true of the origin of life, the rise of consciousness, and the basis of free will. While it is entirely normal that we would want conclusive answers to these great questions, what we are actually left with is simply existence as we find it. From that, we can pursue discoveries with passion, and hope to have the wisdom to understand what the universe is telling us.
Consequently, the constant implication (by many popularizers of science) that science has answered these questions (or is on the verge of answering these questions) is unethical and cavalier with regard to the evidence. The impetus for this cavalier conduct is highly questionable, particularly given the fact that the output of this conduct isn’t an advancement on a cure for cancer or cleaner air over our cities – which are the actual hopes and dreams of the public who pays for science – but is most often social, political, and even legal in nature.
As it turns out, the greatest consequence of these questions is how we as groups and individuals choose to treat each other. This fact only underscores the necessity that we understand the limits of our knowledge, and call upon ourselves to respect rationality and intellectual freedom among all people.
2. An act of intelligence is objectively detected in the organization of living things
Science has provided a coherent understanding of how semiotic systems operate in nature. This includes those systems that use dimensional representations to encode information into memory. The unique physical characteristics of such systems allow us to positively identify them among all other physical systems.
Science has also provided a widely-accepted methodology for detecting an act of design by an unknown intelligence. This methodology uses an operational definition of intelligence which is validated, not by measurement, but by universal experience. This methodology is explicitly endorsed by NASA, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the British Royal Society, and university science departments around the world. Using this same methodology, an act of intelligence is positively identified in the encoding of genetic memory (DNA).
This finding can be legitimately challenged in one of two ways. It can be challenged on empirical grounds, which would require an argument that our collective understanding of semiotic systems does not correspond with reality. Such an argument would be virtually impossible to develop; given the logical coherence of our understanding, the depth of physical evidence in its favor, and the fact that the core aspects of our understanding are not even controversial. Alternatively, the findings could be falsified by a single demonstration of a non-intelligent (unguided) origin of a system using dimensional semiotic memory.
The only other form of challenge to these observations would be on ideological or metaphysical grounds, which would represent a profound act of hypocrisy on the part of those making such a challenge. In the absence of legitimate falsification, the observations stand as a valid product of empirical science.
“Mechanisms, whether man-made or morphological, are boundary conditions harnessing the laws of inanimate nature, being themselves irreducible to those laws. The pattern of organic bases in DNA which functions as a genetic code is a boundary condition irreducible to physics and chemistry.”
Hungarian-British Polymath, Michael Polanyi
“A new scientific truth is usually not propagated in such a way that the opponents become convinced and discard their previous views. No, the adversaries eventually die off, and the upcoming generation is familiarised anew with the truth"
Nobel Laureate, Max Planck, Founder of Quantum Physics
"...we desire the best available scientific status report on the origin of life. We shall see that adherents of the best known theory have not responded to increasing adverse evidence by questioning the validity of their beliefs, in the best scientific tradition; rather, they have chosen to hold it as a truth beyond question, thereby enshrining it as mythology."
Robert Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, New York University
“The existence of a genome and the genetic code divides the living organisms from nonliving matter. There is nothing in the physico-chemical world that remotely resembles reactions being determined by a sequence and codes between sequences."
Hubert Yockey, "Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life" (Cambridge University Press)
“Semiosis not only is a fact of life, but is the fact that allowed life to emerge from inanimate matter"
Marciello Barbieri, Dept of Morphology and Embryology, University of Ferrarra
"The basic unit of life is the sign, not the molecule"
Professor Emeritus Jesper Hoffmeyer, Institute of Biology, University of Copenhagen
“Life is matter controlled by symbols"
Professor Emeritus of Physics, Howard Pattee, New York State University
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