On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:
…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975
and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.
I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:
Arif Ahmed, Sir David Attenborough, Mark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael Bate, Patricia Churchland, Aaron Ciechanover, Noam Chomsky,Alan Dershowitz, Hubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan Feuchtwang, David Friend, Riccardo Giacconi, Ivar Giaever , Roy Glauber, Rebecca Goldstein, David J. Gross, Brian Greene, Susan Greenfield, Stephen F Gudeman, Alan Guth, Jonathan Haidt, Theodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison, Hermann Hauser, Roald Hoffmann, Bruce Hood, Herbert Huppert, Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve Jones, Shelly Kagan, Michio Kaku, Stuart Kauffman, Lawrence Krauss, Harry Kroto, George Lakoff, Elizabeth Loftus, Alan Macfarlane, Peter Millican, Marvin Minsky, Leonard Mlodinow, Yujin Nagasawa, Alva Noe, Douglas Osheroff, Jonathan Parry, Saul Perlmutter, Herman Philipse, Carolyn Porco, Robert M. Price, Lisa Randall, Lord Martin Rees, Oliver Sacks, John Searle, Marcus du Sautoy, Simon Schaffer, J. L. Schellenberg, Lee Silver, Peter Singer, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Ronald de Sousa, Victor Stenger, Barry Supple, Leonard Susskind, Raymond Tallis, Neil deGrasse Tyson, .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John Walker, Frank Wilczek, Steven Weinberg, and Lewis Wolpert,
||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2013)|
Seth Lloyd in 2013
|Born||August 2, 1960|
|Institutions||Massachusetts Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Santa Fe Institute
|Alma mater||Phillips Academy (1978)
Harvard College (A.B., 1982)
Cambridge University (M.Phil, 1984)
Rockefeller University (Ph.D., 1988)
|Doctoral advisor||Heinz Pagels|
|Doctoral students||Daniel S. Abrams
Richard Joseph Nelson
|Known for||Studying limits of computation
Programming the Universe
His research area is the interplay of information with complex systems, especially quantum systems. He has performed seminal work in the fields of quantum computation and quantum communication, including proposing the first technologically feasible design for a quantum computer, demonstrating the viability of quantum analog computation, proving quantum analogs of Shannon’s noisy channel theorem, and designing novel methods for quantum error correction and noise reduction.
In the second video below in the 87th clip in this series are his words and my response is below them.
50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)
Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)
A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)
Below is my letter responding to Dr. Lloyd’s quote:
October 9, 2015
Dr. Seth Lloyd, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, c/o Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Dear Dr. Lloyd,
In the film series Renowned Academics Speaking About God you made the following statement:
We have seen recently as we have gotten a much better grasp of the way the universe is put together and how universes might exist that the parameters of our universe of our universe things like values of fundamental coupling constance, appear at levels where it allows things like life to exist. Of course, this is great if you want to believe that God made the laws of the universe so life could exist, but a more prosaic and less divine explanation is, “Oh, there are these different branches of the multiverse… and we just happen to in the ones where life can exist.”
In an earlier letter I mentioned in passing the correspondence I had with Antony Flew and how he later left atheism behind about 9 years later after I corresponded with him in the 1990’s. Flew wrote about the Fine Tuning Argument in his last book. and here is a portion of it below:
The Fine Tuning Argument for the Existence of God from Antony Flew!
Imagine entering a hotel room on your next vacation. The CD player on the bedside table is softly playing a track from your favorite recording. The framed print over the bed is identical to the image that hangs over the fireplace at home. The room is scented with your favorite fragrance…You step over to the minibar, open the door, and stare in wonder at the contents. Your favorite beverage. Your favorite cookies and candy. Even the brand of bottled water you prefer…You notice the book on the desk: it’s the latest volume by your favorite author…
Chances are, with each new discovery about your hospitable new environment, you would be less inclined to think it has all a mere coincidence, right? You might wonder how the hotel managers acquired such detailed information about you. You might marvel at their meticulous preparation. You might even double-check what all this is going to cost you. But you would certainly be inclined to believe that someone knew you were coming. There Is A God (2007) p.113-4
Does God Exist? by Brett Knukle of STAND TO REASON
In January of 2004, the atheist community was rocked by a major announcement. Antony Flew, probably the world’s most influential atheist of the last 50 years, publicly acknowledged his move from atheism to belief in God’s existence (he hasn’t embraced Christianity just yet, though). Let me give you some perspective. Flew’s announcement is equivalent to Billy Graham calling a press conference and telling the world he is leaving Christianity. Can you imagine the shock-waves throughout the Christian world?
So why did this life-long atheist ditch atheism? Flew said he “had to go where the evidence leads.” And what was that evidence? “I think that the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries…I think the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.”
Whoa. Did you hear that? A really smart atheist was convinced by the scientific evidence for God’s existence. If only everyone could be as open-minded and honest as Flew. So what is Intelligent Design? And what evidence is he referring to?
Intelligent Design makes two basic claims: 1) Intelligent agents leave behind evidence or “fingerprints” and 2) in the natural world we have discovered those fingerprints. The first claim is uncontroversial.
Think about it. You’re an intelligent agent. Everywhere you go you leave behind evidence of your presence. It could be a note you wrote, clothes you left on the floor, or actual fingerprints you smudged on a sliding glass door. If someone enters a room after you and looks closely enough, they’ll find evidence you had been there. Likewise, when we investigate the natural world, we find Someone’s fingerprints. Here are two examples.
First, scientific discoveries of the last century provide strong evidence the universe exploded into existence in the Big Bang. Yes, I said the Big Bang. And no, if you accept the Big Bang it does not mean you accept evolution. This is an unfortunate myth Christians sometimes believe. If Big Bang evidence is persuasive to you, then you must also accept an old universe (approximately 12 billions years old). But some Christians think an old earth is necessarily connected to evolution. That’s nonsense. In fact, don’t get stuck on debates about the age of the earth. It’s more important that God created than when He created. Whether you think the earth is young or old, Christians on both sides can join forces against macroevolution.
The important thing about the Big Bang is it points to a beginning and therefore, to a Beginner or First Cause. If you heard a small bang in the room next door and asked your mom what caused it and she said it was nothing, would you be satisfied with her answer? Of course not. You’d check it out for yourself. You’d look for the cause of the small bang. Well, what’s true of small bangs is true of big bangs. The Big Bang implies a beginning and therefore, a Beginner. And no one fits that description better than God.
Second, recent scientific discoveries show our universe is finely tuned. This simply means there are certain details in the universe that had to be “just right” in order to produce life. For example, the gravitational force must be constant. The expansion rate of the universe must be constant. A life-sustaining solar system can have only one star. And on and on.
Scientists tell us there are more than 50 “just right” details in the universe that make life on planet earth possible. What are the chances of this happening? Really smart guys who calculate this stuff tell us there is a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent chance. In other words, there is no chance for chance. Instead, a finely tuned universe points to a Fine Tuner, God. These are just two examples of the evidence but we’ve got more. Biological information in DNA. Irreducible complexity at the molecular level. Earth’s special location in the universe. The more we discover about our universe, the more we see God’s fingerprints all around us.
Recently I had the opportunity to come across a very interesting article by Michael Polanyi, LIFE TRANSCENDING PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY, in the magazine CHEMICAL AND ENGINEERING NEWS, August 21, 1967, and I also got hold of a 1968 talk by Francis Schaeffer based on this article. Polanyi’s son John actually won the 1986 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. This article by Michael Polanyi concerns Francis Crick and James Watson and their discovery of DNA in 1953. Polanyi noted:
Mechanisms, whether man-made or morphological, are boundary conditions harnessing the laws of in
animate 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. Further controlling principles of life may be represented as a hierarchy of boundary conditions extending, in the case of man, to consciousness and responsibility.
I would like to send you a CD copy of this talk because I thought you may find it very interesting. It includes references to not only James D. Watson, and Francis Crick but also Maurice Wilkins, Erwin Schrodinger, J.S. Haldane (his son was the famous J.B.S. Haldane), Peter Medawar, and Barry Commoner. I WONDER IF YOU EVER HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO RUN ACROSS THESE MEN OR ANY OF THEIR FORMER STUDENTS?
Below is a portion of the transcript from the CD and Michael Polanyi’s words are in italics while Francis Schaeffer’s words are not:
During the past 15 years, I have worked on these questions, achieving gradually stages of the argument presented in this paper. These are:
- Machines are not formed by physical and chemical equilibration.
- The functional terms needed for characterizing a machine cannot for defined in terms of physics and chemistry.
Polanyi is talking about specific machines but I would include the great cause and effect machine of the external universe that functions on a cause and effect basis. So if this is true of the watch, then you have to ask the same question about the total machine that Sartre points out that is there, and that is the cause and effect universe. Polanyi doesn’t touch on this and he doesn’t have an answer, and I know people who know him. Yet nevertheless he sees the situation exactly as it is. And I would point out what Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904–1967) said and that it needed a Christian consensus to produce modern science because it was the Christian consensus that gave the concept that the world being created by a reasonable God and that it could be found out and discovered by reason. So the modern science when it began with Copernicus and Galileo and all these men conceived that the cause and effect system of the universe would be there on the basis that it was created by a reasonable God, and that is Einstein’s big dilemma and that is why he became a mystic at the end of life…What Polanyi says here can be extended to the watch, and the bridge and the automobile but also to the big cause and effect universe. You have to give some kind of answer to this too and I would say this to Michael Polanyi if I ever have a chance to talk to him. You need another explanation too Polanyi.
3. No physical chemical topography will tell us that we have a machine before us and what its functions are.
In other words, if you only know the chemicals and the physics you don’t know if you have a machine. It may just be junk. So nobody in the world could tell if it was a machine from merely the “physical chemical-topography.” You have to look at the machineness of the machine to say it is a machine. You could take an automobile and smash it into a small piece of metal with a giant press and it would have the same properties of the automobile, but the automobile would have disappeared. The automobile-ness of the automobile is something else than the physical chemical-topography.
4. Such a topography can completely identify one particular specimen of a machine, but can tell us nothing about a class of machines.
5. And if we are asked how the same solid system can be subject to control by two independent principles, the answer is: The boundary conditions of the system are free of control by physics and can be controlled therefore by nonphysical, purely technical, principles.
In other words you have to explain the engineering by something other than merely physical principles and of course it is. You can’t explain the watchness of the watch merely by this. You can explain it on the basis of engineering principles in which the human mind conceives of a use for the machine and produces the machine. But notice where Polanyi is and that is in our argument of a need of personality in the universe though Polanyi doesn’t draw this final conclusion, though I thought that is the only explanation.
If you look at the watch a man has made it for the purpose of telling time. When you see the automobile a man has made it for the purpose of locomotion and the explanation of the difference is not in the chemical and physical properties but in the personality of a man to make these two different machines for two different purposes out of the same material. So what you are left here is the need of personality in the universe.
Turn next to living things. Of the points that apply to machines the first point fails to apply to living beings. For it is not obviously clear that living things are not formed by mere physical-chemical equilibration.
I would say “it is not obviously clear” but you don’t have any explanation. Polanyi is left without an argument of origin just as much as Crick and Watson at this point. Simply because Polanyi hasn’t taken the next logical step from his own argument. I’m sure if the apostle Paul was standing here talking to Polanyi he would cheer as against Crick and Watson and then he would say to Polanyi, “Why do you hold the truth in unrighteousness. Why don’t you carry it to it’s logical conclusion?” But never-mind in the argument with Crick and Madawar Polanyi’s argument cuts just as deeply even though he doesn’t take it to its logical conclusion.
And at this point, strangely enough, the discovery of DNA, which is so widely thought to prove that life is mere chemistry, provides the missing link for proving the contrary.
When Crick and Watson turned up DNA they said now we have the winning piece but in reality Polanyi tips his hat and says no, thank you very much you have provided me the winning piece.
The theory of Crick and Watson, that four alternative substituents lining a DNA chain convey an amount of information approximating that of the total number of such possible configurations, amounts to saying that the particular alignment present in a DNA molecule is not determined by chemical forces.
The fact that it is an information chain just shows that the chemical and physical properties of the DNA molecule chain does not explain it, because all these other factors Polanyi has mentioned enter in.
And the additional theory, that the information of a DNA molecule is embodied in the morphology of the corresponding offspring, assures us of the fact that this morphology is not the product of a chemical equililbration, but is designed by other than chemical forces. This is the step that my present paper adds to my earlier arguments.
And you notice what he does here and it is intriguing. Polanyi uses the words “is designed by.” As soon as you do that you enter the note of personality. It is the same kind of thing as people suddenly slipping over and speaking of “nature producing” and nature doing this. In other words, personifying nature. This is another form of what I would call semantic mysticism. By using the words “designed by,” even though he hasn’t come to the conclusion of it all, of the personal beginning, yet nevertheless, the interesting thing is he is using personalized language. So in reality you have Polanyi himself with his great brain slipping over to semantic mysticism to remove the pressure on himself because “designed by” relates it to the engineering principle of the man making a machine, but who designed nature? This is left as a complete vacuum in Polanyi’s argument.
Turning back in the article and you will see Polanyi has done this a couple of times at important points. Back on page 57 we find Polanyi saying “They do not come into being by physical-chemical equilibration, but are shaped by man. They are shaped and designed for a specific purpose.” He is talking about the making of a machine and he right of course. You look at a watch and you know a man has made this watch in distinction to making the automobile with the same chemical and physical properties.
So that in reality if you are going to use “designed by” it carries back to the mentality that it is true when you look at the watch then why should you stop when you look at the total?
Again on page 64 he uses this type of terminology when he speaks of chance: “The question is whether or not the logical range of random mutations includes the formation of novel principles not definable in terms of physics and chemistry. It seems very unlikely that it does include it.”
In other words, he says chance can’t. Then we come back to this thing on the computer by Murray Eden of MIT and it brings us back to the first lecture on CHANCE AND EVOLUTION in this series of two lectures and to Darwin himself who said, can I really believe that chance produced this? To the end of his life he kept on saying I can’t really accept it. I really can’t live with it even though it’s in my system and theory of evolution. Then Polanyi comes all around here and when he is done what he leaves you with is “designed by” and it is a semantic mysticism because who is doing the designing in this system? Who starts the whole thing if you can’t explain it by chemical and physical properties and chance?
If you can’t accept the impersonal plus time plus chance as producing it then what you are left with is a beginning with personality, just as you look at the watchness of the watch.
Polanyi has completely smashed Crick and Watson’s argument concerning DNA, but it still leaves Polanyi without a satisfactory answer and for that you would have to come to the Christian answer. Now in conclusion I will read straight through the introduction of the magazine because it is a strong summary of the case he has put forth:
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) may determine the boundary (the morphology) of a biological system. But the form and function of the resulting biological system cannot be explained by the laws governing its parts. An example of this principle may be found in administrative hierarchies. Here, a higher authority governs lower levels while relying on that autonomous workings of these lower levels.
A similar irreducibility may be found in machines. Their design, shape, and operation are comprehensive features not due to physical and chemical forces. A description of a machine in physical and chemical terms would result in a topography of atoms and molecules unique to the subject. It could not identify the machine as belonging to a class of machines based on certain operational principles.
Biological systems, like machines, have, therefore, functions and forms inexplicable by chemical and physical laws. The argument that the DNA molecule determines genetic processes in living systems does not indicate reducibility. A DNA molecule essentially transmits information to a developing cell. Similarly a book transmits information a book transmits information. But the transmission of the information cannot be represented in terms of chemical and physical principles. In other words, the operation of the book is not reducible to chemical terms. Since DNA operates by transmission of (genetic) information, its function cannot be described by chemical laws either.
The life process is essentially the development of a fertilized cell, as the result of information imparted by DNA. Transmission of this information is non-chemical and nonphysical, and is the controlling factor in the life process. The description of a chemical and physical laws which govern its atomic constituents.
Thank you for your time. I know how busy you are and I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
P.O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221, United States, cell ph 501-920-5733, email@example.com