Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Magic of Intelligent Design

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of The Future

One of the biggest obstacles to accepting ID hypotheses as scientific endeavors is their appeal to magic-like mechanisms. But what if a magic-like aspect in nature has been around so long that we don't see it for the magic it is? I suggest what we think of as randomness is, for all practical purposes, magic.

Let's take a hypothetical coin, we flip it, it comes up heads. We note that.

We flip it again, it comes up heads again, We note the pattern (two heads in a row).

We flip it again, it comes up tails.

The pattern is broken. Why? Is it "magic"?

We don't think of it that way because we are conditioned to expect flipped coins to "randomly" come up heads or tails even when we flip them in the exact same manner. The same would be true if we used a perfectly repeating mechanical device to flip the coin. Assuming the coin was perfectly balanced, the results would not be a pattern. A perfectly repeatable (deterministic) setup is impossible because quantum level effects are non-deterministic.

However, are quantum level effects random?

Before we try to answer that question, let's go back to flipping coins. This time we will flip three special coins. These special coins have an interesting aspect. They appear to respond to what is called. If "heads" is called at least one of the three coins will be heads. If "tails" is called, at least one of the three coins will be tails. After thousands and thousands of tests, the coins have never failed to do this. Further more, when "heads" are called all three coins will be heads one out of four times (not one out of eight). When "tails" are called all three coins will be tails one out of four times. At no time will all three coins be heads when "tails" is called and at no time will all three coins be tails when "heads" is called.

The thousands of consistent and repeatable experiments convinces even the most skeptical of scientist that the special coins are, indeed, special.

More experiments are preformed. It turns out that calling "heads" or "tails" can be delayed until after the coins have landed (as long as no peeking is involved).

Further experiments show that three different people can flip the three coins separately. This exposed an very interesting property of the special coins. If the three people all call the same (either "heads" or "tails") then at least one of them gets what they called and, sometimes, all three of them get what they called as would be expected. However, if they don't call the same, sometimes none of them get what they called (happens one out of four times).

Once all the permutations are cataloged the special nature of the coins become even more apparent. The state of the third coin can be absolutely predicted after the first two coins are called and exposed.

For example, imagine the coins flipped and on the table with each of the three people covering it with their hands. The first person calls "heads", shows his coin, it is tails. The second person calls "heads", shows his coin, it is also tails. The third coin will ALWAYS be heads regardless of what the third person calls.

The experiment is reran, but this time the first two people call "tails" and their coins show tails again. The third coin will ALWAYS be tails regardless of what the third person calls.

Note that the third coin's state depended on what the other two people called NOT whether the coins were heads or tails.

These special coins are special indeed. What natural explanations would explain the coin's behavior? Here are the non-metaphysical possibilities…

1. The third coin "magically" predicted the future.
2. The third coin "magically" changed state at the last moment
3. The coins are "magically" linked to people's consciousness

The magic described here is basically the reality of Greenberger–Horne–Zeilinger (GHZ) quantum states. Instead of calling heads or tails, the observers decide which quantum state (e.g. horizontal polarization) to measure. This magic-like effect has been experimentally tested and verified countless times. Its reality is not in question.

Even though quantum effects are non-deterministic they aren’t random.

You might ask what quantum level effects have to do with Intelligent Design.

First of all, it goes to show that magic-like effects can be scientific. There is also reason to believe quantum effects where instrumental to function in early life on Earth (front loaded?).

Recently, it was discovered that photosynthesis uses quantum mechanics. Photosynthesis is an extremely old biological mechanism.

DNA is being used as building blocks for quantum computers and the DNA structure and “code” is optimal for processing search algorithms. DNA/RNA defines what is or isn’t considered a living organism.

Finally, the Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR model of consciousness hypothesizes that consciousness is an artifact of quantum processing in microtubules. Microtubules are instrumental in living structures and organisms that appear to be aware of their surroundings.

Personally, I have serious criticisms concerning the apparent motives and past actions of the ID Movement, but it would be a mistake to dismiss all challenges to orthodox thinking as simply an appeal to the metaphysical because it may turn out that the magic is real.


William Bradford said...

Hi TP. I'm surfing the blogosphere and landed here. I'm familiar with the theme of this post of course but want to ask an unrelated question. Would you be interested in authoring occasional guest blog entries at Intelligently Sequenced? If so I would arrange to contact you privately by e-mail for the arrangements. It does not get the traffic of TT, of course, but attracts more readers than most blogs.

Thought Provoker said...

Hi Bradford,

You are welcome to put up the Guest Post I just offered to MikeGene in the recent rabbit thread.

Let me know if you decide to do that so I can participate in the comments.

Thank you for the offer.

William Bradford said...

Hi TP. I know you're busy now but when you get a chance take a look at this article:

I thought of your viewpoints when I studied it.

Thought Provoker said...


Thank you for the link.

I agree it is very much on target to what I have saying.

Anonymous said...

Hi all. How are you?