Sunday, October 10, 2010

Got Water?

The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) or the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) is a hormone system that regulates blood pressure and water (fluid) balance.

When blood volume is low, the kidneys secrete renin. Renin stimulates the production of angiotensin. Angiotensin causes blood vessels to constrict, resulting in increased blood pressure. Angiotensin also stimulates the secretion of the hormone aldosterone from the adrenal cortex. Aldosterone causes the tubules of the kidneys to increase the reabsorption of sodium and water into the blood. This increases the volume of fluid in the body, which also increases blood pressure.

Among other things, angiotensin has a variety of effects on the body including the release of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), also called vasopressin -- ADH is made in the hypothalamus and released from the posterior pituitary gland. As its name suggests, it also exhibits vaso-constrictive properties, but its main course of action is to stimulate reabsorption of water in the kidneys. ADH also acts on the central nervous system to increase an individual's appetite for salt, and to stimulate the sensation of thirst.

The above description is only the barest sketch. The complex chemical steps which control the fluid balance in our bodies and make life possible are beyond comprehension. To us, it appears that if "we don't drink enough, we get thirsty" however in fact there is an immense network of divinely designed chemical engineering working in the background which scientists are only now beginning to reveal to us. The next time we feel that need to drink, we have so much to thank God for.


Anonymous said...

Every oragnism has similarly complex systems to maintain its internal environment in a precise balance. scientists call this homeostasis.

GodAwful said...

Yes, isn't evolution a marvelous mechanism? One might think that god was the agent for a design that sophisticated, but since there is no credible evidence that he exists, the only plausible agent is evolution.
I'd give thanks to Charles Darwin, but, that benediction would be as useless as a glass of kosher tap water.

jewish philosopher said...

Isn't the power of denial incredible? Everyone knows that a watch must have an intelligent designer, yet atheists persist in denying God.

GodAwful said...

The old delusionary watch designer misaprhension. A product of hebetudinous reasoning and logic reserved for our lesser primate cousins.
"...There are many arguments advanced by Christians that attempt to infer a God's existence by the alleged evidences of intelligent design in nature. All are deeply flawed in that they commit the fallacy of first presupposing design in order to prove a designer, putting the cart before the horse.
One of the most popular of these is the watchmaker argument, first advanced by theologian William Paley in 1802. Basically it goes like this. If you're walking through the forest/along a beach/wherever, and you see a watch lying on the ground, you could pick it up and tell just by looking at it that the watch could not have just materialized there out of nothingness for no reason at all. Clearly this is a highly intricate piece of machinery, deliberately created and manufactured for a purpose. From here, the argument points out that since organisms in nature exhibit just as much complexity in their makeup as this watch, it is reasonable to assume that nature is the work of deliberate design too.
And this is the first and most obvious problem with the watchmaker argument: it is nothing more than an assumption, based upon an appearance of order. The appearance of order in nature is not alone sufficient justification for assuming that this order is the result of purposeful, intelligent design by a supernatural - trees providing oxygen etc.- but most of the sciences have shown us that there are practical, mechanistic explanations for how and why things work in nature the way they do. In order to mount a convincing argument that things in nature require a Divine Creator to explain them, Christians must first demonstrate that it is impossible to explain them in any other way, and such design arguments as the watchmaker argument fail to do this..."

In other words, an expansion of the fallacy of personal incredulity, the hallmark of fundamentalist irrationality.

jewish philosopher said...

"it is nothing more than an assumption, based upon an appearance of order."

No, purposeful complexity.

How do you think scientists would recognize an extraterrestrial intelligence?

NC said...

"How do you think scientists would recognize an extraterrestrial intelligence?"

We would handle the signs the same way they we handle other obserivations in nature. We would ask, "can we come up with a known naturalistic mechanism to explain these signals?" If not, we might assume that they are artificial, but even that proof would be tentative until confirmed in some other way.

GodAwful said...

Purposeful is your conclusion for which you offer no evidence. "...It is nothing more than an assumption, based upon an appearance of order..."

Scientists would employ the scientific method to assure themselves that it is indeed extraterrestrial intelligence. They would never use the watchmaker illusion to substantiate a type fundamentalist misrepresentation.
That only leads to the conterfeit logic that postulates god's existence.

jewish philosopher said...

Regarding ETI, scientists could easily be convinced that a radio signal is artificial. Any narrow band transmission would be proof. However regarding life atheists set an impossibly high level of proof, insisting that evidence must be "impossible to explain in any other way" in order to prove God did it.

It's an arbitrary double standard. 

NC said...

If a radio signal could be explained in any possible natural way, it would be rejected as proof of ETI.

No double standard.

jewish philosopher said...

"Narrow band signals are the mark of a purposely built transmitter"

Why? It's impossible for it to be natural? Or it's just really unlikely? 

NC said...

Given the known types of radiation and laws of physics, narrow bands would not be explainable naturally and thus impossible, unless new data becomes available to explain it. If it could be plausibly explained naturally, ETI would be rejected.

This is unlike speciation, which IS clearly explainable on a natural basis, given known laws. Therefore intelligence is rejected.

Scientists are being perfectly consistent.

Don't confuse "order" with "design".

jewish philosopher said...

Narrow band radio signals are perfectly explainable. There are billions of objects in the universe, by random chance one is emitting signals which happen to appear to be purposeful and we are selecting that one as proof of ETI.

Random variation, billions of times over and selection creating an appearance of purposefulness. Just like Darwin.

But of course, when it comes to space aliens no one feels compelled to fabricate such nonsense. We look at something purposeful and conclude "intelligent design".

Anonymous said...

Every organism depends on complex systems for maintaining homeostasis to survive. So how did organisms survive before these systems evolved?

Anonymous said...

When archeaologists find a piece of flint with a sharp edge they assume it was designed by an intelligent proto-human.
the simplest organism is so much more complex than a flint knife.

NC said...

"There are billions of objects in the universe, by random chance one is emitting signals..."

I'm not an engineer, but apparently that is impossible because the radio signals made up from natural sources are composites of different frequencies and this would be detected. And there is no "natural selection" mechanism in non-organic entities, so a planet couldn't "evolve" to transmit a certain frequency.

"When archeaologists find a piece of flint with a sharp edge they assume it was designed by an intelligent proto-human."

That is because we know apriori that the class of such items are tools and are man made. If knives had never been invented we would make no such conclusion.

"So how did organisms survive before these systems evolved?"

The simpler the organism, the simpler the homeostasis. But the honest truth is that exactly how this happened at the beginning is still unknown. "God" if you want. But after the beginning, there is naturalistic explanation for everything.

NC said...

"I am not aware of any law of nature making anything like a certain pattern of radio frequencies "impossible"."

A broadcast of the WNYC morning news, occuring randomly and naturally, from a distant planet. would be immeasurably unlikely as to be impossible. So getting this broadcast, there would be no other reasonable explanation that is was broadcast by WNYC.

On the other hand, evolution provides a plausible and observable explanation of the order seen in nature.

jewish philosopher said...

I am not aware of any law of nature making anything like a certain pattern of radio frequencies "impossible".

However it is simply obviously highly unlikely that something purposeful would come about by accident, therefore we would assume it is the product of intelligent design.

Well, speaking of purposefulness, how about the eye, heart, DNA, mitochondria...

The distinction made between the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the search for God seems to be basically political, not rational. For science, God is the proverbial "third rail"

which must be avoided at all cost because saying "God did it" would mean seceding authority to the clergy.

Rambam said...

Narrow band is merely considered a good place to look. Anything found would be analyzed and debated in the peer-reviewed literature and ultimately settled by evidence, not mere a priori argumentation.

The methods of SETI are pretty ad-hoc. You would know this if you knew anything about information theory. What is your highest training in math exactly?

We look at certain bands mainly based on a weak assumption that ET life is much like us. Our best guess is narrowband, but simply getting narrowband noise would not be convincing evidence of intelligence in its own right.

Regardless, a natural mechanism has been proposed and mostly accepted. Namely, evolution. It is hard to put a number on the probability that evolution is true. Nevertheless, it's mere plausibility makes it infinitely more likely to be true than that an invisible magician did it!

jewish philosopher said...

"evolution provides a plausible and observable explanation of the order seen in nature"

That's exactly the problem. Evolution is likewise just as impossibly implausible.

NC said...

"That's exactly the problem. Evolution is likewise just as impossibly implausible."

Not if you actually understand it.

Even ID advocates accept evolution as a mechanism. Only crackpots argue otherwise.

jewish philosopher said...

As you can see, I understand it perfectly.

Anonymous said...


The reason scientists assume that a piece of flint that has a sharp edge was intelligently designed is because there is no good naturalistic explanation for a piece of flint to have a sharp edge.

And even the simplest homeostasis system in the simplest organism is extemely complex. Every indication is that there is a minimal level of complexity without which life won't work. How did thsi all come about?

NC said...

JP and Nathan

Other than your silly conspiracy theories about all of the stupid, lying or deluded scientists who "believe" in evolution, you have no reasonable explanation to offer about how things are the way they are and all of the DNA and fossil findings. If you actually did, you or somebody smarter than you should submit it for scientific scrutiny rather than arguing with me. JP- why don't you submit your special creations post to a science journal?

Can either of you name a single accomplished biologist, who is an expert in the fields of either microbiology, biochemistry, zoology, anthropology or genetics who does not accept common ancestry? Even your hero Behe does not deny the basic mechanisms and common ancestry. He most certainly does not accept the "special creations" theory.

Anonymous said...

"The reason scientists assume that a piece of flint that has a sharp edge was intelligently designed is because there is no good naturalistic explanation for a piece of flint to have a sharp edge. "

Wrong. Many objects in nature have sharp edges. But we recognize a knife as a man made object.

Alex said...

"On the other hand, evolution provides a plausible and observable explanation of the order seen in nature."

So true, why...

"Evolution explains more complexity, and more simplicity. It explains why flight arose in some birds, but was lost in others. With evolution, organs and genomes can become more complicated, or more streamlined. Eyes emerge through evolution, but eyes are also lost by evolution. Evolution makes the cheetah fast but the sloth slow. By evolution, dinosaurs grow to skyscraper size, and hummingbirds grow tiny. With evolution, peacocks grow more flashy and crows more black, giraffes tall and flatworms flat. Evolution explains predator and prey, loner and herder, light and dark, high and low, fast and slow, profligacy and stinginess, terrorism and altruism, religion and atheism, virtue and selfishness, psychosis and reason, extinction and fecundity, war and peace. Evolution explains everything. "

Anonymous said...


Evolution is a high-level term that encompasses all the diversity of species on earth. So, yeah, it explains "everything" in terms of life on earth, except origins. The mechanisms of evolution, and the complexities of having very many different organisms in a very dynamic ecosystem--well, that means you get lots of different "directions" for evolution and lots of different ways for species to respond over many generations.

And, of course, there's data supporting all the ways that evolution happens. If you replace the word "evolution" in your quote with "God," you see how ridiculous you are. You allow God to "explain everything," without evidence of how specifically God worked on a cheetah, a sloth, or a peacock. And to you, this is just fine.

But you don't allow evolution--that high-level term encompassing a number of specific mechanisms--to explain the development of life on earth, even though there are mountains of direct and indirect evidence to support it.

You are being not only unreasonable, but irrational. Does evolution explain absolutely everything? No. Does it explain everything perfectly? No. Are there no challenges, mysteries or controversies with evolution? No.

But evolution clearly is a superior explanation to God. That much is irrefutable and undeniable. Evolution is better than God. I don't care if you love, like or hate evolution. But you must admit that it's better for all of us than God.

jewish philosopher said...

If we find old episodes of I Love Lucy being broadcast from a distant galaxy, would "random static is producing it" be better than say "space aliens are producing it", because a natural answer is always right? That's just nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 1:23:

Then how do we know that a of flint knife was man made?

See, when a piece of flint is struck by it, and a chip falls off, it leaves concentric circles.

And anon at 6:55

Why is evolution better than G-d.