Everyone Believes Something Unbelievable

Virgin birth. Abiogenesis. Resurrection from the dead. Random mutations producing the raw material for new organs. Intelligent creation ex nihilo. Eternal matter. Eternal mind. Heaven. Multiverses. Speciation by unguided, natural selection. Hell. Natural DNA information generation. Adam. Panspermia. Angels. No immaterial soul. Miracles. Space aliens. God. No God.

That is the introduction Roddy Bullock used in his post of the same name:  Everyone Believes Something Unbelievable.  Bullock points out that everyone’s theory of origin for the universe or life itself requires a belief in something seemingly unbelievable.  “Everyone” here includes both atheists and theists. He goes on to cite the faith that some atheists have in abiogenesis.  He writes:

Take abiogenesis, for example. There is no evidence–just a lot of “must-have-happened-because-we’re-here” certainty among the atheistic faithful in need of such belief; and believe they do. Ironically, the atheistic faithful like to think they are free of faith and suppose others to be, well, full of it. But in fact faith abounds on all sides with only two things certain: everybody believes something unbelievable and only certain unbelievable beliefs can actually be true. In fact, certain unbelievable beliefs must be true, and others must be false.

So which is true: abiogenesis (life from non-life without intelligent intervention) or some kind of creation by a preexisting intelligent being?

I think answering the origin of life question must come after one attempts to answer the origin of universe question.  You can’t have life coming from non-living chemicals without those chemicals first existing.  From where did they come?  Are chemicals self-existing or is there something outside of chemicals that is self-existing?

This takes us back to the bedrock truth that there must be an uncaused First Cause (there can’t be an infinite regress of causes). That uncaused First Cause is either the universe or something outside the universe.  (Note:  whichever it is, asking who caused the uncaused First Cause is a logical category mistake and thus a meaningless question).  For reasons we’ve cited earlier on this blog and in the book (the Big Bang, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Kalaam Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Fine-Tuning Argument), the uncaused First Cause is not the universe.  The best evidence points to an extremely intelligent, personal First Cause that is outside of timespace and matter (i.e. is timeless, spaceless and immaterial).

In light of this, when it comes to the question of the origin of life, who is believing something more unbelievable?  Abiogenesis proponents believe that no one created life from non-living matter.  Intelligent design proponents believe that someone created life from non-living matter, most probably the intelligent being that created matter itself.  It seems to me the atheist belief in abiogenesis requires more faith because it lacks explanatory scope and power. It lacks any explanation for the origin of the universe and the four natural forces, and then it lacks the power to explain how those repetitive forces can create the information and engineering found in life.

By the way, these are not a God-of-the-Gaps arguments for the universe or life.  There can be no natural cause for the universe because nature itself was created at the Big Bang.  Thus, the cause must be beyond nature (i.e. supernatural).  With regard to life, it is not just that we lack a natural explanation for life, but that we have positive empirically-verifiable evidence for an intelligent being.  We only know of minds that produce the empirically-detectable characteristics of life (digitally-coded instructions and information, irreducibly complex and engineered components– see Signature in the Cell for more).  We can falsify this by finding natural forces that can create such characteristics.  Given the repetitive nature of natural forces and the fact they tend to bring things to disorder rather than order, that seems highly unlikely.  Thus, the most reasonable conclusion is that intelligence is responsible. (This doesn’t necessarily mean the intelligent cause of life is supernatural, but in light of the evidence for an intelligent supernatural being, I think the cause of life is most probably that same being.)

I’ve covered a lot of ground here from 30,000 feet.  There’s more detail in the book and in other posts, but I’ll summarize.  Most atheists and theists believe in creation– few deny there was a beginning to the universe and life.  What we disagree on is who or what did the creating.  Since the universe requires an intelligent cause cause beyond itself, and life, as Francis Crick put it, appears to be “almost a miracle,” what is the most reasonable conclusion?  Atheists and abiogenesis proponents have faith that “miracles” can occur without a miracle worker.  Theists follow the evidence where it leads.  So while atheists and theists both believe what appears to be unbelievable, someone creating is a far more believable than no one creating.

136 replies
  1. Daniel
    Daniel says:

    I always wish that more atheists would listen and acknowledge these ideas. Most of the time, I hear them jeering these types of things, but their attacks are almost exclusively ad hominem and virtually never actually address the merits of the evidence that you’ve described here.

    Great job! At the very least, I hope it gives more Christians a more solid foundation that they really CAN trust the Bible and the claims of Christianity.

    Reply
  2. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    Most of the time, I hear them jeering these types of things, but their attacks are almost exclusively ad hominem and virtually never actually address the merits of the evidence that you’ve described here.

    That’s because people tend to rely on everyone else’s ability to realize complete and utter BS when they read it. They (as I once did) assume that these things are obvious to everyone, giving their “opponent” the “benefit of the doubt” so to speak, in assuming that they already know why such meager “science” is completely bunk~

    Now of course, we know that some people actually take certain things seriously, and so we have to be a little more slow-paced and obvious in our presentation. (Note that I am not referring to the obvious aspects of faith which people “take seriously,” but rather to the obscure corners — things more like exact details about god’s “godliness,” or this completely out-of-left-field justification for god as “objectively good” with no rational grounding).

    [/jeer]

    Reply
  3. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    P.S. (sorry, I somehow missed this before):

    It lacks any explanation for the origin of the universe and the four natural forces, and then it lacks the power to explain how those repetitive forces can create the information and engineering found in life.

    That’s because abiogenesis — a highly-debated theory even amongst people who support it — has nothing whatsoever to do with the origins of the “four natural forces.” This is the same problem that arises when people say evolution is a weak theory “because it can’t explain where life came from;” that’s because evolution has nothing to do with where life came from, it relies on the fact that life already exists to begin with. Different theories, different territories; this should be common sense by now to anyone claiming to examine any of this from even a remotely “scientific” viewpoint.

    Reply
  4. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Tim,

    Thanks for the short post. Yes, you are correct abiogenesis doesn’t address the origin of the universe, it’s fine tuning, or the origin of the four natural forces. But atheists who pose abiogenesis must still explain these effects if abiogenesis is to begin and their worldview is to be considered reasonable. It seems to me that by granting oneself a fine-tuned universe, natural forces, and the materials to begin life without an explanation is to believe a worldview that lacks explanatory power and scope.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  5. Toby R.
    Toby R. says:

    It seems to me that this post will just rehash what has been written on countless other posts here. But why not? What better things have we to do with our time?

    Anyway, here goes. I think the only question that matters is again addressed here: the origin of the universe. You, Frank, posit that an out of this universe thing made the world and DNA and etc. But I think that once you say that something (in your case an out of this universe deity) about the creation of the universe you begin multiplying your assumptions beyond reasonability. Assuming that some great out of this universe deity created the universe then assuming causation for all of the minutiae of that universe is quite a leap.

    The First Effect is the creation of the universe (ie matter/energy and its physical properties). The first effect brought about by the first cause could be equated to moving a cue ball on a billiard table. that ball moves then strikes other balls and those balls go wherever they may. Once matter/energy was created it followed the physics of this universe. Intelligent design, saying that someone came along, stuck their finger in the water, and said, “LET THERE BE DNA!” is unnecessarily multiplying contingencies. Perhaps even saying that that first cause engineered the physical properties of the matter it created is also multiplying things needlessly. If matter were created from nothing [a deity (first cause) creates matter (first effect) ] then the way that matter behaves, its physics, would be like the rack of billiard balls that that cue ball just rammed into. Not directly caused by the first cause, but set in motion as a result of it.

    You’re not saying that your god was the First Cause, you’re saying that your god was the First Causes. First the universe is made, then millions of years later life was made.

    Kind of an aside, but you’re also assuming that the universe was specifically made for sentient life. Do you believe the universe wouldn’t exist if there were no sentient life?

    Reply
  6. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    But atheists who pose abiogenesis must still explain these effects if abiogenesis is to begin

    However….once again, I must say that it’s silly to ask the theory itself to address those things. Any theory — even the so-called “Intelligent Design” — is based on givens; “IF this, THEN this.” Now, why such givens would be accepted is another (perfectly valid) discussion, but that has no bearing on the theory itself (which is based on the premise of the “given” being true; it demonstrates what would NEED to be IF that given were true, so it actually doesn’t matter if the given actually *is* true, so long as the theory makes sense *assuming that it is*). But again, it’s silly to accuse a theory of being faulty just because of the givens involved; it’d make more sense to criticize the givens. Even if it were unlikely or impossible, a theory like abiogenesis would still be accurate if it could show that “IF [X] were possible, THEN [Y] would probably explain why.”

    A short example; “IF I could fly using only my body, THEN I would have to have some kind of appendage aerodynamic enough to support me in flight.” Regardless of whether or not I actually *can* fly, IF I COULD, then that would be true.

    In any case, this makes me curious….what about abiogenesis in particular do you think is impossible, or unlikely, such that an intelligent deity would be more likely to have magically created life from scratch?

    Reply
  7. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    Tim,

    Off topic but, I’ve noticed you discussing the infinite God before. And in those talks you insist that God, as an infinite being, would have to occupy all space and be all matter so, believers in an infinite God would have to, in essence, believe that they are God / part of Him /He is them. If that makes sense to you, what about any infinite “thing”? An atom, for instance. Would it, too, have to occupy everything, everywhere for all “time”? How about a radio wave?

    Addressing this post directly (and Tim’s well explained examples of “givens”): I always notice that, in these debates, the CD side states the oppositions’ side and or deconstructs it from within the context of what they believe. But it doesn’t seem to go that way in the reverse. Examples: CDer says, “Atheists believe that life started by random chance. That does not work because of ABC. It is more likely that life came about by XYZ” To which the atheist replies, “Well, that was just one theory that some scientists have. But we know from lab work that it was something like ABC.” And they never address “XYZ” in a direct way. They basically say, “My beliefs are based in reason and logic and you believe in the Easter Jesus. Keep trying but I aint listenin’.” I find this extra ironic considering that atheists, to be consistent, must acknowledge that all truth is subjective as there is no universal standard of truth (in their world) by which they can make judgments regarding science, morality or anything.

    I should probably say “usually” and not “always” as I started this post w/ an example of Tim addressing God, the infinite creator of all (to be “infinity redundant”). Guess it’s just the knee-jerk, right-wing, Bible thumping, bitter gun clinger in me.

    Reply
  8. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    correction: above should have read, “Atheists believe that life started as a result of ABC. That does not work because of LMNOP. It is more likely that life came about by XYZ.”

    Reply
  9. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Hi Tim,

    “However….once again, I must say that it’s silly to ask the theory itself to address those things.”

    I’m not asking the THEORY of abiogenesis to address the origin of the fine-tuned universe and natural forces; I’m asking those atheists who hold the theory to explain those things so abiogenesis can get started. Otherwise, it’s like saying a book can appear without ink, paper, language and an author.

    Granted a universe, there is nothing logically impossible about abiogenesis (by purely natural means). However, all of the known natural mechanisms cannot do the job, and life exhibits exactly the kinds of characteristics that are products of intelligence.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  10. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Hi Toby,

    “The first effect brought about by the first cause could be equated to moving a cue ball on a billiard table. that ball moves then strikes other balls and those balls go wherever they may. Once matter/energy was created it followed the physics of this universe. Intelligent design, saying that someone came along, stuck their finger in the water, and said, “LET THERE BE DNA!” is unnecessarily multiplying contingencies.”

    There is no doubt that there are primary and secondary causes. The primary cause of a cue ball on a billiard table is a man (an intelligent agent) who created the table, balls, and set the cue ball in motion. The secondary causes involve the four natural forces that describe what happens to the cue ball after it is struck unless the man intervenes and stops the ball or redirects it.

    I don’t think we are “unnecessarily multiplying contingencies” by positing the later intervention of an intelligent being if we discover things like sentient beings playing pool, cameras filming it, event programs, writing on the walls of the pool hall and on the balls, etc. We know that natural forces (the secondary causes) cannot explain those things. Only primary causes (intelligent agents can). That’s why we posit an intelligent being for life. Only intelligence has the necessary explanatory power and scope.

    With regard to your aside, yes, I think the universe did not have sentient life for some time. But the fact that it does now, points to the fact that intelligence intervened.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  11. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    you insist that God, as an infinite being, would have to occupy all space and be all matter so, believers in an infinite God would have to, in essence, believe that they are God / part of Him /He is them. If that makes sense to you, what about any infinite “thing”? An atom, for instance. Would it, too, have to occupy everything, everywhere for all “time”? How about a radio wave?

    Perhaps you could set me up by explaining….in what way is an atom or a radio wave “infinite?”

    Footnote; you’d also have to define exactly what kind of infinity you’re referring to — infinite length? Infinite width? Infinite energy? Infinite space? In the case of god it’s clearly defined as infinite infinity, which is to say, infinite forms of infinity (i.e. all traits are infinite). Not so much, here.

    I always notice that, in these debates, the CD side states the oppositions’ side and or deconstructs it from within the context of what they believe. But it doesn’t seem to go that way in the reverse

    1) I’m not sure what “CD” means….is that supposed to mean me?

    2) Well, that’s what you do with a theory you don’t agree with — you deconstruct it, and you provide one or more alternative(s) along with reasons why the alternative(s) makes more sense to you, then leave the rest to your “opponent.” Anything further and you’re being presumptuous.

    Examples: CDer says, “Atheists believe that life started by random chance. That does not work because of ABC. It is more likely that life came about by XYZ” To which the atheist replies, “Well, that was just one theory that some scientists have. But we know from lab work that it was something like ABC.” And they never address “XYZ” in a direct way.

    That’s obviously a reference to my comments in the other thread, so I’ll be a little more straightforward:

    1) I can’t speak for anyone else, but my belief states nothing about random chance. Even in the case of abiogenesis (of which I am not necessarily a full supporter), life’s existence would basically need to be the natural (see: “expected, reasonable”) outcome of nature’s ordered systems. That was a big part of what I was trying to relate in the other thread; the stuff that has been “addressed by labwork” does strongly suggest that the early earth’s conditions were, in fact, suited to the generation of very simple life.*

    2) Once we establish (as the aforementioned labwork has) that “simple life from nonliving nature” is possible, then the rest — that the forms and behavior of that life, as well as its subsequent incarnations, will be defined by how effectively it survives — is a foregone conclusion. THAT is where evolution comes in. Abiogenesis as a theory is like that “first cause” for life that evolution is based on. Although, keep in mind, evolution doesn’t need to be based on abiogenesis; you can still believe something like creationism and still accept evolution without being contradictory. Evolution doesn’t care how life began, only how it’s defined by survival.

    3) In your case, there simply *is* no “XYZ.” You have not explained how abiogenesis or evolution is not possible; in fact, when I originally presented abiogenesis to you as a random theory I chose from several (as a response to your claim that “life from nonlife is impossible”), I didn’t really believe or not believe in it — it was just another theory to me — but your responses were *so very* scientifically inept that it actually gave me confidence in that theory; EVERY SINGLE ONE of your criticisms showed that you *very clearly* did not understand the material, because they were ALL easily addressed by the premise of the theory. I thought that was so laughably awesome that I put abiogenesis up a notch or two on my list~

    They basically say, “My beliefs are based in reason and logic and you believe in the Easter Jesus. Keep trying but I aint listenin’.”

    It’s more like, “Keep trying, I am listening.” But instead of actually trying, you just say you’re trying and expect me to respond with an argument. Catch is, you have to actually *make an argument* before I can respond to it….

    I find this extra ironic considering that atheists, to be consistent, must acknowledge that all truth is subjective as there is no universal standard of truth (in their world) by which they can make judgments regarding science, morality or anything.

    You keep bringing that up as if anyone’s going to try to argue with it (that’s part of what I meant when I called you on randomly deconstructing opposition without offering anything better). Although, technically, as I’ve said before, it’s not that I “don’t believe in universal truth,” but rather that I don’t believe in our ability to effectively convey it (flawed as we are) if it does exist. So I rely on methods of conveyance of information that are consistent and verifiable. The alternative being to sit here and contemplate myself into a corner until nothing means anything and I’m unable to meaningfully interact with the world.

    But “truth” is such a floaty word anyway, such that the only way even objectivists can define it is “rules that are self-evident to me,” which is non-transferrable and non-verifiable, just like any other claim of “objective truth.” How do you know that what is self-evidently “objective” to you will be self-evidently objective to someone else? You are placing a godlike trust in your own senses, then.

    Guess it’s just the knee-jerk, right-wing, Bible thumping, bitter gun clinger in me.

    Hey, your words, not mine~

    I’m not asking the THEORY of abiogenesis to address the origin of the fine-tuned universe and natural forces; I’m asking those atheists who hold the theory to explain those things so abiogenesis can get started.

    In the case of a theory like abiogenesis (or cosmological theories, such as those regarding the beginning of the universe or its founding forces), which deals with the universe in a very, very early state, much of what makes up those “givens” is unknown or unverified (because basically, we’re working backwards here), or currently the subject of much study and experimentation. So in that sense you are correct, we don’t “know,” nor have I heard anyone say that we do know; even “believe” is probably too strong a word for a scientist who supports some theories, as there is simply not enough evidence to conclude that it is *actually, factually* what happened, but most people will still say “believe” for lack of a better word.

    It’s more like, “at this point, this is what we have.” That’s just what it reads like — it’s not a statement of what WE KNOW, or what HAS TO BE, it’s a statement of what we think we know based on what else we think we know. That’s how science works. It’s shadow-jumping hardcore pundits and the like that tend to, well, jump at shadows and assume that people are claiming ultimate knowledge about the universe (when, ironically, those same folks are mostly the ones going around saying things like, “my god implanted me with personal, ultimate knowledge about the universe that is otherwise impossible to obtain”).

    Otherwise, it’s like saying a book can appear without ink, paper, language and an author.

    Well, not really — for one, we can verify that a book needs an author to exist. The theory that life only begins from life (or intelligence only from intelligence) is not really verified; in the case of ID, it’s completely assumed from whole cloth. I’m no expert on abiogenesis, but from my basic standpoint, I’d say it’s more like saying the following:

    -) Life is here;
    -) The convenient explanation would be, “someone created that life,” because we can’t easily understand how life could begin without more life;
    -) However, the fact is that, IF life CANNOT begin without life (or intelligence CANNOT begin without intelligence, for that matter), then life cannot ever have existed, because either a) life has always existed, which is impossible because that implies an infinite regress — or b) there was a point in time at which there was NO life, which means there was no life to create itself, which means there should still be no life. If the process is circular, then it started from within and therefore must be self-containedly infinite;
    -) Since both cases of the convenient explanation are impossible, we propose an alternative to the convenient explanation.

    Proposing a god to solve the infinite regress issue does not solve the problem, it just handwaves it. If a god could be “timeless,” then an infinite regress is (even if just theoretically) possible, which means it’s unnecessary to propose such a being in the first place (because it was the lack of possibility of infinite regress that forced us to posit god, originally).

    However, all of the known natural mechanisms cannot do the job

    That’s simply not true. Seriously? This has been discussed at length in the other thread (the “science doesn’t say anything, scientists do” thread, IIRC). Sorry you missed that….don’t mean to be uncouth about it, but I’d rather not rehash my whole position on this at-length here.

    Reply
  12. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Tim,

    If there were natural forces that could create life from non-life, folks like Richard Dawkins wouldn’t be saying that anyone who says he has a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life is “lying.” What you have is a lot of desperate speculation that never gets anywhere. There is no evidence for any naturalistic mechanism.

    But there is evidence in life (thousands of pages of specified complexity or digital coding, highly engineered components) that in every other circumstance requires intelligence. Why not follow the evidence where it leads?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  13. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    If there were natural forces that could create life from non-life

    I didn’t say there were “natural forces that could create life.” I said that the origin of life would have to be a natural consequence of the forces of the universe — which is to say, it would have to be able to occur naturally. Obviously. I don’t believe there is any one force (or forces) that magically “creates” life from scratch.

    As for the Dawkins quote, I can’t find it anywhere….perhaps you can specify the source? The only things I can find are “no serious scientist can affirm that she has a naturalistic explanation of the origin of life,” which is attributed to Francis Collins, not Dawkins….and this article called “Lying for Jesus,” on Dawkins’ blog, which also has this interesting segment paralleling mine and Mark’s conversation in this very topic:

    Ruse patiently explained that the origin of life (nothing to do with the Darwinian theory itself but the necessary precursor of Darwinian evolution) is an interesting and unsolved mystery, one that scientists are actively working on. By way of example, Ruse could have chosen any of a number of current theories. He chose just one (it would have taken too long to explain them all) purely as an illustration of the kind of properties such a theory must have. He happened to choose the theory proposed by the Scottish chemist Graham Cairns-Smith, that organic life was preceded by a strange and intriguing world of replicating patterns on the surfaces of crystals in inorganic clays. At no time did Ruse say he believed the Cairns-Smith theory, only that it was the KIND of theory that scientists are actively examining, as a CANDIDATE for the origin of evolution.

    Which (pay attention, Mark!) was pretty much the exact same method I was practicing “against” Mark in the other topic. And for humor’s sake, I will point out that Stein (in the film) had almost the same reaction to Ruse’s “argument” that Mark had to mine in the other topic:

    Mud! MUD! The sarcasm in his grating, nasal voice was palpable. Maybe this was when Ruse realised that he had been had. Certainly it was at this point that he started to show signs of exasperation, although he may still have thought that Stein was merely stupid, rather than pursuing a malevolent and clandestine agenda.

    The exception being, I entered the situation willingly, whereas Ruse did not.

    Reply
  14. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    P.S.

    In summary….you might even say I agree with your quote, even if it wasn’t attributable to Dawkins. The origin of life hasn’t been definitively proven; as I’ve said before, those in the field of science tend to refrain from claiming “knowledge” of something until it has been seen and proven in effect, time and time again, to the point that denying it would take more “faith” than accepting it.

    Reply
  15. Lion IRC
    Lion IRC says:

    Stephen Gaukroger:
    Author – The Emergence of a Scientific Culture: Science and the Shaping of Modernity 1210-1685

    Quote – “Until Darwin’s theory of natural selection the view was that the universe had come about either through intentional activity, which could only be on the part of God, or through mere chance. And this really put the burden of proof on those who thought it had come about by sheer chance. With natural selection you get a genuine third alternative. What natural selection does is it gives you a glimpse of a process whereby you can get from simple building blocks to organised complexity in a way that’s neither random nor intentional”

    I don’t believe in the random action of matter and I think the only force in the universe which can act upon matter with intent is the soul/free will.

    “Random” is part of the jargon some people use instead of “we don’t know why and we are too arrogant to admit it”

    Lion (IRC)

    Reply
  16. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    But there is evidence in life (thousands of pages of specified complexity or digital coding, highly engineered components) that in every other circumstance requires intelligence. Why not follow the evidence where it leads?

    I think Lion (IRC) put it best with this quote:

    What natural selection does is it gives you a glimpse of a process whereby you can get from simple building blocks to organised complexity in a way that’s neither random nor intentional”

    Reply
  17. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Tim and Lion,

    I think the Dawkins quote is from one of his three debates/discussions with John Lennox. Since I don’t know of a transcript, I’ll have to listen to those again to find out specifically.

    “What natural selection does is it gives you a glimpse of a process whereby you can get from simple building blocks to organised complexity in a way that’s neither random nor intentional”

    We’ve discussed this before– NATURAL SELECTION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ORIGIN OF LIFE. IT CAN ONLY OPERATE ONCE LIFE EXISTS, and even then it’s ability to create new information and life forms is has not been shown. NATURAL SELECTION ALSO HAS NOTHING TO WITH THE ORIGIN OR DESIGN OF THE UNIVERSE.

    Sorry for the caps. Hey Tim, can you give me a lesson in HTML? What do you need to do to get caps in these posts? Thanks.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  18. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    NATURAL SELECTION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ORIGIN OF LIFE.

    In this particular context, it has very much to do with the origin of life. The one thing that you keep bringing up that is probably *most* responsible for this misunderstanding is this:

    But there is evidence in life (thousands of pages of specified complexity or digital coding, highly engineered components) that in every other circumstance requires intelligence. Why not follow the evidence where it leads?

    I take that to mean, “normally, if we saw this level of complexity on its own in nature, we would assume that it had been manufactured wholesale — as in, “as is,” as it appears presently, with little or no modification from its original state — by an intelligent source. Correct me if I’m wrong in that understanding.

    In one sense you are correct, and in another you are incorrect….on the one hand, yes, such complexity — taken completely at face-value — is unlikely to just come about from scratch. I would agree completely with a statement that human life, as we see it today in all of its barely-fathomable complexity, most likely did not arise spontaneously from a nonliving state. I don’t think you’ll find anyone (other than a creationist) who would say otherwise.

    On the other hand, that is not what I am saying here, nor is it what any theory about the biological (as in, “not supernatural”) origin of life proposes. Theories about the origin of life (such as abiogenesis) do not attempt to explain how life as we currently see it came to exist from a nonliving state; they attempt to explain how very simple, rudimentary life could have come to exist from a nonliving state — this would mean the formation of very, very, VERY simple life, pre-DNA-complexity, without even basic instinctual code, just simple chemical-driven actions. LEAGUES prior to the levels of complexity we see now. That is all that abiogenesis offers. Nothing about our current complexity at all is mentioned anywhere.

    Basically, abiogenesis (or any other biological origin-of-life theory, take your pick) is the “point A.” Once we establish that this is possible, perhaps even likely (and like it or not, we do have grounds on which to at least suggest just that), then we must explain the gap between that original simple life and our current complex state. That is where natural selection and evolution come in; they attempt to bridge the gap between life’s theorized simple origins and its current complexity.

    This is an important discrepancy that I think it’s very important for you guys to understand; if you’re going to keep criticizing biological theories about the origin of life, in order to be taken seriously by anyone with more than a 5th grade education you simply *must* at least *acknowledge* the chain of science at work here; to say that abiogenesis alone (or evolution alone, or natural selection alone) is supposed to account for both the origin AND complexity of life is to completely miss the point of either theory.

    (for the record, that’s not me trying to be a tool, I’m really trying to get you guys to understand this….)

    Sorry for the caps. Hey Tim, can you give me a lesson in HTML? What do you need to do to get caps in these posts? Thanks.

    I assume you mean bold or italics?

    For starters, you need those v-brackets (the sideways “v” things you get by holding shift and pressing comma or period). for italics it would be like

    [i] whatever you want to say [/i]

    except with v-brackets instead of regular brackets. For bold it’s the same thing, but with “b” instead of “i.”

    (let me see if that shows up….I can never remember if these wordpress accounts recognize normal brackets or not….)

    Reply
  19. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for the HTML lesson. I’ll try it.

    Theories about the origin of life (such as abiogenesis) do not attempt to explain how life as we currently see it came to exist from a nonliving state; they attempt to explain how very simple, rudimentary life could have come to exist from a nonliving state — this would mean the formation of very, very, VERY simple life, pre-DNA-complexity, without even basic instinctual code, just simple chemical-driven actions. LEAGUES prior to the levels of complexity we see now. That is all that abiogenesis offers. Nothing about our current complexity at all is mentioned anywhere.

    I asked Dr. Steven Meyer about this possibility in my recent interview with him. You can hear my question and his response starting about the 11 minute mark of the Dec 19, 2009 show found here: http://action.afa.net/Radio/Talk/Podcasts/CrossExamined/.

    You don’t need to posit today’s cell to see the magnitude of the problem for naturalism. Let’s just posit one short protein. Just the formation of one short protein by chance is 84 times smaller than finding one particle in the entire known universe. (pg. 212 of “Signature in the Cell”). Now that’s not a living thing, so there’s no way natural selection could even take that protein to life even if the protein could come together by chance. Moreover, you can’t just grant yourself precursors to life without having evidence that any such precursors existed, nor any mechanism by which they could have formed. To do so is nothing but faith.

    Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. So let me ask, What evidence do you have of there existing “VERY simple life, pre-DNA-complexity, without even basic instinctual code, just simple chemical-driven actions?” And if so, what evidence do you have for a naturalistic mechanism that created this non-coded “life” and brought it to today’s DNA coded life?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  20. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    Here is where I would part ways w/ the title of this post:

    Non-believing scientists -it seems apparent to me- work from the existing “fact” that life came about w/o intelligence. They then seek to explain how life happened in a more simple form than THE most simple forms we know of currently. A form so simple that, if we could only figure it out, it would become obvious to all how it could have happened as opposed to the insanely unlikely proposition that something as complex and dense of information, as a single protein molecule, could “happen” in the first place let alone happen approximate to some equally complex -naturally occurring for no other reason but to perfectly meld w/ said (no reason to exist) protein- sugar. That is unbelievable to me.

    On the other paw, revelations of a very profound nature have come over me leading to the inescapable conclusion that He does in fact exist and sits firmly on His throne (please, no bathroom humor, Tim). You can say those revelations were merely my impression of not so finely tuned “thoughts” bouncing off the inside of my skull. For the “revelation impaired”, that makes sense. However, I have made the leaps of faith -in my previous incarnation as an avowed atheist- associated w/ the notion that our current state of existence came about from some, unintelligent, un-caused first cause and “life” as we know it could be something altogether completely, totally, thoroughly (to be “the whole 9 yards” redundant) unlike its current make up if some relatively small event happened (or didn’t happen) millions of years ago. That makes me an authority on this subject.

    In a nutshell: Knock it off, you (atheistic) guys! God loves you, get over it.

    Reply
  21. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    p.s. Are there any two things in the world -that are known to be related DIRECTLY to each other- that cannot be connected by reducing one “down to” the other ? (…Oh look!…On the horizon!…It’s an uber long, incredibly detailed, well thought out post by Tim…POST HO!)

    Reply
  22. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    What do you mean by ‘related DIRECTLY’?

    For example, gorillas are related to chimpanzees, but everything’s related to everything else if you go back for enough. Presumably that’s not direct enough for you.

    I’m also not sure what you mean by ‘connected by reducing one “down to” the other’. There is no ‘up’ or ‘down’ in evolution. You might say that if one animal is bigger or smarter or quicker than another then it has moved ‘up’, but that’s purely your subjective viewpoint. Snakes evolved from animals with limbs – losing the limbs gave snakes a survival advantage.

    We can get a good idea of how related two animals are by looking at their DNA. Professor Francis Collins, a born-again Christian, claims that even if we didn’t have access to a single fossil, the evidence in DNA alone is enough to convince him that evolution occured and that all creatures share common ancestry.

    Hope this was short enough, and yet also still well-thought out enough for you.

    Reply
  23. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    Frank: “Just the formation of one short protein by chance is 84 times smaller than finding one particle in the entire known universe”

    How has he calculated this? I already posted a Talk Origins link that addressed this point (and Hoyle’s calculation) in depth:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html#Intro

    I would be interested to see Meyer or someone else address the points on that site. It has also has extensive references.

    Reply
  24. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Hi Nathan,

    As you know, this is a post about the origin of life, not macroevolution. Nevertheless, why couldn’t the common genetic code (DNA) count equally as evidence for a common designer as a common ancestor?

    Happy New Year (you’ll experience it before us!).

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  25. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    Non-believing scientists -it seems apparent to me- work from the existing “fact” that life came about w/o intelligence.

    Where do you get this kind of stuff? We don’t know how life came about. The whole point is that we’re trying to figure out how it did. Hence the numerous theories about its origin. Yes, it would be easy to say, “god did it with magic,” but then there are those of us who prefer to try and figure things out from a more practical standpoint — how did it happen? Even if we assume “god did it with magic,” that still doesn’t actually explain anything, it just handwaves it.

    I mean, think about it — one aspect of supernaturality is, by definition, “physical impossibility.” That means “something that cannot happen according to the laws of physics and nature.” When we are positing that “something supernatural must have happened,” what we are saying is, “something physically impossible must have happened.” In what way does that solve the problem? We *still* don’t really know anything; all we’ve done is remove ourselves one step from what it is we don’t know.

    Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. So let me ask, What evidence do you have of there existing “VERY simple life, pre-DNA-complexity, without even basic instinctual code, just simple chemical-driven actions?” And if so, what evidence do you have for a naturalistic mechanism that created this non-coded “life” and brought it to today’s DNA coded life?

    You misunderstand; I’m not saying that I have evidence for that, or that it’s even the most likely solution to the problem. I’m saying that is *one possible solution* that is being considered currently; it has not been formally explored far enough (see: I don’t have enough information on it) for me to make a true decision one way or the other. However, it shows potential; depending on how research goes in the next few years, it could gain momentum (and evidence to support it) or it could fizzle out completely. It all hinges on current experimentation attempting to recreate the ideal “protocell” which would form the minimum foundation of life necessary for self-replication (which would then start the wheels of the aforementioned evolutionary processes).

    I have to go to work now so I’ll finish this later, but for starters, after 20 minutes skimming source pages on wikipedia, here’s a rundown on one such theory (regarding the formation of proteins and/or nucleic acids):

    A fundamental question is about the nature of the first self-replicating molecule. Since replication is accomplished in modern cells through the cooperative action of proteins and nucleic acids, the major schools of thought about how the process originated can be broadly classified as “proteins first” and “nucleic acids first”.
    The principal thrust of the “nucleic acids first” argument is as follows:

    1. The polymerization of nucleotides into random RNA molecules might have resulted in self-replicating ribozymes (RNA world hypothesis)
    2. Selection pressures for catalytic efficiency and diversity might have resulted in ribozymes which catalyse peptidyl transfer (hence formation of small proteins), since oligopeptides complex with RNA to form better catalysts. The first ribosome might have been created by such a process, resulting in more prevalent protein synthesis.
    3. Synthesized proteins might then outcompete ribozymes in catalytic ability, and therefore become the dominant biopolymer, relegating nucleic acids to their modern use, predominantly as a carrier of genomic information.

    Reply
  26. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “As you know, this is a post about the origin of life”

    Frank, how is the origin of life not being addressed by the link I posted? It begins:

    “Every so often, someone comes up with the statement “the formation of any enzyme by chance is nearly impossible, therefore abiogenesis is impossible”. Often they cite an impressive looking calculation from the astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, or trot out something called “Borel’s Law” to prove that life is statistically impossible. These people, including Fred, have committed one or more of the following errors.”

    And the link continues from there…

    So my previous post stands – Meyer still has a case to answer in that link if he wants to present his figure on the probability of abiogenesis.

    Happy New Year to you too!

    Reply
  27. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    Your post about abiogenesis is fine. I was just referring to your comment about common ancestry. Do have any comment on my question: Why couldn’t the common genetic code (DNA) count equally as evidence for a common designer as a common ancestor?

    Dr. Meyer deals with elements of the TalkOrigins article over several chapters in his book (including Oparin’s Chance and Necessity model that the TalkOrigins piece is promoting). I’ve emailed him to see if he has any concise comments on that particular TalkOrigins article that he can post here. In the meantime, Chapters 9-13 of “Signature” are where you want to go if you want a detailed discussion.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  28. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    ” I was just referring to your comment about common ancestry”

    My post there was directly repying to Mark’s question immediately before.

    “Why couldn’t the common genetic code (DNA) count equally as evidence for a common designer as a common ancestor?”

    Ask Francis Collins – I believe you’ve quoted him as an authority yourself. He’s a born-again Christian, so presumably if he saw it as evidence of a common designer, he would identify it as such and explain why.

    Regarding the Talk Origins page, I will await Meyer’s response. Until then, I view the ‘too unlikely’ quote as unproven, and based on faulty data. Your point was that the naturalist viewpoint required too much faith. I believe the talkorigins pages I linked to, which represent and sum up current scientific thinking on abiogenesis, explain why no faith is required, and why the naturalist view point is well supported.

    Reply
  29. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    I think Francis Collins doesn’t recognize the possibility that the common genetic code could be evidence for a common designer. Since I don’t know Francis Collins, I can’t ask him why not. But I can ask you. Why couldn’t the common genetic code be evidence for a common designer? Yes, it COULD be evidence for a common ancestor, but it also COULD be evidence for a common designer. No?

    Meyer has already responded in detail in his book chapters 9-13. I don’t know if he’ll have time to get involved here, but in the meantime you read those chapters and also listen to the question I asked him in the link above (it’ll take you about 5 minutes). Do you have his book?

    BTW, notice how many times the talk origin piece says this COULD happen or that COULD happen. They cite possibilities but no evidence. Dembski and Wells in their book “The Design of Life” cite seven false assumptions in this chemical to life scenario put forth by the talk origins article. One of them is the fact that they ignore “interfering cross reactions”– the false assumption being that there would be no other reactions that would interfere and negate any progress such chemicals could make toward life.

    Also, the Talk Origin piece does NOT represent current scientific thinking. The article is from 1998 and it is citing a theory from the 1930′s to 1960′s (by Oparin). You can find a critique of all this in the two books I mentioned which were both written in the past year.

    It surprises me that you would say “the naturalist view point is well supported ” when 1) no evidence is cited, 2) no known natural forces, which are repetitive, have been observed creating unique specified complexity/digital coding or highly engineered systems, and 3) even Dawkins and many other atheists admit there is no good naturalistic theory for the origin of life. If the naturalistic position was “well supported” as you say, wouldn’t atheists like Dawkins be trumpeting it rather than denying it?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  30. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    One of them is the fact that they ignore “interfering cross reactions”– the false assumption being that there would be no other reactions that would interfere and negate any progress such chemicals could make toward life.

    I don’t see how that would really affect any of the points made on the Talkorigins article; the point is that the reasons you guys say it’s unlikely are not entirely accurate (and it explains why). Let’s assume these “interfering cross reactions;” all of your criticisms thus far can still be answered by citing a couple of the “mistakes” pointed out by the article:

    2) They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.

    3) They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather than simultaneous trials.

    4) They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.

    5) They seriously underestimate the number of functional enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.

    Even if the odds *were* astronomical — I’m not saying they are, but even if they *were* — that would still not negate the fact that these odds are calculated based on the above mistakes.

    Also, the Talk Origin piece does NOT represent current scientific thinking.

    And yet it addresses all of your major criticisms, which I assume have been developed in the years since?

    2) no known natural forces, which are repetitive, have been observed creating unique specified complexity/digital coding or highly engineered systems

    There’s that mistake again — referring to modern notions of “unique specified complexity,” or “highly engineered systems.” Did we not already address this?

    Reply
  31. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Hi Tim and Nathan,

    2) no known natural forces, which are repetitive, have been observed creating unique specified complexity/digital coding or highly engineered systems

    There’s that mistake again — referring to modern notions of “unique specified complexity,” or “highly engineered systems.” Did we not already address this?

    NO, you haven’t addressed it. You are suggesting mere possibilities without any evidence. Suggesting possibilities is not evidence.

    Again, what evidence do you have that there was simpler life? And what evidence do you have of a natural mechanism that constructed that life and then encoded it and structured it into the cell we know today? Dawkins and his colleagues have no idea. Why do you keep insisting they do?

    Have either of your read “Signature in the Cell”?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  32. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    NO, you haven’t addressed it. You are suggesting mere possibilities without any evidence. Suggesting possibilities is not evidence.

    How do you think we *acquire* evidence for a particular theory, on that note?

    ….by testing it and experimenting with it, and seeing how consistently it gels with other scientific theories; if it succeeds, we have some evidence, if it fails, we have a shot hypothesis. During that time period, there is no formal answer on the matter — a scientific equivalent of, “no comment, still working on it, get back to ya later.”

    So in that sense, you’re correct. There is no evidence to prove any naturalistic theory about the origin of life (as I made sure to mention when I first mentioned abiogenesis). Hence the debate in the first place. The fact that you keep bringing this up as though it has any bearing on the theory or its likelihood at the moment implies that you don’t really understand why I brought it up in the first place — that reason being because you said it was “so unlikely” that such an explanation were even possible that we were rationally required to believe in the alternative. My point there being that there is no way you can even know that, because there has barely been any work done on the subject! We don’t even have one universal hypothesis that all scientists agree upon (or even a basic structural model, as with evolution or natural selection), so we just don’t have enough information to accept or dismiss it. Nobody’s urging you to accept it, either; just to admit that it’s at least possible for a rational, thinking person to disagree with you about the origin of life.

    My overall point being….the very fact that it is possible — that, for example, life may *have* assembled from natural processes without the intervention of a deity, and that this could even be a probable occurrence in any sense of the word — is, to me, adequate grounds on which to entertain it until it has either been proven or falsified. That is where the theory currently stands — undergoing scientific examination, alongside many others. There’s nothing wrong with that — it’s how science works — but the way it looks to me, you simply won’t be happy until everyone involved backs off from any and all attempts to explain life naturally and says, “Well, we don’t know, so that automatically defaults to ‘that can’t be it’.” When in fact that would be the more intellectually dishonest thing to do….keeping in mind that the alternative is to thoroughly research the subject until it has been proven or disproven. Then, and only then, will we have anything approaching a “positive” or “negative” on the subject.

    My friend, welcome to science~

    Reply
  33. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    Tim,

    You, I understand, hypothesize that life “could have” started in a much simpler form than anything we currently know of. So -sans any reason to develop this hypothesis (other than, “Life exists, so it had to come from somewhere.”) it is researched – where you are starting from is no less faith based than is the creationists’ position. To say that life started in some way not known, or even understood, to us is to suggest that that first life is not even connected to life as we know it. Making the point of “researching it” mute. Unless you think that that life evolved > Created this life > And then went away. Otherwise, why can’t we simply “back engineer”, or “side engineer”, or up-down-and-around engineer a current cell to “what it came from”?

    If the first life was nothing like life is now, isn’t it -by definition- not the origin of “life as we know it” ?

    What Dr. Turek is saying (if I may be so bold) is that the complexity of life suggests design and his methodology leans towards confirming that theory. It’s just that he starts from the acknowledgment of the belief in a force outside of the known Universe. Your side tries to explain life’s origin from the more narrow standpoint that the supernatural is not a viable theory. When I say “narrow”, I mean in relation to God and all that He implies. The fact that we can’t explain so many things that are right before us (clouds, gravity, love, the Oakland Raiders) suggests that there is much more than what our material senses can convey to our brains. If there was no mind behind the song, you could easily explain its “meaning” and that would be that.

    Whether we like it or not, songs are for the listeners’ edification as well as the players’. Life, however, is only for the glory of God. Otherwise it has no meaning. That is why secular science is “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

    Question: Would you say it is true that the most profound thing science has taught us is that we only now have an inkling as to how much we don’t, actually, know?

    Q-deux: If Q-uno is yes, is that not indicating of scientific research as “evolving” towards total ignorance?

    Happy New Year, all! You will be in my thoughts and prayers tonight.
    {but you’re on your own the rest of the year :)

    Reply
  34. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    So -sans any reason to develop this hypothesis (other than, “Life exists, so it had to come from somewhere.”)

    Unfortunately, I’m not the one who coined the theory. I didn’t hypothesize abiogenesis; you’d have to talk to the biologist(s) who did in order to get a detailed reason as to why that theory was conceived. My personal reason for not completely discounting the theory is simply that a) it hasn’t been falsified, and b) it’s still a practical alternative. Nothing more to it than that.

    ….I started a long post about this, but I deleted it in favor of this paraphrase: the only “evidence” to suggest a supernatural origin to life is a lack of evidence with regard to other theories. A supernatural happening is, by definition, impossible, as it goes against the way the universe works (otherwise there would be no need for the distinction). In any other circumstance, yes, I would expect a person to assume a non-supernatural explanation. To paraphrase the great fictional character Sherlock Holmes, “Once you eliminate the impossible, all that remains is the truth, no matter how improbable.” It’s just silly to argue that something which is blatantly impossible is somehow suddenly possible just because the *actually possible* alternative(s), no matter how many or how few they may be, are “unlikely.”

    Point being, you’ll have to do a lot better than prove that physical origins of life are “unlikely” to find solid ground for a theory that life magically appeared from scratch. At least naturalistic explanations provide a system for how life came up, and what it came from — the materials exist. With the Magic Jesus theory, there is simply magic with no real explanation.

    If the first life was nothing like life is now, isn’t it -by definition- not the origin of “life as we know it” ?

    Now that’s just silly~ It’s either life or it’s not; “as we know it” is just a term coined for dramatic effect.

    the complexity of life suggests design

    How so?

    It’s just that he starts from the acknowledgment of the belief in a force outside of the known Universe.

    Exactly. That is something that is unknowable at this point — a “faith statement.”

    If there was no mind behind the song, you could easily explain its “meaning” and that would be that.

    I’m of the persuasion that a song has no “objective meaning,” simply because there’s nowhere for that meaning to exist. I believe there’s the “intended meaning” of the author, and the “perceived meaning” of the listener, just like with the messages we discussed in the other topic. That’s what defines art to me, anyway, is subjectivity.

    Question: Would you say it is true that the most profound thing science has taught us is that we only now have an inkling as to how much we don’t, actually, know?

    I would say that any self-aware thought process must acknowledge its limits. Science is not a perfect road to intellectual salvation, I am aware. However, because it is the only predominant school of thought that acknowledges this (find me one other school that does), I find it to be the most intellectually honest. You could say self-awareness is a qualifier for paradigms of my choosing~

    Q-deux: If Q-uno is yes, is that not indicating of scientific research as “evolving” towards total ignorance?

    What is “ignorance” in this case, exactly?

    Do you perhaps mean to imply that, if we don’t admit to the limitations of a thought process, that means those limitations don’t exist?

    Reply
  35. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    P.S. I just thought of a simple, catchy paraphrase which sort of bears on what I just said:

    If the beginning of life/intelligence were supernatural in origin, then it wouldn’t really be the beginning of life/intelligence because it came from a preexisting source of life/intelligence. That’s a lot like saying the source of electricity and energy was….more electricity and energy….so I suppose then it *would* be technically (though not physically) possible, but then it’s misleading to call it “the origin of life/intelligence.”

    Reply
  36. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    “catchy paraphrase” back atcha:

    If life is made up of material evolving through a process of “natural selection”, and those materials include all elements, why hasn’t there been any physical “super being” that can live for thousands of years, repel any and all diseases/physical attacks/calamities and digest anything, etc., etc.

    We are talking billions and billions of years here after all and, if anything, life is getting whimpier. Whut up wit dat? (and please, don’t be blaming Exxon or some other corporate interest)

    Reply
  37. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    If life is made up of material evolving through a process of “natural selection”, and those materials include all elements, why hasn’t there been any physical “super being” that can live for thousands of years, repel any and all diseases/physical attacks/calamities and digest anything, etc., etc.

    ….what?

    How do you get from “natural selection” to “material elements” to “super being?”

    Reply
  38. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    ….what?

    This is along the same lines from the “Science doesn’t say…” thread. I am trying to illustrate the fact that your theories work from a stand point of your given(s). You are saying that because life is like “X” now, it must have started out something like “ABC”. My point is that if life started out like ABC, and ABC brought it from an indecipherably simple form to the seemingly limitless bounds it has not advanced from -physiologically speaking- in the last eon or so, why is it so limited in the areas I listed above? How much more “fit” could one be than to have developed immunities to all disease, grown an impenetrable “skin”, evolved rejuvenating cells that “rebirth” it as a whole on a constantly cycling basis, etc.?

    Given how far life came in its “formative eons” (which ended eons ago), it seems unlikely to me that it would have spent the last few million years doing everything but becoming a super being. At least one. Somewhere. I think even man is closer to having the ability to create such a creature than he is to creating life in a lab.

    p.s. There were other points I was getting at in that thread, but you and or the pilot fish already made them.

    Reply
  39. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    You are saying that because life is like “X” now, it must have started out something like “ABC”

    No. No I am not. The fact that life is what it is now has nothing whatsoever to do with how it began. I don’t understand why you think it would.

    How much more “fit” could one be than to have developed immunities to all disease, grown an impenetrable “skin”, evolved rejuvenating cells that “rebirth” it as a whole on a constantly cycling basis, etc.?

    The easy answer, of course, is that humans are not the only creatures evolving; viruses, bacteria and *all* other lifeforms do it as well. AIDS is a great example. So is the recent Swine Flu — its evolution was even actually observed in a laboratory setting. So even if humans could theoretically “evolve themselves into invincibility,” then it would be just as easy for other life-forms to “evolve themselves into things that eat invincible things,” for lack of a better metaphor. Of course, that’s not how it works anyway.

    Short version: if all the lifeforms in an ecosystem are trying to survive against one another, then they will all show signs of adaptation; when one side adapts to the current conditions (wherein “current conditions” are “the other competing life-forms”), then the conditions themselves will adapt in response (because they both want to survive; why should only one of them adapt?), and so on and so forth.

    Given how far life came in its “formative eons” (which ended eons ago), it seems unlikely to me that it would have spent the last few million years doing everything but becoming a super being.

    You’re assuming that there is now one “all-dominant” life form that is allowed to “evolve unopposed,” so to speak. That is never possible. Even as the most dominating species on the planet, humans are still prey to the conditions of their survival.

    Reply
  40. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    Tim,

    You seem to think that I am referring to a super “human”. I am not. As I have stated in depth before, survival of the fittest would (and does, assuming that it is how life “goes forward”, which is the angle I am arguing from here -yours) necessarily dictate that some life form would become a kind of super being or at least a being w/ (a) super attribute(s) as stated above. We know this because existing life forms have extraordinary abilities like: flight, super deadly venom, color change, fire spewing behind, sonar, living at life crushing depths under water, long navigation, outboard motors and on ad nauseum. So why not the obvious “fitness” attributes? Like extended life? Not all animals are house flies. Why would not a blue live longer and longer? There’s certainly nothing stopping them but “old age”. (unless you are going to say that all blues die at the “fins of their enemies”.) And with an ever increasing ability to rejuvenate all of its cells, it might even evolve into a being that didn’t need to reproduce but once every century or so. You may ask, “how?”. I ask, given the survival part of the survival of the fittest theory, how could such life not exist / have existed / be currently “under construction”?

    See, built into all of your theories are assumptions: “traits helpful to the furtherance of the species recur”, etc. That assumes that the species “must” necessarily exist. I realize you can’t see that. It’s a blind spot. More like blind faith, really. That’s the nut of the difference between our two faith based beliefs. I don’t have faith in your belief, so I can take it in its natural direction: the furtherance of the individual life would have to be paramount -from the beginning- in order for that theory to work in its true form. You cherry pick how it works. You work backwards to explain how things are. I am working forward from where you speculate life originated and coming to a logical conclusion of where that origin would more likely have led to.

    //No. No I am not. The fact that life is what it is now has nothing whatsoever to do with how it began. I don’t understand why you think it would.//

    You don’t help your case by making statements like that. How can something -anything- NOT have anything to do with its own origin(s) ? Absurd.

    Reply
  41. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    Mark: “We are talking billions and billions of years here after all and, if anything, life is getting whimpier”

    That’s because, as Dawkins explained, it is the genes that continue, not the organisms that carry those genes.

    Reply
  42. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    Side note re: the basic characteristic of thinking: Most, if not all, of the ideas espoused in debates are put forth w/ “citations”, links and other forms of “validation”. This is a curious fact to me for, in theory at least, both sides believe that man is the living encapsulation of life -to the extent that “it” can be aware of “its” self- up to this particular point in time (Tims’ previous assertion that life has no connection w/ its own origin notwithstanding). Given that, why rely on some magical “consensus” of “scientific thought” to arrive at any conclusion as to the substantive questions of life? That’s fine for the individual scientist / philosopher / anyone who forms an opinion independent of others however, why should that suffice for anyone else? Without faith, it does not. (“..seek ye first, the kingdom of God (the truth)…and all these things (what you need) shall be added unto you.”)

    Christians have revelations. We “realize” things. Truths that already exist outside of our awareness yet residing within us. Man is His creation and He wrote (encoded) these truths (data) onto mans’ heart (conscience -and I do mean conscience). Don’t you ever realize something and it is strikingly apparent that it came from within, and not from without? When one is able to discern these inner truths from the outer, conscience free, worldly information that leads to beliefs like, “Objective truth does not exist.” then one is truly freed from the bondage of the author of confusion. The ruler of this world.

    This is the essence of true Christian faith: we read the Bible in order to learn (realize) how to remove what separates us from Him. Namely: sin. The ultimate sin: pride “I am a beginning and end in my self.” Before the fall, man communed with God directly and didn’t need His “Best Instructions Before Leaving Earth. “Thank you”, Adam.

    Do you really think that something so simple -whether the act of God creating or the original start of life, as you believe it probably, maybe, sort of in a way might have happened- would not be readily available information for us all to figure out? You can call this an argument from incredulity all you want but, seeing as how secular science creates more questions than it answers it is obvious that that Universe is a very cruel joke on the ones it is being studied by. To extrapolate from your assertion that certain traits must “ape” themselves, to coin a phrase, in order for life to have gotten to its current state of “evolution” (a conveniently self contained argument), the trend of scientific research leads to the inescapable conclusion that man “must” be fed an infinite number of still yet to be answered -and, therefore, as yet undiscovered (to be redundant about infinity) infinity of unanswered questions.

    And! Irony of ironies, this complexity ad infinitum was launched by something so simple we haven’t yet figured it out. “Think” about that.

    Reply
  43. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    p.s. “Heading them off at the pass” alert!

    Evolutionists insist their theory reasonably explains the “need” for abstracts (how can a life form obsessed w/ its own survival “need” abstract ideas?…i digress…) like art, euphoria while dying, morality, etc. and yet we are expected to believe that the knowledge -or at least the ability to learn it easily- of the origin of our own existence (the very concept that may well lead to our destruction as a “species” and has tortured, i.e. hindered our existence throughout history) was not somehow “bred” into us as a way of instilling in us the peace that could only lead to our survival in a way beyond anything found in subjective ideas like music, art, the substantive “meaning” of Oprah ?

    Those two “realities” do not coincide so please don’t say that the knowledge of our origin is not “necessary” for our survival any more than other knowledge when, in fact, it is THE knowledge necessary for our survival.

    Reply
  44. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    As I have stated in depth before, survival of the fittest would…necessarily dictate that some life form would become a kind of super being or at least a being w/ (a) super attribute(s) as stated above.

    You didn’t really say anything to that effect “in depth.” You did casually suggest it without any evidence to show why that would even be possible. You’ll need to provide some evidence to suggest the natural creation of some kind of super being before I can address it as a claim.

    See, built into all of your theories are assumptions: “traits helpful to the furtherance of the species recur”, etc. That assumes that the species “must” necessarily exist.

    Nothing about it “assumes that the species must necessarily exist.” I’ve already explained this.

    You don’t help your case by making statements like that. How can something -anything- NOT have anything to do with its own origin(s) ? Absurd.

    Your statement was simply incorrect. You said:

    You are saying that because life is like “X” now, it must have started out something like “ABC”

    That is wrong. The fact that life is what it is now is not why the theories say it could have started out like X (again, you keep injecting the word “must” into my points; it is not actually there). The reason why different theories suggest certain origins is because, thus far, they are operating on what we think would be physically possible. So it is because it is physically possible that it is suggested as an alternative, not “because life is what it is now.”

    Do you really think that something so simple -whether the act of God creating or the original start of life, as you believe it probably, maybe, sort of in a way might have happened- would not be readily available information for us all to figure out?

    What do you mean, “readily available for us to figure out?”

    You can call this an argument from incredulity all you want but, seeing as how secular science creates more questions than it answers it is obvious that that Universe is a very cruel joke on the ones it is being studied by.

    To me, the fact that scientific inquiry creates questions is proof that it is an intellectually honest, effective way of thinking. Because all thought processes are inherently flawd — every single one — and yet scientific theory is the only one that acknowledges this about itself.

    Personally, I’d rather have a visibly honest assesment that “I don’t know the answer” to a particular question, than a third-party, uncertain, unverifiable claim that “I know the answer through Magic Telepathy.”

    Evolutionists insist their theory

    Um…we’re right here. Perhaps you could talk about us in the second person, instead of removed like that?~

    Unless you’re quoting something that nobody here has said (a “straw man”). In which case, why bring it up?

    Reply
  45. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    //Um…we’re right here. Perhaps you could talk about us in the second person, instead of removed like that?~//

    To explain, I didn’t know specifically where that line of thought was going so I “depersonalized” it in case it ended up w/ the appearance of being harsh or insulting. I do not wish to come across that way. Necessarily. Also, it seems that you have said words to the affect, “I am not an expert so don’t take this as absolute truth but here’s my take on “X”…” so didn’t want to be presumptuous. I am not (always) a bot OR a clod.

    Reply
  46. Toby R.
    Toby R. says:

    “There’s that mistake again — referring to modern notions of “unique specified complexity,” or “highly engineered systems.” Did we not already address this?

    NO, you haven’t addressed it. You are suggesting mere possibilities without any evidence. Suggesting possibilities is not evidence.”

    What evidence are creationists suggesting besides arm-chair philosophy? What kind of experiments are being undertaken other than sitting around and thinking, “I made a clay cup. I’m intelligent and I made this cup. Therefore all of everything everywhere comes from intelligence.”

    Reply
  47. Lion IRC
    Lion IRC says:

    Hi Toby R,

    It sounds like you are trying to deconstruct reality. We actually DO “observe” empirical data which proves that “intelligence causing creation” takes place every day. It’s not philosophy. Its not creationISM. Its not abstraction.

    Abstraction would be if I sat in my armchair and philosophized about reality being just a hologram projected into the universe from the…..hang on!……..wait!……..someone already thought of that. (GEO600)

    My point is, when given two alternatives – intentional Creation OR chaotic, random, undirected, spontaneity I am going with the one which MEANS something to me (as a thinking human.) How is that irrational? What’s more – my deliberate choice between the two options seems to indicate that “volition” is natural. We don’t go around randomly making clay cups.

    Lion (IRC)

    Reply
  48. Toby R.
    Toby R. says:

    Mr. Lion,

    Actually no. If there is a sudden “ta-da” moment in which DNA is suddenly created then there should be some kind of experiment or fossil that might demonstrate it.

    Chaotic, random, undirected, spontaneity. You a glass half empty kind of person? Frank loves to toss out these mind boggling stats such as “Just the formation of one short protein by chance is 84 times smaller than finding one particle in the entire known universe.” My first instinct is to question how one comes up with these untestable stats, the second is to think that the odds of winning the Powerball are about 1 in 17 billion. You’ve heard that before right? The odds of getting stuck by lighting and killed are about 1 in 500 to 750 thousand. You do the math. It’s impossible, but it happens. So given these mind boggling numbers, which is a more precious life? A life that defies these mind boggling numbers, these “chaotic, random, undirected, spontaneous” lives, or one that would have virtually no odds against it, the “we’re here because we’re created so there’s virtually no chance against it.”

    Reply
  49. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    It sounds like you are trying to deconstruct reality. We actually DO “observe” empirical data which proves that “intelligence causing creation” takes place every day. It’s not philosophy. Its not creationISM. Its not abstraction.

    Problems:

    1) Correlation =/= Causation; just because we see intelligence causing creation* doesn’t mean intelligence is the only thing that can cause creation.

    2) *= Intelligence doesn’t cause creation; nothing we create is actually produced from thin air. It’s all “created” by rearranging what already exists — music is an arrangement of sounds, books are an arrangement of material and coded language, video games are an arrangement of material parameters in a closed system. All of it is ultimately rooted in what already exists: materials. Any meaning/significance derived from the arrangement is subject to interpretation of the viewer/listener/player and/or the intent of the “sender/arranger.”

    It’s very similar to when some person (a Christian, IIRC) on here said, on the matter of humans “creating” life: “Humans don’t create life, they procreate, taking advantage of a system which already exists.”

    My point is, when given two alternatives – intentional Creation OR chaotic, random, undirected, spontaneity I am going with the one which MEANS something to me (as a thinking human.) How is that irrational?

    I’m not really curious about whether or not that’s “rational;” I’m more curious about how whether or not it “means anything to me” is relevant to whether or not I should believe it. I mean, the fact that a certain conclusion “doesn’t mean anything to me” doesn’t really have much bearing on whether or not it’s true.

    Reply
  50. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    //Um…we’re right here. Perhaps you could talk about us in the second person, instead of removed like that?~//

    To explain, I didn’t know specifically where that line of thought was going so I “depersonalized” it in case it ended up w/ the appearance of being harsh or insulting. I do not wish to come across that way. Necessarily. Also, it seems that you have said words to the affect, “I am not an expert on “X” so don’t take this as a perfect representation of “X” but here’s my take on “X”…” so didn’t want to be presumptuous. I am not (always) a bot OR a clod.

    Reply
  51. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    For some reason, my other posts have been in moderation for over 24 hours. Can you read me now?

    If you posted any links, that’s probably why. I find that my postings get stuck in “moderation hell” if I have any links….

    Reply
  52. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    Nope. No links. Not even HTML or caps to indicate “yelling”. Maybe I exceeded the limit of “f-bombs” ? No, that can’t be it with all the sailor talk Turek engages in. : )

    Reply
  53. Lion IRC
    Lion IRC says:

    Hi Tim D,

    Humans create that which is within our ability and God is working with the material and creative energy He has.

    I don’t know how you arrive at the claim that humans don’t actually create anything new.

    I would have thought that any NEW arrangement of matter was a creation and any deliberate use of force (free will/soul) to do so constitutes originality.

    By your logic, no single human being is unique, no thought is original, no piece of music is entitled to copyright and intellectual property is a myth.

    On the point about “meaning” I have to stick to my position that as a human presented with external stimuli/data I “feel” that there are only two alternatives. One which “means” something to me and the second which does not.

    I would argue that what we call “true” are the things we can rationally understand and agree upon as TRUE. If you present a long strand of gibberish to a group of humans – the only known audience you have in this universe – your attempt at TRUTH will be a complete non-starter.

    Surely you and I both see the same reality. My assertion to you is that this universe is an original thought of and created with intent by God and my assertion can be understood with very little difficulty by human minds because it resembles similar human creative processes.

    Example – building a house. It is here today. It wasn’t there 6 months ago. It serves an intended purpose.

    Your assertion to me that our existence is uncaused, unplanned, unintended is gibberish to me (no offense).

    Lion (IRC)
    PS – Toby R, hello and don’t get me going on probability. I am one of those weirdoes who think the longer you go tossing nothing but “heads”, the more likely you are to toss “tails” on your very next throw. I wouldn’t be able to contribute anything useful to a discussion about the “probability” of abiogenesis because I don’t think the existence of the universe is spontaneous nor life “random” nor speciation “uncaused”. The quote by Stephen Gaukroger above (“neither random nor intentional”) strikes me as gibberish. That’s not an ad hominem – communication is a two way street but random seems quite the opposite of “intentional”.

    Reply
  54. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    I would have thought that any NEW arrangement of matter was a creation and any deliberate use of force (free will/soul) to do so constitutes originality.

    What do you have, materially speaking, that didn’t exist before, though? If you write a book, you are taking ink (which existed separately in its own form prior) and putting it onto paper (which existed separately in its own form prior). The term “create” in this context is used poetically rather than literally, I think — all one has done is rearrange existing matter in such a way that it transmits information. A book is a collection of symbols — a symbol of its own, in a sense — and a symbol is just a configuration of matter that signifies something. Significance is in the mind of the beholder; it’s something that must be known beforehand (i.e. in order to signify something in a particular language, one must have a previous understanding of that language).

    So what, in any sense but poetical/metaphorical, has something been “created?”

    (The reason that’s important is because, in a material world, metaphors are accounted for — we can explain what a metaphor is, and thus a literal, physical explanation for things like “art” is not necessary. In making the above claim that something has been “created” when all that has happened is the reconfiguration of materials, you are making the claim that there is something which is not accounted for in a physical worldview. Therefore, it has to be something non-metaphorical, non-poetic, that is rooted in physical reality, in order to even begin to “debunk” the naturalistic angle).

    By your logic, no single human being is unique, no thought is original, no piece of music is entitled to copyright and intellectual property is a myth.

    Not really. Every human is genetically unique, that’s for certain (even “identical” twins). “Original” just means, “came first,” so that’s of course debatable (we’d have to discuss specific thoughts in that case). As for music being “entitled” to copyright, that “entitlement” is a consequence of our legal system that exists entirely by our own design. It’s a subjectively-agreed-upon form of entitlement. So I wouldn’t argue whether or not it was entitled, because that entitlement is not objective; it’s subject to the whims of a society which values what they call “creative property,” in the interest of regulating business so that the economy may flourish. So there’s really nothing metaphysical about that one, if that’s what you were implying.

    On the point about “meaning” I have to stick to my position that as a human presented with external stimuli/data I “feel” that there are only two alternatives. One which “means” something to me and the second which does not.

    That’s fine. I still wonder, though, how that is relevant as to which is true and which is not….there are plenty of things which “do not mean anything” to me, but they are true and I have to acknowledge that nonetheless.

    Surely you and I both see the same reality.

    I see the same physical hub-universe as you, yes — the universe in which our existence is shared.

    My assertion to you is that this universe is an original thought of and created with intent by God and my assertion can be understood with very little difficulty by human minds because it resembles similar human creative processes.

    I can understand a lot of abstract concepts, really. But that doesn’t make any of them true. The “big idea” behind the universe and everything in The Dark Tower series was something I comprehended, and it could be understood with fairly little difficulty by a human mind willing to understand it. But I still don’t see how that makes it “true.” Is there something besides this that you are basing this assertion on, then?

    Example – building a house. It is here today. It wasn’t there 6 months ago. It serves an intended purpose.

    …I’m not really sure how any of that correlates;

    -) It’s here today
    -) It wasn’t there 6 months ago

    This change occurs in lots of things that do not necessarily have an “intended purpose.” Say I live in the mountains; there’s a clearing near the edge of the woods at the base of the mountains. There’s nothing in that clearing. 6 months later when I come back, an avalanche has taken place and now there is sediment and debris there:

    -) It’s here now
    -) It wasn’t here 6 months ago
    -) Therefore, it serves an intended purpose

    By your logic above, we’d be required to conclude that someone intentionally set off that avalanche and that is serves a conscious, intended purpose. And yet, right off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of reasons why such a change would occur — warm weather melting the snow and causing its foundation to give out and fall, for example.

    Or perhaps there is some other case you intended to make that was sidetracked by this one?

    Your assertion to me that our existence is uncaused, unplanned, unintended is gibberish to me (no offense).

    What do you mean by “gibberish?” Do you not understand it, or is that a dismissive term you use when you don’t believe/accept something?

    Reply
  55. Lion IRC
    Lion IRC says:

    Hi Tim D,
    If your contention is that nothing new is actually created then this forum is a bit useless – we are just rearranging letters and your response to me should be viewed as a collection of words which existed long before you were born. I would say that approach is meaningless to me as a human. If it works for you fair enough but I prefer the agent/intent/mechanism world view in which we use our free will to act upon things within our control to create and cause. If you are happy with metaphysics then lets pretend I am right and you are wrong – how about that? (Being right or wrong doesn’t matter in metaphysics does it?)
    The avalanche example was interesting. Gravity actually does have a purpose – a very useful and intentional one created by God.
    Lion (IRC)
    PS – “gibberish” is an expression of my lack of understanding of language used to “explain” the random unintentional existence of the universe.

    Reply
  56. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    If your contention is that nothing new is actually created then this forum is a bit useless

    Whether or not something is “objectively meaningful” has nothing to do with how useful it is, unless the intent is stated “to be objectively meaningful.” The word “useful” (or “useless”) is conditional; for example, yes, this response would be “useless” IF the intent was to fix a broken starter on my car. But the intent is to form a logical argument in response to yours; to that end, whether or not you agree with the argument presented (or its coherency), it could be said to be “useful” as it at least makes attempts to that end.

    your response to me should be viewed as a collection of words which existed long before you were born.

    And what are words for? Communication. Therefore, the stated intent is to communicate. So yes, it is a collection of words — a collection that I have rearranged in order to convey a message.

    Do you watch Scrubs? There was a quote from one episode awhile back which illustrates my point interestingly: JD says to himself in an internal monologue, while trying to comfort a patient, “Sometimes, when all you have is old words, you just put them together differently and hope they say something new.” It’s like that with materials — you put them together in different ways such that they make something that has a function that is different from any one of the parts on its own. That doesn’t mean something new has been “created” — a TV is not “greater than the sum of its parts,” it is simply a collection of parts that complement each other in a way that is “useful” to a particular end — it simply means that the things have been arranged in such a way as to be recognizable to someone who understands the significance.

    If you are happy with metaphysics then lets pretend I am right and you are wrong – how about that? (Being right or wrong doesn’t matter in metaphysics does it?)

    ….what now about metaphysics?

    Gravity actually does have a purpose – a very useful and intentional one created by God.

    Ah, that begs the question….but I can see where a discussion to that end would be headed (Mark all over again….), so I’ll leave it there for now unless you want to continue.

    PS – “gibberish” is an expression of my lack of understanding of language used to “explain” the random unintentional existence of the universe.

    Interesting. I’ve never heard the word used that way before.

    Reply
  57. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/b418465308240147/

    Yarus et al’s paper sums up several avenues of investigation into the mode of RNA-amino acid interaction, and places the body of work into an interesting light with respect to the origin of the genetic code. The bottom line, in terms that relate to Meyer’s book, is that chemistry and physics (to use Meyer’s phraseology) can account for the origin of the genetic code. In other words, the very heart of Meyer’s thesis (and his book) is wrong.

    Meyer and Frank’s claim is that science CANNOT explain the origin of life. To refute this, one need only show that it can. You are still welcome to believe that it didn’t, but you can’t claim that it is unreasonable to believe that it could have.

    I can’t think of a single event on earth that one cannot claim happened through supernatural means, but if a non-supernatural way is possible, then the burden of proof is on you. A leaf falls from a tree, you claim it was knocked off by a ghost. I can’t prove you wrong, but I can point out it that it is a windy day. Can I PROVE that the wind was responsible? No. Can I prove that no leaf has ever been knocked off a tree by a ghost? No.

    For anyone still claiming that it is unreasonable to exclude the supernatural from explanations for events, ask yourself this: do you think that courts should consider the supernatural when attempting to establish the guilt of innocence of a person accused of a crime? If so, how would any jury ever reach a verdict? One could never say that a person couldn’t have committed a crime if the prosecutors posit the existence of a supernatural accomplice.

    Likewise, no matter what evidence there is that the accused committed a crime, the defence could always claim that the real perpetrator was a ghost of infinite power and unfathomable motives, who commits his crimes in such a way that he appears to be the accused.

    Would you want such a legal system?

    Meyer’s argument is similar to saying that though the accused (natural causes), appears to have committed a crime, at the start of the crime scene there was a tall wall, too high for the accused to have jumped in a single bound, and that therefore he must have had a bunk up from God, or God must have committed the entire crime himself. Meanwhile, the wall has long since collapsed so it can’t be properly examined. When it’s pointed out that ladder might not have been as high as Meyer calculated (and certainly there’s evidence that it wasn’t), we are told that the burden of proof rests with us.

    I’m not the one making the claim here. The claim is that it is unreasonable NOT to hold God responsible. To dispute that, one need only posit as possible non-supernatural way. This has been done. One need not PROVE that this way occurred. If there’s a ladder near the wall, I don’t need to PROVE that it was used to show that a supernatural bunk up was not required.

    Imagine you tell me you can prove that magic exists. You bring out Uri Geller, who performs a few feats of spoon bending etc. You then tell me it would now be unreasonable for me not to believe in magic. Next James Randi comes out and demonstrates how to produce the same feats with slight of hand. You tell me that I can’t prove that Geller used the same methods. This is true. You can tell me that you can still believe in his powers if you want – but I don’t dispute that, knock yourself out! However, you can no longer tell me that it is unreasonable to doubt Geller.

    Reply
  58. Luke
    Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    I like this article. I think it’s a good summary of your view and it’s well presented rhetorically.

    I think I’d generally agree that we all believe things that are seemingly unbelievable (this is subjective, I think). (That said, I would stand by the point I made in the other thread — unless we know how life started naturally, then we cannot calculate the probability of that event and by extension how ‘unbelievable’ it might be.)

    Me being me, there are some things I might want to be picky about and take issue with, but I will avoid that. Instead I’d like to ask a question about your view of religious belief in general.

    First off, you mentioned in another thread that people aren’t stupid, which is why most people believe in a creator. Do you think that people who do not believe in a creator are — if not stupid — unreasonable?

    The reason I ask is my larger question. Do you think people can simply not think about, or be required to defend something which might be unbelievable, because their worldview is based on another deeper belief?

    So, can one say, I don’t care how life started or how unbelievable a non-theistic beginning of life might be because I “know” a personal G-d cannot exist because of the problem of evil.

    Put another way, can one say “I have read the Wikipedia article on Auschwitz and find the idea of a personal deity completely unbelievable, so it matters not that abiogenesis may be 99.999999% unbelievable, because that is still much more likely than the infinitely unbelievable idea that G-d exists, but I have never actually thought about the way life may have began.”

    Or do you think that anyone who proclaims any kind of religious belief must defend all aspects required by their worldview?

    Sorry, I feel like I am not being as clear as I’d like to be. I hope you understand what I am trying to ask.

    Also, I have a technical question based on my ignorance of the subject. It is a questions about Dr. Turek’s sentence (but I invite anyone who understands cosmology well to answer):

    There can be no natural cause for the universe because nature itself was created at the Big Bang.

    Is this technically correct? Or would it be more correct to say “nature as we know it began at the big bang?”

    That is, is it the cosmological belief that there was nothing before the big bang? And that during the big bang, all of the things we know now (and some we can’t know or see) just appeared (or were otherwise created)?

    Or is it that there was something — some kind of nature, some kind of universe, a dense mass of matter — and that this something was greatly, widely altered during/by the big bang? In other words, there was no creation, just a great alteration. (In the way that combining hydrogen and oxygen is more accurately viewed as an alteration of the relationship of atoms, not the creation of water, though we may call it that — in the parlance of our time.)

    I always though it was the latter, but Dr. Turek seems to suggest the former in his writings and talks. I also know that many cosmologist, etc. at first did not welcome the big bang theory (when the known evidence was not yet so strong) because it could have religious implications. (If my view was correct, I don’t necessarily see why that would be, which makes me think I might just plain be wrong.) Any clarification is appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  59. Lion IRC
    Lion IRC says:

    Hi Tim D,

    Your assertion that nothing “new” is really ever “created” because everything is “pre-existing” lends itself very nicely to an argument that God has always existed and the “creation” of the universe was easy because He was merely using PRE-EXISTING methods and energies He has ALWAYS had at His disposal.

    Your “nothing new” approach is results in meaninglessness. Eg. If solid matter is ultimately divisible into (pre-existing) energy would we stop talking about the “creation” of matter? I doubt that would result in humans no longer considering the “evolution of consciousness”. Nor would we cease observing “intent” behind both the wilful direction of energy (volition) and “intent” behind the rearrangement of matter by God or by humans into NEW things. Eg – houses with an intended purpose.

    I argue that “new” means original and unprecedented to the observers (us) and “creation” is not nullified by the fact that some or all of the components existed in other forms in earlier times. The word “new” is semantically related to the word “create” which, in turn, is related to the word “intent” so I am not surprised to see an atheist taking the approach you do.

    You introduced the term “metaphysical” into the thread and although I enjoy Zen-type philosophy, (chewing gum for the mind,) reality won’t be mocked.
    The majority of humans derive meaning from reality not metaphysics and in the real world we observe intentional creation of NEW things.
    Your paradigm is……nobody did it, nothing is new, no such thing as free will, nothing is really deliberate, no individual action or thought is unique
    I would argue the paradigm of most human beings is ….”who done it and why and how?”

    I know this is pretty much an argumentum ad populum – my “new creation” reality verus your alternative view – and I’m sorry about that. I understand that the popular understanding of reality and what it means may not be true but if corroboration matters it’s a pretty good start. And I reiterate my earlier point that, as far as theories for the origin of the universe go, when given two alternatives – intentional Creation OR chaotic, random, undirected, spontaneity I am going with the one which MEANS something to me (as a thinking human.)
    Alternate theories about unintended random happenstance, multiverse, holographic projection, metaphysical, perpetual motion cycles require a type of faith of which I am incapable.
    (And I am willing to make the attempt to understand these theories.) I would make a guess that they are gibberish to most people for whom a theistic world view is much simpler and comes with the added benefit of meaning – “you are here because…………”

    Lion (IRC)
    PS – Argumentum ad populum can’t be any worse than the argumentum ad pigrum used by lazy atheists who say they don’t have to prove anything – or have nothing to prove.

    Reply
  60. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    Tim said,
    //What do you have, materially speaking, that didn’t exist before, though? If you write a book, you are taking ink (which existed separately in its own form prior) and putting it onto paper (which existed separately in its own form prior). The term “create” in this context is used poetically rather than literally, I think — all one has done is rearrange existing matter in such a way that it transmits information. A book is a collection of symbols — a symbol of its own, in a sense — and a symbol is just a configuration of matter that signifies something. Significance is in the mind of the beholder; it’s something that must be known beforehand (i.e. in order to signify something in a particular language, one must have a previous understanding of that language).//

    (this is a continuation of previous efforts to convey…here I go again…) Would you say that life is just rearranging “existing matter” ? I ask this because, the above example, speaking strictly materially, results in something that needs to be translated as a communication and can be “explained” as a series of chemical machinations (well, I’ve seen you guys do it…some how…). Life is unique in that it is totally different from all other “rearrangements of existing matter”. It is life (to be redundantly redundant).

    Like I have been trying to convey: life has something that is more than the sum of its parts. We can dissect it and tabulate, organize and inventory every component in its make up. Why can’t we put those known materials together ourselves and “make life” ? (will tell ya later…not done yet….I know you’ll be on pins and needles till then… :)

    Question: When two people see each other -even across a very great distance- why do they immediately fix on each other eyes? Even when you can barely make the eyes out, you make that “contact”, and a person who has some “human skills” can “read” the other in an instant. Even the avoidance of eye contact can mean so much. (Keep in mind, we’re talking TOO far away for those wonderful pheromones to have an affect -you studly studs, you!) Intangible? Yes. That’s the point.

    The connection between the two long distance ? strangers in ? the night ? is a more sophisticated version of the “material” missing in every lab experiment that attempts to bring about life: (DUNT-DUNT-DAAA!) God.

    Never mind the odds arguments, there is simply NO reason for life to exist by, in and or of itself. None. Sorry, but if ye can’t see this, there are very large “brickish” things betwixt thine ears. All of this insistence that arguments must adhere to logic deny the ultimate logic borne of the most rudimentary, basic, fundamental skills of observation (to be rooted in redundancy).

    In the name of science -”1: the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding” Mirriam-Webster- you deny what is right before you. In the name of science, rational thought that allows for the obvious is disdained and discarded. Lame :(

    Reply
  61. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    Tim said,
    //What do you have, materially speaking, that didn’t exist before, though? If you write a book, you are taking ink (which existed separately in its own form prior) and putting it onto paper (which existed separately in its own form prior). The term “create” in this context is used poetically rather than literally, I think — all one has done is rearrange existing matter in such a way that it transmits information. A book is a collection of symbols — a symbol of its own, in a sense — and a symbol is just a configuration of matter that signifies something. Significance is in the mind of the beholder; it’s something that must be known beforehand (i.e. in order to signify something in a particular language, one must have a previous understanding of that language).//

    (this is a continuation of previous efforts to convey…here I go again…) Would you say that life is just rearranging “existing matter” ? I ask this because, the above example, speaking strictly materially, results in something that needs to be translated as a communication and can be “explained” as a series of chemical machinations (well, I’ve seen you guys do it…some how…). Life is unique in that it is totally different from all other “rearrangements of existing matter”. It is life (to be redundantly redundant).

    Like I have been trying to convey: life has something that is more than the sum of its parts. We can dissect it and tabulate, organize and inventory every component in its make up. Why can’t we put those known materials together ourselves and “make life” ? (will tell ya later…not done yet….I know you’ll be on pins and needles till then… :)

    Question: When two people see each other -even across a very great distance- why do they immediately fix on each other eyes? Even when you can barely make the eyes out, you make that “contact”, and a person who has some “human skills” can “read” the other in an instant. Even the avoidance of eye contact can mean so much. (Keep in mind, we’re talking TOO far away for those wonderful pheromones to have an affect -you studly studs, you!) Intangible? Yes. That’s the point.

    The connection between the two long distance “strangers in the night” is a more sophisticated version of the “material” missing in every lab experiment that attempts to bring about life: (DUNT-DUNT-DAAA!) God.

    Never mind the odds arguments, there is simply NO reason for life to exist by, in and or of itself. None. Sorry, but if ye can’t see this, there are very large “brickish” things betwixt thine ears. All of this insistence that arguments must adhere to logic deny the ultimate logic borne of the most rudimentary, basic, fundamental skills of observation (to be rooted in redundancy).

    In the name of science (“1: the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding” Mirriam-Webster) you deny what is right before you. In the name of science, rational thought that allows for the obvious is disdained and discarded. Lame :(

    (can you read me now ?)

    Reply
  62. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    Your assertion that nothing “new” is really ever “created” because everything is “pre-existing” lends itself very nicely to an argument that God has always existed and the “creation” of the universe was easy because He was merely using PRE-EXISTING methods and energies He has ALWAYS had at His disposal.

    That’s what makes god such a worthless hypothesis to me — the fact that *anything* at all can be twisted into an argument in his favor, if you step back far enough. There’s no criteria that would falsify it, and so any value derived from one that doesn’t falsify it is worthless. It’s such a lazy hypothesis; it’s like claiming that all book series are connected to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series because the Dark Tower series says there is an alternate universe for each conceivable reality.

    Yah….if you’re going to make the god hypothesis work, you’re going to need to show some evidence that links to it that could not *also* link to something else.

    Your “nothing new” approach is results in meaninglessness.

    Objectively, yes. But meaning cannot be objective anyway, so that’s moot.

    Eg. If solid matter is ultimately divisible into (pre-existing) energy would we stop talking about the “creation” of matter?

    What?

    For one, matter can neither be created nor destroyed (law of conservation). So nobody’s really talking about the “creation” of matter in the literal sense anyway. Even the big bang theory doesn’t really discuss the creation of matter; it discusses the explosion of matter from a concentrated center-point.

    Nor would we cease observing “intent” behind both the wilful direction of energy (volition) and “intent” behind the rearrangement of matter by God or by humans into NEW things. Eg – houses with an intended purpose.

    Yes, intent exists as a function in the mind of the person doing the “intending.” What is your point?

    I argue that “new” means original and unprecedented to the observers (us) and “creation” is not nullified by the fact that some or all of the components existed in other forms in earlier times.

    That’s an incorrect definition of “create.” To create is to cause something to exist that didn’t exist before. When you arrange matter, you are not adding anything to it — your intent is not a material aspect of that matter, and the matter has not changed.

    As I’ve said, you could easily solve this by telling me: What is there that wasn’t there before, materially?

    You introduced the term “metaphysical” into the thread

    Only to ask if you were relying on it to make your point. I don’t know why you think anything I say is based in metaphysics; it’s based on a literal interpretation of the physical world.

    in the real world we observe intentional creation of NEW things.

    If you are going to “create” something truly, then you must violate the law of conservation. Are you then saying that this is possible?

    Your paradigm is……nobody did it, nothing is new

    By “new” of course, I mean “more than the sum of its parts.” The arrangement is new, so *metaphorically* yes, you have “created” a new arrangement. But that’s a semantic term for ease of reference; you haven’t actually created anything because nothing more is there than was before. Again, if you want to solve this problem, all you need to do is provide a single example of something material that you have added to the existing components that could be called “new.”

    no such thing as free will

    I don’t believe I ever said that, actually.

    nothing is really deliberate

    Or that.

    no individual action or thought is unique

    Or that.

    I would argue the paradigm of most human beings is ….”who done it and why and how?”

    Well, for me it’s more like, “how did it happen, and why?” Maybe somebody did it; maybe not.

    a theistic world view is much simpler and comes with the added benefit of meaning – “you are here because…………”

    Oh now that’s just silly~ There are plenty of needlessly complex truths about the universe — such as our bodily functions. According to what you say here, our current understanding of human biological function can’t be correct because it’s too complex! That’s silly!

    I mean, sure, we could be wrong about lots of stuff, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with how complex it is….:D

    PS – Argumentum ad populum can’t be any worse than the argumentum ad pigrum used by lazy atheists who say they don’t have to prove anything – or have nothing to prove.

    Your argument seems more ad hominem to me….

    Reply
  63. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    P.S.

    PS – Argumentum ad populum can’t be any worse than the argumentum ad pigrum used by lazy atheists who say they don’t have to prove anything – or have nothing to prove.

    You might not have been paying attention all the way through, so I’ll recap the important part: atheists and scientists don’t have to prove anything, with regard to your god hypothesis. You proposed it, so you support it. We are not responsible for breaking down your hypothesis. It seems you think that science is about breaking down everyone else’s ideas until yours — however improbable — seems “most likely.” That is not how it works. You’re expected to provide supporting evidence for your theory that is not strictly metaphysical/metaphorical. You’re expected to take other people’s views into account (i.e. if you assume your case from the start instead of trying to prove it with evidence, you’ll sway no one).

    Of course, you’re free to just discount all of that. But let it be known that, once you claim you’re practicing “science,” certain….expectations become introduced that may hinder the progress of your supernatural claims.

    Reply
  64. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    Frank, my post pretty much said everything I wanted it to say. Yarus’s paper and the Talk Origins site refute Meyer’s claims, as you’ve represented him on your site.

    I haven’t seen you refute either of these sources. You’ve pointed out that the Talk Origins page is a few years old, and yet you’re quoting Hoyle’s figure, which is decades older.

    You mention Dembski. Please cite scientific papers which refute them. Creationist literature is written for the converted and is simply not subject to the same review process. If you want to claim victory because I don’t have the time to read every single book by an organization with whose credibility I find suspect, then go ahead.

    “notice how many times the talk origin piece says this COULD happen or that COULD happen.”

    As Luke has pointed out, you’re the one making the claim that it COULDN’T have happened except through supernatural means. You’re the one claiming special knowledge about probabilities. If it is shown that it COULD have happened through natural means then your claim fails. See my analogy about the wall.

    As I asked in my last post, would you want our legal system changed to allow for the supernatural? Would you want scientists to make this change too? How would that work?

    Reply
  65. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Hi Nathan,

    You could have just said you hadn’t read it. That’s fine. We all have limited time and expertise. However, you cannot say Meyer has been refuted when I referred you to four chapters in his book that you haven’t read– especially when those chapters deal with the theories put forth by the talkorigins piece.

    Let’s be clear about probability and possibility. Virtually anything is possible, but only some things are probable. In my view, we should base our beliefs on the most probable. You can cite all the “Evolutionist literature” you want about possibilities that rely on speculation, but that is not the same as citing probabilities that rely on evidence and the principle of uniformity.

    The scientific principle known as the principle of uniformity says that causes in the past were like causes in the present. Aspects of the universe and life reveal causes that are intelligent. As we’ve been through several times before, there are no known natural forces that can:
    1) create themselves along with the universe out of nothing
    2) design the universe with extreme precision
    3) create the thousands of pages of code found in the simplest known life and the other highly engineered components found in life (i.e. create in gradual fashion the irreducible complex components of DNA, RNA, proteins and the factory-like cell structure).

    Since intelligence is the only known cause of highly designed and specified complex entities in the present, the most PROBABLE cause in the past is intelligence.

    By the way, the legal system uses the exact principle of uniformity I’m talking about. That’s what criminal forensic investigations rely on. When you find a body with bullet holes in it, you don’t philosophically rule out intelligent causes and insist that you find a natural explanation. Such an investigator wouldn’t solve many cases! But that’s exactly what atheists are doing on the question of biological origins– they are philosophically ruling out intelligence despite the fact that many other sciences are open to intelligent causes (e.g. archaeology, forensics, cryptology, SETI).

    Again, ID posits intelligent causes, not necessarily supernatural causes for designed things (in fact, most are not caused by the supernatural). But given the creation of all nature, at least one cause seems to be beyond nature (i.e. supernatural).

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  66. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “The scientific principle known as the principle of uniformity says that causes in the past were like causes in the present.”

    And all present causes that we know of are non-supernatural. All minds we know of are created by physical substances. And yet you are claiming exceptions on both these counts.

    “When you find a body with bullet holes in it, you don’t philosophically rule out intelligent causes and insist that you find a natural explanation.”

    So you don’t think that they should rule out ‘a ghost with unlimited powers committed the crime’? How then would one establish the guilt or innocence of anyone?

    Further on why I don’t read much into Dembski’s rebuttal that you cited earlier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_A._Dembski#Peer-review_controversy

    Reply
  67. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “You cannot say Meyer has been refuted when I referred you to four chapters in his book that you haven’t read”

    Please cite papers Meyer has published that refute the papers I cited. Alternatively, please cite the papers that Meyer draws on that refute them. Otherwise, the papers I cited remain unrefuted. Meyer’s book alone is not subject to the same scrutiny as scientific papers, and cannot be held to the same standard.

    Reply
  68. Luke
    Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    (Sorry, I am catching up on some of the discussion, and think I have an answer for you on something you asked. Even though it was a while back, I thought you might still be interested.)

    You asked:Why couldn’t the common genetic code (DNA) count equally as evidence for a common designer as a common ancestor?

    When I read your question, I immediately thought the car might be a good analogy.

    I am no expert in car history, but I think if we look at cars we can see a common ancestry. We can see, by looking at cars over the decades that someone, somewhere came up with the idea of a 4 wheeled vehicle with a mechanical propulsion system. All the cars that have come since build on that ancestry, but they clearly have had different designers. One of the reasons we can safely speculate about different designers is that we see many different solutions to the same or similar problems. We see systems which are designed to accomplish the same goal with completely different approaches.

    I think we see many similar things in biology. One example that comes to mind is the eye. We see so may different designs for the eye — some more advanced, some less. Now it would be speculation to say why, of course, perhaps the designer has some reason for this, but it just seems odd to go to the trouble of designing so many solutions to the same problem, just to put less advanced ones on the market. To further look at the eye, we know, for example, that humans (and other vertebrates) have a blind spot in their eyes, but other, simpler, animals do not.

    Again, we cannot know the intent of the designer, but is it more likely that the designer designed an inferior eye for more advanced animals when a design which solved the blind spot problem was available? Or that the designs came about separately through different methods of problem solving.

    Another example would be Vitamin C. Many animals are able to produce it themselves. The genes that would do this, however, seem broken in most apes (including humans). Why would the designer choose to inflict the pain and suffering (scurvy) that results from this by inserting a seemingly broken design, when a perfectly functioning one is available?

    There are other examples of systems in animals which solve the same or similar problems in different ways and with different designs.

    None of this is proof of many or separate designers, but it does suggest it, and it certainly suggest some odd things about a common designer if there was one.

    So to summarize this to better answer your question, to those who see DNA as naturally occurring, there is evidence for a common ancestor in the code, but there is also positive evidence for many independent, separately evolved (i.e. not commonly designed) solutions to the same problems.

    I hope that helps.

    (I will try to find a bit of time to comment on your more recent post soon.)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  69. Toby R.
    Toby R. says:

    “The scientific principle known as the principle of uniformity says that causes in the past were like causes in the present.”

    Though causes might be the same, conditions were not. I’m assuming that you don’t believe that there was life present on this earth as it formed. It would have been a hot mass of materials insupportable to life. These conditions changed. What were the early conditions of the planet? What was the pressure? The temperature? The pH? The radiation exposure? These are just a few variables that we’d all agree are not the same today as they were in the past. So how can you make the grand statement that natural forces cannot have coalesced into basic DNA or RNA without having knowledge of the chemical conditions of the early planet?

    In what way would finding life, simple microbiological life, on another planet like Mars or moons of jupiter or saturn, effect your thinking?

    “As we’ve been through several times before, there are no known natural forces that can:
    1) create themselves along with the universe out of nothing”

    This is assuming that these natural forces aren’t everexisting such as in an cyclical model.

    “2) design the universe with extreme precision”

    This is making the assumption of intelligence rather than the universe is the way it is because of the nature of its physics, or natural forces if you prefer that.

    “3) create the thousands of pages of code found in the simplest known life and the other highly engineered components found in life (i.e. create in gradual fashion the irreducible complex components of DNA, RNA, proteins and the factory-like cell structure).”

    This is assuming you know the exact nature of the formation of the planet and are discounting it as a possibility of a wholly natural explanation.

    Also what are you talking about when you say, “Thousands of pages of code”? I know you mean base pairs, but why is this supposed to be so amazing? I could probably touch the end of my pen to a piece of paper and the resulting period contains enough atoms to dwarf your thousand page tome. It just doesn’t impress me. I think statements like this are thrown out to blow minds and muddy waters. To overwhelm with numbers when what is really required is clear circumspect thought not tricks of language and emotion.

    Reply
  70. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Hi Nathan,

    Please cite papers Meyer has published that refute the papers I cited. Alternatively, please cite the papers that Meyer draws on that refute them. Otherwise, the papers I cited remain unrefuted. Meyer’s book alone is not subject to the same scrutiny as scientific papers, and cannot be held to the same standard.

    Please. You are smarter than that. You know as well as I do that:
    1) Something published isn’t necessarily true even if there hasn’t been a direct refutation in some journal (especially something on the internet as is Talk Origins). People can say anything on the internet.
    2) Editors of most journals are Darwinists who usually attempt to keep dissenting views out. The one exception was Dr. Richard Sternberg who experienced intense harassment after publishing Steven Meyer’s paper on ID, as documented here http://www.rsternberg.net/. A reprint of Meyer’s paper in “The Proceedings” — a peer-reviewed biology journal published at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.– can be read here: http://www.discovery.org/a/2177. By the way, this is the incident that ultimately led to the movie “Expelled.”
    3) Meyer’s book has been reviewed by several biologists on the book itself. Yet the issue is not really biology, as much as it is the PHILOSOPHY of science, which you continue to avoid admitting involves intelligent causes in other fields (archaeology, cryptology, forensics, SETI).
    4) The ultimate issue isn’t peer review, but truth. Scientists bucking the established orthodoxy are often blackballed for many years. So to say something can’t be true because it doesn’t have peer support from folks entrenched in orthodoxy doesn’t say much. Moreover, there are hundreds of scientists who believe ID is the most probable explanation.
    5) Citing dissenting views about Dembski on Wikipedia is not impressive either. Who peer reviews that? Is everything on Wikipedia true?

    Nathan, it seems to me you are throwing every naturalistic possibility against the wall — possibilities without any evidence empirically or forensically– and then insisting that something must stick because some PhD somewhere has suggested it could be possible, despite the fact that upon closer review we see no explanation you cite has any evidence behind it. Moreover, you are claiming that a man’s 622 page book has been refuted when you haven’t even read it!

    Again, if there is a viable naturalistic explanation, why is Dawkins denying there is?

    Talk to you later. Got to go.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  71. Luke
    Luke says:

    Just to comment and ask quickly on the three things you mentioned in your last post, Dr. Turek.

    1) create themselves along with the universe out of nothing

    This goes to the question I asked yesterday, but does modern science believe this or not? I am confused.

    2) design the universe with extreme precision

    This seems to run into the problem of knowing the intention of the designer which I mentioned in my previous post. How do you know that the universe was made with precision if you don’t know how the designer intended it? (Perhaps the designer intended something completely different and it’s formation was terribly imprecise.)

    You made this very point to Christopher Hitchens when he brought up some of the not-so-friendly-to-human-life aspects of the universe, but you yourself rely on the friendly-to-human-life aspects to make your argument, don’t you?

    3) create the thousands of pages of code found in the simplest known life and the other highly engineered components found in life (i.e. create in gradual fashion the irreducible complex components of DNA, RNA, proteins and the factory-like cell structure).

    I really think that many of the articles I posted show a way for this. Again I’ve cited experiments which have resulted in chains of 800 or so pairs with an RNA template and 80 or so without one. Obviously that’s not life, and it’s not as complex as first life would have been, but I also think it’s too much to ignore.

    (As I have said before, there is no reason to believe that this is not an area where G-d could act through natural means, as it seems He often does.)

    The reason I bring these experiments up, is that Dr. Meyer’s book relies on pointing out the many things that science can’t do. He points out the limitations in lab work and science — the things science and by extension nature has shown itself unable to do. (This is why people often label ID as a G-d-of-the-gaps argument — though Dr. Meyer and you try to give a positive evidence approach as well.) The problem with this is that science changes and advances

    As Darrel Falk of the Biologos Foundation (the foundation founded by Francis Collins which promotes the synergy of Christianity and modern science) states in a review of the book, that some of the limitations Dr. Meyer mentions as evidence were discarded by experiments as the book was going to print. (One can read the article on the Biologos Foundation website.)

    Luke

    Reply
  72. Luke
    Luke says:

    Frank Turek said:Again, if there is a viable naturalistic explanation, why is Dawkins denying there is?

    I do not think Dawkins believes that no naturalistic explanation exists.

    Rather, his view is that no one knows it yet.

    These are wildly different things, I think.

    Reply
  73. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “Editors of most journals are Darwinists who usually attempt to keep dissenting views out.”

    And Frank, I would hope you’re smarter than that. I could equally throw mud at the Discovery Institute, saying they’ll deny anything they see as a threat to their beliefs. At any rate, I would certainly HOPE that most editors of journals accept the evidence of evolution (though calling them Darwinists is like calling physicists ‘Einsteinists’). What kind of biologist would they be if they don’t even understand evolution? It would be like a geologist believing the earth was flat. And yes, the amount of evidence we have for evolution is comparable to the evidence for a round earth.

    ANYONE can publish a book and make an argument that prevailing science has got something wrong. Unfortunately it is worthless without the peer-reviewed papers to support their claims. I could direct you to any number of books claiming all sorts of fanciful things, but I couldn’t expect you to spend time chasing each one up. The test is whether it stands up to scrutiny.

    “People can say anything on the internet”

    Indeed, and people can say anything in print either. But Talk Origins lists all its peer-reviewed references, and you can check them all should you so wish.

    Reply
  74. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    Again, this post has nothing to do with macro evolution, but the origin of life. Meyer’s book is about the origin of life, but you wouldn’t know that because you think you’ve refuted it without reading it.

    Back to the key question: Do other realms of science posit intelligent causes (archaeology, cryptology, forensics, SETI)? If so, why not the origin of life?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  75. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    I know what the book is about Frank – you’ve presented his ideas, and that is what I am responding to. It was you who brought up ‘Darwinists’, so I responded to that too.

    Do ANY realms of science posit supernatural causes? Intelligent causes is not the issue or the problem – natural intelligent causes (be they archaeolgical or extra-terrestrial) can be tested, supernatural causes not so much.

    Again, consider other institutions whose purpose is to determine the truth – would you expect a court to consider the supernatural? Again, how would a court determine the innocence or guilt of a man if the lawyers were considering the possibility that a ghost used its unlimited power to impersonate that man to commit the crime. Why would the ghost do that? Well we’re not allowed question its motives.

    As with evolution (and there’s no real distinction between macro and micro) or the origins of life, or anything else in science, or indeed in life – there is NO amount evidence that supports a non-supernatural explanation where someone couldn’t claim it equally supports a supernatural one, as long as one credits the supernatural mover with unlimited power, and as long as you sweep aside the question of why it hides itself by acting like natural causes.

    This applies particularly to the DNA evidence for evolution. If it was a supernatural entity rather than evolution, it was an entity acting to appear exactly as if it was evolution.

    Reply
  76. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    How can extra terrestrial causes be tested? What do you mean by tested? Intelligent agents (be they human, supernatural or extra terrestrial) can be unpredictable unlike natural forces which are repetitive and predictable. In fact, your post is unpredictable because you are intelligent being.

    Even if you conflate micro and macro (which I don’t think is supported by the evidence), evolution says nothing about the origin of life. You need a living thing for natural selection and mutations to do anything. So contrary to what you’ve said, no intelligence is hiding as a natural cause. Which of the four natural forces can create life? And where did they come from?

    We don’t posit a ghost in the legal profession because we have a much more probable cause– an intelligent human being. But we don’t have a more probable cause than intelligence– be it supernatural or not– for life.

    As former atheist Antony Flew (your countryman) said, “follow the evidence where it leads.” DNA is what brought him from the most respected atheist in the world to a belief in theism. He wrote: “It now seems to me that the findings of more than 50 years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  77. Luke
    Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    You asked: Do other realms of science posit intelligent causes (archaeology, cryptology, forensics, SETI)? If so, why not the origin of life?

    I’ve actually spent a while recently thinking about this and your demonstration of the archeologist who finds some tool or clay pot and does not rule out intelligence. In fact, an archeologist assumes that the source is human.

    That’s the thing though, the conclusions of the source being intelligent and that of the source being human are very different conclusions.

    Archeologist don’t wonder if a clay pot was created by humans, or maybe apes or maybe dogs (which have intelligence also, right?). They don’t wonder whether the pots might have been created by daemons (which also seem to have the hallmarks of intelligence).

    So their conclusion is much stronger.

    This makes me question this paradigm that’s being presented. I think it’s more complex, in fact, much more complex than a simple: apparent design signals intelligence, there is clearly more involved.

    I haven’t studied archeology so I am not sure what some of those other factors might be, but it seems to me there is more there.

    I think the key to that ‘more’ is the specified aspect of Dr. Dembski’s Specified Complexity concept.

    We know a clay pot to be specific because we have knowledge of clay pots. In his book No Free Lunch, Dr. Dembski even admits that the idea of something being specified becomes subjective, because it depends on prior knowledge.

    If you did show me an archeologist who entertained supernatural intelligent causes bases on the criteria you present, I would rethink this, but for now, I can’t.

    I feel as though there is an elephant in the room though. I would be curious what you view on it is. (Maybe I am just missing something and the elephant is a flea.)

    I think you’re absolutely right to say that:

    Note:  whichever it is, asking who caused the uncaused First Cause is a logical category mistake and thus a meaningless question

    But there is a question which I don’t think is a logical error, and I don’t know how to respond to it.

    If you are right that all things which are complex and specified are designed by intelligence, then it seems fair to ask who designed G-d?

    If no one did, then how can we say “complex things require a designer?”

    If primitive life is so complex that it requires a designer, would you argue that G-d is more simple?

    If G-d does not need a designer, then why do other complex things?

    It seems the only difference would be that one is ever-existing and the other is not. This doesn’t seem to offer a satisfactory explanation though.

    At best, we can propose:

    All complex things need a designer, except those which are ever existing.

    What supports this though, other than convenience? (I am not stating that nothing does, but asking.)

    This leads us back to something that you ask in your article. What is most reasonable and most unbelievable.

    In your post you go pretty far back, to the beginnings of the universe (as we know it), but I am not sure that you go to the very basic premise of both of these world views.

    What is more unbelievable, based on the logic that you’ve presented here and elsewhere?

    That there is an ever-existent collection of matter which is constantly changing and rearranging.

    or

    That there is an ever-existent being, which is incredibly complex, yet has no designer?

    Reply
  78. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “As former atheist Antony Flew…”

    Not sure how this is any different from me quoting Francis Collins, which you rejecting immediately.

    “How can extra terrestrial causes be tested?”

    Have a look on SETI’s website if you want to know their methods.

    “We don’t posit a ghost in the legal profession because we have a much more probable cause”

    Sorry Frank, but how are you calculating the ‘probability’ that a crime was committed by a ghost? How are you testing that probability against the likelihood that natural causes (eg humans) were responsible? How are you making your similar calculations with regards to the origin of life, and how did you arrive at the opposite conclusion in the latter case compared to the former?

    Reply
  79. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “Intelligent agents (be they human, supernatural or extra terrestrial) can be unpredictable”

    Again the difference is in natural causes. Naturally occurring intelligent agents are subject to natural laws, supernatural agents are not. With the latter, we can attempt to establish motive and ability to commit the act, not so with supernatural agents. So we can attempt to establish why a man might have committed an act, and establish he had the ability to do so, or establish that he could not have done so. Not such calculations can be made with the supernatural.

    An archaeologists can say nothing about an object made by supernatural means. Is it 500 years old, or just made with the appearance of that age? What purpose was the object for? Well if it was made by an all-powerful being one cannot even begin to guess.

    Reply
  80. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    Sorry I’ll type that again:

    “Again the key difference is in natural causes vs supernatural, not intelligent vs non-intelligent.

    Naturally occurring intelligent agents are subject to natural laws, supernatural agents are not. With the FORMER, we can attempt to establish motive and ability to commit the act, not so with supernatural agents. So we can attempt to establish why a man might have committed an act, and establish he had the ability to do so, or establish that he could not have done so. NO such calculations can be made with the supernatural.”

    Reply
  81. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Hi Nathan,

    Glad you’re acknowledging that intelligent causes are posited in science. However, finding the motive or the intent of the designer or the purpose of the object is not always relevant for discovering design. An archaeologist can discover an artifact that is clearly the result of intelligence even if he doesn’t know what it was used for or how to decipher it (e.g. the Rosetta stone). Likewise, if astronauts ever discovered a pile of machinery on Mars, they could safely assume an intelligent being put it there even if they had no idea the motive of the being or the function of the machine. The same is true of a murder. You might not be able to know the motive of the murderer, but you can still safely conclude someone has been murdered.

    Notice how our discussion has evolved intelligently to the philosophy of science: the rules of science and how to interpret the data. This is where the real debate is. It is NOT a debate over the evidence. Everyone is looking at the same evidence. It is a debate over how to interpret that data, and that is an issue for philosophers of science like Steven Meyer.

    I agree with you completely that we should always look for natural causes first (that’s a philosophical position), just not that we ought to rule out intelligent causes or, if the evidence suggests (as it certainly does with the creation of natural world), a supernatural cause. If that’s where the evidence leads, that’s where it leads.

    BTW, you are conflating evolution and the origin of life again. Collins says little about the origin of life, other than we don’t know its source. Flew is looking at the evidence regarding the origin of life and says it points to design.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  82. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    I’m not really that fussed about Flew to be honest Frank. He was about 80 when he converted, sadly not an age when most men do their best thinking. I’ve seen many suggestions that he is a vulnerable old man being exploited by unscrupulous ne’er-do-wells.

    At any rate, I’m not really aware of his qualifications to make these assertions on the origin of life either. He’s a philosopher, not trained in biology, physics or chemistry. Yes we all have the same evidence, but not everyone has the training to interpret or understand it to the same degree.

    “Glad your acknowledging that intelligent causes are posited in science.”

    Frank, I never denied it. Obviously there’s no problem there. As I said from the start, it’s SUPERNATURAL causes that are by excluded. And I don’t see you making the case for their inclusion either. So again:

    “How are you calculating the ‘probability’ that a crime was committed by a ghost? How are you testing that probability against the likelihood that natural causes (eg humans) were responsible? How are you making your similar calculations with regards to the origin of life, and how did you arrive at the opposite conclusion in the latter case compared to the former?”

    You explained in your Hitchens debate why you reject the ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’ idea. Who are you to say that ghosts don’t commit crimes? It seems inconsistent for you to accept the supernatural in some instances, but to cast it as ‘improbable’ in others. How are you calculating this probability?

    “BTW, you are conflating evolution and the origin of life again. Collins says little about the origin of life, other than we don’t know its source. ”

    I’m conflating nothing, merely pointing out that you can hardly quote Flew to me, when you reject out of hand quotes I give you from Collins (regardless of the subject). We can quote each other all day, including pointless bickering about what Einstein’s stance was! I’ve never known such quotes change anyone’s minds.

    Reply
  83. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “The same is true of a murder. You might not be able to know the motive of the murderer, but you can still safely conclude someone has been murdered.”

    Well if you don’t know the motive you can’t say whether or not it was murder or manslaughter. And you might have to prove it wasn’t an accident, or suicide. And if the defence claims God did it, you might have philosophical problems with calling it murder too. Who are you to say that God did NOT do it? Or did not command the perpetrator to do it? Surely you would not allow this is a defence? By why not – you believe God exists, you believe that in the bible he has commanded others to kill in the past.

    “However, finding the motive or the intent of the designer or the purpose of the object is not always relevant for discovering design.”

    Well it is important if you’re trying to establish whether or NOT it was designed. A piece of wood fashioned into a club, we might say it was obviously designed. A stone lying on a beach surrounded by other pebbles we’re more likely to say was shaped by natural causes.

    But if you start positing a supernatural entity whose motives we can’t fathom, suddenly we can’t make any statements about anything. Why assume the Rosetta Stone tells us anything about another civilisation – it might have been created by a God to confuse us.

    You can say that Rodin statue is obviously designed when you compare it to a pile of rocks at the bottom of a hill, which you say obviously just fell off the top. But once you posit a supernatural creator whose motives we can’t fathom, why not say that the rocks is just as likely to be a sculpture by a deity – who are we to wonder as to what it’s supposed to mean.

    The same arguments are used by creationists – first they’ll claim that animals are so perfectly designed they had to come from a designer. Then, when presented with any evidence with animals’ bodies are very imperfect, and actually carry all the evidence of millions of years of evolution in them, with all sorts of ‘flaws’ only explainable by blind evolution, they reply that we can’t hope to fathom what God’s intention might have been.

    Reply
  84. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    Disparaging Flew because of his age does not defeat his argument. Where I come from, wisdom comes with age.

    Again, we go with probabilities on a case by case basis. When we detect a crime, we normally can detect a criminal. Might there be demonic activity without a criminal? I suppose that could be possible if demons exist, but one would need to see evidence for the particular crime in question. The problem is that humans and demons (if they exist) can do similar things (say, kill people), so how do you differentiate?

    But when it comes to the origin of life, natural forces and intelligence CANNOT do similar things. Natural forces are repetitious, do not create specified complexity, and bring things toward disorder. Intelligent agents, on the other hand, are not necessarily repetitive, can create specified complexity, and they can bring things toward order from disorder.

    My position can be falsified if we can find that the universe is eternal and can observe natural forces creating specified complexity and irreducibly complex highly engineered systems from non-life. What will falsify your position?

    Blessings

    Frank

    Reply
  85. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “Where I come from, wisdom comes with age.”

    Hmm, in my family it’s more like alzheimer’s that comes with age!

    “The problem is that humans and demons (if they exist) can do similar things (say, kill people), so how do you differentiate?”

    You’ve hit the nub of the problem. In fact, supernatural all-powerful creatures can do ANYTHING than humans can do, and anything that anything else can do. So it becomes self-defeating to ruminate on their involvement in anything. And also impossible to calculate the probability of their involvement.

    “My position can be falsified if we can find that the universe is eternal and can observe natural forces creating specified complexity and irreducibly complex highly engineered systems from non-life.”

    And how do you intend to obseve the conditions of the earth billions of years ago? How would one set up an experiment to replicate those conditions that wouldn’t end in you saying ‘Ah, intelligence set up the experiment, which proves that intelligence is required’?

    Even if one showed that life can be createable from non-life, you can still claim that this doesn’t prove that it WAS way back then.

    “Natural forces are repetitious, do not create specified complexity, and bring things toward disorder.”

    There are many counter-examples of this Frank, many of which have been mentioned before on this site. A tree is more complex than an acorn. Snowflakes are more ordered than water droplets. Waves on a beach will order the rocks in piles of similar sizes. There are hundreds of other examples.

    “Snowflakes with their six-sided crystalline symmetry are formed spontaneously from randomly moving water vapor molecules. Salts with precise planes of crystalline symmetry form spontaneously when water evaporates from a solution. Seeds sprout into flowering plants and eggs develop into chicks.”

    Am off to bed.
    So your position is not falsifiable.

    Reply
  86. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    Snowflakes have structure but not information. Acorns, trees, seeds and eggs are living things. You’ve got to stop conflating the origin of life with life itself!

    “And how do you intend to obseve the conditions of the earth billions of years ago? How would one set up an experiment to replicate those conditions that wouldn’t end in you saying ‘Ah, intelligence set up the experiment, which proves that intelligence is required’?”

    The point is not that intelligence set up the experiment. The point is that origin of life experiments often set up conditions that were not the conditions of the early universe (Urey-Miller) or have intelligently guided targets (Dawkins).

    The point stands: My position can be falsified if we can find that the universe is eternal and can observe natural forces creating specified complexity and irreducibly complex highly engineered systems from non-life. What will falsify your position?

    Good night, sleep tight in the frozen UK which is in dire danger of global warming :-)

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  87. Luke
    Luke says:

    Frank Turek said: My position can be falsified if we can find that the universe is eternal

    Why in the world (universe) would an eternal universe in any way falsify the existence of G-d?

    Sorry, but I can’t agree with that at all.

    I’d have to get back to you on the universe question, I guess it has to do with the big bang question I asked. (I will try to read about this more, since no one here seems to have the answer.)

    Frank Turek said: and can observe natural forces creating specified complexity and irreducibly complex highly engineered systems from non-life

    Again, how would this falsify your position?

    Because natural components could combine to form life does not mean that G-d could not combine them himself!

    Are you saying that G-d could not make a snowflake?

    This is like the fallacy we discussed when it came to AGW. Just because we can show that natural forces to cause warming does not mean that human causes cannot do the same.

    On a slight side note, I am not sure what your position is Dr. Turek.

    On one hand you cite these statistics to show how improbable the natural origin of life is. On the other hand you say that natural forces cannot (meaning — I assume — cannot) do these things.

    The chances of flipping heads on a two-tailed coin are precisely 0, Not 1 in 422 skillion-billion.

    So which is it? Is a natural beginning to life impossible, or just unimaginably improbable?

    Reply
  88. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    2) Editors of most journals are Darwinists who usually attempt to keep dissenting views out.

    lol at “Darwinists~”

    4) The ultimate issue isn’t peer review, but truth.

    Well, by what method other than scientific and peer review do you suggest people establish commonly-understood “truth?”

    Again, this post has nothing to do with macro evolution, but the origin of life. Meyer’s book is about the origin of life, but you wouldn’t know that because you think you’ve refuted it without reading it.

    OOH SNAP!

    ..but seriously, simply by showing that a natural explanation is possible (regardless of how likely or unlikely), I think people have already debunked your claim pretty thoroughly. Insofar as a natural explanation exists, I think that by definition is more likely, for reasons you’ve mentioned — in a murder case, we assume that a physical (non-supernatural) cause is responsible wherever possible, even when that *seems* to be impossible (i.e. there are no suspects, or the clues don’t seem to match up conclusively).

    For example, many cases go unsolved, as opposed to credited with a supernatural source….with regard to the creation of life and/or the universe, you seem to be saying that, because we don’t have conclusive natural evidence one way or the other, we should assume supernatural causation just because “the case needs to be closed,” and we can’t have an open case. If we did that in a court case, then anytime there were no suspects we would automatically be required to credit a supernatural source any time there was a lack of conclusive evidence.

    You need a living thing for natural selection and mutations to do anything.

    Well, technically all you need is chemical traits.

    But we don’t have a more probable cause than intelligence– be it supernatural or not– for life.

    We don’t even have any “most likely” probable cause, natural or otherwise — the very basis on which you conclude that the supernatural *must* be true is because we lack conclusive natural evidence. It hasn’t been shown to be naturally impossible, but it hasn’t been proven positively, either.

    What is more unbelievable, based on the logic that you’ve presented here and elsewhere?

    That there is an ever-existent collection of matter which is constantly changing and rearranging.

    or

    That there is an ever-existent being, which is incredibly complex, yet has no designer?

    I second this question, and would like to see the answer given.

    Likewise, if astronauts ever discovered a pile of machinery on Mars, they could safely assume an intelligent being put it there even if they had no idea the motive of the being or the function of the machine.

    Problem is, there’s no culmination or resolution to that train of thought — the astronauts found machines, they must have been designed, right? By who? By a complex intelligent life. Well, that complex intelligent life is complex, therefore designed, right? Who designed it? So on and so forth until you get to the ultimate source. Then, that source is pretty complex and intelligent, right? So who created it?

    Logical dead end. There’s no rational reason to stop asking the question there. The only reason anyone does has already been mentioned (convenience).

    You might not be able to know the motive of the murderer, but you can still safely conclude someone has been murdered.

    …because we have prior knowledge of what a murder is and what one looks like. Just like with the machinery example; because we have prior knowledge of machinery, we’re able to judge that the machinery had to be developed by someone. However, we have no such prior experience with the formation of worlds or universes.

    “Natural forces are repetitious, do not create specified complexity, and bring things toward disorder.”

    They’re more like “patterned.” And patterns are pretty ordered, if I do say so myself.

    Reply
  89. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Tim,

    There has to be an uncaused first cause. Been through this before. It is most likely immaterial, timeless and spaceless because material time and space were created.

    Done for the day

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  90. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    There has to be an uncaused first cause.

    Not at all :)

    Been through this before. It is most likely immaterial, timeless and spaceless because material time and space were created.

    Yes, we have been through this before. I cited the cyclical universe model, which you responded to with the above assertions (that time and space were “created”) and have yet to enforce with evidence.

    Reply
  91. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    P.S

    I was just thinking, and I have a footnote to add….I realize why the whole “nature implies intelligence implies a creator” line seems off to me. It’s because, if we accept that complexity implies intelligence in such a way that nature’s very existence implies a god, then there is nothing — even theoretically — that could exist that would not be attributed to god or intelligence in some way. That kind of kills the value of associating nature with god.

    Perhaps that’s unclear….basically:

    If, for example, the existence of forces in nature (such as the “four forces” you tout) implies that an intelligence must exist, and if any result of those forces can be attributed to that intelligence….then what could not be attributed to intelligence? What is the point of even differentiating between “intelligence” and “non-intelligence?” According to that line of thinking, nothing is ever the result of non-intelligence. So what, then, is the difference between intelligence and non-intelligence? In setting up these definitions such that existence itself implies an overseeing intelligence, you seem to have effectively conflated intelligence with non-intelligence.

    A simple example….the old “watchmaker” argument. You imply that, because we find a watch, we assume it is made by intelligence. Never minding the issue of prior understanding of the nature of complex machinery….this assumes a difference between “nature” and “complex machinery,” such that we assume the watch is made by intelligence but we also assume that nature itself is not made by intelligence — there is a fundamental difference between the two, and not just in the sense that “god made one and man made the other.” I’m talking about a logical, rational difference. It doesn’t make sense to conclude that the watch is made by intelligence, but then also conclude that nature is made by intelligence, because by that logic everything everywhere is the product of intelligence — it assumes the argument it’s trying to establish.

    An even simpler way to phrase it….if everything everywhere is the product of intelligence, then what is the significance of ‘intelligence?’ Or perhaps, If the definition is so lax that *anything* can be made to imply intelligence, then what meaning does that supposed implication have? It’s like the Dark Tower example I offered before — if we set up a system such that any outcome proves the hypothesis and there is no way to falsify it, then that renders the “proof” meaningless.

    Reply
  92. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “Sorry Nathan, but this is a total non sequitur.”

    Ha ha, yes I spotted that after I posted it, but was ‘going to bed’ so didn’t bother clarifying. I inserted a line in the wrong place.

    The line “So your position is non falsifiable” was meant to go directly after “Even if one showed that life can be createable from non-life, you can still claim that this doesn’t prove that it WAS way back then.”

    The post was meant to end at ‘Am off to bed”. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clear that up.

    Reply
  93. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “Good night, sleep tight in the frozen UK which is in dire danger of global warming”

    Ha ha again! Unfortunately it has long been predicted that global warming could upset the gulf stream (which brings the UK far warmer weather than other nations on the same latitude). So alas, global warming could easily lead to colder weather in the UK, instead simply warming up a bit of ocean near the country.

    But right now the problem has to do with a large area of unusually low pressure, that right now doesn’t seem to want to move.

    Reply
  94. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    //According to that line of thinking, nothing is ever the result of non-intelligence. So what, then, is the difference between intelligence and non-intelligence?// (emph. mine)

    It’s the difference between our two arguments. Am I missing something? God, the creator of the universe, is intelligent. Therefore, the universes origin is of an intelligent Designer.

    Tim, I know you believe life can exist independent of its origin(!) but the belief in ID assumes that all creation comes from intelligence. Again: what am I missing? (was that one of those trick questions setting me up for the “gotcha!” ? Gee, I sure hope so – :) )

    Okay, now for my illustration of a theory drawn to its natural conclusion: secularists (Tim, to direct this at someone “right here”, that is) believe that all knowledge is subjective. Your virtuous act of good will, may well be my heinous crime against all that is decent -if anything actually “exists” that is (given our wildly erratic, subject to mass hypnosis, chemically composed “consciousness” that is), in the first place, that is. We know (to the extent that we “know” anything that is) the human consciousness, in comparison to a worms’, is virtually impossible to measure other than to say we would be “supernatural” in the world of the worm. Given that, in nature, there can be such unquantifiable differences between two life forms – one not only can’t comprehend the other, it can’t even comprehend that there is something to comprehend (to be, well, you know)- AND your assertion that reality is subjective, wouldn’t it follow that all existence could very likely be one single thought of another being that is merely “thinking” about something called the universe?

    In that scenario, it appears that we are much closer to the worm than we are to the one who “thought us up”. To be platonically redundant….that is.

    Reply
  95. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    Luke said: Nathan said:Am off to bed.
    So your position is not falsifiable.

    Sorry Nathan, but this is a total non sequitur.

    I thought he was referring to the fact that, since his soon found state of unconsciousness would render this currently existing “universe of thought” -terminated, Franks’ position would now be unfalsifiable until the next universe was started at a later “time” when the proceedings would have to be started anew all over again. To be sillily redundant.

    test – test -one, two – one, two
    Can you read me now?

    Reply
  96. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    Tim: “then there is nothing — even theoretically — that could exist that would not be attributed to god or intelligence in some way.”

    Thanks one of the problems with Paley’s watch argument. He tells us that if we were walking through a forest and saw a watch, it would stand out from nature as being obviously designed, due to its complexity. Then he points out how complex animals are, therefore we should come to the same design conclusion.

    Problem is (well one of many problems here) is that if EVERYTHING is that complex, why does the watch stand out in the first place? Paley starts off saying the watch is obviously different from the nature that surrounds it, then ends up saying that nature is obviously the same as the watch.

    At any rate, simplicity is often a better guide to design than complexity. A rubber ball is simpler than a rock that’s fallen off a mountain. A robot is simpler than an animal that has evolved over millions of years. Design removes the extraneous and unnecessary.

    Reply
  97. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    Frank1: “Natural forces … bring things toward disorder.”

    Frank2: “Snowflakes have structure but not information. ”

    That is not relevant. My post on snowflakes addressed and refuted your point that natural forces bring things towards disorder. I gave at least two examples of natural forces creating order. (Whether or not they later return to disorder is also not relevant to the refutation of your point).

    “or have intelligently guided targets (Dawkins). ”

    Dawkins addressed this complaint thoroughly in the demonstration of the experiment that I saw (pretty sure it was one of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures). To keep my post short(er) I’ll simply invite you to look up Weasel_program on wiki.

    “and can observe natural forces creating specified complexity and irreducibly complex highly engineered systems from non-life. What will falsify your position?”

    Can you define what you mean by ‘specified complexity’? Specified by whom? If someone’s specifying, doesn’t that infer that intelligence is already required. In other words if any example WAS found, you would simply dismiss it as being life already?

    Googling the term directs me back to Dembski and our friend wiki:

    “He has stated that, in his opinion, “if there is a way to detect design, specified complexity is it.”

    So it very much seems like you’re basically saying ‘give me an example of life arising from non-life’.

    This doesn’t advance the argument. I might as well ask you to prove YOUR assertion by providing an example of life arising by supernatural means. In other words it brings us right back to where we started – both faced with the fact that at some point life started, we don’t know exactly how, and you’re assuming that the supernatural MUST have been involved, and I hold that at the moment we just don’t know.

    You asked what would falsify my position; I summarise that position immediately above. So what would change my position that ‘We can’t say for certain how life started on earth’?
    1. I’ve never seen evidence for the supernatural.
    2. Until I do, I believe it would be inconsistent for me say ‘I don’t know, therefore supernatural’ in any particular occasion, unless I do in EVERY occasion.
    3. I’ve already explained why the latter would be completely impractical.

    Reply
  98. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    Incidentally Frank, you keep saying that evolution is irrelevant here. Two problems for me.

    1. Let’s go back to my ‘court’ analogy. You said whether or not one considers the supernatural would depend on the crime. However, if the jury is already convinced that similar crimes often occur that are committed by demons, then they are more likely to consider it in this case.

    If you already hold that evolution is impossible, and already put bio-diversity down to celestial intervention, then obviously that’s going to affect your calculation of natural forces creating the first life. You already believe the supernatural was necessary to get from B to Z, why posit natural forces to get from A to B?

    So imagine the court is trying to determine whether our man Natural Causes committed the crime. First he had to get over a big wall (biogenesis), which has since crumbled (but which we all know was high). Then he had to get through a long obstacle course (evolution). Now all the experts have a pretty good idea how he got through the course once he got over the wall. But the jury doesn’t buy it (in part because they completely reject the experts estimate of how long he had to get through the course).

    No matter how much the experts go through all the evidence, the jury denies that anything natural could possibly have got through the course. Some accept that NC could have got through any part individually, but somehow when you put it all together, they just don’t buy it – he must have had supernatural help.

    Given that, how much time do you think that jury will give to considering how he got over the wall one his own? None at all! They don’t even think he could have done the course, so of course they’ll assume that either someone else did the crime, or at the very least gave the guy a bunk up over the wall.

    2. When I’ve asked creationists to explain what would falisfy their rejection of evolution they always reply with one or more the following: a) something that is actually contrary to what evolution would predict, such as a cat giving birth to a dog, b) a piece of evidence that could never actually be found (like direct observation of something that takes millions of years), or c) a piece of evidence that actually ALREADY exists, that the creationists simply wasn’t aware of (see Richard Dawkins’ hilarious/exasperating interview with Wendy Wright).

    Now, if you already admit that you reject the evidence for natural selection/evolution as an explanation for the earth’s biodiversity, then I have every confidence you could equally reject any evidence that is found for a naturally caused origin of life. Given that evolution is as well supported as almost any theory in science, I don’t “have enough faith” to think that ANY amount of evidence would be enough to convince you on biogenesis.

    It would be like a ‘moon hoaxer’ claiming he was open to evidence that Neil Armstrong did walk on the moon, while he also claims that the moon is the size of a car and only a few hundred feet about the earth. If he believes the latter in the face of evidence, why should he accept any evidence for the former?

    Reply
  99. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Hi Nathan,

    I have very limited time today. But I think your last post has some merit because a worldview must explain all the pieces of the puzzle we call reality. i think it is true that if God created the universe, then it is more likely than not that he also created life because 1) life exhibits the characteristics of intelligence as I’ve mentioned before and 2) no known natural forces can produce those characteristics. And the same could be said about new life forms.

    However, while an investigator may expect the causes to be one and the same, the origin of life and the origin of new life forms remain separate forensic questions that require their own evidence. They might be the same cause, but they might not. We should be open and follow the evidence where it leads. Agree?

    More could be said, especially on the evidence for macroevolution, but that would be more for another post and thread than this one. Perhaps you might like to write a post on what you see as the best evidence for macroevolution? I can put you up a kind of guest poster if you’re interested. Let me know.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  100. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    Thanks Frank, that’s very kind. But really (and this is no-one’s fault but my own), I’ve probably filled up enough of your cite, and used up enough of my time, for a while. I should stop posting here as a distraction tool!

    Reply
  101. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    Well, as soon as you want to get back involved, let me know. I’ll set you up to post the best evidence for macroevolution. It will be helpful to get your perspective on the positive evidence for it.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  102. Luke
    Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    Have you checked out Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True?

    Also, you said this to Nathan in the middle of a post yesterday:

    You need a living thing for natural selection and mutations to do anything.

    I just wanted to clear this up for any readers. I don’t think by any stretch that you were trying to be misleading, but this isn’t correct from a technical standpoint.

    Surely you believe that viruses go through mutation and natural selection. (Have you gotten your H1N1 shot?)

    That one is obvious, though, but some research which is much less obvious and more interesting was published in Science Magazine last week.

    If you type “Who needs DNA” into google, the first links will take you to a Discover Magazine article (posted yesterday) which provides a summary.

    I’ll provide a few quotes.

    Researchers document these lifeless structures evolving, despite the fact that they lack any DNA or RNA.

    (Quote from the study’s author) “In viruses, mutation is linked to changes in nucleic acid sequence that leads to resistance. Now, this adaptability has moved one level down- to prions and protein folding – and it’s clear that you do not need nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) for the process of evolution

    When a prion converts a normal protein, it typically forces it into the same structure as itself, but at a low probability, other variant structures result. The population of these variants can then expand or contract based on selective pressures.

    This is very interesting and I am sure further research will be done. Anyway, it seems to be another example of non-life evolving, and if confirmed by further research, would be much more noteworthy than mutations of non-life with which we’re all familiar.

    Did you read the Biologos article I discussed yesterday? I’m afraid this is just another illustration of the problem discussed.

    Reply
  103. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    It’s the difference between our two arguments.

    The question was not about the difference in our arguments, it was about the difference between intelligence and non-intelligence. Can you give an example of something that exists that is not the result of intelligence? If not, then it’s impossible to prove that *anything* is the result of intelligence because you are begging the question — such a system pre-defines something that exists as being the product of intelligence, solely by virtue of existing. The reason that’s important is because it leaves no criteria by which the argument could (theoretically) be falsified; thus the conclusion is without scientific merit.

    I believe Mr. Nathan Barley summarized it much better than I can when he asked, Why does the watch stand out in the first place if nature, too, is designed?

    (Tim, to direct this at someone “right here”, that is) believe that all knowledge is subjective.

    I shall quote myself to explain why you are incorrect. Written on December 30th, 2009 at 5:58 pm:

    as I’ve said before, it’s not that I “don’t believe in universal truth,” but rather that I don’t believe in our ability to effectively convey it (flawed as we are) if it does exist. So I rely on methods of conveyance of information that are consistent and verifiable. The alternative being to sit here and contemplate myself into a corner until nothing means anything and I’m unable to meaningfully interact with the world.

    but the belief in ID assumes that all creation comes from intelligence.

    Here’s why that’s an incomplete statement, though: the manner of “Creation” which you use to support this hypothesis (intelligence as osberved in the natural world, “creating” things by rearranging existing matter) is not the same thing as the “Creation” you are hypothesizing about — the creation of the universe. The difference between the two is as clear as the difference between the “creation” of the first human male and female, and the “creation” of their offspring through natural reproduction.

    Simply put, there is “Original Creation” and “Pro-creation” in this context. It is not consistent to use an instance of “Pro-creation” (use of existing systems) to imply “Original Creation” (creation of the existing systems to begin with). In order to imply “Original Creation,” we would have to have prior knowledge of it (i.e. direct observation), or to have some basic model of understanding as to how it works. We have this in spades with “Pro-creation;” with “Original Creation,” not so much.

    Reply
  104. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    //Can you give an example of something that exists that is not the result of intelligence? If not, then it’s impossible to prove that *anything* is the result of intelligence because you are begging the question — such a system pre-defines something that exists as being the product of intelligence, solely by virtue of existing.// (modified emph. mine)

    Exactly! (I don’t think non-intelligence is necessary to prove the existence of intelligence. It is not like good and evil.)

    // The reason that’s important is because it leaves no criteria by which the argument could (theoretically) be falsified; thus the conclusion is without scientific merit.//

    Scientific merit is only possible to the extent that ones “theory” is able to be falsified?

    Tim, you have gotten to the nut of why Christians are so darned annoying to most everyone who isn’t one: we know what we know. That is why (to me) -to be honest- these discussions are as much a curiosity for that they exist, as they are fascinating within themselves. Christianity is defined by the ability to surrender ones will to God so, of course, all evidence leads directly to Him. If He made everything, how could His signature not be present in everything? The only exception being the actions of free willed humans. And even then, those -often times- otherwise negative events can “..work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

    Look at it this way: If I told you that a great treasure was somewhere in a field -right outside your window- and all you had to do was search and you could have it easily, you would go get it. You would, that is, if you believed me. No belief = no search = no treasure. The road to salvation requires that you first believe. That is who the apostles sought out, people who already believed. Those believers said, “What must we do to be saved?” and, starting with Peter in Acts 2:38, they were instructed what to do. They believed in the consequences, positive and negative, of “getting it right” or not, respectively.

    So, w/o the willingness to accept that Christ died for you, you will never see the truth. Because, before you can even get there, you must first be willing to see that all creation could not come about without a creator. Which, again, leads back to the root of the denial of His sovereignty: pride.

    God resists the proud. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27)

    Don’t get me wrong, these debates are of value to me, just as you discount “magic Jesus telepathy” and still engage those who don’t. Just thought I’d lay my cards on the table.

    (And now, to move the debate along…) Tim said, “ it’s not that I “don’t believe in universal truth,” but rather that I don’t believe in our ability to effectively convey it (flawed as we are) if it does exist. (emph. yours)

    1) it’s not that you don’t believe it
    2) it’s just that we can’t convey it
    3) and you still return to questioning whether it exists in the first place

    Where was I wrong? What does it matter if truth exists if we can’t even be sure of “our ability to convey it” ? Are you saying that we can “know” it, we just can’t convey it ? Because, by skipping to conveyance, it appears you are assuming that one -as an individual- could actually know an objective truth. But, “flawed as we are”, how could that be ?

    Cheers, Mark

    Reply
  105. Toby R.
    Toby R. says:

    “There has to be an uncaused first cause. Been through this before. It is most likely immaterial, timeless and spaceless because material time and space were created.”

    The uncaused first cause is a fine example of the theme “Everyone Believes Something Unbelievable”. To say that there was a cause of the universe is all well and good, but to say that that cause was uncaused seems like special pleading.

    Everyone believes something unbelievable. Like this excerpt from wikipedia:

    In the Baum-Frampton cyclical model, a septillionth (or less) of a second before the would-be Big Rip, a turnaround occurs and only one causal patch is retained as our universe. The generic patch contains no quark, lepton or force carrier; only dark energy – and its entropy thereby vanishes. The adiabatic process of contraction of this much smaller universe takes place with constant vanishing entropy and with no matter including no black holes which disintegrated before turnaround. The idea that the universe “comes back empty” is a central new idea of this cyclic model, and avoids many difficulties confronting matter in a contracting phase such as excessive structure formation, proliferation and expansion of black holes, as well as going through phase transitions such as those of QCD and electroweak symmetry restoration. Any of these would tend strongly to produce an unwanted premature bounce, simply to avoid violation of the second law of thermodynamics. The surprising w

    Reply
  106. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    Exactly! (I don’t think non-intelligence is necessary to prove the existence of intelligence. It is not like good and evil.)

    Problem is, you’re redefining “intelligence” to mean just about anything. This heavily dampens the weight of any argument coming from the redefinition.

    Scientific merit is only possible to the extent that ones “theory” is able to be falsified?

    Yes. If there is no criteria for falsification, then it’s not a theory — you should be able to say, “IF it is true, then we should be seeing [X] result, but if it’s not, then we should be seeing [Y].” If it’s true, then we’ll of course see X and not Y, and your point is established. If not, we’ll see Y and not X (or maybe both), and we’ll be forced to reexamine the hypothesis.

    Example….I could propose the theory that a deity *does* exist, but that he doesn’t want to be found or discovered, he just wants to be left alone. Because of this, any evidence we see of this deity (or of no deity) is actually a trick on behalf of the deity — the evidence was put there by the deity to trick us into thinking some other deity was real instead (or that there was no deity).

    There is no way you can falsify that theory. If you present opposing evidence, I can say that of course there’s opposing evidence! The spaceless, timeless deity put it there on purpose to force you to the logical conclusion that he wants you to reach!

    The same is true of your intelligence theory. You just make the following claim instead:

    -) Complexity implies intelligence (i.e. “IF something is complex, then it is designed; IF it is simple, then it is not designed”).

    -) A watch is complex compared to a rock, so it must have been designed.

    -) But the rock is also complex, so it too must have been designed.

    I don’t know how to phrase it any simpler….but there needs to be context for this assertion. As it stands, the claim of “complexity = intelligence” suffers because you don’t have an example of what is not complex by that definition; you just say, “everything” is complex. With such a liberal definition, you’re cutting out the middle man because you’re not establishing what “complex” is that separates it from “simple”, and so we end up with this:

    -) Complexity = design
    -) Everything = complex
    -) Therefore, everything = design

    The problem being that it’s based on two completely unsupported assertions (that complexity = design, and that everything is complex by that definition). Leading us right back to square one with you randomly asserting things. So again, I can’t really argue with your case since it doesn’t actually consist of a case, but rather unsupported assertions. If you wanted to maybe cite some support for these assertions I could debate those, but as it stands we’re just playing “yuh huh,” “nuh-uh.” Which is amusing, of course, but only for a very short time….then it gets rather dull~

    1) it’s not that you don’t believe it

    Correct.

    2) it’s just that we can’t convey it

    I didn’t say we can’t convey it. I said I don’t have enough faith in our ability to do so, like you do — I don’t place godlike trust in my senses and my ability to relay information perfectly. I accept that I am a human being who is imperfect and very much capable of error.

    3) and you still return to questioning whether it exists in the first place

    Yes, mostly because I am curious as to where you get the ground for your assertions of “knowledge.” You “just know.” Well, that’s meaningless to me. You can’t blame me for not believing you if your only support for your case is, “I’m just right, so nya.” Well, I mean, you can, but in doing so you’re asking me to place a godlike faith in the perfection of your senses, and in the notion that what you tell me is pure, objective truth. I had a conversation like this with a friend of mine a couple weeks ago, and it went absolutely nowhere — we just kept saying, “I’m right, and you’re wrong,” and since both of our arguments assumed their own correctness, we both got tired of repeating ourselves and the exchange fizzled out with absolutely nothing accomplished. I’d really like to avoid that here, if at all possible.

    Where was I wrong?

    You said something that was clearly not true, that I had clarified many posts earlier. Therefore you were “wrong.”

    What does it matter if truth exists if we can’t even be sure of “our ability to convey it” ?

    It matters to me because if I can know it, then I can try my best to convey it, and if others can know it, then hopefully I can paint an accurate enough picture of it (logically speaking) so that someone else can piece together their own experience and understand as much of what I say as possible. Also, if they are making the same honest effort, then it’s reasonable to expect that their points should be consistent with what I observe, allowing me to further bridge the gap between our perceptions by altering aspects of my worldview that were inconsistent, that I may not have noticed.

    Also, I don’t believe it’s quite as “all-or-nothing” as you portray; it’s more of a percentage than a “can” or “can’t.”

    Are you saying that we can “know” it, we just can’t convey it ?

    We may very well be able to know it; I don’t know. But I know from experience that my own senses lead me to conclude things that are not true from time to time (and that even history’s greatest thinkers have been blatantly wrong about things that we know believe to be “common sense”), and so I know I cannot trust them with the godlike certainty that you trust yours. And because this is because I’m human and therefore flawed, I can say the same thing for you — that, if you claim your senses are perfect and that your information is 100% flawless, you are either lying or misled. I firmly believe that the only person that can be trusted is the one that acknowledges the limits of his/her own knowledge. That’s one of the big things I listen for when I’m listening to someone I’ve never heard speak before — do they acknowledge this possibility? If so, I am more willing to take their words to heart than if not.

    Because, by skipping to conveyance, it appears you are assuming that one -as an individual- could actually know an objective truth.

    Possibly. I don’t know.

    But, “flawed as we are”, how could that be ?

    I don’t know.

    Reply
  107. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    P.S.

    Addendum to the “intelligence” thing…basically, a theory would say:

    -) If A is true, then X is true and Z is not true
    -) If A is not true, then X is not true, and Z is therefore possible
    -) If B is true, then Z is true

    So we have a condition wherein fulfilling certain conditions implies that a theory (X or Z) is true. We acknowledge, just because one theory is false doesn’t mean the other is true; qualifying conditions must specifically make it true.

    “Complexity = intelligence” theory does not do any of this. It simply states a point. There is no logic behind that point.

    In paraphrase: Saying that “complexity implies intelligence” implies that “simplicity does not imply intelligence” (otherwise there would be no reason to even make the distinction in the first place); also, saying that “complexity implies intelligence” implies that there is something that is neither complex nor intelligently designed (again, because if there wasn’t then there would be no need to distinguish between the two). And so if there isn’t something that does not match either of these criteria, then you are not acknowledging the existence of either simplicity or lack of design in *any* case. Which means that you are conflating intelligence with non-intelligence.

    Reply
  108. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    //Problem is, you’re redefining “intelligence” to mean just about anything.// No. I’m saying everything was designed by His intelligent mind therefore, naturally, signs of that intelligence reside in His creation.

    And here is how I would “fill out” your “form”:

    [form] “IF (Christianity) is true, then we should be seeing [miracles] result, but if it’s not, then we should be seeing [matter in utter chaos].”

    If it’s true, then we’ll of course see miracles and not chaos, and your point is established. If not, we’ll see chaos and not miracles (or maybe both), and we’ll be forced to reexamine the hypothesis. [/form]

    “Natural selection” is mathematical, yes? If so, does not any two times one living thing cheats death break the law of averages? Maybe it’s just the “neck” lifestyle I live but, myself and virtually everyone I know -male and female- has survived circumstances that were at best 50/50 (and many times far worse) more than 3 or 4 times in our lives. To be consistent, you will say “prove it”. To which, I will have to say “I just know it, nya!” Well, all I gotta say to that is: you need to live a little.

    The coin of my life has been flipped many times and it has come up “nails” instead of “deads” against all rational odds. Not because I am so “nails” (tough), but because He chose the nails and went to His death. For all mankind.

    //doesn’t want to be found or discovered// Nuh uh. Remember my analogy from 2 or 3 posts ago? No seeky = no findy (after first “believey”, of course)

    //-) Complexity = design
    -) Everything = complex
    -) Therefore, everything = design//
    Well, if you want to be simple about it, yeah.

    //Leading us right back to square one with you randomly asserting things.//

    Are you reading all of my post(s)? I am not randomly asserting things, you are not recognizing what is before you. You say it yourself, “But I know from experience that my own senses lead me to conclude things that are not true…” What is being asserted is that you discount, out of hand, anything that cannot be verified in a lab. Some things are their own proof: true love / miracle healings / babies / God / His Holy spirit.

    You will never find God unless you first seek Him. He is working miracles -every single day- right before us. We live in “miracle land”. But, as we (okay, me and the other “rollers”) know, He came here in the flesh, “reconciling the world unto Himself”, and, the world turned its back to Him. Now, it is up to us to see Him. He’s in the aforementioned miracles. He’s in your test tube. He is everywhere. But you must abase yourself before Him that he might exalt you through the revelation of His very existence. Barring a diversion from your journey on “the road to Damascus”, you will never see Him nor His kingdom.

    Although, one could say, you probably don’t wish to see either.

    Question: Given that we are but “higher” animal life and (if you are to be consistent w/ “natural selection”), ultimately, are bound by the -bred through millions of years of evolution- basic urge to survive, can “free will” really exist in your opinion ?

    Reply
  109. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    (been almost 24 hours since [trying to] post[ing] this last night so, trying again w/o htm[you know what]. can you read it {this slightly edited version}now?…)

    //Problem is, you’re redefining “intelligence” to mean just about anything.// No. I’m saying everything was designed by His intelligent mind therefore, naturally, signs of that intelligence reside in His creation.

    And here is how I would “fill out” your “form”:

    [form] “IF (Christianity) is true, then we should be seeing [miracles] result, but if it’s not, then we should be seeing [matter in utter chaos].”

    If it’s true, then we’ll of course see miracles and not chaos, and your point is established. If not, we’ll see chaos and not miracles (or maybe both), and we’ll be forced to reexamine the hypothesis. [/form]

    “Natural selection” is mathematical, yes? If so, does not any two times one living thing cheats death break the law of averages? Maybe it’s just the “neck” lifestyle I live but, myself and virtually everyone I know -male and female- has survived circumstances that were at best 50/50 (and many times far worse) more than 3 or 4 times in our lives. To be consistent, you will say “prove it”. To which, I will have to say “I just know it, nya!” Well, to learn some things, you need to live a little.

    The coin of my life has been flipped many times and it has come up “nails” instead of “deads” against all rational odds. Not because I am so “nails” (tough), but because He chose the nails and went to His death. For all mankind.

    //doesn’t want to be found or discovered// Nuh uh. Remember my analogy from 2 or 3 posts ago? No seeky = no findy (after first “believey”, of course)

    //-) Complexity = design
    -) Everything = complex
    -) Therefore, everything = design//
    Well, if you want to be simple about it, yeah.

    //Leading us right back to square one with you randomly asserting things.//

    Are you reading all of my post(s)? I am not randomly asserting things, you are not recognizing what is before you. You say it yourself, “But I know from experience that my own senses lead me to conclude things that are not true…” What is being asserted is that you discount, out of hand, anything that cannot be verified in a lab. Some things are their own proof: true love / miraculous healing / babies / God / His Holy spirit.

    You will never find God unless you first seek Him. He is working miracles -every single day- right before you. We live in “miracle land”. But, as we (okay, me and the other “rollers”) know, He came here in the flesh, “reconciling the world unto Himself”, and, the world turned its back to Him. Now, it is up to us to seek Him. He’s in the aforementioned miracles. He’s in your test tube. He is everywhere. But you must abase yourself before Him that he might exalt you through the revelation of His very existence. Barring a diversion from your journey on “the road to Damascus”, you will never see Him nor His kingdom.

    Although, one could say, you probably don’t wish to see either.

    Question: Given that we are but “higher” animal life and (if you are to be consistent w/ “natural selection”), ultimately, are bound by the -bred through millions of years of evolution- basic urge to survive, can “free will” really exist in your opinion ?

    Reply
  110. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    okay, again…

    //Problem is, you’re redefining “intelligence” to mean just about anything.// No. I’m saying everything was designed by His intelligent mind therefore, naturally, signs of that intelligence reside in His creation.

    And here is how I would “fill out” your “form”:

    [form] “IF (Christianity) is true, then we should be seeing [miracles] result, but if it’s not, then we should be seeing [matter in utter chaos].”

    If it’s true, then we’ll of course see miracles and not chaos, and your point is established. If not, we’ll see chaos and not miracles (or maybe both), and we’ll be forced to reexamine the hypothesis. [/form]

    “Natural selection” is mathematical, yes? If so, does not any two times one living thing cheats death break the law of averages? Maybe it’s just the “neck” lifestyle I live but, myself and virtually everyone I know -male and female- has survived circumstances that were at best 50/50 (and many times far worse) more than 3 or 4 times in our lives. To be consistent, you will say “prove it”. To which, I will have to say “I just know it, nya!” Well, to learn some things, you need to live a little.

    The coin of my life has been flipped many times and it has come up “nails” instead of “deads” against all rational odds. Not because I am so “nails” (tough), but because He chose the nails and went to His death. For all mankind.

    //doesn’t want to be found or discovered// Nuh uh. Remember my analogy from 2 or 3 posts ago? No seeky = no findy (after first “believey”, of course)

    //-) Complexity = design
    -) Everything = complex
    -) Therefore, everything = design//
    Well, if you want to be simple about it, yeah.

    //Leading us right back to square one with you randomly asserting things.//

    Are you reading all of my post(s)? I am not randomly asserting things, you are not recognizing what is before you. You say it yourself, “But I know from experience that my own senses lead me to conclude things that are not true…” What is being asserted is that you discount, out of hand, anything that cannot be verified in a lab. Some things are their own proof: true love / miraculous healing / babies / God / His Holy spirit.

    You will never find God unless you first seek Him. He is working miracles -every single day- right before you. We live in “miracle land”. But, as we (okay, me and the other “rollers”) know, He came here in the flesh, “reconciling the world unto Himself”, and, the world turned its back to Him. Now, it is up to us to seek Him. He’s in the aforementioned miracles. He’s in your test tube. He is everywhere. But you must abase yourself before Him that he might exalt you through the revelation of His very existence. Barring a diversion from your journey on “the road to Damascus”, you will never see Him nor His kingdom.

    Although, one could say, you probably don’t wish to see either.

    Question: Given that we are but “higher” animal life and (if you are to be consistent w/ “natural selection”), ultimately, are bound by the -bred through millions of years of evolution- basic urge to survive, can “free will” really exist in your opinion ?

    this is the third try at this post…..

    Reply
  111. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    Tim said: “Problem is, you’re redefining “intelligence” to mean just about anything.” No. I’m saying everything was designed by His intelligent mind therefore, naturally, signs of that intelligence reside in His creation.

    And here is how I would “fill out” your “form”:

    [form] “IF (Christianity) is true, then we should be seeing [miracles] result, but if it’s not, then we should be seeing [matter in utter chaos].”

    If it’s true, then we’ll of course see miracles and not chaos, and your point is established. If not, we’ll see chaos and not miracles (or maybe both), and we’ll be forced to reexamine the hypothesis. [/form]

    “Natural selection” is mathematical, yes? If so, does not any two times one living thing cheats death break the law of averages? Maybe it’s just the “neck” lifestyle I live but, myself and virtually everyone I know -male and female- has survived circumstances that were at best 50/50 (and many times far worse) more than 3 or 4 times in our lives. To be consistent, you will say “prove it”. To which, I will have to say “I just know it, nya!” Well, to learn some things, you need to live a little.

    The coin of my life has been flipped many times and it has come up “nails” instead of “deads” against all rational odds. Not because I am so “nails” (tough), but because He chose the nails and went to His death. For all mankind.

    And said: “doesn’t want to be found or discovered” Nuh uh! Remember my analogy from 2 or 3 posts ago? No seeky = no findy (after first “believey”, of course)

    And once more: “-) Complexity = design
    -) Everything = complex
    -) Therefore, everything = design”
    Well, if you want to be simple about it, yeah.

    Yet again: “Leading us right back to square one with you randomly asserting things.”

    Are you reading all of my post(s)? I am not randomly asserting things, you are not recognizing what is before you. You say it yourself, “But I know from experience that my own senses lead me to conclude things that are not true…” What is being asserted is that you discount, out of hand, anything that cannot be verified in a lab. Some things are their own proof: true love / miraculous healing / babies / God / His Holy spirit.

    You will never find God unless you first seek Him. He is working miracles -every single day- right before you. We live in “miracle land”. But, as we (okay, me and the other “rollers”) know, He came here in the flesh, “reconciling the world unto Himself”, and, the world turned its back to Him. Now, it is up to us to seek Him. He’s in the aforementioned miracles. He’s in your test tube. He is everywhere. But you must abase yourself before Him that he might exalt you through the revelation of His very existence. Barring a diversion from your journey on “the road to Damascus”, you will never see Him nor His kingdom.

    Although, one could say, you probably don’t wish to see either.

    Question: Given that we are but “higher” animal life and (if you are to be consistent w/ “natural selection”), ultimately, are bound by the -bred through millions of years of evolution- basic urge to survive, can “free will” really exist in your opinion ?

    Reply
  112. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    And said: “doesn’t want to be found or discovered” Nuh uh! Remember my analogy from 2 or 3 posts ago? No seeky = no findy (after first “believey”, of course)

    My point exactly; you cannot provide true evidence to disprove the idea that all religious bibles are lies, and that the one true god doesn’t want to be found, so he just made up this stuff to keep you busy so you wouldn’t catch on to him. You can only make assertions; any point you try to make, I can just say, “well, he’s god! He’s all-powerful, he just made it look like that. But he really doesn’t want to be found.”

    You might then say, “how do you know that?”

    To which I could take a page from your book and reply, “I just know.”

    To which you could only make more assertions.

    This is the problem with unfalsifiable stats.

    [form] “IF (Christianity) is true, then we should be seeing [miracles] result, but if it’s not, then we should be seeing [matter in utter chaos].”

    That still doesn’t defeat the fallacy. You define existence itself as a miracle; therefore, if anything exists (which it has to, in order for the proposition to even be formed in the first place), then that would assume the truth of the statement without testing it.

    Are you reading all of my post(s)? I am not randomly asserting things, you are not recognizing what is before you

    I wasn’t speaking generally; I was referring specifically to your claim about “complexity” (which you defined as basically “anything that exists”) implying “intelligence.”

    What is being asserted is that you discount, out of hand, anything that cannot be verified in a lab.

    There are a lot of things that we can observe or demonstrate that are very difficult (if not impossible) to test in a lab, many of which I’ve mentioned or defended here — metaphors would probably be the biggest example. How do you “test” a metaphor?

    …and yet, even a *purely* materialist view can account for a metaphor. It’s an exemplification of data based on different (but common) criteria, a reinterpretation of existing data while keeping the original definition intact.

    All the same, even so-called “self-evident” truths can be demonstrated in some way. What you seem to be saying is that truth can exist without substance — it can “be” without leaving any trace that it “is.” Which is odd. Because that means it has no effect on anything. In which case it might as well *not* exist.

    Some things are their own proof: true love / miraculous healing / babies

    On that note….I’m just curious….how does a baby “prove” itself?

    Also, once again, self-evident truths can be demonstrated; I can prove that a baby exists with means beyond simply stating, “well, his/her existence is self-evident.” Self-evidence is only the first step. Also, to accept something that seems self-evident can sometimes be incorrect — it seemed “self-evident” to the ancient peoples that the big flaming orb in the sky was a god-being that punished or rewarded their crops based on how happy it was with them during a given season.

    ….guess that’s just another case of how I don’t have your godlike trust in my own immediate senses….

    Although, one could say, you probably don’t wish to see either.

    Since we’re doing these tangent-things….judging from the way your god discerns right from wrong, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Hell actually isn’t that bad 0.0

    [/quip]

    ALRIGHT! Made it on the 4th try! Only took 2 days and enough modifying to modify the message. Hopefully, some of the original “meaning” made it through…

    Ya know, every time you change your name or address or website, it makes you go through moderation again…also, I’m pretty sure there are a few odd innocuous words that the censor won’t allow past, for some reason.

    Reply
  113. Mark 13:31
    Mark 13:31 says:

    Tim! Wait up! What about, “Given that we are but “higher” animal life and (if you are to be consistent w/ “natural selection”), ultimately, are bound by the -bred through millions of years of evolution- basic urge to survive, can “free will” really exist in your opinion ?” ?

    And thanks for the advice, but I think its a technical glitch w/ the site. Either that or it’s all those f-bombs I finally removed on the 4th try. Because the first 3 are still “awaiting moderation” and all they had different was HTML…..and f-bombs.

    “…words that the censor won’t allow past, for some reason.” Hey, is that some kind of shot at my “neck” speak? It’s okay if it is. Just wanted to know.

    And please don’t forget to answer. Even if merely to say it’s a stupid question. Just tell me why. You always see things I don’t. Thanks, Uni the Wonder Unicorn (Oh no! Did i do it again?! It’s moderation purgatory again for me for sure, dang it)

    Reply
  114. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    Tim! Wait up! What about, “Given that we are but “higher” animal life and (if you are to be consistent w/ “natural selection”), ultimately, are bound by the -bred through millions of years of evolution- basic urge to survive, can “free will” really exist in your opinion ?” ?

    Well, strictly speaking, it’s impossible to *truly* know if free will exists (in a philosophical sense) because we only ever see the results of one choice out of many. Any time we’re presented with a choice, we always can only choose one “path.” So if we wanted to get *really* technical, we could argue that it doesn’t exist and that it’s just an illusion because there is only ever one path we take at any given “branching off point.” We can never know if the other decision was truly even possible, or if we were simply “predestined” (or what-have-you) to take the path that we chose. If the latter is true, then no, there is no free will.

    Although I will say that, if free will is an illusion, it’s a particularly odd one. As self-aware as humans seem to be (in the same sense that a more artificial intelligence would be self-aware, I mean), it would seem odd if we were not aware of our own lack of true individual will.

    Hey, is that some kind of shot at my “neck” speak? It’s okay if it is. Just wanted to know.

    I’ve seen it before on other blogs. Say there’s a spammer guy who always posts random insults, but because of the way he talks, he always ends up using a couple of (normally not so bad) words. But in order to keep him off the site, they ban a weird word that most people probably don’t use anyway but that the one guy uses a lot. Since it’s a weird word to ban, he won’t be able to figure out which word is keeping his posts from showing up (he’ll be looking for antagonistic words and “curses” and such).

    Reply
  115. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    I’ve remained interested in the subject of how abiogenesis occurred after reading Frank’s thoughts on its unlikelihood. One of Frank’s points was that evolution cannot occur until life itself has begun, so one cannot use evolution to cut down the probability of the first life starting.

    I just came across this article/paper which seems to answer this. I’ll post the link next, but you can easily google ‘Complexity explained: 8. Evolution of Chemical Complexity’.

    Brief excerpt:

    “Given a set of conditions, molecules in a system tend to self-organize so as to minimize the overall free energy. This is chemical adaptation. Now suppose this set of conditions changes. This is very likely, in fact inevitable, because we are dealing with an open system.

    A further round of self-organization must occur, governed as always by the second law of thermodynamics. This is chemical evolution. Moreover, the set of changing conditions, i.e. the changing environment experienced by the molecules, need not necessarily be that external to the set of molecules. Even internal changes in the molecular system present a changed environment to every member of the set. And molecular configurations are changing all the time. Thus, chemical adaptation and evolution occurs in an open system of molecules (including our ecosystem) all the time.

    One can draw analogies with Darwinian evolution to see if ‘natural selection’ (i.e. molecular selection) and ’survival of the fittest’ also occurs in chemical evolution.

    The answer is ‘yes’ because when the resources are limited, there is competition among the alternative molecular-reaction pathways, and only the fittest pathways can survive so far as consumption of precursor molecules and energy-rich molecules is concerned.

    Such considerations aroused special interest for explaining the origin of life-sustaining molecules. Some pioneering work in this direction was done by Melvin Calvin (1969), who introduced the idea of autocatalysis as a mechanism for molecular selection.”

    Reply
  116. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Dean Kenyon studied under Melvin Calvin (noted above). After suggesting biochemical predestination, Kenyon wound up rejecting his own theory (similar to Calvin’s) in light of the evidence. Read the problems with Calvin’s theory of origin in chapter 11 of “Signature in the Cell.” It is one thing to state possibilities, it is another to offer evidence that supports the possibility one is suggesting.

    Reply
  117. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    1. If you told me that Dr Vinod K. Wadhawan had rejected the above article then I’d happily withdraw it. Are you saying that the entirety of the quoted article is bunk?

    2. If you’re going to offer a probability for abiogenesis, you’re going to be basing it on a fallacy if a form of natural selection preceded the start of life itself, as this would obviously cut down the astronomical odds.

    Reply
  118. Frank Turek
    Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    You don’t appear interested in reading the latest because you’ve refused to look at Dr. Meyer’s book which addresses all of these theories that are more than 40 years old.

    I’m sure there’s much truth in the article you cited. The question is this: is there any evidence in it that supports abiogenesis? Again, we need evidence, not mere possibilities. The paragraph you cite simply says that materials change over time. This is not controversial. What is yet to be seen is natural forces having the capacity to create all of the components of life. Meyer addresses all of it, and says no. Even Dawkins agrees that there is no natural explanation at this time.

    Gotta go.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  119. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “What is yet to be seen is natural forces having the capacity to create all of the components of life”

    I thought that question was addressed well in the article, but never mind.

    Reply
  120. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “You’ve refused to look at Dr. Meyer’s book which addresses all of these theories that are more than 40 years old.”

    Frank, isn’t Meyer’s book published by an organisation that doesn’t even accept evolution? How can you therefore sell it to me as representing cutting edge science? How can I trust Meyer ‘debunking’ autocatalysis, if he doesn’t even accept mainstream biology?

    “Even Dawkins agrees that there is no natural explanation at this time”

    Do you mean Dawkins agrees that we can’t PROVE how it happened? Dawkins posits natural explanations in The Ancestor’s Tale. There’s a difference between saying ‘There is no possible way it could have happened naturally, therefore God’, and ‘There are many suggested ways it could have happened naturally, but no proof for them yet’.

    Reply
  121. Nathan Barley
    Nathan Barley says:

    “Kenyon wound up rejecting his own theory (similar to Calvin’s) in light of the evidence.”

    Wiki says: Dean H. Kenyon is Professor Emeritus of Biology at San Francisco State University and well-known creationist and intelligent design proponent.

    Again Frank, it’s hardly significant if a creationist rejects it. That’s like saying me presenting you with a theory of plate techtonics and you reply that a flat-earther rejects the theory. Has autocatalysis been rejected by mainstream science, or just in popular books aimed at creationists? If the latter, then the article I linked to still stands.

    Reply
  122. Luke
    Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    I posted a question (which Tim seconded) to this thread a while ago, and I don’t think you’ve answered it. I understand your time is limited, but it’s a good question I believe, so I hope you will find a few spare minutes (if not, worries).

    The question is at the bottom, in bold, but I will provide more from my original post to restore some context.

    I think you’re absolutely right to say that:

    Note: whichever it is, asking who caused the uncaused First Cause is a logical category mistake and thus a meaningless question

    But there is a question which I don’t think is a logical error, and I don’t know how to respond to it.

    If you are right that all things which are complex and specified are designed by intelligence, then it seems fair to ask who designed G-d?

    If no one did, then how can we say “complex things require a designer?”

    If primitive life is so complex that it requires a designer, would you argue that G-d is more simple?

    If G-d does not need a designer, then why do other complex things?

    It seems the only difference would be that one is ever-existing and the other is not. This doesn’t seem to offer a satisfactory explanation though.

    At best, we can propose:

    All complex things need a designer, except those which are ever existing.

    What supports this though, other than convenience? (I am not stating that nothing does, but asking.) It certainly seems like special pleading.

    This leads us back to something that you ask in your article. What is most reasonable and most unbelievable?

    In your post you go pretty far back, to the beginnings of the universe (as we know it), but I am not sure that you go to the very basic premise of both of these world views.

    What is more unbelievable, based on the logic that you’ve presented here and elsewhere?

    That there is an ever-existent collection of matter which is constantly changing and rearranging.

    or

    That there is an ever-existent being, which is incredibly complex, yet has no designer?

    Reply
  123. Toby R
    Toby R says:

    If the world began with a garden of eden in which there were only two people . . . then how come we have 4 possible blood types. Actually more than 4 when you factor in Bombay phenotype and odd A and B subgroups.

    This only would apply to any young earthers out there, but it is a good example of something people believe in that is unbelievable.

    It is also a decent contradiction of biblical inerrancy.

    Reply
  124. Tim D.
    Tim D. says:

    If the world began with a garden of eden in which there were only two people . . . then how come we have 4 possible blood types. Actually more than 4 when you factor in Bombay phenotype and odd A and B subgroups.

    We were actually talking about this at work the other day….I’m thinking of writing a short paper on how evolutionary biology shows that contemporary evidence does not match up with the results we would expect to see if in fact our ancestors could do such things as breed with close relatives — what would cause us to evolve that trait, if we did not initially require genetic diversity? What mechanism caused this adaptation?

    According to evolutionary biology, the earliest life was so simple that such things as “inbreeding” weren’t really possible, as most early organisms reproduced through mitosis or some asexual process not requiring too much genetic diversity. It was only later on, after individual “specialized” strains began to evolve, that sexual and inter-familial relationships started showing up. However, the “theory” of two original humans doesn’t have access to this easy-out explanation; you have to account for (A) how early humans were able to account for the initial lack of genetic diversity, and (B) the mechanism for the later adaptation which caused us to require genetic diversity.

    Also, as for the idea that something this extremely relevant to the human condition — breeding habits, specifically with immediate relatives, such as father and daughter (Lot and his daughters) or brother and sister (Abraham and Sarah).— has actually changed since the beginning of mankind….doesn’t that imply that some sort of drastic evolution has taken place? We have “lost” the “ability” to effectively inbreed. There’s your proof of evolution, right there :) A change in allele frequency over time which causes a drastic change in a population’s mating processes at the chromosomal level.

    Reply

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