Thursday, December 13, 2007

Intelligent Design Theory – What is the Alternative?



In my humble opinion, the strongest proof of God is the Watchmaker Analogy. The Watchmaker Analogy states that a machine must have an intelligent designer. A device, such as a watch, has many parts which all interact together to efficiently perform a certain function. Therefore obviously a watch must have a maker. There is no other way for it to have gotten here. By the same token, living things are incredibly complex machines and therefore there must exist an incredibly intelligent designer who created them. This is the essence of Intelligent Design Theory.

The only conceivable alternative to IDT is the Infinite Monkey Theorem. IMT basically says that true, under normal circumstances, a watch must have a maker. However IDT breaks down when vast expanses of time and space are involved. IMT suggests that while mixing some minerals into a glass of water and waiting a few days will not produce a watch, however mixing millions of tons of minerals and chemicals into millions of cubic miles of water and waiting millions of years might indeed produce a watch or a computer or a commercial jet plane or even a bacterium.

This is essentially the argument that Richard Dawkins makes in “The Blind Watchmaker” pages 158 to 166. He explains that while the spontaneous origin of life on earth is seemingly miraculous, however that is merely because we are used to thinking in terms of short periods of time and small spaces. But if we assume that billions of potentially habitable planets exist in the universe and each one has existed for billions of years, then life without a creator, or in other words a watch with no watchmaker, becomes very possible. Enough time and space will defeat Watchmaker.

The question is, is this actually true?

As a matter of fact, even if the observable universe were filled with monkeys typing for all time, their total probability to produce a single instance of Hamlet would still be less than one chance in 10^183800. In other words, there is virtually no chance.

What about producing a bacterium by blind chance? Scientists cannot begin to create a bacterium from simple chemicals and even creating a computer simulation of one E. coli has not yet been completed and will be extremely challenging.

I think this makes it clear why atheism is far from scientific. It is an outrageous lie.

260 comments:

1 – 200 of 260   Newer›   Newest»
SJ said...

IMT put in another way-

I think we learn from the laws of probability that the more chances for something to happen that the higher the chance for something to happen.

From this we can infer ...

1) the chances of the universe to happen on its own approaches infinity since there is no way to prove conclusively that the universe can't happen on its own

2) the universe is so vast that the chances for life to exist on at least one planet does not seem to be so far fetched. Thanks to science we know now that all that's needed is carbon, oxygen, a couple of other elements, some heat, and shazam- we've got some proteins.

Baal Habos said...

I'm glad you mentioned computer simulations. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weasel_program

jewish philosopher said...

So in other words, there is no chance of monkeys producing Hamlet, even if the entire universe were to full of monkeys from the moment of the Big Bang until today. However, a tank of chemicals the size of let's say a billion planet earths would produce a bacterium, although we know that a bacterium is billions of times more complex than Hamlet.

Does anyone know the difference between "rational" and "rationalization"?

Cameron said...

JP: In my humble opinion, the strongest proof of God is the Watchmaker Analogy.

CH: Not revelation? Or personal experience of the divine? Or historicity? Are things really so sad that the best argument you can come up with for God is an analogy?

Why not plagiarize Aquinas? At least his arguments for the existence of God had some substance to them, Paley's Watchmaker analogy is pathetic.

JP: The Watchmaker Analogy states that a machine must have an intelligent designer.

CH: It is absolutely key that you distinguish between what is a machine and what is natural. A machine - like a watch - requires a maker because we recognize that it is not a 'natural' object. A seahorse on the other hand does not require a 'sea-horse-maker' outside of seahorse parentage, because it is a natural object.

JP: A device, such as a watch, has many parts which all interact together to efficiently perform a certain function. Therefore obviously a watch must have a maker. There is no other way for it to have gotten here. By the same token, living things are incredibly complex machines and therefore there must exist an incredibly intelligent designer who created them.

CH: False. The problem lies in your 'analogy' - living things are complex, but they are natural objects and don't require a 'maker'. In fact we know exactly how natural objects like seahorses are made - they reproduce! And they do this without the actions of any 'designer'.

JP: The only conceivable alternative to IDT is the Infinite Monkey Theorem. IMT basically says that true, under normal circumstances, a watch must have a maker. However IDT breaks down when vast expanses of time and space are involved. IMT suggests that while mixing some minerals into a glass of water and waiting a few days will not produce a watch, however mixing millions of tons of minerals and chemicals into millions of cubic miles of water and waiting millions of years might indeed produce a watch or a computer or a commercial jet plane or even a bacterium.

CH: 'Infinite monkey theorem'? Sad.

JP: Enough time and space will defeat Watchmaker.

CH: A key thing to remember is that life is not 'random' in the way that throwing dice is 'random'. Creationists have discovered that they cannot claim that all creatures were created as they are because we have evidence in the lab of evolution taking place (not to mention they just have to speak with a dog breeder or gardener to grasp how species can be changed quite substantially over a small number of generations). Life modifies itself (by privileging beneficial mutations) to its environment. If the environment changes (say it gets wetter, or drier) than the gene expressions that aid reproduction in those environments will be privileged. The change in the environment might be random, but the way life reacts to it isn't.

JP: As a matter of fact, even if the observable universe were filled with monkeys typing for all time, their total probability to produce a single instance of Hamlet would still be less than one chance in 10^183800.

CH: Ah yes, the argument from improbability. Here is something to consider when thinking about probability;

Shuffle and deal out all 52 cards into four hands (Bridge!) and keep track of what order the cards arrived in. Whatever that new order is the chances of it happening that way were impossibly small - yet they did.

Or consider, what were the odds that of all the people in the world your mother met your father? And that of all the billions of sperm produced in your father's lifetime the one sperm necessary to produce Jacob is the one that met the one egg also necessary to produce Jacob? Impossibly small odds like these happen ALL THE TIME.

JP: What about producing a bacterium by blind chance?

CH: As I mentioned above, the evolution of life isn't blind chance.

JP: Scientists cannot begin to create a bacterium from simple chemicals and even creating a computer simulation of one E. coli has not yet been completed and will be extremely challenging.

CH: Scientists (from my alma matter the University of Calgary!) are in fact creating bacterium as we speak. http://www.slate.com/id/2178897/fr/flyout

JP: I think this makes it clear why atheism is far from scientific. It is an outrageous lie.

CH: Hardly. Atheism and evolution are not related concepts. Atheism is the rejection of theism (supernatural beings, causes, etc), whereas evolution is the explanation for how life evolves from common ancestors. Genetics is the study of the specific mechanisms of inheritance. You can believe in God and take evolution as a fact, just as you can be an atheist and believe in a theory of inheritance that isn't evolution.

This is exactly what occurred in the former Soviet Union, where atheists believed (wrongly) in the theory of Lysenkoism.

I understand that you feel the Watchmaker argument is somehow especially important as a buttress for your belief - even a proof of God's existence - but that is simply factually false and you place your faith in opposition to science at the peril of your faith.

SJ said...

>> So in other words, there is no chance of monkeys producing Hamlet, even if the entire universe were to full of monkeys from the moment of the Big Bang until today. However, a tank of chemicals the size of let's say a billion planet earths would produce a bacterium, although we know that a bacterium is billions of times more complex than Hamlet.

I don't know if you can say that a bacterium is billions of times more complex than Hamlet as it seems to be subjective and rhetorical assertion, but basically the answer to your rather infantile question is yes.

A few chemicals mixing together can cause a reaction, throw in some heat to the mix and somethings going to happen- depending on what. Dude, you should know this by now!

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, I like you, even though you're a God damned infidel. But try to focus a little more. This post is about abiogenesis, not evolution.

SJ, flattery will get you no where.

"A few chemicals mixing together can cause a reaction, throw in some heat to the mix and somethings going to happen"

I hope you aren't writing a cookbook.

SJ said...

JP- I hope you are not teaching science. BTW, what computer language do you program in, Cobol? Fortran? Cause dude, you are not a young guy! XD

Cameron said...

JP: Cameron, I like you, even though you're a God damned infidel.

CH: Jacob, for a crazy person you aren't so bad yourself.

JP: But try to focus a little more. This post is about abiogenesis, not evolution.

CH: So? The Watchmaker argument isn't any better because you use it to justify the origins of life then when use it to attack evolution.

"Rich Perkins" said...

Your problems with IMT do not prove that there is a God. They just prove you have a problem with the IMT theory.

I suppose that an alternative for this theory could be intelligent design, but shouldn't your theory be forced to stand up to the same scientific proof you demand from IMT?

To state with certainty that intelligent design is correct because IMT is incorrect makes no sense.

jewish philosopher said...

Rich, either God made us or blind chance made us. There is no other alternative.

(Evolution, by the way, merely suggests that once that first universal common ancestor, apparently a bacterium, existed, it was capable of gradually morphing into everything else - blue whales, oak trees, rose bushes and people. That's also absurd, however without going into evolution, where could that first miraculous bacterium have come from?)

DrJ said...

JP, you're treading on very thin philophical water here, by denying the validity of modern science, but just the parts that make you uncomfortable.

I think you'd be better of with Yeshayu Leibovitz approach: "L'arachim ein rationale"- values have no rationale. Prof Leibovits acknowledged the primacy of science when assering factual truths about history, archeology, even the authorship of the Torah. So you knowing and willingly adopt Jewish values because they are yours, period. Like if you were Greek or Chinese.
If we base are values on rationality or rationalization only, you're no better off than Dawkins.

DrJ said...

Sorry about all the typos.

jewish philosopher said...

Frankly, I don't believe in making any major decisions in life without solid evidence and logic supporting the decision. This is why I have rejected Christianity and atheism and embraced Judaism, although there are plenty of temptations to do otherwise.

jewish philosopher said...

Bos, click here for a critique of Dawkins famous computer program.

Cameron, synthetic biology isn’t the same thing as abiogensis. It means modifying microorganisms, not creating new ones from scratch.

natschuster said...

Its very questionable whether the evolution being observed in laboratories is even evolutionary at all. Scientists have discovered that the genome of various organisms respond to stuff in the environment using prexisting mechanisms. There is nothing new, nothing evolutionary. They call this process epigenetics. This is how bacteria develope antibiotic resistance. This is how snails develope thicker shells when predatory crabs are introduce into their environment.

Moreover, a lot of the test tube evolution may actually be devolutionary. An organism actually loses some complexity or optimal functioning, but that happens to confer a side benefit. For example, bacteria might be specialized to use a certain food source very efficiently. When that food source is cut off, it loses that specailized adaptation and becomes a generalist. It can eat anything, just not very efficiently. Sickle cell disease involves a similar process. Damage to the hemoglobin protein causes problems, but it just happens to confer resistance to malaria so it is a trade off. So this sort of evolution does not explain how complex systems develope.

With all this, even after breeding bacteria for thousands of gererations, to the best of my knowledge have not succeeded in breeding a new species. It is the same old species, but it can eat a different food. Scientist hve been breeding fruit flies with all kinds of mutations, but to the best of my knowledge the mutations are either neutralm something like shorter hairs on the flies back, or harmful, something like feet instead of mouthparts, so the fly can't eat. They haven't even made abetter fruit fly, let alone a new species. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

jewish philosopher said...

I long ago concluded that Darwinism is simply atheistic propaganda. It's as much science as the resurrection of Christ is history.

Cameron said...

JP: Evolution, by the way, merely suggests that once that first universal common ancestor, apparently a bacterium, existed, it was capable of gradually morphing into everything else - blue whales, oak trees, rose bushes and people. That's also absurd, however without going into evolution, where could that first miraculous bacterium have come from?

CH: It would itself have evolved from a simpler construct. The more science looks into RNA replication the more they suspect the earliest organisms were self-transcribing chemical reactions not unlike RNA.

Given that the complex amino acids that make up molecules like RNA and DNA are present in things as diverse as Oort cloud comets and the early earth environment, it isn't a stretch to suggest that the earliest forms of life were chemical reactions. No miracle required.

Any cursory look through modern science at the life on our planet will reveal that we are all made of exactly the same stuff, with our instructions all written in the same chemistry. Curiously, we can also detect through both observation and genetics the relationship we have directly with other organisms, in particular, the apes, the relationship that apes have with other mammals, etc.

But again, accepting that life had a non-divine origin doesn't mean that Judaism is 'false' - it only means that it is not 'literally' true. You yourself have admitted that portions of the Torah cannot be seriously considered as truth but must be taken as allegory. Why not admit that those areas which conflict with the best of modern science are in that category?

JP: ....either God made us or blind chance made us. There is no other alternative.

CH: You insist on chance being 'blind', but it isn't. It isn't purposeful or directed, but it is a reaction to the environment - and that is far from 'blind'.

natschuster: Its very questionable whether the evolution being observed in laboratories is even evolutionary at all.

CH: Says who? I had classmates demonstrate speciation to me as part of their genetics classes.

natschuster: Scientists have discovered that the genome of various organisms respond to stuff in the environment using prexisting mechanisms.

CH: Yeah, of course they do. That's the whole point of evolution, older forms are modified to the environment - no divine intervention required. Consider the Panda's 'thumb' as an excellent example.

natschuster: There is nothing new, nothing evolutionary. They call this process epigenetics.

CH: 'Epigenetics' specifically refers to processes of cellular differentiation not related to genetic inheritability. What this has to do with your argument is beyond me, but I would suggest you are deeply confused about the subject matter.

natschuster: This is how bacteria develope antibiotic resistance.

CH: Simply false. If you know how to type, and have google, I invite you to search 'bacterial anti-biotic resistance' and see for yourself. I can wait.

JP: I long ago concluded that Darwinism is simply atheistic propaganda.

CH: Ah yes, it's all just a conspiracy of biologists. Much easier to believe than that a book written thousands of years ago by primitives without electricity, let alone knowledge of genetics might be wrong about the origins of life.

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, let me remind you that the simplest self replicators existing today are bacteria, which are far to complex for the most advanced laboratory to produce artificially. So who did produce them initially?

Is Christianity a conspiracy of priests? It's called a belief. Like evolution.

Cameron said...

JP: Cameron, let me remind you that the simplest self replicators existing today are bacteria, which are far to complex for the most advanced laboratory to produce artificially.

CH: If you check out the Slate article I linked to earlier you'll see that new species of bacteria are exactly what is being artificially developed at the U of Calgary laboratories.

But even if it were true that creating a new species of bacteria were not possible for us to do (for example, as was the case with the technology 50 years ago, or with the technology of 2000 years ago), it would not follow that we will never have that ability, and nor would that impossibility make God more or less likely.

JP: So who did produce them initially?

CH: Nobody was required to produce them initially.

JP: Is Christianity a conspiracy of priests? It's called a belief. Like evolution.

CH: Except evolution is nothing like a belief like Christianity. X-tianity (and it's mother religion Judaism, and brother religion Islam, etc.) are 'faiths' that is, beliefs without evidence.

Evolution is in contrast an explanation that has; evidence, faslifiability, testability, and repeatability of results, and as such is considered part of the cannon of scientific knowledge.

All of those qualities I listed which evolution possesses are things which 'faith' lacks - by definition, however, Judaism and Christianity (and Islam, and Zoroastrianism, and Jainism, etc.) all share the same fundamental un-scientific world view (actually, Jainism is slightly different - they don't have a supreme being).

jewish philosopher said...

I think you're misunderstanding about Calgary. They are taking existing bacteria and modifying them, not producing bacteria artificially.

About Christianity's lack of evidence, have you ever tried talking to a Christian? He'll talk your ear off with all the "evidence". Problem is, it's all nonsense. Like evolution and atheism generally.

Cameron said...

JP: I think you're misunderstanding about Calgary. They are taking existing bacteria and modifying them, not producing bacteria artificially.

CH: Actually JP I think it is you who misunderstands what the Calgary geneticists are doing. Modifying existing bacteria is in fact creating new bacteria. It's also how bacteria evolve over time.

If your complaint is that these students didn't invent new bacteria out of basic chemicals - why would they?

JP: About Christianity's lack of evidence, have you ever tried talking to a Christian?

CH: Of course. I have devote Christians of a variety of stripes in my immediate family.

JP: He'll talk your ear off with all the "evidence". Problem is, it's all nonsense.

CH: I tend to agree. However if the evidence of Christianity is bogus, what makes you think the evidence for Judaism isn't? Both rely on dubious historical documents, both rely on unreliable testimony about 'miracles', they share a common fairy-tale involving talking snakes, Moses makes an appearance in both, etc. None of it subject to any proof of course - it's all taken on 'faith' .

JP: Like evolution and atheism generally.

CH: Simply false. Evolution is a well tested scientific theory (indeed, the entire field of genetics acts a prolonged confirmation!), and as we have discussed atheism is a philosophical position of scepticism towards supernatural explanations. Neither are related to each other in any direct fashion. You can be an atheist who disbelieves evolution (i.e. a Lamarckian or Lysenko believer, or some other alternative), just as you can be a person of faith and understand that evolution is profoundly true.

Evolution may be an inconvenient truth for you because the truth of it wrecks your watchmaker analogy, but Judaism should be stronger than the poor argument by a long dead protestant. Maybe it isn't?

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, as I have explained elsewhere, the evidence in favor of Orthodox Judaism is overwhelming. Unfortunately, so is the human capacity for denial.

So in any case, if blind chance did not create the first life, as Richard Dawkins suggests, and God did not create it, as I suggest, then what exactly did?

Cameron said...

JP: Cameron, as I have explained elsewhere, the evidence in favor of Orthodox Judaism is overwhelming.

CH: JP, it is decidedly underwhelming. Your post refers to the following;

- Watchmaker analogy
- Anti-conspiracy principle
- Ordinary claims don't require ordinary explanations

10 year olds can see the problems with the watchmaker analogy, but lets be clear about what they are;

- it confuses the difference between a machine and a living creature. The biggest and most important difference is nature reproduces through sexual reproduction (no intelligent designer required), machines do not (and thus an intelligent design is required).

- it ignores the reality of several major branches of modern science, including; biology, genetics, geology, paleontology, anthropology and a host of others. No science field has ever found a problem with the theory of evolution. Quite the reverse. The truth of evolutionary theory has revolutionized fields as disparate as philosophy and economics.

Then we have (and this is my favourite) your argument of the 'anti-conspiracy' principle.

"If large-scale conspiracies were easily created, perhaps all these historical facts were fabricated by a conspiracy of thousands of people."

So, Jacob, let me ask you, if this anti-conspiracy principle is actually enforceable, how is it that every major university worth a dime has a genetics department, a biology department, etc. accepting the truth and research of evolutionary theory and producing results based on it?

Do you still maintain this is just a conspiracy of atheists? How can you say this if we are to take your 'anti-conspiracy' principle seriously?

Finally, we have your bastard version of the Sagan principle 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence'. However, rather than accept the burden of having to produce evidence of miracles, or some tangible facts for believing in your invisible super-being, you instead flip it on its head (ordinary claims require ordinary evidence) as a means of disguising the fact that you have no evidence!

I should take back what I said, the evidence for Judaism isn't underwhelming, it is non-existent.

JP: Unfortunately, so is the human capacity for denial.

So in any case, if blind chance did not create the first life, as Richard Dawkins suggests, and God did not create it, as I suggest, then what exactly did?

CH: Truer words were never spoken.

Cameron said...

I managed to garble the final few paragraphs of my post. Aargh! Here is how it should have gone...

JP: Unfortunately, so is the human capacity for denial.

CH: Truer words were never spoken.

JP: So in any case, if blind chance did not create the first life, as Richard Dawkins suggests, and God did not create it, as I suggest, then what exactly did?

CH: I keep trying to explain that in the case of evolution, 'chance' isn't blind.

DrJ said...

JP, you can dismiss evolutionary biology as nonsense all you want, and in doing so put it in the same category as all of science from Copernicus onward, but it is you who is the denying, not the scientists. As evidence against evolution you speak of bacteria, which you wouldn't even know about in the first place if not for science--you and your co-religionists would be referring to evil spirits, spells, curses and witches rather than bacteria and DNA.
As far as evidence for Judaism is concerned-- as I have already said, it only needs evidence in the first place if you use it to explain the physical world, as you do. In this case the evidence falls apart in the face of science and history, as well as basic common sense trying to understand the Bible. (Unless you choose to conveniently ignore all of the obvious contraditions, anachronisms and errors of which there are too many to enumerate here)
If on the other hand Judaism is the tradition and value system of Jews, you don't need any evidence.

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron and DrJ, you seem to be saying that bacteria can quite easily be spontaneously generated from simple chemicals – no God needed. At least I think that’s what you’re trying to tell me through all the blustering, ranting, wild claims, etc.

Could we please have some details on that wondrous process? The Nobel Prize judges will be interesting in reading this.

badrabbi said...

"Cameron and DrJ, you seem to be saying that bacteria can quite easily be spontaneously generated from simple chemicals...Could we please have some details on that wondrous process?"

Umm, actually, the Talmud in Shabos 107b, claims that maggots spontaneously are generated.

jewish philosopher said...

And science has now discredited that.

jewish philosopher said...

Rabbinical statements are based upon the scientific knowledge of that time and place.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

This is how Darwinism works. A totally random change happens to a gene, a mutation. The change is an accident, there is nothing causing a specific change to happen. if the chane just happens to confer an advantage, then that organism lives longer, hs more offspring, and passes that good but randomly changed gene to its offspring.

Epigenentics works like this. There is a gene, but it isn't active. It is repressed somehow. Either a repressor protein binds to the activation site, the histone is closed, another molecule binds to the gene, or it can happen at the level of the mRNA. Then somehting in the environment removes the reppressor. The gene becomse active. It might look like evolutionary change but it isn't. There is nothing new, just an old gene becoming active. When the environment changes back to the previous condition, the gene again gets repressed, though this migh take several generations. The Nov. 2006 issue of Scientific American had an article stating that this is exactly how bacteria develop antibiotuic resistance. The Antibiotic attacks blocks the protein that unkinks the DNA during replication. The kinks DNS stimulates protein that removes the protein that blocks the gene for a new unkinking protein that isn't vulnerable to the antibiotic. But it isn't evolutionary.

natschuster said...

If you know of any examples of real speciation happening now, can you let me know? All examples that I've read about are very questionable. They may just be a shift in the perecntages of normal variation wihtin one species. This apppears to be the case with the changes seen in the beak size of Galapagoes finches during dry spells. The big beaked birds become more commom, but the small beaked birds still exist. Whn eht ewet weather returns, the precentage shifts. Same thing with the pepper moth. The proportions shift, but both black and white forms coexist, no matter how dark the trees get.

natschuster said...

badrabbi:

I believe that the Gemorah you are referencing refers to lice, not maggots. The Biur Halacha discusses the possibilty of insects reproducing parthenogenically, which does happen, so that might be what the gemora is refering to, not spmtaneous generation. I don't know of any species of lice that do reporduce parthenogenically, but there might be a species that has yet to be discovered by science, or has already become extinct. I'm offering this answer to your question if you don't like he one supplied by Mr. (Rabbi?) Stein. I've got more, if your interested.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

I took a quick glance at the Salte article you mentioned above. I have just two quick points. It looks like the scientists didn't produce new species, just old species with some modification. Moreover, the process invloved has nothing ot do with evolution. The articel discusses intelligent scientists inserting preselected DNA into bacteria. No random mutations, no survival of the fittest. If anything, the articel demonstrates that genetic change does in fact require interevention by an intelligent agent.

DrJ said...

"Rabbinical statements are based upon the scientific knowledge of that time and place."

As are their statements on all matters, scientific and others.

"Could we please have some details on that wondrous process? The Nobel Prize judges will be interesting in reading this."

Indeed the spontaneous generation of life is poorly understood. Scientists never claimed it to be "easy" as you stated. It would take many millions of years over a vastly large universe, which we cannot fathom. I agree that there are holes in our knowledge, but so what? Before we discovered bacteria and viruses we couldn't conceive of them so we attributed plagues to all kinds of other things. I imagined that they would have laughed at the idea of microscopic living creatures (or viruses, that aren't even technically alive) that nobody can see, that invade your body, multiply and destroy you.

How does God help explain it? It simply short circuits the question. Using God to explain life is the 21st century version of primitive man using the gods to explain thunderstorms and volcanoes. Of course you're also left trying to explain god himself, which you can't do, so how does it help, other than by saying "god" and ending the inquiry?

Cameron said...

natschuster: Epigenentics works like this. ... But it isn't evolutionary.

CH: I'll look up the article and get back to you on whether your reading is accurate, but in my discussion with my geneticist friend he described epigenetics as a change to a cell or process that is unrelated to the genetics of the cell or process. His analogy was that of a person who has the genetics for black skin and someone who just has a tan. They both have extra melanin in their skin, but only the first person is going to pass it on to their children.

So could some bacteria have an anti-biotic resistance as a result of epigenetics? Sure (and to be clear, I'm a philosopher not a geneticist). However, if you read the articles on-line (I found none that specifically referenced epigenetics) the normal process of anti-biotic resistance confers the benefits to the off-spring and is the result of evolutionary pressures and processes. We become infected with bacteria, we hit it with ant-biotics, most often all of it is killed, but on some rare occasions a mutation or ineffective dosage allows a few to survive, and when they breed they do so without the weakness for that particular anti-biotic. Before too long (a few decades since the invention of anti-biotics) we have super bugs we need to throw cocktails of anti-biotics at in order for them to work, and the band plays on.

natschuster: if you know of any examples of real speciation happening now, can you let me know?

CH: Absolutely. Google 'ring species'. Speciation is where breeding groups cease to recognize each other as breeding partners and genetically drift apart.

"A classic example of ring species is the Larus gulls circumpolar species "ring". The range of these gulls forms a ring around the North Pole. The Herring Gull, which lives primarily in Great Britain, can hybridize with the American Herring Gull (living in North America), which can also interbreed with the Vega or East Siberian Herring Gull, the western subspecies of which, Birula's Gull, can hybridize with Heuglin's gull, which in turn can interbreed with the Siberian Lesser Black-backed Gull (all four of these live across the north of Siberia). The last is the eastern representative of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls back in north-western Europe, including Great Britain. However, the Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gull are sufficiently different that they do not normally interbreed; thus the group of gulls forms a continuum except in Europe where the two lineages meet"

So, if we wanted to create a 'speciation' event, all we would have to do is break the genetic chain somewhere along the ring and presto you would have two or more different species where previously you had one contiguous breeding population.

In the lab my buddy the geneticist force bred specific genetic strains of fruit flies until he had his own species which by virtue of its unusual reproductive parts would no longer breed with the regular species.

natschuster: All examples that I've read about are very questionable. They may just be a shift in the perecntages of normal variation wihtin one species.

CH: The gradual genetic shift of species is exactly what evolution is.'Speciation' is the occasion where one group of a species ceases to breed for some reason with the rest and drifts away from its sister species. Typically this is the result of isolation geographically from the sister population. (Consider for example how bizarre the dominant life-forms of Australia are compared to the Asian continent.) Mutations that arise and flourish in one population don't in another, and the pressures of different environments eventually drive the two species further apart.

natschuster: This apppears to be the case with the changes seen in the beak size of Galapagoes finches during dry spells. The big beaked birds become more commom, but the small beaked birds still exist. Whn eht ewet weather returns, the precentage shifts. Same thing with the pepper moth. The proportions shift, but both black and white forms coexist, no matter how dark the trees get.

CH: I've lost the strain of what it is you are trying to impart here, but consider the following;

All cats (domestic kittys, tigers, etc.) have the same mangled gene in their taste receptors and the result is that all cats lack the ability to taste sweet things. All of them.

Now the evolutionary argument for this is that all cats share a common ancestry, and that at some point this gene got garbled in the parent population, and eventually promulgated this damaged gene throughout all of its eventual daughter species.

Even though your domestic tabby wouldn't be more than a meal for a Tiger, let alone a breeding partner, they are definitively related genetically, and evolution has an explanation for why.

But what is the design argument for this mangled gene? God didn't want any cats to taste sugar and specifically designed all of them to have a bad gene so they wouldn't? Is there any coherent explanation for this situation that does not involve common descent instead of special creation?

natschuster: I have just two quick points. It looks like the scientists didn't produce new species, just old species with some modification.

CH: 'Old species with some modification' is a pretty good description of evolution! Darwin called it 'descent with modification', and all that the geneticists are doing is playing with the 'descent' part and directing the modifications.

natschuster: Moreover, the process invloved has nothing ot do with evolution. The articel discusses intelligent scientists inserting preselected DNA into bacteria. No random mutations, no survival of the fittest.

CH: In the environment of the lab where this bacteria was created we have set up that 'the survival of the fittest' is restricted to those bacteria we want to survive - in effect we are the environment and our preference for what is 'fittest' is what is prevailing.

I'd say it's a clear demonstration of the principles of evolution, in the same way that dog breeding, or gardening is.

natschuster: If anything, the articel demonstrates that genetic change does in fact require interevention by an intelligent agent.

CH: First you argue that no genetic change is taking place, then you argue that the genetic change that is taking place isn't evolution. Looks to me like you don't what is taking place or what evolution is.

Clearly you have missed the point of the article entirely, it shows that we have reached a nearly complete mastery over the building blocks of life. These students are making their own bacteria, and they are doing so by understanding the processes of evolution as they affect the genes and code that make every living thing.

Mike Tyson should have had knock-outs so brutal.

I should add that while I have no doubt that many of those who work in genetics are believers in a deity of some sort (and I'd add that my friend who I consulted with is an Anglican), there are simply none who are creationists. Zero.

Science isn't incompatible with religion, but it is incompatible with tangible falsehoods.

badrabbi said...

DrJ;

You are correct. I meant to write louse, not maggot. Thanks.

As far as the parthenogenic comment, the species of lice that grow on humans do not reproduce this way. Furthermore, even if they did, the conclusion that they can be killed on Shabbat can not be justified.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

the is cosiderable controversy about whether the gulls constitute several species or one species with variation. Moreover, evolution. Moreover, since the dfiiernct species live side by side and one is not out competing the other, then it certainly isn't a Darwinian process. My point about the finches is that all we see happening in the wild is cases of variation within a species not the evolution of a new species. Epigenetics is a realtivley new sciences, and more and more is being leaned about it. It is very possible that every case of bacterial antibiotic resistance is in fact an epigenentic process.

natschuster said...

badrabbi:

If the lice do in fact reporduce parthenogetically, then they are suffeciently different than the goats that were killed to build the mishkon.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

The slate article you sited discusses inserting artifically created DNA into bacteria. It has nothing to do with evolution.

badrabbi said...

natschuster;

The comment I made regarding the lice spontaneously generating was a quick retort to JP's snide remarks, goading DrJ and Cameron who suggested that the first living organism may have originated from its chemical constituents. I certainly did not mean to expound on the concepts of parthenogenesis of lice!

But since I have been put in this position, let me clarify things regarding the Talmud’s position on lice!

In Shabbos 107b, a rabbi makes the statement that if one were to kill a louse on Sabbath, he would be sinning just as if one were to kill a camel. This rabbi was overruled because it was stated that lice do not reproduce. Specifically, they do not reproduce by eggs from males and females.

Now it is true that there are some variants of lice. Some lice, under certain circumstances, can reproduce parthenogenically, meaning that females reproduce by themselves. Parthenogenesis, as I understand it, and correct me on it as I am not an expert, is that females reproduce without need for male germination. The offspring of parthenogenic reproduction is females producing females. Aish.com has a great line regarding parthenogenesis: No male louse has ever been found (although there are some women who disagree with this!).

Thus, it is proposed that the Talmud is not stating that lice do not come from eggs, only that these eggs do not come from the conventional system of males and females. However, this resolution is problematic. The lice that are found on humans do not reproduce in this way, but rather through males and females. Additionally, if the Talmud was speaking about females laying eggs, it would have no difficulty with statement about God sustaining the eggs of lice. Furthermore, none of the classical commentaries on the Talmud understood it in that way. Tosafos (to Shabbos 12a) states that the type of louse known as the rocheshes is generated from human sweat. The Ran states that lice are generated from dust.

So to come along in the 21st century and attempt to clean up the errors made in the earlier centuries by introducing esoteric biological concepts is to be disingenuous. JP in a way behaves more magnanimously and simply asserts that the Rabbis of the time simply acted on the knowledge of their time and passed on laws based on the science of the time. This is a more honest approach. The trouble with the latter, though, is that we treat the Talmud as a sacred text. Once we accept that a given sacred text contains errors (BTW, these errors are not limited to lice. Since there are many factually incorrect statements (for example regarding the origin of rats etc.) then it is difficult for us to ascribe a divine origin to the talmud in its entirety.

Once again, I did not mean to louse up the thread of these commentaries as I am enjoying the back and forth between Natschuster and others regarding evolution. So, please continue.

badrabbi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
badrabbi said...

The topic discussed here is fascinating. If I understand Natschuster, he is asking a very reasonable question:

If evolution leads to the formation of new species, can you give some examples of observed speciation?

I studied this stuff a long time ago, and off hand could not come up with any examples. Ring speciation, as a mechanism, came to mind, but the latter is a mechanism of speciation, not of the species itself.

However, the internet is brimming with these discussions. One extremely useful link is http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

In this link, a rather thorough explanation is given on what a species is in the first place. It turns out that the concept of 'species' itself is not all that clear. What is a species? It turns out that no one can really agree on its definition!

But there are numerous examples of speciation events given in this link. Please look them over.

In the Torah, it is stated that a pair of each species was taken to the Arc with Noah. I am wondering what definitions of "species" was utilized in this process. Did the arc, for example, contain 240 species of Shrew?

SJ said...

I have a new theory called Unintelligent Philosopher Theory. Anyone care to expound on the kind of thinkgs UPT would say? XD

jewish philosopher said...

DrJ I’m not sure I’m following you. “How does God help explain it [the origin of life]?”

You mean, why is it important for us to know that there exists an eternal, infinitely intelligent supreme being who created us? I think it’s worthwhile to be aware of that. For one thing, it would cause us to ask “Has he ever told us who he is and what he wants us to do?” which brings to mind the revelation of the Ten Commandments.

“Using God to explain life is the 21st century version of primitive man using the gods to explain thunderstorms and volcanoes.”

When did science discover that God does not cause thunderstorms and volcanoes? Of course there may be various intermediary causes; however God remains the First Cause of everything.

badrabbi said...

Natschuster and Camereon;

A while ago, PBS ran an outstanding program on epigenetics. This is very helpful in continuing your discussions:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3411/02.html

natschuster said...

Cameron:

Genetic change can take place. that waht a mutation is. But the chances of blind chance confering an advantage that can be passed on to the offspring are very unlikely. This is why the scientists had to genetically engineer these bacteria with artificial DNA.

The other examples of laboratory evolution might be, like sickle cell disease an example of devolution. The oganism lost some function, but it was a trade off.
Moreover, unless I'm mistaken, like I said, they haven't succeeded in creating anything like anew species of bacteria.

If Evolution is the one answer to the origin of the millions of species that exist today, and the millions more that are now extinct, I, for one, would expect to see a lot more evidence. it should be all over the place, because is all over the place. It should more than just one the herring gull.

Cameron said...

natschuster: the is cosiderable controversy about whether the gulls constitute several species or one species with variation.

CH: You happen to be in wheel-house on this question. A species is not an 'essentialist' proposition - that is, there is no discrete 'essence' of a cat or all cats. Rather, a species is defined in practical terms - does it reproduce?

Now nature has a way of fudging all of our neat distinctions. In the case of a ring species we have breeding populations that breed with each other sideways but not at the tails, and our neat definition of species becomes challenged by this. However, if we consider the reality of what is taking place we see that whether or not the word 'species' is sufficient to describe the complexity of the relationships extant for the gulls, we can also see that they are clearly genetically related over time and that a break in the chain geographically would create two or more discreet breeding populations.

Creationists often complain 'where are the transitional fossils'? In the case of the Larus gulls, we can see each of the transitional 'species' from herring gull to lesser black backed gull because they still exist as connected breeding populations.

The gulls are nothing short of evolution in action. We can see in real-time how a species fractures because of distance, and how a geographical dislocation could separate the species forever.

My questions to you are;

- how many and of which type of gull did Noah take on the ark?

- how does special creation address the complexity of the ring species when evolutionary arguments provide such an obvious and strong explanation? Did he need one each of the Lynx, Ocelot, Tiger, Lion, etc.? Or was a mating pair of Smilodon's enough? Where did he get the time-machine necessary to find a pair of Smilodons?

- what's the explanation for the existence of so many varieties of monotremes in Australia compared to their paucity elsewhere? Noah made a special trip down South just for the egg laying mammals? Funny how he never thought to mention it.

- do you endorse special creation specifically as JP does? Or do you prefer Lysenkoism? Lamarckianism? Some other option? How deep does your skepticism of modern science go?

- How do you explain the suite of characteristics shared by all mammals? Accident? Or was God re-using a design that worked ok?

natschuster: Moreover, since the dfiiernct species live side by side and one is not out competing the other, then it certainly isn't a Darwinian process.

CH: Competition isn't the only Darwinian process. Sexual selection, co-evolution, etc. all play their roles.

natschuster: My point about the finches is that all we see happening in the wild is cases of variation within a species not the evolution of a new species.

CH: Let me get this straight, you think evolution will create variations within a species but somehow can't create a new separate breeding population - even if they become separated by geography and left to develop over great lengths of time? Why?

natschuster: Epigenetics is a realtivley new sciences, and more and more is being leaned about it.

CH: Sure thing. And when all of the science around anti-biotic resistance is overturned by the 'new science' of epigenetics I'll recall I heard it from you first.

natschuster said...

Badrabbi:

If you don't like my that answer, here's another one. The first mishna in Kelayim says that if one pants wheat and Darnel, it isn't kelayim. Rav Ovadia says that this is because in the time procedding the mabul people planted wheat, and miraculously darnel sprouted, due to the extreme coruption of people. We see from here, that in the Halacha a miraculous event can supercede the laws of nature. So too here, the kinim were generated spontaniously out of the dust by the mako of kinim. This one miracle can take precedence over the natural laws in halacha. So as far as halacha is concerned the kinim do come from dust. There is a Tosphos that discusses something like this. I know this is bit of a stetch. It is my own chidush, but it answeres the question. You now have three answers. Yuo should be happy with oneof them.

badrabbi said...

How much is 1 + 1?

Answer 1) 153
2) 232
3) 6

These are your options. You should be happy with one of them!

natschuster said...

Badrabbi:

Are you saying the answers are wrong? Please demonstrate. Or are you saying they are intellectually unsatisfying in your opinion. There is a difference.

natschuster said...

Badrabbi:

Are you saying the answers are wrong? Please demonstrate. Or are you saying they are intellectually unsatisfying in your opinion. There is a difference.

badrabbi said...

Here are the 3 “explanations” you provided:

1. “If the lice do in fact reporduce parthenogetically, then they are suffeciently different than the goats that were killed to build the mishkon.

I hope that I was able to show you why parthenogenesis is at best parenthetical to our discussions!

2. The science of the Talmud is 2000 years old, and thus should be held to standards of 2000 years ago.

Agreed. But if this is so, then the philosophy and morality of the Talmud is also 2000 years old and is subject to updating. The Talmud’s error in causation of lice genesis demonstrates that holy texts are subject to error. Once scientific errors are found, then logical ones are possible as well (of which, God knows, there are numerous ones).

3. Your third reason is: “The first mishna in Kelayim says that if one pants wheat and Darnel, it isn't kelayim. Rav Ovadia says that this is because in the time procedding the mabul people planted wheat, and miraculously darnel sprouted, due to the extreme coruption of people”


Natschuster, I do not mean to be mean, but I do not think you are explaining yourself very well. How do you “pant” wheat? Who are the “mabul” people? What are you saying?

I gather from your use of the word ‘kelayim’ that you are talking about the prohibitions against interbreeding of plants and animals. I think you are saying that there is no prohibition against planting wheat and darnel (whatever that is) because some rabbi said that the latter ‘miraculously sprouted’ from the former since people are corrupt. Again, I hope I am understanding you correctly. Now, Natschuster, do you think any reasonable human with an IQ above moron would accept the above as a sufficient explanation?

In any case, I think we have beaten the louse to death. As I said again and again, I was simply making a side comment about JP’s sneering at “spontaneous generation” of a bacterium from organic matter. All I was saying is that the Talmud makes assertions like this on many occasions (eg., mice and lice spontaneously generate) without incurring JP’s cynicism.

DrJ said...

"DrJ I’m not sure I’m following you. “How does God help explain it [the origin of life]?”"

I meant that when trying to comprehend something that is difficult to understand or answer, simply answering "God" is just an easy response that circumvents the question. When inquiring about any natural, sociological, physical or biological phenomenon, you then don't have to figure anything out; just say "God" and that ends the discussion. (except how did God come about, what is he. etc which is also too complex to answer... :)


"When did science discover that God does not cause thunderstorms and volcanoes? Of course there may be various intermediary causes; however God remains the First Cause of everything".

OK, then what's wrong with God being the cause of evolution? Maybe its just a mechanism? Evolution does not contradict God as a prime mover (although it adds a layer of complexity) You're suggesting a naturalistic definition of God.

BTW, the word verification is very annoying!! (sometimes you have to do it twice)

jewish philosopher said...

If something is obviously artificial, there is nothing wrong with saying it’s artificial. If someone asked me “Where did your computer come from?” and I said “The Dell computer factory.” Would that be “an easy response that circumvents the question”? That is the correct answer.

The problem with evolution is that first of all it contradicts the Bible. Second of all, it contradicts the fossils. Thirdly it is being promoted for the sake of a philosophical agenda.

jewish philosopher said...

I get the impression you feel that unless something is man made, everything must have a natural explanation. No other explanation is acceptable.

I think you are touching on some nonsensical, Richard Dawkins style circular reasoning. “I am an atheist because life has a natural origin. And I know that life has a natural origin because I am an atheist.”

DrJ said...

"If something is obviously artificial, there is nothing wrong with saying it’s artificial. If someone asked me “Where did your computer come from?” and I said “The Dell computer factory.” Would that be “an easy response that circumvents the question”? That is the correct answer."

Your analogy is absurd. The Dell Computer company can be studied, proven, and characterized. A more apt analogy would be "that object, which I am looking at now and have no idea where it came from, was made by God"

"The problem with evolution is that first of all it contradicts the Bible."

So does heliocentricity and the earth being a ball

"I get the impression you feel that unless something is man made, everything must have a natural explanation. No other explanation is acceptable."

Its not that no other explanation is acceptable. Its just that no other explanation is needed.

jewish philosopher said...

"The Dell Computer company can be studied, proven, and characterized."

So can God, by studying the Torah.

"So does heliocentricity and the earth being a ball"

Where does the Bible say the earth is not round and does not rotate the sun?

"Its just that no other explanation is needed."

Where is the natural explanation for life?

badrabbi said...

"The Dell Computer company can be studied, proven, and characterized."

"So can God, by studying the Torah."

Actually, this is not true. According to the Rambam (Maimonides), nothing can be told of God, nothing whatsoever, except that he exists and that he is one.

We do not know anything about Him, according to Rambam. Not where is located, not what he looks like, not his dimensions, NOTHING. All references to his attributes, eg., mercy, fearsome, compassionate, are attempts by humans to understand the unknowable. Maimonides spends considerable time in his Guide to the Perplexed explaining this concept.

On the other hand, we know where Dell Computer Headquarters are, we know its organizational structure, we can follow its progress, we can actually go to the factory, take photos if we want etc. To compare the state of knowledge of God with Mr. Dell is absurd, even for you JP.

So, JP, what exactly do we learn about God from the Torah?

jewish philosopher said...

The Torah tells a huge amount about what God has done what he wants us to do.

OK, the Torah doesn't tell us what God looks like or where he lives. Can I use a Dell Computer, and know that Michael Dell designed it, without knowing where Mr. Dell lives or what he looks like? (I don't.) Or do I have to just shrug and say "I don't know where the computer came from, but there must be a natural explanation."

Rebeljew said...

The "watchmaker analogy" is extremely weak for a reason that CH failed to mention:

The maker of the watch has a preconceived use in mind for the tool that he is creating. Therefore, there is no watch without a maker, because the maker determines the usefulness of a watch. If someone were to come from a planet where keeping track of time was not important, the watch would be "very complex" but it would not a wonder of craftsmanship, because it would serve no purpose in his eyes.

To apply this to the universe, just because something is endlessly complex, it does not necessarily have a purpose. It is the purpose, not the complexity, which proves the watch had a maker. Until you can prove that there was purpose to the creation of the universe, the watchmaker analogy fails. Fundamentalists like JP "assume" that it must have a purpose, but there is no independent reason to say so. A pattern of erosion can be infinitely complex, but it had no maker in the sense of the watchmaker analogy. (This does not prove that tiny invisible squirrels do not create these patterns for some purpose, but the watchmaker was intended as a positive proof, not an escape from falsifiability.)

Now it is interesting that biologists discuss the "purpose" of a certain adaptation. For instance, a dinosaur had a long neck "because" it needed to reach higher up for vegetation. However, this can be answered as CH does above, that nature does maintain a direction over time, due to natural selection. That was the conundrum that Darwin had in mind in proposing the theory.

Also, the Dawkins model of how many generations it takes to get to a verse in Shakespeare is a flawed model. Dawkins is assuming a target. Nature has no target. He also locks in a value when it is "right", i.e. matches the target. Random mutation does not, even given natural selection. Even Schroeder found that error.

It is also important to note in this discussion that Darwin was a religious man, at least somewhat, and never considered his work a proof for atheism.

Rebeljew said...

JP should also note that Intelligent Design is not a theory in the sense that evolution is. It is not falsifiable and it makes no repeatable predictions based on evidence. I would say that ID is a "philosophy" rather than a "theory".

jewish philosopher said...

Dear Rebel Jew, thank you for your very intelligent comments.

However, may I ask you, if it is true that our body has no purpose, would you object to me removing your eyes or your legs? After all, they have no purpose. Instead, I would argue that each limb and even each organelle in our bodies clearly contributes to our survival, reproduction and comfort and therefore clearly has a purpose.

The Watchmaker Analogy is falsifiable. Just find a watch which we know had no maker.

Cameron said...

JP: The Watchmaker Analogy is falsifiable. Just find a watch which we know had no maker.

CH: A case of you once again deliberately misreading your opponents. Rebeljew's comment was not that the Watchmaker analogy wasn't falsifiable, but that Intelligent Design as a theory is not falsifiable - and he is correct it isn't. If evolution says a trait is something that has evolved over time, ID says that 'God did it', and the conversation stops. How do we falsify the presence of your invisible creators tool kit on our genome?

The Watchmaker analogy is simply a bad analogy - natural objects like animals reproduce without a designer compared to watches which don't reproduce at all - end of analogy.

Or perhaps you don't believe in the existence of sex?

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, how is evolution falsifiable? No matter what we find a Darwinist just says, "It evolved" and the conversation stops.

I haven't believed in sex for about the past decade. Just kidding.

Seriously, reproduction makes the Infinite Monkey Theorem much worse. Not only do you have believe that a watch appeared through blind chance however a reproducing watch appeared by blind chance.

Cameron said...

JP: Cameron, how is evolution falsifiable? No matter what we find a Darwinist just says, "It evolved" and the conversation stops.

CH: Evolution is falsifiable by evidence of something other than evolution occurring. A good example is the strange situation regarding the number of chromosomes humans have - 23. Our closest relatives the apes all have 24.

So, the people who support evolution have to either find an explanation for why we have a different number of chromosomes, or we have to drop the suggestion we are related to the apes. (I should note that if common descent with apes should be proved false, that it wouldn't make intelligent design true. There are more options than just the two and evidence against evolution is not proof of intelligent design).

Sure enough when we examine the human chromosome arrangement we find that humans used to have 24 chromosomes and that at a point in our genetic past after we had separated from the apes two of our chromosomes fused together reducing the number from 24 to 23.

If the chromosome had been 'missing' all together, that would have counted as evidence of something other than common descent.

JP: I haven't believed in sex for about the past decade. Just kidding.

Seriously, reproduction makes the Infinite Monkey Theorem much worse. Not only do you have believe that a watch appeared through blind chance however a reproducing watch appeared by blind chance.

CH: Sex is what allows for the replication of diversity and for new combinations to arise. As for an argument from parsimony, it's easier to explain how life arose and evolved without the assistance of a supernatural supreme being who is invisible etc. than it is to explain how life came about AND where the invisible supreme being came from.

To put it another way, we both can explain the world, though I can explain it better and with fewer invisible beings involved.

Occam - bring me home.

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, we’re getting off on all kinds of tangents that have nothing to do with this post.

According to the latest information, water and mud turned into bacteria in very soon after the earth’s crust became stable and heavy meteor bombardment ceased. How could that have happened naturally?

The answer is that it couldn’t. There is no more a natural explanation for life than there is for telephones or jet planes. That’s called the Watchmaker Analogy.

badrabbi said...

Cameron;

Over the course of a year or so that we have been commenting on JP's blog, time and time again, we have been hammering at these central themes regarding evolution:

1. That natural selection depends on random mutations, but that the selection process is NOT RANDOM. Again and again JP uses 'blind chance' to characterize evolution as he did in the above comment. At what point do we give up and realize that for whatever reason he will never understand this concept?

2. That evolution of species is different from the origin of the first living organism. Is it so hard to understand that evolution theory is silent on the issue of the emergence of the first living organism?

At what point would we come to the conclusion that either through lack of understanding or deliberate obfuscation on the part of JP and his ilk, that these concepts would never sink in?

jewish philosopher said...

This post is about abiogenesis, not evolution.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

My main point is that the evidence for evolution is very spotty at best. The Herring gulls might very well constitute just one species with variation now.There are lots of species that display that much variation. Do we see any changes happening in the gulls now. Or has this been the situtaiton for thousands of years? Do we see change, or not? Is it happeing too slowly for us to detect? According to punctuated equilibrium theory, it is suppose to happen quickly. The finches would seem to be a good example of evolution, but all we see in the long run, is no change.

By the way, humans have 46 chromomsomes in the somatic cells. Apes have 48. The 2 chromosome, that evolutionists claim to have formed by fusion of twp ape chromomsomes does contain genes tha are not found in the two corresponding ape genes. So fusing of two ape genes isn's a complete answer.

natschuster said...

badrabbi:

Evoltuion starts out as entirely random change. If you have a complex system, with interdendent parts, then any change is very unlieky to result in aosmething advantageous. If you change one byte on your hard drive at random, would you expect it to help your computer's functioning? I don't think so. Of course you could get lucky, but what are the chances?
The simplest cell is as complex as your hard drive. What are the chances that aby random change will be beneficial? Not likely. Most mutations happen to be harmful.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

I did a quick scan of some of the arcticel published on line. It seems that a great deal of the anti-biotic resistance does not involves the primary bacterial DNA, but involves plasmids or integrons or the RNA, something outsidee the primary genome. This does look like it might be epigenetic to me.

natschuster said...

I thought a little bit about ape chromomsomes fusing and thereby giving us the human condition. The only way that could have happened is if the chromosomes in a ape egg cell fused. Then the same chromosomes fused in an ape sperm cell. Then those two apes mated, and the right sperm and egg jus happpenen to meet. And then it happened again, to provide a mate for the first one. It seems like a bit of a stretch to me.

Rebeljew said...

JP
Surely you understand that when the watchmaker makes a watch, the purpose is his own, not that of the watch. He does not really care if the watch is happy that it is running or not. Similarly, I can have benefit from my organs and limbs, independent of the subject of whether there was a "creator" who created them purposefully.

However, if I were walking on the shore of a foreign planet, and I saw some jumble of metal that had teeth that fit together perfectly, that had some elements that seemed well fitted and some not so well, it might appear to be made with some intention, or might just be some deposit of metal that fell together in an unusual way. If I see no evidence of life on this planet, I will conclude that the thing I have found is a natural formation of some sort, not that it was made some unknown, invisible maker. If I recognize that the thing that I found is definitely a tool for doing some sort of work, performing some ritual or something else that I recognize, then I will have no choice but to conclude that this is not just an interesting formation, but it was designed by something intelligent. It is the purpose, not the complexity, that convinces me.

Similarly, the universe is complex, its constituents are imperfect but intriguingly complex. But until it happens, I have no definition for it. Abiogenesis, until it occurs, is not abnormal. It is like the example above where your particular father and mother, against all odds, create a unique being, you, against all odds.

Similarly, abiogenesis on Earth happened, but it was the seminal event, without comparable experience to determine whether it was unusual or not. The watch only makes sense if we know what a watch is, as my analogy illustrates. (NOT "proves", but "illustrates". That is all an analogy can do.) Otherwise, I have no means to distiguish between a beautiful stone with many swirling intricacies (which might be made with intention) and a jumble of metal parts with no discernible purpose, which might have occurred naturally, since they cannot be shown to be crafted. That is exactly the antithesis of Paley's analogy.

Another point is that the human body as an analog is very poor. the human body and other animal bodies as well, have vestigial parts. Humans have vestigial tails and appendices, whales have vestigial hips, and I am sure biologists have filled libraries with similar lists. The human body is amazing if you look for the amazing, but flawed if you seek the flaws.

The rest I will leave to cameron, bad (con) and nat (pro). They are doing a fine job of concise argument on this.

Rebeljew said...

Another issue with the watch maker analogy is this. I find a watch. I conclude it was fashioned, because I know that it has a purpose. Then I find a shoe. I understand that it is complex and it has purpose, so I know a shoemaker made the shoe. What forces me to say that the shoemaker and the watchmaker are one and the same?

Ergo, the Paley analogy is an illustration of a proof for multiple deities. Getting back to monotheism, one would have to discard the analogy entirely.

jewish philosopher said...

RebelJew, I’m not sure I’m really following you. I am simply stating “A device, such as a watch, has many parts which all interact together to efficiently perform a certain function. Therefore obviously a watch must have a maker. There is no other way for it to have gotten here. By the same token, living things are incredibly complex machines and therefore there must exist an incredibly intelligent designer who created them.”

I’m not sure what you’re disputing. I am saying that a certain level of purposeful design and complexity makes it implausible for something to have an origin in blind chance. Living things are certainly well above that level.

Regarding vestigial organs, that is basically irrelevant. A poor designer would still be a designer. However in fact, I doubt that any organs are vestigial. This article is interesting.

Regarding polytheism, it would be possible, however God has told us at Mt. Sinai that He created everything.

natschuster said...

Rebeljew:

If you take some random chunks of metal, hit hem with a hammer randomly, and then put all the parts in a bag, and shoock them up, woild you ever expect to get a watch? If you I told you taht the watch I am wearing now was made that way, would you believe me? I don't think so. Well, a simple cell is a lot more complicated than my watch. Saying it came about through a purely naturalistic process is saying that my watch was made by hit some random pieces of metal randomly with a hammer.

natschuster said...

Scientist now claim that they have fiund that the human appendix has a function. It is no longer considered vestigal. It's function is to restock the colon with bacteria after the person looses his gut bacteria to dysentary or some other disease.

Moreover, if the existance of vestigal organs and structures is proof of evolution the lack of nascient structures, organs in the process of formation should be taken as evidence against evolution. To the best of my knowledge, all organs and structures show up in the fossil record completely formed and funtioning. The only changes seen are modifications to preexisting structures.

SJ said...

JP- chemical reactions are different than physical parts being put together by people. that is the huge flaw in your reasoning and for as long as you and other berayshis literalists continue to miss that point, you and your fellow proponents of literalism will continue to be laughed at.

jewish philosopher said...

SJ, will a bottle of chemical produce a watch, or any sophisticated machines? that is the huge flaw in your reasoning and for as long as you and other atheists continue to miss that point, you and your fellow proponents of atheism will continue to be laughed at.

SJ said...

JP- if you are seriously denying the possibility of "natural forces" in nature, which is what you seem to be doing, then do not expect to be taken seriously by non-literalists living in the twenty-first century.

and further, in nature, complexity comes from simplicity all the time ... i.e. the birth of a new organism. JP, you yourself said in your post "The Truth of Judaism" that "Ordinary Claims Do Not Require Extraordinary Evidence" and here on Earth complexity from simplicity happens all the time.

But, then again, maybe you are from Mars or something.

jewish philosopher said...

sj, I'm not going to ask you who you are or what you're smoking, however when a baby is born aren't the parents just as complex as he is?

Where do we find watches without makers? We don't.

SJ said...

I'm talking about an entire human body coming from one single cell genius.

Do you know what a CELL is?


I am not arguing for or against God's existance, but rather against literalism.

jewish philosopher said...

A fertilized egg contains all the information needed to create a human. An ocean of water and minerals doesn't. There is no comparison.

SJ said...

Actually, there is sorta, the forces/laws of nature were such that the big bang produced spherical bodies in the universe.

jewish philosopher said...

Ah, I see. And watches are round. Therefore watches will form with no makers. Got it.

SJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SJ said...

I guess after the big bang gravity caused the exploded material which were the periodic chart elements to implode into spheres, and that these elements were distributed unevenly.

I am pretty sure that something along those lines would be what a scientist would say.

And also, these forces of nature are non-sentient whereas a human watchmaker is sentient, so there is no comparison.

natschuster said...

SJ:

Lifes functions do niot happen outside of a cell. The simplest cell consists of some 2000 proteins and enzymes. Each enzymes consists of hundreds or even thousands of amino acids arrainged in a precise sequence. Then the protein folds into a very specific very complex shape. The cell protiens have to arrainge themselves into very specific configurations. The cell also has nucleic acids, lipids carbohydrates, othe simpler chemical such as FAD, ADP, and electrolytes. All this has to be ballanced just so. Too much, or too little of any one ingredient and it doesn't work. Now, please give me a plausible sceanrio for all this to dome about in a naturalistic fashion? The Big Bang has nothing to do with life. It discusses the origin of the universe.

Moreover, if you took all the ingredients needed to make a cell, put them in a test tube, and shake it up, it will not turn into a cell. Cells only come from other cells. Where did the first cell come from?

A human egg cells contains all the complexity of a human stored as information in its DNA. But this till doesn't address the issue of origins.

SJ said...

>> Where did the first cell come from?

Just because people don't understand the entire chemical process behind the beginning of life does not mean that we will never understand it.

natschuster said...

Standard Answer, we hope to have an answer for you someday. Well, it looks like the answers are moving further away, not getting closer. Every discovery at the biochemical level reveals more and more complexity, which maes a naturalistic answer harder. In the 1950's scientist said that slef replicating proteins formed spontaneously was the answer, then they find that that is a very hard thing to accomplish. Then they said self-replicating RNA. Then the found the same problem. So I don't think answers are gettng any closer.

natschuster said...

People discuss the problems and contradictins they find in Judaism, and then decide that Judaism isn't true. Well, why can't we use the same response, "we hope to have answer for you someday?" We expect Moshaich to arrive soon, he'll answer all or questions, so whats the problem?

SJ said...

>> Standard Answer, we hope to have an answer for you someday.

at least the scientists are working on it.

>> We expect Moshaich to arrive soon, he'll answer all or questions, so whats the problem?

No problem. I'm not arguing against God or the Torah, like I said before, I'm just arguing against LITERALISM.

SJ said...

Number of technological innovations invented by scientists to make human life better: EVERYTHING.

Number of technological innovations invented by those described by Unintelligent Philosopher Theory: NOTHING.

Had to say it!.

Rebeljew said...

JP

Ex. 1: You are walking along a beach and you find a stone that has brilliant swirls of different minerals and perhaps metals. It is stunningly beautiful and its crystalline structure appears to be "assembled". Yet according to Paley's analogy, this would not require divine intervention. Complexity and direction of assembly, in themselves, do not require divine intervention, not by the very watchmaker analogy that you are so enthralled with or anything else.

Ex 2: A plane hits WTC. News reports an accident. It is a tragic miscalculation. Another plane hits. Only then is it declared a terror attack. Why? Because, until there is PURPOSE demonstrated, intelligent intervention is not required. Gravity of consequence, suspicion, complexity can all be accidental.

Ex 3. You are in a slightly pressurized room. You smoke a cigarette. The smoke follows a path and the entire trail seems to find the same direction, down then up and around along the wall and then out through the keyhole, as if it were seeking a way out of the room, as if the later smoke were following the lead of the earlier smoke. Direction does not require intelligent intervention.

Abiogenesis is not like a watch, it may be complex, it may have direction and direction of assembly, but until you PROVE purpose independently, you have nothing in this analogy. The "happy accident" with the explanations of random mutation, natural selection and whatever mechanism we will discover for abiogenesis does not require intelligent intervention. This is not to say that is a proof for atheism, it is no such thing. But as LaPlace famously told the Little Emperor, we have no need to hypothesize G-d.

(Before you become unhinged, my point here is not to support atheism, and I am not an atheist by any stretch. I am simply stating that the Paley analogy does not accurately illustrate the need for intelligent intervention.)

DrJ said...

I've gotta hand it to you, JP, for getting 95 comments on a single post. I don't know if its a record, but you certainly generate lively discussion
Personally I don't have the koach for typing in the word verification twice each time....

natschuster said...

I'm still waitingfor a plausible naturalistic explanation for the development of cell from non-animate matter. We can explain the mineral structure of a crystal, or the movement of smoke, but we can't explain the origin of the extreme, phenominal complexity of a cell.

SJ said...

>> I'm still waitingfor a plausible naturalistic explanation

Earn a PhD in biochem and study the issue yourelf, dork.

badrabbi said...

Sj, natschuster, JP, and others:

1. Regarding an explanation for how the first living organism came to be, I think it is fair to say that we have no good explanation. We do not know the process by which the first organism was 'created'.

2. Regarding how other more complex organisms came to be, we beleive that evolution theory is a plausible explanation.

Now, if I say to you, I don't know how X works, and furthermore, no one knows how X works, does that constitue sufficient grounds for people to then claim that X was therefore designed by God?

jewish philosopher said...

SJ, number of spiritual innovations invented by scientists to make human afterlife better: NOTHING.

SJ and Bad, so you seem to be giving up and admitting that there is no alternative explanation for life other than saying "God did it". But you don't like that explanation. I'm sure you don't like it. However that doesn't make it untrue.

jewish philosopher said...

RebelJew, you seem to be saying that you can only prove that something has a designer when the designer appears and says he made it. How about the revelation at Mt. Sinai?

natschuster said...

SJ:

I do make a point of learning as much about science as I can. I haven't yet read one plausible, naturalistic account on the origin of life from a PhD. Just the oppsite, the PhD's (eg William Shapiro in a recent Scientific American article) write that they don't have one. So being a reasonably intelligent dork, I come to the conclusion that there is none.

SJ said...

natchuster- go back to your cave, dork.

JP- don't put words in my mouth. Just because we don't understand certain aspects of science at the present time does not mean that we will never understand it.

jewish philosopher said...

Basically, what atheists end up saying is “I am an atheist because everything has a natural explanation. And I know that everything has a natural explanation because I am an atheist.”

It’s not different from a devout Catholic stating, “I believe that Mary was the mother of God because I am a Catholic. And because I am a Catholic I know that Mary was the mother of God.”

You cannot really argue with nonsensical circular reasoning. It’s faith, not reason

SJ said...

>> Basically, what atheists end up saying is “I am an atheist because everything has a natural explanation. And I know that everything has a natural explanation because I am an atheist.”


JP I never said I was an atheist. I guess when you are backed to a corner in debates you resort to putting words on people's mouths.

Cameron said...

JP: “A device, such as a watch, has many parts which all interact together to efficiently perform a certain function. Therefore obviously a watch must have a maker. There is no other way for it to have gotten here. By the same token, living things are incredibly complex machines and therefore there must exist an incredibly intelligent designer who created them.”

CH: Except we know this to be false. No living thing has a designer, they have parents. Analogy falls apart.

natschuster: Well, it looks like the answers are moving further away, not getting closer. Every discovery at the biochemical level reveals more and more complexity, which maes a naturalistic answer harder.

CH: Complexity is not a problem for naturalism, and evolution more than adequately explains how complexity arises.

natshuster: I haven't yet read one plausible, naturalistic account on the origin of life from a PhD. Just the oppsite, the PhD's (eg William Shapiro in a recent Scientific American article) write that they don't have one. So being a reasonably intelligent dork, I come to the conclusion that there is none.

CH: Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. The fact we don't yet have a comprehensive naturalistic explanation for the origins of life is not itself evidence for there not being one.

Further it is irresponsible to conclude that because we currently lack a full explanation we should resort to Yahweh, Thor, magic, etc. as somehow redeemed explanations. They aren't. They are just as silly and dull-minded as they would be if we had a fully naturalistic explanation.

JP: basically what atheists end up saying is “I am an atheist because everything has a natural explanation. And I know that everything has a natural explanation because I am an atheist.”

CH: I am an atheist because I don't believe in supernatural beings explanations. No ghosts, no goblins, no gods, no devils - no problem.

I know everything has a natural explanation because the only inquiry into nature that produces a working result - ever - is a natural one. There are simply no advancements in science that are the result of religious thinking. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

So when we compare what success a naturalistic worldview has I can point to the fact science put people on the moon, robots on Mars,
created treatments for cancer, and solved the riddle of genetic disease (thanks evolutionary theory!), meanwhile religion has given us sectarian conflicts, the inquisition, and some of the sloppiest thinking in the history of reason in the form of theology.

In other words, it has proven itself incapable of effectively describing the real world in any way shape or form.

Nat - I asked several questions earler that you have still haven't answered.

Cat got your tongue?

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, if you didn't exist, I would have to invent you. You are amazing.

First of all, I'm sure you know that the earth is not eternal. Therefore, how does it help to say that our parents made us? Who made the first couple? And even if you'll fantasize that we are all descended from one original amazing bacterium, where did it come from?

Secondly, you contend that everything has a natural explanation since all modern technology is based on the study of nature. It's hard to imagine a more nonsensical comment. What does one thing have to do with another? Because computers are based on the study of physics, does that mean that watches have a natural explanation? Or bacteria do?

Focus, Cameron, focus.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

I'm still waiting to hear a naturalistic explanation for how simple compounds could come together and form a cell, or even part of a cell. Evolution doesn't cut it. Evolution only attempts to explain how life changed after it got started.

Nazism is Darwinism in its purest form. That didn't turn out very well. I can't thimk of any theologian who killed as many people as Hitler. Communism was an attempt to build a society based on reason. Stalin and Mao each killed more people than any religious leader I know.

Technology is nice, but it also has a down side as well. It has given us pollution, global warming, More efficient ways to kill people.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

Many scientist are motivated by religion to do science. Francis Collins coms to mind. Maxwell was religious. So was Newton.

natschuster said...

I don't have definite answers for all the points you made above. When you said monotremes did you mean marsupials? There are only two types of monotremes. If you mena marsupials, then the answer is that marsupial fissils have been found all over the world. They in fact had a major worldwide distribution.

As far as ring speices is concerned, there are millions of species. Within each species there is variation. The variation takes different forms. There is polymorphims related to mating. There is geographic variety. In the very fer examples of ring species, it takes that form. If evolution is the answer,then what is the mechanism by which it is happening? It can't be Darwinism, because the ranges overlap, and the varieties co-exist. Is it genetic drift? I don't know, since there is interbreeding where the transtional forms overlap. Hard to say.

Anyway, the questions that naturalism can't or at least isn't answering are much bigger.

badrabbi said...

We do not know how the first virus or bacterium developed. Does that mean there is a god?

badrabbi said...

Dr J. Asked an interesting question, one that I did not see an answer to:

If you see a watch in the forest, you assume that there is a watchmaker.

If you see a shoe in the forest, you assume that there is a shoemaker.

Why do you now assume that the watchmaker and the shoemaker are one and the same person?

jewish philosopher said...

"We do not know how the first virus or bacterium developed. Does that mean there is a god?"

"What is the Alternative?" That in this post's title.

"Why do you now assume that the watchmaker and the shoemaker are one and the same person?"

Because he told us. See Exodus 20.

Cameron said...

JP: Cameron, if you didn't exist, I would have to invent you. You are amazing.

CH: A nice para-phrasing of the atheist defender Voltaire! Well said.

JP: First of all, I'm sure you know that the earth is not eternal.

CH: Of course.

JP: Therefore, how does it help to say that our parents made us?

CH: The comment that natural living creatures reproduce by sex (made by parents not a designer) illustrates how your watchmaker analogy is false. I'm not sure why you think it has anything to do with the fact that the Earth is not eternal.


CH: Who made the first couple?

JP: Nobody. The first sexual organisms appear aprox. 1.2 Billion years ago - so the first 'couple' dates back to then. Prior to that, asexual reproduction would have been the norm.

JP: And even if you'll fantasize that we are all descended from one original amazing bacterium, where did it come from?

CH: Natural processes. Consider that molecules like RNA are composed of complex hydrocarbons. Precursor hydrocarbons appear naturally, in the environment, and in things like comet fragments. The speculation is that a warm, wet planet with plentiful hydrocarbons and additional energy sources like sunshine and lightning can eventually produce self-replicating molecules. Once you have the first self-sustaining chemical reactions you can have evolutionary processes work on them.

Now, can we prove all of these events took place? No - but that sequence as I described it is in principle something that can be falsified or confirmed - unlike theories that rely on invisible intangible beings to meddle in the material universe through undescribed and unknowable mechanisms.

JP: Secondly, you contend that everything has a natural explanation since all modern technology is based on the study of nature.

CH: Not at all, I said that I believe in metaphysical naturalism (Science) and its insistence on natural explanations because it produces tangible results.

JP: It's hard to imagine a more nonsensical comment.

CH: No it's not! 'God created the universe' is so nonsensical as to border on incomprehensible.

JP: What does one thing have to do with another? Because computers are based on the study of physics, does that mean that watches have a natural explanation? Or bacteria do?

CH: Jacob, you insist that two things obviously different are actually the same. That natural objects are the same as watches. Yet, you yourself know and admit that watches are created by a person and do not reproduce on their own, while natural creatures have sex and reproduce without the presence of a designer - yet you persist in thinking they are the same thing? One is a man made object, the other isn't.

Here is the watchmaker analogy rephrased to show how illogical the conclusions are:

- All watches have human designers
- All creatures of nature are complex things like watches
- Therefore all creatures are the result of human designers.

Maybe this will make it more clear;

- All watches are made of metal
- All creatures are complex like watches
- Therefore all creatures are made of metal!

Do you get it yet? The analogy is simply illogical.

natschuster: Nazism is Darwinism in its purest form.

CH: Hitler and the Nazi's were explicitly Christian. Should we blame Jesus for the Holocaust? Einstein's theories lead directly to the atomic bomb - is it his fault his ideas were perverted into a weapon? More to the point, guilt by association is the last refuge of the pathetic.

Communism was an attempt to build a society based on reason. Stalin and Mao each killed more people than any religious leader I know.

CH: So? Communism as an ideology isn't equatable to atheism. I am an atheist but I am not a communist.

natschuster: Technology is nice, but it also has a down side as well. It has given us pollution, global warming, More efficient ways to kill people.

CH: Yes it does. The truth about the world isn't in and of itself moral - what we do with the truth determines that. But make no mistake, the only way to determine the truth is to first abjure all religious explanations.

Otherwise we have to fight about which God of thunder made the lightning.

natshuster: Many scientist are motivated by religion to do science. Francis Collins coms to mind. Maxwell was religious. So was Newton.

CH: So? The science they did was non-religious and non-theological - or it wouldn't have been science! I am not suggesting that you can't be privately religious and do good science - I completely agree that such a thing is possible. However, Collins is not a denier of evolution.

Theology has contributed exactly zero social good, or truth to mankind. It is an intellectual dead-end where otherwise smart people debate how many invisible beings can balance on the tip of a sewing implement.

natschuster: I don't have definite answers for all the points you made above.

CH: I didn't think you would.

natschuster: When you said monotremes did you mean marsupials? There are only two types of monotremes.

CH: No I meant monotremes. As far as finding marspuials everywhere on the planet, North America has exactly one kind of marsupial (the opposum) whereas there are dozens of different species located in the more isolated Australia. Monotremes also include the platypoid family - a branch of egg laying mammal that would have required a special trip by Noah only to Australia - something I point out, he utterly fails to mention.

natschuster: As far as ring speices is concerned, there are millions of species. Within each species there is variation. The variation takes different forms. There is polymorphims related to mating. There is geographic variety.

CH: If you have any kind of a point it is eluding me.

natschuster: In the very fer examples of ring species, it takes that form. If evolution is the answer,then what is the mechanism by which it is happening?

CH: The selective pressures in each of the different environments is driving the differences. Scarce food resources could drive a preferrence for mates that are smaller and thus better for producing offspring that will thrive in a scarce environment etc.

But you haven't answered any of the questions I posed - how does special creation begin to describe what is going on with a ring species?

natschuster: It can't be Darwinism, because the ranges overlap, and the varieties co-exist.

CH: This just makes it clear you don't understand what evolution is. Each of the different sub-species is adapted to its local environment. What's so hard to understand about that? Speciation (the creation of a new species) isn't like in the comic books where someone gets born with laser beam eyes and has kids with laser beam eyes. It happens when a species becomes isolated from it's parent or sister species and follows a separate evolutionary path in response to the different pressures they face.

natschuster: Anyway, the questions that naturalism can't or at least isn't answering are much bigger.

CH: For every answer two new questions arise. The only reason science has so many unanswered questions is because it has been so incredibly successful at finding answers. In contrast, theology answers all questions with the same non-answer 'God', and rather than knowledge or truth, it breeds only ignorance.

jewish philosopher said...

"No - but that sequence as I described it is in principle something that can be falsified"

Correct. And in this post I have falsified it. So, again "What is the Alternative?"

Cameron said...

JP: Correct. And in this post I have falsified it (it being a natural explanation). So, again "What is the Alternative?"

CH: How exactly JP did you falsify it? Typically one requires things like 'evidence', and preferably some that contradicts the hypothesis - not just hand-waving.

jewish philosopher said...

I have demonstrated that blind chance cannot produce a watch and surely not a bacterium.

badrabbi said...

"I have demonstrated that blind chance cannot produce a watch and surely not a bacterium."

By this amazing display of perseveration, JP all but admits that he got his ass handed to him by Cameron.

SJ said...

Can nonblind chance produce chance that is a blind non-philosopher with no new ideas?

natschuster said...

Cameron:

Hitler expressly repudiated Christianty. He was a follower of Neizche, who said that Cristianity was a religion for weaklings and slaves. It is hard to get a grip on exactly what Hitler's belief system was, but his core belief, the was Darwinism.

Atheists, communists or not have killed more people in total and per capita than religious people ever did.

natschuster said...

Now, getting back to the ring species. Every species for some reason has variation between individual members. The variation has different forms in differnt species. Sometimes it is polymorphsm related to reporduction. Sometimes the variation is geographic. So it is with in the case of the gulls.

Now, maybe I'm missing something, but I still don't see how selective pressure can make one species turn into two species if they live inthe same environment. They are responding to the same selective pressures.

natschuster said...

I did a quick check with wikipedia. it seems there are only four species of monotremes, one platypus, and three echidnas. Moreover, according to the fossils, it seems that they did have an extensive, worldwide range, just like the marsupials. I guess G-d created them and distributed them all over the world, but they became exinct subsequently.

natschuster said...

It is a violation of the law of second thermodynamics for simple molecules to get together spontaniously and form large molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. So life from non-life is impossible.

Cameron said...

natschuster: Now, getting back to the ring species. Every species for some reason has variation between individual members. The variation has different forms in differnt species. Sometimes it is polymorphsm related to reporduction. Sometimes the variation is geographic. So it is with in the case of the gulls.

Now, maybe I'm missing something, but I still don't see how selective pressure can make one species turn into two species if they live inthe same environment. They are responding to the same selective pressures.

CH: What you are missing is that species is something determined by the fact of sharing genes and reproduction. When a ring species like the Larus gulls have a catastrophe hit them that disconnects the two ends of the ring (any natural disaster will do) the portions of the ring that are disconnected will now form two species where previously there was only one species with lots of diversity spread over a large geography.

Once the two sub-species cease to be connected by the intervening and interbreeding sub-species, you have the speciation event; two different species of gulls, that phenotypcially different, and no longer interbreeding. Once that happens the two species will carry on breeding within their own local populations, continue responding to the local environmental pressures driving them further and further apart.

natschuster: Hitler expressly repudiated Christianty.

CH: False. Read Mein Kampf;

"I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.."

natschuster: Atheists, communists or not have killed more people in total and per capita than religious people ever did.

CH: You need to check your math. Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot, vs: the Spanish Conquest of South America? The Slavery of Africa? Hitler's Genocide of the Jews in Europe (tacitly endorsed by the Roman Catholic church at its beginning), the Crusades. Name a modern conflict that isn't religously motivated or being waged with explicitly religious themes (ie the Iraq invasion and it's 'clash of civilizations').

In the end this exercise of counting bodies is a joke. Atheism doesn't kill people. Nerve gas kills people.

SJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joebaum said...

ch, you are starting to sound like a joke: "Atheism doesn't kill people, Nerve gas kills people" what is that suppose to mean?

Rebeljew said...

"A device, such as a watch, has many parts which all interact together to efficiently perform a certain function. Therefore obviously a watch must have a maker. There is no other way for it to have gotten here. By the same token, living things are incredibly complex machines and therefore there must exist an incredibly intelligent designer who created them"

What a sillygism:
A) Things that have PURPOSE have a maker.
B) The universe is COMPLEX.
C) Therefore the universe has a maker.

Read it again, that is what you said.
You must be missing the point, stated over and over again. Complexity does not sustain the watchmaker analogy. In your statement, Patach b'complexity v'sayam b'purpose. (See Bava Kama, reish perek gimmel) A stone, a geological formation, a river, a canyon, a smoke stream, a cloud, a star, a solar system, may all be very complex. But according to Paley's analogy, THEY HAVE NO MAKER!!!!!! What proves the watchmaker is PURPOSE, KAVANA, and you simply cannot show that with abiogenesis!!!!! So you answer from dogma ("what about Har Sinai" where the maker testifies?). But we all agree that DOGMA states that G-d created life. There is no outside substantiation of dogma, it is faith, yes or no???!!!

What we seem to disagree on is that there is simply no indication that the bacterium was created to fulfill a known purpose outside of unsubstantiated dogma, just as the watch was created to fulfill a known purpose, which proved it had a maker. Therefore, the Paley analogy is useless in this discussion. So show me the independent indication that the creation of life fulfilled a known a purpose, like the watch, and you will have a point, but do not use dogma, i.e. Har Sinai, the Torah, the Talmud etc. You cannot argue that science in is in denial and then bring a proof from dogma. Just as you cannot disprove Rabbi Yehuda with a halacha from Rabbi Meir. They are two different shitas.

Ultimately, I personally believe there is a G-d. I do not know if this is because of ethnic tradition, love of Jewish culture or just my psyche, but I do know that if all I had to hang my faith on was the Paley analogy and dogmatic pronouncements, I would have no compelling reason to believe in G-d. No amount of your obfuscation can change that.

jewish philosopher said...

What I see as being the greatest weakness in the atheistic arguments is that there is no way to falsify them.

When an atheist experiences self-consciousness and free will, he declares “There must be a natural explanation. It’s an illusion.”

When an atheist hears about near death experiences, he declares, “There must be a natural explanation. It’s an hallucination.”

When an atheist observes life on earth, he declares, “There must be a natural explanation. It’s still unknown, however there must be one.”

If God Himself were to speak to an atheist, he would doubtlessly declare, “There must be a natural explanation. It’s an illusion.”

If an atheist were to witness the splitting of the Red Sea by Moses, he would doubtlessly declare, “There must be a natural explanation. It’s still unknown, however there must be one.”

Therefore the atheistic belief that there is no God is unfalsifiable dogma. It cannot be debated rationally. The atheist just knows that there is no God and that’s that. Obviously, he wishes to live free from any religious restrictions and therefore he is determined to deny all evidence to the contrary, however overwhelming.

My own beliefs, on the contrary, are based on reason and evidence. If the preponderance of evidence were to be against Judaism, I would happily renounce it. For example, if the fossil evidence would demonstrate in thousands of tiny, incremental steps the evolution of trilobites into fish and of fish into reptiles that would do it for me.

RebelJew, I’m not sure I’m following you. Do you mean to say that eyes, ears and legs are actually purposeless pieces of mud which really have no more purpose than any other random pieces of mud, however theists are just imagining that they have some purpose? That seems absurd. It’s like arguing that we are not men but we are actually earthworms who are dreaming that we are men. It means rejecting the evidence of our senses.

I have a post about Hitler by the way.

badrabbi said...

The universe is an amazing place. There are a myriad events that seemingly defy logic. Amongst them are:

That some living organisms have attained self consciousness, that when humans are at the edge of death they report seeing strange phenomena, and that there is a breathtaking diversity of life on earth.

I am sure there are many more wonderous things in this universe, such as planets endlessly revolving around suns, such as suns dancing around one another in a binary configuration, and such as black holes sucking everything in their horizon, etc.

What are we to make of all this wonder? Well, we can cower in our rooms, bend down, and pray with fear and loathing to a God we have never sensed. Anything that we have no explanation for we can chalk up to God's doing and wash our hands of any legitimate inquiry.

Or, we retain our sense of wonder and logically go about trying to find answers. We exploit the knowledge we have attained to attain even more knowledge. And little by little we can peel away the mysteries in our universe. We begin to understand why planets revolve around stars. We begin to understand what black holes are and why they do what they do.

And we can begin to understand why near death experiences (NDE's) occur (see for example NDE's caused by Ketamine). We can begin to get at what the essence of consciousness is. Slowly, but surely.

And if in the process of understanding our universe through reason and honest thought we come across an entity that legitimately calls itself 'God', we can smile and say "Welcome to OUR universe, where have you been?"

In the end, if there is a God, it will have been an atheist who will have found Him!

jewish philosopher said...

Precisely. I am a former atheist.

Spike said...

Several points.

1)natschuster said...

"It is a violation of the law of second thermodynamics for simple molecules to get together spontaniously and form large molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. So life from non-life is impossible."

This is very very wrong. The second law deals in isolated systems, and is a statistical, not absolute, law. We have a vast external source of energy to the earth (Hello Mr. Sun!), we can increase order selectively at a cost of decreasing order elsewhere (Hello engines!), we are not an isolated system. A comment as ignorant as this completely destroys your credibility on any subject other than eye-witness accounts of your own digestive systems.


2)

As regards the Mt. Sinai thing. The translation I am using suggests that the verses in question read:

[18] And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
[19] And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
[20] And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
[21] And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

Suggesting several things. Chiefly, the people never saw god, then heard loud noises that are attributed to god, but the only person who directly talks to god is Moses. So, your happy conspiracy principle, which you fail to apply to evolution for some unbeknownst reason, applies only to Moses, and what he saw. Nice.

3) Your moral atheist challenge: Arthur C. Clarke

Cameron said...

JP: What I see as being the greatest weakness in the atheistic arguments is that there is no way to falsify them.

CH: Quite amusing. Since atheism is the negative (there are no gods), it is actually up to you to prove the positive - that there exists some sort of supernatural being.

JP: When an atheist experiences self-consciousness and free will, he declares “There must be a natural explanation. It’s an illusion.”

CH: And it turns out there is a natural explanation. Far from consciousness residing in the 'heart' (as in all biblical metaphors) naturalism discovers that it actually resides in the brain. As for free-will being an illusion, it is only an illusion if you are a 'super-determinist', which I am not.

JP: When an atheist hears about near death experiences, he declares, “There must be a natural explanation. It’s an hallucination.”

CH: And again, this turns out to be the case. Near death experiences tend to have common features with oxygen starved brains. Those who are religious fill in the rest with what they expect. Go figure.

JP: When an atheist observes life on earth, he declares, “There must be a natural explanation. It’s still unknown, however there must be one.”

CH: Why should we be shocked to find that nature has a natural explanation?

JP: If God Himself were to speak to an atheist, he would doubtlessly declare, “There must be a natural explanation. It’s an illusion.”

CH: The asylums are full of people who speak directly with God. Though I should point out, that those who speak with him in this way, tend not to be atheists.

JP: Therefore the atheistic belief that there is no God is unfalsifiable dogma.

CH: Pish. If God were real none of us would have had a choice but to believe in her.

JP: It cannot be debated rationally.

CH: Because 'god' is not a rational belief. Whether it is Thor, Zoroaster, of the Flying Spaghetti monster, it is no more rational than the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.

JP: The atheist just knows that there is no God and that’s that. Obviously, he wishes to live free from any religious restrictions and therefore he is determined to deny all evidence to the contrary, however overwhelming.

CH: It's not that we 'wish to live free of religious restrictions' (though this is the case), I also wish to live free of corporate restrictions, political restrictions, and in some cases legal restrictions. This doesn't make me an atheist, it makes me a libertarian.

JP: My own beliefs, on the contrary, are based on reason and evidence.

CH: Snicker
JP: If the preponderance of evidence were to be against Judaism, I would happily renounce it. For example, if the fossil evidence would demonstrate in thousands of tiny, incremental steps the evolution of trilobites into fish and of fish into reptiles that would do it for me.

CH: Sure, and if God were to provide me with a harem of PHD educated nyphomaniac red-heads dedicated to bearing my children and devoting their lives to my physical pleasure I'd probably come around on her existence. Until then I'll stick with atheism,

jewish philosopher said...

Spike, I’m not sure that Clarke is exactly an atheist or that he is exactly a nice person. I would like to wait for a couple of decades after his death for the whole story to come out about him.

Cameron et al., I am starting to feel a little bit sorry for atheists at this point. This post has left you with no choice except to ignore the issue at hand, abiogensis, and try to steer the discussion to safer ground, such as evolution, or to reply with meaningless insults and sarcasm. If you had any honesty you would admit you are wrong, however you don’t have any.

Rebeljew said...

"RebelJew, I’m not sure I’m following you."

RJ: That surprises me not at all.

"Do you mean to say that eyes, ears and legs are actually purposeless pieces of mud which really have no more purpose than any other random pieces of mud, however theists are just imagining that they have some purpose?"
RJ: Yes I am saying that is as plausible as your explanation.

"That seems absurd. It’s like arguing that we are not men but we are actually earthworms who are dreaming that we are men. It means rejecting the evidence of our senses."

RJ: Funny, sort of the reverse argument you usually hear. No it is not absurd. Crystalline rock, most beautiful and complex, or stars, where the gas and dust seem to happily give birth to other celestial objects, are natural (no need for divine intervention) according to YOUR analogy. However, organisms are somehow not natural, show KAVANA somehow. I do not see how. While I am happy for my limbs, I do not know through any observation that a proposed "creator" has any purpose in creating them. Just as the stardust may be happy giving birth to other celestial bodies, it does not show kavana in the creation of stardust (even according to Paley), even though it benefits the star and the bodies that it creates. In fact, according to theologies earlier than Paley, they believed that celestial bodies were intelligent and spiritual, so you can see an analogy between a star system creating to new celestial bodies and abiogenesis here on Earth. The key, once again, is that in order to reach the conclusion you want to reach, you have to show a relationship like a watchmaker and a watch, ie that the watch shows that it could only have been made to fulfill the purpose that the WATCHMAKER (not the watch itself) had for the watch. You cannot demonstrate that for stars or for cell based life. (In fact, most kabalah and chsidus sefarim dwell at length at how G-d does not need to create, Ata hu ad sh'nivra haolam, ata hu m'sh'nivra haolam.)

So sof kol sof, you cannot sustain the watchmaker analogy. It just has no place in the discussion of abiogenesis.

Rebeljew said...

I should have added that the Rambam enters in the Mishna Torah that celestial bodies are living intelligent beings. Ergo, they should fall under the watchmaker, but according to Paley, they do not, as he would have been disabused of that notion.

But to the Rambam, the creation of celestial bodies to abiogenesis is a much better analogy than watchmaker is.

jewish philosopher said...

I think that most people take it for granted that eyes, ears, hands and feet do serve a purpose and therefore can be classified as machines just as much as cameras or automobiles.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

Hitler certainly was a theist, though not a Christian. His core belief system was Darwinism. Mein Kampf and chapters six and seven of Darwins "The Descent of Man" do sound a lot alike.

Stalin and Mao alone killed according to some estimates over 100 million people. I do believe that this is more than religious ever did. Even if the total number of people killed over two thousand year apan by believers is more, the fact that the two contenders for the title of worsed person who ever lived are where both atheists, is telling.

If you don't like my answer explanation about the gulls then I'll take a page from your book and say that I hope to have an answer for you someday. If it works for skeptics it shoudl work for believers.

jewish philosopher said...

"CH: Pish. If God were real none of us would have had a choice but to believe in her."

True. No honest person denies God.

natschuster said...

Spike:

When energy is oadded to a closed system, what usually happens is that adjustments are made untila new level of equilibrium is reached. This does not explain how small molecules can come together and form big ones like proteins. When energy is added, it usually causes the large molecules to fall apart. Organisms are constantly battling this very process. This is one of the reasons that cells are so complex in the first place. Of course intelligent designers can create systems that cause an increase in order by a very controlled use of energy. Engines, designed by humans, and cells can do just this.

Your right about second thermodynamics being primarily statisitcal so lets look at the numbers. The chances of a protein with just 100 amino acids (small for a protein) formed by random chance is about 10^130, a huge number. There have only been about 10^20 seconds since the big bang. Even if you could find some sort of mechanism for making proteins by a purely naturalistic process without cells, and you tried out one protein per second it would take you 10^110 universal lifetimes to get the target. And remember we need to get some 2000 of the right proteins and the nucleic acids, and all the other stuff before we get life. The numbers are beyond astronomical. My math might not be totally accurate, but I think you get the idea.

natschuster said...

Moreover, even if we got really really really lucky, and somehow life beat those odds and got started, we would still have to beat some really big odds for life top develope. The chances of something like the bacterial flagellete to form by a random process would be at best 1 to 20^225. The electron transfer chain in the mitochondria involves odds of something like 1 to 20^63. Just about every adaptation at the biochemical level involves odds like this.

Mr. (Rabbi ?) Stein. maybe its time to start a new thread. I'm getting tired.

natschuster said...

Rebeljew:

In the Rambam's day people thought that life was simple. Even in Darwin's day, people though that the cell was a simple blob of jelly. Now we know the the simplest cell is unbelievable complex. Just yesterday, I read in "Science" magazine, that scientists discvered that the poers in the nuclear membrane consist of 456 proteins. This is just a hole, an opening, yet it is so complex.

natschuster said...

I forgot,

JP, Have a Gut Voch.

Cameron said...

JP: This post has left you with no choice except to ignore the issue at hand, abiogensis, and try to steer the discussion to safer ground, such as evolution, or to reply with meaningless insults and sarcasm.

CH: There is nothing about this post or the commentary afterwards that makes abiogenesis from natural processes unlikely or illogical, and certainly nothing that would suggest a supernatural explanation is somehow more likely. Further, even if there were a supernatural explanation, there is no reason to assume it is a Jewish Orthodox one instead of one that ratifies the Vedic Hindu, pagan, or believers in the cult of the Bull.

JP: If you had any honesty you would admit you are wrong, however you don’t have any.

CH: I think even the most casual reader of your blog can tell who is being honest and who isn't.

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, do you have any natural explanation for life?

Does any other religion have a unanimous national tradition of public divine revelation?

Will you, Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens et al., ever get tired of repeating the same nonsensical 18th century French Enlightment cliches?

Rebeljew said...

JP, OK, I'll bite. What is the purpose of life that benefits the creator, such that it could only have been created by an intelligent being? Remember, do not answer with dogma. And do not retreat back to an argument from complexity alone.

Nat: Other than cell structure, the Rambam and the rishonim and chazal had a lot of misconceptions about the world functions. Why do you think G-d gave them errant information to them, and not to us?

Spike said...

1) The Daily Mirror retracted its allegations.

2) Natschuster, your manipulations of probability are inane, your maths is trivially wrong, your attempts to defend your original statement are risible, the jumps from thermodynamics to probability reek of desperation and a basic lack of integrity. As far as your maths being not totally inaccurate, it is far closer to being totally inaccurate. Simply throwing very large numbers around is easy, but wrong. Remember, atoms and molecules arrange themselves not purely randomly, but according to their chemical properties. In the case of carbon atoms especially, this means complex molecules are sure to form spontaneously, and these complex molecules can influence each other to create even more complex molecules. Once a molecule forms that is approximately self-replicating, natural selection will guide the formation of ever more efficient replicators. The first self-replicating object didn't need to be as complex as a modern cell or even a strand of DNA. Treating these events as independent and random is very stupid.

jewish philosopher said...

Regarding Arthur C. Clarke, he is a 90 year old man who has no clear sexual orientation; however since the age of 39 he has chosen to live as a single man in a part of the world which is infamous for child prostitution. I found the original Mirror article however I could not locate the retraction. I would like to read a few thorough posthumous biographies before I would draw any conclusions about his morality.

Regarding whether a human leg or hand may be called a “machine” in the same way that a car or a watch is a machine, I think this definition is useful “In common usage, the meaning of ‘machine’ is restricted to devices having rigid moving parts that perform some work”. Find a machine which we know formed with no designer and that would refute watchmaker.

Cameron said...

JP: Cameron, do you have any natural explanation for life?

CH: Yes (as offered in an earlier post), that complex hydrocarbons mixed with each other in a primordial soup and had energy added to it in the form of heat, or electricty (or both) catalyzing a reaction that over time lead to self-replicating molecules. These were then subject to evolutionary forces and life was born. We see the traces of this ancient chemistry in our DNA.

In contrast, the religous story of an invisible intangible man creating the universe, then waiting a few billion years while things got worked out before creating the Earth, then waiting a few more million years before creating life, then waiting a few more million years before creating dinosaurs, and then some comet impacts and meteor strikes to wipe them out and set the stage for a new set of creatures, before just a few hundred thousand years ago he meddled in the earth again to bring us about. Using a talking snake.

So when people ask 'which is more believable' an explanation? The one involving life beginning on it's own chemically, or the one involving God and a talking snake, I know which I think is more believable.

JP: Does any other religion have a unanimous national tradition of public divine revelation?

CH: Yes, Christians claim the same arguments for their own. Specifically 'why would the witnesses to Jesus resurrection have a reason to lie'? In a neat twist they use the fact that women were considered less reliable witnesses as reason to take their word for truth. After-all, if the writers were trying to impress us with the truthfulness of the witnesses, they wouldn't have used females would they? And the band plays on.

JP: Will you, Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens et al., ever get tired of repeating the same nonsensical 18th century French Enlightment cliches?

CH: You mean the nonsensical cliches that launched the scientific revolutions leading to things like indoor plumbing, clean water, and civilization? Probably not. I like not being a complete primitive scared by demons, goblins and being asked to pay my way to heaven.

jewish philosopher said...

If life is so easily created spontaneously, then why can’t scientists do it artificially?

If an empty tomb equals a divine revelation, then I guess every grave robber is a prophet.

No, I meant cliché’s like:
There is no proof of God.
Wrong. Read this post.

There is no more proof of a Biblical God than there is of Thor or Zeus.
Wrong. Thor or Zeus never appeared on Mount Sinai.

Religion causes violence.
Wrong. Testosterone causes violence. Bulls are more violent than oxen, although they are no more devout as far as we can tell.

I can go on, but I think you get the idea.

Cameron said...

JP: If life is so easily created spontaneously, then why can’t scientists do it artificially?

CH: As I pointed out, they can, and they do so in much the same way evolution does - by building on existing 'life' and altering it.

JP: If an empty tomb equals a divine revelation, then I guess every grave robber is a prophet.

CH: Yeah, it's pretty silly. Much like the argument they (and you) use to defend it as a belief.

JP:No, I meant cliché’s like:
There is no proof of God.

CH: But there is no proof of God, and after reading people like Nat Schuster, I am only more convinced this is true.

JP: Wrong. Read this post.

CH: If you seriously think anybody is convinced by the watchmaker argument anything other than they really should get a new watch you are deluded.

JP: There is no more proof of a Biblical God than there is of Thor or Zeus. Wrong. Thor or Zeus never appeared on Mount Sinai.

CH: Correct - they appeared atop Mt. Olympus. Different mountain, same bad smell.

JP: Religion causes violence.
Wrong. Testosterone causes violence. Bulls are more violent than oxen, although they are no more devout as far as we can tell.

CH: No argument from me, except that I would add a lack of religion doesn't cause violence either.

JP: I can go on, but I think you get the idea.

CH: Oh no, please, go on. I think we get much more to the heart of things when you drop the essay length diatribes and cut right to the illogical chase.

jewish philosopher said...

Creating life is still more science fiction than science.

And I don't think too many people actually saw Zeus on Olympus, except you Cam.

Cameron said...

JP: Creating life is still more science fiction than science.

CH: I'm not sure how predictions of 'life from scratch' in the next 3-10 years is meant to support your theory, since you've been claiming that it is so difficult that only God can do it. Apparently it's so difficult it will have to wait until after I turn 40.

JP: And I don't think too many people actually saw Zeus on Olympus, except you Cam.

CH: Homer predates the Judaic texts - shouldn't we consider his account then to be closer to the source - and thus the truth? After all, it turns out there really was a Troy, so perhaps Achilles and Hector are also historically accurate historical figures. Are Zeus, Hera and the rest? They seem at least as likely (that is, not very) as Yahweh does.

Spike said...

Didn't I cover the Mt. Sinai idea before? After all, even your book doesn't claim that the jews saw god on sinai, only that they saw some clouds. Zeus not only appeared to, but had children with Niobe, Io, Danae, Europa, Leda, Alcmene as well as many others. Rather beats Moses in terms of quantity and lasting evidence.

natschuster said...

Spike:

Fisrt of all, it was you whi said that second thermodynamics is statistical.

So how come the scientists are no longer saying what you are saying, They've tried for years and have not been able to make any sort of large molecules in any sort of conditions that resemble natural conditions. Do the research. First they siad it was proteins first. Didn't work. Then they said RNA first. No good.

There is no such thing as self replicating hydrocarbon. There is not such thing as self replicating DNA. Cells only replicate because of the enormously complex cellular machinery. Just look at a video clip of mitosis action. According to a recent article in Scinetific American by Robert Shapior. Scientits have given up on finding a self replicating molecule.

By the way,spike could you please show me whre my math weas faulty? I just want, I check it and it looks fairly accurate to me.

natschuster said...

Hydrocarbons are just chains of carbon atoms with hydrogens attached. They can't possibly be self replicating. Proteins don't form spontaneuosly under natural conditions outside the cell. Moreover, the fact hter function comes largely from the fact that they form different complex shapes makes them a bad candidate for a self replicator. Nucleotides accoring to Robert Shapiro are too big to make easily outside of the laboratory or the the cell. Moreover they the different side chains that ammino acids use in catalysing reactions. So nucleic acids are a poor candidate for a self replicator. What esle is there?

natschuster said...

Just one last point. According to Wikipedia, the Homeric texts where written in the 7th. or *th. centruy BC. The Bible, according to tradition, was written around 1200 BC, four hundred years earlier.

According to Deuteronomy, the Isaealites heard G-d speaking, they didn't just see clouds.

Cameron said...

natschuster: They've tried for years and have not been able to make any sort of large molecules in any sort of conditions that resemble natural conditions. Do the research. First they siad it was proteins first. Didn't work. Then they said RNA first. No good.

CH: Not Spike, nor myself, nor SJ nor any other voice of moderation has suggested we know the answer as to how the first self replicating molecules came about.

But we have also keep pointing out that this lack of knowledge doesn't mean that evolution or atheism is somehow false.

What's more, (as per Occam's razor) to invoike a supernatural explanation every time there is an area of ignorance (the God of the gaps) is always illegitimate.

If you are hoping that by looking for areas scientific ignorance you will find God (and what's more, that this will be the god of the Jews), you are simply deluded.

Finding fault with evolution (your attempts at which are not unlike Don Quixote's tilting at windmills) isn't any proof of God's existence, or in any way helpful to your cause - it just gets you mocked (actually your spelling does that as well).

natschuster: By the way,spike could you please show me whre my math weas faulty? I just want, I check it and it looks fairly accurate to me.

CH: I'll let Spike deal with your math, but your logic also sucks. Just because something is very improbable, does make it impossible. What are the chances that any of the molecules that currently make up Nat Schuster would end up exactly where they are today? They could have been anywhere in the universe, but they happen to be in our end of the universe, in our galaxy, in our solar system, on our planet, on this continent, in your particular country, city, block, and person. What are the odds of that?! Holy cow, call the Vatican - it's a miracle!

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, exactly what basis is there for believing that you exist? According to you, we should always assume everything has a natural cause rather than an artificial one. Occam’s razor. Therefore your comments are presumably caused by hail stones falling on a keyboard which has been left outside somewhere, not by some invisible friend named Cameron, or Zeus, or whatever other nonsense someone may choose to dream up.

I am an a-cameron-ist. There is no reason to believe in you. Nor can there ever be.

Cameron said...

natschuster: According to Deuteronomy, the Isaealites heard G-d speaking, they didn't just see clouds.

CH: Ah yes, 'they hear voices from God' proof.

JP: Cameron, exactly what basis is there for believing that you exist?

CH: We've been corresponding for quite some time, both on the blog and off. If you are doubtful of my existence that says more about you than it says about atheism.

JP: According to you, we should always assume everything has a natural cause rather than an artificial one.

CH: According to you too. When you leave a room, you exit from the door, not through the window onto a flying carpet provided by God.

JP: Occam’s razor.

CH: "entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity"

JP: Therefore your comments are presumably caused by hail stones falling on a keyboard which has been left outside somewhere, not by some invisible friend named Cameron, or Zeus, or whatever other nonsense someone may choose to dream up.

CH: Aren't people part of the natural world in your experience? How is it more likely that hail on a keyboard created our correspondence than that a person did?

JP: I am an a-cameron-ist. There is no reason to believe in you. Nor can there ever be.

CH: Well Jacob, it may be small comfort, but I still believe in you. It's your arguments and your God that aren't fit for belief.

badrabbi said...

Question: If by some chance scientist finally WERE able to produce either
1. A string of Amino acids that formed a protein from natural constituents, or

2. A molecule that somehow self replicated

Would the Orthodox Jew (or any theist) then admit that he was wrong and defect to atheism?

JP if scientist were finally able to produce the life molecule, would you then admit you were wrong and that God does not exist?

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, if you can believe in the my existence, that is the existence of an intelligent being who is responsible for creating things which are clearly artificial, then why not believe in God as well - an intelligent supreme being who is responsible for creating things which are clearly artificial? Because God is invisible? So are x-rays and protons.


Bad, wouldn't the artificial creation of life strengthen the argument that all life is artificial?

"CH: I'm not sure how predictions of 'life from scratch' in the next 3-10 years is meant to support your theory, since you've been claiming that it is so difficult that only God can do it."

This is just typical Cameron nonsense. I have never said any such thing. What I do say is that even the simplest life is far more complex than Shakespeare's Hamlet and therefore it cannot be the product of blind chance.

badrabbi said...

"Bad, wouldn't the artificial creation of life strengthen the argument that all life is artificial?"

What?

natschuster said...

Cameron:

You said self replicating hydrocarbons. There is no such thing. My point isn't just that it is extemely unlikely, but thermodynamics is working against you. Small molecules don't typically form big ones without controlled energy input.

BadRabbi:

If scientiust were to produce a sekf replicating molecule though a purely naturalistic process, I don't think that I would become an atheist because science would still have to answer what cause the big bang, explain the anthropic principle, account for the fact that human morality can make people behave in decidedly unDarwinian ways, how did the extreme complexity of bacterial falgellete or the cilia in my lungs develop.

Spike said...

Nat, your statement about the probability of

The chances of a protein with just 100 amino acids (small for a protein) formed by random chance is about 10^130. I am assuming that you have cribbed this from the "answers in genesis" page here.
This assumes that there is only one possible arrangement of the protein required, and that the amino acids are entirely interchangeable. Both of these assumptions are unwarranted. Additionally, all of your pseudo-mathematical calculations rely on trying to measure probabilities after the event in question. Try dealing a pack of cards into 4 hands. The probability that you dealt the cards into the particular hands as you have just done is 1 in 635013559600. How wildly unlikely! And yet you have just done achieved this particular feat. Congratulations on beating such impossible odds. Or here is another test. Shuffle two packs of cards together: the sequence of cards you have just produced has a total probability of 104!, or about 1 in 1^167. How very unlikely, and, according to our host, impossible. And yet here we have achieved this miracle. Wow. Will they make you a saint now?

"The chances of something like the bacterial flagellete to form by a random process would be at best 1 to 20^225"

Has anybody said that evolution is a entirely random process? If so, they are wrong. Random mutation, yes, but then natural selection as well. One without the other cannot produce the effects seen.

Cameron said...

JP: Cameron, if you can believe in the my existence, that is the existence of an intelligent being who is responsible for creating things which are clearly artificial, then why not believe in God as well - an intelligent supreme being who is responsible for creating things which are clearly artificial?

CH: Because life isn't artificial, its natural! Life is distinguished from artificial (something that is un-natural) by definition - needs no designer.

JP: Bad, wouldn't the artificial creation of life strengthen the argument that all life is artificial?

CH: Trying to have your cake and eat it too? If man can't create life in the lab it's proof that only God can create life. But if man can create life in a lab it now becomes proof that life was created by God. How is it that both A and it's negative, -A = God?


JP: What I do say is that even the simplest life is far more complex than Shakespeare's Hamlet and therefore it cannot be the product of blind chance.

CH: Then we agree - since I am not (and neither are any of those others here defending evolution) suggesting life is the result of 'blind' chance (and I and others have made this particular argument repeatedly in this thread).

In the simplest terms we are saying that life had its beginnings in a natural process, one that then was shaped by evolutionary forces.

In contrast, you are suggesting that life begins with two naked people and a talking snake, that women come from a man's rib, etc.

Which is more plausible?

More importantly, there is nothing about the account of life's origins that science provides that in any way proves the non-existence of God. We don't belief life originated by natural processes because it is an atheist way of looking at things. We believe life evolved by natural processes because that is what the evidence of nature tells us.

Yahweh won't cease to exist or be proven to exist if life is created in the lab. That is a purely scientific and technical problem - and is not a theological one.

Finally,once upon a time people argued that God is what made the stars shine. Now we know different.

What science doesn't yet know does not validate theology - unless you want your theology to be constantly reduced to smaller and smaller pieces of intellectual terrain (a God of the vanishing gaps), like how the universe began, or the origins of life.

I suspect that ultimately, this has more to do with your fixation on the sad design argument than on any theological foundation.

For Nat:

Do you believe in Mammals? That we share a common ancestor with Whales? That birds are related to each other? That amphibians and mammals aren't closely related? That mammals and insects are even further apart?

If so, why?

natschuster said...

Spike:

Amino acids mosts certainly are not complterly interchangable. Thy arew only intechangable with an amino acid that has a similar side chain. That helps the odds somewhat but not a whole lot. I'm not sure waht he comparison to card is. Most possible combinations of amino acids in protein won't work. We have to be really lucky to get one that works. Just one misplaced amino acid cause sickle sell disease.

The bacterial flagellete consists of some 25 different proteins that have to all be there, or it doesn't work at all. That means that 25 different proteins had to evolve simultaniously. Evolution starts as a random process.
this means that 25 random luckky accidents had to happen at the same time. Actuaaly more, because you need to change more than one amino acid.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

Well, I guess a car is more closely related to a truck than to a boat because they share more similarities. And a car and a boat are more closely related to each other than to an airplane. I don't think that this demonstrates common descent. If the fact that we are similar to whales proves common ancestry, then the fact that we are very different than taridgrades for example, woudl prove that we don't share a common ancestor.

jewish philosopher said...

"CH: Because life isn't artificial, its natural!"

False, as this post demonstrates.

Spike said...

Nat, the idea of irreducible complexity as a barrier to evolution was debunked by Muller in 1939. (Muller, H. J. (1939) "Reversibility in evolution considered from the standpoint of genetics." Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 14:261-280.).

A possible path for the evolution of the flagellum is given in "Evolution: Reducible Complexity — The Case for Bacterial Flagella. Current Biology, Volume 17, Issue 13, Pages R510-R512
W. Doolittle, O. Zhaxybayeva"

You have achieved a remarkable variant of the gish gallop in this thread, well done. However, your understanding of the basis of most of your arguments is woefully lacking. I suggest that you familiarise yourself with this introduction to evolution before making even more of a fool of yourself than you already have.

natschuster said...

Spike:

I read all about the flagellum evolving from the bacterial toxin squirter. All that means is that instead of accounting for 25 proteins evolving simultaniously from scratch, we can take five or so proteins from the toxin squirter modify them. We stiil ahve to account for the other 20 proteins in the flagellum that have to be made from scratch simultaniously or the flagellum just doesn't work.

Its mnot just the falgellum. There are so many biochemical functions that require numerous parts that have to fit togerther and function together, or there is no fucntion at all. This means that all these parts had to arrise by some random procees simultaniously.

natschuster said...

I forgot to mention that it looks like there are specail genes in the flagellete bacteria that control the construction schedule of the flagelletes. It seems that they use the critical path method of construction. These also have to be accounted for.

Spike said...

Much as I hate to repeat myself, I say again: the idea of irreducible complexity as a barrier to evolution was debunked by Muller in 1939. (Muller, H. J. (1939) "Reversibility in evolution considered from the standpoint of genetics." Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 14:261-280.). Some references for your arguments would be also nice.

Also, if you have anything other than a god of the gaps, you might want to wheel it out here. Otherwise, go away or I shall be forced to taunt you a second time.

natschuster said...

Since 1939 a whole lot about the cell jas been discovered. Just last week I read in science that the poers in the nuclear membrane (a simple whole) consists of 456 proteins. We now know how complex (irreducably) even a part of the cell is. If you can come up with a viable scenario for the development of the falgellete, the cilia in my lungs or the electron transfer chain-adenopahse complex in the mitochondria I'de love to hear it.

As far as the G-d of the Gaps goes, well there's the origin of the Universe, and the fine tuning of the Universe. There's the placing of the solar system in just the right spot in the galaxy, the fine tuning of the solar system, the fine tuning of the Earth-Moon system, life. There's the fact that Humans have a need for something beyond mere existance (e.g. blogging). How do you explain that in Darwinian terms? Darwinism can't exaplin Human altruism, that can make people behave in a decidely unDarwinian fashion. These are some pretty big gaps.

Spike said...

Ah, another fine gish gallop. Yes, stuff has been learnt since 1939. However, this stuff has confirmed the predictions of Muller, not proved him wrong. Your lack of comprehension of that is starting to look like deliberate ass-hattery, rather than ignorance. If you can come up with a comprehensive report on the design work done by your god I would love to see that. (By comprehensive, I do not mean the torah, or any other work of fiction. I am referring to technical specifications detailing the precise design specifications of, say, your favourite, the flagellum. A link will be acceptable.) Also, didn't I link to a scenario for the development of the flagellum just a few posts ago? Ah, yes, here it is: "A possible path for the evolution of the flagellum is given in "Evolution: Reducible Complexity — The Case for Bacterial Flagella. Current Biology, Volume 17, Issue 13, Pages R510-R512
W. Doolittle, O. Zhaxybayeva"" Wow. wasn't that easy?

A fine-tuning gallop? fine. Now, for your argument to be valid, can you please point to 3 (three) universes where there was no fine-tuning, and life didn't evolve, purely for comparative evaluation? Otherwise I will have to conclude that you are spewing shit again.

P.s. Altruism? You think scientists can't explain altruism? Have you been kept in a hole for the last 20 years?

Cameron said...

natschuster: As far as the G-d of the Gaps goes, well there's the origin of the Universe, and the fine tuning of the Universe. There's the placing of the solar system in just the right spot in the galaxy,

CH: Just the right the right spot to....what?

natschuster:... the fine tuning of the solar system,

CH: You mean like having an Oort cloud bomb us with comets and comet fragments every few million years.

natschuster: the fine tuning of the Earth-Moon system,

CH: 'Fine tuning'? The Moon is the product of a massive collision early in the Earth's history. It's the opposite of fine tuned.

natschuster: ....life.

CH: If you get a fungus on your toenail, does that mean you were designed for the purpose of the toe-fungus? We are home to hundreds of kinds of bacteria - were we designed for that purpose?

natschuster: There's the fact that Humans have a need for something beyond mere existance (e.g. blogging).

CH: You mean like fulfilling our biological destiny by attracting a mate and having a family?

natschuster: How do you explain that in Darwinian terms?

CH: see above.

natschuster: Darwinism can't exaplin Human altruism, that can make people behave in a decidely unDarwinian fashion.

CH:I'm with Spike on this in thinking you ask this out of pure asshattery or because you live under a rock.

natschuster:These are some pretty big gaps.

CH: So? Science doesn't promise complete knowledge - indeed it is predicated on a mechanism of self-checking that all but requires we periodically re-evaluate things in light of new evidence.

Let's actually take you seriously for a moment, and suggest some questions and how sicence vs religion would approach them;

The origin of life;

Science take the tack that natural processes are at work, and investigate possibilities chemistry, early earth atmosphere composition, etc., are involved and experiments are devised to replicate these conditions, and so on in an effort to find a reasonable theory for how life evolved, and then test that theory against empirical evidence available - and even against evidence that might be possible with more development.

religion: already claims to have the answer. Isn't interested in experiments, evidence, testing, hypothesis or considering anything but what is written in a several thousand year old document.

Or how about;

The origins of the universe:

Science will consider what evidence is available through physics, astrophysics, empirical observations, devise better ways of observing distant phenomenae (Hubble telescope!), and advance theories that are testable and within the realm of natural processes. Even when consideration is given to advanced mathematical theories like String Theory, science insists on having testable results for the theory before reaching anything like a conclusion.

religion: claims to already have the answer. Isn't interested in testing, theories, etc. and bases its claims on a document written thousands of years ago by people ignorant of even the most basic advances in science - like say, heliocentrism.

Next time your tooth hurts, I recommend the religious approach. Pray to your God for assistance instead of visiting someone trained in the science of teeth. I dare you to put your money where your mouth is.

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron - ridicule, mockery, meaningless atheistic slogans. Again and again and again. Will you ever say something interesting?

natschuster said...

Cameron:

The fine tuning of the universe to accomodate life is a fact that scientists are struggling to explain now. They even have a name for it, the "Anthropic Principle." Of course they have explanations but they are not ( at least to my mind ) remotely complete. Eg multiverse doesn't explain why the universe is all matter and not anti-matter.

natschuster said...

People run into burning buildings to save strangers. Marines serving in Iraq as we speak will risk their lives to retreive the bdy of a fallen comrade. My sons appraoched us recently and sadi they want to donate kidneys to total strangers. We are reluctant to allow this because there is a history of kidney cancer in my family. Darwinism doesn't allow this. It doesn't allow an organism to risk not being able to pass on its genes. It only allows risks for relatives, i.e. kin selection.

In every culture there is art, music storytelling, etc. People enjoy seeing sunsets. Why? All this activity is a waste of precious neurotransmitters and calories. I would expect any sort of Darwinian process to select against it.

natschuster said...

Science does a very poor job, (if it does the job at all) of teaching people how to live a moral life.

According to the theory of relativity, the geocentric model of the solar system is just as valid as the heliocentric model.

The other points I addressed already.

badrabbi said...

"Cameron - ridicule, mockery, meaningless atheistic slogans. Again and again and again. Will you ever say something interesting?"

I for one find Cameron's writtings informative, entertaining and dead on. Cameron, together with Spike and DrJ and RebelJew in large part are the reason why I visit this blog.

Spike said...

Nat, you are showing your ignorance again:

"According to the theory of relativity, the geocentric model of the solar system is just as valid as the heliocentric model."

This is only true if there is no preferred reference frame. However, the CMB provides a preferential reference frame, against which the geocentric model is less valid than the heliocentric model.

Your other points are fatuous and trivial. Congratulations, you have failed to stick to a single argument long enough to admit that you might be wrong. This is becoming an exercise is guessing which tangent you will follow next in your seemingly endless quest for asshattery.

P.s. The actions of people to save others/tell stories/etc. function in the same way as the peacocks tail. Again your miniscule understanding of evolution has lead to you making an idiot out of yourself in public. Congratulations.

badrabbi said...

"meaningless atheistic slogans. Again and again and again. Will you ever say something interesting?"

Speaking of meaningless slogans, has anyone actually counted the times JP has used "blind chance" to explain evolution?

badrabbi said...

Spike;

Far be it for me to defend Natschuster as he is generally wrong. But the fact of the matter is that there are aspects of behavior that can not be explained using a current understanding of evolution. It is one thing to explain altruism in a bee hive colony, as the latter can effectively be thought of as a superorganism. It is another thing altogether to see a man jump into a burning house to rescue a puppy. The latter probably has much more complex behavior characteristics that in large part have not been worked out. Nevertheless, I submit that religion can not explain this latter example either.

Moreover, story telling, music, etc., are also not explained by evolutionary principles. I think it is too simplistic to compare a peacock's tail to these behaviors.

I do not think that evolution theory is an end-all theory. It can not explain everything, nor does it claim to do so.

To say that "people tell stories and play music. There is no evolutionary explanation for it. Therefore evolution is wrong" is classic asshattery (I love that term!). But to try to offer an evolutionary answer to every behavior that a creationist throws at you is also foolish.

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, I think that RebelJew has made an attempt at intelligent conversation.

As far as Cameron, or for that matter Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, et al. are concerned, whenever you need a refill just read this list of brainless slogans and it's basically all they have to say.

People are naturally good and moral. Religion corrupts people and makes them hateful and violent. [Which religion were Mao and Stalin?]

Religion makes people unhappy. It deprives people of joy in life. [False.]

Religion is based on an ignorance of nature. Science will destroy religion. [Nonsense.]

There is no rational reason to believe in God. [Watchmaker Analogy? Sinai revelation?]

God would not allow suffering. [Why not?]

According to the principle of Occam’s razor, any natural explanation for something, no matter how unlikely, is preferable to a supernatural explanation. [A simpler theory is not better if the simpler theory is much more improbable. Therefore, actually, IDT beats IMT.]

Man is not special. Man is merely one of many species of animals inhabiting one of many planets circling one of billions of stars. [Man is the most complex object in the known universe.]

Evolution is a fact. It is obvious that all life is descended from bacteria just as much as it is obvious that the world is round. [Events that allegedly happened millions of years before recorded history and which contradict the fossil record are hardly as obvious as the shape of the earth.]

natschuster said...

Cameron:

A peacock's tale os direcftly related to reproduction. When I doodle at work, or hum a catchy tune to myself, it has nothing to do with reproduction or survival. Its a pure waste of calories. Darwin can't allow that.

The whole point of the both theories of relativity is that there is no prefered frame of reference or point. The heliocentric model might be simpler if all you are looking at is the motion for the solar system, but if you take into account the movement of the solar system around the galaxy, the movement of the galaxy in the local cluster, and the movemtn of the local cluster through the cosmos, then I would imagine that the amount of complexity is about the same.

The bees in a hive are all closely related. Darwinism allows altruism between closely related individual organisms. It cannot allow people to risk their lives for strangers, or for a different species. If its can't be Darwinism what else is there?

I'm still waiting to hear a plausible scenario for the origin of life. That's how this thread started. You said that that has the G-d of the Gaps weakness, along with a threat to taunt me. Son ot wanting to be taunted my response was that the Gaps are pretty much the whole everyhing in the Universe and Human life. That's why I brought all those other things.

Cameron said...

bad rabbi: But the fact of the matter is that there are aspects of behavior that can not be explained using a current understanding of evolution.

CH: I agree with this as an over-arching point worth making. I'd also point out that the success of evolutionary theory has seen people look to apply it everywhere as a potential contributing explanation. For example, evolutionary theory works nicely when in the hands of linguists looking to explain the differences between linguistic families, but less so when in the hands of psychologists looking to find evolutionary explanations for all behaviour. As the cliche goes, 'when you have a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail'.

badrabbi: It is one thing to explain altruism in a bee hive colony, as the latter can effectively be thought of as a superorganism. It is another thing altogether to see a man jump into a burning house to rescue a puppy.

CH: To a point this is true, but I think you misunderstand the state of theory on altruism and how it affects behaviour. For example, evolutionary theory suggests that we will look to save a blood relative because we share genes with them. But the mechanism for this altruism may not limit the affects to merely blood relatives. And so we extend our altruism beyond the immediate blood relative to the tribe - to the species, and eventually to include even those species that have human qualities like dogs and cats.

badrabbi: Moreover, story telling, music, etc., are also not explained by evolutionary principles.

CH: I lived with an opera/jazz singer for several years and it was an eye (and ear) opening experience for me. Instruments are frequently considered as 'voices' in a particular piece - even though the result is wordless, the music itself is the result of our basic speech abilities. Our brains, attuned to finding linguistic meaning in the sounds made by others struggle to assert patterns within music - and we find it beautiful. A quirk of our linguistic abilities to be sure, but a pleasant one.

badrabbi: I think it is too simplistic to compare a peacock's tail to these behaviors.

CH: for sure, but consider all of the properties that can be explained by sexual selection pressures! From our relative hairlessness compared to other apes, to the preferences for smarts leading to the rise of autism, Asperger's syndrome, and other diseases associated with the same genes as intelligence, to how the breasts of women mimic the appearance of buttocks.

badrabbi: I do not think that evolution theory is an end-all theory. It can not explain everything, nor does it claim to do so.

CH: Agreed. I also wanted to mention that I too visit this site for the dissent as much as JP's contributions. If I have a complaint about the dissenters it is that we too frequently stoop to insults (dork!, etc.) when we should be working on dismantling the arguments.

That said, 'asshattery' is definitely an appropriate description of nat schuster's recent contributions.

Spike said...

Bad, I was attempting to draw a parallel between a peacocks tail being used as a fitness test by peahens, i.e. that a male able to grow a large tail is fitter than a male unable to grow such fine plumage, and the characteristics often used by women to decide upon a mate. I agree that people are more complicated than peacocks, and as such have a broader and more complex set of fitness tests, that can vary from person to person, but the basic principle is the same. There is not an evolutionary explanation for everything, but there is one for altruism.


Nat, did you read my objection to your use of relativity? Do you know anything about the theory beyond its name? Did I not tell you that on a universal scale the preferred frame of reference is one for which the CMB is motionless?

Also, I am not Cameron. You, however, are still an asshat. Congratulations.

Cameron said...

JP: As far as Cameron, or for that matter Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, et al. are concerned, whenever you need a refill just read this list of brainless slogans and it's basically all they have to say.

CH: Let's assess your charges in order...

JP: People are naturally good and moral.

CH: I share the view of philosopher Larry Arnhart:

"...a Darwinian account of human nature and social order requires three levels of explanation: natural desires as shaped by genetic evolution, customary traditions as shaped by cultural evolution, and deliberate judgments as shaped by individual experience. These three levels are in a nested hierarchy so that custom is constrained by nature, and judgment is constrained by both nature and custom."

JP: Religion corrupts people and makes them hateful and violent. [Which religion were Mao and Stalin?]

CH: False. I have steadfastly maintained that morality has nothing to do with religion or it's lack.

JP: Religion makes people unhappy. It deprives people of joy in life. [False.]

CH: Again something I have never said. I agree this is false. Religion doesn't make people unhappy - andin this one case I agree with Marx - it is an opiate.

JP: Religion is based on an ignorance of nature.

CH: This is true for those religions that deny the truth of nature - i.e. evolution, heliocentrism, the age of the earth, etc. Otherwise I see no reason to assume that religion is ignorant of nature.

JP: Science will destroy religion. [Nonsense.]

CH: Again, I only think this case is true for those situations where religion claims knowledge about the world in opposition to science. Where religion treads on the territory of science it will simply get run over, but they are otherwise not necessarily in opposition.

JP: There is no rational reason to believe in God. [Watchmaker Analogy? Sinai revelation?]

CH: Mea culpa. I see no rational reason to believe in God, or Gods, or the tooth fairy.

Let's consider the watchmaker argument again;

-all machines are designed by man
- natural creatures are like machines
- therfore, all natural creatures are designed by men.

Likes a bad argument all around.

As for the revelation at Mount Sinai, how is it distinguishable from mass hysteria, or supposed revelations like the miracle at Lourdes?

JP: God would not allow suffering. [Why not?]

CH: Because a loving god wouldn't inflict pain. So either God doesn't exist, or she isn't a loving God.

JP: According to the principle of Occam’s razor, any natural explanation for something, no matter how unlikely, is preferable to a supernatural explanation.

CH: Guilty. This is the also the basis for all science, which confines itself to a pursuit of explanations in the natural/material world. No coincidence that it has managed to be amazingly successful.


JP: [A simpler theory is not better if the simpler theory is much more improbable. Therefore, actually, IDT beats IMT.]

CH: Let's consider two competing theories of pancakes;

- I made pancakes this morning
- I made pancakes this morning with the help of Thor the God of Thunder.

Occam's razor suggests that the first one is more likely to be true.

JP: Man is not special.

CH: Of course we are special. There are no other intelligent species on earth like us, and we have risen to become the top predator on the planet.

JP: Man is merely one of many species of animals inhabiting one of many planets circling one of billions of stars.

CH: Guilty. But what is it exactly about the above that you disagree with? They are all factual truths, we are one of many species, and we do inhabit one of many planets circling one of the billions of stars in the galaxy which is one of the billions of galaxies in the universe.

JP: [Man is the most complex object in the known universe.]

CH: What do you mean by complex? I can't think of a way in which this claim is true (there are lots of species that have more complex genomes than ours) - or why it would be a religious claim to think we are the most complex?

JP: Evolution is a fact.

CH: A brute, solid, and supported by all the evidence, FACT with a capital F.

JP: It is obvious that all life is descended from bacteria just as much as it is obvious that the world is round.

CH: Doesn't your religion say something about the 'four corners' of the Earth? Are you sure you aren't committed to a square flat planet as a matter of faith?

JP: [Events that allegedly happened millions of years before recorded history and which contradict the fossil record are hardly as obvious as the shape of the earth.]

CH: Only in your world does the fossil record contradict evolution. In the world everybody else lives in the fossil record is something that supports the theory of evolution. Consider that fossils of a 'transitional' form between fish and amphibian were discovered this year in the Canadian arctic - in precisely the age of rock that evolution predicted that the transition took place - and the fossil had both fish and amphibian characteristics (it was a shallow river dweller).

The book on evolution hasn't been completed yet (few science fields are considered 'complete' - even math makes the occasional advancement), but it is not in doubt by anyone except those concerned that the proof of evolution makes God somehow less likely.

Cameron said...

JP - your record for accurately reflecting the claims I made is;


- There is no rational reason to believe in God.

- God would not allow suffering. (I would phrase this as 'God cannot be both omnipotent and omni-benevolent, or the qualities of 'all-powerful and all-good' are mutually inconsistent). More specifically I claim God is irrational and incoherent as a concept.

- Occam’s razor

- Any natural explanation for something, no matter how unlikely, is preferable to a supernatural explanation

- Man is merely one of many species of animals inhabiting one of many planets circling one of billions of stars.

- Evolution is a fact.

- It is obvious that all life is descended from bacteria (CH: I'd be less specific than claiming the common ancestor for all life is 'bateria', but otherwise hold this to be true) just as much as it is obvious that the world is round.

I'm more than happy to argue any of the above. The rest of the claims you attribute to me, I deny.

natschuster said...

Spike:

Sorry about the mixup. According to Relavity motion and being motionless are equivalent.

I'd like to hear your explanation for how Darwinism can cause people to behave in a decidedly unDarwinian fashion, e.g. hvae my 21 year old decide he wants to donate a kidney to a total stanger, or make my 19 confront a man twice his size, who may have been armed, who was beating up on a woman. Darwinism can't allow this.

natschuster said...

Spike:

I do believe thta the equivalence of motion and non-motion is what is referred to as the Equivalence Principle of the General Theory of Relativity.

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, the "four corners" thing is a new one for me. As far as I know, you must be referring to Isaiah 11:12 "And He will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the dispersed of Israel, and gather together the scattered of Judah from the four corners of the earth."

Rudyard Kipling wrote in his short story "Namgay Doola" "I said that the fame of the king had reached to the four corners of the earth, and that the nations gnashed their teeth when they heard daily of the glory of his realm and the wisdom of his moon-like prime minister and lotus-eyed director- general of public education."

This is an idiom meaning "every part of the world".

Cameron said...

JP: This is an idiom meaning "every part of the world".

CH: Sure, it's an idiom NOW, but at the time they seriously thought the Earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the Earth.

I seem to recall a 'miracle' where the Sun was stopped in the sky...etc.

jewish philosopher said...

The United States Navy also has a website to find the times of “sunrise” and “sunset”. Maybe should you send them an email explaining the earth turns, the sun does not rise.

Listen Cameron, I get it. You’re bored. You want to advertise your blog. So you throw out random comments with no intention of serious discussion. But it’s getting a little ridiculous.

natschuster said...

By the way, the person who developed the modern model of the heliocentric solar system, one Nicholas Copernicas, was in fact a Catholic Priest. So it isn't ebtriely accurate to say that if Religion had its way, then we would still believe in a geocentric solar system, because the man who developed the heliocentric theory was a professional theologian.

Cameron said...

natschuster: By the way, the person who developed the modern model of the heliocentric solar system, one Nicholas Copernicas, was in fact a Catholic Priest. So it isn't ebtriely accurate to say that if Religion had its way, then we would still believe in a geocentric solar system, because the man who developed the heliocentric theory was a professional theologian.

CH: Agreed. Eventually smart religious people will understand that science isn't the enemy and embrace the truth about the natural world.

As much as Jacob likes to think I make science a critic of religion, I don't. I simply maintain that when religion seeks to contradict science it does so only at its own peril.

JP: Listen Cameron, I get it. You’re bored. You want to advertise your blog.

CH: My blog is little more than a place where I dump the hodge-podge of ideas I run across in my wanderings. It doesn't make me money, and it certainly won't make me famous.

JP: So you throw out random comments with no intention of serious discussion.

CH: On the contrary, my comments are hardly 'random'. Most recently, you posted specifically that I (by name) was retreading a series of ideas that had been discredited, and I responded by detailing exactly where you were in error. The only item out of the entire post you responded to was the fact that your bible was geocentric rather than helio-centric. Fair enough, I responded (and again - on point) with another example of where your religious text held a geocentric world-view (something I think it is fair to contend).

Rather than deal with ANY of the issues raised by my response you prefer to pursue irrelevant arguments (the US Navy refers to sunrise!) as if they were somehow addressing a point I was making!

JP: But it’s getting a little ridiculous.

CH: Believe me I frequently think the same thing about your arguments - when you actually make some.

badrabbi said...

JP, you listed your supposed atheistic diatribes. Point bt point Cameron responded to you. He told you exactly his opinions on these issues.

Your response was to counter with his side remark of "the four corners of the world"?

I just want to clarify. Are you saying that you agree with everything else he says except for the 'four corners' comments?

badrabbi said...

Cameron;

Beyond the feeble retorts here and there, I see that no one has been able to coherently discuss philosophical issues with you and with Spike. Natschuster took a stab at it but now he is grasping at straws.

So, let me see if I can offer some objections. You wrote, in your objections of the watchmaker priciple, the following:

Let's consider the watchmaker argument again;

-all machines are designed by man
- natural creatures are like machines
- therfore, all natural creatures are designed by men.

It is clear that if you phrase the argument as so, the logic breaks down. However, what if the argument is presented as follows:

-all machines are designed
- natural creatures are like machines
- therfore, all natural creatures are designed.
- since we know not who designed them, and since we know they were designed, we define this unknown designer as 'god'.

Again, I agree that the watchmaker principle is flawed. I am merely objecting to your line of reasoning.

Cameron said...

Hey Badrabbi!

The logic you present breaks down here;


- natural creatures are like machines

And it does so because we know that natural creatures are not really like machines at all. Machines REQUIRE a designer because there is no way they could come into existence otherwise (and other than something like a Von Neuman device - a self replicating machine) this could be considered part of their definition.

Natural creatures on the other hand (as distinguished from natural objects like rocks, or sand) reproduce by sexual reproduction or in some cases by parthenogenesis or other forms of cloning.

That is, they are different from machines at the most basic conceptual level.

There are three other objections that spring to my mind (and Spike, yourself or others may have more than I do off hand);

- the ability to design something is essentially restricted to human beings. Other creatures might make a limited range of objects (spiders make webs, birds make nests, etc.), but humans seem unique in our ability to produce designs for a wide range of objects. This ability is not just restricted to us as humans, but as physical beings - that is, it requires the physical object of a brain. As such, how an intangible being like 'god' could 'design' something is problematic.

- Contrary to what Jacob and others have suggested, natural creatures don't give the appearance of being designed. Indeed, if you look carefully they give every appearance of being jerry-rigged on top of pre-existing structures. In humans, our eyes are wired strangely, we have vestigial organs, extraneous nipples in men, etc. (my favourite objection is that God is a lousy designer because no sane designer would run a waste disposal system through an entertainment unit).

Other animals show a similar history of having unusually strange modifications; the Panda's thumb being an excellent example, the Whale's flipper and bat's wing being others.

- Even if we were to overlook the two previous objections, (that design is solely a human activity, and that it's a mistake to suggest nature shows design) it isn't at all clear that your own (or was it Spike's?) 'shoemaker' objection isn't valid as well.

That is, there could well be millions of designers rather than a single (Jewish) designer. Noithing about the argument requires monotheism.

- Finally, the watchmaker analogy isn't a 'proof' in any scientific sense.

It's an analogy meant to suggest a possible relationship. Just as with Anselm's island argument, or the genuinely brilliant (if false) 'proofs' offered up by Aquinas, it isn't taken seriously as having any scientific weight.

jewish philosopher said...

"Are you saying that you agree with everything else he says except for the 'four corners' comments?"

Bad, what's the point? Whatever I say, Cameron will just respond with some nonsense without bothering to think about whether it's reasonable or not.

But just for fun, let's try.

Cameron: "In the world everybody else lives in the fossil record is something that supports the theory of evolution. Consider that fossils of a 'transitional' form between fish and amphibian were discovered this year in the Canadian arctic - in precisely the age of rock that evolution predicted that the transition took place - and the fossil had both fish and amphibian characteristics (it was a shallow river dweller)."

According to Darwinian evolution, I am descended from a bacterium which lived about three billion years ago. This bacterium and its descendents gradually became me. Now, a bacterium has only one cell. Furthermore, that cell is much smaller and simpler than one cell in my body. My body consists of about 50 trillion cells. Let's say therefore that I am about 500 trillion times more complex than my grandfather the bacterium. According to the gradual change which Darwin suggested took place between the bacterium and me, about how many distinct intermediary forms would we expect to find? I would say at least a few trillion. Let's be generous and say a billion. At very most, how many of those have thus far been discovered in the fossil record? Twenty? Forty? This is not a gap in the fossils. This means the fossils prove Darwin wrong. They indicate a series of special creations, not a gradual, natural change.

badrabbi said...

There has been much talk about abiogenesis, and whether a self replicating organism can be produced simply with time and raw ingredients.

It is clear that as of yet scientists have not been able to produce a living organism from organic constituents. That this requires sophisticated techniques is clear so it is hardly surprising that we have no man-made life yet. What disturbs me more, though, is that we have not been able to find evidence for the simplest self replicating organisms either. To my knowledge, and correct me if I am wrong, the simplest living entities we know of are viruses and prions. Yet even these simplest of organisms are vast in the complexity. If the simplest forms of self-replicating entities are viruses, and if these viruses themselves are found to be very complex, then we have to conclude that either

1. Even the most simple self replicating organisms are vastly complex and that their spontaneous formation is exceedingly remote, or
2. That simple self replicating organisms exist but have not yet been identified. Alternatively, these simple ‘organisms’ may have become extinct.

It seems to me that to solve the riddle of abiogenesis, we have to start by searching for the simplest life forms. Until we find them, we will be constantly hounded by the creationists, who, like task masters, will be demanding this explanation of us. Unfortunately, as JP has demonstrated, even if we were to find a good explanation for the origins of life, the creationists will not be satisfied. Yet, their god of gaps, will have one less boulder to hide under.

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