Cincinnati, Part One

For me the big paleontology conference began on Wednesday morning when a group of us gathered to go to the Creation Museum. There were a couple of luminaries in attendence, including Eugenie Scott:



If you look carefully you can make out my reflection in the glass.

I have made several visits to the museum, and it has been crowded each time. But even I was taken aback by the mob scene that greeted us. Things were so clogged it was sometimes hard to work your way through the labyrinth of exhibits. Very depressing.

Even more depressing was the ubiquity of small children from various camps and schools:



Well isn’t that charming. Getting ‘em while their young is a big thing with creationists. Along the same lines, there were a number of teenagers in attendance wearing these T-shirts:



That must have been quite a conference. I’m sorry I wasn’t there.

I spoke to a number of journalists that morning telling them what I thought of the museum. This led to my moment of fame in the Cincinnati press. For me, though, the most interesting moment came while I was touring the museum itself.

I had told one of the reporters that the specific scientific claims made by the museum’s supporters always had to be taken with a huge grian of salt. They were, virtually without exception, grossly simplistic if not outright false. He had asked me for an example, but I did not have a good one to offer that was specific to the museum’s exhibits.

As we were wandering through the displays there was a poster with the blunt equation, “Mutations = Loss of Information.” The journalist to whom I had spoken previously happened to be standing nearby, so I pulled him over and pointed out that exhibit as a perfect example of what I had been talking about.

A couple of teenagers overheard our conversation and decided they need to school me on the nature of biological information. They rattled off a few of the standard talking points about fruit flies and whatnot. I explained, as patiently as I could, that mutations are routinely seen to confer new functionalities on their bearers. I pointed out that if a particular mutation leads to a loss of information, then it would have to be the case that the reverse mutation leads to a gain in infotmation. A mutation could cause a loss of one functionality while also providing a gain of another. Is that a a gain or loss of information? Total incomprehension, alas. I could not get them even to agree that you need a clear method for measuring information before you could talk intelligently about how it changes when a gene mutates.

We were quickly on to the evolution of complex structures and more frustration ensued. As we were talking several other people came over, so pretty soon I had about six people standing around me. I was making a Gouldian, “senseless signs of history” argument about why we could be confident that a complex systems had evolved by natural selection even though we could not observe such a thing happening. This in reply to an accusation that I was believin gin evolution by faith. It all seemed eloquent and convincing to me, but one pleasant gentlemen replied simply that this was lunacy, and proceded to tell me about 747’s and junkyards and tornados and how I was a slave to my worldview. It wasn’t long before I wasn’t getting a word in edgewise, while the delightful people around me peppered me with questions and comments, each one sillier than the one before.

Very frustrating, but entirely typical for creationists. They have a single intuition, that functional systems do not evolve gradually by undirected processes. Virtually all of their scientific arguments are based on attaching poorly understood jargon to that intuition. They have no real understanding even of what the questions are, much less what to do to find answers. I have had conversations like this at virtually every creationist conference I have attended. They always play out in the same way.

But here’s the thing. In talking to creationists, especially of the YEC variety, I know going in that it will be like talking to a wall. The troubling thing is that things hardly got better when I tried to talk to some of the theistic evolutionists at the conference.

On Thursday afternoon there was a session entitled, “The Nature of Science and Public-Science Literacy” Most of the talks were defenses of theistic evolution, complete with lots of mandatory bashing of “The New Atheists.” The ogranization of the session was highly annoying. Each talk was fifteen minutes long with no Q and A’s between them. There wasn’t even a break between the talks. After eight straight talks (!!) there was a very brief Q and A session, but it was nowhere near adequate to the task of challenging all the nonsense that was spewed during the session.

The whole thing was rather frustrating. Several of the talks were devoted to taking atheists to task for, in the view of the speakers, improperly mixing science with religion. My understanding is that all of the talks were invited, but apparently no one thought it would be worthwhile to invite someone of a different perspective, if just to make the session more interesting. The speakers were keen to stress their own Christian faith and their dismay that so many feel they must choose between science and religion. This, mind you, at a paleontology conference. Who’s mixing science and religion, again?

Can you imagine hosting a session at such a conference arguing for the incompatibility of science and religion? Can you imagine any of those militant, dogmatic New Atheist types even being interested in hosting such a session?

During the Q and A I challenged Keith Miller’s (from Kansas State University, no relation to Ken Miller) assertion that respecting the distinction between methodological naturalism and philosophcial naturalism provides much help in reconciling science with religion. Having recently discussed that issue I won’t belabor it here.

I also challenged George Murphy, from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Ohio. He had angrily asserted that the New Atheists argue that God can not exist unless there is some trace of Him left in the natural world. I pointed out that was a bad misstatement of the argument. The point is simply that you have to give reasons for what you believe, at least if you want others to take you seriously. Nature is an obvious place to look for evidence of God, and many people claim there is, indeed, a divine signature to be found there. So people like Dawkins go about the grim business of explaining why such arguments are mistaken.

Murphy started to answer, repeating his assertion about Dawkins and referring to the deep insight (his phrase) that Christianity gives him. I replied, with some annoyance, that he was just blatantly distorting what Dawkins had said. I also asked him how he knows he is getting deep insight from Christianity. It might just be fool’s gold.

The Q and A abruptly ended at this point. I never did get Keith Miller’s response to my question, but Murphy and I continued the discussion outside. He was all indignation over Dawkins’ refusal to study Christian theology in any serious way. I replied that Dawkins rejects the premise on which such theology is based. Why should he care about a body of work devoted to explaining God’s interactions with the world when he does not accept that God exists?

At some point I asked him flatly why he believed in God. He replied that it had to with his personal experiences. So I asked him why someone who has not had such experiences should think he has anything to learn from Christianity or Christian theology. I don’t think I ever got a straight answer to that question.

I have had intense discussions with people about obscure points of the Buffyverse, but I don’t expect anyone who is not a Buffy fan to regard such discussions as interesting or important. The trouble is that many of the participants in this session made Christian theology sound like much the same thing. They had various personal reasons for accepting Christianity, but at no point provided any basis for their beliefs that could be recognized as evidence by those outside the community. Theology came off seeming like an in-house discussion among those who share a particular set of premises. Which would be fine if they forthrightly admitted that’s what theology is. The trouble comes when they act as if theology is actually giving us knowledge or understanding of something, or that it is a branch of human inquiry that deserves a place at the table alongside science. Give me some reason to think that Christian theology has any more basis in reality than does Buffy studies, and then I will start taking it seriously.

To a surprising degree it was the same frustration I felt arguing with the creationists. At one point Murphy told me that God is the ground of all being, not a being Himself. That is a phrase you often see in high-brow Christian theology, but I haven’t the faintest idea what it means. I asked Murphy what it meant. Words came out of his mouth in reply, but I still have no idea what it means.

Basically, the whole experience, not just with Murphy but with a lot of what other session participants were saying, was aptly summed up by a line from a Woody Allen short story:

Well-intentioned, concise, containing all the elements that appear to make up what passes among certain reference groups as a communicative effect, yet tinged throughout by what Jean-Paul Sartre is so fond of referring to as “nothingness.”

The curious thing is that even while the conference presenters were happy to dump on Richard Dawkins and his colleagues, they begin by conceding two of his central points. First, they agree completely with him that there is no divine signature in nature. Second, though I doubt they would agree they are conceding this, their version of religious faith seems to confirm Dawkins’ characterization that faith is belief without evidence.

There is more to report on, of course, but we shall save that for Part Two.

Comments

  1. #1 Kurt
    June 28, 2009

    I just want to say that I am extremely grateful for people like you and PZ who keep tabs on what creationist and other stripes of religionists are doing, and take the time to rebut their arguments. But I have to wonder, though, why you do it? It seems like such an unpleasant and largely fruitless endeavor most of the time.

  2. #2 James F
    June 28, 2009

    From your experience at the “museum,” what is the YEC crowd’s explanation for the lack of evidence for creationism in peer-reviewed scientific literature: that the scientific community is incompetent, or engaged in a decades-long global conspiracy to suppress all evidence against evolution? Even if they go with the “there are two ways of looking at the same evidence” line, they still have to explain why one way of “looking” hasn’t gotten any purchase in science journals. This is nearly as much of a denial of reality as their specific pseudoscientific claims.

  3. #3 Wes
    June 28, 2009

    I share your frustration with people who refer to religion as a “way of knowing”, but refuse to spell out just how anyone can come to know anything via religious faith. Most of the theology and apologetics I have read contain no path to knowledge at all–instead, they almost always either 1.) Consist of a long list of excuses for why they shouldn’t have to provide any rational justification whatsoever for their beliefs, or 2.) Argue that their personal feelings, emotions and values are what confirm their beliefs. In other words: “We believe it because it feels good. How dare you question that?”

    I don’t think religion is a way of knowing at all. It’s a type of behavior that social primates engage in to reinforce local values. That’s all I can get from it, anyways.

  4. #4 chas
    June 28, 2009

    On evolution – Are you saying that your brain, which you say originated in a primordial pool several billion years ago, is telling you that it originated in a primordial pool several billion years ago?

  5. #5 James F
    June 28, 2009

    When brains originate in a primordial pool all by themselves, nothing good comes of it.

  6. #6 brad daly
    June 28, 2009

    some photos from a visit to the creation museum a month or so after it opened:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bradbrad/sets/72157600323932617/detail/

  7. #7 AlexS
    June 28, 2009

    Did you feel any Kuhnian flashes throughout the exhibit?

    And I hope you have photos of Eugenie Scott riding the baby Triceratops!

  8. #8 gwen
    June 28, 2009

    Maybe we need to send LARGE groups of ‘Evolutionists’ (group rates of course!) to go through the exhibit on a regular basis and treat it like the silly fantasy world it is! If we laugh and point and make comments about the exhibits and treat it as a laughing stock, maybe it will cause others to question what is presented.

  9. #9 chas
    June 28, 2009

    James F,

    “When brains originate in a primordial pool all by themselves, nothing good comes of it.”

    What proof does your brain have that it originated in a primordial pool all by itself?

  10. #10 pough
    June 28, 2009

    Yeah, how a human could ever come from some kind of goo? It’s storks, not sex! Teach the controversy!

  11. #11 Michael Ralston
    June 29, 2009

    I love the “your brain you say came from goo says it came from goo???” ‘argument’.
    It’s so absurdly self-negating.

    I mean, the actual argument is basically “you say your brain is the result of imperfect processes, therefore how can you be sure that it’s right?”, but the presumed contrast is that religion claims the brain is the result of perfect processes … which would mean that brains should always be right, which can’t be true, given the religious disagreements we see.

    So, well, brains are definitely flawed, so I’m sure gonna take the belief stance that actually SAYS brains might be flawed.

  12. #12 chas
    June 29, 2009

    “-belief stance that actually SAYS brains might be flawed.”

    More evolution mumbo-jumbo? Are brains flawed or not? Feels good to use religion for a punching bag when you have no proof your brain created itself?

  13. #13 Richard Wein
    June 29, 2009

    Who brought Angel back from Hell? Was it the First Evil or the Powers That Be?

    How can anyone dismiss Buffy if they haven’t seriously considered that question?

  14. #14 Jason A.
    June 29, 2009

    Are brains flawed or not?

    Of course they are. The simple fact that we’re hacing this discussion is proof of that. If brains were perfect, we would all reach the same (correct) conclusion. I say we evolved, you say a magical creature willed us into existence. Obviously, we can’t both be right. Proof that brains are flawed, and virtually irreconcilable evidence that intelligent design (by a perfect designer, anyways) is wrong.
    I don’t see why you’re harping on this point when it’s a point against you. Maybe you’re brain is just reeeeeeally flawed…

    I suppose you want to say that, if we admit our brains are flawed, then we can never be 100% sure of conclusions we reach with our flawed brains. Of course, any scientist could have told you that, it’s one of the basic principles of science. But it’s not a crapshoot where we just make something up at random and believe it. We test it against the real world, toss out what doesn’t work and build on what does.

  15. #15 Blake Stacey
    June 29, 2009

    At one point Murphy told me that God is the ground of all being, not a being Himself. That is a phrase you often see in high-brow Christian theology, but I haven’t the faintest idea what it means. I asked Murphy what it meant. Words came out of his mouth in reply, but I still have no idea what it means.

    Ah, yes, the old question: is God the Existence of Possibility or the Possibility of Existence?

    Really, it’s all beside the point; Murphy is horribly out of date. As is well known, theologians have recently proved beyond all doubt that the Necessary Precondition of Being is actually Daniel Craig.

  16. #16 cypressgreen
    June 29, 2009

    I’m in Cleveland and a bunch of friends and I are considering a trip to the museum. We’re torn between the entertainment value of visiting and the sad fact we would be giving them money.
    At the end of the summer we plan a party to screen Religulous for everyone who missed it and those wanting to see it again! Costumes encouraged, and we’ll be serving things like leg of Lamb of God, Adam’s riblets, holy toast and withered tree figs. (any other food suggestions appreciated!) I may give out Chick Tracts and bible warning stickers as favors.

  17. #17 JimV
    June 29, 2009

    “They have a single intuition, that functional systems do not evolve gradually by undirected processes.”

    As illustrated in this thread, by the primordial ooze comments. Pough’s reply (#10) reminded me of my reaction to a documentary I saw on PBS years ago. It included a segment on a farm family in which a son had gone to college and taken a biology course. The father angrily asked him, “Did they tell you that people came from green slime? Because that’s just wrong!”

    (I don’t think it was the color part that was upsetting him.)

  18. #18 MartyM
    June 29, 2009

    Any history of the bible in that “history” museum? This is the one thing YECs ignore completely.

    It’s frustrating for me to read how frustrating it was for you. Good report though. I know some friends who went to that museum last year. I told them not to believe everything they see, but we haven’t talked about it since. My suspicion is that they may.

  19. #19 pough
    June 29, 2009

    I don’t think it was the color part that was upsetting him.

    Maybe one day I’ll get exasperated by creationists enough to do the “oh, but we do all come from goo; here, let me show you” routine.

  20. #20 chas
    June 29, 2009

    “Of course they are. The simple fact that we’re hacing this discussion is proof of that. If brains were perfect, we would all reach the same (correct) conclusion. I say we evolved, you say a magical creature willed us into existence. Obviously, we can’t both be right. Proof that brains are flawed, and virtually irreconcilable evidence that intelligent design (by a perfect designer, anyways) is wrong.
    I don’t see why you’re harping on this point when it’s a point against you. Maybe you’re brain is just reeeeeeally flawed…
    I suppose you want to say that, if we admit our brains are flawed, then we can never be 100% sure of conclusions we reach with our flawed brains. Of course, any scientist could have told you that, it’s one of the basic principles of science. But it’s not a crapshoot where we just make something up at random and believe it. We test it against the real world, toss out what doesn’t work and build on what does.”

    Does all this mean your brain knows where & how it originated?

  21. #21 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    June 29, 2009

    Chas:

    Our brains have worked out a way (the scientific method)to figure reality out including where brains come from. For example, there is an ever growing collection of fossil hominids which shows increasing brain size over time among some lineages of these creatures, following the earlier origin of bipedalism. Paleoanthropolgists and paleontologists are zeroing in on the time when the human line split from the ape line which led to our nearest living relatives the chimps and bonobos. What part of this research project is flawed or wrong?

  22. #22 Ophelia Benson
    June 29, 2009

    “I’m in Cleveland and a bunch of friends and I are considering a trip to the museum. We’re torn between the entertainment value of visiting and the sad fact we would be giving them money.”

    Go, and then hold up the ticket booth on the way out. Win-win.

  23. #23 Bayesian Bouffant, FCD
    June 29, 2009

    If you look carefully you can make out my reflection in the glass.

    Thus proving you are not a vampire?

  24. #24 Amber
    June 29, 2009

    Cypressgreen: Your party sounds awesome!! Let us know how it all turns out!

    I’m glad that there are people who go to these things and try to educate others, even if it does fall of deaf ears. That’s one thing that I have to work on with myself: These people just really piss me off and then I don’t communicate with them effectively. But, I’m getting better! Maybe in time, I too can go to the creationist museum and ridicule, I mean…educate the lost sheep.

  25. #25 tyaddow
    June 29, 2009

    Chas,

    What is your brain telling you? Your comments here have come across as tedious ridicule, but it’s not too late to contribute something of substance. Please share with us your explanation of where your brain comes from, and how your brain knows that. Teach us something.

  26. #26 chas
    June 29, 2009

    Your Name’s not Bruce?,

    “Our brains have worked out a way (the scientific method)to figure reality out including where brains come from. For example, there is an ever growing collection of fossil hominids which shows increasing brain size over time among some lineages of these creatures, following the earlier origin of bipedalism. Paleoanthropolgists and paleontologists are zeroing in on the time when the human line split from the ape line which led to our nearest living relatives the chimps and bonobos. What part of this research project is flawed or wrong?”

    I know all of this. But, it doesn’t address the real question. Did all this happen by itself or is it the work of a Divine Being?

  27. #27 JimV
    June 29, 2009

    “But, it doesn’t address the real question. Did all this happen by itself or is it the work of a Divine Being?”

    I vote we go with the former until we get some evidence to the contrary, because then we are done and can go on with the rest of our lives. Whereas, if we chose the latter, we still have the unanswered real question, did the Divine Being happen by itself, or was it the work of a superior Divine Being?

  28. #28 Jason Rosenhouse
    June 29, 2009

    Richard Wein –

    Excellent comment!

  29. #29 Bjørn Østman
    June 29, 2009

    Who were the eight speakers?

  30. #30 tyaddow
    June 29, 2009

    Chas:

    Did all this happen by itself or is it the work of a Divine Being?

    Typical. Contribute nothing while asking broad questions that read like false dichotomies. Stop pretending you are above the board here and just show your hand. My guess is that you’re bluffing, but you can troll around here with your rhetorical questions to distract yourself from the vacuity of your position. Prove me wrong.

  31. #31 SLC
    June 29, 2009

    Prof. Rosenhouse is a far more tolerant individual then I am. I can not even imagine associating with the clowns that frequent so-called museums like this one. Nice people? They’re not nice people, they’re the slime off the bottom of the cesspool.

  32. #32 RBH
    June 29, 2009

    I was also at the “Nature of Science” day at the conference. I have to say the afternoon of 15-minute talks Jason described moved me further away from the ‘accommodationist’ position and closer to the rejectionists. While it’s useful to be able to point out TEs like Ken Miller and Keith B. Miller to local creationists who argue that evolution is tantamount to atheism, I am at a loss to explain how they do it. The afternoon consisted mainly of assertions that they do, with little or no description of how.

    One item of interest on the tactical front was the inclusion of a couple of self-described evolutionary creationists — evangelicals like Steve Matheson from Calvin College who are scientists and accept evolution. That was no doubt due to the program having been organized by Keith B. Miller. Several of the speakers (Keith Miller, George Murphy, and Loren Haarsma) were contributors to Miller’s Perspectives on an Evolving Creation.

  33. #33 chas
    June 29, 2009

    tyaddow,

    “Chas,
    What is your brain telling you? Your comments here have come across as tedious ridicule, but it’s not too late to contribute something of substance. Please share with us your explanation of where your brain comes from, and how your brain knows that. Teach us something.”

    I thought you evolutionists could tell me where my brain came from. I thought with all the experiments, research & analysis that you would know. You seem to have a lot of knowledge about how things have changed, but not a lot of knowledge about how they were created. You seem to be guessing that it created itself. You seem to be getting close but, still can’t prove it

  34. #34 Eliza
    June 29, 2009

    Richard Wein:

    That’s a ridiculous question.
    It was definitely the Powers That Be. And if you don’t agree, you’re going where Angel was.

    Chas:

    “Feels good to use religion for a punching bag when you have no proof your brain created itself?”

    Yup, it feels good.
    My brain created itself?! Horrifying. I didn’t think so. My brain, was always there. The alpha and the omega.
    Yours created iself, maybe. From dust. :)

    Looking forward to Part 2!

  35. #35 Leni
    June 29, 2009

    I love the Buffy analogy! It’s perfect.

    I never would have guessed you were a fan, but now that I know you are I feel this terrible, terrible urge to pester you about posting on it. Please please please please please!! Just one! I’m curious about what your favorite episodes are.

    I could not have kept my cool either. I would have gone into full snark mode. It probably would have gotten ugly. Terrified children would forever remember me as the crazy lady who got thrown out of the creation museum. I don’t know how you do it.

  36. #36 chas
    June 29, 2009

    Richard Wein:

    I was thinking your brain evolved from something, which evolved from something, which evolved from prokaryotes, etc. I’m just not sure you know what & how the inanimate matter formed them & thusly your brain.

  37. #37 Eliza
    June 29, 2009

    Chas, there you go again, creating delightful images of free-floating brains. They sound terrific fun (maybe something Joss Whedon could cover), but I don’t think they’re helping you make your argument.

    (A note, by the way: if any biologists want to correct me at any stage, please do. I won’t be offended; I love bio, but it’s not my area.)

    The brain did not evolve from something by itself. It evolved as part of the human body; the human body evolved from other things. Yes, ape-like creatures. Deal. Please do not pick on the poor brain just because you think it is the most complex organ, and therefore the best illustration of the argument you have markedly not made. Many organs in the human body are far more complex than you or I could design. (Why oh why do creationists always forget the remarkable kidneys?)

    The idea that the brain “created itself” belies the fact that you are operating with completely different premises than at least me, and if I may presume, most people who believe evolution is the best explanation for us and our brains. Why does creation, or design, come into it at all?

    For me, evolution as an explanation rids us of the need to use the word creation. Nothing created anything; at least nothing created species. I may be exposing the fact, by picking on your individual words, that linguistics wilI hopefully one day be my area…but language is important.

    Especially since I have read this:

    “I was thinking your brain evolved from something, which evolved from something, which evolved from prokaryotes, etc. I’m just not sure you know what & how the inanimate matter formed them & thusly your brain.”

    Three times and it still does not make sense to me.

    Finally, I apologise to everyone for the ridiculous comma in my above comment. (“My brain, was always there.”) I don’t remember typing it, but it’s making me wince.)

  38. #38 Blake Stacey
    June 29, 2009

    Eliza, it makes more sense if you use Babelfish to translate it to Japanese and back again:

    I the empty thought of your brain which is developed what which is developed from prokaryotes the empty, and so on what which is developed. As for me what kind of & Certainty you have known exactly, whether is not; Problem of inanimante ones those & How it formed?; thusly your brain.

    Perfectly clear!

  39. #39 chas
    June 29, 2009

    Eliza,

    “Nothing created anything; at least nothing created species.”

    What proof do you have of this statement?

  40. #40 Eliza
    June 30, 2009

    Blake, thanks a lot for the translation. I’m sure Japanese readers are going: “Duh!”. I love Babelfish, actually. It’s surprisingly good at cyrillic.

    Chas, I was trying to say that evolution as a hypothesis for the development of species, if correct, means there is no need for creation. If things evolved, the brain did not create itself. Hence, nothing created anything. I apologise if I was unclear. (Though at least I’ve explained my incoherence.)

    I happen to believe evolution by natural selection is a perfectly adequate, indeed good, explanation for us, and other species, and everybody’s brains. However, that has nothing to do with what I said; I wasn’t actually arguing for evolution, or against creationism. I was trying to point out that evolution does not mean “created by something other than god/created by itself”; it means something more like “developed from something else, which developed from something else, through pleasant and efficient and logical slight changes…rather than by design”. Or, that creation is not the only option.

    This time I feel like I’ve over-explained myself!

    I didn’t say I had any “proof” of anything. Like I’ve said, I wasn’t making an argument. I was in fact pointing out that an argument would have been pointless, as your use of the word creation implied a presupposition of consciousness, whereas evolution as a theory proposes no such thing.

    Since you seem to be attempting to advance an argument, or assume there is no way to disagree with someone without attempting to persuade each other, why don’t you provide some “proof”?

  41. #41 Steven Sullivan
    June 30, 2009

    Chas,

    You believe that species were ultimately ‘designed’.

    There have been many religions throughout human history, and thus many descriptions of the ‘Designer(s)’ of the world. They seem to be quite different in many ways, other than being responsible for creating everything.

    Tell us all that you know about yours, and why yours is the ‘real’ one whereas the others are just myths.

  42. #42 Keith Douglas
    June 30, 2009

    A possible error in metaphysics and logic which isn’t the usual one: it occurs to me that creationists might be reading “nothing created X” as asserting that some sort of weird “nothing that is” doing something …

  43. #43 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    June 30, 2009

    Chas;

    Life is older than brains. That does not mean however that brains “came” from “somewhere”, that they were somehow waiting around for space in a skull. There were many, many species of animals with brains before mammals or primates or humans evolved. All these other brains are no less remarkable than our own. Their story is our story, though our story isn’t much more than an afterthought; it’s certainly not an end point.

    Assuming that there is some divine being, how does one know where it came from? Did it evolve or was it created? How would one tell? My guess is that there will now follow a claim that this divine being is somehow Eternal and Uncreated. And the evidence to support this (expected) special pleading is…..? You demand “proof” of the time, date, street address and favourite flavour of ice cream of the first human brain. Can you offer us any evidence for your divine being other than claims in a holy text? There is much more evidence for the origin and history of brains, both human and otherwise, than there is for any putative divine being. Unless I missed something?

  44. #44 chas
    June 30, 2009

    If Someone out there created you, but hasn’t given you the ability to know He created you, how would you know He created you?

    Seems like evolutionists have a firm believe that their brains which they say evolved from a promordial soup know all there is to know.

  45. #45 tyaddow
    June 30, 2009

    Chas said:

    I thought you evolutionists could tell me where my brain came from. I thought with all the experiments, research & analysis that you would know. You seem to have a lot of knowledge about how things have changed, but not a lot of knowledge about how they were created. You seem to be guessing that it created itself. You seem to be getting close but, still can’t prove it

    Generalize much? Please reference one person who has stated that the brain “created itself.”

    Again, and for one last time I’m going to ask you to tell us what you know. You’re perfectly willing to condescend those who hold a different view than yours by tossing out these absurd caricatures. If you really wanted answers to these questions you would do your own homework. You seem to just want the smug satisfaction of posing ridiculous questions, but you’re unwilling to offer any answers of your own. Put up or shut up.

  46. #46 chas
    June 30, 2009

    tyaddow,

    Sounds like a cop-out to me.

  47. #47 Joshua White
    June 30, 2009

    Actually right now I am a teaching assistant for neurobiology and we did cover where brains likely came from.

    Short answer, the move from radial to bilateral symmetry.

    Longer answer. Basically for radial creatures each section of their body is just like the others so all you see is a loose neural net throughout the body or a few equally spaced concentrations of nerve cells (ganglions). When bilateral symmetry evolved the organisms tended to concentrate the processing of incoming information as close to the sensory apparatus as possible for efficiency. This resulted in the concentration of neural systems toward one end or the other. So in a sense the brain is basically a big ganglion.

  48. #48 Sabrina
    June 30, 2009

    Is there a fly taking part of this discussion? It’s making my brain hurt.

  49. #49 chas
    June 30, 2009

    It’s very interesting to me that evolutionists claim that their brains have evolved from animate matter that was magically converted from inanimate matter several billion years ago, with no proof or details on how this magic occurred. Yet they claim they know 100% that this conversion was not accomplished by an Intelligent Designer or Superior Being simply because their brains, which have evolved from this magical inanimate to animate conversion, cannot conceive of such an entity.

  50. #50 chas
    June 30, 2009

    The evolutionists tout their research & experiments showing how things have changed or evolved over time but are not sure how it started or what the starting point was. This is roughly akin to a lost South American tribe tearing a new Porsche 911 apart & marveling at the brakes, A/C, radio & motor and not knowing whether or not it might have built itself. Unaware of the existence of the German auto workers & engineers.

    Of course the evolutionists have a distinct advantage over the Indians. They have a large number of highly trained, well educated, high IQ scientists to try & figure out where life came from & how it started. But, alas, still no luck.

    The probability that all this brain power will determine whether or not life on Earth created itself or not? 50/50. It did or it didn’t. The same as the probability that life was created by an Intelligent Designer or Designers or Superior Being or Beings. He, She or They did or He, She or They didn’t.

  51. #51 Richard Eis
    July 1, 2009

    -It’s very interesting to me that evolutionists claim that their brains have evolved from animate matter-

    Your brain and body is made of inanimate matter. Mostly carbon.

    -high IQ scientists to try & figure out where life came from & how it started. But, alas, still no luck.-

    AT LEAST WE TRY. We don’t stop searching because we found a nice simply answer that we liked the look of. Or that the man in the magic building told us so it must be true.

  52. #52 tyaddow
    July 1, 2009

    Chas- you are a tiresome, obnoxious troll. You’re too lazy to do your own homework, and your obtuse questioning demonstrates a complete lack of understanding on your part. Does a brain create itself? A truly stupid question. How does something that does not yet exist initiate it’s own existence? It doesn’t, no one claims it does, and your repeated assertion that ‘evolutionists’ hold such a view is just ignorant wanking. For several billion years there was no life on this planet. Then there was life, but no brains. Eventually there were brains. Either they came about by natural processes or they were created by magic. There is evidence to support the former. Just read a science book. What is your evidence to support the latter?

  53. #53 tyaddow
    July 1, 2009

    oh no! SIWOTI!

  54. #54 JimV
    July 1, 2009

    I think the problem here is Chas is assuming that some magic elan vital is associated with ‘animate’ matter as opposed to ‘inanimate’ matter. That notion was given up by science long ago, when it was discovered that ‘organic’ compounds could be synthesized directly from ‘inorganic’ elements. As we babble on the Internet, scientists are changing living cells by chemical means (with no magic involved), and are estimated to be within a decade of assembling simple forms of life in the laboratory from scratch.

    Natural processes, producing random combinations of elements over very long times, have some possibility of producing similar ‘life’ (self-replicating bundles of chemicals). In a big enough universe over long enough times, this possibility will be realized. (Then evolution starts.) This is a rough model, with many details to be filled in (some or which have been filled in), but for many of us it makes more sense than postulating that some magical being created life by some unknowable process.

  55. #55 Pierce R. Butler
    July 1, 2009

    cypressgreen @ # 16: any other food suggestions appreciated!

    Ark chocolate.

    Tower of falafel.

    Chips ‘n’ hummoses.

    Grilled cheesus sandwiches.

    Antichristo (with monstrous flying spaghetti).

    Starch of Bethlehem.

    Savory saviors.

    Shish-ka-baptists.

    Hors of Babylon d’oeuvres.

    Beelzebarbecue.

    I yam that I yams.

    And for dessert: Mary cherries.

  56. #56 AC
    July 1, 2009

    The evolutionists tout their research & experiments showing how things have changed or evolved over time but are not sure how it started or what the starting point was. This is roughly akin to a lost South American tribe tearing a new Porsche 911 apart & marveling at the brakes, A/C, radio & motor and not knowing whether or not it might have built itself. Unaware of the existence of the German auto workers & engineers.

    If they were to sufficiently analyze the car (using science), they would find it composed of synthetic substances, and natural substances in non-naturally-occurring forms. They would find it lacking means of operation without human involvement and lacking means of reproduction. Compared to an organism, the car could hardly be more different. So, by what standard do you consider organisms to bear signs of being “created” or designed?

    I suggest learning about biology, chemistry, and particle physics/cosmology. You will find no need for “creation” or design in any of them, but of course plenty of room for tortured rationalizations that include them.
    If you must be silly, at least don’t be ignorant too.

  57. #57 chas
    July 1, 2009

    Tyaddow,

    “Does a brain create itself? A truly stupid question. How does something that does not yet exist initiate it’s own existence? It doesn’t, no one claims it does,-“

    “For several billion years there was no life on this planet. Then there was life, but no brains.”

    Sounds like double talk to me. You keep leaving out what happened between “there was no life” and “Then there was life”. Then you say there were no brains but that our brains have evolved from something. Sound like you’re saying they evolved from no life but didn’t create themselves? Then who created them?

    This is a very incomplete picture from someone who likes to call others “tiresome, obnoxious troll”

  58. #58 chas
    July 1, 2009

    JimV

    “and are estimated to be within a decade of assembling simple forms of life in the laboratory from scratch.”

    So you still haven’t proven that life wasn’t created by an Intelligent Designer or Superior Being?

  59. #59 chas
    July 1, 2009

    JimV,

    And we’ll have to wait 10 years or so to know for sure?

  60. #60 tyaddow
    July 1, 2009

    Chas a.k.a. tiresome, obnoxious troll. It is not mine or anyone else’s responsibility to educate you. However, there are many people here, myself included who would be glad to explain abiogenesis to you if you were truly interested in learning. But you’re not. Do yourself a favor and admit that. You’ve made up your mind already. That’s fine, that’s your privilege, but it’s annoying when you troll around and say nonsense things and then attribute them to others. If you have positive evidence of your point of view, please share it with us. Caricatures of evolution do not prove that it did not happen. Ever heard of Occam’s razor? When you unnecessarily add magic to the equation just because you’re too lazy to learn about science, you’ve explained exactly nothing. This will be my last comment to you, because you have nothing productive to add, and I’m sure Jason is tired of reading this off-topic thread filler.

  61. #61 chas
    July 1, 2009

    AC,

    “I suggest learning about biology, chemistry, and particle physics/cosmology. You will find no need for “creation” or design in any of them, but of course plenty of room for tortured rationalizations that include them.”

    Are you suggesting that these books contain all there is to know about the creation of life? That there is no information in existance that doesn’t exist in these books? As far as I know you still haven’t proven that life created itself. So how can you know that there is no need for creation or Intelligent Design?

  62. #62 chas
    July 1, 2009

    tyaddow,

    “Chas a.k.a. tiresome, obnoxious troll. It is not mine or anyone else’s responsibility to educate you. However, there are many people here, myself included who would be glad to explain abiogenesis to you if you were truly interested in learning. But you’re not. Do yourself a favor and admit that. You’ve made up your mind already. That’s fine, that’s your privilege, but it’s annoying when you troll around and say nonsense things and then attribute them to others. If you have positive evidence of your point of view, please share it with us. Caricatures of evolution do not prove that it did not happen. Ever heard of Occam’s razor? When you unnecessarily add magic to the equation just because you’re too lazy to learn about science, you’ve explained exactly nothing. This will be my last comment to you, because you have nothing productive to add, and I’m sure Jason is tired of reading this off-topic thread filler.”

    Not another predictable, verbose, mostly meaningless cop-out.

    Cop-out:–excuse for not taking action: a feebly transparent excuse or explanation for refusing to face up to something

    Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

  63. #63 Sabrina
    July 1, 2009

    @Pierce #55 – Awesome!

  64. #64 Stu
    July 1, 2009

    you still haven’t proven that life created itself.

    Of course not, because it didn’t. There’s no “creation” involved. That’s the point you’re intentionally ignoring.

    Get it?

    No creation.
    No creator.

    If you use either of those words again, you’ve proven that you do not understand evolution, and don’t care to. You will have proven that you’re simply trolling.

  65. #65 Michael Fugate
    July 1, 2009

    For people like chas, Collin, Robert and Larry who can’t quite come to grips with the evidence for evolution, I give them this quote:

    “In contrast, when people who are not conversant with a scientific concept use it to lend credibility to shaky or shady conclusions, they become demagogues and/or charlatans. And before anyone trots out the elitism hobby-horse, all I can say is, just have the next person you meet on the street repair your car or give you a haircut. The same logic applies, and no amount of skimming Wikipedia entries will make up for in-depth knowledge and critical thinking.”
    Athena Andreadis

  66. #66 JimV
    July 1, 2009

    “So you still haven’t proven that life wasn’t created by an Intelligent Designer or Superior Being?”

    No, I haven’t. This reminds of a long-ago episode of Nova, which featured James Randi debunking various magical beliefs. In one segment he addressed a class of college students, and handed out printed descriptions to each one, purporting to be based solely on their horoscopes (the astrological signs at their birth dates). After they read their descriptions, he asked for a show of hands from those who felt the description matched them fairly well. Most of the class raised their hands. He then asked for a show of hands from those who felt the descriptions matched them very well. About the half the class raised their hands. Then he asked, “How many feel that this matches you so exactly that it couldn’t possibly have been generated by any random means?” (Or something like that.) Several students raised their hands.

    Then he asked each student to hand his or her piece of paper to the student behind, and for the last student in each row to bring his or her paper to the student at the front of the row. At which point they found that each student had been given the same, generic description. (“You have been disappointed in love, yada, yada, yada.”)

    One student then interjected angrily, “But this doesn’t prove that astrology doesn’t work!”

    “No,” Randi replied, “and I can’t prove to you that Santa Claus doesn’t exist either. All I have done is show you that everything astrology claims to do by magic can be done by natural means.”

    The rest is up to you, whether to cling to your magic (which actually explains nothing, unless you know how “magic” works), or accept rational alternatives.

  67. #67 Richard Eis
    July 1, 2009

    -So you still haven’t proven that life wasn’t created by an Intelligent Designer or Superior Being?-

    Chas. You are the one saying that an intelligent designer is needed. Therefore it is up to you to prove it exists and in the form specified in whatever holy book and version you chose to believe.

    You’re wilful ignorance of logic and science basics and your expectation that we must tortuously explain the entire evolution of the human race to your satisfaction shows that you are not interested in debate. Only making a nusiance of yourself. You are an embarrassment to your religion.

    Leave, and return when you at least understand that which you argue against. You will probably look less like a twat.

  68. #68 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    July 1, 2009

    It’s very interesting to me that evolutionists claim that their brains have evolved from animate matter that was magically converted from inanimate matter several billion years ago, with no proof or details on how this magic occurred. Yet they claim they know 100% that this conversion was not accomplished by an Intelligent Designer or Superior Being simply because their brains, which have evolved from this magical inanimate to animate conversion, cannot conceive of such an entity.

    Good grief you are a git. We can conceive of this entity just fine, there just isn’t anything that we’ve found that says that that entity exists or did anything to start or guide process that gets us to the current state of the planet. There is exactly zero evidence of some magical poofing by a Designer or cosmic muffin or what is probably your choice, the Christian god. Do you also believe in leprechauns?

    There is however plenty of evidence that points us towards natural explanations for the biodiversity of life on this planet and increasing evidence towards how life may have started here.

    Tell me what great inroads to explanations the ID crowd has made?

  69. #69 Glendon Mellow
    July 1, 2009

    Great job, especially at the giant creationist ‘museum’ brochure-with-diorama. You’re a brave man, Jason.

  70. #70 chas
    July 1, 2009

    Michael Fugate,

    “For people like chas, Collin, Robert and Larry who can’t quite come to grips with the evidence for evolution, I give them this quote:

    “In contrast, when people who are not conversant with a scientific concept use it to lend credibility to shaky or shady conclusions, they become demagogues and/or charlatans. And before anyone trots out the elitism hobby-horse, all I can say is, just have the next person you meet on the street repair your car or give you a haircut. The same logic applies, and no amount of skimming Wikipedia entries will make up for in-depth knowledge and critical thinking.”
    Athena Andreadis”

    Sounds great & wonderful and all. But, what does it have to do with how & when inanimate matter converted itself into animate matter?

    “-come to grips with the evidence for evolution-“

    You mean evidence for how life on earth has changed? That’s all around us, everywhere. How about evidence for how life was created? Got any of that? Are you sure “evidence for evolution” is just not really evidence for creation taking place all around us? Ready to come to grips with that?

  71. #71 Stu
    July 1, 2009

    How about evidence for how life was created?

    Bingo. Troll. Can we all move on now?

  72. #72 Richard Eis
    July 1, 2009

    Are you sure “evidence for evolution” is just not really evidence for creation taking place all around us? Ready to come to grips with that?

    What’s the difference and how can we tell?

  73. #73 söve
    July 1, 2009

    You mean evidence söve for how life on earth has changed? That’s all around us, everywhere. How about söve evidence for how life was created? Got any söve of that? Are you sure “evidence for evolution” is just not really evidence for creation taking söve place all around us? Ready to come to grips with that?

  74. #74 Stu
    July 1, 2009

    Ugh. Yet another iteration of that asinine spam-script.

    Death is too good for them.

  75. #75 chas
    July 1, 2009

    Stu,

    “you still haven’t proven that life created itself.
    Of course not, because it didn’t. There’s no “creation” involved. That’s the point you’re intentionally ignoring.
    Get it?

    No creation.
    No creator.

    If you use either of those words again, you’ve proven that you do not understand evolution, and don’t care to. You will have proven that you’re simply trolling.”

    So tell us how inanimate matter converted itself into animate matter.

  76. #76 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    July 1, 2009

    Chas, still waiting for you to tell me what inroads the ID crowd has made on providing an explanation beyond “god did it”.

  77. #77 Stu
    July 1, 2009

    So tell us how inanimate matter converted itself into animate matter

    It didn’t. You still cling to a rational actor model.

    How inorganic molecules naturally form amino acids, which form proteins, which form primitive self-replicating organisms is not mysterious whatsoever. It’s somewhat hard to replicate, as it took a billion years to do the first time.

    Anyway, all of that information is readily available to you. Go read a book.

  78. #78 AC
    July 1, 2009

    Are you suggesting that these books contain all there is to know about the creation of life? That there is no information in existance that doesn’t exist in these books? As far as I know you still haven’t proven that life created itself. So how can you know that there is no need for creation or Intelligent Design?

    They contain all there currently is to know, which is all our body of scientific findings can ever be from result to result. The data is consistent in its lack of need for “creation” or design to explain it.

    Again, you are free to propose these unneeded hypotheses, but if they are not consistent with what we already know, they are useless for science until that is resolved.

  79. #79 chas
    July 1, 2009

    Richard Eis,

    “-So you still haven’t proven that life wasn’t created by an Intelligent Designer or Superior Being?-

    Chas. You are the one saying that an intelligent designer is needed. Therefore it is up to you to prove it exists and in the form specified in whatever holy book and version you chose to believe.

    You’re wilful ignorance of logic and science basics and your expectation that we must tortuously explain the entire evolution of the human race to your satisfaction shows that you are not interested in debate. Only making a nusiance of yourself. You are an embarrassment to your religion.

    Leave, and return when you at least understand that which you argue against. You will probably look less like a twat.”

    Does this mean that you can prove that life wasn’t created by an Intelligent Designer or Superior Being by showing us how evolution is able to demonstrate how inaminate matter transformed itself into animate matter?

  80. #80 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    July 1, 2009

    Does this mean that you can prove that life wasn’t created by an Intelligent Designer or Superior Being by showing us how evolution is able to demonstrate how inaminate matter transformed itself into animate matter?

    Can you prove that leprechauns don’t have a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

  81. #81 Stu
    July 1, 2009

    by showing us how evolution is able to demonstrate how inaminate matter transformed itself into animate matter?

    Sigh. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, folks.

  82. #82 chas
    July 1, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp,

    “-how life may have started here.”

    So you’re telling us you don’t know how life started here on Earth but you do know how it didn’t start? Because you have tons of evidence about how life has changed but zero about how it began. And this is better than the ID crowd who also have zero evidence about how life began? And this makes the ID crowd stupid? But they know as much about how life began as you do. Zero.

  83. #83 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    July 1, 2009

    So you’re telling us you don’t know how life started here on Earth but you do know how it didn’t start? Because you have tons of evidence about how life has changed but zero about how it began. And this is better than the ID crowd who also have zero evidence about how life began? And this makes the ID crowd stupid? But they know as much about how life began as you do. Zero.

    Chas are you really this obtuse? Did you even read my entire comment or do you typically pick fractions of what people say and then pounce on that as if it is the entire gist of their thought?

    Serious kid, get a new hobby. You suck at this one.

  84. #84 chas
    July 1, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp,

    Not another cop-out.

  85. #85 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    July 1, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp,

    Not another cop-out.

    You ignoring my entire comment only to pick a small part of it to build a strawman?

    No, not a cop out.

    You however are a giant joke.

  86. #86 chas
    July 1, 2009

    Stu,

    “Sigh. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, folks.”

    Good try. But sounds like you really can’t tell us how inanimate matter transformed itself into animate matter, can you?

  87. #87 chas
    July 1, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp,

    I’m not sure your bluster is going to work this time. Did you not say “-how life may have started here.” And does this not mean you don’t know how life started?

  88. #88 Uri
    July 1, 2009

    Chas,

    Good try. But sounds like you really can’t tell us how inanimate matter transformed itself into animate matter, can you?

    Good try. But sounds like you really can’t tell us how inanimate matter transformed itself into animate matter tell us anything, can you?

  89. #89 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    July 1, 2009

    I’m not sure your bluster is going to work this time. Did you not say “-how life may have started here.” And does this not mean you don’t know how life started?

    Yes it means we don’t know and I never said we knew for sure. But the fact we don’t know for 100% certainty doesn’t mean we aren’t getting more information on how things may have happened and now have a better understanding of what would be necessary for various explanations to have happened. Something the ID folks aren’t doing anything about.

    One thing we do know with 100% certainty is that there is exactly zero empirical evidence that some intelligent agency had anything to do with it. Not Leprechauns, Intelligent Designers, Christian God, Cosmic muffins or Kevin Bacon.

  90. #90 chas
    July 1, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    “-how things may have happened and now have a better understanding of what would be necessary for various explanations to have happened.”

    You can have all the empirical evidence in the universe, but the bottom line is you still don’t know. And there are only two possible outcomes. Either life created itself or it didn’t. Which makes it a 50/50 propisition. The same as that for an Intelligent Designer.

  91. #91 chas
    July 1, 2009

    Uri,

    “Good try. But sounds like you really can’t tell us how inanimate matter transformed itself into animate matter tell us anything, can you?”

    I can tell you that you don’t know how inanimate matter transformed itself into animate matter.

  92. #92 JMG
    July 1, 2009

    Good try. But sounds like you really can’t tell us how inanimate matter transformed itself into animate matter, can you?

    Well, leaving aside for the minute that particular molecules that existed several billion years ago simply began to replicate, consume resources and build into more complicated things (life), let’s accept the premise that an Intelligent Designer “did it” way back when for a second. In that case, that means that this omnipotent Designer poofed some very simple creatures into existence (fossils tell us this; humans came after dinosaurs, which came after insects, which came after plants). We’re talking single-celled organisms at best. After these creatures appeared…then what? Evolution takes over, and the Intelligent Designer basically became a footnote. This is absolutely the best case for Intelligent Design: an omnipresent, omnipotent Creator did something once, and then faded to the background.

    Since there is no evidence for this Designer, I think the suggestion that particles just started replicating is much more suitable from a scientific standpoint.

  93. #93 chas
    July 1, 2009

    Calling All Evolutionists,

    Are you sure that what you call evolution is really nothing more than a sophisticated, scientific spectator sport? Where all you’re doing is observing what the Intelligent Designer has done in the past & is still doing? All except of course how He transformed inanimate matter to animate matter.

    Are you sure your experiments, research & digging are just not demonstrating the Intelligent Designer’s work? Are you sure all your books full of information & theories aren’t just commentary on the Intelligent Designer’s accomplishments?

  94. #94 Mike Olson
    July 2, 2009

    I still have a hard time believing anyone with scientific credentials would spend this much time worrying about creationists. Although, to be fair I do understand why a scientist would want to go to a creationist museum. It is kind of like watching a train wreck. You just can’t believe how fantastically stupid some folks are. I used to watch the 700 club for that very reason. But, I am a Christian. Amongst the Christians I’ve known in my life(Lutherans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians), none of this is even remotely an argument. Evolution happened. Therefore, I tend to believe that creationists are nothing more than a fringe element. No, we don’t currently know exactly what lead to inanimate molecules becoming animate. Nor can we prove God does or does not exist. There is a point to rising above the ignorance of creationists, but at the same time, rising above the stupidity shouldn’t mean stooping to their level.

  95. #95 Evolution SWAT
    July 2, 2009
  96. #96 chas
    July 2, 2009

    Mike Olson,

    “Evolution happened.”

    What do you mean by this? Do you mean that life on Earth has changed. Sure everyone knows that life on Earth has changed & continues to change. But, are you claiming that life has changed on its own? Or has an external being caused life to change. You admit you don’t know how life started here on Earth. Which means you don’t know whether or not it was started by a Creator. So how do you know this same Creator couldn’t have brought about all the changes we have seen & continue to see in ilfe here on Earth?

    I agree. Somebody is certainly stupid.

  97. #97 Richard Eis
    July 2, 2009

    -same Creator couldn’t have brought about all the changes we have seen & continue to see in ilfe here on Earth?-

    No Chas you are quite right, we surrender to your astounding logic. Actually the great Spaghetti monster came down, touched the earth with his noodly appendage and thus life was formed obviously. Evolution is just a cover for getting research grants because no-one would believe the ‘Truth’.

    Happy now my fresh pastafarian?

  98. #98 JimV
    July 2, 2009

    “And there are only two possible outcomes. Either life created itself or it didn’t. Which makes it a 50/50 proposition.”

    No, it doesn’t. Counter-examples are all around you. When I toss a die, either it will land with the one up or it won’t, but it isn’t a 50-50 proposition.

    In the case of creationism vs. evolution, one side has tons of evidence that will stand up in a court of law (and has), and the other side doesn’t. According to a conservative judge, it wasn’t even close to a 50-50 proposition.

    Long shots do come through once in a while, so you are free to cling to your magical beliefs, even though, as mentioned before, they explain nothing. Calling it a 50-50 proposition, however, reminds me of what my friend Mario said to a couple soccer moms when he was a line-judge at a soccer game, after they rushed up to tell him their side had not hit the ball out: “Ladies, you saw that with your hearts, not your eyes.”

  99. #99 AC
    July 2, 2009

    Are you sure that what you call evolution is really nothing more than a sophisticated, scientific spectator sport? Where all you’re doing is observing what the Intelligent Designer has done in the past & is still doing? All except of course how He transformed inanimate matter to animate matter.

    Are you sure your experiments, research & digging are just not demonstrating the Intelligent Designer’s work? Are you sure all your books full of information & theories aren’t just commentary on the Intelligent Designer’s accomplishments?

    This is very tedious. Somehow you’ve gotten the idea that absolute certainty is both attainable and relevant; it is neither. This is where science comes in. If there is non-contradictory evidence of an “intelligent designer”, then we have something to work with. Otherwise the idea is purely philosophical. Can you present such evidence?

    Also, please explain your distinction between “animate” and “inanimate” matter. Point of fact: carbon in an organic molecule is identical to carbon in a star, whether that organic molecule was produced by an organism or synthesized in a lab.

  100. #100 Richard Eis
    July 2, 2009

    -FYI Ken Ham is whining about your blog post here: –

    -The camp will enable “children to think for themselves skeptically and rationally.” In other words, these children will be trained to think the way Richard Dawkins wants them to—to think his atheistic way! Talk about brainwashing children in atheism!-

    I think Ken Ham says it all really. Yep, i’d hate my children to be taught to think rationally.

    Yeah, Chas has bored me to my limit now since he refuses to listen to anything which hurts his precious view of the world.

  101. #101 chas
    July 2, 2009

    AC,

    “Also, please explain your distinction between “animate” and “inanimate” matter.”

    If you can’t figure this out you need to read some more books.

  102. #102 chas
    July 2, 2009

    Richard Els,

    Yeah, Richard has bored me to my limit now since he refuses to listen to anything which hurts his precious view of the world.

  103. #103 chas
    July 2, 2009

    JimV,

    “-tons of evidence that will stand up in a court of law (and has), and the other side doesn’t.”

    Evidence of what? That life has changed. But, you are still unable to prove how life started. So you’re going to get a judge to tell us how life started?

  104. #104 chas
    July 2, 2009

    Ac,

    Sorry about the bluster. Animate is alive like a worm. Inanimate is not alive like a rock.

  105. #105 söve
    July 2, 2009

    Yeah, Chas has söve bored me to my limit now söve since he refuses to listen to anything söve which hurts his precious view of the world.

  106. #106 chas
    July 2, 2009

    JimV

    All the bluster means nothing. All the sarcasm means nothing. The opinion of one judge doesn’t mean a whole lot. The only thing that means anything is proof of how life began. Until then evolution will remain a sophisticated analysis of how life on earth has changed since it was first created.

    What does evolution prove about the origin of life? Nothing. It has an educated guess. Nothing more. And creation by a Creator seems to be an uneducated guess. So it’s an educated vs. an uneducated guess. But, both are just guesses. Either can be possible or not.

    All the judge ruled was that, in his opinion, the educated guess was better than the uneducated guess. He didn’t rule that evolution could prove how life started.
    Or that Creationism could not. Not a lot to write home about.

  107. #107 John H
    July 2, 2009

    The essential difference between animate and inanimate matter is reproduction. Animate matter can make copies of itself whereas inanimate matter cannot. A key transition from inanimate to animate would happen when a mixture of chemicals would form in the primordial ocean by chance which would then react to form a more complex chemical such as RNA which is capable of replication. This would all happen by chemistry and no designers, creators or suchlike would be involved. However once the replicating molecule had formed biological processes would have started for the first time in the history of the earth. It is important to note that advances in our understanding of the origin of life are being made today by work done in laboratory experiments around the world. For example a great step forward was made recently when two RNA nucleotides were synthesized from simple organic chemicals.

  108. #108 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    July 2, 2009

    Chas at #93

    How do you know your intelligent designer is male? How do you know that your intelligent designer is unitary and not a committee or pantheon? Evidence please?

  109. #109 AC
    July 2, 2009

    Animate is alive like a worm. Inanimate is not alive like a rock.

    Then use of the word “matter” is incorrect, as I explained. A worm is animate due to the organization of its matter. A rock (even one composed of the same elements as a worm), lacking that organization, is not animate.

    As far as we can tell, rocks existed on Earth before worms, and both are composed of elements from the same source. So, how did worms end up organized as they are, as compared to rocks? An excellent, serious, scientific question. The theory of evolution can take us back to the worm’s oldest ancestor (organism). To bridge the gap between “primordial soup” and “ur-worm” requires theories of abiogenesis.

    A great deal of research has been and continues to be done on this. I’m not educated in the specifics, but if you Google “nonenzymatic template-directed polymerization” and “RNA assembly on mineral substrates”, you should at least find some places to start.

  110. #110 chas
    July 2, 2009

    Your Name’s Not Bruce,

    “How do you know your intelligent designer is male? How do you know that your intelligent designer is unitary and not a committee or pantheon? Evidence please?”

    You seem to have missed my post #50 – “The same as the probability that life was created by an Intelligent Designer or Designers or Superior Being or Beings. He, She or They did or He, She or They didn’t.”

  111. #111 Robert O'Brien
    July 3, 2009

    Who brought Angel back from Hell? Was it the First Evil or the Powers That Be?

    How can anyone dismiss Buffy if they haven’t seriously considered that question?

    Wein,

    If you had spent less time watching a vacuous and vapid television show targeted to the socially inept (not to mention chasing Dembski around the internet) then perhaps you’d have an advanced degree and know the difference between legitimate and pseudo-argumentation.

    Leni,

    I could not have kept my cool either. I would have gone into full snark mode. It probably would have gotten ugly. Terrified children would forever remember me as the crazy lady who got thrown out of the creation museum. I don’t know how you do it.

    Yes, I’m sure you would have terrified them with your lack of knowledge.

    Eis,

    Actually the great Spaghetti monster came down, touched the earth with his noodly appendage…

    This is a sure sign of a socially-inept moron.

    Yep, i’d hate my children to be taught to think rationally.

    Then you should entrust them to Dawkins; he has only the pretense of rationality.

  112. #112 Richard Eis
    July 3, 2009

    Chas, really, the I know you are but what am i game? cmon, i stopped playing that when i was like 6.

    -Until then evolution will remain a sophisticated analysis of how life on earth has changed since it was first created.-

    Yes. That is what biological evolution IS. Which is why we laughed at your insistence that our ‘darwinism’ should explain abiogenesis.

  113. #113 Richard Eis
    July 3, 2009

    -Actually the great Spaghetti monster came down, touched the earth with his noodly appendage…
    This is a sure sign of a socially-inept moron.-

    Yes, the ida that some mystical creature just popped along and started creating things is a rather silly concept. I don’t know where i got the idea really.

  114. #114 chas
    July 3, 2009

    Any claim by evolutionists or abiogenist that they know how life was first created is false. Bogus.

    Any claim by evolutionist or abiogenist that they know that life was not created by a Creator is false. Bogus.

  115. #115 JimV
    July 3, 2009

    Re: #114

    True enough, and I don’t know who has said that whom you are arguing with (it wasn’t me). If you had just added, any claim by a creationist that they know that life was created by a creator is false, then we’d be done and could go back to doing something useful.

    Socrates said that, thousands of years ago: nobody knows anything for certain, although they may have an opinion which happens to be true. All we can do is look at all the evidence and decide which makes the most sense.

    Either the Earth is flat or it is round: 50-50 proposition? At first it seems flat, but then you learn that on a placid ocean, the masts and sails of far-way ships are above the horizon while their hulls are below the horizon. Also, when the Earth eclipses the moon, the Earth’s shadow is round. Finally someone sails all the way around the Earth, and if that weren’t enough, pictures of the Earth are taken from outer space. Yet, there are still those who believe the Earth is flat. They either claim the evidence is a hoax, or just ignore it because it violates their intuition or religious beliefs.

    If you just want to claim that nothing can be known to an absolute certainty, there is no disagreement on my side. However, if you ever find yourself in front of Judge Judy, you will need not just that principle, but some actual evidence, to win your case.

  116. #116 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    July 3, 2009

    Yes, I did see the he/she/them above. But I also noticed the singular masculine pronoun. How would we tell the difference? How does the introduction of a designer or designers increase the usefulness of your explanation when you then must explain the origin of the designer(s)? Doesn’t this just beg the question? What if abiogenesis is simply a natural, undesigned, spontaneously arising consequence of this universe’s configuration? Perhaps that is exactly the sort of universe we have arisen from. The more people investigate the workings of the natural world, the less there is for a god or gods to do. Eclipses? Lightning? Earthquakes? Diseases? Riotous biodiversity? All of these phenomena were once explained exclusively as the actions of gods. Not anymore. Where did the gods go? Nowhere; they were never there to start with. Why might this not also be the case for the origin of life? You seem to know already what the answer is. If you tell us how you know you could save science a lot of trouble and money. Care to share?

  117. #117 chas
    July 4, 2009

    Your Name’s Not Bruce?,

    “Where did the gods go? Nowhere; they were never there to start with.”

    How do you know this? Care to share?

    “What if abiogenesis is simply a natural, undesigned, spontaneously arising consequence of this universe’s configuration? Perhaps that is exactly the sort of universe we have arisen from.”

    And what if it isn’t? Is this the scientific method at work?

    And where did science come from? And the scientific method? Did they exist before life existed? Or are they byproducts of life?

  118. #118 Leni
    July 4, 2009

    And where did science come from? And the scientific method? Did they exist before life existed? Or are they byproducts of life?

    Is there a point to this incomprehensible string of questions?

    It’s like it came flying out of left field and just landed here in the thread for no apparent reason. Made me think of the Obelisks in 2001. *thunk!*

  119. #119 chas
    July 4, 2009

    Your Name’s Not Bruce?,

    “You seem to know already what the answer is. If you tell us how you know you could save science a lot of trouble and money.”

    Can you show me where I’ve made a statement saying that I know where life came from?

    Why is science going to all this trouble & spending all this money? Could that be why our Creator hasn’t told us that He created life? If He told us, what we do then with all our time & money? Is He just giving us something to do? How important is it to have something to do?

  120. #120 chas
    July 4, 2009

    Leni,

    “Is there a point to this incomprehensible string of questions?”

    Why can’t you comprehend where science came from?

    If Someone out there created you but hasn’t given you the ability to comprehend He created you, how could you comprehend that He created you?

  121. #121 Leni
    July 4, 2009

    Chas, let me ask you something. Are you an adult?

    I’m assuming that you are, but if I am wrong about that please correct me.

  122. #122 chas
    July 4, 2009

    Leni,

    A cop-out?

  123. #123 Leni
    July 4, 2009

    It was a simple question. I’m just trying to put this conversation into some sort of context before I continue. I’ll answer you, if you answer me.

  124. #124 chas
    July 4, 2009

    Leni,

    I was actually looking to discuss the origin of evolution at an adult level on this evolution blog. More or less out of the box if you will. I’m really not interested in playing mind games. Sorry.

  125. #125 Leni
    July 4, 2009

    I was attempting to give you the benefit of the doubt before laying into you. I’m not playing a mind game, you fool, I’m just not into using kids as punching bags.

    To answer your questions:

    Why can’t you comprehend where science came from?

    You asked the incomprehensible questions about where science came from, not me. I comprehend it just fine. It’s your left-field questions that I don’t get.

    If Someone out there created you but hasn’t given you the ability to comprehend He created you, how could you comprehend that He created you?

    Is this what you think passes for an “adult level” discussion about evolution?

  126. #126 chas
    July 4, 2009

    Leni,

    I’m afraid you’re too obnoxious to have a meaningful discussion with. And my questions seem to be over your head. Sorry.

  127. #127 Leni
    July 5, 2009

    You mean those questions that are indistinguishable from something a child might ask? I’m not going to type LOL because that might make it seem like I didn’t actually laugh out loud.

    Start here. Start at the top and work your way down the list.

    Perhaps once you have mastered this you can begin to learn how to have a intelligible, if not intelligent, conversation about evolution.

    This little gem is a perfect example:

    So it’s an educated vs. an uneducated guess. But, both are just guesses. Either can be possible or not.

    An uneducated guess is just a guess. It’s not practically any different from a random guess. You might as well draw guesses from a hat if this is how you think it works. So no, the two things are not equivalent because both might be true.

    When you strain a muscle after exercising, do you give equal weight to “demons are torturing me” and “it’s probably a muscle strain”? If you take an aspirin and the pain goes away, do you then wonder if aspirin has magical anti-demon powers?

    If you are rushed to the emergency room with life-threatening injuries, how do you want your doctors to proceed? Do you want them to entertain idiotic ideas about demons or do you want them to use their knowledge and make educated guesses about how to keep you alive? Do you think that because the doctors didn’t see you get hit by the bus that they couldn’t tell from the nature of your injuries that you probably got hit by a vehicle of some sort?

    You are suggesting that we ignore what we know. And not for any valid intellectual reason (if there even could be valid reasons), mind you, it’s essentially about your pride and your desire to cling to a familiar belief. You’re suggesting we ignore evidence, we ignore the knowledge we already have on the off-chance that some random guess with zero explanatory power might prove to be true.

    So chas, welcome to the world of adults. We don’t know everything and we never will. The point isn’t to know everything, it’s to do the best we can with what we have and what we do know. If you have a problem with that then I’m sure there is a faith healer somewhere who will be more than happy to take your money.

  128. #128 chas
    July 5, 2009

    Leni,

    “Either can be possible or not.”

    Are you saying that Creationism & abiogenesis aren’t both possible?

    And what does all of this other stuff have to do with where life came from? And whether or not science existed before life existed?

  129. #129 Richard Eis
    July 6, 2009

    -I was actually looking to discuss the origin of evolution at an adult level –
    Now that does deserve an LOL.

    We spend money on science because unlike religion, science is useful.

    Science is just organised common sense and logical thought. It has not always existed.

  130. #130 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    July 6, 2009

    Chas:
    While creation by a designer (or designers) and abiogenesis are both logically possible, Leni’s point is that they are not equally likely. It’s not a 50/50 chance that one of them is correct. This latter point is what is behind Leni’s muscle strain/demons/emergency room analogy. To use an analogy that is perhaps a bit closer to the current discussion, it is logically possible that the universe was created last Thursday, with all the evidence of our own memories ancient life, plate tectonics galaxies etc simply “planted” as a test of faith or practical joke. While it is logically possible, it is not really very likely, is it? Without compelling evidence that this explanation is better than the current scientific understanding of the origin of the universe, it can be safely dismissed without further regard. Similarly without compelling evidence showing how design is a better explanation than what science has now, it can be safely ignored.

    Our current knowledge and understanding (which admittedly is limited, contingent and provisional and always will be) leads science to favour abiogenesis over design. Science goes with the best evidence available, with the most likely and well-supported explanation. So far that is abiogenesis. What evidence can you offer for creation by a designer apart from the bald fact of the existence of life? How is your assertion of design a better explanation? How do you avoid the infinite regress of “Then who designed the designer?” These are all serious questions, not “cop-outs”.

  131. #131 Sabrina
    July 6, 2009

    I think it’s time to squish the fly or shoo shim out of the house, the parachute is glued shut apparently.

  132. #132 chas
    July 6, 2009

    “You mean those questions that are indistinguishable from something a child might ask? I’m not going to type LOL because that might make it seem like I didn’t actually laugh out loud.

    Start here. Start at the top and work your way down the list.

    Perhaps once you have mastered this you can begin to learn how to have a intelligible, if not intelligent, conversation about evolution.”

    What do these insulting, sarcastic mind games have to do with how life was created?

    Why the cop-out?

    Definition of cop-out – a feebly transparent excuse or explanation for refusing to face up to something
    Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    If you know how life was created why do you refuse to answer my questions? Why insist on using mind games by calling my questions indistinguishable or incomprehensible to duck them? My questions are quite clear & direct but you refuse to answer them because you truly don’t know the answers & seem to want to project the image that you know everything. Or do you have another excuse for refusing to answer my questions?

    “An uneducated guess is just a guess. It’s not practically any different from a random guess. You might as well draw guesses from a hat if this is how you think it works. So no, the two things are not equivalent because both might be true.

    When you strain a muscle after exercising, do you give equal weight to “demons are torturing me” and “it’s probably a muscle strain”? If you take an aspirin and the pain goes away, do you then wonder if aspirin has magical anti-demon powers?

    If you are rushed to the emergency room with life-threatening injuries, how do you want your doctors to proceed? Do you want them to entertain idiotic ideas about demons or do you want them to use their knowledge and make educated guesses about how to keep you alive? Do you think that because the doctors didn’t see you get hit by the bus that they couldn’t tell from the nature of your injuries that you probably got hit by a vehicle of some sort?”

    Don’t waste out time with this juvenile nonsense. We know how life works. I see you don’t have a problem insulting the intelligence of others. And why keep changing the subject?

    I’ll make it easy for you, 4 simple questions. No more cop-outs, no more juvenile nonsense, no more mind games, no more changing the subject.

    Do you know how life was created?

    Do you know if science existed before life existed?

    Is it possible that life was created by a Creator?
    Are you sure you know the difference between probable & possible?

    If Someone out there created you but hasn’t given you the ability to comprehend He created you, how could you comprehend that He created you?

    Lastly, let me see if I’ve got your moronic, confused logic correct. You’re saying that because abiogenisis is an educated guess and that “science” (by the way you don’t know if science existed before life) indicates that it is more probable than Creation that therefore Creation is not possible & anyone who thinks Creation is possible is stupid & wrong? Doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  133. #133 Richard Eis
    July 7, 2009

    Do you know how life was created?
    Not yet, not completely, it is work in progress. Give us more time and we will.

    Do you know if science existed before life existed?
    It didn’t. Science is a human concept based around their intelligence and way of working. No humans. no science.

    I was created by my mother and father.
    If i was created but could not comprehend a creator then i wouldn’t you are quite right. Basic logic. But the huge number of religions talking of a creator make the question pointless since as humans we CAN clearly comprehend a creator.

    Abiogenesis is not a guess it’s a field of study. Creation is silly because of the talking snakes and magic apples.

    The problem is not that your questions are silly, it is that they are pointless, negative and advance nothing of use.

  134. #134 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    July 7, 2009

    Just because something is not currently known (or known clearly, completely or in detail) does not mean it will never ever be known by anyone, anytime. Hell, science doesn’t know exactly how gravity works, but that doesn’t mean that nobody will ever know about gravity, or that gravity does not exist. Our lack of complete knowledge of gravity does not keep humans from launching spacecraft on decades long missions employing gravitational assist with arrival times accurately predicted to the second.

    “Do you know if science existed before life existed?”

    What kind of question is this? Science is both a method of acquiring knowledge about the universe and the body of knowledge thereby acquired. Are you suggesting that either this methodology or body of knowledge (or both) predates life? How would one determine this, if it were even possible?

    So Chas, what EVIDENCE can you provide that indicates that design is a better explanation for the origin of life than abiogenesis? What can you point to to indicate that design is not only possible but actually probable? Without evidence, the assertion of design remains just that, an assertion.

    If abiogenesis is correct, then life did not necessarily require a designer. (It is certainly logically possible that even if abiogenesis is possible that that is how things actually panned out in this iteration of this universe.) However, positing a designer will always leave open the question of the origin of the designer(s).This is an honest question. I would like to know your answer. The only result of this I can imagine (and granted, there’s no reason that the universe should conform with the bounds of my limited imagination)is either infinite regress (turtles all the way down) or special pleading (the designer(s) just is/are.) So which is it Chas; turtles or special pleading?

  135. #135 tyaddow
    July 7, 2009

    OMG, really?

    Chas,

    To answer your questions:

    1. – No.
    2. – Yes.
    3. – Yes.
    4. – Yes.
    5. – I Don’t know.

    Happy? Please provide your answers to those questions, then these four simple questions:

    1. – Do you know why all leprechauns are green? [do you see what I did here? I asked a question built on false assumptions which should be addressed first, e.g. are there such things as leprechauns?, are they green?, are they all green?, does the answer to this question have any meaning?, etc.]
    2. – Do you know if the French language existed before life existed? [do you see what I did here? I asked if something which was invented by humans out of available natural resources actually existed before it was invented. do you see how stupid this question is?]
    3. – Is it possible that life was planted on earth as part of an alien experiment? [again, I’m seeking an answer whose importance has not been established, and whose relevance has not been demonstrated]
    4. – Are you sure you know the difference between planted and conceived? [now I’m just being condescending]
    5. – Can you tell me why my list of four questions includes a fifth question? [I’ll tell you the answer- because all of my questions are patterned after your questions in an attempt to show you how mind-numbingly stupid they were.]

    Now I’m angry with myself for coming back to this thread. My mistake.

  136. #136 chas
    July 7, 2009

    Richard Els,

    “-it is that they are pointless, negative and advance nothing of use.”

    The simple point is that evolutionists are making a false claim when they claim that they know for certain, 100%, that evolution is not simply the process of a Creator creating them. They are in effect claiming that they know all there is to know in the universe. That they have all the evidence there is. Which they cannot know. How can you prove you know all there is to know? You can have mounds of very useful scientific information explaining how life has changed but still not know if Someone out ther created you if that Someone who has created you hasn’t given you the knowledge to know He created you.

    Whether or not this is useful or not is one’s opinion. Is all of the study of evolution “useful”?

  137. #137 chas
    July 7, 2009

    Your Name’s Not Bruce?,

    “However, positing a designer will always leave open the question of the origin of the designer(s).This is an honest question. I would like to know your answer. “

    How can one know the origin of their Designer unless their Designer has given them that knowledge, being the Designer designed them?

  138. #138 Damian
    July 7, 2009

    The simple point is that evolutionists are making a false claim when they claim that they know for certain, 100%, that evolution is not simply the process of a Creator creating them. They are in effect claiming that they know all there is to know in the universe. That they have all the evidence there is. Which they cannot know. How can you prove you know all there is to know? You can have mounds of very useful scientific information explaining how life has changed but still not know if Someone out ther created you if that Someone who has created you hasn’t given you the knowledge to know He created you.

    Whether or not this is useful or not is one’s opinion. Is all of the study of evolution “useful”?

    I don’t recall anyone ever saying that we know that “for certain”, chas, and if they do, then I would join you — as I’m sure others would — in condemning that statement. I’d love to see the evidence for that claim, though?

    We don’t know anything for certain, largely because we can’t know that we know it. That’s life. The age of absolute knowledge and certainty is over, likely never to return.

    So, yes, it is logically possible that “something” — that you might call the creator — had a hand in, or is exclusively responsible for, evolution. But the story doesn’t end there. The same could literally be said of anything. It is logically possible that I didn’t type this comment, and that “something”, which you would like to call the creator, did it for me, and then planted the memory in to my mind. It is also logically possible that a green elephant is responsible for all that we see, etc, etc, etc.

    All of this just isn’t very useful. It has no explanatory power, and it cannot lead us to further research for the benefit of anyone or anything.

    And there is something else that needs to be cleared up. There is a massive difference between positing “a creator”, and the propositional claims of creationism (yes, there are many varieties, and a huge raft of claims, but let’s just stick to the most obvious/popular examples). Attempting to equivocate between the two (which I am not accusing you of, by the way) is a profoundly dishonest tactic. They are not synonymous. So, what do you believe?

    And while positing a creator is a much more respectable intellectual position than believing in any of the batty claims of creationism, there are still numerous problems with it, not least that it is impervious to reason, and is almost entirely superfluous. If you wish to believe that, chas, be my guest, but you can hardly blame us for not wanting to join you in that belief. It just doesn’t add anything to our current understanding of the universe, and it creates far more problems than it solves.

    If you are going to claim, without reasonable evidence, that a creator was involved in evolution, how are you then going to avoid the equally consistent, reasonable, and logically possible claim that the same creator is responsible for all of the evil in the world?

    You can’t have it both ways.

  139. #139 chas
    July 8, 2009

    Damian,

    “not least that it is impervious to reason, and is almost entirely superfluous.”

    Could the existance of a Creator be impervious to reason because He hasn’t given us the ability to know that He created us? Superfluous? What proof of the beginning of life do we have?

    “If you are going to claim, without reasonable evidence, that a creator was involved in evolution, how are you then going to avoid the equally consistent, reasonable, and logically possible claim that the same creator is responsible for all of the evil in the world?

    You can’t have it both ways.”

    The only claim I make about a Creator is that if He created you & hasn’t given you the ability to know He created you you cannot know that He created you. Consequently if He is responsible for evolution & hasn’t given you the ability to know that He is responsible for evolution you cannot know that He is responsible for evolution. I have not said that all of evolution is not useful or that the existance of a Creator is useful. Could that be one reason why He hasn’t given us the ability to know He created us? All I’ve said is that evolutionists cannot know if evolution is not really creation.

  140. #140 Caliban
    July 8, 2009

    Chas, Oh Jebus, are you like, 14 years old or something? You clearly have no clue what the hell you’re trying to talk about.

    Come back after you’ve acquired a remedial education. You’re obviously too young to know that you’re just embarrassing yourself.

    “If an invisible pixie created a magical donut but made it so that you (but not me) couldn’t see it, then how could you possibly see this magical donut?!!” ….This is the “argument” you are trying to make.

  141. #141 Richard Eis
    July 8, 2009

    No proper scientist would claim they know 100% that evolution is right. Neither would I…but i’d be willing to bet my soul that it is. In fact according to most religions…i am.

    -Consequently if He is responsible for evolution & hasn’t given you the ability to know that He is responsible for evolution you cannot know that He is responsible for evolution.-

    Evolution happens because of the basic physical properties of the universe. It would happen with or without a creator given the underlying principles of physics and chemistry.
    Godlike interference is possible but superfluous and highly, highly improbable given what we know.

  142. #142 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    July 8, 2009

    So Chas;

    Is/are your designer(s) living organisms? How do you know? If it/they are alive who or what created or designed it or them?
    Or are you positing a non-biological entity or entities capable of purposeful , intentional action? Where would this come from?

    I see you’ve slipped back into referring to your designer as “He”. Why the capitalization? Why the singular masculine pronoun? This seems to be your default position.

    If your designer(s) has/have for some reason withheld from humans the ability to know that it/they created us, how are we to know of its/their existence? How can you posit a designer which has denied you the capability of recognizing its actions? Did this designer make itself known to you personally? Otherwise your statements about our being designed or created seem to contradict your claim that this designer/creator made us in such a way that we can’t see its actions. What makes you so special? How do you see this invisible, ineffable designer while the rest of us (and science as a whole) do not?

  143. #143 chas
    July 8, 2009

    Caliban,

    Are you sure all your sarcasm doesn’t mean you’re just not sure if a Creator created you or not? And if He did, how would you know it unless he gave you the ability to know it? Or do you know where your life came from?

  144. #144 Caliban
    July 8, 2009

    chas,

    “Are you sure all your sarcasm doesn’t mean you’re just not sure if a Creator created you or not?”

    Yes, I am absolutely positive that ridiculing your pathetic attempts at thinking clearly has nothing to do with weather or not an unevidenced, magical space being “made me”.

    “And if He did, how would you know it unless he gave you the ability to know it?”

    What “ability” are you talking about? I think you are confusing the word “ability” with “belief”. That’s more sarcasm by the way in case you missed it.

    “Or do you know where your life came from?”

    Yes. I was born from my mother in a Chicago hospital some decades ago. You don’t know if you were born or not?

  145. #145 chas
    July 8, 2009

    Your Name’s Not Bruce?,

    I know nothing whatsoever about the Designer except that He has given us the capability to posit Him as our Creator. The same Designer that has given us the theory of evolution & abiogenesis. He has not given us the ability to seriously posit green elephants, pixies & donuts or pink geese as our Creator. He has also given us the capibility to posit God of the Bible as our Creator, relying on faith rather than strong scientific evidence.

  146. #146 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    July 8, 2009

    I thought Darwin and Wallace came up with the theory of evolution. Is there a god working in the labs studying abiogenesis? How can you decide what is a “serious” positing of something as a designer/creature and what is not? How do you know that your god is not a green elephant? You already seem to “know” that your god is a “he”. Does your god posses genitalia?

    What about all the other creator gods who are not the god of the bible? Could they not possibly be the creator/ designer instead? Why this god and not others? How do you decide? How do you know that faith gives the right answer? How do you test it? What about other people with faith giving them answers that are different from yours? An ancient Greek might look to Chronos as a creator; a Hindu to Brahma. How does one choose between these faiths?

  147. #147 chas
    July 8, 2009

    Caliban,

    I think you should be carefull about insinuating that you know that you weren’t created by a Creator when you cannot know this, with or without the sarcasm & obnoxiousness. That’s dishonesty. And that ain’t good.

  148. #148 Leni
    July 8, 2009

    chas wrote:

    What do these insulting, sarcastic mind games have to do with how life was created?

    The link was a tool you could use, if you so chose, to improve your arguments. You know, it wouldn’t hurt to just have a look at it. You could even practice by using them against us.

    I know nothing whatsoever about the Designer except that He has given us the capability to posit Him as our Creator.

    How exactly do you know that?

    As for your questions:

    Do you know how life was created?

    Computer says no.

    Do you know if science existed before life existed?

    Yes I do and no it didn’t. With a few qualifiers, perhaps.

    Since science is systematic observation (presumably used by living things), this question seems ill-phrased and weird. Like asking (as someone already pointed out) if the French language existed before life. Or poetry or perfect circles or art or any other number of things.

    I could make several educated guesses about what you’re getting at, but why should I? It’s not my job to articulate your points. If you have a point in repeatedly asking this question please kindly just make it already.

    Is it possible that life was created by a Creator?

    I already answered this, you presumptuous little prick. You even quoted it in one of your responses to me. See below for clarification if you don’t remember doing that.

    Are you sure you know the difference between probable & possible?

    Most likely. Ha ha.

    Lastly, let me see if I’ve got your moronic, confused logic correct.

    You don’t. Let me explain…

    You’re saying that because abiogenisis is an educated guess and that “science” (by the way you don’t know if science existed before life) indicates that it is more probable than Creation…

    I didn’t simply assert that it was more probable because it was an educated guess (although that could be the case). I said it was a better explanation because it fits with the evidence. Creation, on the other hand, is no better than a random guess and has no explanatory power.

    In other words, even if “Creation” is true, it is a functionally worthless explanation for how the universe works. Just as “demons” are a functionally worthless explanation for pain. If you chose to believe that demons cause pain despite what we know, then that is your choice. It says nothing about the validity of other explanations, especially verifiable ones.

    So of course both are possible. The options “abiogenesis” and “creation” are not mutually exclusive, either. It’s just that “magic” is a dead end as far as knowledge goes, and it’s utterly superfluous in the face of what we do know. If you chose to end your pursuit of knowledge there, that’s fine. Please just don’t expect the rest of us to follow.

    Aren’t you even a little curious about what we’ll discover? Do you really think it is more a more valuable use of your time to sit around asking smug questions about whether or not science existed before life then actually learning about what we do know? Or maybe even contributing to that body of knowledge?

    …that therefore Creation is not possible & anyone who thinks Creation is possible is stupid & wrong? Doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    *sigh*

    That isn’t even remotely like anything I said.

    I distinctly said (and let me remind you that you actually QUOTED THIS IN YOUR OWN POST*):

    Me: You might as well draw guesses from a hat if this is how you think it works. So no, the two things are not equivalent because both might be true.

    ….

    FYI The blockquote works like this:

    [blockquote] Stuff someone else actually says [/blockquote]

    Replace the square brackets with angle brackets and voila. The things people actually say will magically appear in nice little offset blocks.

  149. #149 Leni
    July 9, 2009

    Your Name’s Not Bruce? wrote:

    While creation by a designer (or designers) and abiogenesis are both logically possible, Leni’s point is that they are not equally likely. It’s not a 50/50 chance that one of them is correct. This latter point is what is behind Leni’s muscle strain/demons/emergency room analogy. To use an analogy that is perhaps a bit closer to the current discussion…

    Well, my point wasn’t just that it is more likely, but that creation is in fact not an explanation at all.

    To steal a phrase from chas, it’s a cop-out.

    “Creation” doesn’t explain life any better than “the demons did it” explains pain.

    Also, I was trying to give the little dink an example that was closer to home :) None of us go to the doctor expecting that his or her educated guesses are no better than a bunch of made up crap because the made up crap is logically possible.

    That is in fact why we go to doctors in the first place, is it not, chas? Or let me guess. you pull out a magic 8 ball when you are sick because all logically possible things are equal?

  150. #150 TGT
    July 9, 2009

    chas,

    What you said in post 145 is a logical fallacy. It’s called begging the question. You know there’s a ‘Designer,’ because ‘He’ gave you the ability to posit ‘Him.’ Your knowledge of the Designer is dependent upon your assumption of the designer. Where is your evidence?

    You say that your designer gave you the ability to know ‘Him’ based on faith. That is also begging the question. You are saying, there is something outside of science because faith tells you so, and you know you can trust your faith because that same something tells you you can. It’s circular reasoning. It’s not evidence. It’s not a theory. It’s completely invalid.

    You can go ahead and believe. You can have faith. You won’t be lambasted for that. Faith has been useful in history. The second you try to use your faith to explain the world, or suggest something is possible, you will be ridiculed. Faith is not evidence. Belief is not evidence.

    Similarly, ability to posit something is not evidence. I have the ability to posit anything. Willfully ignoring logic is not evidence that ‘He’ exists and wants us to believe in ‘Him;’ it’s just being illogical.

  151. #151 chas
    July 9, 2009

    And what are you claiming converted inanimate to animate matter? Green elephants? Pink geese? Demons? A magic 8 ball? Pixies & donuts? Was it magical? Did it do it itself? Or what? Highly probable? How do you assign a probability to inanimate matter converting itself to animate matter?

  152. #152 JimV
    July 9, 2009

    Chas (151): we’ve been over this before. There is is no animate-vs-inanimate difference in the matter that makes up dirt and the matter that makes up worms. Bacteria can be frozen to the point where their metabolism stops and they are as inanimate as tiny rocks. (Maybe worms can be too, I don’t know.) When they are unfrozen, they become ‘animate’ again. The molecules their bodies are made up of are the same whether they are animate or inanimate. No magical being is involved. Every day you ingest inanimate matter and some of it becomes part of your animate flesh and bones. Again, no magic is involved, just the science of bilogy, chemistry and physics. If we could make a copy of you, atom by atom, out of ‘inanimate’ matter, the copy would be just as ‘animate’ and probably just as stubborn.

    I mentioned earlier that I have read estimates that molecular biologists will begin to construct microscopic forms of life (directly out of ‘inanimate’ matter) in the next ten years or so. (In a sense they have done so already, by reconstructing the 1918 flu virus in the lab.) Meanwhile they have already provided literally tons of research papers which give evidence for evolution and various forms of abiogenesis. When will you give us your evidence?

  153. #153 Caliban
    July 9, 2009

    chas,

    Why are you even posting here? You ignore everyone’s responses and just keep repeating the same gibberish over and over again. The only thing you’ve accomplished here is making a fool out of yourself.

    If you’re going to persist in being a chew-toy for us, at least find some new gibberish to post. You’re being predictably dull now.

  154. #154 chas
    July 9, 2009

    Filter all the clutter & hyperbole and what are we left with?

    According to the evolutionists –

    “We’ve figured out all about how life has changed since it was created using our intelligence that we believe but don’t know for sure created itself.”

  155. #155 JimV
    July 9, 2009

    Chas (154): doesn’t your religion tell you that it is wrong to misrepresent what people are saying (i.e., bear false witness)? No one here has said or will say that we know “all” about anything, or that we believe intelligence created itself. (Natural selection plus some random events created our intelligence – such as it is.) Nor will you find your statement in any book about evolution, or taught in any biology course.

    We have answered your questions. If you don’t understand our answers, ask for clarification. Why ask questions if you are not willing to listen to and consider the answers?

  156. #156 chas
    July 9, 2009

    JimV,

    Sorry if I misinterpreted any responses, but I’m reading thru a lot of stuff.

    Reasonableness is worth quite a bit.

  157. #157 Richard Eis
    July 10, 2009

    - “We’ve figured out all about how life has changed since it was created using our intelligence that we believe but don’t know for sure created itself.” –

    We don’t ‘believe’ we ‘think’.
    We have looked at the structure of this world. We have read the rocks and watched the stars for thousands of years…and this is what we have seen, backed by the evidence of the earth. We do not care if you don’t like the answer, but we at least want you to understand why we chose this answer and the evidence that lead to it. Step by logical step.

  158. #158 JimV
    July 10, 2009

    Chas (156): Thank you for a reasonable reply. In recompense (although you may not consider it as such), I will give my thoughts on one of your previous questions:

    “How do you assign a probability to inanimate matter converting itself to animate matter?”

    There are at least two ways in which I can interpret this question, so I will answer both. Interpretation 1: you are asking how or why I myself consider that life (as we know it) formed through random, natural processes rather than as a purposeful act by some supernatural being.

    To answer this, first we need to agree on a definition of life. I tried the Miriam-Webster online dictionary, but didn’t like the results. It says that living things have the capability to metabolize, grow, react to stimuli, reproduce, and experience experiences. Some of that seems circular to me (i.e., like saying, “life is life”), and the rest not completely true or distinctive. For example, there are a lot of sterile (non-reproducing) creatures in nature, such as most ants and bees. For another example, there are crystals which grow, reproduce, and react to stimuli (e.g., produce electricity under pressure).

    This illustrates one reason for my opinion: the more I have learned and think about living creatures, the less different than naturally-formed things (like crystals) they seem.

    Another reason is that if we were deliberately designed, the designer did a poor job. Our knee joints don’t hold up well under stress. Our eyes have an unnecessary blind spot because of the way the optical nerves are attached to them. Half the people have IQ’s less than 100. Many of our babies are miscarried or do not survive birth due to defects. There is a long list of such design problems. This is quite consistent with the way that evolution would produce us.

    My comment is already beginning to bore me and I am not done with the first part, so I will summarize most of the rest of my reasons by saying in 40+ years of adult life, I seen a lot of cases of humans believing in things without good evidence (astrology, David Koresh, Rev. Moon, etc.), a lot of made-up stories, and no good evidence of the existence of any supernatural being which has a personal interest in humanity.

    Interpretation 2: what is the actual probability of our kind of life forming via natural events in this universe?

    I can calculate the probability of being deal a hand of four aces in Poker – provided I know what cards the deck had in it to begin with. If I later find our the deck only had three aces, my probability will not be the right one.

    The universe is dealing us a hand now, and has been for some time. We have seen a lot of the cards in the deck, but not all of them (and we may never see them all). So all we can do now is make an estimate, which may be proved wrong later.

    The best estimate I have is that the probability is very low, perhaps matching your intuition. For example, it could be one in a billion chance for life to develop on a given planet during the life of that planet.

    I am pessimistic, because so far we have not detected life on any other planet or moon in our solar system (although we have not searched them all extensively), and we have not detected any radio signals from technological civilizations on nearby solar systems.

    So our chances may be about the same as winning the Powerball Lottery, or winning it twice.

    Our galaxy has something like a hundred billion stars in it. It may be that only a handful of these contain life. But the universe contains billions of galaxies, and is billions of years old. Life was bound to develop naturally somewhere, sometime, even at at billion to one, or much greater.

  159. #159 Leni
    July 10, 2009

    And what are you claiming converted inanimate to animate matter? Green elephants? Pink geese? Demons? A magic 8 ball? Pixies & donuts? Was it magical? Did it do it itself? Or what?

    It’s interesting to me that you seem to be unable to ask these questions without invoking agency: something must have done the animating, even if matter “did it to itself”.

    I wonder if part of the reason you keep repeating the questions is because we aren’t answering the “Who did it” question. I don’t think anyone is being evasive, rather we are indisposed to answer it because the question has little meaning when you are discussing a theory of natural processes. It’s like asking “Who does gravity?” The answer is “No one. It is simply matter interacting with other matter in predictable ways.” No magic is necessary, no “who” is needed.

    Scientific theories are (mostly) just reliable descriptions of those interactions. The better tested the theory is, the more reliable and robust it is. There is no 100%. There is only reliability, testability, experimental repeatability and a few other things that help us hone the theory and in doing so (hopefully) increases our understanding of nature. It is not a perfect process, but it is the best one we have.

    If you wish to believe that a creator is responsible for these things you certainly may do so. Most people do. But be warned: the fact that you believe a creator is responsible for life in no way negates our knowledge of the chemical processes of biology. You will find yourself running into brick wall after brick wall if you insist that your belief trumps experiment. And if you succeed in arguing the evidence away to your satisfaction, it’s only you who will lose out.

  160. #160 Pauly7
    August 3, 2009

    @chas’s got me back on the line of thought the creationists have of “life can’t/didn’t evolve from nothing, it is complex enough to be the result of a creator”.

    @JimV got it right with “did the Divine Being happen by itself, or was it the work of a superior Divine Being?”.

    If it is so complex that it can’t have happened without a creator, then the same argument applies to the creator – s/he would be even more complex, thus would require an even greater creator. And so it would go.

    If life can’t just “evolve from nothing” then where does their creator come from? Did s/he just appear from nothing? Did s/he evolve from nothing over millions of years? Surely the creator can’t have just wished him/herself into being?

  161. #161 su deposu
    September 21, 2010

    work was wrong. That happened to a colleague of mine.

    Long story short, everybody assumed that, due to a particular paper, that translation followed a certain pattern of initiation throughout the cell cycle. By stopping the cell cycle at different points, then checking the translation profile, he found something different. He asked a friend to double check his work, and it turned out that he was correct, and the previous work, which relied on only one cell line was not as correct as his. Why was his m

  162. #162 konteyner
    November 4, 2010

    Your tongue in cheek reference to the Crips and the Bloods strikes me as not really being so tongue in cheek, particularly as it applies to domestic terrorism. Its certainly ironic that our cities can be over-run by violent gangs enjoying membership in the hundreds of thousands, yet these lying conniving pieces of shit in Washington felt they needed to reach out to the Middle East to find a bogeyman sufficiently scary enough to bilk us out of millions of dollars with these fuckin’ scams known as “Homeland Security” and “The Global War On Terrorism”. Odds are, if you or I go down with a gunshot wound to the head, it ain’t gonna be a Muslim that did the deed. Americans are far more threatened by mexican street gangs, or the Bloods, or the Crips, than they are by some wacko Muslim slipping some anthrax into their mail. Yet here we are, seven years after 9/11, and these sleazy posturing fops have done NOTHING to actually secure the border, and gang membership continues to soar, particularly in regards to the mexican gangs, whose vast membership is comprised of a high percentage of illegal aliens.

    How much interest does Washington REALLY have in the security we enjoy in our everyday endeavors, when they spend trillions on a contrived enemy abroad, such as they did with this tinpot maniac Saddam, while ignoring the enemy that terrorizes us in our own neighborhoods? Not much, would be my guess

  163. #163 seffaf branda
    August 4, 2011

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