A Creationist Testimonial

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to pay more attention to my blog, so let’s kick off the year by considering what showed up in my mailbox today.

Though I have recently been less active on the creationism beat than I have been in the past, I am still on a handful of creationist mailing lists. As a result, I periodically receive the newsletter of Creation Ministries International, a young-Earth group. Each issue invariably contains a testimonial or two, and this one contained a real corker. Two people identified simply as “Bernhard and Louise K.” wrote it to say this:

We want to thank the Creation Ministries speakers, scientists and volunteers for all the work you do to promote the Truth of God’s Creation of the world, mankind, and the worldwide flood of Noah. We began screening different scientific CMI DVSs on Sunday nights…The most exciting outcome of these CMI Sunday evening screenings has been the commitment to Jesus Christ and baptism of a young…local man.

His testimony is that he was taught evolution at school–which he says made him believe that there was no God and no heaven. Therefore he was able to live his life without a conscience and do things that were wrong…He filled his life with drugs and the life that goes with this. They gave him comfort and purpose. After watching the CMI DVD about creationism, he realized evolution was a lie and had led him into a miserable, meaningless life. He says that God gives him comfort, purpose, and fullness. His life has been transformed after he learnt about creationism which allowed him to discard evolution…This is his story and he has been an enormous encouragement to us and we hope to you at CMI.

That’s verbatim how it appears in the newsletter, including the ellipses.

I got a kick out of this. I have no idea if Bernhard and Louise K are real people, or if they were just created by some intern at CMI. But I do know that whoever wrote this was reading from a script. This story is way too perfect to be credible. Absolutely no one fundamentally changes his life after receiving a perfunctory lesson on evolution in school. This young man seems awfully impressionable. One biology class in school and he spirals down into drug use and despair. Reflecting on his own misery was insufficient for him to change his ways, but watching a DVD did the trick. That must have been one powerful DVD! It’s reminiscent of that video from The Ring.

Anyway, I have no big point to make about this. I just think it’s funny that creationists never get tired of endlessly repeating the same talking points. Every issue of the newsletter opens with an editorial lamenting the harm that is caused by “compromising scripture,” followed by some testimonials (always along the lines of the one above) and home news (turns out CMI is renovating their offices), followed by many, many pages of advertisements.

Comments

  1. #1 Helena Constantine
    January 5, 2016

    “He filled his life with drugs and the life that goes with this. They gave him comfort and purpose.”

    “God gives him comfort, purpose, and fullness”

    So fullness is the only difference between god and drugs? Perhaps he only needed an enema.

  2. #2 phhht
    Berkeley flats
    January 6, 2016

    It would simplify so much if the believers would simply provide some empirical evidence for the reality of their gods.

    But they can’t . Their gods are not real.

  3. #3 eric
    January 6, 2016

    “I once was lost, but now am found” storytelling = evangelical rite of passage into the tribe. Its their vision quest. You want to be part of the tribe, you do the ritual just like everyone else. This signals to the others that you’ve agreed to live by tribal rules and traditions and can be trusted to be loyal in the future. It’s a “buying in” gesture. Whether you actually saw a totem animal appear or used drugs is somewhat beside the point; the play’s the thing.

  4. #4 sean samis
    January 6, 2016

    just listening from the back…

  5. #5 Michael Fugate
    January 6, 2016

    One of CMI’s stable of obfuscators Richard Peachy often commented at John Wilkins’ blog – he had the standard “I was once an atheist and an evolutionist, but…” bio. I accused him of reading a script and someone claiming to be his wife shows up in the comments to vouch for “his story”. Too funny, but it must work as apologetics.

  6. #6 sean samis
    January 6, 2016

    My inclination in to ignore the bios, they are not relevant. The stuff about evolution/atheism leading to a “dissolute” lifestyle is nonsense and worth repudiation, but someone’s bio is otherwise neither here nor there.

    Everyone, including atheists and other nonbelievers has a story to tell. Imho, if the bios bother you that much, you could counter them with your own bios.

    sean s.

  7. #7 Michael Fugate
    January 6, 2016

    Huh?

  8. #8 sean samis
    January 6, 2016

    What?

  9. #9 eric
    January 6, 2016

    My inclination in to ignore the bios, they are not relevant.

    Probably a reasonable idea. When you’ve got Jim Bakker claiming Satan pulls the fire alarm on his radio show and Klingenschmitt saying every legislator that disagrees with him is possessed by demons, the veracity of testimonials seems relatively unimportant. There’s plenty of present-crazy to worry about, no need to assess the past-crazy.

  10. #10 Gary S
    So Cal
    January 6, 2016

    My bio is that I grew up in a Jehovah’s Witness family, and so did not get a proper education to deal with the real world. When I went off to college, I read about Darwin and evolution, discovered that the JWs had LIED to me, and have been an atheist for 57 years. When they sometimes come to my door (not lately – I think I’m on their list) I quote bible verses back to them – “the truth shall make you free” (from them) and “put away childish things” (like ministering door-to-door. I don’t think they ever get the irony). I’m good.

  11. #11 Donald McRonald
    January 6, 2016

    In his bio, who will this perpetrator credit for his change of heart?

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/02/us/north-carolina-pastor-man-with-gun/

    Whether these folks were reading from scripts or not, there are countless stories where people have addictions (and other demons), then abandon them with nothing but the transformative power of The Holy Spirit aka Jesus.

  12. #12 GregH
    January 7, 2016

    Donald McM: then there are the “countless” stories of people who get over addictions with nothing but the transformative power of counseling, or their own determination. I’m one. No Jesus required.

  13. #13 sean samis
    January 7, 2016

    And there are the countless stories of people who got over their religious beliefs through the transformative power of judgmental believers and the profound silence of deities.

    sean s.

  14. #14 dean
    January 7, 2016

    Whether these folks were reading from scripts or not, there are countless stories where people have addictions (and other demons), then abandon them with nothing but the transformative power of The Holy Spirit aka Jesus.

    Of course, since there is no way to determine whether they were visited by your preferred spirit, someone else’s preferred spirit, or by the mystical anti-addiction invisible unicorns that live in North Carolina, your comment is simply a load of unsupportable crap.
    It’s much more likely that sheer will, determination, support, and no small bit of luck, should be given the credit.

  15. #15 Michael K.
    January 7, 2016

    It would seem you have set up a bit of a straw man. I do not recall the “testimony” saying “[o]ne biology class,” as you put it, changing his life. It said he was taught evolution in school. I know you are aware that most people who go to school attend more than one class, so I do not understand your confusion. And Eric, I have read much of CMI’s material, and I have yet to hear of any of the phenomena you reported to be found on their website. Could you reference them please? If not, I do not think it is fair for you to classify all people who believe in God as being irrational, after all, Einstein, Newton, Pascal, Bernoulli were all Theists, and all (excepting Einstein) were Christian. Indeed, it would seem to be that many, if not most, of the men who founded science were Christians. This does not speak to the truth of Christianity, but it does speak to the folly of characterizing all “believers” as psychotic. I would advise treating other people with respect, it makes life (and dialogue) much, much better.

  16. #16 Michael K.
    January 7, 2016

    Also, Eric, I have had inside experience as an “evangelical” and I failed to notice any of the things of which you speak. Where does your hate for these people come? I know most atheists object to the statement that they hate God, and I do not claim it to be so, yet surely your vitriolic comments (as well as the rest of those commenting here) must give fuel for the “evangelical’s fire.”

    Sincerely,
    Mike

  17. #17 Michael K.
    January 7, 2016

    Sean Samis, I fail to see how that actions of “believers” has anything to do with the existence of a Supernatural Being.

  18. #18 Michael Fugate
    January 7, 2016

    Michael, will accepting the overwhelming evidence for evolution, send me to hell? will sentence me to a life of drug use? will it do anything other than give me a better understanding of life on earth?

    I think sean is saying that overbearing believers can cause people to give up on religion – not on whether gods exist.

  19. #19 Michael Fugate
    January 7, 2016

    This article reminds me of my time teaching high school. My administration brought in proselytizers in the guise of “drug educators” who would hold revivals in the evenings. They never brought in creationists while I was there. The problem with these people is that unlike real educator, they are there to lie, to obfuscate, to misinform to further their agenda. Sounds like CMI.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2016/01/conservatives_are_on_a_mission_in_public_schools.html

  20. #20 RJ
    January 7, 2016

    Just as the discussion began to turn to scripts, here comes Michael K. with the same tired list of smart ‘n’ famous theists of the past and whiny objections to alleged ‘vitriol’ that is not present.

    It’s indeed not reasonable to think that someone is globally irrational simply because they are a theist. But I maintain, essentially for the same reasons as some other folks who post here, that theism as such always is irrational. I won’t bother repeating these arguments that everyone knows already.

    On the deeply questionable assumption that you are willing to read with an open mind, Mr. K., please review the above comments and verify for yourself that no hatred of theists was expressed. Or perhaps you are one of those who does not know the difference between criticism and vituperation; or perhaps you are guilty of the sin of pride.

    There is a less pointy-headed thing that needs to be said, and apparently is not understood by Michael K. Simply, the story in the so-called testimonial is deeply implausible. Anyone who honestly believes it is a childish fool who does not understand the reality of life. This is not an atheism vs. theism question, but a common sense and experience vs. childish credulity question.

    The drug, theism, is much less fun than the drug heroin. They’re both expensive, though.

  21. #21 Michael K.
    January 8, 2016

    I do not wish to win an argument here. That is not the point. I just believe (as some may not) that what people believe is of tantamount importance (whether that be atheism, Christianity, Islam, or any thing else). I would ask you to read your rebuttal to me and ask yourself whether or not it contains vitriol and unjustified bias. You, without at all even understanding my beliefs, call into question my integrity, idiotic, and childish. My reason for defending the testimonial is not bias: I have an engrained mark in my self that I will not slander someone unless there is sufficient (if not overly sufficient) evidence that they have done something wrong. In honesty, I do not care what you think of me, but I would ask you guys to honestly look at yourselves and see whether or not your language is really becoming of people who claim to be unbiased observers, for I do care what you (and everyone) believe about God.

  22. #22 Michael K.
    January 8, 2016

    Sorry, I was writing this rather late. I meant to say “call into question my integrity and accuse me of being idiotic and childish.”

  23. #23 Michael K.
    January 8, 2016

    Also, RJ, your attack on me illustrates perfectly why I chose to run the “smart n’ famous theists” argument. I do not know if you failed to actually read my comment, but if you did, you would have noticed that I specifically said, “This does not speak to the truth of Christianity, but it does speak to the folly of characterizing all “believers” as psychotic.” I said it not out of a desire to prove Theism, but to demonstrate the folly of prima facie assuming Theists to be idiots. I would advise that you read more thoroughly what people “of the other side” actually have to say, lest you should find yourself always breaking down straw men and eventually to have been wrong all along.

  24. #24 eric
    January 8, 2016

    Michael J:

    And Eric, I have read much of CMI’s material, and I have yet to hear of any of the phenomena you reported to be found on their website.

    Did you mix me up with another poster? I didn’t claim anything about CMI’s website. I said Jim Bakker claimed Satan was responsible for pulling the fire alarm during his radio show. This is factually true. The link to the video is right there, you can watch it yourself. I also said Gordon Klingenschmitt claims his political opponents are possessed by demons. If you want to quibble I’ll be happy to change that to “says his opponents are under demonic influence” but all you have to do is google “Klingenschmitt demons” and a bunch of those news stories will come up. So that claim was also factually true.

    Third, I don’t see my claim that ‘once was lost but now am found’ stories are rites of passage to be particularly hateful. Can you describe to me why you think it is? All cultures have rites of passage. Calling something a rite of passage is like calling a story a myth; anthropologically, it means that the action or story’s meaningfulness goes beyond its factual truth, that there is more to it than just the surface appearance. True, calling it that also implies that in some cases it will not be a factually true account. But that’s because the point, meaning, and value of rites of passage go beyond someone stating a description of past events.

    So, in short, I don’t appear to have commented on the things you claim I have, and didn’t intend or imply any hatred; I’m sorry if I gave that impression but if there’s something I said that you think is specifically or particularly hateful, tell me what it was and why it was hateful and I’ll try and learn from your comment and not make the same miscommunication in the future.

  25. #25 eric
    January 8, 2016

    More from Michael K:

    I do not think it is fair for you [eric] to classify all people who believe in God as being irrational, after all, Einstein, Newton, Pascal, Bernoulli were all Theists, and all (excepting Einstein) were Christian. Indeed, it would seem to be that many, if not most, of the men who founded science were Christians. This does not speak to the truth of Christianity, but it does speak to the folly of characterizing all “believers” as psychotic.

    Prior to my responses to you, I made two posts on this board. The one about rites of passage and the one about Bakker and Kingenschmitt. I did not assert *any* of the things you accuse me of saying in the above quote. Looking at the other posts, it appears nobody asserted those things here (though if you asked Phhht, he might). So please stop putting words in my mouth, or please point out where I said theists are psychotic, because I don’t see that anywhere.

    In case you’re curious, I’ll give you my opinion on the matter of psychosis, irrationality, and theism. For the record, I don’t think theists as a class are psychotic. Psychotic means something like dangerously insane, and a mere belief in something unreal is not equivalent to that. Some theists may be psychotics of course, but some nontheists may be too. I do think belief in God is unjustified, but this is also different from saying all theists are irrational. I personally judge ‘rationality’ as something of a package rather than being a single issue test, since probably all of us have some irrational biases or beliefs (and thus the ‘single irrational belief’ test would conclude all humans are irrational). For me, whether a person counts as ‘irrational’ or not is a question about the totality of how they interact with the world and others, their pattern or habits of behavior. For me, the relationship between “an irrational belief” and “you’re an irrational person” is something like the relationship between “a bender” and “you’re an alcoholic” – the first in each pair is something to consider in making the judgment about the second, but its not dispositive. I hope that clears up any misunderstanding you have about my beliefs about whether theists are psychotics and irrational.

  26. #26 RJ
    January 8, 2016

    Michael K., on the dubious assumption that you have an open mind.

    – My comment does not include an ‘attack’ on you or anyone else. If you really think my post includes any hatred, I think you need to visit East Jerusalem or something. Actually, my post did not even express any particular dislike even. You’re exhibiting symptoms of the sin of pride.
    – I did not use the word ‘idiotic’. I did not call you ‘childish’. In fact, I directly said nothing about you as an individual.
    – You don’t need to ‘demonstrate’ that ‘prima facie assumption that theists are idiots’ is a folly, because no commentator on the post made this assumption. To be honest with you Michael K., I’ve never met a person that makes that assumption. Ever. You don’t need to demonstrate the folly; it was completely obvious to me before you posted.

    You’re the angry one, Mr. K. You confuse criticism with hatred. Perhaps you don’t know the difference. This does indeed speak to your integrity, with your mildly but truly slanderous accusations of vitriol. I’ve seen bona fide hatred against theists, but rarely and certainly not on this thread. For you to claim to have read it is slanderous; you are bearing false witness against your neighbor.

    One last thing. I reserved the words ‘childish fool’ for a person who honestly and seriously believes this highly implausible conversion story. Not you; I was assuming that you are not childish and foolish enough to think it’s serious. But, if you really think that kids turn to drugs because of evolution-teaching, and turn away from drugs by one session of ID propaganda, you don’t understand real life.

    If you can actually read that story and say, ‘oh yeah, that’s how people are’, then you just are not a serious person; you are worthy not of mocking or hatred but really just deserve to be ignored. Goodbye, Mr. K. I don’t hate you or even think you’re stupid, but I do think you are unworthy of my time and attention.

  27. #27 sean samis
    January 8, 2016

    Michael K: “I fail to see how that actions of “believers” has anything to do with the existence of a Supernatural Being.

    Strangely enough, I don’t see how it does either. Of course, not every comment on this thread is about “the existence of a Supernatural Being”.

    sean s.

  28. #28 sean samis
    January 8, 2016

    eric;

    I very much like your comment #25 on the matter of psychosis, irrationality, and theism. You can expect me to plagiarize it a lot.

    ; )

    sean s.

  29. #29 Michael Fugate
    January 8, 2016

    Creationist testimonials are emotional appeals – facts just get in the way of a persuasive story. If they cared about facts, they wouldn’t be anti-evolution in the first place.

  30. #30 sean samis
    January 8, 2016

    I think most creationists are sincere, as are their testimonials. I know they are mistaken, but that does not make them insincere. I think most of them believe what they are saying, that most of them are not intentionally deceiving. That does not mean that any of them are right, only that most of them genuinely think they are right.

    The emotional valence of their appeals also does not demonstrate error or disregard of facts, but only how strongly they believe what they believe.

    So implying that they don’t care about facts is generally wrong; most do care about the facts but are badly mistaken about what the facts are.

    Given how strongly they believe what they believe, rudeness or insults serve no purpose at best and are often counter-productive.

    Only a stubborn reliance on the actual facts can ever work. Progress may be slow, but that should not matter.

    sean s.

  31. #31 Michael Fugate
    January 8, 2016

    More comedy – you are great at it sean. Please keep it up; we all need more things to laugh at.

  32. #32 eric
    January 8, 2016

    @30: I would tend to agree. “I used to be a bad guy” is probably not much different from “I used to walk to school uphill both ways..and I never complained about it.” We all tend to misremember our past in a way that’s appealing to our present selves, not how it actually was. Most of us unintentionally crank down the contrast between how we used to be and how we are now, and think past-me was more similar to present-me than it actually was. Evangelicals crank the contrast up instead. But they’re doing basically the same sort of memory self-delusion we all do.

  33. #33 sean
    January 8, 2016

    eric;

    I think you have a valid point there.

    Persons who have experienced some significant transformation are incented to magnify the significance of the change when they are embedded within a community that places a high value on that transformation. I doubt this is a deliberate inflation of the change but a subtle and unconscious one.

    I underwent such a transformation, but it took me away from the Church, so there was no real incentive to glorify or minimize it. It was a miserable experience, but I came through OK and most people noticed little or no change.

    sean s.

  34. #34 Michael K.
    January 9, 2016

    Thank you for responding. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you said this to someone who was inclined to “ignore the bios” of the Theists who claimed Atheism hurt them:

    “Probably a reasonable idea. When you’ve got Jim Bakker claiming Satan pulls the fire alarm on his radio show and Klingenschmitt saying every legislator that disagrees with him is possessed by demons, the veracity of testimonials seems relatively unimportant. There’s plenty of present-crazy to worry about, no need to assess the past-crazy.”

    So, unless you or I are mistaken, you said that it is reasonable to reject “the bios” of Theists because of men like Jim Bakker.

    Also, you’re comment on evangelicals rites of passage being “storytelling” equivalent of drug induced hallucinations is what I was referring to. I may have misread some of your comments, so of I did, I am sorry.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  35. #35 Michael K.
    January 9, 2016

    RJ, unworthy of your time and attention? But we really haven’t talked all that much. I would say you haven’t given me all that much of a chance if I am honest.

  36. #36 Michael K.
    January 9, 2016

    Alright guys, I have read some of my older comments and realized I was being asenine. I still hold to my position though, but I apologize for my tone.

  37. #37 Greg Esres
    January 9, 2016

    If not, I do not think it is fair for you to classify all people who believe in God as being irrational, after all, Einstein, Newton, Pascal, Bernoulli were all Theists, and all (excepting Einstein) were Christian

    Einstein wasn’t a theist. I presume the rest were, but they lived hundreds of years ago, so they’re hardly good examples of the present day compatibility of religious belief and rationality. Even given the knowledge of their day, their religious beliefs were irrational, But yes, labeling a person as “irrational” is probably not warranted when that irrationality is compartmentalized.

  38. #38 Michael K.
    January 10, 2016

    What is so irrational about Theism?

  39. #39 Michael K.
    January 10, 2016

    Sorry Greg, you are right, he was not a Theist, but he did believe in a God, and it is hard to believe Albert Einstein had an elementary understanding of the universe compared to those of today. Also, I think further discovery in science has done anything but make Theism less likely. I would say it has done quite the contrary!

  40. #40 dean
    United States
    January 10, 2016

    Also, I think further discovery in science has done anything but make Theism less likely.

    Of course that’s a belief based on, well, nothing factual, just your preferred interpretation of science.

    … he [Einstein] di believe in a God…

    Really? Apparently not the way you do.
    The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text.

    From a letter Einstein wrote to Eric Gutkind in 1954.

  41. #41 Michael Fugate
    January 10, 2016

    Much that gets said is based on “my intuition” without any good reason for it being correct. The “common sense” argument is an argument from intuition or from the majority and much like the emotional appeals of creationist testimonials is a fallacy. One of my favorites in the anti-evolution issue is how best to change people’s minds. The idea that if evolution supporters were only “nice”, they will be able to convert the other side is an assertion with little evidence. I would even go so far to say that the evidence such as it is from educational research points to the opposite. For a change to take place, the misconception needs to be confronted and shown to be absolutely incorrect, before any change of mind. The previous belief must be destroyed. It is much like the criticism of the mass evangelism crusades – it is a momentary conversion to an emotional appeal without any staying power.

  42. #42 Michael K.
    January 10, 2016

    Yes, he certainly did not believe in God in the classical meaning of the word. Yet it seems he did believe in a higher power of sorts at least at SOME point in his life.

    “I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds… The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.”

    I guess he thought the most intelligent being “suspected” there was a mysterious order in the universe akin to the order of that in a library. Not a Theist at all, but certainly not an atheist. Reading more, it seems he may have been an agnostic or that he changed his mind over the course of his life. I am not sure though.

  43. #43 Michael K.
    January 10, 2016

    And I assume you don’t have to interpret science too? I assume you have the ability to discover truth without interpreting things?

  44. #44 Michael Fugate
    January 10, 2016

    Do you see the fundamental between “belief in God helped me do x or I believe God did x” and “God helped me do x or God did x”?

  45. #45 Michael K.
    January 10, 2016

    Just some quotes I have found concerning Einstein’s beliefs.

    “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.”

    Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist

    “I cannot believe that God plays dice with the cosmos.”

    Einstein: The Life and Times

    “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”

    “Einstein’s God: Just What Did Einstein Believe About God?

    This one is a biographer of his:

    “However, Einstein’s God was not the God of most other men. When he wrote of religion, as he often did in middle and later life, he tended to adopt the belief of Alice’s Red Queen that “words mean what you want them to mean,” and to clothe with different names what to more ordinary mortals — and to most Jews — looked like a variant of simple agnosticism. Replying in 1929 to a cabled inquiry from Rabbi Goldstein of New York, he said that he believed “in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exist, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and actions of men.” And it is claimed that years later, asked by Ben-Gurion whether he believed in God, “even he, with his great formula about energy and mass, agreed that there must be something behind the energy.” No doubt. But much of Einstein’s writing gives the impression of belief in a God even more intangible and impersonal than a celestial machine minder, running the universe with indisputable authority and expert touch. Instead, Einstein’s God appears as the physical world itself, with its infinitely marvelous structure operating at atomic level with the beauty of a craftsman’s wristwatch, and at stellar level with the majesty of a massive cyclotron. This was belief enough. It grew early and rooted deep. Only later was it dignified by the title of cosmic religion, a phrase which gave plausible respectability to the views of a man who did not believe in a life after death and who felt that if virtue paid off in the earthly one, then this was the result of cause and effect rather than celestial reward. Einstein’s God thus stood for an orderly system obeying rules which could be discovered by those who at the courage, imagination, and persistence to go on searching for them. It was to this past which he began to turn his mind soon after the age of twelve. The rest of his life everything else was to seem almost trivial by comparison.”

    Einstein: The Life and Times

    All of these quotations can be found at http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/quotes_einstein.html

    From reading, it seems like Einstein was some sort of agnostic, but it seems that he had a hunch towards some type of abstract type of “God.”

  46. #46 MNb
    January 10, 2016
  47. #47 Michael Fugate
    January 10, 2016

    I think we are hitting all the fallacies – emotional appeal, majority opinion, and now authority. Last time I looked Einstein wasn’t a theologian, not that theologians have much of a clue about gods. Michael K, I would suggest Jim Holt’s Why does the Universe Exist?

  48. #48 JimV
    January 10, 2016

    My favorite Einstein quote is: “All mathematicians make mistakes; good mathematicians find them.” (I like to apply it with a slight change, substituting “engineers” for “mathematicians”.) It gives me hope that someday I will find and correct my errors and thereby become good at what I do. Secondarily, it fits my perception that all that humans have achieved is due to persistence – trial and error – a process very analogous to biological evolution.

    Humans cannot wave their hands and will things into existence as in “let there be light” (well, appliances can be programmed to response to sounds or motions but that’s not what I mean). All our technology evolved over time. I could give thousands of examples but will refrain to try to keep this comment brief.

    Consequently I see no basis in (reliable, repeatable, admissible in court, peer-reviewed) human experience for any notion of a creator-god who simply wills things into existence. Nor does our current understanding of the forces and fields and laws of nature support any such abilities.

    So an incomprehensible being (universe creator) of unknown origin and unknown means of operation has zero explanatory value for me. I recognize that that there are many things about the universe that we don’t understand and may never understand, such as why the speed of light has its specific value, but if I could I would ask Einstein, with much due respect, how he thinks a god-concept helps in any way to explain such things. (Absent of course any good empirical evidence for the existence for such a god which I do not see, although theists tend to accept the ancient traditions of their religions as valid evidence, which I do not.)

  49. #49 Michael K.
    January 10, 2016

    Neither do we know of nature spontaneously forming matter. I see your point, but I think if we’re honest we have to admit there is something we are missing, be it God or something else. As C.S. Lewis said, the laws of nature don’t CAUSE anything, they merely describe things and determine what will happen when something is caused. Also, I think you must keep in mind that Theism posits a SUPERnatural, i.e. not natural. I honestly just do not think nature can account for everything we see and believe.

  50. #50 Michael K.
    January 10, 2016

    Micael Fugate, I do not recall the time in which I appealed to the majority or even authority. If you recall why I brought up the names of “famous and smart theists” it was because I was trying to demonstrate that Theism and irrationality do not go hand in hand. Recall that I said, “[t]his [the high caliber of some theists] does not speak to the truth of Christianity, but it does speak to the folly of characterizing all “believers” as psychotic.” So again, I do not see how I committed any of the fallacies you listed.

    Honestly, I do not really want to read that book. I have heard many a people on this thread claim that Theism is irrational. I am open to that. I just ask they demonstrate WHY it is irrational.

  51. #51 Michael K.
    January 10, 2016

    JimV. Do you see my point? Matter HAD to come from somewhere. Biological information HAD to come from somewhere. The laws of physics (very fined tuned for life) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/physics/2012/12/scientific-approaches-to-the-fine-tuning-problem/) HAD to come from somewhere. To me, to think that such high amounts of order, existence, life, and finally human intelligence exists tells me either matter is ALMOST like a god (with the ability to come into existence ex nihlo, organize matter into highly specific arrangement against all odds, and create intelligent minds) or there is a being outside of space-time who created it all. The last point especially I would like to stress. Assuming that you believe that the human mind is the result of nothing more than naturalistic evolution, than you believe, as John Gray, an atheistic philosopher, said, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,…the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” This to me seems to be what makes naturalism most crazy: if you believe in naturalism, you really should not trust your own thoughts.

  52. #52 Michael Fugate
    January 10, 2016

    Einstein is not an authority – Newton is not an authority?
    Jeez!

  53. #53 Michael K.
    January 10, 2016

    Well, if you accept them as authorities, then you should consider theism! I think you do not understand what the fallacy of appealing to authority is. The fallacy of appealing to authority is not just appealing to an authority, it is appealing to someone who is NOT an authority on a certain topic. To cite Einstein in a paper on relativity is fine. To cite him in a paper on english literature in the 1800’s is note.

    So, I do not understand. Are you accusing me of using this fallacy? As I explained, I am not even appealing to them to prove Theism, I just wanted to demonstrate that smart people can be theists. THAT IS ALL.

  54. #54 Michael Fugate
    January 10, 2016

    And dumb people can too – so what? It proves nothing. What does Einstein know about gods? What does anyone for that matter?

    And John Gray is a certifiable idiot and yet you are again using him as an authority to prove nothing. Provide some evidence for a god any god and come back then. Planting’s argument (EAAN) and not Gray’s – who couldn’t come up with an original thought if he were the only human alive – is crap from the start.

  55. #55 RJ
    January 10, 2016

    There are many very intelligent theists, past and present. That does not need to be demonstrated. I know of no-one who does not know this. No-one on this thread denied it.

    It’s irrelevant to our sociological understanding of this and similar conversation stories. They’re almost certainly false, in every case. I know this not because of my religious beliefs or lack thereof, but simply because I wasn’t born yesterday.

    It’s old news of course, but the constant whining of right-wing evangelicals about their non-existent oppression and non-existent moral superiority and non-existent better fellowship and non-existent conversions – it’s tiresome and brings deserved shame upon those who whine thusly. And I know for a fact that this view is shared by many theists.

  56. #56 JimV
    January 10, 2016

    Mr. K, I’m sorry, I have heard your points many times and for a long time without any inclination to ascribe to them.

    I just finished reading “Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn” by Amanda Gefler ($23 on Amazon Prime Kindle). It is the amazing story of how a 15-year-old girl (who avoided math and physics classes in school) and her father set off on a life-long quest to interview elite physicists and piece together their own hypothesis of how the universe came into being. I don’t agree with every conclusion she made, but learned a lot from the book. One of their prime assumptions was this: everything that interacts with this universe is part of this universe.

    I won’t go into more detail except to say their answer is vaguely conceivable (more so to me than the god-concept), and it is one of many alternates to the god-concept – because I have my own concept which differs somewhat from theirs, and is sufficient for me .It is probably wrong, but it seems to fit with everything I know (as a layman with a B.S. in Physics before getting an M.M.E.) Part of it is that I don’t attach any magical significance to biological life – I know that many engineers have been replaced by computers and if the trend continues eventually we all will be.

    In particular, saying that the universe must have been designed for us since we fit it so perfectly (if you consider a universe which is over 99.9999% inhospitable to our form of life to be so; gas-giant creatures would have a much better case, magnetic creatures who live inside stars even a better one) is a form of the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy: fire a pistol at the broad side of a barn, then paint a bulls-eye around the hole. The fallacy is that it has to hit somewhere, and unless you specify the result in advance you cannot claim accuracy. As I see it, the universe fine-tuned us, via evolution, to fit the special environmental niche we are in. Rather than the universe being made for us, we were made by the universe. This follows from one of my general principles: among competing hypotheses which could explain something, always chose the most humble one. (I call this Mario’s Sharp Rock after my friend Mario, to distinguish it from Occam’s Razor.)

    As for, “the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth”, think how much that in fact explains about humans – Donald Trump, for example. Science evolved to search for truth, by means of rigorous testing, peer-review, statistical analysis to eliminate coincides, etc. Meanwhile, entertainers and charlatans who deal in fiction are paid much better than scientists.

    Finally to reiterate my basic point, to say “God did such-and-such for reasons we cannot comprehend by means we don’t understand” is perfectly equivalent to saying, “I don’t know why or how it happened”, and I was taught in Freshman English at MSU not to use extra words which don’t change the meaning.

  57. #57 Michael Fugate
    January 10, 2016

    Jim Holt’s book sounds similar to Gefler’s – he interviewed physicists and philosophers and got interesting responses – some I liked and some not so much, but I learned quite a bit.

    The whole issue of logical fallacies shows that we like to shortcut rather than digging deep for the truth. Heidi White and Michael Shenefelt have written a history of logic “If A then B: How the World Discover Logic” and it is a good start. Evolution seeks the good enough not necessarily the truth. We survived just fine not knowing the earth was spherical or moving, for instance. We also survived not knowing we evolved too. Just to fess up – I used an “ad hominem” to slap down Gray – much easier than explaining all that he gets wrong. He is not an authority on evolution or philosophy in any case.

  58. #58 JimV
    January 10, 2016

    Errata (probably not a complete list): “Gefler” should be “Gefter”, “Amazon Prime Kindle” should be “Amazon Prime hardcover”, “coincides” should be “coincidences”, and in the previous comment, “to response to sounds” should be “to respond to sounds”.

    “Man errs until his strife is ended”–Faust/Goethe

    What else would you expect from a creature evolved via random variation and natural selection?

  59. #59 Greg Esres
    January 11, 2016

    Michael K wrote:

    “Theism and irrationality do not go hand in hand”

    Unfortunately, you did not demonstrate that; all you demonstrated is that some very smart people are sometimes irrational.

    The basic argument offered for theism is “We don’t understand how X occurred, therefore God.” This argument is unsound, hence accepting it is irrational.

  60. #60 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Greg, I believe you misunderstand theism. Number one, many arguments have nothing at all to do with teleology (inference from Design), such as the argument from desire and the argument from experience. Some arguments reason from human nature to the causes of humanity (the most potent of which I think to be the argument from reason).

    You have also misrepresented teleology. The way Stephen Meyer (author of “Darwin’s Doubt” and “Signature in the Cell”) defines it is as being in accord with uniformitarianism. He looks at design in nature (such as that found in the cell) and asks “what processes today can we find that produce such specified complexity?” Is the answer nature? Is it chance? Or is it intelligence?

    Meyer is essentially using the same sort of reasoning that Darwin used to formulate his hypothesis (citing known causes to explain past events). Although it may be argued that GOD’S intelligent input has never been seen, this is sort of beside the point. ID (and the argument from design) is not really meant to get at anything other than the need for intelligence to account for the order in the created universe.

    Granted, naturalistic processes may be found which will someday explain the complexity needed for the first living cells and all life afterword, but until then, I will not have faith that such is the case, especially considering “Pascal’s wager.”

    So it is certainly not “we don’t know how X happens, therefore God,” it is “we know intelligence and ONLY intelligence can cause such specified complexity as seen in the cell, therefore God, or something like God.”

    If you’re more interested in this line of reasoning, I’d look into Antony Flew’s stuff. I believe design in the cell is what he cites as the reason for his “conversion.”

    Thanks

  61. #61 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    JimV, I am not referring to our place in the Cosmos, but the fundamental nature of the Cosmos itself (this is called the Anthropic Principle). Many of the constants of the universe (the strength of the fundamental forces, the ration of masses of the sub-atomic particles- just the fact that the sub atomic particles have equal and opposite charges) would seem to suggest that someone “has monkeyed around with physics.” I’d encourage you to look at the link that I posted here earlier for more info on that.

    “It is 1.00137841870 times heavier than the proton, which is what allows it to decay into a proton, electron and neutrino—a process that determined the relative abundances of hydrogen and helium after the big bang and gave us a universe dominated by hydrogen. If the neutron-to-proton mass ratio were even slightly different, we would be living in a very different universe: one, perhaps, with far too much helium, in which stars would have burned out too quickly for life to evolve, or one in which protons decayed into neutrons rather than the other way around, leaving the universe without atoms. So, in fact, we wouldn’t be living here at all—we wouldn’t exist.”

    More examples abound.

  62. #62 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Anthony Flew on biological complexity:
    “[A]lmost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together. It’s the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence.”

  63. #63 Greg Esres
    January 11, 2016

    Michael K wrote:

    “we know intelligence and ONLY intelligence can cause such specified complexity as seen in the cell, therefore God, or something like God.”

    This is still an argument from ignorance. In fact, pretty much everything that you’ve cited is an argument from ignorance. (Even though we aren’t, in fact, ignorant of some of the things you claim we are.)

    So, really, you’re saying the same thing over and over again, although you use different words. Boring. It’s pointless to challenge your facts when it’s your reasoning skills that are defective.

  64. #64 eric
    January 11, 2016

    Michael K @34:

    Thank you for responding. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you said this to someone who was inclined to “ignore the bios” of the Theists who claimed Atheism hurt them

    I did, but you seemed to have missed the main point. Sean said (I’m paraphrasing) we should evaluate evangelical arguments and policies based on their content, rather than the bios of the people making the claims. I agreed. You seem to think ‘ignore the bios’ was hateful and insulting, when in fact both Sean and I were basically trying to be charitable.

    @38

    What is so irrational about Theism?

    It’s a belief in an unevidenced entity. Thus it is as rational as other similar beliefs in unevidenced entities. Belief in Yahweh is as rational as belief in Allah, which is as rational as belief in Zeus or Ahura-Mazda or Mab and Oberon living in your garden. If you don’t find those other beliefs to be rational, you should understand why many of us don’t find belief in Yahweh to be rational; because we consider it philosophically as credible as all those other beliefs that even you agree are irrational.

    ***

    “Smart peopl can be theists” is not a credible argument that theism is rational, because smart and famous scientists can be irrational about some things too. Newton believed in alchemy. Linus Pauling was irrational about the effects of Vitamin C. Francis Crick believed in panspermia (which while not supernatural, is certainly ‘unevidenced’). That Einstein believed in some sort of god does not mean belief in god is rational. It certainly doesn’t mean traditional Christianity is rational, because even if you buy the ‘argument from Einstein’, that isn’t the sort of theism he held or was defending. I’d refer you again to my @25 post: a smart scientist being a theist is something like a person enjoying a glass or two of wine every night. IMO that behavior doesn’t warrant us calling them an alcoholic (i.e., irrational person), but we also wouldn’t call that person a teetotaler either (i.e., we wouldn’t say all their beliefs are necessarily rational).

  65. #65 eric
    January 11, 2016

    More from Michael K:

    So it is certainly not “we don’t know how X happens, therefore God,” it is “we know intelligence and ONLY intelligence can cause such specified complexity as seen in the cell, therefore God, or something like God.”

    How do you know *only* intelligence can explain something? How can you rule out hypotheses and theories you haven’t yet thought of? You said yourself that naturalistic processes may one day be found to explain this, so you seem to agree that that don’t know for sure that intelligence is the only possible viable explanation.

    The reason ID fails is precisely this possibility: because there may be other explanations waiting to be found, evidence undermining the evolution of X does not logically or rationally entail support for ID. It would just mean we don’t know how X arose. In order for ID to be supported, IDers must make some testable positive prediction of ID tat differs from the ToE and have it be born out. Like: if you dig in this type of rock, located in this stratigraphic layer, you will find evidence of advanced technology from the designer(s). Tiktaalik was found using a directly analogous prediction from evolution (i.e., ‘dig in this type of rock, at this type of layer, and you should find skeletons with some features of both fish and reptiles’). That’s a positive prediction. That’s the sort of thing ID needs to do, and doesn’t.

    Many of the constants of the universe…would seem to suggest that someone “has monkeyed around with physics.” I’d encourage you to look at the link that I posted here earlier for more info on that.

    Both mainstream physicists and creationists are speculating about what other values the constants could attain, but nobody has shown through empirical study that they could vary at all. But feel free to prove me wrong: cite me a paper that provides empirical evidence that the gravitational constant G is empirically shown to be allowed to have values between x < G < y. Show me a paper that talks about the empirical evidence that within that range, G can attain some values but not all (or that it can attain all values within the range). No such papers exist. If our universe is analogized to a lottery ticket, we have no idea what the chances of winning are. They could be remote. But they could be good. Mainstream physicists and creationists alike speculate about how to explain our ticket assuming the odds of us winning are low, but nobody has evidence the odds are low. At this point it’s just an interesting gedankenexperiment. The equation E=mc^2 does not say that c can be different in different universes. It doesn’t tell you that c can attain five different values or five hundred different values or an infinite number of different values – nor does it say that c can only be the value we observe. It doesn’t say anything about the subject at all. We simply do not have information on whether c can vary or how much it can vary. So again, this is a lottery ticket where we have no idea what the odds of winning actually are.

  66. #66 JimV
    January 11, 2016

    Michael K., I am of course familiar with the Anthropic Principle. One way of stating it is that we should not expect to live in a universe in which supernatural assistance would be required in order for us to exist – all our components and processes and environment must be in accordance with the Standard Model of Physics, which they are.

    Dr. Victor Stengler (e.g., “The God Hypothesis”) has calculated that at least a 5% variation in known physical constants would still allow our form of life. Additionally, other, radical changes might allow for different forms of :”life” (organizations of particles, forces, and/or fields which can reproduce themselves with errors and evolve into more complex forms over time) which are not possible in our universe but might be much better adapted to a different universe than we are to ours (as mentioned previously). Also, although anything might be possible to an omnipotent god (so it could have done a much better job fitting the universe to our needs, if it did not have incomprehensible reasons for not doing so), we do not know in fact what the possible variations are in universes, having a sample of only one. As also mentioned before, a key component of the search for “truth” is not to place great reliance on assumptions which cannot be empirically tested.

    Crystals form order without any “intelligence” – and by the way, what is human intelligence? How does it work? I claim, based on 35 years of mechanical design experience, that it is:

    1) generation of lots of ideas, some good, most bad, by observation of nature, random accidents (see “the cat who invented :Lexan”), and possibly random firing of sets of neurons in our brains.

    2) filtering those ideas with selection criteria, such as the scientific method, or survival of the fittest in the commercial marketplace or the marketplace of ideas. (Microsoft Vista went extinct rapidly in the marketplace, for example.)

    3) passing on the fittest ideas to posterity by some forms of memory (verbal, written, computer files, etc – analogues of DNA.).

    In other words, evolution. You have seen cars, phones, and computers evolve in your lifetime. Evolution has created meta-evolution – creatures who are good at evolving technology. (What other way could creatures formed by evolution think “intelligently”.)

    From those examples of the power of the evolutionary process, it should be clear that over 3.5 billion years of natural evolution occurring in septillions of organisms in parallel would be bound to create some amazing complexities. My current favorite example is that it took humans roughly 100,000 years to evolve the first synthetic fiber, nylon. It took a few trillions of bacteria less than 20 years to evolve a way to digest this new material.

    Anyway, for me all of human technology counts not as evidence for some supernatural creative process but as more evidence for evolution, with no way to jump from human “intelligence” to something supernatural.

  67. #67 eric
    January 11, 2016

    Michael K., I am of course familiar with the Anthropic Principle. One way of stating it is that we should not expect to live in a universe in which supernatural assistance would be required in order for us to exist

    I believe Sean Carroll has challenged theists on this point in debate. He’s pointed out that under theism, God would have no need or reason to produce a ‘natural’ universe at all. Thus the anthropic principle isn’t evidence of supernatural design, its evidence against it. Evidence of supernatural design would be some favorable condition that was unnatural or unsustainable under naturalism, like an infinite flat Earth or (less ridiculous) perfectly circular orbits.

  68. #68 Michael Fugate
    January 11, 2016

    I can’t believe people are still harping on creationist bios – I originally brought it up because they are the stock in trade of the creationist testimonial. The “I was an atheist and an evolutionist (often with a masters or doctorate in some science-related field)” gambit is universal. Look up a list of logical fallacies and the creationist testimonial will include almost every one. The appeals to emotion, to authority, to common sense, to incredulity, the non sequiturs and on and on. Anything but evidence and a logical argument.

    Notice how Michael K. skips from one topic to the next – wheels in his brain churning “ok they didn’t buy that argument, let’s try this one, and this one….”

  69. #69 sean samis
    January 11, 2016

    Re: Michael K:

    the laws of nature don’t CAUSE anything

    True. The interaction of matter and energy, mass and forces cause things.

    I honestly just do not think nature can account for everything we see and believe.

    Nature appears to account for everything we see.
    Since beliefs can be based on imagination or error, not all beliefs must be accounted for by nature.

    Matter HAD to come from somewhere. … The laws of physics … HAD to come from somewhere.

    Matter was created when the universe was created.
    Whatever caused the latter created the former.
    As CS Lewis said (and whom you cited) the laws of physics are mere descriptions; they are human descriptions of what we have experienced.

    Biological information HAD to come from somewhere.

    Biological information was created as living systems evolved to ever-higher complexity.
    The first living systems were expressions of biochemical laws.

    … or there is a being outside of space-time who created it all.

    I embolded the word “being” because it refers to anything that exists, even the mindless or the inanimate. With that in mind, your statement is consistent with any of the Multiverse theories, which posit a being (a higher-dimensional reality) outside of our space and time. A multiverse is not a deity, and need not be a deity.

    “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,…the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” This to me seems to be what makes naturalism most crazy: if you believe in naturalism, you really should not trust your own thoughts.

    Here is the trick: can the mind serve evolutionary success without also serving the truth?
    No. To do the one requires the other.
    Error provides no evolutionary advantage.

    Either way, we should NEVER trust our own thoughts without testing and verifying them.

    This is a busy day for me; this is as far as I got.

    sean s.

  70. #70 Greg Esres
    January 11, 2016

    Michael Fugate wrote:

    “Notice how Michael K. skips from one topic to the next – wheels in his brain churning “ok they didn’t buy that argument, let’s try this one, and this one….””

    Yeah, I was thinking “Gish Gallop”, although slower….maybe a trot.

    I think it’s more of a tactic to maintain one’s own confusion. Following any one line of thought to completion is too disturbing.

  71. #71 Donald McRonald
    January 11, 2016

    The Christmas vibe is still resonating, and I know non-believers are tired of seeing all the celebratory LIGHT, but I re-post this gift of a parable to diminish the implication that believers are naive children and nonbelievers are the worlds only hope for sanity. I’m sure I’ll be reminded that it’s not God on Skype, but it’s a nice thought-provoking metaphor offered to the oblivious. Sorry Michael Fugate, Eric and sean s., but there’s nothing wrong with getting the same present twice:

    In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.” “Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?” The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.” The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.” The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.” The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.” “Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.” The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?” The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.” Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.” To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” ~ Útmutató a Léleknek

    Through His life & resurrection, Jesus teaches us which baby to be. “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was LIFE, and that life was the LIGHT of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:3-5).

    Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year!

  72. #72 Donald McRonald
    January 11, 2016

    Greg H,

    “then there are the ‘countless’ stories of people who get over addictions with nothing but the transformative power of counseling, or their own determination. I’m one. No Jesus required.”

    I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy for you, Greg. The will you demonstrated to overcome this specific personal demon is commendable considering how tough it is to beat addiction. I realize that atheists, Muslims, Buddhists are all endowed with the (sometimes unbreakable) human spirit, making them capable of great feats, but I argue that you will need Jesus for more pressing breakthroughs in your future. “Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). My comment was only to counter the post’s “scripted” account with some genuine come to Jesus victories. I thought it’d be unfair not to mention the stories where Jesus aka The Holy Spirit actually was the reason for freedom.

    Speaking of holiness or impeccable moral character; does it exist? If so, where does it come from and can you (personally) attain/maintain it? You haven’t generated your life, so you ultimately can’t save it in the eternal picture. Jesus’ humble opinion.

    sean s.,

    “And there are the countless stories of people who got over their religious beliefs through the transformative power of judgmental believers and the profound silence of deities.”

    Not enough to start the mega-church of atheism. The movement is on perpetual life support when you do the math as it “fails to communicate a compelling vision that is capable of drawing and holding large numbers” (as one pastor put it). Right now, less than 5% of the globe characterizes themselves as such because as God asserts: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

    And I do agree that “judgmental believers” are aggravating given that none of us are impeccable (on our own) and, therefore, have no stones to cast. HOWEVER, Jesus said; “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind” (John 9:39), and “moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). So there’s His contribution to the discussion suggesting that deities have not been silent, and since He resides in billions around the globe, He corrects (judges) in love in order to maintain the striving towards His image (within believers & other sinners alike). If you ask the gunman who surrendered his gun and intentions in that article I posted; “what did you hear?”, it wouldn’t be silence. Many have eyes to see and ears to hear that God is LOUD.

    Michael Fugate,

    “Will accepting the overwhelming evidence for evolution, send me to hell? will it sentence me to a life of drug use? will it do anything other than give me a better understanding of life on earth?”

    Is the evidence for evolution really overwhelming? If so, overwhelm me. You state that it “gives you a better understanding of life on earth”, but I’ve been under the impression that it has no answers for the substance of LIFE, the Source of life, consciousness, sentience, evil, etc., and can only offer an incomplete (and in my case, unconvincing) explanation for merely the material components of creation. Am I mistaken? Have you guys come up with an argument for how the life inside us (and all it’s immaterial accompaniments) came to be? Forgive me, I’ll stand corrected if you offer a compelling explanation.

  73. #73 eric
    January 11, 2016

    [Michael K]“Biological information HAD to come from somewhere.”

    [sean seamis]Biological information was created as living systems evolved to ever-higher complexity.
    The first living systems were expressions of biochemical laws

    It’s worth simplifying this. In physics there are conserved quantities and nonconserved quantities. Conserved quantities cannot change in a closed system, nonconserved ones can.

    The problem with your claim, Michael K, is twofold. First, biological entities aren’t closed systems. Even taken as a whole, the entire system of life on earth isn’t a closed system. So the conserved quantities they contain – such as momentum and energy – can go up and down. If “biological information” were a conserved quantity, it could still go up and down, so long as biological systems exchanged energy and matter with the nonbiological universe.

    The second problem is that, despite Demski’s claim, information as most people understand it is not a conserved quantity. The most common quantitative definition of information is Shannon Entropy, which has the same mathematical form as Boltzmann entropy, and neither are conserved quantities. AFAIK neither Dembski or anyone else has come up with a formal, quantitative definition of “information” which allows it to be a conserved quantity of biological systems (but if they did – see problem #1). If you have such a definition, feel free to tell us what it is.

    So, where does biological information come from? From nonbiological sources of heat and sunlight. From the presence of atmosphere and ocean, both of which provide specific chemical conditions that allow some chemicals to be stable and some reactions to proceed while destroying/destabilizing others. And so on.

  74. #74 Greg Esres
    January 11, 2016

    Donald MacRonald wrote:

    “but it’s a nice thought-provoking metaphor”

    No, it actually isn’t. The baby in your metaphor happened to be correct, but didn’t have any real evidence to support his contention, hence it wasn’t rational to believe it.

    The sad fact is that sometimes stupid and ignorant people will glom onto something that turns out to be true, but it doesn’t follow that one should duplicate their methods of reasoning. Most of the time, they are wrong.

    The fact that you find the metaphor though-provoking is an example of confirmation bias.

  75. #75 sean samis
    January 11, 2016

    Donald McRonald: “So there’s [Jesus’s] contribution to the discussion suggesting that deities have not been silent,…

    There are many who claim that some deity has spoken to them, but what they tell us about their deities is so conflicting or muddled that those of us who have never had that experience are reasonably entitled to be skeptical of these stories.

    In my personal experience, all deities are absolutely silent. I have never heard from any deity, and until I get some credible reason to think they exist, I will remain skeptical. There are many others like me.

    Many have eyes to see and ears to hear that God is LOUD.

    Well, as loud as you say he is, I’ve never heard him and neither have many others. And however LOUD your deity is, he is also INCOHERENT. Since the testimony of believers conflict, they are not reliable or the deity is confused.

    sean s.

  76. #76 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Sean S., I will concede that to know truth sometimes is beneficial, yet other times it is not.

    Look at what Francis Crick said,
    “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths. but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.”

    If there is no pressure for us to have the ability to do science or have a correct philosophy, then our brains can not be trusted to do these things. If you say, “I do not care, I will trust it anyway,” or, “well, I know from experience that my brain can do philosophy/science” then you are living in contradiction to what your paradigm espouse!

    Look at what Eric Baum said, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.”

  77. #77 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Eric, I understand that biological information is not a closed system. The problem is not that it is LOGICALLY impossible for biological information to arise de novo (I am here referring to the origin of life and several steps along the evolutionary tree where genes have to arise without any homologous ancestors (I believe called ORFan genes). This required de novo (from a new beginning) genetic information (i.e. a time when natural selection was not influencing the change in an organism/pre-organism’s genome.

    It is not impossible that this should happen, as it is not impossible that monkeys should write out a Shakespearean sonnet, yet it is highly, HIGHLY improbable. I’ve seen some estimates for one protein emerging by chance (the smallest possible cell I think would need 200) being 1 in 10^70 (Give or take a few powers, maybe down to 10^50) That is extremely implausible.

    Some may say wait around for a naturalistic explanation, but I do not have the faith to do that. I feel like it’s much more likely to think that an Intelligence caused it then to think we will one day find a NEVER OBSERVED process to explain it. It is amazing that one would advocate faith in finding a naturalistic explanation to scold one who had faith in a Divine Being.

  78. #78 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Also Eric, is not Shannon information highly different than SPECIFIED information?

  79. #79 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Greg Eseres, I am sorry if I have confused you or myself. If there is any one topic you would like me to elaborate on, I would be happy to do so.

    Mike

  80. #80 eric
    January 11, 2016

    If there is no pressure for us to have the ability to do science or have a correct philosophy, then our brains can not be trusted to do these things.

    Sean is saying there is pressure which causes brains to develop a somewhat accurate model of the physical world around tem, but that that pressure does not guarantee perfect success.

    In any event, ‘untrustworthy brains’ are exactly why scientists (and mathematicians, etc…) engage in empirical observation and peer review. If each human could just sit and cogitate and never be wrong, we would do that instead. And Jason would be out of a job. 🙂

  81. #81 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Eric, on your point on the invariability of the natural laws, I think that is a point. THANK GOD they are not varying, or else we would probably be dead. I think the question which pops up in ones mind is, “wow, isn’t it super convenient that the Universe came to such an extremely improbable state that was suitable for life?”

    I think the logic goes, before the Universe, any set of laws would have been possible to be in existence once it originated (I know “before” is dumb to say because there was not time before the Universe, but I lack a better word to say.)

    Honestly, I can’t really respond to everyones points because there are too many of you guys. So Eric, I ask that you’d make a shorthand list of your objections/points so I could more easily understand them.

    Thanks.

    Or, for now, we could just argue the point “evolution does/does not give us a reason to justify a trust in our ability to reason.” That’s a fun one.

  82. #82 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Eric, on your point on the invariability of the natural laws, I think that is a point. THANK GOD they are not varying, or else we would probably be dead. I think the question which pops up in ones mind is, “wow, isn’t it super convenient that the Universe came to such an extremely improbable state that was suitable for life?”

    I think the logic goes, before the Universe, any set of laws would have been possible to be in existence once it originated (I know “before” is dumb to say because there was not time before the Universe, but I lack a better word to say.)

    Honestly, I can’t really respond to everyones points because there are too many of you guys. So Eric, I ask that you’d make a shorthand list of your objections/points so I could more easily understand them.

    Or, for now, we could just argue the point “evolution does/does not give us a reason to justify a trust in our ability to reason.”

  83. #83 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    I understand your point Eric, but the question is “why?” Why should we trust our brains. One cannot say, “we trust our brains because we rely on them for science,” for that is circular reasoning. One cannot say, “we trust our brains because we know it works.” How do we know it works? Our brains.

    In essence, I do not think anyone can be called on to prove the reliability of the brain, as it is one of the most basic assumption of existence. The problem is this: any theory that makes existential claims about the universe we observe cannot attack this fundamental assumption, which I believe naturalism does.

    Stephen Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.”

    Mike

  84. #84 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Eric, on your point of the origin of biological information, do you really think a “just add energy” solution will work? In the present world, does adding energy to a system increase it’s specified information? AKA will adding heat in the present day to a solution of chemicals increase it’s order and create information? No. No one has ever been able to do it. The odds are certainly not in their favor.

    So, IDK if you want to talk on this more or talk about evolution and the brain like I said. Your choice

  85. #85 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Do we get a special reward for being the one hundredth person to comment on a thread? 🙂

  86. #86 Michael Fugate
    January 11, 2016

    Ronald,

    Is the evidence for evolution really overwhelming?

    Yes.

    If so, overwhelm me.

    In a comment on a blog? Plenty of books – go visit a library or the internet.

    The shared genotypic and phenotypic diversity of living things overwhelming evidence. If you can trace genes back generations in the human population, you can trace them back generations to shared ancestors among populations and species.

  87. #87 eric
    January 11, 2016

    @77: if you are referring to the OOL then you should not use a protein-from-random-assembly calculation because we don’t know if the first replicators even had multiple proteins, let alone the length of them or how they interacted. We don’t know if the first replicators formed in cells. All of the examples you’re giving are of highly evolved organisms, and everyone agrees their structures did not arise via chance assembly. If you want to calculate the probability of the first replicator assembling from organic precursors, tell me what the first replicator was and we’ll calculate from there.

    Some may say wait around for a naturalistic explanation, but I do not have the faith to do that.

    Yes, well, people posited that angels were pushing Mercury around between the discovery of its precession and the discovery of relativity. They were wrong because – just as I said above – the correct answer turned out not to be either ‘the theory we have’ or ‘God did it,’ but instead a theory nobody at the time could even conceive of. It doesn’t take faith to go from “I don’t know” to “I don’t know, so I’ll keep looking for the sorts of explanations that have worked in the past.” It does take faith to go from “I don’t know” to “I don’t know but God could’ve done it because he can do anything, so I’ll say God did it.”

    It is amazing that one would advocate faith in finding a naturalistic explanation to scold one who had faith in a Divine Being.

    I don’t have faith, I have induction. Naturalistic explanations have been successful in the past, divine agency explanations have failed every time, so I expect that for a phenomenon I can’t explain right now, the answer will be a natural explanation not a divine agency one. My confidence in naturalism is not an assumption. Its not an assertion. It’s an inductive conclusion based on evidence of past performance. And it could be wrong. I’m okay with that. What I’m not okay with is assertions by folk like you that there is some parity between the different possible explanations or that the faithy one is more likely. Inductively, this is just blatantly false. There is no parity. Divine action has failed over and over again as an explanation. It was wrong for weather. Wrong for lightning strikes. Wrong for disease. Wrong for everything else it purported to explain. Why should I bet on the horse that has never won a race, not after thousands of races over thousands of years? All the meanwhile, there is this other horse (natural explanation) that has won every single race. Now I can’t know for sure which horse will win the “explanation for the OOL” race. The divine action horse might finally win one. But I can know which one is the favorite. And it isn’t your horse.

  88. #88 eric
    January 11, 2016

    Eric, on your point of the origin of biological information, do you really think a “just add energy” solution will work? In the present world, does adding energy to a system increase it’s specified information?

    Yes, and supposedly so do you, since you said up above that you think such things are not impossible, just improbable. Right?

    But maybe a better starting point is you tell me how to determine the presence/absence and amount of specified complexity in something. In my comment #4 on this other thread of Jason’s I give an example of a possible genetic sequence. Please tell me how to figure out whether it has specified complexity or not. Please tell me how to calculate how much it contains. Is it just -4logN where N = number of bases? If that’s the case, yes energy can produce it. Does produce it with every chemical reaction in which multiple reactants combine into a single product.

  89. #89 Michael Fugate
    January 11, 2016

    Ronald,
    ID relies on the analogy of human design. Humans design things with a functional purpose in mind. A knife is for cutting, a bicycle is for transportation, and so on. We can recognize stone knives and know that humans designed them and why they did so. If there is a “designer” out there, tell me what was its purpose for designing Thermus antranikianii, Eleodes gigantea, and Manis crassicaudata? And if you can tell me that, then tell me how do you know that to be true.

  90. #90 JimV
    January 11, 2016

    Michael K., your argument that imperfect, non-totally-trustworthy brains refutes naturalism makes no sense to me.

    Brains are obviously not perfect organs which can always be trusted. Some people have hallucinations due to problems with their brain chemistry. All of us make mistakes, but as Einstein said, we have the possibility of testing and confirming or refuting previous conclusions and gradually evolving our way to better understanding. That is how evolution works, and its evidence is all around you.

    By ignoring this evidence and by supporting your arguments only with non-peer-reviewed, non-tested estimates and opinions you mark yourself to many of us as … not a perfect truth-seeker, but rather as further evidence for evolution in the form of the imperfect truth-seekers it produces. Congratulations – you are a product of evolution, just like the rest of us.

  91. #91 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    I must confess to you my inability to address that question (of how much specified complexity exists), and I doubt you do either unless you have a degree in Biochemistry. However, some smarter than I have addressed this problem (Stephen Meyer, Douglas Axe, Robert Sauer), and have come up with insurmountable odds. Robert Sauer would probably be of particular interest to you, as he is not a proponent of ID.

    The question of whether proteins/DNA could form de novo is both a question of chemistry and probability. As far as Chemistry goes, complex polymers do not spontaneously form, so that is a problem. I do not know if we have EVER witnessed the spontaneous formation of polymers long enough to form a living cell.

    Then comes probability. I believe Robert Sauers work estimated that the number of amino acid sequences of 100 residues in length that are functional compared to those that are not functional to be 1 to 10^63. That means (according to his estimates) that only one out of every 10^63 amino acids chains 100 residues in length will form a functional protein. This problem is expounded by the fact that the initial protein would need to be all of the same chirality and of the same type of bond.
    There are two types of amino acids: “left” and “right.” They both appear in similar quantities when formed naturally. There are two types of bonds, peptide and some other. Honestly, I am less familiar of the types of bonds, so I will leave it out of the calculations.
    For the first amino acid to be right handed, the chance is 1 in 2, for the second to be so, it is 1 in 2, and so on. For all one hundred to be right handed, the chances are 1 out of 2^100, or 1.26*10^30, which I will round down to 10^30.

    So, just taking into account chirality the chances of forming a protein 100 residues in length is 1 in 10^30. To form 5 protein would be 10^150. There are estimated to be 10^80 atoms in the universe. That’s only chirality.

    Taking into account the sequence of the amino acids (using Sauers estimates) yields (10^63*10^30) one chance in 10^93 for one protein to form naturally. ONE protein.

    Even if I am off by several orders of magnitude, say 30, the problem is expounded by the fact that a low estimate for the needs of a cell are 256 proteins.

    So, you may say I am just arguing from not knowing a material cause for the origin of life, but I honestly don’t know how this could happen by chance.

    I also do not think chemical necessity can explain it either.

  92. #92 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Michael Fugate, ID does not need to know the purpose behind the mind. Granted, it surely helps, but we for a long time suspected that Stonehenge and a host of other ancient artifacts were designed before we knew their function. See http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/12/how_do_we_know101431.html

  93. #93 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    JimV, you are using your brain to decipher what is true and valid or not. JimV, here is a question, if your brain is not reliable, how then do you reason? Do you believe in the Cartesian Theater then?

  94. #94 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    Eric, I also have experience with intelligent minds like you and I, and I KNOW they are capable of producing complex, specified things (yet our work pales that of the world around us). On a humorous note, I have always thought that the atheist engineer must think himself a failure when he considers how his work pales into comparison to that produced by chance (and it is PRODUCED by chance. Its survival is determined by natural selection, but the production of the first life and novel genetic code must be explained by chance mutation for a naturalist).

    (I do not wish to offend any engineers here, I will concede that you are intelligent- I believe your minds reflect an Intelligence, it was just a joke.)

  95. #95 Michael K.
    January 11, 2016

    On the note of Darwinism being the “survival of the fittest, not the arrival of the fittest,” the name of Darwin’s famous book is fitting: “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the PRESERVATION of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.”

  96. #96 eric
    January 11, 2016

    I must confess to you my inability to address that question (of how much specified complexity exists), and I doubt you do either unless you have a degree in Biochemistry. However, some smarter than I have addressed this problem (Stephen Meyer, Douglas Axe, Robert Sauer), and have come up with insurmountable odds. Robert Sauer would probably be of particular interest to you, as he is not a proponent of ID.

    Sure they have come up with insurmountable odds. But unless they have a reproducible published methodology for calculating those odds I can’t evaluate what they’re doing. I can’t say if the quantity is conserved or whether the quantity can be produced via normal physical processes. What I *can* tell you is that any probability calculation that relies on estimating the probability of codons randomly assembling is representing a type of “information” which is neither conserved nor forbidden from happening naturally.

    I do not know if we have EVER witnessed the spontaneous formation of polymers long enough to form a living cell.

    Again, current living cells are highly evolved things and AFAIK nobody expects that the earliest replicators resembled them.

    I believe Robert Sauers work estimated that the number of amino acid sequences of 100 residues in length that are functional compared to those that are not functional to be 1 to 10^63.

    Functional for what? What would have been a required function in the earliest replicators? Look you keep making the same mistake. You can’t back-calculate the chance that some current organism’s DNA or a functional cell protein would form randomly and then call that an estimate of the probability of the first replicator forming out of abiotic components. Unless you know what the first replicator looked like…and you don’t.

    For the first amino acid to be right handed, the chance is 1 in 2, for the second to be so, it is 1 in 2, and so on. For all one hundred to be right handed, the chances are 1 out of 2^100, or 1.26*10^30, which I will round down to 10^30.

    No LOL please stop trying to do organic chemistry without a degree. When a chiral molecule acts as a catalyst, all the ‘daughter’ products are going to have the same chirality. Each one in turn will be the same chirality. Left-handed reactants generally produce left-handed products and the same with right-handed ones. To get a racemic mixture, you must start out with a racemic mixture.

    Think of it as taking a penny and stamping an impression of it into clay over and over again. As long as the conditions are the same, you will not get a random sequence of head and tail impressions. You’ll get a sequence of HHHHHHHHH….. or TTTTTTTT…. depending on how you first decided to hold it.

    So, you may say I am just arguing from not knowing a material cause for the origin of life, but I honestly don’t know how this could happen by chance.

    I understand you don’t know. But “I don’t know how this could happen” is not evidence that supports design. It just means you don’t know. Evidence of design would be something like the discovery of an intelligent dinosaur’s mammalian DNA lab. Or a moon monolith. Or some other independent testable prediction of the existence of a designer.

  97. #97 Michael Fugate
    January 11, 2016

    Michael Fugate, ID does not need to know the purpose behind the mind. Granted, it surely helps, but we for a long time suspected that Stonehenge and a host of other ancient artifacts were designed before we knew their function. See http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/12/how_do_we_know101431.html

    Can you distinguish between what a god designed and what it didn’t? Have you seen a god design and build things – so you know how it would be done? Stonehenge is easy – the rocks are out of context and arranged with astronomical reference. It resembles things we have seen humans design and build.
    Please try again.

  98. #98 eric
    January 11, 2016

    So, you may say I am just arguing from not knowing a material cause for the origin of life, but I honestly don’t know how this could happen by chance.

    Perhaps, Michael K, a little historical example may help you understand how this does not support divine – or any other type of – design.

    Let’s pretend its the year 1900. Urbain Le Verrier has discovered that the perhelion of Mercury precesses. This precession is impossible under Newtonian Mechanics, a theory that has stood for over 100 years, THE most successful physical theory in history. It has predicted everything it can be applied to to enormous precision (until now). No less than such luminaries as Henreich Hertz, Lord Kelvin, and Albert Michaelson have all pronounced that physics is basically complete and humanity just has to fill in a few gaps. Not only you, but these great minds of science cannot imagine how Newtonian Mechanics can be wrong. So, you posit that angels push Mercury, and that’s why it precesses. After all, there can’t be anything other than Newtonian Mechanics or design, can there? Nobody can even imagine that there are any other alternatives. Not you, not Hertz, not Kelvin, not Michaelson. So evidence againt NM is evidence for design. These people, in that time and place, were justified in inferring design from the lack of a Newtonian explanation, right?

    So now tell me Michael K, is this logic sound? Is the fact that nobody in 1900 – not even the acknowledged greatest minds in science – could imagine any natural explanation other than NM, mean that stuff it can’t explain is logically evidence for design?

    And…aren’t you doing the exact same thing now?

  99. #99 Michael Fugate
    January 11, 2016

    Let’s say you are walking along a path and spot a watch, a stone, and snake. Which are intelligently designed and how do you know it? Humans are intelligent designers and have produced watches and stones, but not snakes….

  100. #100 JimV
    January 11, 2016

    I’ll make one last try in response to a direct question, although I’m repeating myself and have lost hope of getting my points across.

    “JimV, here is a question, if your brain is not [totally] reliable, how then do you reason?”

    For new ideas, by trial and error, as I have already explained. The same way bacteria learned to digest nylon, although not with the same processing power. As a New Year’s resolution in I think 2011, I set myself a goal of finding an independent proof of Fermat’s Prime Theorem (the one that says every prime number which is of the form 4N+1 is the sum of two squares). I developed a proof which satisfies me by late November of that year, using empirical observation of lots of 4N+1 numbers combined with lots of trial and error. The only way to prevent trial and error from working (given enough time and effort) is to refuse to test for and find errors. For dealing with previous solved problems I use processes which are analogous to inherited genes – e.g., the Handbook of Mechanical Engineering, Timoshenku’s Theory of Elasticity, etc. (Although nowadays finite-element-modeling has replaced most equation-juggling.)

    “On a humorous note, I have always thought that the atheist engineer must think himself a failure when he considers how his work pales into comparison to that produced by chance.”

    That is what I have been trying to tell you. 3.5 billion years and septillions of genetic algorithms running in parallel dwarfs anything any single human can do, and in fact all that human technology has yet done. (We haven’t developed nanotech computers with 73 billion processors.) I can’t imagine the arrogance it would take to claim anything else, and I really believe in using Mario’s Sharp Rock. I have great respect for the power of chance (plus selection criteria), given enough random trials. It was largely responsible for the design of the GE-90 jet engine flow path (via a genetic algorithm). Monte Carlo (random) simulation also plays a large and ever-growing role in design work.

    Have any of your design experts actually designed anything complex? Have they studied the history of technological development? Do they know that Paley’s postulated pocket watch evolved from simpler time-keepers? Do they know that Edison founded the General Electric company by trying hundreds of filament materials to develop the light bulb and hundreds of other components to develop useful chemical batteries? Do they know that sampling function values with pseudo-random numbers is the fastest way to integrate large, multi-dimensional functions? Are they familiar with Gall’s Law?

    “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.”  – John Gall, Systemantics: How Systems Really Work and How They Fail (1975, p.71)

    I could on giving such examples for a long time, but as I said, anyone who is paying attention can see technology evolving, not poofing into existence in final, perfect form. I see nothing magical in human design or intelligence, nothing to distinguish them in principle from biological evolution. Particularly since engineers practice them so that they can survive and reproduce.

    If you want to learn about actual research on the first chemical replicator, Google the Szostak Lab. They announced natural generation of a replicating proto-cell a year or few ago. (It required one chemical not known to be common in early Earth environment but a substitute is being looked for, if I recall correctly.) Chances are it was not the actual basis of current life, but it establishes the empirical possibility. (It may well turn out to be a rather unlikely process but bear in mind that there are about 100 billion solar systems in our galaxy and over 100 billion galaxies, with billions of years for trials.)

  101. #101 Michael Fugate
    January 12, 2016

    “JimV, here is a question, if your brain is not [totally] reliable, how then do you reason?”

    MK, ever seen an optical illusion?

  102. #102 Michael K.
    January 12, 2016

    JimV, you cite Edison as an example of unguided chance producing something complex. I think you understand that is not the case. Edison’s example actually demonstrates the problem for Neo-Darwinism: if even a guided process for the complex can take so like long, how long must it take for unguided process to do so? I would challenge you to look at my math and, if I am wrong (which I most certainly am to a degree), I would ask that you would challenge me and suppose a better model. Thanks

  103. #103 Michael K.
    January 12, 2016

    Michael Fugate and JimV, on the topic of the reliability of the mind, I think your explanations come up short. Before I get into my reasons though, I want to clarify what I am trying to get across here. I am not saying that our skills of reasoning/logic are not valid. I think that is an assumption we have to make. However, it is an assumption that is undermined by naturalistic Darwinism.

    What is the litmus test for all ideas? Is it not reason? Yet what is reason (under naturalism)? Nothing but a biological byproduct. So the very basis of all thinking is undermined in naturalism. Granted, the basic reliability of our senses can be explained by natural selection (if the creative ability of random mutations is assumed), as there would be pressure for that to evolve. Yet, as Crick said, humans were not under pressure to evolve the ability to do science, and certainly to do philosophy. Thus, I do not think to trust in your reason is very realistic if you are an naturalistic evolutionist.

  104. #104 Michael K.
    January 12, 2016

    Eric, I fail to see how an orbit that does not fit into Newtonian physics would justify belief in a deity. Besides, I fail to see how this one example which you say was advanced as an argument for design that was falsified disproves all others. Haeckel’s embryo drawings were once advanced as evidence of evolution, and they are demonstratively deceptive. This does not disprove evolution though, or does it?

    If your point is that arguments that posit God’s existence in order to explain currently inexplicable phenomenon are all tentative, you are correct. As of now, ID is certainly the best explanation. More data/discoveries may render it unneeded, but that is what science is all about, isn’t it? Positing a theory to explain the facts we currently know. You should not be so biased as to not acknowledge that it may be true and to accept/reject it based on its merits.

    Think of it, if I rejected atheism on the basis that science may one day discover God, would you call me biased?

  105. #105 Michael K.
    January 12, 2016

    By the way, that “or does it?” was rhetorical.

  106. #106 eric
    January 13, 2016

    If your point is that arguments that posit God’s existence in order to explain currently inexplicable phenomenon are all tentative, you are correct.

    No, my point is that the failure of a natural explanation to explain a phenomenon is not evidence of design, because even when you “honestly don’t know how” something could be explained naturally, even when the best scientists in the world “honestly don’t know how” something could be explained naturally, that just means we don’t know. There is no way to validly infer design from not knowing how something could be naturally explained.

    Evidence of design would be something like finding a billion year old high-tech lab. It would be evidence of interfering aliens. Of course we all know the problem with such things, right? You don’t mean aliens, you mean God and divine interventions that cannot be reproduced or tested. Which is not science.

    As of now, ID is certainly the best explanation.

    Its no explanation at all. It doesn’t tell us how life appeared. In fact design proponents seem intentionally cagey on that point. Probably because they don’t want to say “God waved his hand and life appeared.” It doesn’t make any other predictions. It doesn’t tell us what we can find in the ground. It doesn’t tell us which experiments are more likely to succeed or fail. Its worthless.
    Please tell me, how is “life was designed” any better than “Zeus causes it?” How is one more explanatory than the other?

  107. #107 Michael K.
    January 13, 2016

    So then, a billion year old “high-tech lab” would be proof of design for you?

  108. #108 JimV
    January 13, 2016

    Michael K., your math has already been shown to be wrong by Eric, due to an unwarranted assumption about chirality, which also confirms that your reason is not totally valid (just like the rest of us as formed by evolution), since you make assumptions without checking their validity – which yet again is the key point: use your reason but not without testing and verifying and correcting errors. E.g., in the future I hope you will not present that erroneous calculation again. Also, beware of the Lottery Fallacy: don’t focus on calculating the odds of one specific thing evolution has produced, calculate the odds that nothing beneficial could have been produced. I.e., the odds are tremendously against you winning the Power Ball Lottery, but the odds are good that someone will win it eventually.

    Here’s another calculation to try: while Edison was spending many months testing light-bulb filaments, approximately how many bacteria mutations occurred? You will need to look up the estimated number of bacteria in the world, their average time between reproductions, and their genetic mutation rate. Then perhaps ask yourself, if Edison could and did find a suitable filament material without knowing in advance what it would be, how many fortuitous discoveries could bacteria make in the same time? And how many in 3.5 billion years?

    I had a high-school Biology class in which I do not recall evolution being mentioned, and a few chemistry classes in college. I am not qualified to school you in evolution, but everything I know about it makes sense to me, and I see evidence of it around me almost every day. If I did find something about it counter-intuitive, I hope the Mario’s Sharp Rock Principle would suggest to me that all the Nobel-Prize winners and other accomplished scientists who accept it are probably right and I would be the one who was probably wrong. Meanwhile, I will let you argue with the Nobel laureates about the fine details.

    I am beginning to think that (adherence to the MSRP) is one of the basic differences between atheists and theists. It is a very interesting universe, with characteristics which make possible the rings of Saturn, Jupiter’s Red Spot, the Grand Canyon, bacteria (the dominant, most successful form of life, each human carries around approximately as many bacteria cells as human cells), and of course humans. As a member of the human species, I am conditioned by culture and evolutionary drives to consider humans as more special than all the other things, but Mario’s Sharp Rock tells me that I am probably wrong, along with evidence from human history and current events. Also, this universe got along without us for billions of years, and is on a course to continue for hundreds of billions of years after humans are all gone.

    A different sort of universe with different characteristics might allow different combinations of elementary particles and fields which might also produce many other wonderful and interesting things, although it would not allow humans or other DNA life to exist (which this universe barely does).

    Theists seem to reason (circularly) that humans are uniquely special, therefore this universe must have been designed specifically for them, which in turn confirms that they are special. (Maybe some of them would concede it could have been designed for bacteria, but I doubt it.) This is roughly the opposite of the Mario’s Sharp Rock Principle.

    But of course, as Mario himself often says, “Hey, believe whatever you need to believe to get yourself through the night!”

  109. #109 Michael Fugate
    January 13, 2016

    What is the litmus test for all ideas? Is it not reason? Yet what is reason (under naturalism)? Nothing but a biological byproduct. So the very basis of all thinking is undermined in naturalism.

    Why is it undermined? Why can’t naturalism produce a functioning brain? We know brains are 100% reliable – we are fooled by all manner of things – some due to sensory input and others because thinking is hard and reaction is easy.

    Planning to address #97 or #99? Or is thinking hard?

  110. #110 Michael K.
    January 13, 2016

    To tell you the truth, Mr. Fugate, there are a whole host of other people on this thread and only one me.

  111. #111 Michael Fugate
    January 13, 2016

    “brains areN’T 100% reliable” – good evidence right there.

  112. #112 Michael Fugate
    January 13, 2016

    So?

  113. #113 Michael K.
    January 13, 2016

    Mr. Fugate, the questions you asked in comments number 97 and 99 are answered in the link you actually copied into your comment 97.

    On the issue of the brain, you are in affect using your reason (which is a part of the brain) to decipher which parts of your experience (illusions, mirages, etc.) are true/not true- i.e. you are using something which you admit is not reliable to test whether something else is reliable.

    I encourage you to think for a moment of the implication that your brain is not engineered to know the truth but rather to help you survive. That means the basis of all your reasoning is under suspicion. In your rebuttals of all my points, you are saying “I can tell which thoughts are bad and which are good,” yet that would imply that your reasoning faculties are reliable. Yet, as Stephen Pinker said, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.”

    I should hope you think a cognitive scientist is not a “certifiable idiot” when it comes to matters concerning cognition.

    If this is not a problem for you, then I say I cannot really try to sway you either way. But I honestly cannot hold a belief system that does not strongly affirm the trustworthiness of reason/logic.

    It is also impossible to posit immaterial laws of logic, as a materialistic worldview rejects the immaterial.

  114. #114 Michael K.
    January 13, 2016

    Eric, I will confess that I have no degree in biology (I am only 17, and I am considering one), but it seems your rebuttal of my math assumes the existence of a catalyst. Now, unless by catalyst you mean something other than an enzyme, this will not work for an origin of life hypothesis, as the existence of a catalyst PRESUPPOSES a large amount of genetic information as well as many other things.

    As for your comment on homochirality, I found this on an article that was supporting the spontaneous generation of the first cells published on March 11, 2015, “while an understanding of how homochirality occured at the onset of life remains a mystery…” I think that may be due to the fact that the self organization you are referring to only works on relatively long polymers. So, it would seem they would agree with me.
    (BTW A university provided that article- http://phys.org/news/2015-03-discovery-demystifies-life-chirality-phenomenon.html)

    “Functional for what”

    Well, for enzymatic activity, I presume. Sauer set it at 10% functionality (which is high, yet some of the other assumption he make balance it out, like any fold, not just enzymatic folds. According to Axe’s work, they actually outdo the difference)

    That said, I can not argue with you concerning my premises (i.e. the numbers I got from other peoples work). I did not do the experiments, I just took the numbers other people produced. so I would suggest looking into their work or some of these links if you are interested
    http://creation.com/native-folds-in-polypeptide-chains-1#txtRef48

    This is a paper which says 256 genes needed for minimun “modern type cell.”
    http://www.pnas.org/content/93/19/10268.full.pdf
    I know your objection to using modern type cells in calculating this, but I should say that until we know of any other type of cell, your assuming one adds another assumption to your worldview and lessens its credibility. Though sometimes necessary, “the less the merrier.”

    I think this is Robert Sauer’s work.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2199970

    I think I am justified in taking their numbers and using them in calculations. I am not a Descartes- I trust other people’s work (I just disagree sometimes with their interpretation, but these guys were just using math. Not much interpretation involved there)

    Discovery.org has a lot of stuff on this. You may not like them or think them smart, but it’s worth taking a look at least. Just type in Robert Sauer in the search box from this link: http://www.evolutionnews.org/ (a branch of Discovery)

    Also, just because I know the number 10^63 is sort of counter intuitive, consider that there are 1.27*10^130 actual possible combinations in an amino acid 100 residues in length (about 10^50 more possibilities than there are atoms in the universe, or 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 times more possibilities than there are atoms in the known universe), so to think that a number as big as 10^63 might show up seems less impossible.

    I think it is unfair of you to posit the existence of an unknown type of cell and say it is unscientific to posit an intelligence behind life (of any caliber, ID is not for Theism, just for intelligence behind life, which can then be used to hint at Theism).

  115. #115 Michael K.
    January 13, 2016

    Michael Fugate and JimV, you both have brought up me saying “if your brain is not [totally] reliable.” I never said that, I said “unreliable.” I do not know why you guys keep doing that. That said, I would reference comment #113 in answer to your question to Jim.

  116. #116 Michael K.
    January 13, 2016

    Also, I would like to thank you guys for your criticism and arguments. Thank you for refraining from excessive ad hominen. Your comments surely are helping me think more clearly.

  117. #117 Michael K.
    January 13, 2016

    JimV, also, your point concerning the reproducing bacteria is not relevant as we are talking of the origin of life itself (before replication)

    Also, your comment concerning the Lottery does not seem to be fitting either, as “any one” winning the lottery is not the desired outcome: you winning is. Similarly, “any” sequence of amino acids is not acceptable, only ones which can produce life are acceptable (i.e. desired outcomes/possible outcomes equals probability of desired outcome happening)

    Also, the chirality problem may not be so easily solved. I responded to eric and am waiting for his response :).

    Mario’s sharp rock? What is that exactly? Also, I do not think I made the circular argument you mentioned.

    Thankfully, there are other Nobel Laureates who believe in God who can argue with those that don’t, so you and I can still have our internet hosted debate 🙂

    I would encourage you to look into this topic yourself rather than let the “big whigs” decide for you. There is too much at stake to do that.

  118. #118 colnago80
    January 13, 2016

    Re Michael K @ #18

    In no way, shape, form, or regard was Einstein a theist as that term is understood. At best he was a Deist or Pantheist. He explicitly rejected the notion of a personal god who listens to prayers.

    Furthermore, Newton was not a Christian as that term is understood. He was an Arian who rejected the Trinity and was uncertain as to the divinity of Yeshua ben Yusef of Nazareth.

    I would point out that all of the persons you cited, other then Einstein, lived prior to the 20th Century. In the 20th Century, the fraction of the scientists who could be categorized as theists was about 1/2 the fraction of the general population who could be categorized as such. Amongst the most prestigious scientists, for instance, members of the US National Academy of Sciences, the fraction of believers amounts to only 8% of the membership.

  119. #119 Michael Fugate
    January 13, 2016

    Michael, you are hopeless. I will bother you no more.

  120. #120 eric
    January 13, 2016

    it seems your rebuttal of my math assumes the existence of a catalyst. Now, unless by catalyst you mean something other than an enzyme, this will not work for an origin of life hypothesis

    I do. ‘Catalyst’ may include biological, nonbiological organic, or even inorganic compounds. A simple google of mainstream science sources would tell you that.

    I think that may be due to the fact that the self organization you are referring to only works on relatively long polymers

    No, self-organization occurs in all sorts of chemical processes and reactions. Two simple and obvious examples are crystal growth and the spontaneous separation of polar and nonpolar liquids in solution. The idea that only biologically active long-string polymers do it is just wrong.

    I did not do the experiments, I just took the numbers other people produced. so I would suggest looking into their work or some of these links if you are interested
    http://creation.com/native-folds-in-polypeptide-chains-1#txtRef48

    Look, if you want to learn more about organic chemistry, that’s great! At 17 you’ve got lots of time to do that. However, I suggest you start with mainstream chemistry resources and freshman and sophomore chemistry classes, not “creation.com” websites. The very name tells you that they are approaching the subject as apologetics, not as science. And if creation.com and the discovery institute are telling you that only enzymes catalyze things and only long polymers self-organize, they are feeding you lies (or, more charitably, misinformation).

    I know your objection to using modern type cells in calculating this, but I should say that until we know of any other type of cell, your assuming one adds another assumption to your worldview and lessens its credibility.

    I’m not assuming any type of cell or even a cell-based replicator at all; you are the one doing that, because you must assume a structure in order to calculate an improbability. What I’m saying is that we don’t know what they looked like, so it’s impossible to do a meaningful calculation on the probability or improbability of its formation. Heck we aren’t even sure of the conditions under which these things formed.

    But importantly, I’m also pointing out that “we don’t know” is not evidence for design.

    I think it is unfair of you to posit the existence of an unknown type of cell and say it is unscientific to posit an intelligence behind life (of any caliber, ID is not for Theism, just for intelligence behind life, which can then be used to hint at Theism).

    Positing is fine in both cases. Hypotheses can come in all shapes and sizes. But to gain acceptance and move from hypothesis to theory, you must make testable predictions and cannot simply rely on the argument that if the other guy can’t provide sufficient evidence for a natural explanation, design wins. Nobody’s going to accept that. For design to win in the marketplace of science, you have to go beyond strawman improbability calculations and give a testable who, where, when, and how of design. Then you have to go out in the world and gather reproducible evidence that corroborates your who, where, how, etc. claims. “Somebody did something, sometime, and we won’t talk about a how or who” is not even a hypothesis. You haven’t even gotten to the “posit” stage yet, because design ideas lack the details needed to be scientifically tested.

    You need a precambrian rabbit. Or moon monolith. Or something like that.

  121. #121 colnago80
    January 13, 2016

    Michael K. essentially invokes the God of the Gaps argument. Science can’t explain x, therefore god.

    Unfortunately for this argument, all too often, the gaps are eventually explained by science.

    A perfect example of this phenomena is the question of the stability of the Solar System. Isaac Newton showed that his inverse square law of gravity and equations of motion explained the orbits of the known planets in the Solar System, at least to the accuracy available from the instruments in existence at the time. However, he worried about the intraplanetary interactions, e.g. Jupiter on Mars, etc., as to whether these might cause instability to occur over long periods of time. However, this is a many body problem which he was unable to solve so he invoked god as occasionally nudging the planets in their orbits so as to retain stability. That’s called intelligent design.

    Some 100+ years later, the French mathematician Laplace came along and used a mathematical technique known as perturbation theory to actually compute the intraplanetary interactions and demonstrated stability over long periods of time. He published a thesis on the topic which Napoleon, who had a good grasp of mathematics, read and understood. Being as he was aware of Newton’s argument, he summoned up Laplace and asked him what part god played in maintaining the stability. Laplace famously replied: I had no need of that hypothesis.

  122. #122 eric
    January 13, 2016

    Also, just because I know the number 10^63 is sort of counter intuitive, consider that there are 1.27*10^130 actual possible combinations in an amino acid 100 residues in length (about 10^50 more possibilities than there are atoms in the universe

    I’m considering. It’s a meaningless calculation. What this tells us is that if we have a pool containing all the amino acids in equal amounts, and it spontaneously produced one and only one 100-unit string, the odds of that 100-unit string having one specific, pre-determined sequence is low. But nobody expects that is a good model of how life arose. And it is certainly not the sort of argument that rationally leads to the conclusion “life must therefore have been designed”.

    I think in this case the size of the number has so impressed you that you’ve stopped thinking about what the calculation is modeling and you’ve missed the giant reasoning gap between “the model situation I’ve calculated was unlikely to occur” to “ergo, life was designed.”

  123. #123 Michael Fugate
    January 13, 2016

    Just one refutation of Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, but many, more exist. The EAAN is wrong – Plantinga like Michael believes in God, but everything either knows about God is unreliable and natural selection is only one of many ways living things change. It is a failure, but a nice try.

    http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2013/07/plantingas-evolutionary-argument.html

  124. #124 Phil B
    London
    January 13, 2016

    Michael Fugate – your comment at #119 is simply outrageous. The clue is given by Michael K at #114:- “I have no degree in biology (I am only 17, and I am considering one)”

    The world of science (especially in the USA) is, as you are no doubt aware, replete with very good practitioners who were brought up in fairly closed religious communities, and whose early upbringing started them off with a fairly fundamentalist and most definitely anti-science position – through no fault of their own. Many of these people end up having to go on a very painful personal journey before realising that all they’ve been taught to believe for about 18 years is wrong. An excellent example is provided in this very moving article by Glenn R Morton, one of the regular contributors over at Talkorigins:-

    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2000/PSCF6-00Morton.html

    I cannot, of course, state that this is the case for Michael K – I do not know his personal situation beyond the fact that he is a 17yr. old kid considering doing a biology degree. However, it seems perfectly likely , given the sort of education he is seeking, that by the time he is our age his views may be very different, having been modified by some learning and experience. At any rate, you have no right to produce an ad hom like “hopeless” against a 17yr old kid who is only just starting out – notwithstanding the fact that his arguments themselves may be (indeed are) truly hopeless. On the other hand, people of your level of knowledge and experiences are indeed obliged to educate and assist younger generations, and to do so in a kindly and understanding sort of manner – especially on a blog of this nature.

    Michael K – if you go back over the arguments presented to you by old hands here, such as eric and Jim V (and indeed Michael Fugate, for all his impatience and lack of consideration) you will, I hope, eventually come to see that they are right. You’ve clearly done some background reading and for what it’s worth I think you have fought your corner valiantly against overwhelming odds – even if, for all your valour, your cause is a hopeless one. Having said that, when Michael Fugate says you’re hopeless you can take no notice – you are most certainly not hopeless, you just need to develop your critical thinking skills a little, which should come with time. Please forgive me if I am being a bit patronising, I do not mean to be. Good luck with getting into university to do a degree in a biological (or other) science (by which I mean a proper institution, not Liberty or Oral Roberts or some other such pseudo-scientific establishment). Who knows, maybe you could come back in 3 or 4 years time to this blog, and give Michael Fugate and Co. a good run for their money. In the meantime you need to take a little of their wisdom on board, but you can safely ignore the ad hominems. By the way, do read the Morton article I linked to above – I do not know if your situation is in any way similar to his, but it’s worth a read anyway.

  125. #125 Michael Fugate
    January 13, 2016

    I didn’t read #114; it wasn’t addressed to me.

  126. #126 JimV
    January 13, 2016

    In response to “Michael Fugate and JimV, you both have brought up me saying “if your brain is not [totally] reliable.” I never said that, I said “unreliable.” I do not know why you guys keep doing that. ”

    Because I am disagreeing with your framing (and indicating so explicitly with the addition in the square brackets). I agree that evolution does not produce perfect organisms. I disagree that it does not produce improvements over time. I do not accept that brains are totally unreliable, incapable of recognizing errors if beaten over the head with them often enough. We see a spectrum of reasoning ability among humans (some are better than others) and within the animal kingdom (dogs for example are capable of learning around 500 spoken commands, some other (than human) primates have vocabularies of thousands of words in sign language). This is exactly the sort of results I would expect evolution to produce.

    As for your “desired outcome” argument there was no desired outcome of the evolutionary process. Any time you focus on a particular result of 3.5 billion years of evolution you are the one who is assuming it was a desired outcome (rather than one of many possible outcomes, each very unlikely, most not useful but therefore not surviving – we are all descended from a very long line of survivors) and that is precisely the Lottery Fallacy.

    Mario’s Sharp Rock was defined in an early comment. Press Ctrl-F in most browsers, type Mario’s Sharp Rock in the entry box and it will be the first result.

    Good luck finding a Nobel laureate who will debate against evolution, which was the debate I mentioned (not theism).

    As for accurate mathematical estimates of the probability of the origin of chemical life, I don’t think anyone has ever had all the necessary information to do this, and that any current estimate must be based on a lot of assumptions (some hidden in the form of unconceived alternatives) and historically going back to Aristotle we know that reality has a way of revealing assumptions to be wrong. So I think the best way to get answers is to try various batches of chemicals under natural conditions and see if a proto-cell will form, i.e., trial and error, which Nobel laureate Jack Szostak has already done with some success, as mentioned previously.

    Good luck with your continued education. Do not be discouraged if you get things wrong – remember what Einstein said about that, and remember that Edison said “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

    And one final piece of advice, from Mario: “Picture her with a mop in her hands. If she still looks good, marry her.”

  127. #127 JimV
    January 13, 2016

    Note for the record:

    “Here’s another calculation to try: while Edison was spending many months testing light-bulb filaments, approximately how many bacteria mutations occurred? You will need to look up the estimated number of bacteria in the world, their average time between reproductions, and their genetic mutation rate. Then perhaps ask yourself, if Edison could and did find a suitable filament material without knowing in advance what it would be, how many fortuitous discoveries could bacteria make in the same time? And how many in 3.5 billion years?”

    was in response to:

    “Edison’s example actually demonstrates the problem for Neo-Darwinism: if even a guided process for the complex can take so like long, how long must it take for unguided process to do so?”

    (And by the way evolution is not an unguided/random-only process; it is guided by natural selection – those trials which are not useful do not survive and reproduce, exactly as in Edison’s process.)

    To which the response was:

    “…your point concerning the reproducing bacteria is not relevant as we are talking of the origin of life itself …”

    At which point I think that thread of the dialog had been lost, as non-perfect evolved creatures will tend to do.

  128. #128 eric
    January 13, 2016

    Also, the chirality problem may not be so easily solved. I responded to eric and am waiting for his response :).

    I only just saw this and did not address chirality directly in my last two posts. As I said in #96, once you’ve got some chiral replicator, it’s going to naturally produce same-handed copies of itself. Thus the improbability calculation you did (multiplying # of units by 50% and saying that’s the odds of one left-handed unit producing a left-handed daughter) becomes a wildly incorrect model. The odds of a left-handed reactant producing left-handed products is closer to 100%, no matter what its size.
    How the first replicators or first organisms came to use only left-handed chiral components is still an open question. Nobody knows the answer to that. This is the subject your citation appears to be discussing. Maybe if you get a degree in chemistry or biology you can study the origins of chirality in organisms. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, “nobody knows how” is not evidence for design. Evidence for design would be some alien lab notebook that says “the boss just got a giant vat of left-handed amino acids cheap, and he’s asked us to use this vat for the Earth project rather than the racemic mixture we were planning on using.”

  129. #129 JimV
    January 13, 2016

    Minor reaction to “There are estimated to be 10^80 atoms in the universe. ”

    My paid working day at GE was 8 to 12 and 1 to 5 (where are those so-called 9-to-5 jobs?), so at noon a bunch of us engineers would take our brown bags to a conference table and play double-deck Hearts. (Mario once stood up on his chair to deliver the Queen of Spades from on high to someone he was gunning for.) The winner of a deal got 5 points, second place 3 points, and third place 1 point. Naturally we kept track of the statistics (average number of points won per deal) for years.

    Take two decks of playing cards (104 cards), shuffle them together randomly, then deal them all out. The odds of getting that exact sequence (whatever it is) are about one in 1.0299E+166 – much more than the estimated number of atoms. Yet we generated thousands of such sequences, easily. (Of course anyone perplexed by this is committing the Lottery Fallacy.)

    If only there were some way I could reproduce the hands in which I scored points, think what that would have done for my average.

  130. #130 eric
    January 13, 2016

    @129: Indeed. Any time a design proponent quotes some “impossible” odds, its easy enough to take the order of magnitude, copy “+Randbetween(1,10)” into (that many+1) Excel cells, and then have Excel produce an event less likely than the event they claimed was so unlikely as to be impossible. If you’ve got a lot of standard dice at home, you can roll them and also produce a more improbable result, you just have to multiply the orders of magnitude by 1.6 to get the number of dice first.

  131. #131 JimV
    January 14, 2016

    This has probably been conceived by more-qualified people already, but it just occurred to me yesterday and I can’t resist posting it (sorry).

    More thoughts on so-called fine-tuning of the physical constants of the universe:

    This assumes that a range of physical constants are somehow available for selection and our universe contains the best choice. For example, in our universe, protons are very stable. Free neutrons are not, decaying into protons and electrons, but when bound within an atomic nucleus, such decays are quickly recombined and in the meantime the mass and charge of the nucleus is unchanged.Therefore atomic nuclei are stable and the elements of the periodic table can form.

    It has turned out that protons and neutrons themselves are made of component particles – guarks and gluons. There might be even finer divisions but that is as small as we can detect so far. Quarks and gluons can also combine into several different mesons of various masses and charges, all of which are unstable and decay rapidly in our universe.

    As long as we supposing different physical constants are possible, and that different constants would make protons unstable, why should we not also suppose that islands of stability exist among the sea of constants which would make some other set of mesons stable and thus able to form atomic nuclei for wholly different sets of elements with unknown properties?

    In our universe, the constants are such that nuclear fusion to form more massive elements has a barrier at the element of iron, and larger nuclei can only be created in rare super novas. Those elements beyond are very important for industry: nickel, cobalt, copper, zinc, gallium, germanium (used in the semi-conductors in computers), … molybdenium (used to make the alloy steel we called crow-moly-V at GE (Cr-Mo-V, V for vanadium) used in steam turbines),…, uranium, etc.

    Different meson-based elements might have a lower fusion barrier – or a higher – or none. First generation stars might supply all elements needed for high-tech civilization without having to wait for super novas to explode and their elements to reform into new solar systems.

    In our universe, our civilization has been struggling to develop practical fusion reactors for energy for over 50 years, with very small progress. We continue our course of burning for energy all the hydrocarbons produced over hundreds of million of years within a few centuries, polluting our planet and destabilizing its climate. A different, meson-based universe might have neither of these problems (or worse, or the same).

    Stars might form more easily and closer together in some meson-universe, and the speed of light might be higher, making it no more difficult to reach different solar systems than for us to reach Pluto. (I am beginning to envy the civilizations of such a universe.)

    There are wilder possibilities which have been imagined in science fiction, such as creatures composed of magnetic fields which could live in the near-vacuum of space, but the above hypothesis seems very conceivable to me if one is allowed to postulate different “fine-tunings”. In such a case, Mario’s Sharp Rock suggests that our universe is at best mediocre.

  132. #132 Phil B
    London
    January 14, 2016

    What a great fun place – let’s go build it!
    (Would that make us creationists?)

  133. #133 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    JimV, there is a big difference between getting any sequence of cards and getting a specific one. What if, before you dealt, I told you God was speaking to me and proceeded to list the order of all 54 cards in the deck after you shuffled them. Would you then be surprised? You are committing the fallacy. I did not claim that improbable things happen. Improbable things happen every day. It is when improbable things that are DESIRED (like you winning the lottery two times in a row) happen that one can make the design inference. I think this is pretty straightforward and easy to understand.

    If every time I got dealt a hand in a game of poker (when I was shuffling) I got a royal flush, and you accused me of cheating, would it be okay for me to say, “he Jim, unlikely things happen ALL THE TIME. In fact, that hand is just as unlikely as any other hand in the deck.” Do you see the difference then, between the sort of complexity you are talking about and the sort of complexity I am talking about.

    I do not wish to be rude, but I think it is pretty straightforward.

  134. #134 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    And Jim, would you please tell me what Mario’s Sharp Rock is supposed to mean.

  135. #135 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    Eric, I do not say, “nobody knows how.” I say naturalism cannot explain this (at present), while Intelligent Design can. Is that not what scientific explanations are all about? To be honest, I admit when science conflicts my views. I do hope that science will someday vindicate my position, but I do not use it in an argument, cause if we argue based on hope, we will never get anywhere.
    Also, when I was talking of chirality, I was discussing the origin of life, so I think my math remains valid.

    JImV, again, with the Edison thing, I am intending to discuss the origin of life, in which case it is unguided.

  136. #136 JGC
    January 14, 2016

    “Neither do we know of nature spontaneously forming matter.”

    Actually,w e do: virtual particles can be detected arising and rapidly self-annihilating from vacuum. Google ‘Casimir effect’.

  137. #137 eric
    January 14, 2016

    Michael K:

    Eric, I do not say, “nobody knows how.” I say naturalism cannot explain this (at present), while Intelligent Design can

    Okay, tell me the ID explanation. What did the first replicator look like? Who was the designer? How did he/she/it/they take a design held in their intelligent mind and actually fashion it in matter? When exactly did this design event happen?
    Remember when you are giving this info, its not enough to just make assertions. You must show how any answers you give derive from the hypothesis; how it logically connects to it. And in order to be science, you must describe some empirical process we could follow in order to confirm that what you say is correct.
    If you can’t do at least most of these things, its not an explanation.

  138. #138 eric
    January 14, 2016

    Also, when I was talking of chirality, I was discussing the origin of life, so I think my math remains valid.

    It remains valid for the spontaneous formation of a fully left-handed 100-amino acid string out of a racemic mixture that contains equal amounts of every acid. What evidence do you have that that scenario accurately represents the abiotic origin of life? Because I will tell you plainly, it looks a lot more like a creationist straw man scenario than a published, mainstream hypothesis about the conditions under which life formed and what that first replicator was.

  139. #139 eric
    January 14, 2016

    Michael K:

    What if, before you dealt, I told you God was speaking to me and proceeded to list the order of all 54 cards in the deck after you shuffled them. Would you then be surprised? You are committing the fallacy. I did not claim that improbable things happen. Improbable things happen every day. It is when improbable things that are DESIRED (like you winning the lottery two times in a row) happen that one can make the design inference. I think this is pretty straightforward and easy to understand.

    But you’re Texas sharpshooting here; you are deciding that what you see, after the “shot was fired” is what was “desired.” You cannot make a design inference until you can provide some empirical or theoretical underpinning for why this sort of life was the one and only specific type of life that was “desired.” And no, the bible doesn’t provide that, because it was written by people that also looked around them and decided that the existing things they saw were what was desired.
    Since you’re stuck on chirality, why not right-handed life? Why not racemic life? Why not uracil instead of thymine? We only use about 21 of approximately 500 amino acids, why not life with the other 480 or so? Every time you say “well, that could have been possible” then you increase the number of end results that would count as ‘desired.’ You add winning lottery tickets, increasing the probability. And those are just really simple changes, which don’t get to the basic fact that you don’t know (and neither do I) what other really different structures could count as life. IOW, in your “I won twice in a row” analogy, you don’t know the odds of winning. So it may not be improbable at all.
    What IDers like you are calculating is really a lower limit on the probability of life. Not an expected probability. To calculate an expected probability, you would have to know what other combinations of organic (an inorganic!) components would have fulfilled the requirement to count as “life.” And you simply don’t know that. Neither do I. But the difference is, I do not claim “I don’t know” is evidence of a specific hypothesis.

  140. #140 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    Let me ask you guys a question, if there was no pressure in our past to be able to do science, as Francis Crick said, and there was no pressure to do philosophy and to reason (beyond that which is required to get food, water, and a mate), when, how and why did we gain the reason to do this? And if we didn’t, how do you determine what the truth is?

  141. #141 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    Eric, you said that a high tech lab would be proof of design. What of biological machines, such as the brain, which has been called “the most complex thing in the universe.”
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-18233409

    Also, if I had guessed the order of all the cards, would you have speculated that I had designed the hand, or somehow knew otherwise. You would not attribute it to chance. It is certainly what I desired, because I predicted it!

  142. #142 JimV
    January 14, 2016

    M.K., you are simply repeating arguments which have already been refuted, without considering the answers carefully. The Lottery Fallacy and the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy and the Mario’s Sharp Rock Principle have all been defined in this thread. All you need to do is use your browser’s Edit/Find function (typically brought up the Ctrl-F hot key) to find these previous references and read them. If you have questions about them we will answer them.

    To summarize key points:

    1) Neither the God hypothesis nor the ID hypothesis is an explanation. They do not explain how or why things happened. They just replace one mystery with another. (Where did the IDer come from? What are its motives? How does it do whatever it does?) Nor have any successful predictions been made as a result of them or direct empirical evidence been found for them. Recall that the Anthropic Principle (as I defined it above – use Ctrl-F to reread it) is a prediction of naturalism and that principle has been confirmed by all scientific data.

    2.Human reason is just a form of evolution, with no great mystery about it. Human design, science and intelligence are a meta-form of natural evolution. Humans learned to make tools because it helped them survive, and they did so by trial and error. As they learned things they passed them on to posterity, similar to inherited genes in biological evolution, first orally, and then by better methods as those methods evolved. The scientific method is basically a set of procedures for filtering out errors, similar to natural selection in biology. Philosophy at its best is a codification of the rules of logic which have evolved over time (such as the fallacies mentioned above). At its worst it is speculation unbacked by verification – like random variation without natural selection.

    3. If you or any ID expert can predict the exact sequence of a random deal of cards in a controlled experiment you should apply for James Randi’s Million Dollar Prize (for demonstrated paranormal activity) – which has yet to be ever claimed. What you have tried to do instead is to take some feature of biology or physics and claim that it was too improbable to have happened, which is similar to saying a lottery winner could not have won the Power Ball naturally, or a particular sequence of 104 cards could not have been dealt naturally. And so far none of ID’s probability estimates have been verified. (As when Dr. Behe claimed in “The Edge of Evolution” that there was only one possible mutation path to make the malaria virus immune to a treatment and calculated its probability accordingly. Actual researchers have so far found seven paths and there may be more. See Dr. Ken Miller’s website for details. This is typical of ID arguments, they never allow for unknown unknowns.)(Whereas evolution is smarter than any of us – having had about 3.5 billion years of massively-parallel practice.)

  143. #143 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    Forgive me, “spontaneously forming matter from nothing”: a quantum vacuum is not nothing.
    http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2013/03/26/175352714/the-origin-of-the-universe-from-nothing-everything

  144. #144 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    JimV, I see your point about the Universe making us, not being made for us. But there is a problem with this. There are certain things that MUST be for there to be life. As one commenter on this thread had it, there will be islands within the sea of constants that could produce life, yet these islands would be few and far between.

  145. #145 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    Also, IDers do not disallow unknowns, they just do not take them into account when formulating their view. You cannot. When new information comes, then you can take it into account, but not until then.
    “[R]ules of logic which have evolved over time”

    How did these rules of logic evolve, and how do you know you can trust them. Again, anything that evolves is not designed for anything else than for the survival of the organism. According to you, one of the most commonly held convictions- a belief in a deity, was evolved not for being true, but for its survival value, so what makes you so sure you can trust the laws of logic? Your brain chemistry? Your intuition? Are these things really trustworthy to discern the truth?

  146. #146 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    Also, IDers do not disallow unknowns, they just do not take them into account when formulating their view. You cannot. When new information comes, then you can take it into account, but not until then.
    “[R]ules of logic which have evolved over time”

    How did these rules of logic evolve, and how do you know you can trust them. Again, anything that evolves is not designed for anything else than for the survival of the organism. According to you, one of the most commonly held convictions- a belief in a deity, was evolved not for being true, but for its survival value, so what makes you so sure you can trust the laws of logic? Your brain chemistry? Your intuition? Are these things really trustworthy to discern the truth? I do not think so.

  147. #147 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    Actually, Michael Behe’s work was subsequenly confirmed by Neo-Darwinist who wished to debunk his math. Using population genetics, they came up with a 216 million years for a trait requiring to mutations to arise in the human lineage. And, knowing that humans and chimps allegedly diverged 6 million years ago. (see Durrett and Schmidt, “Waiting for Two Mutations”).

  148. #148 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    Sorry, “two mutations.”

  149. #149 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    And please, again, JimV, demonstrate how I have committed these fallacies.

    I will list them and try to demonstrate that I have not:
    1. Texas Sharpshooter fallacy
    As I have stated, according to Sauer and Axe’s work, only a very few amino acid chains will produce a functional fold. You cannot have life without a functional fold. Thus, getting life is hitting a pre-existing bulls-eye
    Also, there are many things which are required for life (such as heavier elements) and some things required for more complex life (like an ideal amount of gravity). Other constants could produce life, but, according to the physicists (remember, I did not make this thing up), they are rare. So there is already a pre-existing bulls-eye.
    2. The Lottery Fallacy
    I see your point with this one, yet in relation to the origin of life it is not as relevant. Again, as I said, only a small fraction of amino acid chains will produce functional proteins. And many functional proteins must exist for the first cell to have arisen.
    So, JimV, I am not calculating the odds of one specific thing happening. I am calculating the odds of ANY beneficial things happening. In this way, my logic is not wrong. You may argue with my premise (say, question the validity of Sauer’s work), but I do not think my logic is invalid. To conclude design may not yet be a good thing, but to discard chance as an option seems correct.
    3. Mario Sharp Rock Principle
    What is a “humble” hypothesis? I can’t really say I have ever heard that before.

  150. #150 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    Eric, if you would read the article I sited concerning chirality, you would hear that the people who DO know much about the origin of life say the problem of homochirality has not been solved.

    Also, Eric, look at how I responded to #2 above. 10^63 is not an estimate of the probability of any protein arising (that number is 10^130, unless my math is wrong). 1 in 10^63 is the probability (according to Sauer’s work) that a functional protein will arise by chance. So, I am not saying chemistry has to produce a specific thing and cannot, I am saying it has to produce LIFE, and it seems that it is very unlikely that it could.

    On your comment concerning racemic or right handed protein, I don’t see why right handed protein couldn’t work, but you would still need ALL right, which still is 2^-99, not 100 if right or left will work. Which is about 1.5*10^-30. Still pretty bad.
    My understanding is that racemic proteins could not really work. I may be wrong, but I was operating under that assumption.
    (BTW, I am taking a chemistry course at my community college, if you were interested)

    Also, I do not need to know who the designer is, all I need to know is that an intelligent mind could create this stuff, could it not? I do not think of theism as being a “scientific explanation” in the sense that the cause (God) can be detected, but I do believe that if God created the world, science may point to Him.

    Eric, I want to ask you a question. I do not think it is wrong for me to make inferences based on what we DO know instead of what we may know. We know a lot about chemistry, and the proteins have to come from somewhere.

    Is it wrong to do this, and if so why? And is this not what people always do when explaining things (you can hardly blame Newton for his idea of physics because he didn’t understand relativity)?

    One last thing, I think that no matter what theory of life you have, you need to have a large number of proteins arise by chance. You need a lot. If you start with another non-protein/DNA replicator, at some point you must get a protein. And, for that protein to survive, you need it to be functional. Thus, you need to explain the origin of proteins de novo. If their is another way, what is it?

  151. #151 Michael K.
    January 14, 2016

    Phil, thank you for your comment. I wish to take your advice, what is wrong with my thinking. Is it my facts, philosophy/logic, or both?

  152. #152 eric
    January 14, 2016

    Eric, you said that a high tech lab would be proof of design. What of biological machines, such as the brain, which has been called “the most complex thing in the universe.”
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-18233409

    Biologicals descend with modification, laboratories do not. That is one of the key differences. So no, brains do not count, they are another example of the same argument from ignorance. Moreover, I believe I asked for independent evidence, this is not that.

    Also, if I had guessed the order of all the cards, would you have speculated that I had designed the hand, or somehow knew otherwise. You would not attribute it to chance. It is certainly what I desired, because I predicted it!

    If you had predicted 4 billion years ago what life on earth would look like today (and I was there with you), then yes, I would have attributed the intervening development of exactly what you predicted to design. But you are not doing that. You are looking at the deck after it has been dealt out and going “wow, the odds of that sequence I just saw is super low! It must have been rigged!”

    1 in 10^63 is the probability (according to Sauer’s work) that a functional protein will arise by chance

    I will agree for the sake of argument. But who says that the very first replicator consisted of a functional protein of that length? Does anyone say that except creationists who set out to prove how improbable abiogenesis is? Exactly what mainstream claim is Sauer refuting? Or is he making up a claim and then refuting it? We have a name for that. It starts with Straw and ends with aN, and I bet you can fill in the rest.

    Also, I do not need to know who the designer is, all I need to know is that an intelligent mind could create this stuff, could it not? I do not think of theism as being a “scientific explanation” in the sense that the cause (God) can be detected

    Excellent, neither do I. If you agree that ID should not be taught in science classes because it’s not a scientific explanation, I believe we can end on collective agreement. I am perfectly fine with calling it a theological or philosophical hypothesis of origins. And for the record, I’m perfectly fine with teaching it and analyzing it in a philosophy or theology class. The main issue (at least IMO, others on this board may disagree) is really when ID tries to misrepresent itself as a scientific explanation.

  153. #153 JimV
    January 14, 2016

    M.K., if you heed nothing else I write, heed this: all your ID/creationist talking points are rebutted in detail at talkorigins.org by actual biological scientists. You will find some of them were rebutted 50 years or more ago. (Axe and Saur were rebutted immediately.) Don’t listen just to one (qualified) side. You might not understand the responses fully because they are technical and require some expertise, but you will see that they exist and were written by accomplished scientists who have spent their careers studying these matters. As a non-expert myself, I can only take the word of every living Nobel laureate in science that I know of.

    M.K., you are making assertions, not offering evidence. E.g., you assert that only if proteins can fold a certain way can there be life. What is life? Organisms consisting of DNA/RNA genetic material and proteins surrounded by a lipid membrane? How do you know that is the only possible way for self-replicating organisms to exist? (Did you look up the Szostak proto-cell, which does not use DNA or RNA?) As I I said, you are ignoring all the unknowns as though they were unimportant, despite conceding that they could change the results of calculations.

    You don’t know how many mixtures of chemicals occurred under which conditions 3.5-4 billion years ago before one was accidentally found (like the cat who knocked over some beakers in a GE lab and invented Lexan) which could be a basis for a self-replicating organism. All it took was one, out of many trillions of combinations. Billions of years later, long after one was found and progressed through more evolutionary cycles than there are protons in the universe, you say, “but if that particular combination which worked didn’t work, then there would be no life based on it” – as though this proved it was “designed” rather than found by trial and error. All we really know from this evidence is that there was at least one set of chemicals that worked, and it was found. There might be many more which were dominated by the first one to achieve self-replication. There might have been none, in which case we would not exist. So what? Did you or anyone pick DNA/RNA as the lottery winner in advance? Or have you drawn the bulls-eye around it long after the gun was fired? Or is it that DNA/RNA in general and humans in particular are so wonderful and special that they must be the reason that proteins fold a certain way since otherwise such a special thing would not exist (a circular argument)? (Step by step: 1) humans can only exist if proteins fold certain ways; 2) therefore proteins must have been specially designed to fold that way so humans can exist; 3) why so?; 4) because humans are special to the god/IDer who made proteins fold that way; 5) how do we know that humans are special?; 6) because the god/IDer made proteins fold a special way to produce humans.)

    When I am dealt a good hand at Hearts or Bridge, I am apt to win the deal. When I don’t I am apt to lose. When I win, I don’t say to myself, I am very special and wonderful and that is why the universe dealt me this hand. Mainly because I know I am not, but also due to Mario’s Sharp Rock which tells me (based on my experience and human experience in general) that whichever explanation makes me feel the most humble is probably the correct one.

    You similarly assert without evidence that the islands of stability of physical constants which could produce other sorts of atomic universes must be very small and few. Since that idea was mine, I counter-assert that in fact there are an infinite number of them waiting to be tried. (Not seriously.) All it takes is for there to be one other which has slightly better properties for technical civilization of self-replicating organisms and your fine-tuning argument falls into dust..

    I probably haven’t answered all your questions in as clear a way as you would like. Some things which seem clear and simple to me, such as the evolutionary nature of technical development, may not be clear to others with different experience in different fields, despite the hours I have spent trying to find the right words.

  154. #154 JimV
    January 14, 2016

    “What makes you so sure you can trust the laws of logic?”

    As Eric mentioned long ago in this thread, by the Induction Principle, which says things that have always worked in the past will probably work in the future – at least that is the smart way to bet. That was how they were found in the first place – because they were tried and worked (see Evolution, Theory of). When they stop working for me in a noticeable way I’ll try something else. Note: the Lottery and Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy examples were only found within the last century. (They might be forms of more general fallacies.)

  155. #155 Michael K.
    January 15, 2016

    Eric, regardless of whether or not proteins were involved in the origin of life, you must explain their origin de novo, from nothing, am I not right? When is not the primary question. The first replicator or a whole down the road is not of primary importance. You need to explain the origin of proteins from nothing. Will you not acknowledge that?

  156. #156 Michael K.
    January 15, 2016

    Eric, I want you to think about something. You critize me for trying to make a theory of the origin of life based on the type of cells we do know rather than what materialists hope is possible, yet you also criticize me for positing the existence of an unknown (i.e. God) to explain the complexity of life. If you are allowed to do it, what makes it wrong when I do it?

  157. #157 Michael K.
    January 15, 2016

    Eric, Sauer works at MIT, and I’m pretty sure he is a materialistic Darwinist.

  158. #158 Michael K.
    January 15, 2016

    JimV, I challenge you to prove Mario Sharp Rock Principle. Humility/Pride is totally subjective, and I don’t think it’s really a scientific principle in any way at all. Also, you getting dealt the same winning hand shouldn’t make you feel special, but I think it should arouse your suspicion that the game was rigged (would it not do that to you?”

    “Billions of years later, long after one was found and progressed through more evolutionary cycles than there are protons in the universe,”
    Estimates of the number of organisms to have lived are at about 10^40. A WHOPPING 40 magnitudes less than the number of proteins. Do you propose more prebiotic spontaneously formed proteins occurred than that? And those are the chances of getting ONE protein! What of the other 250+ needed for life?

    If you have other types of cells, you still must explain the origin of the proteins. They had to come from SOMEWHERE!

  159. #159 Michael K.
    January 15, 2016

    Eric, I was a little ambiguous. ID- can be science. Theism- cannot be. Panspermia and the alien hypothesis are forms of ID.

    ID’s not really supposed to be theistic (a distinction made in Meyers book), but (as Meyer also points out) it can have philosophical/theological implications. See my point?

  160. #160 Michael K.
    January 15, 2016

    But the main thing is this Eric: did proteins have to arise de novo or not at some time in the past? And if not, where could they have possibly come from? For the sake of argument, I will allow a simpler replicator that can be the first life.

  161. #161 Michael K.
    January 15, 2016

    Sorry, panspermia is not a for, of ID. But the alien one is. (As a side, I’m pretty sure there are some agnostics down at the discovery institute)

  162. #162 JimV
    January 15, 2016

    Acknowledgements: I think I was the one who mentioned Sauer negatively and I was confusing him with someone else (sorry, Dr. Sauer). I also erroneously said “number of protons” when I was trying to refer back to the number of atoms (previously used as a reference scale) in comparison to evolutionary cycles (not organisms). Every time one of the trillions of cells in your body replicates that is an evolutionary cycle. Also even whole organisms can reproduce themselves more than once. Even with that correction and that misunderstanding on your part accounted for the comparison is probably off – good catch. I acknowledge that my brain is not totally reliable but I hope I have some ability to recognize and learn from mistakes.

    I think the difference between the assumptions Eric and I and others are proposing and yours (to respond to your “why can’t I make assumptions too?”) is that you are using yours to claim you have various probability calculations which are totally accurate and we have made no such claims. You can make assumptions but they can be wrong so your calculations can be wrong. To show how they could be wrong we point out other conceivable assumptions and hypotheses. To prove your calculations are correct you must prove our counter-postulates are wrong. Otherwise your calculations are just guesses. If we had made probability calculations based on our hypotheses you would be entitled to regard them as unproven similarly – but we didn’t. They were for illustrations of how your calculations could go wrong only.

    Of course Mario’s Principle is not “proven”. (Neither is the Principle of Induction.) Nothing in science is proven, we only have things that have worked and things that haven’t, just as in biological evolution The MSRP works because people who are not humble enough to admit they could be wrong will not find and correct their errors (as Einstein recommended) and their personal evolution of ideas will stop. It also works for me because it is funny – Mario is one of the least humble people I know. (He once arrived late to a design meeting with his boss, his boss’s boss and other managers in attendance and told us, “That’s all right, gentlemen, stay seated, no need to rise up for me.”)

  163. #163 JimV
    January 15, 2016

    My official last comment on this thread, in response to “where did proteins come from?”.

    For probably at least the billionth time in these sort of discussions I don’t know and neither do you. I could make up an answer, and in fact I have, for my own amusement, but I won’t pretend it has any significance, although it makes more sense to me than the god/ID hypothesis – mainly because the god/ID scenario seems to me one of the least humble hypotheses that could be made, and the MSRP is my guide.

  164. #164 eric
    January 15, 2016

    JimV:

    That was how they [the rules of logic] were found in the first place – because they were tried and worked (see Evolution, Theory of). When they stop working for me in a noticeable way I’ll try something else.

    MK is also making the mistake in thinking there is some set of absolute rules of logic and humankind found this ultimate truth, (and that us finding some objective rules of logic is evidence of design). The truth is that there are many logical systems because humans invent them, we don not find them the way we find rocks or birds or whatever. But you’re right about induction and there is a very heavy element of pragmatism to it, too: the logics that we find most useful are the ones we generally study and teach. Two-value standard Boolean logic is so useful that its the only one employed by most people, so most people are simply unaware that others exist. But they do. And while I don’t fault a 17 year old for not knowing that, I *do* fault creationist philosophers and theologians for perpetuating the terrible argument that logic is any sort of evidence of God. Logic is evidence that humans are pretty good at developing accurate and pragmatically useful models of things, that’s it.

  165. #165 eric
    January 15, 2016

    Eric, regardless of whether or not proteins were involved in the origin of life, you must explain their origin de novo, from nothing, am I not right?

    Once again, your calculation only models the scenario of that specific length string spontaneously forming all at once out of a pool of equal amounts of all AA’s in equal amounts of left- and right-forms. That is the only situation it models. It does not model the odds of some replicator evolving the capability to produce that protein. It doesn’t model the odds of some medium length precursors existing stably for a long time. Or any other formation scenario. So no, we do not have to explain the formation of a 100-unit left-handed protein de novo, because such a thing might not ever have arisen de novo out of some pool of random chemicals. It may have been the product of some earlier, simpler biochemistry or abiotic organic chemistry.

    yet you also criticize me for positing the existence of an unknown (i.e. God) to explain the complexity of life. If you are allowed to do it, what makes it wrong when I do it?

    I already answered that in the bottom of @120 . Go ahead and posit. There is nothing wrong with you doing so. But positing an hypothesis is not the same thing as showing evidence for it, and it is certainly not enough to assert that you have the best explanation for some phenomenon. You have a lot of work to do between positing divine intervention as a possibility, and demonstrating that a specific theory of divine intervention provides more accurate predictions and more explanatory power than competing theories.

    But the main thing is this Eric: did proteins have to arise de novo or not at some time in the past? And if not, where could they have possibly come from? For the sake of argument, I will allow a simpler replicator that can be the first life.

    Well your last comment kinda answers your middle question, doesn’t it? From simpler replicators. Keep in mind I am not asserting that we know this to be true. We don’t know how life arose. There are many hypotheses, none of them confirmed. Until one of them comes up with confirmatory evidence, we have no reason to accept any of them as true. And ID is in that same boat. “We don’t know” is not evidence of ID. “Life is complex” is not evidence of ID, because again that’s just the argument from ignorance. You want to scientifically support design, you have to come up with evidence of the existence a designer and evidence of their mechanism for design. The current “design did it and we don’t know more than that” is no better than “Zeus caused that lightning stroke to hit my house and I don’t know more than that.”

  166. #166 Phil B
    London
    January 15, 2016

    Michael K at #151 – I suspect that your thinking is a little pre-conditioned by whatever your upbringing and education so far may be (but I don’t know what that is, so please correct me if I’m over assuming), and the effect seems to be that you are not, at least not yet, what we call a “free-thinker”. As far as I can tell your facts are more or less straight (although you’re a bit selective), your philosophy is clearly directed towards ID, and your logic is somewhat faulty. Jim V and eric have been very patient with you, and I would reiterate that you should go back through all their posts here and re-read them very very carefully – in the light of that, you should then reconsider your own responses.

    Let’s consider ID, as this seems to be your main concern. ID is not a scientific theory, it is a metaphysical construct for which no actual physical evidence can be brought in support. You are obviously familiar with Behe, Dembski, Meyer etc., and you seem impressed – but consider this:- none of these people has produced any evidence, research or other tangible material in support of such a hypothesis. This is how science works – it proposes hypotheses which may or may not be correct. These hypotheses are then subject to tests by real world observations, often including experimentation, as to whether the predictions they make and the explanations they provide are actually borne out in the real world. Now, science does not set this system up by means of a set of “a priori” commitments to “naturalism” or “materialism” – indeed scientists (and very good ones too, including Isaac Newton, no less) often used to appeal to all sorts of phenomena that we would now label as “supernatural”. However, over a long period of time it gradually became apparent that such appeals to the supernatural consistently failed to produce results that were in any way repeatable or capable of providing explanatory or predictive power. As a result of this, the scientific method gradually stopped bothering with such things, and by about the late 18th century science (not, you understand, on principle, but by learning from experience) had pretty much abandoned such techniques. In other words, over 2 or 3 centuries it was noticed that hypotheses that invoked gods or demons or witchcraft or magick would consistently fail to produce real world applicable results.
    And so it is today with ID. That is not to say you are wrong – it may indeed be that a great designer has set all this up, it’s just that we have no actual evidence for such a scenario, so it must remain just a metaphysical concept. Many scientists as a result of such considerations are atheists – basically, they use the same process of inductive reasoning to assume the absence of a god as they do to assume the absence of the flying spaghetti monster, or pink unicorns under the floor boards running the central heating system of the Empire State Building. They can’t prove the non-existence of such entities, they just see no reason to believe in them. Nobody really knows, but most estimates put the number of scientists in the world who are atheists at about 50%. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris etc. (and, of course, Jason) consider themselves (more or less) to be in this group. That, of course, leaves plenty of scientists who choose to differ, and these people see no reason to let their scientific integrity (which, by the way, is undoubted by all) get in the way of their personal belief in a supernatural being. Perhaps the classic example is Ken Miller (though Francis Collins of the human genome project is another good one). Miller is a cell and molecular biologist at Brown, a man of considerable repute. He is also a devout Christian, at church every Sunday with his family. And this brings us right back to the ID argument – Miller provided a terrific rebuttal to the scientifically indefensible position that Behe (with whom you seem to be familiar) proposed regarding ID at the famous Kitzmiller v. Dover hearing in 2005. The great irony, if you like, is that Miller himself, as he himself has stated, is ultimately some sort of believer in ID – it’s just that he realises that his belief in ID is a theological commitment, not a scientific reality – and he won’t abide the violation of the scientific process that people like Behe wish to visit on the world. Sure, Dawkins and co. will proceed to crucify Miller for accepting what they would consider to be a massive level of cognitive dissonance occasioned by what they would claim to be his simultaneous holding of 2 philosophically contradictory positions – but hey, that‘s another discussion for another time (if you’re ready to go there you could start by checking out Steven J Gould, NOMA arguments etc.). I would strongly recommend, if you haven’t already done so, to read through the transcripts of the entire KvD case, most especially Judge Jones’s summary at the end. It should be highly educational, even though it may take you a few hours – well worth it:-

    http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/intelligent-design-trial-kitzmiller-v-dover

    Meanwhile, let’s get back to what we’ve been through already. I would point out 2 posts above, which so far at least, you have not really seemed to take on board. Firstly, Jim V said the following:-

    “I think the difference between the assumptions Eric and I and others are proposing and yours (to respond to your “why can’t I make assumptions too?”) is that you are using yours to claim you have various probability calculations which are totally accurate and we have made no such claims. You can make assumptions but they can be wrong so your calculations can be wrong. To show how they could be wrong we point out other conceivable assumptions and hypotheses. To prove your calculations are correct you must prove our counter-postulates are wrong. Otherwise your calculations are just guesses. If we had made probability calculations based on our hypotheses you would be entitled to regard them as unproven similarly – but we didn’t. They were for illustrations of how your calculations could go wrong only.”

    You should read through this carefully, perhaps more than once, following which I would request that you ask yourself whether you have responded truly logically to the content of Jim’s post.

    Secondly, as eric said, back to ID again:-

    “If you agree that ID should not be taught in science classes because it’s not a scientific explanation, I believe we can end on collective agreement. I am perfectly fine with calling it a theological or philosophical hypothesis of origins. And for the record, I’m perfectly fine with teaching it and analyzing it in a philosophy or theology class. The main issue (at least IMO, others on this board may disagree) is really when ID tries to misrepresent itself as a scientific explanation.”

    Which ties in very nicely with Miller’s view, as above.

    Has any of this been of any help?

    Best Wishes,

    Phil B

  167. #167 Michael Fugate
    January 15, 2016

    Great piece by Ed Yong on eye evolution ….
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2016/02/evolution-of-eyes-text

  168. #168 Michael K.
    January 18, 2016

    “If you agree that ID should not be taught in science classes because it’s not a scientific explanation, I believe we can end on collective agreement…”

    We will have to agree to disagree. What I said was ” I do not think of theism as being a ‘scientific explanation.'” I then later tried to clarify by saying that, “ID- can be science. Theism- cannot be.”

    “I think the difference between the assumptions Eric and I and others are proposing and yours…”

    I did not intend to be dogmatic about my calculations, and invited that someone refute them. I even speculated that I might be “off by several orders of magnitude, say 30.” That is not at all dogmatic.

    “You are not, at least not yet, what we call a ‘free-thinker.'” Firstly, I do not think it is ones place to try and determine the motives behind ones actions. I did ask for advice, but I think its not ever really our job to “tell” people what they are. Aside from that, I think it odd that a materialist should ever criticize someone for not being a “free-thinker.” Now, I know we all believe in the freedom to choose. It is impossible to live without doing so. However, the problem with this is that materialism essentially refutes choice. To explain, if all thoughts are nothing but the results of chemical reactions, then there is nothing I (if “I” even exist) can think that is not determined by the laws of chemistry. You see, any amount of chemicals when left to react will react in a certain way. It is not my choice whether this happens; it is what will happen regardless!

    As for my being selective with facts, I should think everyone on this post has been doing this.

    “However, over a long period of time it gradually became apparent that such appeals to the supernatural consistently failed to produce results that were in any way repeatable or capable of providing explanatory or predictive power.”

    I totally agree. I would like to make an analogy here. Suppose a time traveling man sent a robot to 16th century England. Now, the unlearned men of that time would have no idea of the nature of this contraptions. If they did not burn it out of suspicion of witchcraft, the men there would soon conclude that it was the result of an intelligent mind when they saw English text appear on the screen. (This works in the analogy because, as Dawkins said, “Biology is the study of things that appear to be designed.”) However, some of the wiser in the court would soon learn that beneath the screen were circuits and a whole assortment of gadgets. The men soon learned that the text on the screen was not at all the result of the continued input of a mind, but was rather an independent entity. Thus, some in the king’s court concluded that this was not the work of a mind at all, but was a natural object.

    Now, could science demonstrate them wrong? I think yes. Science could not say how it were made, and (if we knew nothing of computers) would have no precedent to work off of. Scientists could not make any experiments to conclude that the computer was not designed. However, what it can (and does tell us) is that nature does not produce computers. Both the laws of nature as well as the supreme unlikelihood of such a thing ever occurring, help us to conclude that such a thing was not an accident.

    “basically, they use the same process of inductive reasoning to assume the absence of a god as they do to assume the absence of the flying spaghetti monster, or pink unicorns under the floor boards running the central heating system of the Empire State Building”

    I have never at all tried to tell you the form the intelligence I posit behind life takes, so I think your analogy proves false here. Also, this is primarily an argument from ignorance, and, as I have tried to demonstrate, “the God hypothesis is now a more respectable
    hypothesis than at any time in the last one hundred years.”

    As for Miller, you can find many quotes from atheists acknowledging the same sort of “cognitive dissonance.”

    Thank you, yes, you have helped me to think better about this topic.

    I do not know if that also helps to clarify my position. 🙂

  169. #169 Owlmirror
    January 18, 2016

    I’m a bit surprised that no-one on this comment thread has at least referenced modern abiogenesis hypotheses.

    Michael K., it is not thought that proteins spontaneously assembled from nothing, nor that a single one-off reaction occurred which produced amino acids which then spontaneously assembled. Rather, the current thinking is that a chemical environment came about in which amino acids and other chemicals were produced, and there was enough chemical energy available to drive protein synthesis.

    The specific environment with the most in favor of it is serpentinite alkaline vents at the bottom of the ocean. The early ocean would have been anoxic, iron-rich, and slightly acidic, and this would have allowed for proton flow in the alkaline vents to drive the chemical reactions. In addition, serpentinite has many small cracks and vescicles in it that occur as a result of its formation, and chemical reactions in these small chambers means that the reactants are contained rather than dispersed, and so can react further with each other.

    One scientist who has popularized this idea is the biochemist Nick Lane. You could read his book, Life Ascending, but he has also made many of his publications available on his website for free. I’m mangling the URL to keep this comment from going into moderation, but you should be able to figure it out:

      • nick-lane DOT net

    A couple of the PDFs of articles he’s written:

      • nick-lane DOT net SLASH OriginOfLife.pdf

      • nick-lane DOT net SLASH Lane%20New%20Sci%20Life.pdf

    And you could also browse the full publication list, here:

      • nick-lane DOT net SLASH Nick%20Lane%20Publications.htm

  170. #170 Owlmirror
    January 18, 2016

    Also, this is primarily an argument from ignorance, and, as I have tried to demonstrate, “the God hypothesis is now a more respectable hypothesis than at any time in the last one hundred years.”

    This cannot possibly be true. Given that all science-based arguments for God are arguments from ignorance (God-of-the-gaps, generally speaking), there is less ignorance now that there was “in the last hundred years”. In the past, the ignorance was greater, and therefore the gaps were larger.

  171. #171 Owlmirror
    January 18, 2016

    eric @64:

    Francis Crick believed in panspermia

    I am not sure to what sense this is correct — he believed directed panspermia was possible, but I don’t think anyone has managed to argue that it is impossible. In his book on the topic, Life Itself, he doesn’t seem to think the idea is more plausible than abiogenesis on Earth. He seems to settle for approximately equal plausibility.

    He doesn’t consider, as far as I can tell, the following counterargument, which I, at least, think greatly reduces the plausibility of directed panspermia. It’s also useful in a modified form against ID.

    1) Crick’s exposition of Directed Panspermia posits that the putative intelligent directing organisms themselves arose, via abiogenesis, in about two billion years. He needs this relatively rapid rise so that rockets bearing packages of bacteria and eukaryotes that are sent out will take a plausible time to reach Earth.

    2) While prokaryotic life on Earth developed relatively fast, possibly less than a billion years after the Earth itself formed, eukaryotes arose much later — around 3-3.5 billion years after the formation of the Earth. And of course, it took around another billion years of eukaryotic evolution to get to the point where we are now.

    3) One of the hallmarks of actual intelligent design, by humans, is that when some specific goal is desired, one or more humans mobilize and work to achieve that goal as rapidly as possible. There might be delays for various reasons, but generally, sooner is better than later

    But there is a deep inconsistency between (2) and (3). Crick’s idea is that the aliens seeded Earth with life, but this seeding process took more than twice as long as it took for the aliens themselves to evolve and build their technological civilization!

    It might be possible to “rescue” the hypothesis of directed panspermia from this problem, but I think it would need a lot more work. In addition, Crick’s book is riddled with ignorance of discoveries that are now firm science. I note that Crick seems to have not revisited the idea at any later point in his life, and he may have considered newer science to make the idea less plausible.

    Getting back to ID: When humans want to genetically engineer some organism, they do it in less than an eyeblink of geological time. Homo sapiens has been around for around 200,000 years; the genus Homo was around for millions of years before that, and many branching lineages of human relatives arose and died out in that time.

    Why the hell was the putative God/Intelligent Designer farting around for so damn long?

  172. #172 eric
    January 19, 2016

    [eric] “If you agree that ID should not be taught in science classes because it’s not a scientific explanation, I believe we can end on collective agreement…”

    [Michael K] We will have to agree to disagree. What I said was ” I do not think of theism as being a ‘scientific explanation.’” I then later tried to clarify by saying that, “ID- can be science. Theism- cannot be

    ID can be science when it makes testable, independent predictions that are not simply opaque rewordings of the argument from ignorance (“evolution can’t explain X”).

    Here, on this thread, your primary arguments have been that you should be allowed to posit a designer, and that according to some calculations you’ve done, some specific scenarios are highly improbable. My answer to those is: (1) yes you are, but this does not make ID science and certainly not ‘best explanation.’ And (2) this is just the argument from ignorance, so again, they do not make ID science. Moreover I do not think the scenarios you’re using for your calculation bear much resemblance to actual abiogenesis hypotheses.

    So if you want to say it could be science, I have no objection. If you want to say that it is a scientific theory and in fact is the best scientific theory of origins, then I don’t think anything you’ve said in this thread supports those claims.

  173. #173 JimV
    January 19, 2016

    Among many things I didn’t have time to or didn’t think to mention about the “science” of the god-hypothesis/ID is that not only does it not explain anything (other than by the tautological “it’s a mystery that we cannot comprehend”), but it actually removes plausible explanations.

    Take the African guinea worm (inappropriate old joke suppressed here): its larva are ingested in drinking water. It grows inside a child to be a meter long, but only 1 to 2 mm wide. Then it eats the way out of the body. Attempting to pull it out when it exits will break it in two, leaving the part inside to rot and cause further problems.

    The theory that there is randomness in nature (confirmed by quantum mechanical experiments) and the paradigm of evolution (confirmed by observation, experiment, valid predictions, and the subject of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers each year) explain very understandably how such a creature could exist. The G_H/ID explanation, if any, is that a creature of infinite intellect and capabilities unknown to science deliberately created the guinea worm, as well as millions of other species.

    The whole history of the universe, as we know it, is a progression from simple forms to more complex: guarks and gluons -> protons and neutrons -> hydrogen -> more complex elements -> molecules -> interacting systems of molecules -> self-replicating systems of molecules -> … -> humans -> …

    The G_H/ID theory would have us believe that the most complex entity imaginable existed right at the start, and labored for billions of years to produce humans – a creature which typically loses the first several games of tic-tac-toe it plays (against experienced players who have evolved a competent strategy). I think its proponents use Counter-Inductive Logic (if it has never been seen to work before, keep trying it).

  174. #174 Michael Kolker
    United States
    January 22, 2016

    Just found a poll about the percent of scientists that believe in God or a higher power. I think I recall someone earlier saying most scientists were atheists, so I thought this was relevant. Obviously, bandwagon appeal is not valid, but this is sort of just to rebut what I recalled being called up.

    “According to the poll, just over half of scientists (51%) believe in some form of deity or higher power; specifically, 33% of scientists say they believe in God, while 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power. ”

    http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/

  175. #175 JimV
    January 23, 2016

    If one thinks one recalls something, it is good to check, because evolution does not produce perfect brains with perfect memories. Typing the Ctrl-F hot-key in my browser brings up the search function, and typing in “scientists” produces 20 hits for this thread. Checking them one by one finds these relevant entries:

    colnago80 @ 118: In the 20th Century, the fraction of the scientists who could be categorized as theists was about 1/2 the fraction of the general population who could be categorized as such. Among the most prestigious scientists, for instance, members of the US National Academy of Sciences, the fraction of believers amounts to only 8% of the membership.

    Phil B @ 166: Nobody really knows, but most estimates put the number of scientists in the world who are atheists at about 50%.

  176. #176 Donald McRonald
    January 25, 2016

    Michael,

    My comment again was: “You state that evolution ‘gives you a better understanding of life on earth’, but I’ve been under the impression that it has no answers for the substance of LIFE, the Source of life, consciousness, sentience, evil, holiness, justice, love, joy, etc., and can only offer an incomplete explanation for merely the material components of creation. Am I mistaken, or have you guys come up with an argument for how the life inside us and all it’s immaterial accompaniments came to be?”

    You responded to my question with a question of your own, but no answers:

    “Donald, ID relies on the analogy of human design. Humans design things with a functional purpose in mind. A knife is for cutting, a bicycle is for transportation, and so on. We can recognize stone knives and know that humans designed them and why they did so. If there is a “designer” out there, tell me what was its purpose for designing Thermus antranikianii, Eleodes gigantea, and Manis crassicaudata? And if you can tell me that, then tell me how do you know that to be true.”

    I have no idea why those creatures were created (for the Creator’s glory, their own lives and our wonderment perhaps), but I have an idea why I was created and to a degree, why you were. Once we meet our Maker, we can ask all about the Thermus antranikianii, Eleodes gigantea, and Manis crassicaudata, but in order to make that face to face a more pleasant experience, I think our “functional purpose” is a higher priority. Human beings have been entrusted with dominion, we rule the planet – so do WE have purpose in your opinion?

    I’m starting to think evolution is the guy who boasts that he has a brand new Porsche, when all he really has is the frame of a Porsche sitting in a junk yard (if only in his imagination). Junk has little to no value and his story on how the junk came to be is inconclusive, so again, do you have any answers for the interior? Accuse me of making the “God of the gaps” argument, but you boast and those GAPS are rather large diminishing your implication that evolution has given “you a better understanding of LIFE on earth”. If it can’t give a half-way decent explanation for all, some or at least one of these immaterial things that makes life life; LIFE, consciousness, sentience, justice, love, kindness, conscience, evil, holiness, joy, intelligence, creativity, etc., then there’s a SEVERE lack of knowledge within the paradigm. “People are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

    I asked: “Is the evidence for evolution really overwhelming?”, and you didn’t give me much there either, but suggested I “go visit a library or the internet” to find out more. Well I’ve done that, and it’s done nothing to convince me that evolution is true. Internet sites, Darwin, Dawkins, Shermer and proponent after proponent encourage my disposal of the theory. I’m unconvinced, obviously, but look forward to you showing me what I’ve been missing (by filling in the many GAPS).

    Greg Esres,

    You responded to my comment that “it’s a nice thought-provoking metaphor” with:

    “No, it actually isn’t. The baby in your metaphor happened to be correct, but didn’t have any real evidence to support his contention, hence it wasn’t rational to believe it. The sad fact is that sometimes stupid and ignorant people will glom onto something that turns out to be true, but it doesn’t follow that one should duplicate their methods of reasoning. Most of the time, they are wrong. The fact that you find the metaphor though-provoking is an example of confirmation bias.”

    From my view, it’s irrational to omit a Creator from an interdependent system of creation or our own personal development. I believe in our case, the “stupid and ignorant people are onto something that turns out to be true” and the stakes in our game are a lot higher than that of the doubting baby’s (from the parable posted at #71). He/she comes out of the womb pleasantly surprised, hi-fiving it’s sibling with appreciation after snuggling up to their very real and existing Mom’s bossum. Our “delivery” will involve unpleasant surprises for many and hi-fives for the born again. Jesus’ humble opinion.

  177. #177 Donald McRonald
    January 25, 2016

    I apologize, the parable was actually posted @73.

  178. #178 Donald McRonald
    January 25, 2016

    Apologies again, there are 3 Michaels in the thread, I’m addressing Michael Fugate 🙂

  179. #179 Michael Fugate
    January 25, 2016

    Evolution is a scientific theory and like all scientific theories it helps us understand the universe. That said it can’t explain things that aren’t science. Would you ask the theory of gravity to explain love? No I think not. Ethics are not science, but they are important.

    Evolution was accepted in the 19th c. because it offered explanations for the diversity of life on earth. Darwin used descent with modification to explain the fossil record, biogeography, comparative morphology, and hybrids.

    Each of these make much more sense under DWM. In the fossil record, the most straightforward groups are vertebrates and vascular plants. In the oldest rocks, we find vertebrates resembling the cephalochordates, but with developed heads with eyes and brains, then in younger layers fish, then tetrapods, then amniotes on land, later still mammals and birds.

    In biogeography, we find extinct and extant organisms that are morphologically similar in localized centers of origin (e.g. armadillos in South America). The earth can be divided into biomes based on shared climate (forests, grasslands, deserts,etc.), but morphologically similar plants and animals are distributed not according to shared climate, but geography (nearactic, pale arctic, neotropical, etc.). Also organisms on islands resemble the species on the nearest mainland rather than other islands even with similar climates.

    In morphological similarity, it is easy to the common plans with different groups and they can be arranged hierarchically – groups within groups. What we have found later is that that morphological similarity is mirrored by genetic similarity. We see that genes are easily traced back through lineages – if we dug up your great, great grandparents we could predict the genes they would have based on their descendants. We see genes shared across species, genera, families, orders, etc. It is this genetic continuity that tells us all life on earth is related. It is also why organisms can hybridize.

    As for purpose, like everything else, humans have all kinds of purposes – some imposed by history, some by culture, some by families, some by ourselves.

  180. #180 eric
    January 25, 2016

    From my view, it’s irrational to omit a Creator from an interdependent system of creation

    Ok, let’s put him in. We’ll change F=ma to F=ma+kG where G is God’s intervention and k is a constant of proportionality. So…..what is k? All the empirical evidence points to it being zero. Nada. Zilch. Sqat. Squadoosh. But if you have a reproducible empirical observation that we can look at and see that k is not zero, let us know. Until you can do that, it is perfectly rational to omit “+kG” from that equation. And its also perfectly rational to omit similar “+kG’s” from all other equations of physics, chemistry, and biology.

  181. #181 Jimv
    January 25, 2016

    It is very clear to some us that assuming a creator explains nothing (without some evidence of its existence). Who created the creator? If the answer is nobody, it always existed, then it is simpler to say the multiverse always existed. (Our universe being an inflationary bubble in a larger multiverse, according to Inflation Theory – which could explain why our vacuum energy is so low.)

    The correct answer to “How and/or why does the universe exist?” is “I don’t know”. Assuming an invisible creator explains nothing and just adds many more questions. As Dr. Ken Miller has said (paraphrasing), just because a mole makes molehills doesn’t mean that mountains are made by giant moles.

    These are very old issues, but ones everyone must face for themselves. I reached my own basic understanding of them sometime in my 20’s. Since then I have read that the human brain usually does not reach its full development until about 24.

  182. #182 Michael Fugate
    January 25, 2016

    Let me add that not only did Darwin explain the patterns of organismal diversity, he also explained adaptation or the fit of organisms to their environments using natural selection. NS is well documented from both lab, agricultural and field studies.

    I can explain using evolution why armadillos are in South America can you Donald explain using creation? Why did this god put them there? why not in Australia? Why do they look like they do? Why are they closely allied with sloths and anteaters? How exactly does creation help us understand anything?

  183. #183 Owlmirror
    January 26, 2016

    Our “delivery” will involve unpleasant surprises for many

    Scratch a religious fanatic, and find a cruel, vicious sadistic God underneath.

  184. #184 Michael Fugate
    January 26, 2016

    @183, what that when you’re dead you’re just dead? No angels, no streets of gold, just compost.

  185. #185 Owlmirror
    January 26, 2016

    @183, what that when you’re dead you’re just dead? No angels, no streets of gold, just compost.

    How is this an unpleasant surprise? It is what’s expected by the “doubters”, so isn’t surprising, nor is oblivion particularly unpleasant.

    In the religious scenario sketched @#176, believers are rewarded (“hi-fives”), and doubters are punished (“unpleasant surprise”). Oblivion is not an option.

  186. #186 Michael Fugate
    January 26, 2016

    Ronald will be surprised when he has no soul and only is compost, no?

  187. #187 Donald McRonald
    January 26, 2016

    What happens to our compost, Michael? And are you avoiding my questions about LIFE and all it’s immaterial accompaniments out of ignorance (lack of knowledge), or do you think that asking me about armadillos in South America is an answer?

  188. #188 Donald McRonald
    January 26, 2016

    “Evolution is a scientific theory and like all scientific theories it helps us understand the universe. That said it can’t explain things that aren’t science. Would you ask the theory of gravity to explain love? No I think not. Ethics are not science, but they are important”, isn’t a satisfying answer either. You stated that “evolution gave you a better understanding of LIFE” (which invited my questions), but your responses prove that it really hasn’t.

  189. #189 Owlmirror
    January 26, 2016

    And are you avoiding my questions about LIFE and all it’s immaterial accompaniments

    There are no “immaterial” accompaniments to life. Life is a chemical reaction; most of what you claim are “immaterial accompaniments” are additional effects or emotions that are felt by living multicellular organisms. You are making a confused conflation between the metabolism and growth of organisms, and what those organisms feel, and imagining that this confusion means that you have more understanding when you actually have less.

  190. #190 JimV
    January 26, 2016

    “Ronald will be surprised when he has no soul and only is compost, no?”

    No. When the brain dies, thoughts and feelings end. There will be nothing left to feel surprise. The state will be exactly the same as the billions of years before he was conceived. He will probably never know he is wrong. In the meantime, it gets him through the night.

    It occurs to me however that no devout Christian should use the fine-tuning argument which was raised previously on this thread. They should believe that their god is capable of producing much better universes, e.g., the Garden of Eden universe in which lions lie down with lambs and knowledge could be obtained by eating fruit, and of course, heaven.

  191. #191 Michael Fugate
    January 26, 2016

    @188 and it does and I explained why it does. Did you not read my reply?

  192. #192 Michael Fugate
    January 26, 2016

    Donald, evolution is not a religion, it is not a replacement for your Christianity. It is an explanation for the patterns of living diversity and the processes of adaptation. It won’t tell you all kinds of things you might want to know and it won’t give your life a purpose. You are asking a scientific theory to do work that it was never meant to do.

  193. #193 Owlmirror
    January 26, 2016

    The old quote comes to mind about not being able to reason a person out of a position that was not reached with reason in the first place. . .

    Donald: Science can’t explain ” consciousness, sentience, evil, holiness, justice, love, joy”, etc, etc. Therefore, God (and Jesus, and heaven, and hell, and salvation, and damnation). Phthbbt.

    He has no genuine curiosity or interest in how reality works — only in repeating that his myth which allows him to believe that he will live in eternal happiness must be true.

    He’s godbotting.

  194. #194 Michael Fugate
    January 26, 2016

    JimV, did you really think I needed to be schooled on consciousness and death – sheesh!

    Any way for Donald’s benefit Lee Hays’ “In Dead Earnest”

    If I should die before I wake
    All my bone and sinew take
    Put them in the compost pile
    To decompose a little while
    Sun, rain and worms will have their way
    Reducing me to common clay
    All that I am will feed the trees
    And little fishes in the seas
    When corn and radishes you munch
    You may be having me for lunch
    Then excrete me with a grin
    Chortling, There goes Lee again
    ‘Twill be my happiest destiny
    To die and live eternally

  195. #195 Donald McRonald
    January 26, 2016

    Michael Fugate,

    “As for purpose, like everything else, humans have all kinds of purposes – some imposed by history, some by culture, some by families, some by ourselves.”

    Here you consider everything and everybody you could think of outside of your life’s Source. Purpose can be imposed by anything or anybody but God, huh? Is it uncomfortable for you to consider this reality, oops I mean possibility?

    “@183, what that when you’re dead you’re just dead? No angels, no streets of gold, just compost.”

    You inspired me (YAY!) to ask about our corpses/compost and their ultimate destinations because it seems to me that in ANY form we take, we never truly vanish from the universe – we just transition or transform (your cute little poem deals with this nicely). If the basic substances that make us up on a material or subatomic level never cease, is it wrong to accept that the substance of our LIFE, our souls, consciousness, our energy or life force will never cease to exist either? – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-lanza/5-reasons-you-wont-die_b_810936.html – I’m no Einstein (who said “energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another”), but this makes sense to me on a spiritual, metaphysical level. Jesus preached and demonstrated this by living, dying and resurrecting for a RESONATING purpose; to teach the world that there is more:

    “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your LIFE is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your LIFE, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived” (Colossians 3:1-7).

    “@188 and it does and I explained why it does. Did you not read my reply?”

    I read it, and I keep re-posting your assertion that; “evolution has given you a better understanding of LIFE”, so you understand how misleading and incorrect it is when you take the definition of life that says; “the general or universal condition of human existence, the ​period between ​birth and ​death, the ​state of being ​alive”. Putting South American armadillos and other creatures aside, I’m only referring to human beings here. The “universal condition of human existence” involves a lot more than materialism, biology, chemistry or even ethics, but encompass deeper things that are (as you’ve acknowledged) not scientifically discernible. You admitting; “Donald, evolution is not a religion (some may disagree), it is not a replacement for your Christianity. It is an explanation (some would say a false one) for the patterns of living diversity and the processes of adaptation. It won’t tell you all kinds of things you might want to know and it won’t give your life a purpose. You are asking a scientific theory to do work that it was never meant to do”, clears up some of the confusion and will hopefully encourage you to clarify what you mean by “life” the next time you assert that evolution has caused you to have a thorough understanding of it. We wouldn’t want anyone in a life crisis to come to you for life advice because they’ve confused you for an expert on life, as this thread was initially about a testimonial where an individual explained how the TOE ultimately couldn’t help him with his. Whether his testimony is “scripted” or not: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Can I get an amen?

  196. #196 Michael Fugate
    January 26, 2016

    I’m no Einstein

    A truer thing has never been said.

  197. #197 Donald McRonald
    January 26, 2016

    Is that all you got?

  198. #198 Donald McRonald
    January 26, 2016

    In response to Michael @194:

    http://youtu.be/TXtVzj9y-bo

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