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Does Darwin’s theory of evolution address the origin of life?

In reply to “UD Pro-Darwinism Essay Challenge, Elizabeth Liddle writes:

KF: there is a simple misunderstanding here. In Darwin’s words:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

In other words, Darwin, and indeed modern evolutionary theory is about descent from “few forms or one”.

It is NOT about the origins of those “few forms or one”.

If you want to uses the tree analogy, it accounts for the trunk to the twigs; it does not account for the origin of the trunk.

Liddle is correct on a basic point: Darwin’s theory proposed to explain transformations of species, not origin of life. That said, most Darwinians have hoped to extend the scope of the theory to encompass prebiotic “evolution” – and they routinely do.

No surprise, because their alternatives are grim: Space aliens, God, or non-Darwinian evolution theories – all of which they minimize or reject because every competitive possibility detracts from their rule. That is the actual reason Darwin in the schools lobbies don’t want competing naturalistic possibilities taught. Such possibilities force an evaluation of the strength of the argument for natural selection as the driver in each and every single case instead of just equating Darwin’s theory with evolution generally. Which is, of course, what they want and need to do.

Darwinism can succeed only as a totalistic system. Of course natural selection does not create complex new organs in life forms in reality. But if all other possibilities are removed, it remains, as Richard Dawkins said back in 1993, the only possibility. And therefore, you see, it or something like it must be true.

I experienced much confusion in these matters until I finally understood that aspect of the struggle. Darwin’s followers will at one and the same time say their theory does not cover OOL and tout with approval papers about chemical prebiotic evolution along Darwinian lines with no inner sense of contradiction. Because their system is totalistic, they do not experience any contradiction, merely an awareness of territory they have not yet claimed.

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93 Responses to Does Darwin’s theory of evolution address the origin of life?

  1. Over 60 years of active research into origin of life, with no reasonable theory found. No help from natural selection here. It is only a filter after life begins.

  2. I posted this the other day but since ‘life’ is such an important topic, I think it is worth a repost:

    As Stephen Meyer points out here,,,

    The DNA Enigma – Where Did The Information Come From? – Stephen C. Meyer – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4125886

    and also points out here,,,

    Dr. Stephen Meyer: Chemistry/RNA World/crystal formation can’t explain genetic information – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLeWh8Df3k8

    ,, the primary problem for Origin of Life research (and the ‘random’ evolution of organic life in general) always boils down to an ‘information problem’. Yet the only source that we know of that is capable of generating functional information is mind. Thus to address the ‘information problem’ properly it is first necessary to see if mind might have preceded the formation of organic life on Earth. One might imagine, as the late Francis Crick did,,

    At the 37 min. 15 sec. mark of this following video, Dr. Walter Bradley talks a little bit about the OOL problem and Watson and Crick’s, the co-discoverers of the DNA helix, disbelieving reactions to the DNA, RNA, Protein, ‘translation complexity’ they found themselves to be dealing with:

    Evidence for an Engineered Universe – Walter Bradley – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLd_cPfysrE

    ,,,and as Richard Dawkins also did in the movie EXPELLED,,

    Ben Stein vs. Richard Dawkins Interview – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlZtEjtlir

    ,,,one might imagine as they did that some type of Extra-Terrestrial aliens (ETs) created the first life on Earth and thus try to circumvent the ‘information problem’. It would hardly be observational science but one could imagine that scenario. On the other hand if one demanded a little more rigor to one’s science then one could look to the cutting edge of science in quantum mechanics and find that breakthroughs in quantum mechanics have given us clear, unambiguous, evidence that mind/consciousness precedes not only life on earth but precedes all of material reality in the universe altogether.

    A team of physicists in Vienna has devised experiments that may answer one of the enduring riddles of science: Do we create the world just by looking at it? – 2008
    Excerpt: In mid-2007 Fedrizzi found that the new realism model was violated by 80 orders of magnitude; the group was even more assured that quantum mechanics was correct.
    http://seedmagazine.com/conten....._tests/P3/

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect):
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    Colossians 1:17
    And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

    Quantum Enigma:Physics Encounters Consciousness – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-designer/

    Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables –
    Scott Aaronson ‘ MIT – Quantum Computation
    Excerpt: “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”
    http://www.scottaaronson.com/democritus/lec11.html

    Moreover, as if that was not enough to refute any materialistic/atheistic origin of life scenario, it is now found that not only have material processes never been observed to generate functional information,,

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation)
    1) Mathematical Logic
    2) Algorithmic Optimization
    3) Cybernetic Programming
    4) Computational Halting
    5) Integrated Circuits
    6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium)
    7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics)
    Any Goal Oriented bona fide system
    9) Language
    10) Formal function of any kind
    11) Utilitarian work

  3. ,,,But it now also found that material particles reduce to functional ‘quantum’ information instead of the other way around, of information reducing solely to material particles, as materialists had presupposed,

    Quantum Entanglement and Information
    Quantum entanglement is a physical resource, like energy, associated with the peculiar nonclassical correlations that are possible between separated quantum systems. Entanglement can be measured, transformed, and purified. A pair of quantum systems in an entangled state can be used as a quantum information channel to perform computational and cryptographic tasks that are impossible for classical systems. The general study of the information-processing capabilities of quantum systems is the subject of quantum information theory.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-entangle/

    Quantum Entanglement and Teleportation – Anton Zeilinger – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5705317/

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistrywo.....ammeup.asp

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    - Per Free Republic

    Physicists set new record for quantum teleportation with matter qubits – Apr 16, 2013
    Excerpt: “The greatest significance of our work is the dramatic increase in efficiency compared to previous realizations of matter-matter teleportation,” Nölleke said. “Besides, it is the first demonstration of matter-matter teleportation between truly independent systems and constitutes the current record in distance of 21 m. The previous record was 1 m.”
    Per Physorg

    How Teleportation Will Work -
    Excerpt: In 1993, the idea of teleportation moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the world of theoretical possibility. It was then that physicist Charles Bennett and a team of researchers at IBM confirmed that quantum teleportation was possible, but only if the original object being teleported was destroyed. — As predicted, the original photon no longer existed once the replica was made.
    http://science.howstuffworks.c.....ation1.htm

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”
    http://researcher.ibm.com/view_project.php?id=2862

    Unconditional Quantum Teleportation – abstract
    Excerpt: This is the first realization of unconditional quantum teleportation where every state entering the device is actually teleported,,
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cont.....6.abstract

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a (photon) qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport.
    - Per Duwell

    In fact, in the following video, the theoretical feasibility of reducing an entire human to quantum information and teleporting him/her to another location in the universe is discussed:

    New Breakthrough in (Quantum) Teleportation – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xqZI31udJg
    Quote from video:
    “There are 10^28 atoms in the human body.,, The amount of data contained in the whole human,, is 3.02 x 10^32 gigabytes of information. Using a high bandwidth transfer that data would take about 4.5 x 10^18 years to teleport 1 time. That is 350,000 times the age of the universe.”
    for comparison sake:
    “The theoretical (information) density of DNA is you could store the total world information, which is 1.8 zetabytes, at least in 2011, in about 4 grams of DNA.” (a zettabyte is one billion trillion or 10^21 bytes of digital data)
    Sriram Kosuri PhD. – Wyss Institute

  4. In the preceding video they speak of having to entangle all the material particles of the human body on a one by one basis in order to successfully teleport a human. What they failed to realize in the video is that the human body is already ‘teleporatation ready’ in that all the material particles of the human body are already ‘quantumly entangled’:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    Excerpt: First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.
    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.,,,
    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.
    That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....n-folding/

    Also of note, quantum entanglement requires a non-local, beyond space and time, cause in order to explain its effect:

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    Per Science Daily

    The implications of finding ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, quantum information/entanglement in our body on a massive scale are fairly self evident:

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video (notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/29895068

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness (Permanence/Conservation of Quantum Information) – Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    https://vimeo.com/39982578

    One more line of evidence that God was directly involved in the formation of the first life on earth is photosythesis:

    The Sudden Appearance Of Photosynthetic Life On Earth – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4262918

    U-rich Archaean sea-floor sediments from Greenland – indications of +3700 Ma oxygenic photosynthesis (2003)
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2004E&PSL.217..237R

    At the 21:00 minute mark of the following video, Dr Suarez explains why photosynthesis needs a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause to explain its effect:

    Nonlocality of Photosynthesis – Antoine Suarez – video – 2012
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ge#t=1268s

    Evidence for wavelike energy transfer through quantum coherence in photosynthetic systems. Gregory S. Engel, Nature (12 April 2007)
    Photosynthetic complexes are exquisitely tuned to capture solar light efficiently, and then transmit the excitation energy to reaction centres, where long term energy storage is initiated.,,,, This wavelike characteristic of the energy transfer within the photosynthetic complex can explain its extreme efficiency, in that it allows the complexes to sample vast areas of phase space to find the most efficient path. —- Conclusion? Obviously Photosynthesis is a brilliant piece of design by “Someone” who even knows how quantum mechanics works.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17429397

    Quantum Mechanics at Work in Photosynthesis: Algae Familiar With These Processes for Nearly Two Billion Years – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: “We were astonished to find clear evidence of long-lived quantum mechanical states involved in moving the energy. Our result suggests that the energy of absorbed light resides in two places at once — a quantum superposition state, or coherence — and such a state lies at the heart of quantum mechanical theory.”,,, “It suggests that algae knew about quantum mechanics,, billion(s) of years before humans,” says Scholes.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....131356.htm

  5. Thus not only is God somehow directly involved in the formation of all the biological molecules of life on earth, but He is also ultimately responsible for feeding all higher life on earth since all higher life on earth is dependent on ‘non-local’ photosynthesis for food.

    My question to materialistic atheists who look for life to accidentally ‘emerge’ for lifeless chemicals, especially with such astonishing evidence coming forth from quantum mechanics for a Theistic universe, is,,,

    Luke 24:5
    ,,,“Why do you look for the living among the dead?

    here is a small clue as to where ‘everlasting’ life may truly be found;

    The absorbed energy in the Shroud body image formation appears as contributed by discrete values – Giovanni Fazio, Giuseppe Mandaglio – 2008
    Excerpt: This result means that the optical density distribution,, can not be attributed at the absorbed energy described in the framework of the classical physics model. It is, in fact, necessary to hypothesize a absorption by discrete values of the energy where the ‘quantum’ is equal to the one necessary to yellow one fibril.
    http://cab.unime.it/journals/i.....802004/271

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said. And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....79512.html

    Verse and Music:

    John 1:4
    In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

    Supplemental note on life after death of the temporal body:

    A neurosurgeon confronts the non-material nature of consciousness – Eben Alexander – Neurosurgeon – Harvard – December 2011
    Excerpted quote: To me one thing that has emerged from my experience and from very rigorous analysis of that experience over several years, talking it over with others that I respect in neuroscience, and really trying to come up with an answer, is that consciousness outside of the brain is a fact. It’s an established fact. And of course, that was a hard place for me to get, coming from being a card-toting reductive materialist over decades. It was very difficult to get to knowing that consciousness, that there’s a soul of us that is not dependent on the brain.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ciousness/

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species (or origin of life), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    Music:

    Mandissa – Overcomer
    http://myktis.com/songs/overcomer/

  6. That said, most Darwinians have hoped to extend the scope of the theory to encompass prebiotic “evolution” – and they routinely do.

    By “prebiotic” do you mean before there was a replicator? It obviously doesn’t make sense to say that there was Darwinism when there is no replication, and I’ve never seen anyone argue such.

    Some would argue that life began with the first replicator, while others would argue that the first replicator would be too simple to call life and therefore biology began sometime later.

    Darwinism begins once there is replication. Whether Darwinism began with the first lifeform depends on what one considers “alive.”

  7. OT: “Hugh Hewitt Show: Dr. Meyer on Darwin’s Doubt and the Cambrian Explosion”
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....1_01-07_00

  8. A few notes on what reality tells us about ‘simple’ replication:

    Further notes on ‘minimal’ complexity:

    The essential genome of a bacterium – 2011
    Excerpt: Using hypersaturated transposon mutagenesis coupled with high-throughput sequencing, we determined the essential Caulobacter genome at 8bp resolution, including 1012 essential genome features: 480 ORFs, 402 regulatory sequences and 130 non-coding elements, including 90 intergenic segments of unknown function.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....201158.pdf

    Life’s Minimum Complexity Supports ID – Fazale Rana – November 2011
    Excerpt page 16: The Stanford investigators determined that the essential genome of C. crescentus consisted of just over 492,000 base pairs (genetic letters), which is close to 12 percent of the overall genome size. About 480 genes comprise the essential genome, along with nearly 800 sequence elements that play a role in gene regulation.,,, When the researchers compared the C. crescentus essential genome to other essential genomes, they discovered a limited match. For example, 320 genes of this microbe’s basic genome are found in the bacterium E. coli. Yet, of these genes, over one-third are nonessential for E. coli. This finding means that a gene is not intrinsically essential. Instead, it’s the presence or absence of other genes in the genome that determine whether or not a gene is essential.,,
    http://www.reasons.org/files/e.....011-11.pdf

    To Model the Simplest Microbe in the World, You Need 128 Computers – July 2012
    Excerpt: Mycoplasma genitalium has one of the smallest genomes of any free-living organism in the world, clocking in at a mere 525 genes. That’s a fraction of the size of even another bacterium like E. coli, which has 4,288 genes.,,,
    The bioengineers, led by Stanford’s Markus Covert, succeeded in modeling the bacterium, and published their work last week in the journal Cell. What’s fascinating is how much horsepower they needed to partially simulate this simple organism. It took a cluster of 128 computers running for 9 to 10 hours to actually generate the data on the 25 categories of molecules that are involved in the cell’s lifecycle processes.,,,
    ,,the depth and breadth of cellular complexity has turned out to be nearly unbelievable, and difficult to manage, even given Moore’s Law. The M. genitalium model required 28 subsystems to be individually modeled and integrated, and many critics of the work have been complaining on Twitter that’s only a fraction of what will eventually be required to consider the simulation realistic.,,,
    http://www.theatlantic.com/tec.....rs/260198/

    “To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must first magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is 20 kilometers in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would see then would be an object of unparalleled complexity,…we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity.”
    Michael Denton PhD., Evolution: A Theory In Crisis, pg.328

    Moreover that city of ‘bewildering complexity’ can replicate itself seemingly effortlessly within 20 to 30 minutes.

    Scant search for the Maker
    Excerpt: But where is the experimental evidence? None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of 20 to 30 minutes, and populations achieved after 18 hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another, in spite of the fact that populations have been exposed to potent chemical and physical mutagens and that, uniquely, bacteria possess extrachromosomal, transmissible plasmids. Since there is no evidence for species changes between the simplest forms of unicellular life, it is not surprising that there is no evidence for evolution from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, let alone throughout the whole array of higher multicellular organisms. – Alan H. Linton – emeritus professor of bacteriology, University of Bristol.
    http://www.timeshighereducatio.....ode=159282

  9. It is often said that all the conditions for the first production of a living organism are now present, which could ever have been present. But if (and oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, lights, heat, electricity, etc. present, that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed. ~ Charles Darwin

    If it is ever found that life can originate on this world, the vital phenomena will come under some general law of nature. ~ Charles Darwin

    The principle of continuity renders it probable that the principle of life will hereafter be shown to be a part, or consequence of some general law. ~ Charles Darwin

    The origin of life was necessarily the beginning of organic evolution and it is among the greatest of all evolutionary problems. ~ George Gaylord Simpson

    I understand three things by Darwinism. First the fact of evolution, namely that all organisms came through a long slow process of development — a natural process — from a few forms and ultimately from inorganic material. ~ Michael Ruse

    The reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation; the only alternative, to believe in a single, primary act of supernatural creation. There is no third position. For this reason many scientists a century ago chose to regard the belief in spontaneous generation as a “philosophical necessity.” It is a symptom of the philosophical poverty of our time that this necessity is no longer appreciated. Most modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis, yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing. ~ George Wald

    Occasionally, a scientist discouraged by the consistent failure of theories purporting to explain some problem like the first appearance of life will suggest that perhaps supernatural creation is a tenable hypothesis in this one instance. Sophisticated naturalists instantly recoil with horror, because they know that there is no way to tell God when he has to stop. If God created the first organism, then how do we know he didn’t do the same thing to produce all those animal groups that appear so suddenly in the Cambrian rocks? Given the existence of a designer ready and willing to do the work, why should we suppose that random mutations and natural selection are responsible for such marvels of engineering as the eye and the wing? ~ Phillip Johnson

  10. It’s probably a waste of time asking this again, but what is the ID hypothesis for the origin of life on earth?

  11. It’s probably a waste of time asking this again, but what is the ID hypothesis for the origin of life on earth?

    As far as I understand it, ID’s concern is making inferences about intelligent design. If you want to know if some structure X shows hallmarks of design by an intelligent agent, ID is what you’re after. If you want to know how X definitively originated, that’s not an ID question.

    A given scientific analysis may tell you whether there’s biological contamination on such and such surface. How the biological organism in question originated may require a different field.

  12. News (not sure why this is “news”):

    Liddle is correct on a basic point: Darwin’s theory proposed to explain transformations of species, not origin of life.

    Thank you.

    That said, most Darwinians have hoped to extend the scope of the theory to encompass prebiotic “evolution” – and they routinely do.

    Nope. You cannot extend the theory that self-replication with heritable variance in reproductive success leads to adaptation and diversification to explain why there are self-replicators that self-replicate with heritable variance with reproductive success.

    However, if by “Darwinists”, you mean “people interested in how life came about” or “scientists in general” and by “extend the theory” you mean “discover another theory” then, sure. Why shouldn’t they?

    No surprise, because their alternatives are grim: Space aliens, God, or non-Darwinian evolution theories – all of which they minimize or reject because every competitive possibility detracts from their rule.

    Still not sure who “they” are, here. You do know that not all scientists are atheists? And that even if we discovered a neat plausible explanation for how the first self-replicators came about (obviously by non-Darwinian processes, see above) that would not rule out space aliens, or God?

    That is the actual reason Darwin in the schools lobbies don’t want competing naturalistic possibilities taught.

    I have no idea what this means. What “competing naturalistic possibilities” do the “schools lobbies” not want?

    Such possibilities force an evaluation of the strength of the argument for natural selection as the driver in each and every single case instead of just equating Darwin’s theory with evolution generally. Which is, of course, what they want and need to do.

    I have no idea what this means either. I can’t even parse it. Darwin’s theory is an extremely powerful one, but modern evolutionary theory is a great deal more than Darwin’s basic theoretical mechanism (self-replication with heritable variance in reproductive success), and includes research into the vectors of heredity and the mechanisms of variance, as well as the mechanisms of speciation, and also includes drift, which Darwin did not consider.

    Darwinism can succeed only as a totalistic system.

    This makes no sense to me at all. What do you mean by “Darwinism” in this context.

    Of course natural selection does not create complex new organs in life forms in reality.

    No. It’s a one-handed clap anyway. You can’t have “natural selection” (or any selection) without variation. “Descent with modification and natural selection” is another way of saying “self-replication with heritable variance in reproductive success”. Which remains a very good theory to account for “complex new organs in life forms”, although obviously you disagree. The mechanism is certainly effective at creating things, which is why engineers increasingly use it to solve intractable problems and generate novel solutions.

    But if all other possibilities are removed, it remains, as Richard Dawkins said back in 1993, the only possibility. And therefore, you see, it or something like it must be true.

    You seem to have moved the goal posts. I thought we were talking about OoL.

    I experienced much confusion in these matters until I finally understood that aspect of the struggle. Darwin’s followers will at one and the same time say their theory does not cover OOL and tout with approval papers about chemical prebiotic evolution along Darwinian lines with no inner sense of contradiction.

    You are still confused. Current theories of OoL posit that the simplest Darwinian-capable entities (self-replicators replicating with heritable variance in reproductive success) were sufficiently simple to have arisen by chemistry (not, obviously by the Darwinian mechanisms because they are a prerequisite for the Darwinian mechanism). Whether you want to call them “alive” or not is a matter of semantics; the important point is that the first ones must, absent some miraculous explanation, have arisen by non-Darwinian processes. The issues are

    1. What would such elementary Darwinian-capable ancestral proto-life forms have been like and how did they arise?
    2. By what Darwinian means did they get from that simple state to the DNA-RNA-protein systems now ubiquitous in living things?

    So yes, Darwinian processes are part of the research project (because the gap in our knowledge is not simply from non-self-replicating chemistry to self-replicating proto-cells, but from self-replicating proto-cells to modern-type cells), but that is NOT to say that the Darwinian mechanism can account for that first step. Self-evidently it cannot.

    Because their system is totalistic, they do not experience any contradiction, merely an awareness of territory they have not yet claimed.

    Certainly science is “totalistic” in the sense that there is no no-go territory, and thus plenty of unclaimed territory. But what is the problem with that? Why should scientists cease to seek explanations? Why should we infer from lack of an current explanation that there can be none, when seeking explanations has been such a hugely productive field for centuries? Why should we assume, a priori, that unclaimed territory is, in principle, unclaimable? How could we find out that it is, without attempting to claim it?

    Your post, news (Denyse?) really reveals the problem here.

    “Darwinism” as you like to call it, but let me just call it “science” or, even “evolutionary science”, is not a project for eliminating the divine. It is a project for understanding how the world works. It may be that there are aspects of the world (and OoL may turn out to be one of them) that resist explanation, and perhaps the reason for that is that there is no explanation for those aspects within the world, but only from beyond it. But science cannot determine that that is, or is not, the case, and for “Darwinists” to attempt to eliminate the possibility that some things cannot be explained in terms of predictive world laws would be absurd and impossible.

    And I know of no-one, Dawkins included, who would claim it.

    You have conflated the belief, held by a few, that there is no divine, with a) a lack of belief, common to many, in the divine and b) the working assumption, intrinsic to scientific methodology, that phenomena are predictable.

    Very few people hold the belief that there is no god or gods, and of those, I cannot think of a single scientist who would claim it as a scientific conclusion. If anyone did, I would say it is firstly, not science, and secondly, theologically naive.

    Many people do not hold the belief that there is a god or gods. Those include scientists, who, on the whole, require evidence to believe something, and regard god as hypothesis unsupported by evidence.

    Many people hold the belief that there is a God. Those include scientists, but I know of few scientists who hold that belief because they think it is a scientific conclusion. Of those who do, and I’d include some IDists, I think the scientific reasoning is faulty. Of those that do not, they think that God is simply not a testable scientific proposition.

    In other words, science is simply orthogonal to belief in God. God is not a conclusion that can ever flow from scientific reasoning. The possibility of God’s existence or role in the world cannot be eliminated by science, nor can it be demonstrated by science, for the simple reason that science is art of discovering laws that predict phenomena. Discovering the putative maker of those laws is therefore beyond its methodology.

    Your “Darwinism” is thus a straw man – a phoney enemy that does not exist. The only enemy of ID is the bad reasoning that underlies it, and the only target of scientists who oppose it is that bad reasoning. Intelligent agency is a perfectly decent hypothesis, it is not ruled out a priori by scientific methodology, but omnipotent intelligent agencies cannot be tested, not because they cannot exist, but because a hypothesis that could explain anything can predict nothing. Science can only test constrained models.

    The reason that ID fails as a scientific project is because nobody is prepared to advance a constrained ID model, insisting instead on drawing an ID conclusion from the incompleteness of current constrained models.

    Scientific models will always be incomplete. We can draw no conclusion from their incompleteness except that the universe will always be more complicated than our models, not least because the model-makers themselves are part of that universe.

    Which itself may be good reason to believe in the divine. But that belief is neither a result of, nor contrary to, scientific reasoning.

  13. 13
    TheisticEvolutionist

    I have no idea what this means. What “competing naturalistic possibilities” do the “schools lobbies” not want?

    They don’t want panspermia, the clay hypothesis or the hypothesis of Thomas Gold regarding a deep biosphere, they are usually ignored or only mentioned in a few sentences in textbooks as fringe theories. From what I have seen most textbooks tend to learn towards the RNA world hypothesis or “Metabolism first” models. The Deep sea vent hypothesis and Iron–sulfur world theory also has some support, I am not sure where the others stand.

  14. It’s probably a waste of time asking this again, but what is the ID hypothesis for the origin of life on earth?

    Bevets kindly provides a quote from ID founder and retired law professor, Philip Johnson.

    …there is no way to tell God when he has to stop. If God created the first organism, then how do we know he didn’t do the same thing to produce all those animal groups that appear so suddenly in the Cambrian rocks? Given the existence of a designer ready and willing to do the work, why should we suppose that random mutations and natural selection are responsible for such marvels of engineering as the eye and the wing?

    Though this appears to be somewhat at odds with biochemist Michael Behe, quoted in a UD article

    [Darwin's theory] is an excellent explanation for some features of life, but it has sharp limits. Darwin’s theory is an amalgam of several concepts: 1) random mutation, 2) natural selection, and 3) common descent. Common descent and natural selection are very well-supported. Random mutation isn’t. Random mutation is severely constrained. So the process which produced the elegant structures of life could not have been random.

    To a surprising extent prevailing evolutionary theory and intelligent design are harmonious. Both agree that the universe and life unfolded over vast ages; both agree that species could follow species in the common descent of life. They differ solely in the overriding role Darwinism ascribes to randomness. Intelligent design says that, while randomness does exist, its role in explaining the unfolding of life is quite limited.

    The most essential prediction of Darwinism is that, given an astronomical number of chances, unintelligent processes can make seemingly-designed systems, ones of the complexity of those found in the cell. ID specifically denies this, predicting that in the absence of intelligent input no such systems would develop.

    So Behe appears not to dispute time-scales, common descent or natural selection. He just argues from incredulity that random variation is not sufficient to achieve the diversity of extant and extinct life that we see. Then defaults to the conclusion that an “Intelligent Design” inference is thus warranted. Hard to see how anyone could turn this gut feeling into a testable hypothesis.

    But I guess you can ask other ID proponents and get the full gamut of variation from Johnson’s simple “God did it” to Behe’s “I just don’t think random variation can explain everything”.

  15. …the ID hypothesis for the origin of life on earth?

    Oops. Though Johnson, I suspect, would give the same answer. Behe doesn’t seem to have said much in public about OOL.

  16. Elizabeth B Liddle @ 12

    “Darwinism” as you like to call it, but let me just call it “science” or, even “evolutionary science”, is not a project for eliminating the divine.

    [Darwins's notebooks] include many statements showing that he espoused but feared to expose something he perceived as far more heretical than evolution itself: philosophical materialism — the postulate that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its by-products. ~ Stephen Jay Gould

    It is apparent that Darwin lost his faith in the years 1836-39, much of it clearly prior to the reading of Malthus. In order not to hurt the feelings of his friends and of his wife, Darwin often used deistic language in his publications, but much in his Notebooks indicates that by this time he had become a ‘materialist’ (more or less = atheist). ~ Ernst Mayr

    Darwinism rejects all supernatural phenomena and causations. The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the adaptedness and diversity of the world solely materialistically. ~ Ernst Mayr

    CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN stands among the giants of Western thought because he convinced a majority of his peers that all of life shares a single, if complex, history. He taught us that we can understand life’s history in purely naturalistic terms, without recourse to the supernatural or divine. ~ Niles Eldredge

    Any creationist lawyer who got me on the stand could instantly win over the jury simply by asking me: ‘Has your knowledge of evolution influenced you in the direction of becoming an atheist?’ I would have to answer yes. ~ Richard Dawkins

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent. ~ William Provine

  17. Occasionally, a scientist discouraged by the consistent failure of theories purporting to explain some problem like the first appearance of life will suggest that perhaps supernatural creation is a tenable hypothesis in this one instance. Sophisticated naturalists instantly recoil with horror, because they know that there is no way to tell God when he has to stop. If God created the first organism, then how do we know he didn’t do the same thing to produce all those animal groups that appear so suddenly in the Cambrian rocks? Given the existence of a designer ready and willing to do the work, why should we suppose that random mutations and natural selection are responsible for such marvels of engineering as the eye and the wing? ~ Phillip Johnson

    Alan Fox @ 14

    But I guess you can ask other ID proponents and get the full gamut of variation from Johnson’s simple “God did it” to Behe’s “I just don’t think random variation can explain everything”.

    Scientists rightly resist invoking the supernatural in scientific explanations for fear of committing a god-of-the-gaps fallacy (the fallacy of using God as a stop-gap for ignorance). Yet without some restriction on the use of chance, scientists are in danger of committing a logically equivalent fallacy-one we may call the “chance-of-the-gaps fallacy.” Chance, like God, can become a stop-gap for ignorance. ~ William Dembski

    So both theists and secularists may worry: “If design is allowed as a (historically) scientific theory, couldn’t it be invoked at every turn as a theoretical panacea, stultifying inquiry as it goes? Might not design become a refuge for the intellectually lazy who have refused to study what nature actually does?”

    Well, of course it might. But so might the incantation “Evolution accomplished X.” ~ Stephen Meyer

    Is it your position that God has NEVER intervened in space time?

  18. Is it your position that God has NEVER acted in space time?

  19. What Darwin espoused or feared had nothing to do with the validity of support for his theory.

    What “Darwinism” is depends on who is using the term. It is perfectly true that science “rejects all supernatural phenomena and causation”. That is because science is the domain of knowledge about natural and causation and phenomena. It does not have the tools to investigate the supernatural.

    The reason, I think, that Darwin, rather than other great thinkers and scientists, gets the credit or oppobrium for our understanding that we can understand the world “in purely naturalistic terms, without recourse to the supernatural or divine” is that life was, as recently as early last century, considered intrinsically unexplainable hence ideas about a “life force”) except by recourse to the miraculous. Darwin’s theory made it possible for, as Dawkins I think said, to “be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”. That is not the same as saying that his theory indicates that there is no god.

    But scientists have been doing that for centuries, one phenomenon after another. We no longer marvel that God keeps the planets in motion, or that we are at the centre of the universe. We no longer appeal to the supernatural to explain how the sun moves in the sky – Darwin’s theory started us on the road to not appealing to the supernatural to explain how we evolved from our evident simple beginnings.

    To fear that understanding that the world makes sense in terms of knowable predictive laws is no challenge to theism, but it is a challenge to the belief that theism is obviously true. In other words, it means that theism requires faith – as it has always done. Perhaps it now needs more.

    And because it needs more, people like Dawkins and Provine now need more than: look, here is evidence for deity X, otherwise how do you explain the miracle of life/the course of the planets/Big Bang or whatever, to be persuaded of the existence of deity X.

    But that’s not the fault of any deity, nor is it the fault of science. I disagree profoundly with Provine, and what I would say is this:

    The success of science in finding laws that predict phenomenon has clear consequences: 1) any gods worth having are not going to be found by scientific inference; 2) life after death has little evidence to support it; 3) human beings collectively construct the foundation of human ethics; 4) we are purposeful animals; and 5) we have the freedom and capacity to make informed and intelligent decisions in light of the likely consequences of our actions for ourselves and others.

    But it is high time that the term “Darwinist” stopped being used as on the one hand a general pejorative against atheists and, in the same breath, all scientists, and, still in the same breath, all people who think that the science will continue to yield understanding about how the world works, and finally, before the lungs expire, anyone who thinks that Darwin’s theory was a useful one.

  20. bevets

    Yet without some restriction on the use of chance, scientists are in danger of committing a logically equivalent fallacy-one we may call the “chance-of-the-gaps fallacy.” Chance, like God, can become a stop-gap for ignorance. ~ William Dembski

    I’m glad you quoted that.

    Chance is, indeed, a stop-gap for ignorance. It is not an explanation at all. Scientists do not invoke “chance” to explain anything – it comes into the equations as the “error term” not as the model.

    Dembski is equivocating, because he himself uses “chance” to mean “not-design”.

    Science cannot invoke the supernatural as an explanation precisely because the supernatural has no “restriction”. Scientific models are constrained – a model with a supernatural term is not. Scientific models are, in fact, constrained by “chance” – the best model is the one with the smallest error term. That’s how models are compared.

    Chance is not an explanation for the gaps – it is the term we give to the gaps.

  21. Is it your position that God has NEVER intervened in space time?

    No.

    Is it your position that God has NEVER acted in space time?

    No.

    The reason I answer no is that God/gods are a matter of belief, conjecture, religious speculation. I am doubtful that gods exist independently of the various cultures, groups and individuals that have created them over the span of human existence. I see a strong similarity in the common features of religious belief, notwithstanding the variety of deities we have ended up with, to suspect that some (any) religious code or belief system that engenders social cohesion will likely be advantageous (at least in the short-term) to the group that adopt it. This is how I think humans were able to progress from family groups to civilisations and empires.

    Scientifically, I can’t rule out the existence of God/gods but then, scientifically, I don’t need to as science can only consider phenomena that are detectable, reproducible, measurable. So God/gods could exist externally to our imagination. I personally am not drawn to current dogmas but one can’t rule out the unknown possibility of such an entity. We may be ants crawling around the side-walk oblivious of the Empire State building towering over us. So I don’t hold that God/gods don’t exist, I just very much doubt it. I certainly don’t see the need to cave in to the “Intelligent Design” inference just because we are unable to explain the meaning of life, the universe and everything. To say “I don’t know” is to encourage the search for knowledge.

  22. The Digital Code of DNA and the Unimagined Complexity of a ‘Simple’ Bacteria – Rabbi M.Averick – video (notes in description
    https://vimeo.com/35730736

    Programming of Life – Probability of a Cell Evolving – Ch. 10 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....F11E2FB840

    “The probability for the chance of formation of the smallest, simplest form of living organism known is 1 in 10^340,000,000. This number is 10 to the 340 millionth power! The size of this figure is truly staggering since there is only supposed to be approximately 10^80 (10 to the 80th power) electrons in the whole universe!”
    (Professor Harold Morowitz, Energy Flow In Biology pg. 99, Biophysicist of George Mason University)

    Dr. Morowitz did another probability calculation working from the thermodynamic perspective with a already existing cell and came up with this number:

    DID LIFE START BY CHANCE?
    Excerpt: Molecular biophysicist, Horold Morowitz (Yale University), calculated the odds of life beginning under natural conditions (spontaneous generation). He calculated, if one were to take the simplest living cell and break every chemical bond within it, the odds that the cell would reassemble under ideal natural conditions (the best possible chemical environment) would be one chance in 10^100,000,000,000. You will have probably have trouble imagining a number so large, so Hugh Ross provides us with the following example. If all the matter in the Universe was converted into building blocks of life, and if assembly of these building blocks were attempted once a microsecond for the entire age of the universe. Then instead of the odds being 1 in 10^100,000,000,000, they would be 1 in 10^99,999,999,916 (also of note: 1 with 100 billion zeros following would fill approx. 20,000 encyclopedias)
    http://members.tripod.com/~Black_J/chance.html

    Punctured cell will never reassemble – Jonathan Wells – 2:40 mark of video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKoiivfe_mo

    Also of interest is the information content that is derived in a cell when working from a thermodynamic perspective:

    “a one-celled bacterium, e. coli, is estimated to contain the equivalent of 100 million pages of Encyclopedia Britannica. Expressed in information in science jargon, this would be the same as 10^12 bits of information. In comparison, the total writings from classical Greek Civilization is only 10^9 bits, and the largest libraries in the world – The British Museum, Oxford Bodleian Library, New York Public Library, Harvard Widenier Library, and the Moscow Lenin Library – have about 10 million volumes or 10^12 bits.” – R. C. Wysong
    http://books.google.com/books?.....;lpg=PA112

    ‘The information content of a simple cell has been estimated as around 10^12 bits, comparable to about a hundred million pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica.”
    Carl Sagan, “Life” in Encyclopedia Britannica: Macropaedia (1974 ed.), pp. 893-894

    of note: The 10^12 bits of information number for a bacterium is derived from entropic considerations, which is, due to the tightly integrated relationship between information and entropy, considered the most accurate measure of the transcendent quantum information/entanglement constraining a ‘simple’ life form to be so far out of thermodynamic equilibrium.

    “Is there a real connection between entropy in physics and the entropy of information? ….The equations of information theory and the second law are the same, suggesting that the idea of entropy is something fundamental…” Siegfried, Dallas Morning News, 5/14/90, [Quotes Robert W. Lucky, Ex. Director of Research, AT&T, Bell Laboratories & John A. Wheeler, of Princeton & Univ. of TX, Austin]

    Demonic device converts information to energy – 2010
    Excerpt: “This is a beautiful experimental demonstration that information has a thermodynamic content,” says Christopher Jarzynski, a statistical chemist at the University of Maryland in College Park. In 1997, Jarzynski formulated an equation to define the amount of energy that could theoretically be converted from a unit of information2; the work by Sano and his team has now confirmed this equation. “This tells us something new about how the laws of thermodynamics work on the microscopic scale,” says Jarzynski.
    http://www.scientificamerican......rts-inform

    For calculations, from the thermodynamic perspective, please see the following site:

    Moleular Biophysics – Information theory. Relation between information and entropy: – Setlow-Pollard, Ed. Addison Wesley
    Excerpt: Linschitz gave the figure 9.3 x 10^12 cal/deg or 9.3 x 10^12 x 4.2 joules/deg for the entropy of a bacterial cell. Using the relation H = S/(k In 2), we find that the information content is 4 x 10^12 bits. Morowitz’ deduction from the work of Bayne-Jones and Rhees gives the lower value of 5.6 x 10^11 bits, which is still in the neighborhood of 10^12 bits. Thus two quite different approaches give rather concordant figures.
    http://www.astroscu.unam.mx/~a.....ecular.htm

    Music and verse:

    Steven Curtis Chapman – The Great Adventure
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVFPjIp6nkk

    John 5:40
    yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

  23. Elizabeth B Liddle @ 19

    But it is high time that the term “Darwinist” stopped being used as on the one hand a general pejorative against atheists and, in the same breath, all scientists, and, still in the same breath, all people who think that the science will continue to yield understanding about how the world works, and finally, before the lungs expire, anyone who thinks that Darwin’s theory was a useful one.

    I prefer the term evolutionism

  24. So both theists and secularists may worry: “If design is allowed as a (historically) scientific theory, couldn’t it be invoked at every turn as a theoretical panacea, stultifying inquiry as it goes? Might not design become a refuge for the intellectually lazy who have refused to study what nature actually does?”

    Well, of course it might. But so might the incantation “Evolution accomplished X.” ~ Stephen Meyer

    Is it your position that God has NEVER acted in space time?

    Alan Fox @ 21

    The reason I answer no is that God/gods are a matter of belief, conjecture, religious speculation…Scientifically, I can’t rule out the existence of God/gods but then, scientifically, I don’t need to as science can only consider phenomena that are detectable, reproducible, measurable… To say “I don’t know” is to encourage the search for knowledge.

    But even if it were true by definition that a scientific hypothesis could involve no reference to God, nothing of much interest would follow. The Augustines and Kuypers of this world would then be obliged to concede that they had made a mistake: but the mistake would be no more than a verbal mistake. They would have to concede that they can’t properly use the term ‘science’ in stating their view or asking their question; they would have to use some other term, such as ‘sience‘ (pronounced like ‘science’); the definition of ‘sience’ results from that of ‘science’ by deleting from the latter the clause proscribing hypotheses that include reference to God (i.e., by removing from the definition of ‘science’ Ruse seems to be endorsing, the clause according to which science deals only with what is natural). Their mistake would not be in what they proposed to say, but rather in how they proposed to say it. ~ Alvin Plantinga

    Scientists committed to philosophical naturalism do not claim to have found the precise answer to every problem, but they characteristically insist that they have the important problems sufficiently well in hand that they can narrow the field of possibilities to a set of naturalistic alternatives. Absent that insistence, they would have to concede that their commitment to naturalism is based upon faith rather than proof. Such a concession could be exploited by promoters of rival sources of knowledge, such as philosophy and religion, who would be quick to point out that faith in naturalism is no more “scientific” (i.e. empirically based) than any other kind of faith. ~ Phillip Johnson

  25. Yes, bevets, but science does not require a commitment to “philosophical naturalism” nor is “philosophical naturalism” a scientific conclusion.

    Science merely requires the working assumption that things are predictable – this is intrinsic to the method, hence the term “methodological naturalism”.

    If you object to the conclusion that the the divine has no impact on the world, then don’t blame science for that conclusion, because it is not a scientific conclusion.

    It would not follow, however much support there was for an OoL theory.

    If a deity can transcend the discoverable laws of the physical world, we will not know that through science – all we will observe is an event that we have not yet discovered a law to explain.

    The scientific response to a gap is “we don’t know”. Not “there is no gap” nor “therefore god”.

  26. Bevets @23: I like this quotation from your link:

    The fact that there are scientists who appear to be at war with God is not quite the same as science itself being at war with God. For example, some musicians are militant atheists. But does that mean music itself is at war with God? Hardly. The point here may be expressed as follows: Statements by scientists are not necessarily statements of science. Nor, we might add, are such statements necessarily true; although the prestige of science is such that they are often taken to be so. ~ John Lennox

    Quite so.

  27. Headsup to Lizzie

    Bevets comments appear to consist almost entirely of quotes (I hesitate to suggest quotemines)that he has built up over the years and can be found at his website.here

    In his 24, it’s Alvin Plantinga and Philip Johnson.

    @ Bevets,

    Why not make it a little clearer when you are quoting somebody?

  28. I see you found them. ;)

  29. So both theists and secularists may worry: “If design is allowed as a (historically) scientific theory, couldn’t it be invoked at every turn as a theoretical panacea, stultifying inquiry as it goes? Might not design become a refuge for the intellectually lazy who have refused to study what nature actually does?”

    Well, of course it might. But so might the incantation “Evolution accomplished X.” ~ Stephen Meyer

    But even if it were true by definition that a scientific hypothesis could involve no reference to God, nothing of much interest would follow. The Augustines and Kuypers of this world would then be obliged to concede that they had made a mistake: but the mistake would be no more than a verbal mistake. They would have to concede that they can’t properly use the term ‘science’ in stating their view or asking their question; they would have to use some other term, such as ‘sience‘ (pronounced like ‘science’); the definition of ‘sience’ results from that of ‘science’ by deleting from the latter the clause proscribing hypotheses that include reference to God (i.e., by removing from the definition of ‘science’ Ruse seems to be endorsing, the clause according to which science deals only with what is natural). Their mistake would not be in what they proposed to say, but rather in how they proposed to say it. ~ Alvin Plantinga

    Elizabeth B Liddle @ 25

    The scientific response to a gap is “we don’t know”. Not “there is no gap” nor “therefore god”.

    If ‘therefore God’ is ALWAYS ruled out, how is your view substantively different than philosophical naturalism?

  30. as to this claim:

    Science merely requires the working assumption that things are predictable – this is intrinsic to the method, hence the term “methodological naturalism”.

    and yet;

    Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Wolfgang Pauli on the Empirical Problems with Neo-Darwinism – Casey Luskin – February 27, 2012
    Excerpt: “Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’” (pp. 27-28)
    Wolfgang Pauli -
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....56771.html

    The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory and The Multiverse – Dr. Bruce Gordon – video
    http://vimeo.com/34468027

    Here is the last power-point slide of the preceding video:

    The End Of Materialism?
    * In the multiverse, anything can happen for no reason at all.
    * In other words, the materialist is forced to believe in random miracles as a explanatory principle.
    * In a Theistic universe, nothing happens without a reason. Miracles are therefore intelligently directed deviations from divinely maintained regularities, and are thus expressions of rational purpose.
    * Scientific materialism is (therefore) epistemically self defeating: it makes scientific rationality impossible.

    God Is the Best Explanation of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMBcc2aTqcE

    and yet the atheistic claim was:

    Science merely requires the working assumption that things are predictable – this is intrinsic to the method, hence the term “methodological naturalism”.

    Chances hypocrisy will be admitted by atheists? 0! Go figure!

  31. Context for the Lennox quotation:

    The passage quoted goes on:

    For example, the assertions by Atkins* and Dawkins**, with which we began, fall into that category. They are not statements of science but rather expressions of personal belief, indeed of faith – fundamentally no different from (though noticeably less tolerant than) much expression of the kind of faith Dawkins expressly wishes to eradicate. Of course, the fact that Dawkins’ and Atkins; cited pronouncements are statements of faith does not of itself mean that those statements are false; but it does mean that they must not be treated as if they were authoritative science. What needs to be investigated is the category into which they fit, and, most important to fall, whether or not they are true.

    *“Humanity should accept that science has eliminated the justification for believing in cosmic purpose, and that any survival of purpose is inspired only by sentiment”.
    ** “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called Religion.”

    Lennox is absolutely right. It is crucial that we distinguish between conclusions that flow from science and personal beliefs held by scientists, albeit informed by their scientific understanding.

    Nothing in evolutionary biology implies that there is no divine creator, that the world was not created for a purpose, or that a deity does not interfere with the world.

    It is no threat to any belief except specific beliefs as to how the world was created.

  32. bevets:

    If ‘therefore God’ is ALWAYS ruled out, how is your view substantively different than philosophical naturalism?

    It is always ruled out as a scientific conclusion. It is not ruled out as either a truth or a perfectly valid belief.

  33. If one restricts science to the natural, and assumes that science can in principle get to all truth, then one has implicitly assumed philosophical naturalism.
    - Del Ratsch, philosopher

    Does Epistemological Naturalism Imply Metaphysical Naturalism? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yNddAh0Txg

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    Dr Craig states, epistemological naturalism does not imply metaphysical naturalism.,, In fact a Empistemological Naturalist can and should be a Theist, according to Dr. Craig, because Metaphysical Naturalism is reducto ad absurdum on (at least) these eight following points:

    1. The argument from the intentionality (aboutness) of mental states implies non-physical minds (dualism), which is incompatible with naturalism
    2. The existence of meaning in language is incompatible with naturalism, Rosenberg even says that all the sentences in his own book are meaningless
    3. The existence of truth is incompatible with naturalism
    4. The argument from moral praise and blame is incompatible with naturalism
    5. Libertarian freedom (free will) is incompatible with naturalism
    6. Purpose is incompatible with naturalism
    7. The enduring concept of self is incompatible with naturalism
    8. The experience of first-person subjectivity (“I”) is incompatible with naturalism

  34. 34

    Two minor points:

    (1) There is all the difference in the world between taking “God exists” as the conclusion of an argument and taking “God exists” as a hypothesis to be tested.

    Lizzie’s point is that it cannot be taken in the second sense, because we have no way of operationalizing the constraints on the hypothesis in such a way as to generate usable data. Frankly, it baffles me that so many well-educated people who are presumably well-informed about philosophy and science cannot grasp this simple point.

    (2) Following through on a conversation Lizzie had on a previous thread from a few days ago, Lizzie (and I, for that matter) are empiricists, not materialists. That’s an epistemological position, not a metaphysical one.

    (There’s an interesting question here why, how, and when “methodological naturalism” displaced “empiricism” as the term of art. Regardless, I think that it’s been long enough since the hegemony of logical empiricism was broken that we can reclaim the word, especially in non-technical contexts such as this blog.)

    By “empiricism,” I’m committing myself to the following claims:

    (1) all explanation-providing models of causal regularities should be constrained by data as much as is technically feasible.

    (2) if a highly-constrained model conflicts with a poorly-constrained model, the more highly-constrained model should be (ceteris paribus) preferred.

    (3) if a data-constrained model of causal regularities conflicts with an unconstrained narrative about those regularities, the model should be (ceterius paribus) preferred.

    (For the philosophically-sophisticated, I take it that this is a version of empiricism narrow enough to capture what makes the empiricist tradition different from rationalism, but broad enough to incorporate the Kantian and pragmatist criticisms of empiricism.)

  35. 35

    If one restricts science to the natural, and assumes that science can in principle get to all truth, then one has implicitly assumed philosophical naturalism.

    That’s a nice way of putting it. But notice that there are two distinct premises here:

    (1) science is restricted to the natural world.
    (2) science can in principle get to all truth.
    (3) so, all the truth that there is, is about the natural world.

    Now, since (1) and (2) are distinct, one can reject (3) by tossing out (1) or (2). (Of course, one could reject both premises, but one doesn’t have to reject both in order to reject the conclusion. Rejecting only one of them is enough.)

    So, which one to reject? Part of the argument we’re having here is between those who reject (1) and those who reject (2).

    Personally, I’d want to retain (1) — though subject it to careful re-interpretation along the lines of empiricism — and reject (2).

    I think we have plenty of good reasons to allow for different kinds of understanding and explanation besides those that constrained in the ways denominated by the term ‘scientific’, and that’s what rejecting (2) would entail.

    I don’t think we have good reasons to think that we can resolve conflicts between models about causal regularities without constraint by data, and that’s what rejecting (1) would entail.

  36. Funny, atheists insist that God, Who is postulated to have created and to sustain the universe, cannot be deduced from our science, for contrary to their inside the box delusions (or is shadows in Plato’s cave more apt?), God, from advances in Big Bang cosmology and quantum mechanics, is, by far, the best explanation for why the universe was created and for why it continues to exist.

    God Is the Best Explanation for the Origin of the Universe – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwRR5WTgpp8

    God Is the Best Explanation For Why Anything At All Exists – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjuqBxg_5mA

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    i.e. Photons are found to require a beyond space and time, ‘non-local’, cause to explain their continued existence in space time.

    Moreover, without God, the practice of science itself becomes epistemologically self defeating.

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 debate available on the site
    Excerpt: The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,
    http://theresurgence.com/2012/.....-god-exist

    Epistemology – Why Should The Human Mind Even Be Able To Comprehend Reality? – Stephen Meyer – video – (Notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/32145998

    “If you have no God, then you have no design plan for the universe. You have no prexisting structure to the universe.,, As the ancient Greeks held, like Democritus and others, the universe is flux. It’s just matter in motion. Now on that basis all you are confronted with is innumerable brute facts that are unrelated pieces of data. They have no meaningful connection to each other because there is no overall structure. There’s no design plan. It’s like my kids do ‘join the dots’ puzzles. It’s just dots, but when you join the dots there is a structure, and a picture emerges. Well, the atheists is without that (final picture). There is no preestablished pattern (to connect the facts given atheism).”
    Pastor Joe Boot

    Why No One (Can) Believe Atheism/Naturalism to be True – video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4QFsKevTXs

    Alvin Plantinga – Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r34AIo-xBh8

    Content and Natural Selection – Alvin Plantinga – 2011
    http://www.andrewmbailey.com/a.....ection.pdf

    see also Boltzmann’s Brain

    I don’t know why atheists fail to see this.

  37. 37

    Leaving aside the quantum physics, which I’m not competent to address, I’ve addressed on several occasions here why I think Plantinga’s EAAN is a mistake. Briefly, I think the EAAN only works if one assumes a basically Cartesian picture of the problem that epistemology must solve, and that we have extremely good reasons to reject that picture.

    Nullasalus and I had a very productive exchange three or four months ago about the cogency of Churchland’s response to Plantinga in “Is Evolutionary Naturalism Epistemologically Self-Defeating (Philo Volume 12, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2009, pp 135-141). Here’s the abstract:

    Alvin Plantinga argues that our cognitive mechanisms have been selected for their ability to sustain reproductively successful behaviors, not for their ability to track truth. This aspect of our cognitive mechanisms is said to pose a problem for the biological theory of evolution by natural selection in the following way. If our cognitive mechanisms do not provide any assurances that the theories generated by them are true, then the fact that evolutionary theory has been generated by them, and even accepted by them, provides no assurance whatever that evolutionary theory is true. Plantinga’s argument, I argue, innocently assumes that the (problematic) “truth-tracking character” of our native cognitive mechanisms is the only possible or available source of rational warrant or justification for evolutionary theory. But it isn’t. Plantinga is ignoring the artificial mechanisms for theorycreation and theory-evaluation embodied in the complex institutions and procedures of modern science.

    I found Plantinga’s response basically inadequate, but as I said, Nullasalus and I had a good argument about it. We ended up disagreeing on the fundamental issue as to whether epistemology must accommodate our pre-theoretic intuitions about notions such as “belief” or “truth,” where I took the Sellarsian position (which is also Churchland’s) that there aren’t any pre-theoretic intuitions — all of our intuitions about ‘belief’ or ‘truth’ are themselves influenced by the conceptual framework, and to the extent that that framework is itself basically Cartesian, it must be called into question.

    However, I happily note that I don’t agree with Churchland in all respects here — I think he’s right to be suspicious of the idea that we will find neurophysiological processes that instantiate propositional contents as such, but any naturalism worth its salt must offer some account of propositional content. Churchland himself thinks that his account is compatible with Brandom’s work on propositional content as socially instituted inferential norms, but that seems like a bit of a dodge, to say the least!

  38. Well seeing as you have little (nothing) to offer in the way of countering what the empirical evidence actual says (as usual), I’ll just list the rebuttal from Plantinga that you forgot to list and note that you have no empirical warrant for your position:

    Aaron Segal, Alvin Plantinga
    Pages 201-207
    DOI: 10.5840/philo20101326

    Response to Churchland
    Paul Churchland argues that Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism is unsuccessful and so we need not accept its conclusion. In this paper, we respond to Churchland’s argument. After we briefly recapitulate Plantinga’s argument and state Churchland’s argument, we offer three objections to Churchland’s argument: (1) its first premise has little to recommend it, (2) its second premise is false, and (3) its conclusion is consistent with, and indeed entails, the conclusion of Plantinga’s argument.
    http://www.pdcnet.org/philo/co....._0201_0207

  39. 39

    I didn’t list Plantinga’s reply, but I did mention it.

    One of the questions at stake in the Plantinga-Churchland debate is the very deep issue of foundationalism vs antifoundationalism, and more specifically, whether we first have to get the epistemology right and then do neuroscience, or if we can use neuroscience in doing epistemology. Churchland thinks we can use neuroscience in order to explain how we know anything at all, including what we know about the brain. Whereas Plantinga seems to think that naturalism can be shown to be self-defeating based merely upon a priori, probabilistic argument about logical possibilities.

    So in this case, it’s Churchland who has more respect for empirical warrant than Plantinga.

  40. KN, you seem to miss the whole concept of empirical warrant at the foundational level of reality, physics, of which I mean it. When I state that you have no empirical warrant for your atheistic position, what I mean is that you materialists/naturalists have no empirical evidence whatsoever as to how consciousness can emerge from a non-conscious material basis whereas I have several lines of evidence that consciousness, not material, is foundational to reality.

    Notes:

    ‘But the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run.’
    David Barash – Materialist/Atheist Darwinian Psychologist

    The Hard Problem (Of Consciousness) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRG1fA_DQ9s

    “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    Whereas on the other hand, the Theist is up to his eyeballs in empirical evidence that consciousness precedes material reality:

    “I’m going to talk about the Bell inequality, and more importantly a new inequality that you might not have heard of called the Leggett inequality, that was recently measured. It was actually formulated almost 30 years ago by Professor Leggett, who is a Nobel Prize winner, but it wasn’t tested until about a year and a half ago (in 2007), when an article appeared in Nature, that the measurement was made by this prominent quantum group in Vienna led by Anton Zeilinger, which they measured the Leggett inequality, which actually goes a step deeper than the Bell inequality and rules out any possible interpretation other than consciousness creates reality when the measurement is made.”
    – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute, is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications.

    Preceding quote taken from this following video;

    Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness – A New Measurement – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D (Shortened version of entire video with notes in description of video)
    http://vimeo.com/37517080

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect):
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    Another piece of evidence that I find very compelling is that atheists cannot live out their stated beliefs consistently, thus, at least for me, proving that their beliefs can’t possibly be a true for reality:

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Moreover, this psychopathic characteristic inherent to the atheistic philosophy is born out empirically, in that people who do not believe in a soul tend to be more psychopathic than the majority of normal people in America who do believe in a soul. You can pick that psychopathic study of atheists around the 14:30 minute mark of this following video:

    Anthony Jack, Why Don’t Psychopaths Believe in Dualism? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?l.....zOk#t=862s

    Verse and music:

    2 Timothy 1:7
    For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

    Chris Tomlin – Awake My Soul (with Lecrae) [Official Lyric Video]
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0902E1NU

  41. 41
    TheisticEvolutionist

    Bernard Haisch is an odd mixture of beliefs. Not a theist, he supports pandeism, the belief that God became the universe. Which is basically a mixture of deism and pantheism. His God theory has rejected intelligent design, yet he believes God programmed evolution. He is also a Darwinist and his book The Purpose-Guided Universe claims natural selection was originally created by the mind of God. I doubt he has many followers! Original thinker though who can certainly think outside of the box.

  42. Darwinism begins once there is replication.

    Says who?

    I missed that part of evolutionary theory, you know, where it defines the minimal system necessary for Darwinian evolution. If course, if the theory did define such a system, we wouldn’t be arguing over it.

    Darwinians are confused about their own theory, is it any wonder others are as well?

    I just replicated some text, then I modified it, and then I selected which version survived. Darwinian evolution? Why not?

  43. Darwinism begins once there is replication.

    Nope. You cannot extend the theory that self-replication with heritable variance in reproductive success leads to adaptation and diversification to explain why there are self-replicators that self-replicate with heritable variance with reproductive success.

  44. No, Mung, it is you who are confused.

    Darwinian evolution requires descent with modification.

    You can’t have descent without a self-replicator.

    And you can’t have natural selection without modification.

    So the minimum requirement is a self-replicator with hereditary modification.

    Darwinian evolution cannot occur until there is a self-replicator.

    Therefore, Darwinian evolution cannot account for the first self-replicator

    Darwin made that quite clear, in the famous last paragraph of Origin.

  45. I missed that part of evolutionary theory, you know, where it defines the minimal system necessary for Darwinian evolution. If course, if the theory did define such a system, we wouldn’t be arguing over it.

    It doesn’t.

    Darwinians are confused about their own theory, is it any wonder others are as well?

    I don’t think evolutionary biologists are confused. I can’t speak for you however.

    I just replicated some text, then I modified it, and then I selected which version survived. Darwinian evolution? Why not?

    Not a self-replicating system. Definitely designed.

  46. KN:

    (1) There is all the difference in the world between taking “God exists” as the conclusion of an argument and taking “God exists” as a hypothesis to be tested.

    Lizzie’s point is that it cannot be taken in the second sense, because we have no way of operationalizing the constraints on the hypothesis in such a way as to generate usable data. Frankly, it baffles me that so many well-educated people who are presumably well-informed about philosophy and science cannot grasp this simple point.

    People like Victor J. Stenger, for example?

    God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist

  47. Given the OP, worth the full quote, I think.

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    You are still confused. Current theories of OoL posit that the simplest Darwinian-capable entities (self-replicators replicating with heritable variance in reproductive success) were sufficiently simple to have arisen by chemistry (not, obviously by the Darwinian mechanisms because they are a prerequisite for the Darwinian mechanism). Whether you want to call them “alive” or not is a matter of semantics; the important point is that the first ones must, absent some miraculous explanation, have arisen by non-Darwinian processes. The issues are

    1. What would such elementary Darwinian-capable ancestral proto-life forms have been like and how did they arise?
    2. By what Darwinian means did they get from that simple state to the DNA-RNA-protein systems now ubiquitous in living things?

    So yes, Darwinian processes are part of the research project (because the gap in our knowledge is not simply from non-self-replicating chemistry to self-replicating proto-cells, but from self-replicating proto-cells to modern-type cells), but that is NOT to say that the Darwinian mechanism can account for that first step. Self-evidently it cannot.

  48. In the volume Protocells: Bridging Nonliving and Living Matter, the references to evolution and selection are too numerous to mention. Go figure.

    While the references to Evolvability are less numerous, the term is consipicuously absent from the Glossary.

  49. 49

    Well, Philip, if you’re not interested in talking about neuroscience and I’m not interested in talking about quantum mechanics, we don’t have much to talk about!

    In any event, I only cited Churchland to indicate why I don’t take Plantinga’s EAAN seriously. I’m not completely happy with Churchland’s response and I may try to improve on it at some point. But writing on the EAAN would require reading Naturalism Defeated?, which I don’t have time to do at present.

  50. Elizabeth Liddle:

    The issues are:

    1. What would such elementary Darwinian-capable ancestral proto-life forms have been like and how did they arise?

    2. By what Darwinian means did they get from that simple state to the DNA-RNA-protein systems now ubiquitous in living things?

    No, those are not the issues. The first and most fundamental issue is one that is crucial to Darwinian theory but absent from it.

    What does it mean to say that some system is “Darwinian-capable”?

    2. By what Darwinian means did they get from that simple state to the DNA-RNA-protein systems now ubiquitous in living things?

    Sure, let’s just assume it happened and not even raise the question of whether it’s even possible.

    Let’s just assume a simple-state that the “evolved” somehow, into the RNA-DNA-Protein-Metabolism-Cellular system that is the only known form of life and only non-human designed (as far as we know) “Darwinian-capable” system.

  51. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Darwinian evolution requires descent with modification.

    Wrong again, Elizabeth. Descent with modification was Darwin’s explanation. You really need to learn the difference between what it is that is being explained and what is offered as the explanation. Knowing the difference is fundamental to good science.

  52. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Darwinian evolution cannot occur until there is a self-replicator.

    Like the “self-replicators” in evolutionary algorithms? Like the “self-replicators” in your own program that you thought refuted Dembski?

    Once again, you are all over the map. You believe Darwinian evolution can take place in a simulation written by a programmer and run on a computer, even though no actual “self-replication” is involved. I know you do, I’ve seen you say it more than once.

    So just how fuzzy is this concept of “self-replication’ allowed to be, in your opinion?

  53. 53

    In re: Mung @ 46,

    I haven’t read Stenger’s book, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he committed that particular mistake. Dawkins does, if I recall correctly what he does in The God Delusion.

    I find the condescending, derogatory tone of the New Atheists so distasteful that I cannot stand to read of that stuff any more. So I’m not going to bother with reading Stenger’s book.

  54. Elizabeth is not excelling here at the moment, Mung, is she? What do you think you should put in her ‘end of term’ report? I would put, ‘Tries hard, but easily distracted and needs to pay more attention.’

  55. It’s not “fuzzy” at all, Mung.

    A self-replicator is something that replicates itself, duh.

    So where there was one thing, you now have two similar things.

  56. Wrong again, Elizabeth. Descent with modification was Darwin’s explanation. You really need to learn the difference between what it is that is being explained and what is offered as the explanation. Knowing the difference is fundamental to good science.

    Mung, I think it’s time I simply ignored your posts.

    No, you are wrong, yet again. Descent with modification is neither explanation nor explanandum. It was an observation (offspring look like, but not exactly like, their parents). The explanandum was observed pattern of apparently indicating common descent but with diversification and adaptation.

    The explanation was descent with modification where that modification confers differential reproductive success.

    It’s all in Origin. I suggest you read it, or simply a good modern text book, before you next tell me I am “wrong”.

    Or, more to the point, before you attempt to critique a theory you simply do not appear to understand.

    *growl*

  57. Mung:

    What does it mean to say that some system is “Darwinian-capable”?

    That it has the prerequisites for Darwinian adaptation, namely it is a population of self-replicators that reproduce with heritable variance in reproductive success.

  58. Sure, let’s just assume it happened and not even raise the question of whether it’s even possible.

    Well, of course you could raise the question of whether it’s even possible but how would you answer it without trying to finding out whether it was possible?

    Or would you just sit there, stare at it for a bit, and say “nah, not possible”?

  59. Kantian Naturalist, if you can’t back up your atheistic claims at the foundational level of reality with physics you have no true foundation within science in the first place!

    “Physics is the only real science. The rest are just stamp collecting.”
    – Ernest Rutherford

    For you to pretend that you can make up for this gross deficiency in empirical evidence for your atheistic beliefs at the level of neuroscience without first building a solid foundation within physics is equivalent to trying to build a house on a foundation of sand. It is foolish to even try.

    Notes:

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    Now this is simply unprecedented in science as far as I know. i.e. That a mathematical description of reality would advance to the point that one can actually perform a experiment showing that your current mathematical theory will not be exceeded in predictive power by another future theory is simply unprecedented in science! And please note that free will and consciousness are axiomatic to Quantum Theory in the experiment., Of related note:

    What Does Quantum Physics Have to Do with Free Will? – By Antoine Suarez – July 22, 2013
    Excerpt: What is more, recent experiments are bringing to light that the experimenter’s free will and consciousness should be considered axioms (founding principles) of standard quantum physics theory. So for instance, in experiments involving “entanglement” (the phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”), to conclude that quantum correlations of two particles are nonlocal (i.e. cannot be explained by signals traveling at velocity less than or equal to the speed of light), it is crucial to assume that the experimenter can make free choices, and is not constrained in what orientation he/she sets the measuring devices.
    To understand these implications it is crucial to be aware that quantum physics is not only a description of the material and visible world around us, but also speaks about non-material influences coming from outside the space-time.,,,
    https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/what-does-quantum-physics-have-do-free-will

    So KN if you really want to impress me with the prowess of your atheistic intellect please feel free to improve on quantum mechanics so that consciousness and free will are not required axioms to it! Until then I will rightly assume you to be a useless stamp collector!

    Of note: since our free will choices figure so prominently in how reality is actually found to be constructed in our understanding of quantum mechanics, I think a Christian perspective on just how important our choices are in this temporal life, in regards to our eternal destiny, is very fitting:

    Is God Good? (Free will and the problem of evil) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfd_1UAjeIA

    Ravi Zacharias – How To Measure Your Choices – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Op_S5syhKI

    You must measure your choices by the measure of
    1) eternity
    2) morality
    3) accountability
    4) charity

    Verse and Music:

    The Wise and Foolish Builders
    Matthew 7:24-27
    “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

    Creed – My Sacrifice
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-fyNgHdmLI

  60. So Behe appears not to dispute time-scales, common descent or natural selection. He just argues from incredulity that random variation is not sufficient to achieve the diversity of extant and extinct life that we see. Then defaults to the conclusion that an “Intelligent Design” inference is thus warranted. Hard to see how anyone could turn this gut feeling into a testable hypothesis.

    But I guess you can ask other ID proponents and get the full gamut of variation from Johnson’s simple “God did it” to Behe’s “I just don’t think random variation can explain everything”.

    Why do you say that Behe’s argument is simply “I just don’t think random variation can explain anything”?

    He has real experimental scientific reasons for his conclusion. It’s more than just a feeling.

    But then, I can turn around and ask you the same thing.

    Your argument is simply “I just think random variation CAN explain everything.”

    I don’t see any difference whatsoever.

    Neither side can observe history or repeat it to see if either one is right. In some respects, it does come down to beliefs based on how we interpret the evidence.

    You don’t think there is a God so obviously you will say that even though we can’t explain all the details, you think it happened simply by random mutation and whatever other evolutionary process you want to throw in there. That’s fine, but there is no experimental proof or verification for this.

  61. Lizzie @ 32

    bevets:

    If ‘therefore God’ is ALWAYS ruled out, how is your view substantively different than philosophical naturalism?

    It is always ruled out as a scientific conclusion. It is not ruled out as either a truth or a perfectly valid belief.

    If that’s the game you want to play, then you must freely admit that science may not be able to arrive at the truth. It might also be that you are seeking for an answer where one does not exist. There is no way you can avoid this possibility.

    If that’s the approach you are going to take, that’s fine, but there is simply no guarantee that your “scientific conclusion” will be accurate or trustworthy especially when dealing with the unobservable, untestable, and unrepeatable past.

  62. Of course tjguy.

    Science cannot tell us the truth. It can only tell us how well our models fit our data. They never fit perfectly, and our data always have measurement error.

    I completely agree that science cannot tell you the truth. What it tells you is whether the world is predictable and how to predict it. The fact that we have so many successful predictive models is a strong indication that reality makes some kind of underlying sense, and gives us confidence that our models today will still predict things tomorrow. But they may not.

    We cannot rule out factors that are arbitrary and in principle unpredictable, for example divine intervention.

    Nor can we rule them in. All we can say, is “whatever caused this is something we do not yet have a predictive rule for”.

    This is not a problem for science, because science makes no claims to be able to tell us whether something is unknowable or not. And therefore no claim to be able to tell us whether or not something had a “super-natural” cause.

    However, it is a huge problem for ID, which seeks to demonstrate, by scientific reasoning, that we must rule in an unknowable cause.

    Regarding your last paragraph:

    That doesn’t mean that scientific conclusions are not accurate, and as for trustworthiness, they always come with estimates (e.g. “confidence intervals”). And they are always provisional.

    And nor does it mean we cannot make and test models about the past – our models do not have to predict future repetitions of the event in question – they do have to predict new data.

  63. What science can do, with a high degree of confidence, however, is tell you that some models are not the truth.

    Science tells us absolutely unambiguously, for instance, that the world is not 6,000 years old, nor made over the course of 6 days.

    But it cannot tell us that an unconstrained designer must have designed life. Nor that one didn’t. It can only falsify a predictive model. It cannot falsify a model that makes no predictions.

  64. What science can do, with a high degree of confidence, however, is tell you that some models are not the truth.

    Science tells us absolutely unambiguously, for instance, that the world is not 6,000 years old, nor made over the course of 6 days.

    Elizabeth that is bogus materialistic logic. You can´t eat the cake and have it.

    If science can tell that something is not the truth, then it is true that that thing is not the truth, then scienci IS saying part of the truth.

    Your example is wrong, a model of an earth of 6000 years old fits the data worst than a model of an older earth.

  65. 65

    Lizzie, I appreciate what you’re saying here.

    Knowing your interest in certain philosophical matters, I bring to your attention a long-running debate within philosophy of science between “scientific realism” and “scientific anti-realism” (also, confusingly, called “empiricism” by its supporters).

    Here’s the issue: when we say, for any two theories T1 and T2

    T1 yields more accurate predictions of future data than T2, has fewer anomalies, etc. (whatever the epistemic desiderata are).

    should we say

    T1 yields more accurate predictions of future data than T2, has fewer anomalies, etc. because T1 is a better depiction of reality than T2.

    or is the because clause superfluous, adds nothing that we didn’t already know, is an unforgivable lapse into metaphysical speculation that has no place in science, and so on?

    The “scientific realists” are the ones who endorse the second statement; their critics are the ones who reject it.

  66. Closer to that second thing, I’d say, if we were being picky.

    We can speculate that the reason one model fits the data better than another is because it is a closer representation of reality, but that is, as you say, speculation.

    All we are actually saying is that this model fits the data better than that one. Or that this model fits this range of data better, and that model fits that range of data, but we don’t yet know how the two models fit together (e.g. Relativity and QM).

  67. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Or, more to the point, before you attempt to critique a theory you simply do not appear to understand.

    Well, I’ve debated with myself over whether it would just be a pure waste of my time to provide quotes from sources to substantiate what I say, but I never see you doing that. I just see you tossing off remarks willy-nilly that you seem to be expect to be taken as truth.

    If you don’t like it that I respond in kind I can surely understand, but you might want to reconsider your own approach then, because I am merely reflecting your own debating style, with the difference being that I have the facts on my side.

    Now, I won’t go so far as to say you are immune from the facts, your recent acknowledgement that you were wrong about Meyer is a case in point. So what does it take to get through to you? It’s obviously possible to do so. Just extremely rare :)

    You have to admit that I was right about Meyer. So what on earth makes you think I don’t do my homework? Do you think I only read books bu Meyer and Dembski and Wells?

    “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.”

    So instead of ignoring me, why not dig deeper? My posts usually have a point, despite what Salvador thinks.

    What was it in my post that you are responding to did you think so far wrong, and why?

    Here’s what I said:

    “Descent with modification was Darwin’s explanation.”

    This is absolutely true. He proposed two theories to explain the facts as he saw them.

    The theory of Common Descent. And the theory of Natural Selection.

    So are you disputing that, or was it something else that I said that is so wrong?

    And if that’s true, then it was something else that must be “that which was to be explained.” That follows logically, does it not?

    And it it’s true, then you are wrong, and it is you who either do not understand or do not make a difference where one exists. It’s really simple, from my pov.

  68. Back to the OOL, assuming Elizabeth isn’t ignoring me. :0

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    A self-replicator is something that replicates itself, duh. So where there was one thing, you now have two similar things.

    Not just similar, identical. Otherwise it’s not “self-replication.”

    Now, can you please explain what sort of “self-replication” goes on inside a computer?

    As an aside, but of potential relevance, do you consider cloning to be self-replication?

    A self-replicator is something that replicates itself, duh. So where there was one thing, you now have two similar things.

    Has it occurred to you that “self-replication” is logically impossible?

  69. tjguy assks

    Why do you say that Behe’s argument is simply “I just don’t think random variation can explain anything”?

    Because that is as far as his argument goes. He offers no alternative hypothesis as to how the bacterium, E. coli came to possess the flagellum that it does possess. He merely argues that the reiterated ratcheting of variation and selection are insufficient to account for the flagellum.

    He has real experimental scientific reasons for his conclusion. It’s more than just a feeling.

    It’s his point of view but it can’t be supported by evidence. Dr (of evolutionary biology :) ) Nick Matzke shows numerous homologies that suggest evolutionary pathways.

    But then, I can turn around and ask you the same thing.

    Your argument is simply “I just think random variation CAN explain everything.”

    I don’t see any difference whatsoever.

    As a matter of fact, I don’t believe or claim that. But it is beside the point. I don’t accept that by refuting hypothesis A, you strengthen hypothesis B. ID first needs a coherent hypothesis, then attempts can then be made to falsify it. Until then, there is no ID to consider, let alone to assume by default.

    Neither side can observe history or repeat it to see if either one is right. In some respects, it does come down to beliefs based on how we interpret the evidence.

    You don’t think there is a God so obviously you will say that even though we can’t explain all the details, you think it happened simply by random mutation and whatever other evolutionary process you want to throw in there. That’s fine, but there is no experimental proof or verification for this.

    I’m not yet persuaded by any of the current various religious packages on offer, nor do I feel the need to make up my own. Some factual claims by various sects (Creationists would be a prime example) are obviously false (the age of the Earth, global flood, all people descendants of the first couple created by God a few thousand years ago, sons of Noah etc.) but we certainly can’t disprove the idea of omniscient, omipotent omnipresent supernatural deities. We only fail to observe their effects in current reality.

    But as you say, when doing science, we are concerned with reality, real evidence. This is what ID “science” needs. Evidence of the supernatural/reality boundary where real effects of the “Intelligent Agent” can be shown at work rather than imagined.

  70. tjguy assks

    Why do you say that Behe’s argument is simply “I just don’t think random variation can explain anything”?

    Because that is as far as his argument goes. He offers no alternative hypothesis as to how the bacterium, E. coli came to possess the flagellum that it does possess. He merely argues that the reiterated ratcheting of variation and selection are insufficient to account for the flagellum.

    He has real experimental scientific reasons for his conclusion. It’s more than just a feeling.

    It’s his point of view but it can’t be supported by evidence. Dr (of evolutionary biology :) ) Nick Matzke shows numerous homologies that suggest evolutionary pathways.

    But then, I can turn around and ask you the same thing.

    Your argument is simply “I just think random variation CAN explain everything.”

    I don’t see any difference whatsoever.

    As a matter of fact, I don’t believe or claim that. But it is beside the point. I don’t accept that by refuting hypothesis A, you strengthen hypothesis B. ID first needs a coherent hypothesis, then attempts can then be made to falsify it. Until then, there is no ID to consider, let alone to assume by default.

    Neither side can observe history or repeat it to see if either one is right. In some respects, it does come down to beliefs based on how we interpret the evidence.

    You don’t think there is a God so obviously you will say that even though we can’t explain all the details, you think it happened simply by random mutation and whatever other evolutionary process you want to throw in there. That’s fine, but there is no experimental proof or verification for this.

    I’m not yet persuaded by any of the current various religious packages on offer, nor do I feel the need to make up my own. Some factual claims by various sects (Creationists would be a prime example) are obviously false (the age of the Earth, global flood, all people descendants of the first couple created by God a few thousand years ago, sons of Noah etc.) but we certainly can’t disprove the idea of omniscient, omipotent omnipresent supernatural deities. We only fail to observe their effects in current reality.

    But as you say, when doing science, we are concerned with reality, real evidence. This is what ID “science” needs. Evidence of the supernatural/reality boundary where real effects of the “Intelligent Agent” can be shown at work rather than imagined.

  71. “This is what ID “science” needs. Evidence of the supernatural/reality boundary where real effects of the “Intelligent Agent” can be shown at work rather than imagined.”

    But Alan, don’t you remember that “imagination is more important than knowledge”? :P IDists thus have a convenient ‘out’ whenever they want.

    “We only fail [or succeed] to observe their effects in current reality.” At least you are leaving that ‘reality’ door open, if not for yourself, then for others, aren’t you?

  72. Not just similar, identical. Otherwise it’s not “self-replication.”

    So you are saying that if a photocopy isn’t identical to the original it isn’t a replication of the original?

    I don’t think so. If a replica need not be identical in all respects to the original, nor does a self-replication need to be identical in all respects to the self.

    Now, can you please explain what sort of “self-replication” goes on inside a computer?

    Yes, indeed. An evolutionary algorithm generates a series of virtual organisms that spawn copies, with variation, of themselves. Their chances of doing so depends on factors within a virtual environment, so that those with features that most enhance the chances of breeding in that environment leave more copies (with slight variations) of themselves behind.

    Two publicly available examples are AVIDA and Eureqa, both of which I have used. I have also written a number myself.
    Eureqa is especially interesting, in my view, as you can set the virtual environment in such a way that the resulting organisms solves a problem that you want solved, for example, how to tell what treatment might be best for a particular patient, given data on that patient.

    I am only starting now to tap its potential, but already it has found relationships in the data that I would never have found using my own Intelligence. Evolution may be slower than people, but it is a much more thorough investigator of possibilities.

  73. Mr. Fox states,

    But as you say, when doing science, we are concerned with reality, real evidence. This is what ID “science” needs. Evidence of the supernatural/reality boundary where real effects of the “Intelligent Agent” can be shown at work rather than imagined.

    Although the claims of ID proper are rather modest, and testable, (in fact there is a null hypothesis for the main ID claim (which is far more than can be said for any claims of neo-Darwinism)

    The Law of Physicodynamic Insufficiency – Dr David L. Abel – November 2010
    Excerpt: “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”,,, After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided. The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction: “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.”
    http://www-qa.scitopics.com/Th.....iency.html

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation)
    1) Mathematical Logic
    2) Algorithmic Optimization
    3) Cybernetic Programming
    4) Computational Halting
    5) Integrated Circuits
    6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium)
    7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics)
    8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system
    9) Language
    10) Formal function of any kind
    11) Utilitarian work

    That’s a pretty sharp boundary in my book! But to go further than the modest claim of ID proper and show just how vacuous neo-Darwinism, and materialism in general, is as a ‘science’, it is good to cite a few examples:

    1. Materialism predicted an eternal universe, Theism predicted a created universe. – Big Bang points to a creation event. -

    2. Materialism predicted time had an infinite past, Theism predicted time had a creation. – Time was created in the Big Bang. -

    3. Materialism predicted space has always existed, Theism predicted space had a creation (Psalm 89:12) – Space was created in the Big Bang. -

    4. Materialism predicted that material has always existed, Theism predicted ‘material’ was created. – ‘Material’ was created in the Big Bang.

    5. Materialism predicted that the basis of physical reality would be a solid indestructible material particle which rigidly obeyed the rules of time and space, Theism predicted the basis of this reality was created by a infinitely powerful and transcendent Being who is not limited by time and space – Quantum mechanics reveals a wave/particle duality for the basis of our reality which blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. -

    6. Materialism predicted that consciousness is a ‘emergent property’ of material reality and thus has no particularly special position within material reality. Theism predicted consciousness preceded material reality and therefore consciousness should have a ‘special’ position within material reality. Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality. -

    7. Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe, Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9) -

    8. Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind – Every transcendent universal constant scientists can measure is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe. -

    9. Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe – Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe. -

    10. Materialism predicted much of the DNA code was junk. Theism predicted we are fearfully and wonderfully made – ENCODE research into the DNA has revealed a “biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”. -

    11. Materialism predicted a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. Theism predicted only God created life on earth – The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial mutations whatsoever. (M. Behe; JC Sanford) -

    12. Materialism predicted a very simple first life form which accidentally came from “a warm little pond”. Theism predicted God created life – The simplest life ever found on Earth is far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. (Michael Denton PhD) -

    13. Materialism predicted it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Theism predicted life to appear abruptly on earth after water appeared on earth (Genesis 1:10-11) – We find evidence for complex photo-synthetic life in the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth -

    14. Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life to be self-evident in the fossil record. Theism predicted complex and diverse life to appear abruptly in the seas in God’s fifth day of creation. – The Cambrian Explosion shows a sudden appearance of many different and completely unique fossils within a very short “geologic resolution time” in the Cambrian seas. -

    15. Materialism predicted there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record, Theism predicted sudden appearance and rapid diversity within different kinds found in the fossil record – Fossils are consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record, then rapid diversity within the group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. -

    16. Materialism predicted animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Theism predicted man was the last species created on earth – Man himself is the last generally accepted major fossil form to have suddenly appeared in the fossil record. (Tattersall) –

    Perhaps Mr. Fox thinks that is not good enough as scientific evidence for Theism? But if not then what would ever be good enough evidence for someone who thought as such? I mean really, what could ever penetrate such a hard heart if not the preceding evidence?

  74. Elizabeth Liddle:

    So you are saying that if a photocopy isn’t identical to the original it isn’t a replication of the original?

    I don’t think so. If a replica need not be identical in all respects to the original, nor does a self-replication need to be identical in all respects to the self.

    You understand, don’t you, that a copy is not the same as the original, and neither is a replica.

    If all that’s required for Darwinian evolution is making copies or replicas of something it would seem to include far more than living organisms, wouldn’t you agree.

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Yes, indeed. An evolutionary algorithm generates a series of virtual organisms that spawn copies, with variation, of themselves.

    My point exactly.

    Darwnism does not require self-replicators. The very idea of a “self-replicator” is nonsense anyways.

    And since life is not required for Darwinism, it’s possible to say all sorts of things that can be described as “Darwinian” while also claiming that it has nothing to do with OOL.

    But it clearly does, because all someone has to do is imagine some copying process and then they think they all of a sudden have a path to life, which is just silly.

    Do you believe it’s possible to have a population with one member?

  75. F/N: This thread needs to simply address the points that (a) evolutionary materialism is commonly taught (e.g. in HS and College textbooks) in a context where both OOL per blind watchmaker abiogenesis and the usual accounts of chance variation and differential reproductive success cumulatively accounting for origin of body plans are presented in a context of being beyond reasonable dispute [save over "how" details], and (b) OOL is the ROOT of the darwinist tree of life.

    In both cases, the matter to be accounted for is origin of FSCO/I without design, and until/unless this is soundly shown feasible on observation the whole structure is based on a speculative ideologically loaded metaphysical hypothesis of Lewontin-Sagan-Dawkins-NAS-NSTA etc a priori materialism, however disguised. Ideology, not science.

    The straightforward induction, by contrast, runs much as Meyer recently summarised in answer to dismissive critiques of his 2009 Signature in the Cell. Clipping:

    [I]ntelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question . . . . In order to [[scientifically refute this inductive conclusion] Falk would need to show that some undirected material cause has [[empirically] demonstrated the power to produce functional biological information apart from the guidance or activity a designing mind. Neither Falk, nor anyone working in origin-of-life biology, has succeeded in doing this . . . .

    [[W]e now have a wealth of experience showing that what I call specified or functional information (especially if encoded in digital form) does not arise from purely physical or chemical antecedents [[--> i.e. by blind, undirected forces of chance and necessity]. Indeed, the ribozyme engineering and pre-biotic simulation experiments that Professor Falk commends to my attention actually lend additional inductive support to this generalization. On the other hand, we do know of a cause—a type of cause—that has demonstrated the power to produce functionally-specified information. That cause is intelligence or conscious rational deliberation. As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler once observed, “the creation of information is habitually associated with conscious activity.” And, of course, he was right. Whenever we find information—whether embedded in a radio signal, carved in a stone monument, written in a book or etched on a magnetic disc—and we trace it back to its source, invariably we come to mind, not merely a material process. Thus, the discovery of functionally specified, digitally encoded information along the spine of DNA, provides compelling positive evidence of the activity of a prior designing intelligence. This conclusion is not based upon what we don’t know. It is based upon what we do know from our uniform experience about the cause and effect structure of the world—specifically, what we know about what does, and does not, have the power to produce large amounts of specified information . . .

    Meyer is dead on target.

    All the huffing, puffing, slipping, sliding, evading, poison the atmosphere and shoot the messenger tactics that are so drearily familiar from both the Darwinist fever swamps and their front operations with genteel face cards — cf. the recent rebuke to TSZ here, will make no difference to this. That is why in the end, after a full year, we have yet to see a complelling answer to the challenge for darwinists to empirically and adequately ground the very first icon of evolution, the tree of life — cf. what could be dragged out after a full year of tugging, here, not exactly a sign of people in full and confident command of the facts and logic of an important matter. (Let us not forget, it appears — rootless — in an 1837 notebook by Darwin and as the ONLY illustration — rootless again — in his Origin of Species.)

    Design sits at the table as of right, from the root of the tree of life, and once it cannot be censored out, common design makes a much better explanation for what we see than the common descent plus a lot of systematically and overwhelmingly missing links that we find. This, after 150 years, 1/4+ million fossil species identified, millions of fossils in museums and billions more in the ground spelling the same story.

    The exclusion of design from consideration is blatantly ideological, as has been repeatedly acknowledged. Indeed, there has been a major attempt to build that ideology into the very definition of science. The admission above that science is not about truth is an indirect admission of the effects. In fact, unless science seeks and is accountable before truth, it loses all credibility, especially on matters like origins where it cannot be directly empirically cross checked against facts. Oops, there has been an attempt to ideologically redefine “facts” too.

    See the point?

    Ideological, a priori materialistic “science” is in essence the ideology of scientism, which is self refuting. Materialism is also self-refuting. (If you doubt me, have a look here and here.)

    Game over.

    KF

  76. You understand, don’t you, that a copy is not the same as the original, and neither is a replica.

    If all that’s required for Darwinian evolution is making copies or replicas of something it would seem to include far more than living organisms, wouldn’t you agree.

    Yes. Which is why we can use Darwinian evolution so successfully in silico.

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    Yes, indeed. An evolutionary algorithm generates a series of virtual organisms that spawn copies, with variation, of themselves.

    My point exactly.

    Darwnism does not require self-replicators. The very idea of a “self-replicator” is nonsense anyways.

    No, it isn’t nonsense, and yes Darwinism requires self-replicators, by which I mean, as I said, something that spawns copies of itself, which need not be veridical.

    And since life is not required for Darwinism, it’s possible to say all sorts of things that can be described as “Darwinian” while also claiming that it has nothing to do with OOL.

    Yes. But you still need a starting population of self-replicators so you cannot explain the origin of those self-replicators by Darwinian mechanisms.

    But it clearly does, because all someone has to do is imagine some copying process and then they think they all of a sudden have a path to life, which is just silly.

    Well, you have to do more than just “imagine” it, Mung. It needs to be physically plausible or implement-able.

    Do you believe it’s possible to have a population with one member?

    A self-replicator will result in a population of more than one, unless it doesn’t self-replicate, in which case it won’t be a self-replicator.

  77. kairosfocus: Can you explain briefly but precisely what you mean by “a priori materialism”?

  78. “All the huffing, puffing, slipping, sliding, evading, poison the atmosphere and shoot the messenger tactics that are so drearily familiar from both the Darwinist fever swamps and their front operations with genteel face cards — cf. the recent rebuke to TSZ here”

    It Should be renamed the pseudo skeptical zone.

  79. EL, you full well know I am quotinf Lewontin speaking of Sagan and the majority of elite scientists, cf here. If you read on down from there you will see several further ones including the US NAS and NSTA. This is no strawman opponent, as you obviously want to pretend in the teeth of years of being presented with cases in point. And it further seems to me that your evolutionary materialism inescapably faces the is-ought gap such that it has no adequate foundation for the binding nature of ought, such as is required for rights, justice and genuine, well grounded concerns over moral issues. KF

  80. 80

    I know you’re fond of quoting Lewontin, but I don’t think you understand him correctly.

    His appeal to Lewis White Beck makes it fairly clear that Lewontin’s a priori commitment is to the existence of regularities in the natural world. (Accordingly, any theism that accounts for those regularities would get no objection from Beck or Lewontin.)

    What they would object to, a priori, is any theism according to which we could never know, for any particular event, whether it was the result of natural regularities or divine intervention. And while that is not the theism that anyone here takes seriously, it is not without precedent. It is my understanding (from various second-hand sources) that the Muslim philosopher al-Ghazzali argued for that kind of occasionalism, and his doing so had a seriously detrimental effect on Muslim science. (We can call this ‘radical occasionalism,’ to distinguish it from Malebranche.)

    As I read it, what Lewontin is saying here (citing Beck) is just this: in doing science at all in the first place, we are a priori, implicitly committing ourselves to the assertion that radical occasionalism is false.

  81. His appeal to Lewis White Beck makes it fairly clear that Lewontin’s a priori commitment is to the existence of regularities in the natural world.

    Anyone disputing regularities? Anyone? Aren’t these regularities what Aquinas used to demonstrate the existence of God?

    What they would object to, a priori, is any theism according to which we could never know, for any particular event, whether it was the result of natural regularities or divine intervention.

    What’s the difference and how could we possibly tell?

    http://www.ghazali.org/

    For what it’s worth I have his The Incoherence of the Philosophers

    There is currently a series being published:

    http://meti.byu.edu/islamic.php

  82. KN,

    Kindly don’t try that one — a slightly subtle version of the quote-mining accusation tactic — on me.

    First, the remarks do stand in their own right and patently reduce to absurdity, from the declaration that hoi polloi should come to see science as the only begetter of truth, to the smugly dismissive hostility to theism, to the triumphalistic question-begging to the admission that evidence does not compel to the declaration that materialism is a priori. None of these can be justified on any reasonable grounds, period.

    And, did you actually take time to read the extended clip with notes, which addresses Beck TWICE?

    If you did, you will see a response to Beck’s silly talking point that a creator God would render the world chaotic:

    . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen. [[--> Perhaps the second saddest thing is that some actually believe that these last three sentences that express hostility to God and then back it up with a loaded strawman caricature of theism and theists JUSTIFY what has gone on before. As a first correction, accurate history -- as opposed to the commonly promoted rationalist myth of the longstanding war of religion against science -- documents (cf. here, here and here) that the Judaeo-Christian worldview nurtured and gave crucial impetus to the rise of modern science through its view that God as creator made and sustains an orderly world. Similarly, for miracles -- e.g. the resurrection of Jesus -- to stand out as signs pointing beyond the ordinary course of the world, there must first be such an ordinary course, one plainly amenable to scientific study. The saddest thing is that many are now so blinded and hostile that, having been corrected, they will STILL think that this justifies the above. But, nothing can excuse the imposition of a priori materialist censorship on science, which distorts its ability to seek the empirically warranted truth about our world.]

    [[From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added.

    ___________

    F/N: The key part of this quote comes after some fairly unfortunate remarks where Mr Lewontin gives the "typical" example -- yes, we can spot a subtext -- of an ill-informed woman who dismissed the Moon landings on the grounds that she could not pick up Dallas on her TV, much less the Moon. This is little more than a subtle appeal to the ill-tempered sneer at those who dissent from the evolutionary materialist "consensus," that they are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. For telling counter-instance, Wernher von Braun, the designer of the rocket that took NASA to the Moon, was an evangelical Christian and a Creationist. [[Cf also here, here, here, here, here.]

    Similarly, when Lewontin cites “eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck” as declaring that “anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything,” drawing as bottom-line, the inference that “[[t]o appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen,” this is a sadly sophomoric distortion. One that fails to understand that, on the Judaeo-Christian theistic view, for miracles to stand out as signs pointing beyond the ordinary, there must first be an ordinary consistently orderly world, one created by the God of order who “sustains all things by his powerful word.” Also, for us to be morally accountable to God — a major theme in theism, the consequences of our actions must be reasonably predictable, i.e. we must live in a consistent, predictably orderly cosmos, one that would be amenable to science.

    And, historically, it was specifically that theistic confidence in an orderly cosmos governed by a wise and orderly Creator that gave modern science much of its starting impetus from about 1200 to 1700.

    For instance that is why Newton (a biblical theist), in the General Scholium to his famous work Principia, confidently said:

    “[[t]his most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being . . . It is allowed by all that the Supreme God exists necessarily; and by the same necessity he exists always, and every where. [[--> i.e. he accepts the cosmological argument to God] . . . We know him only by his most wise and excellent contrivances of things, and final cause [[ --> i.e from his designs] . . . Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. [[--> i.e. necessity does not produce contingency]. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being necessarily existing. [[--> That is, he implicitly rejects chance, Plato's third alternative and explicitly infers to the Designer of the Cosmos.]“

    In such a context of order stamped in at creation and sustained through God’s power, for good reason, God may then act into the world in ways that go beyond the ordinary, i.e. miracles are possible but will inevitably be rare and in a context that points to such a higher purpose.

    For instance, the chief miracle claim of Christian thought, the resurrection of Jesus with 500+ witnesses is presented in the NT as decisive evidence for the truth of the gospel and authentication of God’s plan of redemption.

    So, since these contextual remarks have been repeatedly cited by objectors as though they prove the above cite is an out of context distortion that improperly makes Lewontin seem irrational in his claims, they have to be mentioned, and addressed, as some seem to believe that such a disreputable “context” justifies the assertions and attitudes above!)]

    Mr Lewontin and a great many other leading scientists and other influential people in our time clearly think that such evolutionary materialist scientism is the closest thing to the “obvious” truth about our world we have or can get. This has now reached to the point where some want to use adherence to this view as a criterion of being “scientific,” which to such minds is equivalent to “rational.”

    In short Beck either did not know what he was talking about — certainly in regard to the historic Judaeo-Christian worldview [notice my strict limitation -- there are possible unbalanced views of God that are prone to arbitrariness . . . ], which emphasises that God is the wise, reasonable active agent originating and sustaining the order and operation of the cosmos as a fit habitation for life including our own, and that God is a God of reasonable and responsible order, who therefore upholds the ordinary course of the world while reserving the right for good reasons of his own to act beyond that course through signs and wonders — or he played a strawman tactic that he knew would go over well with his intended audience.

    KF

  83. PS: It is also just a little too rich that an argument that wants us to believe that science is the only begetter of truth should want to appeal to a philosophical assertion by a philosopher.

  84. Who is making the argument that science is the only begetter of truth, kairosfocus?

  85. EL, you full well know that this is a direct in-context citation from Lewontin in a well known article of Jan 1997 in NYRB on Billions and Billions of Demons, itself echoing Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World the book being reviewed, in a context where he speaks for a major faction of elite scientists including Sagan. The implied approach to knowledge, scientism, is a commonplace, and is utterly self refuting. The implication of your words and tone is that I am lying or willfully misrepresenting the facts. This is improper, given that you yourself must long since know the opposite to be true. KF

  86. 86

    Kairosfocus, I have read Lewontin’s review, with and without your exegesis of it. I’m not accusing you of quote-mining; I’m just disagreeing with your interpretation.

    Who is making the argument that science is the only begetter of truth, kairosfocus?

    Sagan, almost certainly, for one. Sagan was, I think it’s fair to say, a staunch advocate of “scientism.” The question is whether Lewontin endorses scientism in his review of Sagan’s book.

    I don’t think he does, because all that gets put forth as a pragmatic a priori is the impossibility of radical occasionalism (as I’m calling it). And while this is not, I think it’s fair to say, a theologically attractive option, I have heard similar views expressed by my theologically unsophisticated but deeply religious students.

    For another thing, even if Lewontin endorses ‘scientism’ in his review of Sagan’s book, I know that ‘scientism’ is not Lewontin’s considered view, because I’ve read two of his books: The Dialectical Biologist and Biology as Ideology.

    In both books Lewontin is crystal-clear that science is influenced by social and political needs and assumptions, and I have trouble seeing how that approach is consistent with “scientism,” as Kairosfocus and others here use the term.

  87. No, you are reading more into my words than is there, KF.

    I asked who you thought was making that argument. It seems you think that Lewontin and Sagan were.

    But no-one actually in this thread.

    I certainly do not make that argument, and I don’t think KN is either.

  88. 88

    I certainly do not make that argument, and I don’t think KN is either.

    Definitely not! I would have thought it would be obvious by now, since I’ve stated on numerous occasions that I think that the normative is real and irreducible to the natural, and that I take seriously the a priori/a posteriori (and analytic/synthetic) distinction, which would (I presume) be inconsistent with holding that science is the arbiter of all truth.

    Wilfrid Sellars has a fairly weak form of scientism which he expresses as “in the dimension of describing and explaining the world, science is the measure of all things”. Most readers of Sellars fail to notice that it is crucial to Sellars that there are more ‘dimensions’ of human thought, discourse, and experience than that of ‘describing and explaining the world’. For example, there is the moral dimension, which is the dimension of saying what ought to be, rather than that of saying what is.

    I would endorse a slightly weaker form of Sellars’ scientia measura, along the lines of

    all models of causal regularities should be supported by highly-constrained observations to the degree that is technologically feasible

    Lizzie, please feel to comment on that — I’m not 100% sure it works.

    But I do agree with Kairosfocus that Sagan endorsed a much stronger view of scientism than I do, and then the question would be whether Lewontin endorses Sagan’s view or is just expressing it.

  89. KN:

    Lewontin is rather clear on representing the views of the sci elites of the Sagan circle. Similar views are found far and wide and are acted upon, through damaging or destructive partyline games.

    You may have exotic views but the Lewontin summary is all too tellingly familiar and recognisable.

    EL:

    I find that scientism is too often the underlying assumption.

    Indeed I have seen “scientific” standing in for “logical” or “reasonable.”

    More important in some ways is an associated arrogance of the if you differ with us you are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

    This happens to be the attitude in the inescapably irrational and tyrannical theocratic enemies of humanity slander fest thread you host and have tried to justify.

    KF

  90. PS: And back on main topic, the abiogenisis account is still the root of the darwinist tree of life. It is inevitably organically connected to it though not strictly a part of the specific theory. Hence the routine coupling of the two in textbooks for decades, and of course in museums. From my view point, it also forces us to address the actual source of hoped for variation in the scheme of thought, blind chance variations not purposefully connected to a goal. In OOL, differential reproductive success is off the table, as the origin of reproduction and self replication using coded info is part of what is to be explained.

  91. KF, with respect, I think that the assumption you assume is not always warranted!

    I certainly do not use “scientific” to stand in for “logical” or “reasonable”, although to be good science, science needs to be both.

    But science is not the only domain of the logical nor reasonable, nor is it the “only begetter of truth” IMO. In fact, I’d say that science doesn’t tell you the truth at all. All it does is present a provisional model of the world that predicts data better than some alternative model.

    I think a lot of misunderstandings arise from thinking that science does any more than this.

    Of course this itself is huge, and has enabled to do the most extraordinary things, including the exploration of other planets and communicate between the UK and Monserrat, but there is more to heaven and earth Horatio than are dreamt of in your science classes.

  92. 92

    On the other hand, Lizzie, just because neither you nor I are ‘scientistic’ doesn’t mean that scientism isn’t a real thing with various pernicious effects.

    Getting back on track,I’m still not convinced that “materoalism or teleology?” is a genuine (as opposed to false) dichotomy, because self-organization theory isn’t “materialistic” (= Epicurean), as that term is used in these contexts.

  93. EL:

    I never said that you were saying the specific claim equating logic to science. I had a particular book in mind.

    As to science and truth, if science abandons truth seeking it becomes ideology.

    And scientism is the root of a lot of the attitude that is reflected in Sagan, Lewontin, Dawkins and commentary at TSZ.

    Its radical incoherence needs to be faced.

    KF

    KF

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