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It’s time for scientists to come clean with the public about evolution and the origin of life

As we’ve seen, a large percentage of the American public – 47% according to a recent Harris Interactive poll – now believes in Darwin’s theory of evolution. One possible reason for this high percentage is that high school and college students are not told about the problems which call Darwin’s theory into question – as well as theories of evolution which are based on random genetic drift.

Still, there are heartening signs that the wall of ignorance supporting the dam of evolutionary orthodoxy is about to collapse. A steady stream of ground-breaking books and peer-reviewed scientific articles authored by scientists who question key assumptions of modern evolutionary theory has been coming out in the last couple of years. It is only a matter of time before these articles and books get the attention of the general public. What’s important here is that the scientists writing these books and articles are not “outsiders” who reject evolution, but “insiders” who recognize that contemporary theories of evolution are radically deficient in explaining the origin and evolution of life.

Scientists have calculated that Darwin’s theory of natural selection brings about changes too slowly for evolution to have occurred in just 4 billion years

In 2010, a paper by Herbert S. Wilf and Warren J. Ewens, titled, “There’s plenty of time for evolution”, was published in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016207107). The aim of the paper’s authors was to demonstrate mathematically that “there has been ample time for the evolution that we observe to have taken place.” At the time, the article was given wide publicity, and it was featured prominently over at Professor Jerry Coyne’s Website, Why Evolution is True, while Professor P.Z. Myers claimed the paper provided “a guide to short-circuiting the invalid assumptions of creationists.” Sadly, very few people read about the devastating rebuttal of Wilf and Ewens’s paper by Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, Ann K. Gauger, Robert J. Marks II, in a paper titled, Time and Information in Evolution, in BIO-Complexity, Volume 2012 (4). The authors concluded that Wilf and Ewens’s paper did not accurately model biological evolution, firstly because their model included “implicit information sources, including the equivalent of a highly informed oracle that prophesies when a mutation is ‘correct,’ thus accelerating the search by the evolutionary process,” and secondly because the model makes “unrealistic biological assumptions that, in effect, simplify the search.”

Now, however, it seems that the scientific community is finally starting to come clean about the fact that Darwinian evolution is nowhere near capable of generating the diversity of life-forms we see on Earth today within the time available (four billion years).

Edward Frenkel, a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, recently reviewed a book titled, Probably Approximately Correct: Nature’s Algorithms for Learning and Prospering in a Complex World (Basic Books, 2013) by computer scientist Leslie Valiant, in a report for the New York Times (Evolution, Speeded by Computation, September 30, 2013). The following excerpt conveys the gist of Dr. Valiant’s conclusions:

The evolution of species, as Darwin taught us, relies on natural selection. But Dr. Valiant argues that if all the mutations that drive evolution were simply random and equally distributed, it would proceed at an impossibly slow and inefficient pace.

Darwin’s theory “has the gaping gap that it can make no quantitative predictions as far as the number of generations needed for the evolution of a behavior of a certain complexity,” he writes. “We need to explain how evolution is possible at all, how we got from no life, or from very simple life, to life as complex as we find it on earth today. This is the BIG question.”

Dr. Valiant proposes that natural selection is supplemented by ecorithms, which enable organisms to learn and adapt more efficiently. Not all mutations are realized with equal probability; those that are more beneficial are more likely to occur. In other words, evolution is accelerated by computation.

The criticisms being made here of the Darwinian theory of evolution are pretty devastating: not only is it far too slow to generate life in all its diversity, but it’s also utterly incapable of making quantitative predictions about the time required for a structure of known complexity to evolve, by natural selection. And there’s no reason to believe that the “nearly neutral theory of evolution” espoused by biologists such as Professor Larry Moran would fare any better, in this regard.

So what is Dr. Valiant’s alternative? It sounds as if he is advocating some kind of teleological, or purpose-driven evolution. That’s fine, but it raises a deeper question: who or what made evolution capable of achieving its goals within only a few billion years? Is the evolutionary process fine-tuned?

A new kind of evolution is required to account for the Cambrian explosion

Shortly after the publication of Stephen Meyer’s scholarly work, Darwin’s Doubt, an article by Michael Lee, Julien Soubrier and Gregory D. Edgecombe, titled, Rates of Phenotypic and Genomic Evolution during the Cambrian Explosion (Current Biology, Volume 23, Issue 19, 1889-1895, 12 September 2013), which was widely hailed as a decisive refutation of the claims made in Dr. Meyer’s book. The article’s authors claimed that that evolution ran about five times faster during the Cambrian than its usual, gradual pace. That, they say, accounts for the Cambrian explosion. The key message: evolution’s “big bang” is fully compatible with Darwinian evolution. What the article overlooked was that Meyer’s central criticism of the Darwinian account had nothing to do with the time available; rather, it had to do with the type of evolution required to account for the changes that took place at that time – namely, the simultaneous appearance of about 30 different kinds of animal body plans, during the Cambrian period. (See here for a critical review of Lee et al.‘s article.)

But truth will out, one way or another. The scientific world might have ignored Meyer’s arguments, but they could not ignore the arguments made by two paleontologists who are widely acknowledged as leading authorities on the Cambrian explosion: Douglas Erwin and James Valentine. Over at Evolution News, Casey Luskin recently reviewed Erwin and Valentine’s latest ground-breaking book, The Cambrian Explosion: The Construction of Animal Biodiversity (Roberts and Company, 2013). A few relevant excerpts will serve to convey the gist of the book’s central argument, which is that nothing less than a radically new kind of evolution is required in order to understand what kicked off the Cambrian explosion:

One important concern has been whether the microevolutionary patterns commonly studied in modern organisms by evolutionary biologists are sufficient to understand and explain the events of the Cambrian or whether evolutionary theory needs to be expanded to include a more diverse set of macroevolutionary processes. We strongly hold to the latter position. (pp. 9-10)

Because the Cambrian explosion involved a significant number of separate lineages, achieving remarkable morphological breadth over millions of years, the Cambrian explosion can be considered an adaptive radiation only by stretching the term beyond all recognition… [T]he scale of morphological divergence is wholly incommensurate with that seen in other adaptive radiations. (p. 341)

The pathway from sponges to eumetazoans is the most enigmatic of any evolutionary transition in metazoans. This transition occurred during the Cryogenian, almost contemporaneously with the diversification of sponges. Many biologists concerned with metazoan phylogeny have been convinced that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” and have therefore assumed that the planktonic larval stages of invertebrate phyla represented their ancestral forms. The benthic nature of sponges and the paraphyly of the major clades demonstrate that planktonic stages could not have been ancestral to eumetazoans. Further, there are no living intermediates between sponges and eumetazoans, with the possible exception of placotozoans, and no obvious hints from the fossil record. (p. 324)

To be sure, all pairs of crown phyla had common ancestors; as far as we know, however, none of those bilaterian LCAs [last common ancestors - VJT] had features that would cause them to be diagnosed as members of living phyla, although that could be the case in a few instances. In other words, the morphological distances — gaps — between body plans of crown phyla were present when body fossils first appeared during the explosion and have been with us ever since. The morphological disparity is so great between most phyla that the homologous reference points or landmarks required for quantitative studies of morphology are absent. (p. 340)
(Emphases mine – VJT.)

Summing up his review of Erwin and Valentine’s book for the journal Science, Christopher J. Lowe wrote:

The Ediacaran and Cambrian periods witnessed a phase of morphological innovation in animal evolution unrivaled in metazoan history, yet the proximate causes of this body plan revolution remain decidedly murky. The grand puzzle of the Cambrian explosion surely must rank as one of the most important outstanding mysteries in evolutionary biology.
(Christopher J. Lowe, “What Led to Metazoa’s Big Bang?”, Science, Vol. 340: 1170-1171 (June 7, 2013). (Emphasis added – VJT.))

This is the big story that high school and college students in most Western countries have been shielded from hearing about – until now. Hopefully the publication of a book by two acknowledged scientific authorities on the Cambrian explosion will break the taboo that still surrounds discussion of this topic, in science classrooms – and since the authors are not Intelligent Design proponents, there can be no legal objection to a free and frank discussion of the claims made in their book. The weaknesses of the Darwinian story of the Cambrian explosion need to be exposed, for all to see.

Origin of life scenarios are plagued with problems that refuse to go away

The origin of life is often bracketed to one side by Darwinists, who argue that it falls outside the scope of the theory of evolution. But methodological naturalism (which is currently regarded as the “official” methodology of science) claims to provide a naturalistic account of origins, and in order to do that, it needs to show that the origin of life is at least a tractable problem, even if no solution to the problem has yet been found.

Last month, science reporter Suzan Mazur interviewed Dr. Steve Benner, director of the Florida-based Westheimer Institute at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, in a report for the Huffington Post. Mazur asked Dr. Benner several questions about an upcoming conference he will be chairing in January, called the “Origins of Life / Gordon Research Conference.” In the course of the interview, Benner referred to four major hurdles confronting any theory for getting from simple chemicals to a Darwinian replicator, such as RNA. Dr. Benner admitted that the track record to date in overcoming these hurdles has been one of unmitigated failure:

We have failed in any continuous way to provide a recipe that gets from the simple molecules that we know were present on early Earth to RNA. There is a discontinuous model which has many pieces, many of which have experimental support, but we’re up against these three or four paradoxes, which you and I have talked about in the past. The first paradox is the tendency of organic matter to devolve and to give tar. If you can avoid that, you can start to try to assemble things that are not tarry, but then you encounter the water problem, which is related to the fact that every interesting bond that you want to make is unstable, thermodynamically, with respect to water. If you can solve that problem, you have the problem of entropy, that any of the building blocks are going to be present in a low concentration; therefore, to assemble a large number of those building blocks, you get a gene-like RNA — 100 nucleotides long — that fights entropy. And the fourth problem is that even if you can solve the entropy problem, you have a paradox that RNA enzymes, which are maybe catalytically active, are more likely to be active in the sense that destroys RNA rather than creates RNA.

How many people know about these problems? Very few. And in case you’re wondering why, Mazur highlights the main reason at the beginning of her article: lack of transparency, illustrated by the secrecy surrounding the conference Dr. Benner will be directing later this month:

There is an elaborate registration process, a fee of over $1,000 to attend, and approval by Chairman Steve Benner required. Plus, conference goers are asked not to reveal what went on there.

(UPDATE: I have been informed that the “gag rule” is not as sinister as it sounds: it protects research-in-progress, which is often presented by conferees, and normal scientific priority concerns.)

Ms. Mazur has done the public a great service in getting a leading member of the scientific community to open up about the problems facing origin-of-life scenarios. It is high time that people realized the magnitude of the problem, and the publication of a revealing interview such as this one in the pages of The Huffington Post marks a major milestone.

Speculative new proposals, such as dynamic kinetic stability, fail to quantify, and therefore don’t deserve to be called science

During her interview with Dr. Benner, Suzan Mazur also referred to a recent paper by Robert Pascal et al., titled, Towards an evolutionary theory of the origin of life based on kinetics and thermodynamics (Open Biology, November 2013, doi: 10.1098/rsob.130156). After exposing the inadequacies of currently accepted models of the origin of life, the authors go on to propose a model of their own, in which the origin of life may have proceeded stepwise through states of partial “aliveness.” According to the authors, a rare kind of chemical stability, known as dynamic kinetic stability, was what permitted the development of entities that were capable of self-reproduction, and whose descendants gradually accumulated novel biological functions, over the course of geological time. However, the authors freely acknowledge what they refer to as “the difficulty in quantifying dynamic kinetic stability”:

Starting from the axiomatic principle that a transition to life is not physically and statistically impossible, and choosing a temperature compatible with the presence of liquid water, we end in a semi-quantitative representation consistent with life as we know it, which is based on covalent bonds and largely dependent, directly or indirectly, on visible light from the Sun (Scheme 5). This representation of the origin of life process has then the capability of explaining the living world in a consistent way. There has been a lively discussion on the opposition of Monod’s views considered above and de Duve’s ‘cosmic imperative’ [58]. Contrary to deterministic views, the ideas developed here do not allow any assessment of the level of probability of life and its emergence, nor any prediction of its evolutionary path. Rather they support the idea that spontaneous self-organization of systems manifesting many of the features of living beings is a reasonable possibility in the physical world, provided that several conditions are met.

To the untutored layperson, the authors’ suggested mechanism for the origin of life sounds plausible. And that’s precisely what’s wrong with it. The skeptical philosopher Dr. Stephen Law recently published a book about how we should form our beliefs, in which he argued that “any belief, no matter how ludicrous, can be made to be consistent with the available evidence, given a little patience and ingenuity.” Dr. Law’s point was that mere plausibility isn’t enough to make a theory true; any theory can be made to sound plausible. The only theories which are truly worthy of our belief are those which are probable, as opposed to merely plausible. And what makes a theory probable, according to Law, is the discovery of confirming evidence, which he defined as evidence such that the probability of finding it would be low, if the theory were false.

The big problem I have with the paper, Towards an evolutionary theory of the origin of life based on kinetics and thermodynamics by Pascal et al., is that it explicitly jettisons Law’s probability requirement, and lowers the evidential bar: a theory for the origin of life is now deemed adequate, so long as it is plausible. The authors contend that since it is impossible to calculate the probabilities of the emergence of life or its subsequent evolution along the pathway leading to the life-forms we observe on Earth today, it is enough to show that the evolution of life on Earth is “a reasonable possibility in the physical world” and that “a transition to life is not physically and statistically impossible.” In other words, the authors are defining plausibility, rather than probability, as the epistemic yardstick by which the theory of evolution ought to be judged. This, I have to say, is not science. And that in turn entails that modern theories of evolution are not scientific theories either, since they do not even attempt to quantify the time it should take for complex structures to evolve, which means that they should not be accorded the respect given to scientific theories.

The authors’ cavalier attitude to probability is especially problematic, in the light of recent research by Dr. Douglas Axe and Dr. Ann Gauger (see here and here), which suggests that even a relatively trivial change in the enzymatic function of a single protein is extremely unlikely to occur, and that Darwin’s mechanism would require a trillion trillion years – about 100 trillion times longer than the age of the universe – to bring it about. Axe and Gauger explain the significance of their research in highly accessible layperson’s language and respond to to their critics here, here and here.

Calculating the probabilities: Eugene Koonin admits that the origin of life requires a multiverse

The best way of getting around the improbability of life evolving on Earth is to invoke the multiverse. Dr. Eugene V. Koonin is a Senior Investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which is part of the National Library of Medicine, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Dr. Koonin is also a recognized authority in the field of evolutionary and computational biology. Recently, he authored a book, titled, The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution (Upper Saddle River: FT Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-13-262317-9). I think we can fairly assume that when it comes to origin-of-life scenarios, he knows what he’s talking about.

In Appendix B of his book, The Logic of Chance, Dr. Koonin argues that the origin of life is such a remarkable event that we need to postulate a multiverse, containing a very large (and perhaps infinite) number of universes, in order to explain the emergence of life on Earth.

The reason why Dr. Koonin believes we need to postulate a multiverse in order to solve the riddle of the origin of life on Earth is that all life is dependent on replication and translation systems which are fiendishly complex. As Koonin puts it:

The origin of the translation system is, arguably, the central and the hardest problem in the study of the origin of life, and one of the hardest in all evolutionary biology. The problem has a clear catch-22 aspect: high translation fidelity hardly can be achieved without a complex, highly evolved set of RNAs and proteins but an elaborate protein machinery could not evolve without an accurate translation system.

Dr. Koonin claims that the emergence of even a basic replication-translation system on the primordial Earth is such an astronomically unlikely event that we would need to postulate a vast number of universes, in which all possible scenarios are played out, in order to make its emergence likely.

To justify this claim, Dr. Koonin provides what he calls “a rough, toy calculation of the upper bound of the probability of the emergence of a coupled replication-translation system in an O-region.” (That’s an observable universe, such as the one we live in.) The calculations on pages 434-435 in Appendix B of Dr. Koonin’s book, The Logic of Chance, are adapted from his peer-reviewed article, The Cosmological Model of Eternal Inflation and the Transition from Chance to Biological Evolution in the History of Life, Biology Direct 2 (2007): 15, doi:10.1186/1745-6150-2-15. As readers can verify for themselves, the wording is virtually identical in the 2007 article. I shall reproduce the relevant passage below (bold emphases are mine – VJT):

Probabilities of the emergence, by chance, of different versions of the breakthrough system in an O-region: a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the upper bounds

…A ribozyme replicase consisting of ~100 nucleotides is conceivable, so, in principle, spontaneous origin of such an entity in a finite universe consisting of a single O-region cannot be ruled out in this toy model (again, the rate of RNA synthesis considered here is a deliberate, gross over-estimate).

The requirements for the emergence of a primitive, coupled replication-translation system, which is considered a candidate for the breakthrough stage in this paper, are much greater. At a minimum, spontaneous formation of the following is required:

- Two rRNAs with a total size of at least 1000 nucleotides

- Approximately 10 primitive adaptors of about 30 nucleotides each, for a total of approximately 300 nucleotides

- At least one RNA encoding a replicase, about 500 nucleotides (low bound)is required. Under the notation used here, n = 1800, resulting in E <10-1018.

In other words, even in this toy model that assumes a deliberately inflated rate of RNA production, the probability that a coupled translation-replication emerges by chance in a single O-region is P < 10-1018. Obviously, this version of the breakthrough stage can be considered only in the context of a universe with an infinite (or, at the very least, extremely vast) number of O-regions.

The model considered here is not supposed to be realistic by any account. It only serves to illustrate the difference in the demands on chance for the origin of different versions of the breakthrough system and, hence, the connections between these versions and different cosmological models of the universe.

Dr. Koonin’s 2007 paper, which contained the above calculations, passed a panel of four reviewers, including one from Harvard University, who wrote:

In this work, Eugene Koonin estimates the probability of arriving at a system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution and comes to a cosmologically small number… He cites recent work in cosmology that highlights the vastness of the universe, where any series of events is necessarily played out an infinite number of times. This so-called “many-worlds in one” model essentially reconceives any chance event as a necessary one, where its (absolute) abundance is proportional to its chance of occurring.

The context of this article is framed by the current lack of a complete and plausible scenario for the origin of life. Koonin specifically addresses the front-runner model, that of the RNA-world, where self-replicating RNA molecules precede a translation system. He notes that in addition to the difficulties involved in achieving such a system is the paradox of attaining a translation system through Darwinian selection. That this is indeed a bona-fide paradox is appreciated by the fact that, without a shortage [of] effort, a plausible scenario for translation evolution has not been proposed to date. There have been other models for the origin of life, including the ground-breaking Lipid-world model advanced by Segrè, Lancet and colleagues (reviewed in EMBO Reports (2000), 1(3), 217–222), but despite much ingenuity and effort, it is fair to say that all origin of life models suffer from astoundingly low probabilities of actually occurring

…[F]uture work may show that starting from just a simple assembly of molecules, non-anthropic principles can account for each step along the rise to the threshold of Darwinian evolution. Based upon the new perspective afforded to us by Koonin this now appears unlikely. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

I am very pleased to see that the argument presented in Koonin’s peer-reviewed paper was republished in his recent book, The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution (Upper Saddle River: FT Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-13-262317-9). It is encouraging to see that the experts within the field of origin-of-life studies are finally starting to speak the truth in a public forum: the origin of life on Earth, by any naturalistic scenario, must have been an astronomically improbable event. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before high school and college students get to hear about this, as well.

Why the multiverse won’t help explain the origin of life

But for all its ingenuity, Dr. Koonin’s multiverse won’t work. The multiverse hypothesis is plagued by two problems: first, it merely shifts the fine-tuning problem up one level, as a multiverse capable of generating any life-supporting universes at all would still need to be fine-tuned; and second, even the multiverse hypothesis implies that a sizable proportion of universes (including perhaps our own) were intelligently designed. Once again, the articles arguing for these conclusions are written by highly respected authorities in the field.

Dr. Robin Collins is a Professor of Philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. Dr. Collins also spent two years in a Ph.D. program in Physics at the University of Texas at Austin before transferring to the University of Notre Dame where he received a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1993. In an influential essay entitled, The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe (in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, 2009, Blackwell Publishing Ltd.), Dr. Robin Collins offers a scientific explanation of why even a “multiverse-generator” would still fail to eliminate the need for fine-tuning:

[A]s a test case, consider the inflationary type multiverse generator. In order for it to explain the fine-tuning of the constants, it must hypothesize one or more “mechanisms” for laws that will do the following [four] things: (i) cause the expansion of a small region of space into a very large region; (ii) generate the very large amount of mass-energy needed for that region to contain matter instead of merely empty space; (iii) convert the mass-energy of inflated space to the sort of mass-energy we find in our universe; and (iv) cause sufficient variations among the constants of physics to explain their fine-tuning.

[T]o achieve (i)–(ii), we effectively have a sort of “conspiracy” between at least two different factors: the inflaton field that gives empty space a positive energy density, and Einstein’s equation… of General Relativity, which dictates that space expand at an enormous rate in the presence of a large near-homogenous positive energy density… Without either factor, there would neither be regions of space that inflate nor would those regions have the mass-energy necessary for a universe to exist.

In addition to the four factors listed, the fundamental physical laws underlying a multiverse generator – whether of the inflationary type or some other – must be just right in order for it to produce life-permitting universes, instead of merely dead universes. Specifically, these fundamental laws must be such as to allow the conversion of the mass-energy into material forms that allow for the sort of stable complexity needed for complex intelligent life…

In sum, even if an inflationary-superstring multiverse generator exists, it must have just the right combination of laws and fields for the production of life-permitting universes: if one of the components were missing or different, such as Einstein’s equation or the Pauli Exclusion Principle, it is unlikely that any life-permitting universes could be produced. Consequently, at most, this highly speculative scenario would explain the fine-tuning of the constants of physics, but at the cost of postulating additional fine-tuning of the laws of nature.

There’s another problem with the multiverse hypothesis, too. Physicist Paul Davies has argued that the multiverse hypothesis is just as “theological” as the hypothesis that there is a God, since it implies the existence of intelligently designed universes:

Among the myriad universes similar to ours will be some in which technological civilizations advance to the point of being able to simulate consciousness. Eventually, entire virtual worlds will be created inside computers, their conscious inhabitants unaware that they are the simulated products of somebody else’s technology. For every original world, there will be a stupendous number of available virtual worlds – some of which would even include machines simulating virtual worlds of their own, and so on ad infinitum.

Taking the multiverse theory at face value, therefore, means accepting that virtual worlds are more numerous than “real” ones. There is no reason to expect our world – the one in which you are reading this right now – to be real as opposed to a simulation. And the simulated inhabitants of a virtual world stand in the same relationship to the simulating system as human beings stand in relation to the traditional Creator.

Far from doing away with a transcendent Creator, the multiverse theory actually injects that very concept at almost every level of its logical structure. Gods and worlds, creators and creatures, lie embedded in each other, forming an infinite regress in unbounded space.

— Paul Davies, A Brief History of the Multiverse, New York Times, 12 April 2003.

Both Collins’ and Davies’ articles, which expose the flaws in appealing to the multiverse hypothesis as an alternative to theism, are freely available at Websites which make no attempt to push a theistic worldview: Collins’ paper is available at commonsenseatheism.com/, for instance. As such, these sites are above suspicion, and teachers wishing to foster critical thinking skills in their students should not hesitate to make use of the articles they contain, which call into question not only the Darwinian theory of evolution, but also the reigning naturalistic worldview.

Let us hope, then, that 2014 brings further good tidings in the fight against ignorance and scientific “groupthink.”

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128 Responses to It’s time for scientists to come clean with the public about evolution and the origin of life

  1. Its time Darwinists tell the world what’s really going on and what needs to be changed. I’m not in the mood to spend a hour of my day learning something thats not true. Im truly sick of it and it needs to stop now.

  2. vjtorley the reason they cling to their faith in darwinian processes is because intelligent designers can not be in the picture. As one scientist that I currently do not know the name of said “we cannot allow a divine foot in the door”.

  3. I think the publics confidence in evolution or confidence in its critics is based on the publics trust in authority.
    For uneducated people on this issue, which is 85% or so, I don’t see why they should reject evolution or support it. Its just about who they consider the experts. Some the bible, some historic beliefs in God(s) , or some in academia as they perceive it.
    It comes done therefore to the evidence being presented to mankind with enough time and breaks for snacks.

  4. One of the most ironic aspects of multiverse theories, in my opinion, is that they completely undermine the traditional skeptical arguments against miracles. Miracles are discounted because they’re deemed to be so extraordinarily improbable as to be all but impossible, but in a multiverse anything that’s possible, no matter how improbable, will be actual in some world. Thus, in some world the very improbable event of a man dead for three days revivifying will, in fact, occur. Who’s to say that our world is not the world in which it does?

    How can anyone who advocates a multiverse scoff at miracles?

  5. Hi Dick,

    You make an interesting point about miracles. I suppose a skeptic might argue that while miracles will occur in some worlds containing intelligent beings, the proportion of those worlds is vanishingly small – smaller than the proportion of worlds in which intelligent beings mistake natural events for miracles. (This is basically what Hume was getting at.) But if there is very powerful evidence for the miracle, and the probability of this evidence occurring if there hadn’t been a miracle is astronomically low, then even though the prior probability of the miracle is also low, the probability that the event that occurred was a miracle, given the evidence, may turn out to be high. (William Lane Craig often makes this point in his debates on miracles.)

    Charles Babbage argued in his Ninth Bridgewater Treatise that the existence of a sufficient number of independent eyewitnesses can render any miracle testimony credible, and on that point, I think he was mathematically correct.

    However, “miraculous” events occurring in the multiverse are not truly miracles (in the sense of “acts of God”); they are simply very rare natural events. And the problem with these events is that unlike acts of God, their prior probability has to be calculated from the bottom up. The prior probability of the particles of a dead man’s body reassembling into a living body is orders of magnitude lower than the probability even of multiple independent eyewitnesses being mistaken. It’ll be exponentially low, and the exponent will dependent on the number of particles being rearranged, which will always be much larger than the number of eyewitnesses. So even a number x (the likelihood of one witness being mistaken) raised to the power of n (the number of eyewitnesses) will still be far higher than the prior likelihood of the particles of a dead man’s body reassembling into a living body.

    True miracles, on the other hand, are wrought by God “from the top down.” That is, God makes the prior decision to bring a dead body back to life, and then sets about reassembling the particles. So the prior improbability we have to consider is the likelihood that God would make a decision like that. Some skeptics argue that in view of the vast number of possible miracles God could bring about, the prior likelihood that He’d being about this one is very low. I would argue instead that when calculating the likelihood of a miracle such as a resurrection, since we know nothing about God’s modus operandi, we should use Laplace’s law of large numbers, and set it at 1 over the number of people who have died, or about 10^-11. That’s improbable, but not vastly improbable. The testimony of a dozen independent eyewitnesses, each with a likelihood of 10^-2 of being mistaken about what they see, should easily suffice to overcome such odds.

  6. Hi Jaceli123,

    Here’s the quote from Richard Lewontin’s review of Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, at http://www.drjbloom.com/Public.....Review.htm , titled “Billions and Billions of Demons” (New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997):

    Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. 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 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, 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.

    My comment here would be that Lewontin, in setting the probability of a miracle at zero, is violating Cromwell’s rule. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cromwell's_rule .

  7. But if committed evolutionists admit there is a fundamental problem in the theory, then it will lend comfort to the enemy and might lead to open debate and further critical inquiry into the theory… (slippery slope!) So isn’t it better just to keep bluffing? Put yourself in their shoes.

  8. The origin of life is often bracketed to one side by Darwinists, who argue that it falls outside the scope of the theory of evolution.

    Of course it falls outside the theory of evolution. Evolution requires a system of heritable traits with random variation. This cannot be used to explain how the system arose in the first place.

    But methodological naturalism (which is currently regarded as the “official” methodology of science) claims to provide a naturalistic account of origins, and in order to do that, it needs to show that the origin of life is at least a tractable problem, even if no solution to the problem has yet been found.

    In what sense needs to show it?  Scientists admit they don’t know the answer and keep on suggesting hypotheses – what is wrong with that?

    You appear to have another hypothesis which is some kind of supernatural intervention. Give us the details we will see if that one holds up.

  9. Scientists would come clean if the public really wanted to hear that life is designed. I’m not sure the heart of man really longs for the truth. You saw for yourself the unease and reaction to very simple question about 500 coins being heads.

    VJTorley,

    Still, there are heartening signs that the wall of ignorance supporting the dam of evolutionary orthodoxy is about to collapse.

    It’s heartening for those of us willing to consider Design, but not so heartening given the willful blindness out there.

    The irony is at no other time in perhaps the last 1000 years is the Design argument more brutally obvious than today, but at the same time the willingness to love darkness is also proportionally great.

    If I may offer a speculation, the hardness of men’s hearts, just like Pharoah in the time of Moses is also by design. The circumstantial evidence is there, but people won’t see it if they are determined to close their eyes.

    Even up to the last year I was willing to give the critics some slack, but then when I saw all the debate surrounding the simple question of 500 coins, the unwillingness to grant even an ounce of charitable reading, blind bias was brutally obvious.

    If critics gave even one ounce of the skepticism regarding the 500-coin illustration to evolutionary and OOL theories, they’d have little reason to be assenting to them.

    It seems society will fracture and polarize. If I could expatriate, I would, but unfortunately, as Jesus said, the wheat and tares must grow together until judgment day. So I’m stuck living in a society of Darwinists.

    Mark Frank:

    Give us the details we will see if that one holds up.

    I’ll give you a testable hypothesis. One day, you’ll meet your Creator on judgment day. If that happens, I suppose you won’t be in a position to be making demands…

    You might complain that it would be helpful to have more data in hand and if you saw God today, you’ll believe. I respect that, but there’s an old saying, “play the hand you’ve been dealt.” If you want to play the hand by saying you don’t believe in Design because you’ve not been dealt a hand that is sufficiently convincing, then I respect that, but as I’ve pointed out, if you are right, the payoff is zero, but if you’re wrong, …..

  10. Sal

    I’ll give you a testable hypothesis. One day, you’ll meet your Creator on judgment day. If that happens, I suppose you won’t be in a position to be making demands…

    If that happens it will be good news – but I asked for details of this hypothesis about the origin of life so we can assess it now as scientists; just as the numerous papers VJ quotes have assessed other hypotheses.

    You might complain that it would be helpful to have more data in hand and if you saw God today, you’ll believe. I respect that, but there’s an old saying, “play the hand you’ve been dealt.” If you want to play the hand by saying you don’t believe in Design because you’ve not been dealt a hand that is sufficiently convincing, then I respect that, but as I’ve pointed out, if you are right, the payoff is zero, but if you’re wrong, …..

    Pascal’s wager! It is a fallacy. I don’t know the consequences if I am wrong. Maybe the creator gives lots of marks for intellectual honesty – even if it is misplaced – and I would get severely marked down for pretending to believe in something I didn’t believe in.

  11. but I asked for details of this hypothesis about the origin of life so we can assess it now as scientists;

    As if assessing things as scientists is more important than assessing it as human beings who may have a stake in the matter of design.

    What if the Origin of Life is not repeatable even in principle. You’ll be stuck with something that is true, but not accessible to science.

    I have a few coins on my table. They’ll be randomly scrambled when I put them in my pocket. We’ll never be able to prove definitively what orientation they were in (heads or tails) 1 million years form now, but that doesn’t detract from the fact I see one of them as heads. Scientifically, that can never be proven by scientists a thousand years from now, but it doesn’t make the claim any less true.

    The problem is that the most important truths of the physical universe may not be accessible to science. That’s not a theological claim, but a claim based on the rules of science it self:

    1. Heisenberg uncertainty
    2. erasure of Information based on noise
    3. inability to retain all historical information

    etc.

    So, by your standard, you might preclude knowing something true because of the inability to repeat the origin of life. Apparently, any argument from theoretical expectation won’t convince you that a supernatural act is the best explanation. I respect that, but on the other hand, let’s not pretend the best and most fundamental truths about the physical universe are necessarily accessible to science. The most important data points may have been erased, and all we are left with is trying to perceive the past via inferences. So lack of repeatability is no argument against supernatural events, and supernatural events, as a matter of principle aren’t repeatable at the whims of a scientist.

    I think the best inference is a supernatural cause because it is coherent. Multiverses, chemical evolution, Darwinian evolution are incoherent explanations.

    Does physics suggest an Almighty Designer? If we permit some fringe speculaitons, the answer is yes. See:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-designer/

    So we have a presumptive Designer possible, and we have evidence conforming to a design. On circumstantial grounds I find it believable. Darwinian evolution, mindless OOL on the other hand I find as a believable as square circles in Euclidean geometry.

    Thus, I think VJ Torley’s idea is a superior explanation. Whether you want to call it science or not, I don’t care, because if VJ is right, in the scheme of things whether supernaturalism is scientific or not, the question would be a moot one.

  12. The American public did look to be a basket-case comparable to Muslim dominated countries when it came to the widespread acceptance of the Theory of Evolution. Fortunately for America the next generation looks to be reversing that trend of ignorance and catching up to the rest of the developed world. This’ll prove to be vastly profitable for America in standing its ground in biology.

    The origin of life consists of a number of hypotheses. The study of these is very well documented and transparent. Most require a good understanding of chemistry though to read. How else are scientists supposed to come clean ? Sure there will be papers behind paywalls but that applies to all science and technology fields today. As a field of study, Abiogenesis is a hard problem by its very nature of reconstructing one of Earth’s oldest historical events with such an accuracy that the event is repeatable and reproducible enough to be deemed science. Detractors of the Theory of Evolution that support their argument by throwing rhetoric about abiogenesis around seem to have a rose-tinted view of the world in which solutions to problems just pop into existence like magic. Scientific discoveries do not work that way.

  13. As to Darwinists/Atheists who are open enough to consider the fact that ID ‘may’ be science, I ask you ‘are you open enough to considered the fact that Darwinism may not be science?’

    “On the other hand, I disagree that Darwin’s theory is as `solid as any explanation in science.; Disagree? I regard the claim as preposterous. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen or so decimal places; so, too, general relativity. A leaf trembling in the wrong way would suffice to shatter either theory. What can Darwinian theory offer in comparison?”
    (Berlinski, D., “A Scientific Scandal?: David Berlinski & Critics,” Commentary, July 8, 2003)

    “For many years I thought that it is a mathematical scandal that we do not have a proof that Darwinian evolution works.”
    Gregory Chaitin – Proving Darwin 2012 – Highly Respected Mathematician

    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.”
    Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.

    “nobody to date has yet found a demarcation criterion according to which Darwin can be described as scientific”
    – Imre Lakatos (November 9, 1922 – February 2, 1974) a philosopher of mathematics and science, quote as stated in 1973 LSE Scientific Method Lecture

    Oxford University Seeks Mathemagician — May 5th, 2011 by Douglas Axe
    Excerpt: Grand theories in physics are usually expressed in mathematics. Newton’s mechanics and Einstein’s theory of special relativity are essentially equations. Words are needed only to interpret the terms. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has obstinately remained in words since 1859. …
    http://biologicinstitute.org/2.....emagician/

    Macroevolution, microevolution and chemistry: the devil is in the details – Dr. V. J. Torley – February 27, 2013
    Excerpt: After all, mathematics, scientific laws and observed processes are supposed to form the basis of all scientific explanation. If none of these provides support for Darwinian macroevolution, then why on earth should we accept it? Indeed, why does macroevolution belong in the province of science at all, if its scientific basis cannot be demonstrated?
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....e-details/

    In fact, although Darwinism has no rigid mathematical demarcation criteria so a to demarcate it as a ‘hard’ science, in so far as math can be applied to Darwinian presuppositions through population genetics, math does falsify Darwinian claims:

    Waiting Longer for Two Mutations – Michael J. Behe
    Excerpt: Citing malaria literature sources (White 2004) I had noted that the de novo appearance of chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum was an event of probability of 1 in 10^20. I then wrote that ‘for humans to achieve a mutation like this by chance, we would have to wait 100 million times 10 million years’ (1 quadrillion years)(Behe 2007) (because that is the extrapolated time that it would take to produce 10^20 humans). Durrett and Schmidt (2008, p. 1507) retort that my number ‘is 5 million times larger than the calculation we have just given’ using their model (which nonetheless “using their model” gives a prohibitively long waiting time of 216 million years). Their criticism compares apples to oranges. My figure of 10^20 is an empirical statistic from the literature; it is not, as their calculation is, a theoretical estimate from a population genetics model.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/9461

    (Also see Axe and Gauger’s in BioComplexity)

    Whereas nobody can seem to come up with a rigid demarcation criteria for Darwinism, Intelligent Design (ID) does not suffer from such a lack of mathematical rigor:

    Evolutionary Informatics Lab – Main Publications
    http://evoinfo.org/publications/

    ,, the empirical falsification criteria of ID is much easier to understand than the math is, and is as such:

    “Orr maintains that the theory of intelligent design is not falsifiable. He’s wrong. To falsify design theory a scientist need only experimentally demonstrate that a bacterial flagellum, or any other comparably complex system, could arise by natural selection. If that happened I would conclude that neither flagella nor any system of similar or lesser complexity had to have been designed. In short, biochemical design would be neatly disproved.”
    – Dr Behe in 1997

    Michael Behe on Falsifying Intelligent Design – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8jXXJN4o_A

    Well, do neo-Darwinists have evidence of even one molecular machine arising by Darwinian processes?,,, I have yet to see even a single novel protein arise by purely neo-Darwinian processes much less a entire molecular machine! Without such a demonstration and still their dogmatic insistence that Darwinism is true, then as far as I can tell, the actual demarcation threshold for believing neo-Darwinism is true is this:

    Darwinism Not Proved Impossible Therefore Its True – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/10285716/

    How Darwinists React to Improbability Arguments (Dumb and Dumber – You mean there’s a chance!?!) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9IgLueodZA

    Music and Verse:

    Nine Inch Nails – Everyday Is Exactly The Same – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEHHE64xpfY

    2 Peter 1:16
    For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

    ,, I hope neo-Darwinists can help us to designate a more rigid threshold for neo-Darwinism, since as far as I can tell, without a rigid demarcation criteria, neo-Darwinism is in actuality the pseudo-science they accuse Intelligent Design of being!

  14. This’ll prove to be vastly profitable for America in standing its ground in biology.

    No it will not. Biological understanding is denigrated because of evolutionary theories. I asked the question of evolutionists, what scientific and technological benefit is there if evolution is true. There was not one credible response:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....e-to-gain/

    If evolutionism hinders the numbers of individuals studying science because individuals (like say Richard Sternberg, Caroline Crocker, Perceval Davis, Dean Kenyon, etc.) question Darwin, this will be bad for science. These were PhD scientists with good track records that were pummeled into the ground because they dared to question Darwinism. That may only be the tip of the iceberg in terms of how much scientific talent is thrown away because of insistence on Darwinism because we have no record of the many aspiring science students were discouraged by hostile pro-Darwin faculty.

    I recall a creationist grad marine biologist telling me her first day of class the prof said if you believe in the Bible you can’t understand genetics. Evolutionism is harming science, not helping it.

  15. VJ,

    A scientist did come clean once when he said:

    In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics.

    Jerry Coyne

    Coyne at the time was expressing embarrassment that evolutionary psychologists Thornhill and Palmer said that rape is a selectively beneficial trait in humanss. Despite this one time moment of honesty, Coyne acts as Neo-Darwinism is as important to science as electromagnetism.

  16. Sal

    As if assessing things as scientists is more important than assessing it as human beings who may have a stake in the matter of design.
    What if the Origin of Life is not repeatable even in principle. You’ll be stuck with something that is true, but not accessible to science.

    The OP was about how scientists should “come clean” which implies they are hiding something. What are they expected to do about the OOL? There is no proof that the OOL cannot be investigated scientifically as there is in the case of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. What can they can do except try to find explanations (or possibly proofs that it is inaccessible). As long as they don’t pretend they have the answer – and in the case of OOL they don’t – this doesn’t amount to hiding anything. What more can they do?
    Having said that, I understood VJ’s case to be different. I read it that he is saying that science should be extended to include supernatural explanations. If supernatural explanations are to be included in science then there has to be some way of assessing them. That was why I asked for the detail of the supernatural hypothesis for OOL so it could be assessed.>

  17. Hi Mark Frank,

    Thank you for your posts (and thank you, Sal, for your responses). A couple of quick points.

    1. You say scientists don’t pretend they have the answer to the OOL. When I was in high school, the Miller-Urey experiment was held up as evidence for the origin of life in a primordial soup. They didn’t tell us that the amino acids synthesized in that experiment have only about 10 atoms, while the smallest independently existing bacterium has over 100 billion. We heard about the scarcity of pre-Cambrian fossils, but we were told that it was because they were soft-bodied back then, which is why they didn’t fossilize well. Haeckel’s embryo photos were cited as strong evidence for evolution. I’d say there was a lack of honesty.

    2. Re a good rival supernatural hypothesis, how about the following?
    (a) A supernatural being produced the first living cell, first sentient being and first sapient being.
    (b) A supernatural being produced each and every species, where a “species” is defined by a taxon’s possession of several hundred proteins distinguishing it.
    (c) A supernatural being produced each and every family, order, class and phylum of living thing, but species and genera evolved naturally.

  18. Dr.Vjt,
    Scientists supporting YEC should also come clean and explain their real motive in supporting alternate cosmology hypothesis (electric universe, plasma cosmology, tired light, steady state etc.) which seek to confuse the common man – given the fact that the common man is already confused with an array of theories from main stream physicist :-)

  19. VJ

    Please excuse me if I stick to OOL. I am not sufficiently expert in evolution to dispute the issue.

    The Miller-Urey experiment is held up as evidence for the original of life in a primordial soup in the sense that is shows how amino acids might be created. It is not held up as proof nor is it held up as giving anything like a complete account of OOL. I believe the phrase is “building blocks of life”. I cannot think of any scientist or scientific publication which pretends that this is any more than one hypothesis about one stage in OOL. Of course there is an enormous leap from there to fully fledged bacteria. Furthermore there is no shortage of critical assessment of the Miller-Urey experiment from scientists. They are able to do this because it proposes a mechanism for how life originated.

    What is your “hypothesis”:

    A supernatural being produced the first living cell, first sentient being and first sapient being.

    (Your other hypotheses are about OOL)

    Where’s even the beginnings of the detail? What being? When? How? What experiments or observations can a scientist make to evaluate this hypothesis?

  20. Mr Frank asks:

    “Where’s even the beginnings of the detail?,,, When? How? What experiments or observations can a scientist make to evaluate this hypothesis?”

    Mr Frank, Might we ask the same detail of your ‘random’ postulate at the base of your preferred naturalistic theory for the origin of life???

    Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Wolfgang Pauli on the Empirical Problems with Neo-Darwinism – Casey Luskin – February 27, 2012
    Excerpt: While they (Darwinian Biologists) 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.’” Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28) -
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....56771.html

    Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness – Talbott – Fall 2011
    Excerpt: In the case of evolution, I picture Dennett and Dawkins filling the blackboard with their vivid descriptions of living, highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes, and then inserting a small, mysterious gap in the middle, along with the words, “Here something random occurs.”
    This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle. It is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness, a “Randomness of the gaps,” demanding an extraordinarily blind faith. At the very least, we have a right to ask, “Can you be a little more explicit here?”
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....randomness

    ,, Mr Frank, can you be a little more explicit here?

  21. Of course it falls outside the theory of evolution. Evolution requires a system of heritable traits with random variation

    A couple of things wrong here.

    First, nearly every theory I have seen for a naturalistic OOL requires self replicating molecules which by definition is a form of heritability. Why is this essential? So some form of selection can take place.

    Second, there are other theories that do not require random variation to explain changes in life forms that somehow are necessary for macro changes to organisms to occur.

  22. BA77

    Whenever any one wants to demand anything of a supernatural explanation – even the broadest outlines – the usual reaction is to change the subject to criticising various natural explanations as you did.

  23. I think the origin of life is just not one of those things that you can investigate scientifically. Mark Frank asks “where is the detail?” when it comes to supernatural explainations. I ask “where is the evidence?” when it comes to the naturalistic explainations. It is concievable that someday somewhere someone may come up with a detailed model of how life could have arisen by naturalistic processes. That’s great, however now you are only half way there. You need to test the model, which I don’t think is possible in principle. How are you going to test chemical reactions that took place 4 billion years ago? Yet, if this ever happens the scientific establishment will hold it up as scientific proof that life appeared naturalistically. Abiogenesis is more of a branch of philosophy than science.

  24. Mark Frank’s argument against ID has been for years that there is no evidence that some intelligent being ever existed before humans. Therefore, no ID.

    ID uses the existence of life and the universe to postulate that there must have been an intelligent being because no naturalistic process has the power to cause life and the organization we see in the universe.

    Taking the ID position a step further, adherents will often say that if a being did create the universe and life, this being has to be of immense intelligence. And to suppose we can use our human faculties to understand such a being would be folly.

    So whose position is more internally logical or non-contradictory? I happen to believe Mark Frank’s position is less plausible but as we know from our view of the world, people will do all sorts of things to prevent a discussion of these positions from taking place. I have never seen Mark Frank honestly discuss his position on the universe, life or evolution. It is always criticism. So to claim that we change the subject is absurd.

  25. Mr Frank, and exactly how is your ‘random’ postulate differentiated from a ‘supernatural’ explanation? Please be specific.

    Basically, if the word random were left in this fuzzy, undefined, state one could very well argue as Theistic Evolutionists argue, and as even Alvin Plantinga himself has argued at the 8:15 minute mark of this following video,,

    How can an Immaterial God Interact with the Physical Universe? (Alvin Plantinga) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kfzD3ofUb4

    ,,, that each random event that occurs in the universe could be considered a ‘miracle’ of God.

    So please Mr. Frank how do you differentiate your ‘random’ postulate from a supernatural explanation? I’m pretty sure a few philosophers of science would be very interested in your successful resolution of the matter!

  26. MF:

    The Miller-Urey experiment is held up as evidence for the original of life in a primordial soup in the sense that is shows how amino acids might be created.

    That’s like saying since mother nature can produce stones, big stones, it produced Stonehenge.

    And BTW Mark, if you can’t say anything about the OoL then you can’t say anything about evolution as the two are directly linked. If the OoL = design then we would infer living organisms were designed to evolve and evolved by design.

    It is only if life was an accident, ie a happenstance occurreence would we infer life evolved via accumulations of genetic accidents.

    And it is very telling that evos refuse to grasp that simple fact…

  27. MF:

    Whenever any one wants to demand anything of a supernatural explanation –

    ID doesn’t require the supernatural. You are just confused.

  28. LoL! Lizzie took a shot at this OP but she doesn’t even grasp what Darwininan evolution entails.

  29. Mark,

    Excuse me if I intrude. I would like to suggest an hypothesis which may have some detail.

    Let’s say life originated with some form of prokaryote, with the basic systems for DNA duplication, transcription and translation well ready to work. IOWs, let’s say that LUCA was also the FUCA. And let’s say that LUCA came into being for the rather sudden assemblage of inorganic matter into a prokaryote cell, as we could witness in a lab, if only we were able to design a cell in a lab.

    That is an hypothesis that has some detail, that is fully compatible with ID and very scarcely compatible with any other non design hypothesis. And, in principle, those details can be, sometime, verified, as our understanding of natural history deepens.

    Just a suggestion.

  30. Random, wrt darwinian evolution, means chance/ happenstance/ accidental.And natural selection is blind and without purpose.

    I would love to see someone from TSZ but together a testable hypothesis using their proposed mechanism of accumulations of genetic accidents. I would really love to see how they determined all genetic change is accidental.

    The point being that without ID they wouldn’t have anything to talk about. And, as it stands, all they can do is knock down caricatures of ID…

  31. Mark:

    Another point. I suppose you are slightly underestimating the consciousness of “evolution is a fact” and OOL explanations are a fact” in our culture, both academic and not. Scientists may retain some caution when they write papers (but they often don’t even do that), but the darwinian propaganda is strong everywhere. Most people receive the dogma that both OOL and evolution of species have very strong scientific explanations in the darwinian context. Any suggestion of the contrary is strongly regarded as heretic at best.

    These are simple facts. Our interlocutors, including you, are rather willing, here, to admit, here, that “we don’t know this”, or “we don’t know that”, but what is the music in the general world, or, just to mention it, at TSZ, or ATBC?

    You are a very reasonable opponent, and you yourself admit that you are “not sufficiently expert in evolution to dispute the issue”. And you would probably admit that no OOL theory is even near to some credible explanation. And yet, you do come here and in other places essentially to antagonize (although in a very civil way) ID.

    Well, I come here (and sometimes in other places) to defend ID because I do believe that it is a good theory, that it can explain biological realities better than any other paradigm, and that it opens important avenues to intelligent research. And I believe that I am “sufficiently expert” to believe that way.

    I think both our positions are correct, but we can maybe reflect a moment on their differences, because that tells much about the intellectual debate that is at stake.

  32. Still no rabbits in the Cambrian, though, so why start questioning Evolution?

  33. OMG! Lizzie is soooo clueless that she thinks GAs model darwinian evolution! That is perhaps the most ignorant thing ever.

    So if a designer designs a GA to accomplish something, and it does, it did NOT accomplish it by design. That the GA accomplished something was totally accidental- according to Lizzie.

    BTW shew also thinks that AVIDA is a GA- LoL!

  34. Thanks vjtorley our first unit for the semester is population genetics and evolution. Can’t wait here the darwin bull cr*p that comes out of my teachers mouth. Our text books are from 2004 so everything is kind of out dated. The authors are ken miller and levine.

  35. Jeff M #23

    I think the origin of life is just not one of those things that you can investigate scientifically. Mark Frank asks “where is the detail?” when it comes to supernatural explainations. I ask “where is the evidence?” when it comes to the naturalistic explainations. It is concievable that someday somewhere someone may come up with a detailed model of how life could have arisen by naturalistic processes. That’s great, however now you are only half way there. You need to test the model, which I don’t think is possible in principle. How are you going to test chemical reactions that took place 4 billion years ago? Yet, if this ever happens the scientific establishment will hold it up as scientific proof that life appeared naturalistically. Abiogenesis is more of a branch of philosophy than science.

    You are right that it is a problem to come up with a definitive proof of what happened billions of years ago.  But it is not impossible. Events have consequences and leave traces and they conform to laws of physics and chemistry. Maybe we will never know the truth but it does not follow that (a) we should stop trying  (b) the explanation is in fact supernatural (c) it is somehow dishonest to seek natural explanations.

  36. #24 Jerry

    I have never seen Mark Frank honestly discuss his position on the universe, life or evolution. It is always criticism. So to claim that we change the subject is absurd.

    This is a non-sequitur. When asked to give any detail about their hypotheses IDists typically change the subject independent of whatever I believe or discuss – Gpuccio is an honourable exception. If you want to know my position on fundamental things like the origin of the universe it is largely “I don’t know”.

  37. Gpuccio #29
     

    Let’s say life originated with some form of prokaryote, with the basic systems for DNA duplication, transcription and translation well ready to work. IOWs, let’s say that LUCA was also the FUCA. And let’s say that LUCA came into being for the rather sudden assemblage of inorganic matter into a prokaryote cell, as we could witness in a lab, if only we were able to design a cell in a lab. That is an hypothesis that has some detail, that is fully compatible with ID and very scarcely compatible with any other non design hypothesis.

    That is the beginnings of a hypothesis. It skips the difficult bit by proposing there was a “rather sudden assemblage of inorganic matter into a prokaryote cell”. Do you seriously think scientists should investigate this hypothesis? It certainly makes science a lot easier if you can answer the difficult bits by proposing “there was a sudden assemblage”

    And, in principle, those details can be, sometime, verified, as our understanding of natural history deepens.

    How could these details be verified?

  38. This is a non-sequitur.

    I fail to see how it is a non-sequitur. But at least we have an admission on the origin of the universe. Now, we need an admission on OOL and evolution. Have you ever made any? Also evolution is a mufti-faceted topic so there should be admissions on the various aspects of it. Or are they all “I don’t know.”

    But please point out the changes on the subject. I listed a quote by you and made comments on it. How is that a change of subject.

    I promise to answer any question you have without changing the subject.

  39. MF:

    The OP was about how scientists should “come clean” which implies they are hiding something. What are they expected to do about the OOL? There is no proof that the OOL cannot be investigated scientifically as there is in the case of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. What can they can do except try to find explanations (or possibly proofs that it is inaccessible). As long as they don’t pretend they have the answer – and in the case of OOL they don’t – this doesn’t amount to hiding anything. What more can they do?

    Thank you for your response. I hope they keep doing research because it’s the perpetual failure of the evolutionist enterprise that make me convinced ID is true. From the failure of Urey-Miller, Foxes proteinoids, to Lenski’s lab evolution to Weasel, there is abundant evidence naturalistic explanations will fail. That has been demonstrated in the lab and field quite well…

    What they should do however is stop insisting they’ve proven anything worth putting in textbooks or barring respectable scientists like evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg, Dean Kenyon, or any other scientist from the academy for holding dissenting views. They aren’t being straight with the public about how badly their actual results have fared and how their results are at variance with naturalistic claims.

    If they can’t repeat the evolution of life in the lab, then just like supernatural explanations, it would seem evolutionism is not science, it’s actual worse because it is incoherent.

    They ought to be advocating this disclaimer more frequently:

    In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics.

    Jerry Coyne

    or this one

    I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science

    Charles Darwin

    That’s coming clean.

    I am curious however, do you have an opinion on Koonin’s logic of chance. Do you believe multiverses count as an explanation but God as inferred by quantum mechanics cannot?

  40. J1: You are citing prof Richard Lewontin of Harvard, in the same 1997 review of Sagan’s last book in NYRB that I have cited, on the foot in the door matter. KF

  41. #31 Gpuccio

    You are a very reasonable opponent, and you yourself admit that you are “not sufficiently expert in evolution to dispute the issue”. And you would probably admit that no OOL theory is even near to some credible explanation. And yet, you do come here and in other places essentially to antagonize (although in a very civil way) ID.

    Antagonize is a strange word. Do you mean criticise? Does ID  not welcome criticism? Science, as you know, welcomes it.
    I am not sufficiently expert to discuss the details of modern evolutionary theory. But I think I am as qualified as most people to criticise ID as a theory of OOL and development of life – because the problems are philosophical and statistical, not scientific. No OOL theory is near to a credible explanation as far as I know, and no scientist I know is claiming it does – but that does not make a sudden assemblage of inorganic material credible or even an explanation.

  42. Antagonize is a strange word. Do you mean criticise? Does ID not welcome criticism? Science, as you know, welcomes it.

    I’ve welcomed your criticism. I think I get along well with you when we aren’t talking matters philosophical, but statistical.

    Thank you for your many comments at UD.

    Sal

  43. 43

    MF,

    You are right that it is a problem to come up with a definitive proof of what happened billions of years ago. But it is not impossible. Events have consequences and leave traces and they conform to laws of physics and chemistry.

    The Space Shuttle follows the laws of chemistry and physics as well… but its origin is not explained by them. How do you make room for agent intervention as a real force in nature, and how do you balance your views to ensure that you do not discount that reality in preference to a speculation that can be foreever postulated, and therefore never brought to a test of its validity?

  44. Mark Frank, how would we get evidence supporting abiogenesis? All current geological evidence points to life already being in existence when the first sedimentary rocks formed 3.8 billion years ago as soon as Earth cooled down enough for them to form. All geological evidence before that time has long melted away. There just isn’t any geological record for the time period where the first life would have formed from nonliving material. So there is no way to test any hypothesis for abiogenesis.

    Now abiogenesis may be a perfectly respectable persuit in natural philosophy, but it is not science and should not be presented as much. It is the equivalent of arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

  45. Mr. Frank claims

    “Science, as you know, welcomes it “criticism”".

    Mr. Frank, Can you please forward your ‘science welcomes criticism’ sentiment to Nagel?

    Nagel was immediately set on and (symbolically) beaten to death by all the leading punks, bullies, and hangers-on of the philosophical underworld.,,,

    The intelligentsia was so furious that it formed a lynch mob. In May 2013, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran a piece called “Where Thomas Nagel Went Wrong.” One paragraph was notable:

    Whatever the validity of [Nagel’s] stance, its timing was certainly bad. The war between New Atheists and believers has become savage, with Richard Dawkins writing sentences like, “I have described atonement, the central doctrine of Christianity, as vicious, sadomasochistic, and repellent. We should also dismiss it as barking mad….” In that climate, saying anything nice at all about religion is a tactical error.

    It’s the cowardice of the Chronicle’s statement that is alarming—as if the only conceivable response to a mass attack by killer hyenas were to run away. Nagel was assailed; almost everyone else ran.

  46. MF:

    Science, as you know, welcomes it.

    Evolutionism does not welcome criticism. And you cannot reference this alleged modern evolutionary theory- meaning it is difficult to discuss the details of something that doesn’t exist.

  47. Mr Frank, “If an unexpected foundation-shaking paradigm shift can occur in a “hard” science like chemistry, where findings can be checked by observation and experiment, how confident can evolutionists be that their theories about the unobservable past?
    …In recent years, major problems have surfaced in evolutionary theory: the overthrow of “junk DNA,” the discovery of codes within codes, the intransigence of the Cambrian enigma to name a few. Yet its advocates continue to bully anyone who doesn’t toe the line. Darwinism acts like a religion, not science. If Darwinists were proper scientists, they would embrace the new discoveries that break their rules. They would gladly follow the mounting evidence that points in a new direction for the biology of the 21st century — intelligent design.” (If Chemistry Can Be Wrong, How Much More Evolutionary Theory? January 3, 2014)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....80711.html

  48. “Computer scientist Leslie Valiant celebrates Alan Turing as the progenitor of a third scientific revolution, potentially as profound as Newton’s and Einstein’s in transforming our understanding of the world. Why not a ‘fourth revolution’—why omit Darwin?

    Because, Valiant dares to say, Darwin’s theory is radically incomplete, and until it is equipped to make quantitative, verifiable predictions, evolution by natural selection cannot account for the complexity of living things and is not ‘more than a metaphor.

    Valiant concedes to Darwinism far less than the Discovery Institute’s ID does.

    Namely, the DI’s ID grants Darwinism “micro-evolution” while denying that it explains “macro-evolution” i.e. DI-ID imagines universe with “intelligent agency” jumping in every now and then to help out the “natural laws” when they appear inadequate to the task “the agency” has set up.

    The DI-ID’s “part time designer” is a hopelessly naive, incoherent position that a logical person like Valiant justifiably rejects. For him Darwinism is a metaphor which doesn’t explain, in scientific sense, anything at all, micro- or macro-evolution.

  49. The DI-ID’s “part time designer” is a hopelessly naive, incoherent position

    Why is it hooelessly naive and incoherent? This supposes that one knows better than this massive intelligence and are instructing this intelligence on how to do it right. As I said above such positions are folly.

  50. UprightBiped,

    The Space Shuttle follows the laws of chemistry and physics as well… but its origin is not explained by them. How do you make room for agent intervention as a real force in nature, and how do you balance your views to ensure that you do not discount that reality in preference to a speculation that can be foreever postulated, and therefore never brought to a test of its validity?

    From materialists, you will never get a rational response to this simple and reasonable question. I am betting it is carefully avoided in this comment section.

  51. Nightlight @ 48
    You sound a lot like Gregory…

  52. @jerry #49 — The position is naive since it takes childish view of (presently known) “natural laws” as some sacred, immutable wisdom around which we need to bend to explain everything else.

    In fact, what we presently understand as “natural laws” is merely a transient approximation, capturing a bit of regularity in the universe. We don’t know how small that captured bit is (compared to what is needed to explain what is observed), or how far off the target they may be.

    The DI’s ID gives the epistemological categories, such as our present “natural laws”, the ontological status, attributing them to the nature itself. From that faulty assumption it seeks to explain what else is needed, beyond nature, to explain what is happening, hence superantural being. DI’s ID is thus an illustration of an old fallacy, confusing the map with the territory.

    In fact, nature most certainly doesn’t compute what it does following our crude “natural laws” since the universe would fall apart into nothingness within a tiny fraction of a second if did, that’s how coarse grained our natural laws are.

    Note also that the present “natural laws” themselves are probabilistic at their core, providing only the probabilities of various events, not which event will take place. But even to make that kind of fuzzy probabilistic prediction, requires still the vast amounts of additional data that are outside of natural laws and must be put in by hand to make probabilistic prediction — the initial and boundary conditions of the system to which “natural laws” are applied. In other words, the “natural laws” are a tiny fraction, in terms of input data sizes, of what is needed to predict anything specific that goes on.

    For DI’s ID to take this kind of very soft and fuzzy weak constraints as some rock solid, sharp boundary, no less than in “nature” itself, from which it can “deduce” the need for intervention beyond “natural laws” to explain observations is silly, being based on childishly naive view of science and natural laws.

    In fact, what Valiant’s computational approach (which is similar to many others proposed before him, such as Wolfram’s NKS, or James Shapiro’s “natural genetic engineering” or SFI Complexity Science, or even earlier MIT Fredkin’s “digital physics”… etc.) offers is far simpler, more coherent and more constructive path — the laws of nature, along with the initial and boundary conditions (which is the totality of data needed to explaining anything specific) are computed numbers or values i.e. the nature behind the patterns captured by our current “natural laws” and “finely tuned” initial & boundary conditions are results of underlying computational process. The task of future science is then to reverse engineer this computational process and the algorithms it runs.

  53. @Optimus #41 “You sound a lot like Gregory…

    Perhaps only in the similarity of the conclusion about Discovery Institute — that DI is has done and is still doing great damage and disservice to the otherwise promising intelligent design approach to natural science (here is my previous comment to Gregory before he got censored). But we have followed entirely different path to arrive at a similar, negative evaluation of DI. Mine was from natural science (theoretical physics), while his was from the social sciences and philosophy.

    The intelligent design position will prevail, but not the supernatural version advocated by DI. What will prevail will be algorithmic formulation of intelligent design, as advocated by Valiant, James Shapiro, Stephen Wolfram,… etc with “intelligent agency” scientifically modeled as a computational process, not handwaved as some supernatural entity (hint, wink) poking its mighty finger into its creation, to fix it from time to time.

  54. Mark:

    I was not saying that you should not come here to criticize ID. I was only reflecting on the meaning of the fact that most critics of ID here, like you, rely on philosophical arguments, rather than scientific ones, and that they criticize ID without really supporting the alternative explanations. Just a reflection.

    Regarding my proposed model of OOL, it was you who asked for possible details, and I have tried to answer. My scenario was one possible scenario of a design hypothesis, and like all possible scenarios of a design hypothesis it entails specific features that can, in principle, be verified empirically.

    For example, LUCA is an inference from what we see in the proteome, essentially. With the accumulation of biological knowledhe, for example, we could gain better understanding of when LUCA existed, or at least restrict the window very much. I am very confident that advances in both biology and geology will allow us to date the events in natural history much better than we can today, even very ancient events like those pertaining to OOL.

    Better chronological knowledge, and better understanding of the biological connections between proteomes, will allow much finer inferences. That LUCA is FUCA could be much more likely, after those inferences. Pursuing that line of thought could be more rewarding than pursuing RNA world fantasies.

    These are only suggestions. The point is, as soon as at least some scientists begin to take seriously the paradigm of biological design, many lines of inquiry, that are presently banned to scientific reasoning, will open themselves.

    And, obviously, those who believe in the neo darwinian paradigm will do well to go on experimenting on the RNA world.

    That’s why the “controversy” is good. One of the two theories is probably true. Pursuing them both is the best line of action.

  55. Hi Mark Frank,

    Just a quick response, as i’m off to work in a minute. You write with regard to OOL:

    Where’s even the beginnings of the detail? What being? When? How? What experiments or observations can a scientist make to evaluate this hypothesis?

    While I was attending high school in the seventies, I recall reading about four OOL hypotheses: the primordial soup hypothesis, the “dry land” hypothesis (can’t recall the details now, but I imagine it was something along the lines of clay crystals as the seed of life), panspermia (which we’d told had been discredited) and the hypothesis that life developed from space junk left by visiting aliens. The last hypothesis is hardly any more detailed than the ones I proposed, but I don’t recall anyone criticizing it for that.

    In any case, if life were the product of a superior technology, you’d hardly expect details regarding how it was produced. On the other hand, I think we can investigate the questions of when and where it was produced. When? Just as soon as it could take hold without getting wiped out by meteorite bombardment. Where? In the safest place for it to grow and replicate. I’ll be back later. Cheers.

  56. Hey, all. I’d just like to say that in my opinion, this has been an interesting, cogent, and civil discussion on points that many of us strongly disagree on. It was nice in that it shed more light than heat. Thank you!

    Jaceli123 @ 1 lamented

    Its time Darwinists tell the world what’s really going on and what needs to be changed. I’m not in the mood to spend a hour of my day learning something thats not true. Im truly sick of it and it needs to stop now.

    If it’s any consolation, many people here, myself included, went through this process, too. I rationalized it by telling myself that I need to learn the consensus opinion. However, simply learning the vocabulary and theories in Science is not the same as “doing Science.” Science is about creating models, useful tools that approximate Truth for a while. However, Scientific understanding is always changing and should never be confused with Truth.

    -Q

  57. Mark Frank @ 8 noted

    Of course it [OOL] falls outside the theory of evolution. Evolution requires a system of heritable traits with random variation. This cannot be used to explain how the system arose in the first place.

    Gosh, I’ve been told that evolution is defined as “change over time.” Do you believe that DNA has changed over time?

    Pascal’s wager! It is a fallacy. I don’t know the consequences if I am wrong. Maybe the creator gives lots of marks for intellectual honesty – even if it is misplaced – and I would get severely marked down for pretending to believe in something I didn’t believe in.

    But everything in life has taught you that ignorance is not a good thing and rarely an acceptable excuse. So, how would Mark Frank, in good faith, go about learning about God’s purposes and provisions, and the consequences of Mark’s actions and attitudes?

    Once, I walked into class discovering that I was mistaken about the date of a mid-term by one week to the amusement of the professor. Eeeek! I had no choice but take it without studying. Through some perversity of probability, I got a good score that was a grade higher than my previous mid-term that I did study for. Still, I’m not totally sure I’d recommend this method . . . would you? ;-)

    -Q

  58. selvaRajan @ 18 retaliated with

    Scientists supporting YEC should also come clean and explain their real motive in supporting alternate cosmology hypothesis (electric universe, plasma cosmology, tired light, steady state etc.) which seek to confuse the common man – given the fact that the common man is already confused with an array of theories from main stream physicist

    I believe God used supernatural means to bring creation into existence, and I have no trouble at all imagining that God used finely tuned natural means to extend and maintain it. However, I would challenge your assertion that the goal of Science is to prevent “the common man” from getting confused. Quarks are confusing. Space quantization of electrons is confusing. Heck, even quantum mechanics is confusing. ;-)

    I would also assume that “common” women are included as honorary men in your assertion.

    -Q

  59. nightlight @ 48, 52, 53 opines

    The DI-ID’s “part time designer” is a hopelessly naive, incoherent position that a logical person like Valiant justifiably rejects.

    While I agreed with a lot of your observations and opinions, I’m not so sure that a being with an IQ of let’s say a billion would really need to intervene constantly in nature as a part-time designer. Perhaps, there might be more than one mechanism for introducing genetic change in organisms [gasp], especially given the demonstrated inefficiency and inadequacy of random mutation for generating viable genetic change.

    I mean the DNA and epigenetics would have been just sitting there, and having a IQ of a billion means that one could get bored pretty quickly, right? ;-)

    -Q

  60. The major problem with OOL is the logic scientists use to begin researching it. To many scientists, it seems logical to believe that if life could evolve from nonliving matter on this planet, that could be true on others as well. The general thinking among scientists appears to be “life will begin whenever it is given an environment where it can begin.” But that is where evolution faces an insurmountable objection, because scientists cannot even explain how life began on this planet.

    Gene Bylinsky, in his book Life in Darwin’s Universe, speculates on the various paths evolution might have taken on alien worlds. He suggests that intelligent octopuses, marsupial men with pouches on their stomachs, and bat-people who make musical instruments are not at all farfetched. Renowned scientists have praised his book.

    If anything Bylinsky wrote (as noted above) appeared in a religious text, it would have been laughed at and mocked mercilessly by atheists and scientists. So, then, why do so many scientists take the impossible for granted? The answer is simple and rather sad. People tend to believe what they want to believe. Scientists, for all their claims of objectivity, are not exempt from this human failing.

    It seems that the urge to investigate (SETI comes to mind) and believe [in the alien DNA hypothesis] is almost religious. But many scientists believe in “visitors” in their own way. They see the impossibility of life originating by chance here on the earth, so they claim it must have drifted here from space.

    Some say that aliens seeded our planet with life by sending rockets loaded with primitive bacteria. One has even suggested that aliens visited our planet ages ago and that life originated by chance from the garbage they left behind!

    Some scientists draw conclusions from the evidence that simple organic molecules are fairly common in space. But is that really evidence for the chance formation of life? Is a hardware store evidence that a car must accidentally build itself there?

  61. Barb @ 60 noted

    The general thinking among scientists appears to be “life will begin whenever it is given an environment where it can begin.”

    When I realized that this thinking was simply a more sophisticated version of Von Helmont’s experiment with his recipe for spontaneously generated mice, that there was no mechanism for making this happen, and I began to understand the fiendish complexity of the chemical cycles required for life, the whole OOL and Darwinism thing fell apart in my mind. For at what point does OOL leave off and evolution begins? It’s all supposed to ratchet up by itself.

    Assuming a billion years in each of a billion billion universes to produce a laughably improbable chance event is completely indistinguishable from a miracle.

    I say, let biological alchemists come up with a working demonstration of any kind. Then, we’ll have something to work with. Maybe they can inject some simplified RNA of their own design into coacervates along with some amino acids and start tweaking things.

    -Q

  62. Jaceli123

    “Thanks vjtorley our first unit for the semester is population genetics and evolution. Can’t wait here the darwin bull cr*p that comes out of my teachers mouth. Our text books are from 2004 so everything is kind of out dated. The authors are ken miller and levine.”

    Perhaps you should stop with your close-mindedness and actually look and consider what your teachers are trying to teach you. They are trying to educate so that you don’t remain in ignorance and you’re chastising them for it. Ken Miller is a Catholic and has defended his faith. Do you think he would write this textbook to deliberately trick his fellow theists? Wake up and learn. Don’t find yourself realizing one day that you should have listened to what you were taught.

  63. Ken Miller is a Catholic and has defended his faith. Do you think he would write this textbook to deliberately trick his fellow theists?

    Ken Miller is a “Catholic” whose main claim to fame is being a talking-head stooge for the NCSE, for aggressively attacking fellow Catholics and Christians in general, and keeping his mouth shut rather than criticize any atheists. He’s even advanced materialism, explicitly.

    What’s more, are you going to say you don’t believe self-proclaimed theists ever deliberately deceive fellow theists? Come on, say that one. It’s like saying atheists never steal from atheists.

  64. lifepsy #50

    The Space Shuttle follows the laws of chemistry and physics as well… but its origin is not explained by them. How do you make room for agent intervention as a real force in nature, and how do you balance your views to ensure that you do not discount that reality in preference to a speculation that can be foreever postulated, and therefore never brought to a test of its validity?

    From materialists, you will never get a rational response to this simple and reasonable question. I am betting it is carefully avoided in this comment section.

    If this is a simple question I would hate to see a complicated one! What on earth does it mean?  What would an answer look like?

  65. @Querius # 59

    I’m not so sure that a being with an IQ of let’s say a billion would really need to intervene constantly in nature as a part-time designer. … I mean the DNA and epigenetics would have been just sitting there, and having a IQ of a billion means that one could get bored pretty quickly, right?

    The computational foundations require computational substratum to continuously compute everything that universe is doing at physical, chemical and biological levels at all times and in all places, not just every now and then when something seems to someone, say from Discovery Institute, “irreducible” complex.

    In this computational perspective (which has a notable following), what our present natural science sees as “elementary” particles “randomly” interacting are merely few coarse grained properties or regularities of the far more subtle underlying activity computed by the anticipatory algorithms, analogous to gliders patterns moving on the computer screen in the Conway’s Game of Life. In that perspective, biology is not reducible to chemistry and physics, but all of them are merely different incomplete glimpses at the same underlying computational activity.

  66. 66

    MF: You are right that it is a problem to come up with a definitive proof of what happened billions of years ago. But it is not impossible. Events have consequences and leave traces and they conform to laws of physics and chemistry.

    UB: The Space Shuttle follows the laws of chemistry and physics as well… but its origin is not explained by them. How do you make room for agent intervention as a real force in nature, and how do you balance your views to ensure that you do not discount that reality in preference to a speculation that can be foreever postulated, and therefore never brought to a test of its validity?

    likespy: From materialists, you will never get a rational response to this simple and reasonable question. I am betting it is carefully avoided in this comment section.

    Mark Frank: If this is a simple question I would hate to see a complicated one! What on earth does it mean? What would an answer look like?

    Carefully avoided, indeed.

  67. 67

    Mark,

    Are you telling us its too complicated for you to tell us how you would:

    “balance your views to ensure that you do not discount that reality [of agency being a real force in nature] in preference to a speculation that can be foreever postulated, and therefore never brought to a test of its validity?”

    If this is true, it’s an amazing admission.

  68. jlafan2001:

    Still dodging all rebuttals and questions from previous threads, I see. I guess you hope that by constantly migrating to new threads when you start losing the argument, new readers won’t realize how soundly you were thrashed on other occasions. Or perhaps you have found that some of the criticisms cut too close to the bone for you to deal with. In any case, your intellectual cowardice gives new depths to the expressions “spineless” and “yellow.”

  69. #67 UB

    I am sorry but I have no idea

    what “balancing my views” means

    what “agency being a real force in nature” means

    why it should follow from “a speculation being forever postulated” that it can therefore never be brought to a test of validity

    why this is opposed to a real force in nature

    Maybe a few more concrete examples would help. As it stands you might as well have written it in Sanskrit as far as I am concerned.

  70. 70

    you might as well have written it in Sanskrit as far as I am concerned.

    I am sure that is true, Mark. There is little or no doubt about it.

  71. UB

    Are you going to make any effort to explain what your question means e.g. give me a concrete example of a possible answer?

  72. VJ

    While I was attending high school in the seventies, I recall reading about four OOL hypotheses: the primordial soup hypothesis, the “dry land” hypothesis (can’t recall the details now, but I imagine it was something along the lines of clay crystals as the seed of life), panspermia (which we’d told had been discredited) and the hypothesis that life developed from space junk left by visiting aliens. The last hypothesis is hardly any more detailed than the ones I proposed, but I don’t recall anyone criticizing it for that.

    I have never heard about the final hypothesis before and it seems absurd. If that was the entire hypothesis then it would deserve criticism and certainly the scientific community seems to have dropped it. But notice how the other three hypotheses open up lines of enquiry. Does the chemistry make sense? Is there time for it all to happen? What constraints does it place on initial conditions? Are there places on earth where we can find similar conditions and see if any parts of the process happen? 

    In any case, if life were the product of a superior technology, you’d hardly expect details regarding how it was produced.

    Why not? Why would the designer deliberately hide signs of its activity?

    On the other hand, I think we can investigate the questions of when and where it was produced. When? Just as soon as it could take hold without getting wiped out by meteorite bombardment. Where? In the safest place for it to grow and replicate. I’ll be back later. Cheers

    But how does this differentiate design from any other theory of the OOL? They all need to happen at time and place when they succeed or they wouldn’t succeed.
    But to come back to the OP. What is dishonest about scientists proposing different theories about the OOL? What do they need to “come clean” about?

  73. UB:

    This — as I pointed out a few days back — is the underlying deadlocking problem: a priori materialism.

    And until MF is willing to sit to the table of worldview level comparative difficulties on a serious and level playing field basis, it cannot be resolved.

    Unfortunately, it is all too common today.

    MF’s assertion that you might as well be speaking Sanskrit when speaking of agency as a force in our world . . spoken by one who is just such an agent (self referentiality !) . . . reveals the depth of conceptual crippling and incoherence imposed by that a priori materialism.

    KF

  74. MF: Kindly read the original post and see just what it has to say about what is wrong with the state of OOL research and how it is projected to the public and students. VJT has taken pains to be quite specific with details, so in speaking as you did just above, you can begin to come across as ignoring what is there then pretending that what he said is not there for all to see. KF

  75. 75

    Are you going to make any effort to explain what your question means e.g. give me a concrete example of a possible answer?

    Sure. I captured the entire affair in #66.

    You said that it wasn’t impossible to understand the origin of life, because it was an event that left traces and consequences that conformed to the laws of physics and chemistry. I then pointed out that such things as the Space Shuttle conform to the laws of physics and chemistry, but that does not explain the origin of the Space Shuttle without the input of agency invovlement. So I then asked what you do in your judgement to allow for the possibility of agency involvement, so as to not discount it as an actual force in nature.

    For instance, let us say you found that the living cell was ultimately organized by the translation of recorded information into physical effects. And upon critical analysis, you also found that (in order for the system to function) this recorded information required physical conditions which are found nowhere else in the natural world except during the translation of language and mathematics. Would this constitute for you a valid inference to agency involvement, or, would you discount these observations as a “trace” or “consequence” of the system’s origin, and assume a speculative non-agency account of these observations instead? Would your judgement be effected in any way if you also found that the system in question required local (physical) discontinuities between the medium of the information and the physical effects produced by its translation? Would it be effected if, in addition to these discontinuities, you also found that the arrangement of the medium could not be reduced to thermodynamic law, even in principle? Or further, that the system required operational constraints which could not be derived from the material that makes up the system? In other words, as the investigator of the phenomenon, at what point do you discount the only known origin of a physical regularity (with multiple lines of evidence) in preference for some other explanation?

  76. MF:

    What do they need to “come clean” about?

    They need to come clean about the fact that materialism relies on luck, which makes it untenable scientifically.

  77. MF:

    What quality or characteristic of an object/phenomena would it take to demonstrate to you that the object/phenomena in question most likely required the input of an intelligent designer?

    Have you considered if there is any real way for your current view to be, in principle, demonstrated incorrect, and what that argument or evidence would look like?

  78. Not to mention that there now is a theory that the impact of an asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 60 million years ago, actually caused the earth up so rapidly, that rock matter turned to gas, which then went up into the atmosphere, and rained back down as glass, heating up the earth’s surface to something like 2000 degrees, INSTANTLY killing all life above ground, like within two hours!

    This theory says that the only things besides deep sea creatures that could have survived would have been a few animals which were lucky enough to be deep enough underground at the time to be insulated from the heat. So basically everything has to start all over from scratch at that point.

  79. #75 UB and #77 WJM

    I hope this will answer both your questions. I deduce that something has been designed using the same principles that I use to deduce any other hypothesis about the cause of phenomenon.

    1) What are the range of possible causes (“design” and “chance” are too vague – you need to be more specific)in order to be able to do the subsequent steps.

    2) What is the prior probability of these causes?

    3) What is the posterior probability (likelihood) of the phenomenon given each of the causes?

    Apply Bayes theorem and you come up with the probability of each cause.

    I will not jump to any conclusions about design (or not) in general without some more specific hypothesis about who, when and how so I can assess (2) and (3).

    I seem to have given this answer rather a lot of times before :-)

  80. 80

    MF,

    Since you are not agnostic, tell us, what did you come up with?

    Can you show your work?

  81. UB

    Sorry – “come up with” for what?

  82. 82

    Your current beliefs, obviously.

  83. 83

    You say you use a mathematic calculation to evaluate the validity of evidence.

    What else would I be talking about?

  84. 84

    And more specifically, I asked:

    How do you make room for agent intervention as a real force in nature, and how do you balance your views to ensure that you do not discount that reality in preference to a speculation that can be foreever postulated, and therefore never brought to a test of its validity?

    And you answerd that you use a mathematical formula.

    Given that you are not agnostic, I’m interested to know how that played out.

  85. My current beliefs about what? The OOL? The beginning of the universe? I don’t have enough data to come to any beliefs. So I just don’t know.

  86. 86

    The comments you made were about the origin of life, Mark.

  87. JLAfan2001 notes, “Perhaps you should stop with your close-mindedness…”

    The hypocrisy is overwhelming.

  88. 88

    You are not agnostic about the origin of Life. You implied that it was not impassible to know , and that you would evaluate the “traces” and “consequences” of that event. Remember? I then asked how you would:

    make room for agent intervention as a real force in nature, and how do you balance your views to ensure that you do not discount that reality in preference to a speculation that can be foreever postulated, and therefore never brought to a test of its validity?

    And then you switched to a mathematical formula, and I’m interested to know how that played out.

  89. #88 UB

    It is possible to come to know the OOL. That doesn’t mean I (or anyone else) currently knows.

  90. Hi nightlight,

    I was interested in the following remark from your post #53 above:

    “The intelligent design position will prevail, but not the supernatural version advocated by DI. What will prevail will be algorithmic formulation of intelligent design, as advocated by Valiant, James Shapiro, Stephen Wolfram,… etc with “intelligent agency” scientifically modeled as a computational process, not handwaved as some supernatural entity (hint, wink) poking its mighty finger into its creation, to fix it from time to time.”

    There are a few fundamental philosophical problems with the view you espouse.

    First, human thought cannot be the result of a computational process. Most of our thoughts are expressible as propositions, which are intrinsically meaningful. That is, they have meaning in their own right – unlike the symbols of a written language, whose meaning is not intrinsic, but arbitrarily assigned to it by the people who use that language. What’s more, many of the propositions that we think about have a clear and unambiguous meaning.

    Now, while physical structures and/or processes are certainly capable of instantiating a particular function in their own right (e.g. a knife is a tool for cutting, simply by virtue of its structure), no physical structure or process is capable of instantiating a unique propositional meaning in its own right, simply by virtue of its structure or dynamics.

    To see why, consider a simple proposition with a clear meaning – say, Pythagoras’ Theorem. You are obviously capable of understanding this proposition. When you think about this proposition, your thought has an intrinsic meaning of its own, and this meaning is clear and unambiguous.

    Now imagine there’s some physical structure or process (say, in your brain, or if you prefer, in the Planckian network which you believe underlies reality) which instantiates the meaning of your thought about Pythagoras’ theorem. For this to be true, several conditions must hold. To be continued…

  91. Continued…

    1. The structure or process must contain components which intrinsically and unambiguously signify the terms used in the theorem (e.g. “Euclidean,” “right-angled,” “triangle,” “square,” “of,” “hypotenuse,” “is equal to,” “sum,” “other,” “two” and “side”).

    2. The structure or process must embody grammatical rules which dictate how these terms are to be put together – i.e. the structure of the proposition which you are thinking about.

    3. The structure or process must also embody a mood-indicator, which determines whether the sentence in question is to be understood as a statement (indicative mood), a question (interrogative mood), a command (imperative mood) or an unreal state (subjunctive mood).

    Re 1: It’s difficult enough to conceive of a structure that intrinsically signifies any of the terms in Pythagoras’ Theorem, but I might be prepared to allow that there could be one that signified “triangle.” Even supposing that, there could never be a physical structure that signified “of” or “other.”

    Re 2: This is even more absurd than a physical structure signifying a term. We are supposed to believe there is some structure that intrinsically signifies a grammatical rule, without any assignment of meaning on our part.

    Re 3: A structure that intrinsically signifies a mood? Come on.

    What I’m getting at here is that physical structures and processes have no intrinsic meaning of their own, and moreover, they are incapable of having an unambiguous meaning. Our thoughts, on the other hand, are meaningful in their own right, and they are often clear and unambiguous. It follows that our thoughts cannot be equated with physical structures and processes.

    You claim that the reality underlying our universe is a Planckian network, which I presume is still physical, as it’s made up of elements. What I’m saying is that your Planckian network could never generate thoughts, so your theory of reality is seriously incomplete: it leaves out the human mind. To be continued…

  92. The second problem with your account is that your ultimate reality isn’t ultimate. You write: “What is front loaded (postulated) in PN [Planckian networks] are simple elemental, self-replicating computational elements with additive intelligence (mathematically modeled by neural networks), the rest is being computed (i.e. effectively deduced).” (See http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-472953 .) But these elements follow certain mathematical rules. I ask: why? What makes them do that, and what makes them follow those particular rules? And if the elements actually follow rules (rather than merely happening to conform to some regularity), then doesn’t that indicate the existence of a Mind that sets the rules which define the behavior of these elements? Your Planckian Network still requires a Master Mathematician.

    Third, your model of reality makes no scientific predictions regarding the origin of life. At least Intelligent Design theory (of the sort advocated by various members and friends of the Discovery Institute) is capable of generating some predictions about OOL, if we are willing to impute certain sensible motives and/or goals to the Designer. But your Planckian network has no goals. We therefore have no idea what kind of life it would generate, let alone when or where, so it’s even less appealing to hard-nosed scientists than ID.

  93. JLAFan2001

    Perhaps you should stop with your close-mindedness and actually look and consider what your teachers are trying to teach you.

    It’s outrageous you say that given Jaceli123 is actually studying science when you haven’t done the same even by your own admission.

  94. nightlight,

    I seem to recall you’re a quantum physicist. If so, we’re honored to have you visit.

    Sal

  95. 95

    Okay. I’ve never suggested otherwise, and my question was quite obviously not about certainties. So how do you “make room for agent intervention as a real force in nature, and how do you balance your views to ensure that you do not discount that reality in preference to a speculation that can be foreever postulated, and therefore never brought to a test of its validity?”

    Perhaps you’ll recognize this is a question about fairly evaluating specific pieces of evidence on it’s merits – given that no one knows the answer to the larger question. I gave you specific examples in my previous post.

  96. Mark Frank @79:

    1)What are the range of possible causes (“design” and “chance” are too vague – you need to be more specific)in order to be able to do the subsequent steps.

    If you are suggesting simply that, say, in the case of chance we could explore specific permutations of that idea — such as proteins first vs. metabolism first vs. RNA first — then, fine. The reality, however, is that these have been extensively explored by extremely bright individuals for decades and even given the most outrageously favorable assumptions we can come up with, such chance approaches don’t even scratch the surface of what is needed. Or perhaps you are just waiting to cash in the promissory note, hoping that some day some new type of chance process will be discovered?

    As to design, if you are suggesting that one has to have a specific understanding of what design method was used to infer an artifact was designed, that is simply wrong. For one thing, there are myriad examples of things that are inferred to be designed, where the precise path to the design is not known. Furthermore, design is not a purely mechanistic process in the same way that necessity or chance are, so if we were demanding to see a mechanistic explanation of design we would miss the whole point. I have often seen design critics fall back to this fallacy and think they have scored some point, essentially demanding to know what specific mechanistic process is proposed for design.

  97. WJM:

    You need to go back here to see that in the end, MF holds an a priori that demands that intelligence reduce to blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    (Where, I and others took time to sufficiently define chance and necessity and by extension of what designers are known to output, design here. I also took time to show here how beyond 500 – 1,000 bits of FSCO/I the search challenge overwhelms all debates on niceties of definitions and calculations on probability models . . . only objectors have to have some plausible hook to hang arguments on so they will not acknowledge that point.)

    There is a deadlock imposed by a priori materialist ideology, however it may be less than baldly put in a given case.

    We have reductio.

    KF

  98. Hi Mark Frank,

    I’d like to address some of your remarks in 72 above.

    But to come back to the OP. What is dishonest about scientists proposing different theories about the OOL? What do they need to “come clean” about?

    What they need to come clean about is the following:

    1. None of the theories of the origin of life presented in science textbooks are even plausible, let alone probable. All of them face four massive hurdles, highlighted by Dr. Steve Benner in his interview with Suzan Mazur: the tar problem, the water problem, the entropy problem and the RNA enzyme problem. You and I were never told about these problems when we studied the origin of life at school. Why not?

    2. Even allowing that there exists a half-way plausible theory of the origin of life (such as dynamic kinetic stability), it isn’t quantifiable, and therefore: (a) its probability can’t be calculated; (b) in the absence of quantification, it isn’t legitimate science. At school, we were always told that scientific thinking was supposed to be rigorous and logical. It’s not logical to conclude that something must have happened (life must have arisen naturally), when you can’t even calculate the probability of its happening in the first place.

    3. Calculations with toy models of the probability of the origin of life indicate that even with extremely generous assumptions about the concentrations of organic chemicals in the primordial soup, the chances of life arising are 1 in 10^(1,000) or so, which is ridiculously low. Once again: why weren’t we told?

    Yes, I’d say there’s plenty to come clean about.

    But notice how the other three hypotheses open up lines of enquiry. Does the chemistry make sense? Is there time for it all to happen? What constraints does it place on initial conditions? Are there places on earth where we can find similar conditions and see if any parts of the process happen?

    As I’ve argued above, the four problems Dr. Benner alluded to (the tar problem, the water problem, the entropy problem and the RNA enzyme problem) show that the chemistry doesn’t make sense. As for initial conditions, no scientist has yet identified a set of initial conditions that makes the origin of life a statistically probable event. And there are no places on earth where we can observe any of the steps that are supposed to have occurred in abiogenesis – which is why scientists try to recreate them in the lab instead.

    Why would the designer deliberately hide signs of its activity?

    I’m not saying He did. What I’m saying is that identifying the Designer’s modus operandi is going to be a very difficult task, because of the inherent limitations of our intelligence. We might not even be capable of doing so; for all we know, we may only be capable of grasping that something was designed by the Designer, without ever being able to understand how.

    That said, I have to say I’m impressed with gpuccio’s hypothesis in #29 above, re OOL. It sounds promising, and it makes falsifiable predictions. I’d also propose that the first cell should have been optimally designed to evolve under natural conditions (an important point, as not all self-replicating systems are capable of evolving).

    I will not jump to any conclusions about design (or not) in general without some more specific hypothesis about who, when and how so I can assess (2) and (3).

    Re (2) [prior probabilities]: Laplace’s rule of succession tells you that the prior probability of life’s having been created by a Designer can be no less than 1 in 10^150 (the maximum number of events in the observable universe).

    Re (3) [posterior probabilities]: if our design hypothesis stipulates that the Intelligent Designer was willing and able to generate life, then the probability of His actually doing so, given the opportunity, is obviously high. And if all quantifiable scientific hypotheses regarding OOL yield posterior probabilities that are very low (less than 1 in 10^(-150), then using Bayesian logic it is not difficult to show that the Design hypothesis wins, hands down.

  99. PS: and that reminds me I have to address specifically the import of MF’s assertion of “genuinely random uncaused events,” which — with all due respect to those who have so erred — is an absurdity. An event has a beginning so there are circumstances under which it does or did not already happen, That is, it depends for existence or occurrence on external enabling on/off factors. It cannot be uncaused. We may not know a sufficient set of causal factors to force its occurrence, but by the mere fact of a beginning we know there are causally necessary, enabling factors. No unstable nucleus, no alpha decay, to give a simple case in point.

  100. F/N: It may help to refocus attention on the design inference regarding cell based life, courtesy Meyer, in his response to a hostile review of his key 2009 Design Theory book, Signature in the Cell:

    The central argument of my book is that intelligent 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 . . . .

    Meyer then gives even more details, with particular reference to the origin of cell-based life:

    The central problem facing origin-of-life researchers is neither the synthesis of pre-biotic building blocks (which Sutherland’s work addresses) or even the synthesis of a self-replicating RNA molecule (the plausibility of which Joyce and Tracey’s work seeks to establish, albeit unsuccessfully . . . [[Meyer gives details in the linked page]). Instead, the fundamental problem is getting the chemical building blocks to arrange themselves into the large information-bearing molecules (whether DNA or RNA) . . . .

    For nearly sixty years origin-of-life researchers have attempted to use pre-biotic simulation experiments to find a plausible pathway by which life might have arisen from simpler non-living chemicals, thereby providing support for chemical evolutionary theory. While these experiments have occasionally yielded interesting insights about the conditions under which certain reactions will or won’t produce the various small molecule constituents of larger bio-macromolecules, they have shed no light on how the information in these larger macromolecules (particularly in DNA and RNA) could have arisen. Nor should this be surprising in light of what we have long known about the chemical structure of DNA and RNA. As I show in Signature in the Cell, the chemical structures of DNA and RNA allow them to store information precisely because chemical affinities between their smaller molecular subunits do not determine the specific arrangements of the bases in the DNA and RNA molecules. Instead, the same type of chemical bond (an N-glycosidic bond) forms between the backbone and each one of the four bases, allowing any one of the bases to attach at any site along the backbone, in turn allowing an innumerable variety of different sequences. This chemical indeterminacy is precisely what permits DNA and RNA to function as information carriers. It also dooms attempts to account for the origin of the information—the precise sequencing of the bases—in these molecules as the result of deterministic chemical interactions . . . .

    [[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 . . . .

    [[In conclusion,] it needs to be noted that the [[now commonly asserted and imposed limiting rule on scientific knowledge, the] principle of methodological naturalism [[ that scientific explanations may only infer to "natural[[istic] causes”] is an arbitrary philosophical assumption, not a principle that can be established or justified by scientific observation itself. Others of us, having long ago seen the pattern in pre-biotic simulation experiments, to say nothing of the clear testimony of thousands of years of human experience, have decided to move on. We see in the information-rich structure of life a clear indicator of intelligent activity and have begun to investigate living systems accordingly. If, by Professor Falk’s definition, that makes us philosophers rather than scientists, then so be it. But I suspect that the shoe is now, instead, firmly on the other foot. [[Meyer, Stephen C: Response to Darrel Falk’s Review of Signature in the Cell, SITC web site, 2009. (Emphases and parentheses added.)]

    Thus, in the context of a pivotal example — the functionally specific, complex information stored in the well-known genetic code — we see laid out the inductive logic and empirical basis for design theory as a legitimate (albeit obviously controversial) scientific investigation and conclusion.

    KF

  101. Thanks scordova by the way im the only one in class who listens, asks questions and tries to understand. I engage in it even though my teacher doesnt teaches us much. I havent pissed him off yet from asking questions. I think im his favorite student. It doesnt matter any way because each unit last a week and theres a test every week. He takes 5 minutes to teach us then he jumps on facebook or surfs the web. Its kind of sad but atleast it intrest me. Never thought I would get interested by this subject. Always thought it was nerdy and geeky but here I am. Anyway JLFan2001 im not here to start a conflict with you because im not a debater or a good arguer. So I suggest you stop trying to respond to everything I comment or say because im not in the mood.

  102. I think it would be cool if we could engage in a discussion about YouTube materialists and evolutionists like, Donexodus2, AronA and Discovering Religion. They have tons of supposed rebuttals against Intelligent Design. Ive seen posts about the YouTube subject including one about my video link. Heres some sites that have many links to the materialists channels:
    http://introducedrat.com/evolution.htm
    And
    http://exposingreligionblog.tu.....8154081516
    Hope we can discuss this!

  103. nightlight @ 65 said, in part

    In that [computational] perspective, biology is not reducible to chemistry and physics, but all of them are merely different incomplete glimpses at the same underlying computational activity.

    Thank you. This is a great insight, and I agree with it.

    Today on a long drive, I was coincidentally also thinking of floaters, their chance formation and destruction, and the experiments that I used to do with a software product called CA Lab (cellular automata). In addition, I was thinking of the Antikythera mechanism as an analog to physical laws of the universe, yielding accurate results but not being itself an accurate physical model of the solar system.

    Scordova mentioned that your background is in quantum mechanics. I hope you don’t mind my asking you a question.

    What constitutes “observation” that’s sufficient to collapse a quantum system? Would a clueless human count? How about a well-read chimpanzee, or a desperate Schroedinger’s cat staring intently at a single atom of an unstable isotope?

    Just wondering.

    Thanks,

    -Q

    - – - – Science stops here at dotted line (no peeking) – - – -

    In the beginning was the Logos (translated as “Word” from the Greek), and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
    John 1:1-5

  104. Mark Frank #64 (or any materialists)

    Again quoting UprightBiped’s original question:

    The Space Shuttle follows the laws of chemistry and physics as well… but its origin is not explained by them. How do you make room for agent intervention as a real force in nature, and how do you balance your views to ensure that you do not discount that reality in preference to a speculation that can be foreever postulated, and therefore never brought to a test of its validity?

    This is a simple question but I will rephrase it:

    Currently we find ourselves surrounded by complex, functioning objects that completely conform to the laws of physics, but required intelligent agency for their assembly and function. Therefore, in the ongoing search for the origin of life, what is your approach for considering this type of known, empirically verified agency as a possible source?

    Prediction: This simple, straightforward question will again be carefully avoided.

  105. vjtorley @ 98

    Bravo, nicely stated!

    What I’m saying is that identifying the Designer’s modus operandi is going to be a very difficult task, because of the inherent limitations of our intelligence. We might not even be capable of doing so; for all we know, we may only be capable of grasping that something was designed by the Designer, without ever being able to understand how.

    One of the fundamental assumptions of Science is that we humans are capable of understanding it. As you point out, this is not a given.

    -Q

  106. Hi Jaceli123,

    Thanks very much for the links to materialist Websites.

    Re your science course: your teacher sounds somewhat disengaged, so you might like to try doing a MOOC on evolution in your spare time, to learn better how to refute it. If you want a good book on the subject, Ernst Mayr’s “What Evolution Is” is a book I’d recommend, as well as “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” by Donald Prothero.

  107. Forgot to link the article on this site that I talked about, about the linked youtube video! Heres the link: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....arwinists/

  108. Thanks vjtorley let me now your thoughts on the website and all the youtube accounts it would create good blog posts and discussion. Heres one on human evolution too: http://exposingreligionblog.tu.....9779540482

  109. Eric Anderson

    As to design, if you are suggesting that one has to have a specific understanding of what design method was used to infer an artifact was designed, that is simply wrong. For one thing, there are myriad examples of things that are inferred to be designed, where the precise path to the design is not known.

    We may not know the precise path to the design but we do have to have some method of assessing the plausibility of there being a designer with the appropriate abilities and motivation. 

    Furthermore, design is not a purely mechanistic process in the same way that necessity or chance are, so if we were demanding to see a mechanistic explanation of design we would miss the whole point.

    I don’t agree that there is a relevant difference. It is still possible to assess the probability of an outcome given a hypothesis of a designer with the appropriate powers and motivation.
    But these are old oft-repeated arguments. I suggest there is little point in going over them again.

  110. VJ #98

    What they need to come clean about is the following:

    1. None of the theories of the origin of life presented in science textbooks are even plausible, let alone probable. All of them face four massive hurdles, highlighted by Dr. Steve Benner in his interview with Suzan Mazur: the tar problem, the water problem, the entropy problem and the RNA enzyme problem. You and I were never told about these problems when we studied the origin of life at school. Why not?

    I was not given any courses on the origin of life at school. It was not part of the biology curriculum. Are you saying these problems (if they are real) are being hidden by the scientific community? Are you sure they are not being discussed? I don’t have time to trawl the literature. But in any case none of the theories are being presented as proven or even likely. 

    2. Even allowing that there exists a half-way plausible theory of the origin of life (such as dynamic kinetic stability), it isn’t quantifiable, and therefore: (a) its probability can’t be calculated; (b) in the absence of quantification, it isn’t legitimate science. At school, we were always told that scientific thinking was supposed to be rigorous and logical. It’s not logical to conclude that somethingmust have happened (life must have arisen naturally), when you can’t even calculate the probability of its happening in the first place.

    To repeat – nobody is claiming that any particular theory must have happened. The science is still extremely tentative and does not hide this. How else could there be so many competing theories?

    3. Calculations with toy models of the probability of the origin of life indicate that even with extremely generous assumptions about the concentrations of organic chemicals in the primordial soup, the chances of life arising are 1 in 10^(1,000) or so, which is ridiculously low. Once again: why weren’t we told?

    Whose calculations based on what models? Are you sure this isn’t just the design argument again?

    As I’ve argued above, the four problems Dr. Benner alluded to (the tar problem, the water problem, the entropy problem and the RNA enzyme problem) show that the chemistry doesn’t make sense. As for initial conditions, no scientist has yet identified a set of initial conditions that makes the origin of life a statistically probable event. And there are no places on earth where we can observe any of the steps that are supposed to have occurred in abiogenesis – which is why scientists try to recreate them in the lab instead.

    That’s not the point. The point is that at least these theories are open to experiment and dispute –as you are vividly explaining – and scientists are doing the work and reporting the results. A theory based on design is immune to any kind of experiment or refutation  unless you want to get specific.  How can scientists begin to do science on it?

    That said, I have to say I’m impressed with gpuccio’s hypothesis in #29 above, re OOL. It sounds promising, and it makes falsifiable predictions. I’d also propose that the first cell should have been optimally designed to evolve under natural conditions (an important point, as not all self-replicating systems are capable of evolving).

    But all his hypothesis says about abiogenesis is that there was a sudden assemblage of inorganic materials to form the first prokaryotic cell! How do you falsify that?

    Re (2) [prior probabilities]: Laplace’s rule of succession tells you that the prior probability of life’s having been created by a Designer can be no less than 1 in 10^150 (the maximum number of events in the observable universe).

    Rubbish – I am sorry but that way you could prove that the probability of any conceivable event was less than 1 in 10^150 

    Re (3) [posterior probabilities]: if our design hypothesis stipulates that the Intelligent Designer was willing and able to generate life, then the probability of His actually doing so, given the opportunity, is obviously high.

    Yes of course if you postulate a designer with the appropriate powers and motivation then you can make the posterior close to 1. It is the prior that is the problem.

    My main point is that I don’t understand what you think scientists should do differently. They make conjectures about the origin of life. As a community they identify problems, do experiments and make observations (it is the nature of science that it is often another scientist who points out the problems – people have loyalty to their pet hypothesis). No one claims to have the answer yet. It seems like the way science should proceed.

  111. J1:

    In addition to Dr Torley’s suggestion, I would think you should sort out three basics, and two fairly involved things:

    B1: Straight thinking 101

    B2: Fixing the problem of rhetorical or agit-prop spin-tactics “everywhere”

    B3: Understanding basics of scientific methods and approaches, beyond what is in B1.

    I1: Setting out on building a worldview (sorry, you have opened that can of worms)

    I2: Basic philosophical thinking tool kit

    I3: A Critical survey of origins science informed by a design perspective.

    Yes, that is a fairly serious bit of work in aggregate, but that sort of issue is implied by the set of issues you have raised. at least, if you intend to stand on your own two feet intellectually.

    KF

    PS: Have you worked through the response regarding a first, major icon of evolutionary materialism and its illustration of typical defects in evolutionary materialist thinking here on? (As in, you have called forth a full ID Foundations numbered post in a series that runs back to Jan 2011.) If so, why not make some specific comments there? And failing that, why should we take the piling up of links to typically badly error-riddled materialist sites seriously? Where also this very page lays out details on major problems with OOL.

  112. Oops, I added a 3rd fairly involved point. KF

  113. PPS: I picked the page with a long list of sites debunking “religion.” It would be helpful for you to compare their talk about irreducible complexity with this ID Foundations post on IC here at UD; with particular reference to Menuge’s list of requisites C1 – 5. Failing a successful and well grounded answer to the issues in the UD post, you are looking at the little more than the fallacy of hurling the elephant . . . it does not even amount to a literature bluff as this is not really at serious academic level. A great mass of fallacious claims does not make up in bulk what is wanting in substance, especially if the cases do not actually address what is specifically at stake but set off after red herrings — “exposing religion” and setting up and soaking strawmen in ad hominems — ditto — then igniting the same to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere — “exposing.” (And since you have raised the issue of “religion” in an obviously hostile context, I point you to a 101 on the foundational warranting argument of the Christian faith here on in context.) So also, you would be well advised to scroll up to the top of the page, click on the resources tab and work your way through the weak argument correctives, the definition of ID, and the glossary of key terms. Feeding your mind on a steady diet of fallacies and debate talking points pivoting on such is not a way to make good intellectual progress. Instead, if you are coming from a base of just learning how to stand up and walk, you will be very likely to stumble again and again.

  114. MF:

    A theory based on design is immune to any kind of experiment or refutation unless you want to get specific.

    That is total BS and demosntraes scientific ignorance on Mark’s part.

    Stonehenge lacks specifics yet we sday it was designed- no one knows how. And we could falsify that design if we ever observed nature, operating freely, producing a Stonehenge.

  115. Mark Frank @110:

    You put a very positive spin on it. Yes, if everyone were objective and open with the numerous (and what are currently insurmountable) problems with OOL, then we could all sit back and say, “Well, they are doing the best they can. That is how science operates.”

    And, indeed, I am sure that there are many people in the OOL research community who deserve that kind of respect and deference.

    However . . .

    There are a great many, particularly those pushing a materialistic worldview, who are convinced that materialistic OOL is a reality. Not based on the evidence, but on an a priori commitment. We hear about it all the time, and it pervades not only the news, but the scientific literature. OOL is a fact, we are told, we just need to work some details. I even heard a City Arts and Lectures evening on NPR with Richard Dawkins a couple of months ago in which he had the audacity to proclaim to the audience, in effect, “we have a pretty good idea how life came about.” Absolute nonsense. We don’t have a clue, at least from a materialistic standpoint. It’s not just details; none of the theories even passes the laugh test.

    Look, I don’t object to OOL research. It is interesting in its own right. It also has taught us many things about what is required for life — in essentially all cases it has taught us about the many insurmountable challenges to a materialistic OOL. So fine, let’s carry on the research.

    But there is also an important need to keep an eye on the ball and not let claims go beyond the actual evidence. That goes for the scientists involved and — probably more often — those outside who keep pushing OOL as though it were a fact.

    —–

    Finally, to the extent anyone is interested in how life got started (and many people are), then drawing an inference as to the most likely explanation is a legitimate exercise. When many of us have looked at the evidence it becomes quite clear that a naturalistic OOL is not the most likely scenario, whichever in vogue permutation happens to be in the news or in the research labs. So it is perfectly legitimate to criticize not only specific theories, but also the broad idea generally and to propose design as a potential alternative.

  116. F/N: I just had time to look at the introductory video in the page of alleged best videos. I got as far as the point where the narrator superciliously and with an air of confidence spoke about how if you are a Creationist here is a chance to educate yourself. Sorry, he lost me there, this is little more than the Dawkins ill-bred taunt, that if you disagree with his evolutionary materialism then you must be one (or more) of ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. Any number of Creationists and design thinkers are at least as educated as the narrator, and have serious points. It is time for atheistical arrogance to be laid to one side. KF

    PS: He should also know that showing (from context, ignorant) Creationists as young women twice in rapid succession itself is highly loaded.

  117. Eric @115

    The key thing to understand is that there is no way for science to investigate a supernatural hypothesis. No experiments, no observations, nothing. That is true by definition. If something is supernatural it goes beyond the bounds of nature and does not conform to natural laws. So there are no constraints and all results are possible.

    So if something is proving difficult to explain, scientists have two options:

    * Keep on looking for natural explanations
    * Stop trying to investigate it scientifically

    You might say that perhaps the designer was natural – but do you really believe it?

  118. nightlight,

    Oh, and the reason that I was thinking of CA/GoL floaters was in context with an admittedly farfetched OOL speculation about short, independent RNA segments forming a symbiotic relationship with something like coacervates.

    -Q

  119. Mark:

    blockquote cite>But all his hypothesis says about abiogenesis is that there was a sudden assemblage of inorganic materials to form the first prokaryotic cell! How do you falsify that?

    I a m suprised that you ask that. My hypothesis is that LUCA is also FUCA, and that LUCA appeared early enough to invalidate all currents theories of OOL, and to defin itely support a design origin.

    That is certainly falsifiable. We could demonstrate that FUCA existed, that it was different from LUCA, that there was a reasonable darwinian evolutionary path from FUCA to LUCA, that LUCA appeared in more recent times, allowing time for darwinian evolution.

    How is it that you darwinists become so reluctant, as soon as realistic possible falsifications of ID theories are suggested? My impression is that, lacking any scientific argument against ID (or in favor of neo darwinism), your desperate hope is to exclude ID from the scientific debate by philosophical or pseudo-methodological “arguments”.

    Well, that’s a very good sign for ID.

  120. Ehm, should have been this way:

    Mark:

    But all his hypothesis says about abiogenesis is that there was a sudden assemblage of inorganic materials to form the first prokaryotic cell! How do you falsify that?

    I am suprised that you ask that. My hypothesis is that LUCA is also FUCA, and that LUCA appeared early enough to invalidate all currents theories of OOL, and to defin itely support a design origin.

    That is certainly falsifiable. We could demonstrate that FUCA existed, that it was different from LUCA, that there was a reasonable darwinian evolutionary path from FUCA to LUCA, that LUCA appeared in more recent times, allowing time for darwinian evolution.

    How is it that you darwinists become so reluctant, as soon as realistic possible falsifications of ID theories are suggested? My impression is that, lacking any scientific argument against ID (or in favor of neo darwinism), your desperate hope is to exclude ID from the scientific debate by philosophical or pseudo-methodological “arguments”.

    Well, that’s a very good sign for ID.

  121. Mark Frank:

    The key thing to understand is that there is no way for science to investigate a supernatural hypothesis. No experiments, no observations, nothing. That is true by definition. If something is supernatural it goes beyond the bounds of nature and does not conform to natural laws. So there are no constraints and all results are possible.

    I don’t even know what people mean most of the time when they use the word “supernatural,” so I would certainly not be suggesting that anyone try to investigate something that is “supernatural.”

    Furthermore, there is zero evidence that designers (including the designer(s) of life) ever do anything that does “not conform to natural laws,” so there is no need to rest on the facile approach that “Well, we can’t investigate miracles, so we’ll just throw our hands up.”

    We don’t have to get into investigating the supernatural or things beyond the laws of nature. Living systems exist. They exist in time. They exist within the parameters of natural laws. Their existence certainly doesn’t violate any natural laws.*

    ID asks a very limited question: Is it possible that some aspects of living systems were designed, and if so, can we tell? Nothing about supernatural. Nothing about violating laws of nature. Nothing about who the designers are. Nothing about things that aren’t subject to investigation. We have the systems. They are here. What can we learn from them and infer about their likely origin. That’s it.

    —–

    This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway so that there is no room for confusion. “Not violating natural laws” does not mean “produced solely by natural and material forces without any intelligent guidance or input.” There are obviously millions of exquisitely-designed objects in our world that were not produced solely by natural and material material forces. But their existence doesn’t violate any natural laws. Indeed, natural laws were taken into account and used when they were designed.

  122. Gpuccio

    I only just noticed this – so maybe too late to get your attention. You have a theory about what happened once the first living thing was created. But that, by definition, is not abiogenesis. It is a strange theory about evolution which could, I admit, in theory be investigated. It omits any mention of the mechanism for evolution but the pattern of descent could be tested.

    My point is that your theory about how the first living thing – this FUCA – came about is just “a sudden assemblage of inorganic materials” which is not a theory at all.

  123. #121 Eric

    Well if the designer has to comply with natural laws then ID needs a hypothesis showing how it is possible to assemble the first living thing while complying with natural laws. How are the appropriate chemicals brought together in a fashion that is sustainable in the environment of the time. i.e. ID has to solve almost exactly the same problems of abiogenesis as non-ID.

  124. Mark:

    Your comment #122 shows well what IMO is a common misunderstanding of ID. I will try to clarify my view about that point.

    ID is certainly a scientific theory, but it is in no way a final theory, or a theory of everything. It is, rather, a general approach to some specific problems (the generation of dFSCI in things), which includes a conscious agent as the origin of that complex functional information. In that sense, it is more a general paradigm for functional information in nature. In no way it escapes the need of any scientific theory: further hypotheses, testing and inquiry about the observables (new facts, new interpretations of facts).

    Let’s take my suggested theory about OOL. Indeed, its starting point is the idea, implied by ID theory, that the huge functional information in the first living beings (FUCA) was inputted by some conscious intelligent agents. One important consequence of that approach is that the emergence of FUCA, as inferred by observable facts, may have been rather “sudden”, in the sense that it may have not required the very long (indeed almost infinite) times that could “keep in the game” non design theories like neo darwinism.

    Another important consequence is that there is no need of “simpler precursors” (which, however, have never been observed, neither directly nor indirectly). IOWs, according to the ID approach, FUCA could well have been a prokaryote,like LUCA, complete with the basic protein systems necessary to life and reproduction (hubdreds of complex proteins). IOWs, the design in OOL is potentially detectable, as the only reasonable explanation for the emergence of a huge amount of functional information in relatively short natural history times, and without any traceable previous steps.

    These are all definite scientific predictions suggested by an ID approach. They are, moreover, reasonable predictions (in the ID framework), because they are in perfect accord with many already known facts: that prokaryotes are the simplest autonomous living beings known, that no living being is known who has not the basic systems for reproduction based on DNA, RNA and proteins, that all theories for OOL which assume a gradual emergence of FUCA meet huge logical and empirical difficulties, most of them reasonably impossible to be solved, that our present understanding of LUCA and of its relationship with natural history and geological times is in perfect accord with the hypothesis, and so on.

    That said, it is very clear that a lot of scientific problems remain to be solved, even in the ID context, and in particular even if we accept my hypothesis as a working frame. The most important of all, obviously, is the modality of implementation of the functional information that was inputted in FUCA.

    IOWs, ID simply assumes that the information was inputted by a conscious agent. My personal version of ID assumes that the conscious agent, or agents, was not physical, but could influence matter, probably at quantum level, probably without violating known physical laws, or maybe using physical laws concerning the consciousness matter interface which are still not understood by us. However, the designer certainly operated in some way that must be “observable” from our side, that is in terms of physical outputs.

    That is obviously open to inquiry, to research, to hypotheses. In no way I think that ID supporters have any idea of those details, but those details must be investigated. They can be investigated, and will be investigated.

    There are many lines of research that could help. The first, and more basic, is to try to understand better the consciousness-matter interface, forgetting for a moment the lies that prevail today about consciousness (string AI theory) and reasoning in a more scientific and empirical way about this fundamental issue. Much can be done in that sense, because we have an important empirical model: our own observable conscious events and actions.

    A second line, as I have suggested, is to deepen our understanding of biology and of natural history. That is being done. Our constantly increasing knowledge about the proteome, the genome, the transcriptome, and all the other “omes” that are so fashionable today, is a precious source of understanding. I have many times stated that each new day brings important facts, and that all of them are invariably in favor of an ID approach. It is important, however, that facts are interpreted correctly. The ID paradigm is important, and it must be included into the scientific approach, for the simple reason that it can definitely be the right paradigm, and that there are many reasons to believe that. In no way am I suggesting that other paradigm, including obviously neo darwinism, should be discarded. As I have recently affirmed, I believe that scientific advancement comes from open controversy. I really believe that.

    In your post #123, you state:

    “Well if the designer has to comply with natural laws then ID needs a hypothesis showing how it is possible to assemble the first living thing while complying with natural laws. How are the appropriate chemicals brought together in a fashion that is sustainable in the environment of the time. i.e. ID has to solve almost exactly the same problems of abiogenesis as non-ID.”

    Not exactly. You are certainly correct in stating that any detailed ID theory about abiogenesis needs “a hypothesis showing how it is possible to assemble the first living thing while complying with natural laws”. That is exactly my idea too. But it should be re-stated, in an ID context, in the following way:

    “ID needs a hypothesis showing how it is possible to assemble the first living thing while complying with natural laws, once we admit that the functional information itself is already present in the consciousness of the designer, or can in some way be actively searched by the designer by conscious and intelligent planning. And that the designer can interact with matter at some level, which remains to be defined and investigated.”

    IOWs, there are a lot of scientific problems that remain to be solved for any ID theory of OOL. But they are not “the same problems of abiogenesis as non-ID”. Any non ID theory must solve not only those problems, but also the most important problem of all: how was the functional information generated or found without any intervention of a conscious intelligent agent. That problem, IMO, will never be solved, for the simple truth (always IMO) that complex functional information cannot be generated without the intervention of a conscious intelligent agent.

    So, the problems common to ID and non ID theories are huge, but they are all potentially solvable. But the problem of the emergence of huge functional information could well be “solvable” only in an ID context. That would simply mean that any non ID theory of OOL is intrinsically doomed from the beginning. And that is exactly what I believe.

    One last comment. OOL is certainly the best and the worst scenario to be investigated. It is the best, because huge amounts of new original dFSCI were certainly generated at OOL, however that happened. So, it is the best scenario to understand how functional information can be generated. Unfortunately, it is also the most difficult scenario because it is the most ancient, and the one about which we have really few facts.

    I would suggest that much can be understood about OOL by assuming very simply that similar mechanisms could be the best explanation for the emergence of dFSCI both at OOL and later, whenever new species appear. IOWs. the origin of functional information is such a “miracle”, from all points of view, that it is really unlikely that two completely different explanations exist for its appearance at OOL and after that. After all, exactly the same kind of information appears at both points: new genes, new proteins, new interactions between proteins, new regulations, and so on. So, why should different explanations be involved? IOWs, if we understand how the Cambrian explosion happened (and we may have many more facts about that issue), we will have probably understood much of how OOL happened.

    You can call that a very simple application of the abused principle of Occam’s razor, if you like.

  125. MF:

    You have a theory about what happened once the first living thing was created.

    And yet you can’t reference this alleged theory.

    But that, by definition, is not abiogenesis.

    Any theory of evolution HAS to contain the OoL as the two are directly linked.

    It omits any mention of the mechanism for evolution but the pattern of descent could be tested.

    The pattern of design could also be tested.

  126. MF:

    The key thing to understand is that there is no way for science to investigate a supernatural hypothesis.

    YOU are not in any position to make that claim, Mark.

    No experiments, no observations, nothing.

    Wrong- if we observed something disobeying the laws of nature then that would count as something.

    But anyway, ID does NOT require the supernatural. Mark’s position requires something other than natural processes as natural processes only exist in nature and therefor cannot for its origin, which scvience says it had.

  127. Mark Frank noted

    ID needs a hypothesis showing how it is possible to assemble the first living thing while complying with natural laws, once we admit that the functional information itself is already present in the consciousness of the designer, or can in some way be actively searched by the designer by conscious and intelligent planning. And that the designer can interact with matter at some level, which remains to be defined and investigated.

    What’s even harder is for the designer to comply with Physical Laws as we currently know them before those laws actually existed. The appearance of the first bits of light and matter before there was any (along with time and space itself) must have been “supranatural” by definition.

    My point is that “supranatural” might be a better word to use than “supernatural”, which has a lot of mystical and religious connotations.

    Who knows, maybe the designer had to go back and tweak hydrogen bonding to make solid water less dense than liquid water to prevent the oceans from freezing solid. ;-)

    -Q

  128. I think whats astonishing is how many dont believe in evolution.

    I hope no one here is suggesting that the earth 6000 is not billions of years old because thats the same kind of denial of the facts that atheists use.

    I do agree that the probabilities needs to be addressed–as there is no way, even in a trillions years, that the universe can bring forth the eye. That cells somehow knew there was something to see and hear when they designed the eye and the ear? A blind baby, put on a deserted island could never even begin to conceive that there was such a thing as light. A visible universe. The universe bought forth beings that can See it and comprehend it…. That alone is believing in Magic.

    BTW, I studied Evo, have a science degree, and understand how the eye developed and what these gullible people dont get is there are infinite amount of mutations that could have occurred, and to hit on the one that eventually allows for observers to witness the universe(multiple times)–as a 3 dimensional construct that also allows for dreams to produce it own 3 dimensional world that is not discernible from the real world is accepting miracles occur. Everyone knows, in their heart, that it is utter nonsense this insanely complex system has no author. You’re fighting logic and reason.

    So whether God intervened in evolution or simply knew that the initial conditions of the universe, if arranged in just the right way would branch off to created humans naturally…there is no way to accept those kind of probabilities.

    So if someone says they dont believe in evolution because we didnt evolve at all..I would say you’re being just like the atheists, whose bias of what they want to be true destroys logic.

    Obviously the theory has many problems which they wont admit–that too must change.

    I do believe that if scientists want to know why so many people dont accept the raw data–I think its because no one trusts these irrational atheists. They tell us time is an illusion, that we have no freewill–which is self refuting, They told us the world only “appears” designed, then they find out the math looks infinitely more designed than the appearance–so they postulate multiverse because they reject their own data, even Einstein fudged his equations because he didnt want a Beginning to the universe…

    So if you want to know why no one trusts you..its because you’re pathologically biased and have been denying we are even real people, with no freewill and no real feelings. YOU, my friends…are Abnormal

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