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Nick Matzke: All True Scotsman Believe in Darwinian Evolution

I am often amused by the Darwinists’ all-too-frequent use of the “no true Scotsman’ logical fallacy. Never heard of that fallacy you say? Let me explain.  Wikipedia defines the fallacy this way:

No true Scotsman is an informal fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion. When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim, rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule.

Anthony Flew advanced the term using this example:

Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the “Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again”. Hamish is shocked and declares that “No Scotsman would do such a thing”. The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again; and, this time, finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, “No true Scotsman would do such a thing”

In summary, the fallacy takes this form:

Douglas: “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.”
McDonald: “I am Scottish, and I put sugar on my porridge.”
Douglas: “Then you are not a true Scotsman.”

The point is that Douglas made an unjustified assertion. Instead of backing off his assertion when he is shown that it was false, he doubles down and makes up ad hoc self-serving categories.

Nick Matzke, like many Darwinists, is a master of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. Yesterday he treated us with a particularly exquisite application of the fallacy that was a wonder of sheer breathtaking hubris. Let’s see how he did it.

In this post Dr. Torley notes that Professor James M. Tour, one of the most prominent and respected chemists in the entire world, is a Darwin skeptic.

Nick responds:

Wow, your blogpost is a particularly silly comment on a particularly silly article. A guy whose field is not biology, and who shows absolutely no evidence of having seriously engaged with actual evolutionary biologists or their literature, and who appears to not have the first clue about how biologists would define “macroevolution”, spouts off on a webpage, and this is supposed to be a serious argument?

To which Dr. Torley responds:

Nick, he’s one of the world’s top ten chemists! I would think that he knows more than a few eminent biologists.

To which Nick responds:

He shows no evidence of that, either directly or in terms of showing a sign of having a clue about the field of evolutionary biology.

And what is Nick’s evidence that Dr. Tour has no clue about the field of evolutionary biology? Well, he’s a Darwin skeptic of course. Therefore, by definition he does not have a clue, no matter how eminent his credentials, no matter how cogent his arguments. In the form of the fallacy as outlined above, Nick’s argument goes like this:

Nick: All true scientists believe in Darwinian evolution.
Vincent: Dr. Tour, one of the top ten most cited chemists on the planet, is a Darwin skeptic.
Nick: Then Dr. Tour is no true scientist.

News to Nick: Getting red in the face and stamping your feet (metaphorically speaking) is not an argument. You do not get to decide who is and who is not a true scientist.  Perhaps you believe you sit ex cathedra in the chair of Saint Charles the Bearded, and your pronouncements on who has a clue and who does not have a clue are infallible and binding on the faithful.  But I do not count myself among the Darwinist faithful and your pronoucements are not binding on me.  Believe me, I would like to among the faithful.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to swim with the cultural current instead of against it?  But it is impossble for me to convert, because no matter how hard I try I just cannot muster enough blind unreasoned (and unreasonable) faith to believe that everything came from nothing and that matter spontaneously reconstituted itself from mud into space stations.

 

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84 Responses to Nick Matzke: All True Scotsman Believe in Darwinian Evolution

  1. Ahah! It’s the no true space station fallacy!

  2. “Professor James M. Tour, one of the most prominent and respected chemists in the entire world, is a Darwin skeptic…”

    …and he also rejects Intelligent Design (Big-ID) theory.

    Luckily it was not stated that because Dr. James M. Tour rejects Darwinian evolution he must therefore also be an Intelligent Design advocate. That would have been yet another ‘true Scotsman’ fallacy! ;)

  3. Nick: Then Dr. Tour is no true scientist.

    But Nick did not say that. He only questionned Tour’s knowledge of biology.

  4. And what is Nick’s evidence that Dr. Tour has no clue about the field of evolutionary biology? Well, he’s a Darwin skeptic of course. Therefore, by definition he does not have a clue, no matter how eminent his credentials, no matter how cogent his arguments.

    Heck, Tour himself says he doesn’t know what he’s talking about!

    Have a look at the very first paragraph!

    Layman’s Reflections on Evolution and Creation. An Insider’s View of the Academy

    Assuming that I have something significant to contribute to the evolution vs. creation debate, many ask me to speak and write concerning my thoughts on the topic. However, I do not have anything substantive to say about it. I am a layman on the subject. Although I have read about a half dozen books on the debate, maybe a dozen, and though I can speak authoritatively on complex chemical synthesis, I am not qualified to enter the public discussion on evolution vs. creation. So please don’t ask me to be the speaker or debater at your event, and think carefully about asking me for an interview because I will probably not give you the profound quotations that you seek.

    Sounds like he’s been contacted by more than one creationist/IDist desperate to recruit his authority, despite his admitted ignorance on the topic.

  5. But Nick did not say that. He only questionned Tour’s knowledge of biology.

    Correct. But apparently it is difficult to get even very basic things straight around here. Anyone with a sense of academic honesty would retract the statement made in the OP.

  6. Nick @ 4.

    Pointing out that Dr. Tour is not a specialist in the field of evolutionary biology is, of course, fair game, for whatever it is worth. And if you had stopped there I would have no quarrel with your comments. But you did not stop there.

    Instead, you went much further and said Dr. Tour “shows absolutely no evidence of having seriously engaged with actual evolutionary biologists or their literature, and who appears to not have the first clue about how biologists would define ‘macroevolution.’

    Then you said: “He shows no evidence of that, either directly or in terms of showing a sign of having a clue about the field of evolutionary biology.”

    Every particular of both of your assertions is manifestly false. And on what basis did you advance these false assertions? On this basis: “If he were a true scientist with a clue he would agree with me”

    That’s the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, pure and simple as it gets.

  7. “And on what basis did you advance these false assertions?”

    If he had said, “I had several hours of discussion with evolutionary biologists X, Y, and Z”, that would be direct evidence of engagement with evolutionary biologists. Instead, one gets the sense that he has sprung his questions randomly on people who are not any more experts in evolutionary biology than he is.

    If he had said, “Now, evolutionary biologists typically defined ‘macroevolution’ as evolution above the level of individual gene pools, including speciation, lineage dynamics (rates of speciation and extinction), mass exinctions, adaptive radiations, and mapping the character changes that lead to major innovations on a phylogeny”, then that would some evidence of having a clue about the field of evolutionary biology. Instead, we get weirdness about wanting a “chemical explanation”, which is approximately as weird as requesting a chemical explanation of the Grand Canyon.

  8. So, Barry — in your mind, someone who says “I do not have anything substantive to say about it. I am a layman on the subject. Although I have read about a half dozen books on the debate, maybe a dozen, and though I can speak authoritatively on complex chemical synthesis, I am not qualified to enter the public discussion on evolution vs. creation” is really worth treating as an authority?

  9. When it comes to evolution, everyone is a layman as no one knows how many mutations it takes to get a new body part nor a new body plan. No one seems to know much of anything. No one even seems to know how to test the claims of the “theory” of evolution.

  10. I was fascinated yesterday by N. Matzke’s response to the previous post.

    It seemed like he was making the assertion that only an evolutionary biologist could be viewed as an authority in the discussion, and yet isn’t evolutionary research(like so many science disciplines) a multidiscipinary enterprise?

    In particular, isn’t abiogenesis or ab initio molecular generation an area which particularly depends on organic chemistry – Dr. Tour’s area of expertise?

    My initial thought upon reading the post was that when Dr. Tour states that ‘if anyone should be able to understand evolution because I make molecules for a living’ and poses the question ‘does anyone understand the chemical details behind macroevolution’ he is very clearly stating that he is commenting on an area which is a critical underpinning of evolution within which he is an authority.

    My question to N.Matzke wouldn’t deal with fallacies of one type or another but rather on what basis does he make the claim that a noted organic chemist isn’t qualified to comment on the areas of evolution which depend on organic chemistry?

    This seemed a very strange (even outrageous) claim. My thought is that the specialist (the organic chemist) would be more qualified to comment on the areas of a multidiscipinary theory (evolution) than a generalist or individual qualified in a different foscused area (evolutionary biologist).

    What am I missing?

  11. “It seemed like he was making the assertion that only an evolutionary biologist could be viewed as an authority in the discussion, and yet isn’t evolutionary research(like so many science disciplines) a multidiscipinary enterprise?”

    Good point.

    By default whoever makes a career out of Evolution should not be trusted, period.

    Evolutionists who hold to the Darwinian doctrine feel threatened and so they must revert to authority in their own field in order to protect themselves and their career.

    Its a natural self-defense mechanism, but it has nothing to do with science.

    Ask yourself, is it possible to be an Evolutionary Biologist and not be an Evolutionary Biologist?

  12. esc2,

    How much does Tour know about ecology and biogeography? These are (some of the things) crucial to understanding macroevolution.

    Here, I’ll be Tour for a moment:

    Give me a chemical explanation of the Grand Canyon, or I guess I’m justified in thinking that no one knows how it originated. Oh, and don’t expect me to talk to any actual geologists or do any serious personal education in the topic.

  13. Here’s another thing equivalent to what Tour is saying:

    I don’t trust chemistry, because I heard that chemicals are bad for you. And you can’t trust chemists, because they hold to chemical doctrine and feel threatened and so they must revert to authority in their own field in order to protect themselves and their career. Its a natural self-defense mechanism, but it has nothing to do with science.

    Oh, and don’t ask me to do anything dreary that involves actual work, like taking a course in chemistry or at least reading a textbook. I’m going to pronounce on the topic without doing any of that. Why get educated before dismissing another field based upon reading a teeny bit more than what you can learn off the back of a cereal box over breakfast?

    Here’s what the blog fans of the above guy would say:

    This guy is clearly an authority on chemistry and his opinion on chemistry deserves a lot of respect and uncritical attention. Anyone who criticizes his authority or our invocation of it is clearly just a shill for the bankrupt field of chemistry.

  14. ‘News to Nick: Getting red in the face and stamping your feet (metaphorically speaking) is not an argument.’

    It is if you think God’s rotten, and you’re not going to believe in him, because he’s nasty. So there!

    But isn’t it strange, our atheist chums – I mean the mainstream wilder fringe* – can only obsess about what they charge is an omnipotent God’s wilful cruelty.

    Yet, any devout Christian, or one who has personally experienced, for example, a dramatic conversion, as many people have, finds it difficult to believe even God could be so wonderful and loving. We talk about what we know, they talk about what they wish to be the case.

    * When is the mainstream a fringe? When the follow the money, at the expense of reason, etc.

  15. 15
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: (12)

    The analogy is not quite precise, because (presumably) erosion is understood at the chemical level. (The Grand Canyon is mostly limestone and sandstone, so I guess it would be explained in terms of the electrostatic interactions between silicon (quartz), calcium (calcite), and water, right?) So Tour would say, “we really do understand the formation of the Grand Canyon, because we understand it at the chemical level.”

    On the other hand, Tour seems to be saying, “since macroevolutionary processes are not understood at the level of chemistry, no one really understands them at all.”

    I suppose I’m a bit surprised to hear Uncommon Descent contributors endorsing such extreme reductionism.

  16. “Ask yourself, is it possible to be an Evolutionary Biologist and not be an Evolutionary Biologist?”

    I just want to emphasize this point here further that the core foundation of Evolutionary Biology is so entrenched in Darwinism its almost impossible not to believe in Darwinism and be considered an Evolutionary Biologist much less a “qualified” critic outside the scope of Evolutionary Biology such as Tour. As far as they’re concerned you’re just a crackpot who hasn’t been paying attention in school. Damned either way.

  17. Nick Matzke – The way I read the comments of Dr. Tour is you would qualify as “anyone”. So why don’t you sit down with him and answer his query

    Does anyone understand the chemical details behind macroevolution? If so, I would like to sit with that person and be taught, so I invite them to meet with me.

    Think of the service you would provide if you would just explain it to him.

    Oh, but I would be willing to bet you don’t really understand it either.

  18. Mr Matzke, if Darwinism is so obviously true, as you hold it to be, then why is it that Darwinism is always added as a narrative gloss after a new discovery is made instead of actually spearheading the discoveries in the first place (Such as General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics spearhead new discoveries)

    Why Do We Invoke Darwin? By Philip Skell – August 29, 2005
    [T]he modern form of Darwin’s theory has been raised to its present high status because it’s said to be the cornerstone of modern experimental biology. But is that correct? “While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,’ most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas,” A.S. Wilkins, editor of the journal BioEssays, wrote in 2000. “Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.”

    I would tend to agree. Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming’s discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.

    I also examined the outstanding biodiscoveries of the past century: the discovery of the double helix; the characterization of the ribosome; the mapping of genomes; research on medications and drug reactions; improvements in food production and sanitation; the development of new surgeries; and others. I even queried biologists working in areas where one would expect the Darwinian paradigm to have most benefited research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I found that Darwin’s theory had provided no discernible guidance, but was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.
    http://www.the-scientist.com/?.....e-Darwin-/

  19. I might add to Darwinism not spearheading discovery, but as is obvious from the recent Junk DNA fiasco, that Darwinism actually impedes scientific progress,,,

    On the roles of repetitive DNA elements in the context of a unified genomic-epigenetic system. – Richard Sternberg
    Excerpt: It is argued throughout that a new conceptual framework is needed for understanding the roles of repetitive DNA in genomic/epigenetic systems, and that neo-Darwinian “narratives” have been the primary obstacle to elucidating the effects of these enigmatic components of chromosomes.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12547679

    As well it is now known that many of the hereditary diseases that afflict humans arise from the large ‘Junk DNA’ regions:

    International HoloGenomics Society – “Junk DNA Diseases”
    Excerpt: A primary goal of IHGS is to elevate awareness of the fact that “some, if not all” hereditary diseases do not stop at the boundaries of “genes”
    http://www.junkdna.com/junkdna_diseases.html
    Excerpt: “elaborated in more detail in my “Obituary of Junk DNA “
    http://www.junkdna.com/#obituary_of_junk_dna”
    uncounted millions of people died miserable deaths while scientists were looking for the “gene” causing their illnesses – and were not even supposed to look anywhere but under the lamp illuminating only 1.3% of the genome (the genes).”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-357177

  20. Mr Matzke, thanks for providing so much fodder for thought,,, Do you consider Didier Raoult a ‘true Scotsman’?

    A New Model for Evolution: A Rhizome – Didier Raoult – May 2010
    Excerpt: Thus we cannot currently identify a single common ancestor for the gene repertoire of any organism.,,, Overall, it is now thought that there are no two genes that have a similar history along the phylogenic tree.,,,Therefore the representation of the evolutionary pathway as a tree leading to a single common ancestor on the basis of the analysis of one or more genes provides an incorrect representation of the stability and hierarchy of evolution. Finally, genome analyses have revealed that a very high proportion of genes are likely to be newly created,,, and that some genes are only found in one organism (named ORFans). These genes do not belong to any phylogenic tree and represent new genetic creations.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....izome.html

    Didier Raoult, who authored the preceding paper, has been referred to as ‘Most Productive and Influential Microbiologist in France’. Here is what he had to say about Darwinism:

    The “Most Productive and Influential Microbiologist in France” Is a Furious Darwin Doubter – March 2012
    Excerpt: Controversial and outspoken, Raoult last year published a popular science book that flat-out declares that Darwin’s theory of evolution is wrong.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....57081.html

  21. The analogy is not quite precise, because (presumably) erosion is understood at the chemical level. (The Grand Canyon is mostly limestone and sandstone, so I guess it would be explained in terms of the electrostatic interactions between silicon (quartz), calcium (calcite), and water, right?) So Tour would say, “we really do understand the formation of the Grand Canyon, because we understand it at the chemical level.”

    That would apply if chemical erosion was the only process, but a lot of erosion is due to e.g. physical abrasion, freeze/thaw, etc. And an actual explanation of the Grand Canyon would involve the local tectonic history (the gradual uplift of the plateau), the slope and the amount and speed of the water over time, etc. Saying “I haz chemistry, explain it in chemistry or your field is highly questionable” would be laughed at by geologists, and justifiably so. Ditto with macroevolution and biologists.

  22. ‘News to Nick: Getting red in the face and stamping your feet (metaphorically speaking) is not an argument.’

    It is if you think God’s rotten, and you’re not going to believe in him, because he’s nasty. So there!

    That’s interesting that you made this up with your imagination, because I said nothing about God, and I’m not an atheist.

  23. I just want to emphasize this point here further that the core foundation of Evolutionary Biology is so entrenched in Darwinism its almost impossible not to believe in Darwinism and be considered an Evolutionary Biologist much less a “qualified” critic outside the scope of Evolutionary Biology such as Tour. As far as they’re concerned you’re just a crackpot who hasn’t been paying attention in school. Damned either way.

    I just want to emphasize this point here further that the core foundation of chemistry is so entrenched in Atomic Theory its almost impossible not to believe in Atomic Theory and be considered an Chemist much less a “qualified” critic outside the scope of Chemistry such as [pseudo-non-chemist]Tour. As far as they’re concerned you’re just a crackpot who hasn’t been paying attention in school. Damned either way.

  24. “I just want to emphasize this point here further that the core foundation of chemistry is so entrenched in Atomic Theory its almost impossible not to believe in Atomic Theory and be considered an Chemist much less a “qualified” critic outside the scope of Chemistry such as [pseudo-non-chemist]Tour. As far as they’re concerned you’re just a crackpot who hasn’t been paying attention in school. Damned either way.”

    Hahahahaha…this is pathetic, Nick, to compare Atomic Theory with Darwinism.

  25. Mr. Matzke, do you consider James Shapiro as a ‘true Scotsman’?

    Revisiting the Central Dogma in the 21st Century – James A. Shapiro – 2009
    Excerpt (Page 12): Underlying the central dogma and conventional views of genome evolution was the idea that the genome is a stable structure that changes rarely and accidentally by chemical fluctuations (106) or replication errors. This view has had to change with the realization that maintenance of genome stability is an active cellular function and the discovery of numerous dedicated biochemical systems for restructuring DNA molecules.(107–110) Genetic change is almost always the result of cellular action on the genome. These natural processes are analogous to human genetic engineering,,, (Page 14) Genome change arises as a consequence of natural genetic engineering, not from accidents. Replication errors and DNA damage are subject to cell surveillance and correction. When DNA damage correction does produce novel genetic structures, natural genetic engineering functions, such as mutator polymerases and nonhomologous end-joining complexes, are involved. Realizing that DNA change is a biochemical process means that it is subject to regulation like other cellular activities. Thus, we expect to see genome change occurring in response to different stimuli (Table 1) and operating nonrandomly throughout the genome, guided by various types of intermolecular contacts (Table 1 of Ref. 112).
    http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.ed.....0Dogma.pdf

    Shapiro on Random Mutation:
    “What I ask others interested in evolution to give up is the notion of random accidental mutation.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....11144.html
    -Comment section
    “Establishing that teleological questions are critical will itself take a considerable effort because we need to overcome the long-held but purely philosophical (and illogical) assertion that functional creativity can result from random changes.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....99059.html

    Shapiro on Natural Selection:
    “My argument remains that the innovative process in evolution is rapid natural genetic engineering rather than gradual selection of small changes over long periods of time. This argument does not deny a role for selection. I simply assert that it is unrealistic to ascribe a creative (virtually deus ex machina) role to natural selection.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....94315.html

    Or are these guys ‘true Scotsmen’ to you Nick?

    The Fate of Darwinism: Evolution After the Modern Synthesis – David J. Depew and Bruce H. Weber – 2011
    Excerpt: We trace the history of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, and of genetic Darwinism generally, with a view to showing why, even in its current versions, it can no longer serve as a general framework for evolutionary theory. The main reason is empirical. Genetical Darwinism cannot accommodate the role of development (and of genes in development) in many evolutionary processes.,,,
    http://www.springerlink.com/co.....03g3t7002/

    With a Startling Candor, Oxford Scientist Admits a Gaping Hole in Evolutionary Theory – November 2011
    Excerpt: As of now, we have no good theory of how to read [genetic] networks, how to model them mathematically or how one network meshes with another; worse, we have no obvious experimental lines of investigation for studying these areas. There is a great deal for systems biology to do in order to produce a full explanation of how genotypes generate phenotypes,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....52821.html

    The next evolutionary synthesis: Jonathan BL Bard (2011)
    Excerpt: We now know that there are at least 50 possible functions that DNA sequences can fulfill [8], that the networks for traits require many proteins and that they allow for considerable redundancy [9]. The reality is that the evolutionary synthesis says nothing about any of this; for all its claim of being grounded in DNA and mutation, it is actually a theory based on phenotypic traits. This is not to say that the evolutionary synthesis is wrong, but that it is inadequate – it is really only half a theory!
    http://www.biosignaling.com/co.....X-9-30.pdf

    The Origin at 150: is a new evolutionary synthesis in sight? – Koonin – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: The edifice of the modern synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index....._synthesis

    Mr. Matzke, they, like Professor Tour, reject the standard neo-Darwinian account, that you defend so fiercely, and still believe some naturalistic explanation can account for the diversity of life around us, and do not hold to ID as far as I know, thus are they also not qualified to question Darwinism?

  26. N.Matzke @ 12,

    You said “Give me a chemical explanation of the Grand Canyon, or I guess I’m justified in thinking that no one knows how it originated. Oh, and don’t expect me to talk to any actual geologists or do any serious personal education in the topic.”

    I’m not sure that is exactly what he is saying.

    To adapt your example, he is saying something more along the lines of ‘there is specific information within my area of expertise that ecologists et al want to consider as we examine the multidisciplinary problem of Grand Canyon erosion and I am open to talking to them.’

    I also think you are vastly overstating his presumed ignorance. You say Dr. Tour doesn’t provide evidence that he spoke to evolutionary biologists and you go on to presume he did not. He actually didn’t specify either way and thus provided no evidence in either direction. He may well have talked to evolutionary biologists.

    You are assuming a negative when there is no evidence of either positive or negative type. Certainly there is no basis to state that, in your hypothesized scenario, he would rebuff the expectation to talk to an ecologist where there is multidisciplinary overlap. The opposite, in fact. He didn’t specify what experts he approached but he did extend an open invitation to all disciplines to discuss over lunch – thus he is at least open to discussing with evolutionary biologists if he has not done so already.

    My mind is open about the science, I am honestly still learning about evolutionary theory. But it looks from the outside you are being unfair to Dr. Tour insofar as the nature of discussion goes.

  27. And maybe Dr. Tour understands something most Evolutionary Biologists take for granted or have not even considered.

    Why not listen to engineers, chemists, mathematicians, programmers etc…? All these fields look outside their respected disciplines in order to advance their own, why not Evolutionary Biology? Is it because Darwinism already has all the answers?

  28. N.Matzke @4

    You noted that Dr. Tour stated he was a layman in the evolution and creation. He is acknowleding in that quote that there are at least elements of one or both sides of the debate in which he is not an expert and in not qualified to comment professionally.

    However, does this apply to his comments in the previous post (A World Famous Chemist Tells…)? In those comments, he states that “as a scientist and a synthetic chemist: if anybody should be able to understand evolution, it is me, because I make molecules for a living” and he poses the question “Does anyone understand the chemical details behind macroevolution?”.

    It appears that, while conceding he is not an expert in the general theory of evolution, he is asserting that his area of expertise does overlap, in this organic chemistry is a specialty which influences a subset of theory of evolution, and it is this focused area he is addressing?

    In so doing, he is stating that 1) his area of expertise as an organic chemist is critical to elements of evolutionary theory, particularly the origins of life (the process by which life arose from inorganic matter) and 2) the explanations provided within the general theory are not sufficient or are not supported from an organic chemistry perspetive.

    My take here is that Dr. Tour has been fairly responsible in bounding what areas his expertise is appropriately and inappropriately applied to and within the appropriate areas he has posed legitimate questions. Disagree?

  29. 29

    Nick @ 7: responds to this question: “And on what basis did you advance these false assertions?” as follows:

    “one gets the sense that . . .”

    Oh, so you just made your false assertions up based upon your imaginings about what might have happened.

    Why am I not surprised? That kind of reasoning is par for the course in your field.

    Evolutionary biology – the only scientific “discipline” where the imaginings of the researcher actually count as evidence for the researcher’s theory.

  30. 30

    Nick @ 8 writes:

    “So, Barry — in your mind, someone who says “I do not have anything substantive to say about it. I am a layman on the subject. Although I have read about a half dozen books on the debate, maybe a dozen, and though I can speak authoritatively on complex chemical synthesis, I am not qualified to enter the public discussion on evolution vs. creation” is really worth treating as an authority?”

    Two responses Nick.

    1. Again, that is not what you said. You said he is totally clueless, and no matter how much post hoc spin you try to put on it now, you simply can’t back that up.

    2. I take it that you now admit that the one of the world’s leading experts on complex chemical synthesis might have something valuable to say about the aspects of evolutionary biology that bear on complex chemical synthesis even if he is not an expert on evolution per se? Or do you still deny this?

    Next you’ll be telling me that Darwin had nothing valuable to say about evolution because his formal training was in theology, not biology. On second thought, probably not; I suspect that for your purposes this particular knife cuts only one way.

  31. ‘Mr Matzke, if Darwinism is so obviously true, as you hold it to be, then why is it that Darwinism is always added as a narrative gloss after a new discovery is made instead of actually spearheading the discoveries in the first place (Such as General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics spearhead new discoveries)’

    What a radical, profoundly seditious question, BA! Right to the heart of the difference between science and the narrative mythologies of tribal elders. Their own version of the Dream Time.

  32. If Tour isn’t qualified to criticize evolutionary theory then he isn’t qualified to endorse it either, and neither is any other scientist or anyone else who does not specialize in the field.

    You kids just talk among yourselves.” Rofl…

  33. Axel @31, it gets worse for the materialist/naturalist. The more fiercely naturalism is held onto as the only allowable explanation in science, the more severe becomes the epistemological failure of their compelled ‘scientific’ conclusions:

    i.e. Materialism simply dissolves into absurdity when pushed to extremes and certainly offers no guarantee to us for believing our perceptions and reasoning within science are trustworthy in the first place:

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale. For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

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

    And Dr. Gordon’s last powerpoint is here:

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

    Ironically, materialists object to God because, of all things, this,,,:

    ‘To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that Miracles may happen.
    Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist (and self-proclaimed Marxist)
    http://creation.com/amazing-ad.....ntin-quote

    This ‘lack of a guarantee’, epistemological failure, for trusting our perceptions and reasoning in science to be trustworthy in the first place, even extends into evolutionary naturalism itself;

    Should You Trust the Monkey Mind? – Joe Carter
    Excerpt: Evolutionary naturalism assumes that our noetic equipment developed as it did because it had some survival value or reproductive advantage. Unguided evolution does not select for belief except insofar as the belief improves the chances of survival. The truth of a belief is irrelevant, as long as it produces an evolutionary advantage. This equipment could have developed at least four different kinds of belief that are compatible with evolutionary naturalism, none of which necessarily produce true and trustworthy cognitive faculties.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....onkey-mind

    Scientific Peer Review is in Trouble: From Medical Science to Darwinism – Mike Keas – October 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Survival is all that matters on evolutionary naturalism. Our evolving brains are more likely to give us useful fictions that promote survival rather than the truth about reality. Thus evolutionary naturalism undermines all rationality (including confidence in science itself). Renown philosopher Alvin Plantinga has argued against naturalism in this way (summary of that argument is linked on the site:).
    Or, if your short on time and patience to grasp Plantinga’s nuanced argument, see if you can digest this thought from evolutionary cognitive psychologist Steve Pinker, who baldly states:
    “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth; sometimes the truth is adaptive, sometimes it is not.”
    Steven Pinker, evolutionary cognitive psychologist, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 305.
    http://blogs.christianpost.com.....ism-12421/

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

    Philosopher Sticks Up for God
    Excerpt: Theism, with its vision of an orderly universe superintended by a God who created rational-minded creatures in his own image, “is vastly more hospitable to science than naturalism,” with its random process of natural selection, he (Plantinga) writes. “Indeed, it is theism, not naturalism, that deserves to be called ‘the scientific worldview.’”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12.....wanted=all

    The Historical Alliance of Christianity and Science – Kenneth Richard Samples
    Excerpted quote: “Modern science was conceived, and born, and flourished in the matrix of Christian theism. Only liberal doses of self-deception and double-think, I believe, will permit it to flourish in the context of Darwinian naturalism.”
    ~ Alvin Plantinga

    It is interesting to note that I believe Plantinga’s ‘Evolutionary argument against naturalism’ is obviously a very well developed refinement of the original ‘argument from reason’ by CS Lewis:

    “One absolutely central inconsistency ruins [the popular scientific philosophy]. The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears… unless Reason is an absolute, all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.”
    —C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry (aka the Argument from Reason)

    C.S. Lewis, Reason, and Naturalism: An Interview with Dr. Jay Richards – audio
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201.....alism.html

    The Argument From Reason – resource page
    http://www.reasonsforgod.org/t.....om-reason/

  34. 24
    computeristFebruary 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    “I just want to emphasize this point here further that the core foundation of chemistry is so entrenched in Atomic Theory its almost impossible not to believe in Atomic Theory and be considered an Chemist much less a “qualified” critic outside the scope of Chemistry such as [pseudo-non-chemist]Tour. As far as they’re concerned you’re just a crackpot who hasn’t been paying attention in school. Damned either way.”

    Hahahahaha…this is pathetic, Nick, to compare Atomic Theory with Darwinism.

    You’re just saying that because you’ve been brainwashed by the scientific establishment, which is thoroughly Atomist and which close-mindedly punishes dissenters. If academia were truly open, people skeptical of Atomism would be welcomed to have their views taught in high school and college. If you were really confident that Atomism was supported by the evidence, you’d welcome this, and not discriminate in the hiring of teachers and professors. What have you got to hide?

    Wow, it’s so easy being a brave internet rebel against the orthodoxy. I should do it more often.

  35. In so doing, he is stating that 1) his area of expertise as an organic chemist is critical to elements of evolutionary theory, particularly the origins of life (the process by which life arose from inorganic matter) and 2) the explanations provided within the general theory are not sufficient or are not supported from an organic chemistry perspetive.

    Well gee, if your theory is correct, he should have said he was talking about the origin of life, not “macroevolution”, which is a different thing. The fact that he mixes these up is itself evidence of amateurism and lack of study of the relevant topics.

  36. Actually it appears I mixed them up, as they were my words in paraphrase of his.

    But, admittedly, I am an amateur.

    To my actual point though – is Dr. Paul’s field and area of specialization not relevant to the discussion?

  37. Well Mr. Matzke, I guess it is not surprising that preeminent organic Chemist don’t properly understand Darwinism, because it turns out that preeminent mathematicians don’t understand it either:

    Darwin and the Mathematicians – David Berlinski
    “The formation within geological time of a human body by the laws of physics (or any other laws of similar nature), starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field, is as unlikely as the separation by chance of the atmosphere into its components.”
    Kurt Gödel, was a preeminent mathematician/logician who is considered one of the greatest to have ever lived. Of Note: Godel was a Christian Theist!
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....cians.html

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: ,,certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Dr. David Berlinski: Head Scratching Mathematicians – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEDYr_fgcP8

    quote from preceding video:

    “John Von Neumann, one of the great mathematicians of the twentieth century, just laughed at Darwinian theory, he hooted at it!”
    Dr. David Berlinski

    Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Wolfgang Pauli on the Empirical Problems with Neo-Darwinism – Casey Luskin – February 27, 2012
    Excerpt: “In discussions with biologists I met large difficulties when they apply the concept of ‘natural selection’ in a rather wide field, without being able to estimate the probability of the occurrence in a empirically given time of just those events, which have been important for the biological evolution. Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’” Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28) -
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....56771.html

    HISTORY OF EVOLUTIONARY THEORY – WISTAR DESTROYS EVOLUTION
    Excerpt: A number of mathematicians, familiar with the biological problems, spoke at that 1966 Wistar Institute,, For example, Murray Eden showed that it would be impossible for even a single ordered pair of genes to be produced by DNA mutations in the bacteria, E. coli,—with 5 billion years in which to produce it! His estimate was based on 5 trillion tons of the bacteria covering the planet to a depth of nearly an inch during that 5 billion years. He then explained that the genes of E. coli contain over a trillion (10^12) bits of data. That is the number 10 followed by 12 zeros. *Eden then showed the mathematical impossibility of protein forming by chance.
    http://www.pathlights.com/ce_e.....hist12.htm

    Accounting for Variations – Dr. David Berlinski: – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW2GkDkimkE

    “No human investigation can be called true science without passing through mathematical tests.”
    Leonardo Da Vinci

    “Darwin’s theory is easily the dumbest idea ever taken seriously by science.”
    Granville Sewell – Professor Of Mathematics – University Of Texas – El Paso

    Indeed, math is not kind to Darwinism in the least when considering the probability of humans ‘randomly’ evolving:

    In Barrow and Tippler’s book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, they list ten steps necessary in the course of human evolution, each of which, is so improbable that if left to happen by chance alone, the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star and would have incinerated the earth. They estimate that the odds of the evolution (by chance) of the human genome is somewhere between 4 to the negative 180th power, to the 110,000th power, and 4 to the negative 360th power, to the 110,000th power. Therefore, if evolution did occur, it literally would have been a miracle and evidence for the existence of God. William Lane Craig

    William Lane Craig – If Human Evolution Did Occur It Was A Miracle – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUxm8dXLRpA

  38. Of related note:

    Evolution is Missing a Mathematical Formula
    Excerpt: Virtually all scientists acknowledge that mathematics is the real language of science. Every theory uses words to describe and postulate the theory, but the true test of a theory is numbers and mathematics. It is numbers and mathematical formulae that distinguish true science from hocus-pocus.,,,
    Every scientific theory that has been promoted to the status of being a scientific law has been quantified and/or embodied into one or more mathematical formulae that make accurate predictions.
    But no scientist has been able to derive any working formula from the Theory of Evolution and no one has been able to quantify its dictums. Millions of scientists have tried to quantify the Theory of Evolution and they have all failed to do so. (Modern Synthesis especially included)
    http://darwinconspiracy.com/article_1_rev2.php

    of note: if Darwinists actually followed what the equations of the modern synthesis were telling them, then they would reject neo-Darwinism:

    Can Darwin’s enemy, math, rescue him? – May 2011
    Excerpt: However, mathematical population geneticists mainly deny that natural selection leads to optimization of any useful kind. This fifty-year old schism is intellectually damaging in itself, and has prevented improvements in our concept of what fitness is.
    (On a job description from Oxford seeking a mathematician to ‘fix’ the problems within population genetics)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....escue-him/

    Here is a one result that was arrived at when math was applied to the question of Darwinian evolution:

    The Real Barrier to Unguided Human Evolution – Ann Gauger – April 25, 2012
    Excerpt: Their results? They calculated it would take six million years for a single base change to match the target and spread throughout the population, and 216 million years to get both base changes necessary to complete the eight base binding site. Note that the entire time span for our evolution from the last common ancestor with chimps is estimated to be about six million years. Time enough for one mutation to occur and be fixed, by their account.
    To be sure, they did say that since there are some 20,000 genes that could be evolving simultaneously, the problem is not impossible. But they overlooked this point. Mutations occur at random and most of the time independently, but their effects are not independent. (Random) Mutations that benefit one trait (are shown to) inhibit another (Negative Epistasis; Lenski e-coli after 50,000 generations).
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....58951.html

    =============

    Mathematics and Physics – A Happy Coincidence? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/9826382

    The ‘Spirituality’ of Mathematics – article
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/13VBciybSK3D7uJoz6ltldPPSvhL4HJaJAmCmOMkmQxg/edit

    Verse , quote, and Music:

    John1:1-4
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

    “Nothing in evolution can account for the soul of man. The difference between man and the other animals is unbridgeable. Mathematics is alone sufficient to prove in man the possession of a faculty unexistent in other creatures. Then you have music and the artistic faculty. No, the soul was a separate creation.”
    Alfred Russell Wallace, New Thoughts on Evolution, 1910

    Sara Groves – The Word – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ofE-GZ8zTU

  39. To my actual point though – is Dr. Paul’s field and area of specialization not relevant to the discussion?

    No, not really. Especially not macroevolution. What does this tell him about the fossil record? About the statistics of inference and testing of phylogenetic relationships? About hominids with brains half the size of ours? About comparative anatomy of humans and other vertebrates? About gene duplication and shifts of function in genes? About biogeographical patterns?

    Even if we are talking about biochemistry and the origin of life, gets away from most of what this thread has been about (macroevolution), we’re still not very close.

    Just because the word “organic” is in the term “organic chemistry” doesn’t make him any kind of expert in biology. “Organic” molecules are just those involving carbon chains. People who turn oil into gasoline are organic chemists too.

    Manufacturing nanocars might be cool but they bear almost no resemblance to biological systems. Biological systems are dominated by kinetics rather than thermodynamics. They replicate and have populations and variability and selection processes operating. If this guy studied ribozymes or something you’d at least have a bit of an argument, in that specific domain.

  40. Matzke @39:

    Biological systems are dominated by kinetics rather than thermodynamics.

    Oh boy, I hope you aren’t referring to stuff like that Addy Pross paper you cited for us last year. At that time you offered his paper as proof that “Life is a kinetically-dominated process, not a thermodynamically-dominated one.”

    That paper turned out to be a complete dud.

    You still owe me a couple of hours of my life back for sending us down that rabbit hole. :)

  41. Oh boy, I hope you aren’t referring to stuff like that Addy Pross paper you cited for us last year. At that time you offered his paper as proof that “Life is a kinetically-dominated process, not a thermodynamically-dominated one.”

    That paper turned out to be a complete dud.

    You still owe me a couple of hours of my life back for sending us down that rabbit hole. :)

    Thanks for your completely substance-free comment. If Pross is wrong, say how.

    BTW just this year he has published a popular book:

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0199641013

  42. Hi Nick,

    I’ve notified Professor James Tour of your offer to explain macroevolution to him, in person. Please see here for further details:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-447261

    I think it is highly likely that Professor Rice will take you up on your offer.

    Regarding your accusation that Professor Rice makes the elementary mistake of confusing macroevolution with the origin of life, here’s what he actually says in his online article on evolution/creation:

    Does anyone understand the chemical details behind macroevolution? If so, I would like to sit with that person and be taught, so I invite them to meet with me. Lunch will be my treat. Until then, I will maintain that no chemist understands, hence we are collectively bewildered. And I have not even addressed origin of first life issues. For me, that is even more scientifically mysterious than evolution. Darwin never addressed origin of life, and I can see why he did not; he was far too smart for that.

    I suggest you read what Professor Tour says more carefully.

  43. Kinetics (physics), the study of motion and its causes (per wiki)

    Hmm,,

    Okie Dokie Mr. Matzke, let’s look for the ultimate cause of motion:

    Jerry Coyne and Aquinas’ First Way – Michael Egnor September 9, 2009
    Excerpt: ‘The First Mover is necessary for change occurring at each moment. The argument is unrelated to the Big Bang; as noted, Aquinas assumed (for the sake of the First Way) that there was no temporal beginning of the universe. The argument works irrespective of whether or not the universe had a beginning in time. The only way to explain change in the natural world is to posit the existence of an unmoved First Mover. Aquinas goes on (in Summa Contra Gentiles and Summa Theologica) to draw out in meticulous detail the necessary attributes of the First Mover, and he demonstrates that it is logically necessary that the First Mover have many attributes (simplicity, omnipotence, etc) that are traditionally attributed to God as understood in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Argument from Motion is rigorous, and I have merely summarized its salient points, but it is straightforward once the premises are established. It is a very powerful argument.’ – Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....24951.html

    I find this centuries old philosophical argument, for the necessity of a ‘First Mover’ accounting for change occurring at each moment, to be validated by quantum mechanics. One line of evidence arises from the fact that there actually is a smallest indivisible unit of time; Planck time:

    Planck time
    Excerpt: One Planck time is the time it would take a photon travelling at the speed of light to cross a distance equal to one Planck length. Theoretically, this is the smallest time measurement that will ever be possible,[3] roughly 10^?43 seconds. Within the framework of the laws of physics as we understand them today, for times less than one Planck time apart, we can neither measure nor detect any change. As of May 2010, the smallest time interval that was directly measured was on the order of 12 attoseconds (12 × 10^?18 seconds),[4] about 10^24 times larger than the Planck time.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_time

    The ‘first mover’ of Aquinas’s argument was further validated by quantum mechanics since the possibility for the universe to be considered a self-sustaining ‘closed loop’ of cause and effect was removed with the refutation of the ‘hidden variable’ argument, as first postulated by Einstein, in quantum entanglement experiments.

    Quantum Measurements: Common Sense Is Not Enough, Physicists Show – July 2009
    Excerpt: scientists have now proven comprehensively in an experiment for the first time that the experimentally observed phenomena cannot be described by non-contextual models with hidden variables.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142824.htm

    This proof was further solidified in 2010:

    Physicists close two loopholes while violating local realism – November 2010
    Excerpt: The latest test in quantum mechanics provides even stronger support than before for the view that nature violates local realism and is thus in contradiction with a classical worldview.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....alism.html

    And this proof was further extended in 2011 by Anton Zeilinger, and team, to falsify local realism (reductive materialism) without even using quantum entanglement to do it, i.e. this experiment extended ‘non-local’ realism to the particles themselves, thus extending the empirical evidence to be directly in line with what was posited in Aquinas’s ‘First Mover’ argument:

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

    i.e. A non-local, beyond space and time, cause must be appealed to explain the continued existence of photons within space-time!

  44. Hi everyone,

    While we’re on the subject of Pross’s latest book, What is Life?: How Chemistry becomes Biology, I’d like to quote from a five-star review of the book by an IT manager:

    If you can find this for around 10 bucks US, the up to date semantic translations between physics, bio and chem are worth a quick read. The author obviously has a lot of experience translating catalysis, dynamic systems, molecular memory and ideas like information storage, frequent in bio, absent in chem, so as a bridge, it’s a great little read.

    Everything else falls apart right around the nucleus of its value: semantics. The author claims that we can “simply” apply Darwinian evolution to “purpose” in chemical catalysis to understand life. He then allows that Darwin left out all the paths and connections, which is no big deal due to Paleontology. What he misses (in an important Dettmer-Goldblatt The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving sense) is that you CAN’T do that with molecular paths– the devil, and the causes are IN the detail and paths. His missing arrows, ellipses and boxes ARE crucial to life’s dynamics, and without them his theory BECOMES semantics, not science.

    Example: Life isn’t design, it is purposive searching for replicative methods using entropy busting kinetic chemical directives to defeat thermodynamic equilibrium forces. He, and his buddy Hawking, miss the fact that search and directives are information and design terms. He calls Intelligent Design types “peddlers” — then peddles his own semantic version of design!

    Pross says with all kinds of reverence that dynamic systems will revolutionize chemistry. Please– this idea is 12 years old and we’re far beyond popular press awe now, and into the tough math of softly constrained nonlinear dynamics vs. hard constraint dynamics with inequalities. This level includes triple integrals, matrix calculus and abundant partial derivatives and tensors. Nothing of substance in this book in that regard. There are hundreds of books written on the ODE/ equality – fuzzy constraint side of dynamics by the way, but only ONE covering inequalities and hard constraints that are becoming more and more important in DNA: David Stewart (A Dynamics With Inequalities: Impacts and Hard Constraints (Applied Mathematics).

    Another reviewer with reservations made the following comments on Pross’s book:

    …[H]e suggests the very same evolutionary rules that underpin the existence and survival of all living things also governed the ‘persistence’ of these early organic molecules, which were ‘selected for’ according to their ‘fitness’ as replicators with fitness being determined largely by their relative dynamic kinetic stabilities (DKS): basically, those that could replicate the quickest and thus were more kinetically stable persisted longer, replicated more often and, as a result of mutations, gave rise to chemical diversity and increasingly more complex molecules the interactions of which produced the kind of ‘emergent properties’ postulated as being, at east potentially, characteristic of primitive forms of proto-life. In order to convince the reader of the plausibility of his hypothesis he provides, early on, a brief explanation of the philosophical basis of the ‘scientific method’; i.e. induction, and then proceeds, in a kind of ‘sleight of hand’ way, to outline his argument on the basis of this underlying assumed `inductive’ authority.

    Hmmm. Sounds like there are a lot of gaps in Pross’s account of the origin of life.

    To be fair, I should mention that Professor Jerry Coyne was impressed with Pross’s book, although he’s still reading it.

  45. This actually makes a great issue that creationists can gain by.
    Who indeed has the right to claim scientist credentials to their conclusions for/against evolution?!

    Evolutionists always say science/ scientists agree with evolution by hugh numbers etc.
    i always reply only ‘scientists” who got paid, 9-5, to do biological rese4arch in evolution can be scored.

    Then when creationists use scientists to debunk evolution great attention to research resumes is made.

    Who is right? lets settle this!

    i don’t regard evolutionist chemists as worthy to claim being researching evolutionists unless they show the goods.!!

    All these subjects require careful thought and study.
    If you do it you can present yourself as knowledgable on the subject.
    Scientist or no scientist.
    I am not a scientist but insist i know my stuff and take on the bad guys. No problem.

    It can’t be just scoring “smart’ people or scientists/degrees.

    Evolutionary biology must make or be refuted on well done evidence analysis.
    Titles be dammed.

    Everybody sins in this.
    Creationists being the attackers to the establishment must lead the way on negotiations here.

  46. Dr. Torley, I think that is just about the best book review I ever read. Well worth reading the entire review.

  47. Mr. Matzke: Chemistry (my field) is much more resistant than biology to the kind of “just-so” stories that power evolutionary thinking. Chemists understand that chemicals can’t do just anything, and we have a reasonably good idea of what kinds of behavior are likely. And most of the biochemistry that evolution demands has never been demonstrated, only inferred by those who want to believe the evolutionary story. Can you provide a plausible chemical scenario, or even name someone who can?

    To make the materialist position even more untenable, the chemical origin of life is much less plausible, as I think even you realize.

  48. Nick, so are you referring to Pross’ theory? Please confirm.

  49. 48
    Eric AndersonFebruary 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Nick, so are you referring to Pross’ theory? Please confirm.

    Yes, I thought that was obvious. Although he doesn’t have a complete theory of course, as he himself says. My only point is that the conceptual bridge between chemical kinetics and biological replication is a useful piece in thinking about how to transition between the domains in biology and chemistry.

    43
    bornagain77February 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Kinetics (physics), the study of motion and its causes (per wiki)

    Wrong again ba77. We are talking about chemical kinetics, i.e. the rates of reaction in chemistry.

  50. vjtorley — that reviewer is barely lucid, let alone coherent or convincing. Here’s the rest of the review:

    Finally, the author gives the wonderful punchline that, yes, humans really ARE just pond scum, ala his idiot buddy Hawking, but, guess what, because we are NETWORKED, we might be something a little more, and… sit down… why can’t we all just get along? (Seriously, that’s the ending/ punchline of the book!). Well, yes, reductionism means all arrows point down, but the bend over backward semantics to avoid design just gets silly. You don’t HAVE to see reductionism as reverse engineering– a Divine, Loving Creator giving us each instant to explore His skillfull designs, but at least acknowledge the projective importance of the human observer in creating the mulidimensional code-reality running beneath life!

    We’re going to stop shooting school kids when we see that humans are vast, Godlike beings, not networked pond scum, and if his “hope for the future” is that, even as pond scum, we are bigger because there are a LOT of us… PLEASE! Individuals are NOT important in this bleak view… granted… we’re selfish gene machines… and we get “this world” when that’s all we think of individual human importance. Fortunately, science acknowledged, we still have spirit telling us each soul is vast and precious, not a collection of autocatalysts seeking enough energy to mate, then die, our purpose achieved.

    An annoying note: this guy continually adds “Nobel prize winner” to almost all of his citations throughout the book. Tone down the Nobel dispenser, dude! The real geniuses today are the 10,000 nameless Chinese and Indian mathematicians working IN dynamic systems. Get a clue. His European prejudice is almost as childish as my American prejudice, what can we do?

  51. Nick @41:

    Thanks for your completely substance-free comment. If Pross is wrong, say how.

    Nick, don’t be silly. We spent the better part of an entire thread on this issue last year. Initially I misunderstood what you were referring to when you first brought up this “kinetic state” idea, and you kindly clarified what you were referring to.

    I have read and analyzed the Pross paper, and in that thread last year I demonstrated in detail why Pross’ idea doesn’t hold water. I also demonstrated that it was a literature bluff on your part in the context of our OOL discussion.

    It is certainly up to Pross (and you if you support him) to show why this so-called “kinetic state of life” helps answer any meaningful questions. Those of us who have examined the idea with a critical eye have found it quite wanting.

    —–

    Onlookers:

    If anyone is interested in a quick refresher on this so-called ‘kinetic state of life’ idea Nick has latched onto (as a way to avoid having to discuss thermodynamic constraints), these two posts may be of interest:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-421592

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-421718

  52. Nick @41:

    Thanks for your completely substance-free comment. If Pross is wrong, say how.

    Nick, don’t be silly. We spent the better part of an entire thread on this issue last year. Initially I misunderstood what you were referring to when you first brought up this “kinetic state” idea, and you kindly clarified what you were referring to.

    I have read and analyzed the Pross paper, and in that thread last year I demonstrated in detail why Pross’ idea doesn’t hold water. I also demonstrated that it was a literature bluff on your part in the context of our OOL discussion.

    It is certainly up to Pross (and you if you support him) to show why this so-called “kinetic state of life” helps answer any meaningful questions. Those of us who have examined the idea with a critical eye have found it quite wanting.

    —–

    Onlookers:

    If anyone is interested in a quick refresher on this so-called ‘kinetic state of life’ idea Nick has latched onto (as a way to avoid having to discuss thermodynamic constraints), these two posts may be of interest:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com…..ent-421592

    http://www.uncommondescent.com…..ent-421718

    Thanks. I was unaware of your responses to the Pross articles. I had written off the thread since no one even seemed to understand what chemical kinetics was. But your responses were far too facile. E.g., I’ll address the first response, as there is little new in the second one.

    Can anyone please explain how any of this could conceivably solve the thermodynamic/entropy issue that Pross acknowledges exists? What is it about autocatalysis and reaction rates that can possibly solve the problem? If what Pross is arguing is that because autocatalysis produces the very catalyst needed to perform the reaction in the first place, then fine, I’m on board with that. And in that sense, we could hypothesize that, given enough raw material, a particular reaction could continue to take place at a certain rate or even an increasing rate (the kinetic part of the theory).

    The point is this: most people think of replication as all-or-nothing. But kinetic autocatalysis is a quantitative thing — some polymers could weakly catalyze the formation of polymers more like themselves, and other polymers might do this better. This might be a gradual way to get to replication.

    Yes, the devil is in the details, and it won’t be Pross getting a Nobel Prize for providing the conceptual bridge, it will be (if it happens) someone showing some plausible demonstration with actual chemicals in the lab.

    But there are two fundamental problems with this idea. First, the catalyst simply facilitates (typically by speeding up) the reaction. The reaction could occur without it, it would just take longer, so all we’ve done is buy time, I haven’t changed anything fundamental about the replication process or the evolving or any of that.

    It’s vaguely true to say that “The reaction could occur without it, it would just take longer”. Thermodynamically, graphite is a lower Gibbs energy state than diamond, and so all diamond, if left alone, will eventually convert to graphite. But this thermodynamic fact is basically irrelevant because the kinetics are so slow. Thermodynamics only tells you what the long-term equilibrium will be when time runs out towards infinity. Kinetics is what tells you what will actually happen in reasonably relevant amounts of time.

    Second, the reaction continues, either linearly or exponentially, until it runs out of raw material. But I can get the same result from a forest fire. Again, whether the reaction rates are maintained or increased doesn’t tell us anything about what controls the rate or maintains a stable state.

    That’s just wrong. The Earth, as well as many microenvironments, have a relatively constant flux of energy flowing through them. So any replicating system will increase exponentially until it uses up the resource supply, and then crash — but if energy keeps flowing in, a stable population will persist. It’s very much like the ecological concept of carrying capacity. Thermodynamics is never violated, because energy keeps flowing in. If the energy is ever shut off, well then, big problems happen — exactly like we would have big problems if the Sun suddenly turned off.

    In the case of prebiotic chemistry, the most likely energy source for helping turn monomers into polymers may be polyphosphate, which has the same high-energy bonds as ATP, but which dissolves out of certain rocks with nothing more fancy than the rocks being heated.

    No-one is arguing that catalysts aren’t involved in life’s reactions. They obviously are. No-one is arguing that life has the ability to temporarily beat back the incessant march of entropy. It of course does; that is one of its most interesting features. But to suggest that reaction rates and autocatalysis have, of themselves, resolved the issue is absurd.

    For the record, I don’t think Pross is suggesting this much. He seems to be simply saying that some autocatalytic reactions can temporarily overcome classical thermodynamic considerations. If that is all he is saying, fine. I don’t disagree. But I also don’t think it is relevant to the question of life’s origin or subsequent diversification.

    Considering what a stink IDists/creationists like to make about thermodynamics, certainly it’s interesting if kinetics yields a different result than what a naive equilibrium-based thermodynamics approach would predict, and it’s even more interesting if replication looks to be a special, auto-amplifying case of kinetics being dominant.

    Pross’ abstract summarizes by saying “the replication reaction is an extreme expression of kinetic control.” It’s not real clear what this means, but yeah, OK. But wait a minute, what provides the control? There must be some kind of mechanism (apart from the pure chemical reactions and reaction rates) that provides this “extreme” control. What provides this control? Pross doesn’t say. And that is part of Abel’s point about mechanistic origins theories.

    Sadly, this passage indicates that you actually aren’t understanding Pross at all. “Control” here simply means “dominant explanatory factor”. Pross is discussing systems and timescales where kinetics dominates over equilibrium thermodynamics. It’s not much different from saying “the rate of mountain uplift ultimately controls the rate of erosion, since steeper slopes erode more quickly.”

    Nick: “Life is a kinetically-dominated process, not a thermodynamically-dominated one.”

    Life is dominated by chemical reaction rates? Yeah, sure, whatever.

    I am sure Pross would quiver before your mighty rebuttal.

    What does this even mean? There is nothing in chemistry — kinetic or otherwise — that even begins to explain the origin of living systems.

    Nothing except demonstrated prebiotic syntheses in the lab and in space of numerous important biological molecules and their precursors, numerous forms of progress in the RNA World Hypothesis, Pross’s conceptual work linking biological replication to kinetics-dominated chemistry, and Nowak’s (2009, PNAS) confirmatory mathematical modeling indicating that replication is not an all-or-nothing thing, but could be achieved gradually in a system that continually forms and degrades variably autocatalytic polymers.

    True, not all problems are solved, but progress is made step-by-slow-step.

    Nick, I may be wrong, but it appears that you saw this thread, did a quick PubMed search, and then threw out a paper that included some of the key terms in the abstract (evolution, thermodynamics), but which doesn’t actually address the well-known problems with origin of life scenarios, including those issues raised by Abel.

    You are wrong. I’ve followed Pross’s stuff since 2005 or 2006.

    I am sure that Pross is doing great science and that his work can add to our understanding of biochemistry. But, based on his abstract, I don’t think his paper demonstrates what you claim it demonstrates (or rather, what you implied, but purposely did not explicitly state, it claims). It sure feels like another one of your all-too-common literature bombs (although, mercifully, a small one).

    Based on his abstract? Didn’t even bother to read the article?

    And I love how on creationist forums, citing scientific literature is seen as some kind of sin.

  53. One could be forgiven for concluding that Pross’ idea seems to be based primarily on a semantic game. To his credit he acknowledges that thermodynamics is a live issue (some of the ardent materialists could take note here). He notes that inanimate objects tend toward a simpler stable state (the old entropy issue). He notes that, in stark contrast, complex self-replicating living organisms seem to thrive at odds with this general thermodynamic principle. How could that be?

    Well, the answer is quite simple. We’ll just re-define a complex self-replicator as the most stable state for living organisms! (The idea being supported by a quote from Dawkins of all people — pause for laughter).

    And since a complex self-replicating system is the most stable state (conveniently redefined) for living systems, it stands to reason that under good ol’ thermodynamic principles living systems will evolve toward and stabilize at this complex self-replicating state. Ta da! Thermodynamics isn’t a problem after all.

    I am sure Pross would quiver before your mighty rebuttal.

    You certainly haven’t explained what it means. Saying life is “dominated by chemical reaction rates” as some kind of solution to OOL or as a counter to thermodynamic issues isn’t even wrong. It is just nonsense.

    Based on his abstract? Didn’t even bother to read the article?

    Two Pross articles were cited. As I stated, I did not have access to the first (only the abstract), but did have access to the second, which I carefully read and critiqued. But if you think the first paper has some additional key substance that was missing from the other paper, please by all means, let us know what that nugget of wisdom might be.

    And I love how on creationist forums, citing scientific literature is seen as some kind of sin.

    By “creationist” I presume you mean “doesn’t agree with the purely materialistic creation myth”? :)

    And no, citing literature is not a sin. But this is: (i) citing literature in a literature bomb, (ii) that you know doesn’t address the issue being discussed, (iii) and then doing your typical nose-in-the-air “you dummies aren’t acquainted with the literature” attitude. I realize you often do it just to pull our chain though, so we’ll try to take it in good fun. :)

    You’re obviously free to keep quoting the silly line: “life is a kinetic state” and to keep pretending that it somehow addresses the fundamental issues we’re interested in, but don’t expect that assertion to carry much weight (especially when it isn’t fleshed out in any meaningful way).

    As I’ve said, I’m sure Pross is doing some nice research. Perhaps his efforts will yield some insights into how chemical reaction rates affect cellular processes. But proposing “life as a kinetic state” to address OOL or larger thermodynamic issues is a complete bluff, and you know it.

  54. Eric — what, exactly, is the thermodynamic issue again? Surely you don’t go in for the YEC “Second Law of Thermodynamics Disproves Evolution” silliness, right?

    We’ve got energy flowing through the system (Earth and its microenvironments), so thermodynamic equilibrium is never reached in any case — just as when the sun shines on one side of a room, that side gets warmer than the shaded side.

  55. Nick @ 49:

    43
    bornagain77February 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Kinetics (physics), the study of motion and its causes (per wiki)

    Wrong again ba77. We are talking about chemical kinetics, i.e. the rates of reaction in chemistry.

    So chemical reaction rates can happen completely without reference to the foundational motion elucidated in physics??? Wow Nick, I think you’ve just about rewritten all of science just to protect your naturalistic worldview!

  56. Mr. Matzke states:

    We’ve got energy flowing through the system (Earth and its microenvironments), so thermodynamic equilibrium is never reached in any case — just as when the sun shines on one side of a room, that side gets warmer than the shaded side.

    Mr. Matzke, You’re not going to argue ‘the earth is an open system therefore the second law does not hold’ silliness are you? For crying out loud, the second law was formulated right here on earth (an open system) in the first place!

    How the Scientific “Consensus” on Evolution is Maintained – Granville Sewell – April, 2012
    Excerpt: If you want to show that the spontaneous rearrangement of atoms into machines capable of mathematical computation and interplanetary travel does not violate the fundamental natural principle behind the second law, you cannot simply say, as Styer and Bunn and so many others do, sure, evolution is astronomically improbable, but the Earth is an open system, so there is no problem as long as something (anything, apparently!) is happening outside the Earth which, if reversed, would be even more improbable. You have to argue that what has happened on Earth is not really astronomically improbable, given what has entered (and exited) our open system. Why is such a simple and obvious point so controversial?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....59011.html

    “Klimontovich’s S-theorem, an analogue of Boltzmann’s entropy for open systems, explains why the further an open system gets from the equilibrium, the less entropy becomes. So entropy-wise, in open systems there is nothing wrong about the Second Law. S-theorem demonstrates that spontaneous emergence of regular structures in a continuum is possible.,,, The hard bit though is emergence of cybernetic control (which is assumed by self-organisation theories and which has not been observed anywhere yet). In contrast to the assumptions, observations suggest that between Regularity and Cybernetic Systems there is a vast Cut which cannot be crossed spontaneously. In practice, it can be crossed by intelligent integration and guidance of systems through a sequence of states towards better utility. No observations exist that would warrant a guess that apart from intelligence it can be done by anything else.”
    Eugene S – UD Blogger

    Other Types of Entropy – Granville Sewel – September 6, 2012
    Excerpt: If you insist on limiting the second law to applications involving thermal entropy, and that the only entropy is thermal entropy, than Sal is right that the second law has little to say about the emergence of life on Earth. But it is not just the “creationists” who apply it much more generally, many violent opponents of ID (including Asimov, Dawkins, Styer and Bunn) agree that this emergence does represent a decrease in “entropy” in the more general sense,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....f-entropy/

    Is the second law of thermodynamics a valid argument to use against evolutionists?

    Physicist Rob Sheldon offers some thoughts on Sal Cordova vs. Granville Sewell on 2nd Law Thermo – July 2012
    Excerpt: The Equivalence: Boltzmann’s famous equation (and engraved on his tombstone) S = k ln W, merely is an exchange rate conversion. If W is lira, and S is dollars, then k ln() is the conversion of the one to the other, which is empirically determined. Boltzmann’s constant “k” is a semi-empirical conversion number that made Gibbs “stat mech” definition work with the earlier “thermo” definition of Lord Kelvin and co.
    Despite this being something as simple as a conversion factor, you must realize how important it was to connect these two. When Einstein connected mass to energy with E = (c2) m, we can now talk about mass-energy conservation, atom bombs and baby universes, whereas before Einstein they were totally different quantities.
    Likewise, by connecting the two things, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, then the hard rules derived from thermo can now be applied to statistics of counting permutations.
    This is where Granville derives the potency of his argument, since a living organism certainly shows unusual permutations of the atoms, and thus has stat mech entropy that via Boltzmann, must obey the 2nd law. If life violates this, then it must not be lawfully possible for evolution to happen (without an input of work or information.)
    The one remaining problem, is how to calculate it precisely (how to calculate the entropy precisely).
    of note: (And because it is extremely difficult to calculate entropy precisely for living cells, this is exactly where Darwinists try to claim evolution does not violate the second law. Yet regardless of the games Darwinists play because of this lack of mathematical precision, for all intents and purposes as far as we can ascertain, for evolution to occur would indeed violate the ‘iron clad’ second law of thermodynamics!)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....aw-thermo/

    Organization=control needs information. Entropy is the inverse of organization, and then is lack of information. To increase the organization of a system we need to inject information inside it. This way we decrease its entropy. Without this injection the 2nd law tells us the system’s entropy increases. Who claims that the sun provides information (then organization) to systems by means of its energy confuses the two basic paradigms of systems theory, power and control. Solar energy provides power. It doesn’t provide control. Hence it cannot increase organization. When Dr. Sewell says that the sun doesn’t send us computers, cars, phones, he uses an intuitive illustration of such concept. – niwrad – UD blogger

    But so much about theoretical posturing, and the Darwinists heroically vain attempts to play semantics with the clear implications presented to them by the second law, let’s get down to the brass tax and see what the empirical evidence, since it has final say in science, says. Does the empirical evidence say that the second law holds for biology or not?

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    Where’s the substantiating evidence for neo-Darwinism?
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q-PBeQELzT4pkgxB2ZOxGxwv6ynOixfzqzsFlCJ9jrw/edit

    And while neo-Darwinian evolution has no, and I mean NO, empirical evidence that material processes can generate any non-trivial functional information over and above what is already present in a biological system, Intelligent Design does have ‘proof of principle’ that intelligence/information can ‘locally’ violate the second law and generate ‘potential’ energy:

    Maxwell’s demon demonstration turns information into energy – November 2010
    Excerpt: Until now, demonstrating the conversion of information to energy has been elusive, but University of Tokyo physicist Masaki Sano and colleagues have succeeded in demonstrating it in a nano-scale experiment. In a paper published in Nature Physics they describe how they coaxed a Brownian particle to travel upwards on a “spiral-staircase-like” potential energy created by an electric field solely on the basis of information on its location. As the particle traveled up the staircase it gained energy from moving to an area of higher potential, and the team was able to measure precisely how much energy had been converted from information.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....nergy.html

    Further notes:

    “Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more.”
    Gilbert Newton Lewis – preeminent Chemist of the first half of last century

    “…the quantity of entropy generated locally cannot be negative irrespective of whether the system is isolated or not.”
    Arnold Sommerfel, Thermodynamics And Statistical Mechanics, p.155

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

    “Bertalanffy (1968) called the relation between irreversible thermodynamics and information theory one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in biology.”
    Charles J. Smith – Biosystems, Vol.1, p259.

    Evolution Vs. Thermodynamics – Open System Refutation – Thomas Kindell – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4143014

    The ATP Synthase Enzyme – exquisite motor necessary for first life – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3KxU63gcF4

    The Effect of Infinite Probabilistic Resources on ID and Science (Part 2) – Eric Holloway – July 2011
    Excerpt:,, since orderly configurations drop off so quickly as our space of configurations approach infinity, then this shows that infinite resources actually make it extremely easy to discriminate in favor of ID (Intelligent Design) when faced with an orderly configuration. Thus, intelligent design detection becomes more effective as the probabilistic resources increase.

    Verse and music:

    Romans 8:18-21
    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

    Evanescence – The Other Side (Lyric Video)
    http://www.vevo.com/watch/evan.....tantsearch

  57. bf77: So chemical reaction rates can happen completely without reference to the foundational motion elucidated in physics??? Wow Nick, I think you’ve just about rewritten all of science just to protect your naturalistic worldview!
    No, but words can be used in different contexts with quite different meanings – kinetics is such a word. Equivocation is a logical fallacy which is too often used on this blog!

  58. Equivocation is a logical fallacy which is too often used on this blog!

    Only if you equivocate over what “logical” and “fallacy” mean.

  59. Maybe this Pross guy should get together with this dude:

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0465022537

  60. Re your #33, BA, that is what is so very, very disturbing. Truly, Greg is right: I ought not be up to arguing any, even secondary-school science topic.

    However, the truly scarey thing is that I, even I, (pardon my ‘belles lettres’ forays?), cannot but routinely show them up to be the monkeys they so pertinaciously aspire to be. I mean, people are telling us in all sorts of media that Hawking is the greatest brain since Einstein – and the poor sap posits that a law, a law of nature, could have been responsible for creating the universe!!!! Einstein was at least bright enough to be appalled at the Consensus of his day (same as today’s), who didn’t believe in Intelligent Design, when its all around us, staring us in the face.

    Then of course, there’s the Multiverse. I wonder if there could possibly be, in any other universe in the multiverse, academically-educated people with such benighted, infantile minds, as to believe in the possibility of the multiverse they are conjectured to inhabit!

    Truly, no depth of intellectual folly, on the part of the atheist, can be ruled out, when atheism is dogmatically held. I mean, even the atheism of the nice guys, cannot but be ‘off the wall’, since religion (of believers and unbelievers) is so seminal, as the ultimate base-line for our logic. How could it be otherwise?

  61. Okie Dokie Dieb @57, if you show me how the kinetics of chemical reactions can take place without any motion of photons or atoms, I will concede that the Kinetics of physics, the study of motion and its causes, doesn’t apply to Chemical Kinetics..

    to Rehash:

    let’s look for the ultimate cause of motion:

    Jerry Coyne and Aquinas’ First Way – Michael Egnor September 9, 2009
    Excerpt: ‘The First Mover is necessary for change occurring at each moment. The argument is unrelated to the Big Bang; as noted, Aquinas assumed (for the sake of the First Way) that there was no temporal beginning of the universe. The argument works irrespective of whether or not the universe had a beginning in time. The only way to explain change in the natural world is to posit the existence of an unmoved First Mover. Aquinas goes on (in Summa Contra Gentiles and Summa Theologica) to draw out in meticulous detail the necessary attributes of the First Mover, and he demonstrates that it is logically necessary that the First Mover have many attributes (simplicity, omnipotence, etc) that are traditionally attributed to God as understood in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Argument from Motion is rigorous, and I have merely summarized its salient points, but it is straightforward once the premises are established. It is a very powerful argument.’ – Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....24951.html

    I find this centuries old philosophical argument, for the necessity of a ‘First Mover’ accounting for change occurring at each moment, to be validated by quantum mechanics. One line of evidence arises from the fact that there actually is a smallest indivisible unit of time; Planck time:

    Planck time
    Excerpt: One Planck time is the time it would take a photon travelling at the speed of light to cross a distance equal to one Planck length. Theoretically, this is the smallest time measurement that will ever be possible,[3] roughly 10^?43 seconds. Within the framework of the laws of physics as we understand them today, for times less than one Planck time apart, we can neither measure nor detect any change. As of May 2010, the smallest time interval that was directly measured was on the order of 12 attoseconds (12 × 10^?18 seconds),[4] about 10^24 times larger than the Planck time.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_time

    The ‘first mover’ of Aquinas’s argument was further validated by quantum mechanics since the possibility for the universe to be considered a self-sustaining ‘closed loop’ of cause and effect was removed with the refutation of the ‘hidden variable’ argument, as first postulated by Einstein, in quantum entanglement experiments.

    Quantum Measurements: Common Sense Is Not Enough, Physicists Show – July 2009
    Excerpt: scientists have now proven comprehensively in an experiment for the first time that the experimentally observed phenomena cannot be described by non-contextual models with hidden variables.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142824.htm

    This proof was further solidified in 2010:

    Physicists close two loopholes while violating local realism – November 2010
    Excerpt: The latest test in quantum mechanics provides even stronger support than before for the view that nature violates local realism and is thus in contradiction with a classical worldview.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....alism.html

    And this proof was further extended in 2011 by Anton Zeilinger, and team, to falsify local realism (reductive materialism) without even using quantum entanglement to do it, i.e. this experiment extended ‘non-local’ realism to the particles themselves, thus extending the empirical evidence to be directly in line with what was posited in Aquinas’s ‘First Mover’ argument:

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

    Zeilinger’s group went even further last month

    Of Einstein and entanglement: Quantum erasure deconstructs wave-particle duality – January 29, 2013
    Excerpt: They concluded that since the two entangled systems are causally disconnected in terms of the erasure choice, wave-particle duality is an irreducible feature of quantum systems with no naïve realistic (within space-time) explanation. The world view that a photon always behaves either definitely as a wave or definitely as a particle would require faster-than-light communication, and should therefore be abandoned as a description of quantum behavior.
    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-e.....ructs.html

    i.e. A non-local, beyond space and time, cause must always be appealed to to explain the continued existence of photons within space-time!

    Moreover quantum teleportation extends to atoms and is not limited to photons:

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

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

  62. Dieb, This is all simply devastating to any conceivable materialistic explanation:

    Further notes:

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

    Why Quantum Theory Does Not Support Materialism – By Bruce L Gordon:
    Excerpt: Because quantum theory is thought to provide the bedrock for our scientific understanding of physical reality, it is to this theory that the materialist inevitably appeals in support of his worldview. But having fled to science in search of a safe haven for his doctrines, the materialist instead finds that quantum theory in fact dissolves and defeats his materialist understanding of the world.
    http://www.4truth.net/fourtrut.....8589952939

    Verse and music:

    Acts 17:28
    for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

    Third Day – “Children Of God” – Official Music Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6jO7xhU_Pw

  63. Nick @54:

    We’ve got energy flowing through the system (Earth and its microenvironments), so thermodynamic equilibrium is never reached in any case — just as when the sun shines on one side of a room, that side gets warmer than the shaded side.

    What does that have to do with anything? I trust you’re not falling back on the “Earth-is-an-open-system-so-anything-goes” line of thought.

    In any event, don’t complain to me about bringing up thermodynamics. Talk to your buddy Pross. He is the one who brought it up in his paper as a real issue that needs to be dealt with. His “kinetic state” idea seems to be an attempt to find a way to overcome the normal thermodynamic constraints, a way to explain how living things behave differently than non-living things. Or maybe you didn’t read the paper I read, just the abstract. :)

  64. Man, I sure hope that Nick isn’t Scottish. That would just be wrong.

  65. So the Sun is shining. Giving off something, I guess. But what?

    I mean, I thought the Sun was converting energy to mass.

    Is it also converting mass to energy?

    That would be awesome. Almost like a perpetual motion machine!

    And then this stuff, or non-stuff, whatever it is, can be used to drive reactions in a way otherwise improbable, but how?

    So with enough energy from the sun, for example, water can turn into ice. Am I on the right track here?

  66. @Mung (65)

    I mean, I thought the Sun was converting energy to mass.
    Is it also converting mass to energy?

    Where to start? Perhaps best with the second part!

    Our sun is converting mass to energy via the fusion reaction which merges protons into helium nuclei.

    Our sun isn’t converting energy to mass – that’s the prerogative of things like super-novas…

  67. Joe Felsenstein “answers” Mung:

    Yup, you can hook a refrigerator to enough solar cells and the sun will do just that.

    Really? Can the Sun produce a refrigerator and solar cells? If not, then either JF is totally clueless or just dishonest.

    I would also love to see this refigerator that runs on DC- maybe JF doesn’t understand that solar cell power is DC that needs to be converted into AC before it can run home appliances.

  68. DiEb,

    Thanks. :)

    So is the sun actually converting mass to energy or is it just that some form of energy is released given the fusion process? I see according to wikipedia some mass is not conserved.

    Merging protons into helium nuclei requires energy, doesn’t it? And overall energy is actually being lost not gained?

    But really what I am trying to get at is what sort or sorts of energy reach the earth from the sun. Is it all some sort of radiation or other?

    Are we talking actual energy of some sort or other or potential energy, or both?

  69. Mung, why not run through the 101 here on? KF

  70. Mung, you should try a textbook on physics – you can’t expect to get the basics spoon-fed…

    But for the moment:

    So is the sun actually converting mass to energy or is it just that some form of energy is released given the fusion process? I see according to wikipedia some mass is not conserved.

    Yes, the sun is actually converting mass to energy: the product of the fusion is not as heavy as the ingredients and a photon is emitted (photon = energy, look it up)

    Merging protons into helium nuclei requires energy, doesn’t it? And overall energy is actually being lost not gained?

    Luckily for us, fusion doesn’t happen spontaneously under our normal circumstances, you need the right environment (heat and pressure). In a H-Bomb this environment is created by an A-Bomb… But the reaction is exothermic, you get quite a bit of energy out of it…

    But really what I am trying to get at is what sort or sorts of energy reach the earth from the sun. Is it all some sort of radiation or other?

    Mainly radiation, a couple of particles too (see, e.g., solar wind)

    Are we talking actual energy of some sort or other or potential energy, or both?

    Actual vs. potential energy is a false dichotomy, implying that you don’t know what you are talking about.

  71. Actual vs. potential energy is a false dichotomy, implying that you don’t know what you are talking about.

    Yes I am not a physicist and no I don’t know all the lingo.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potential_energy

    Assuming the earth as a lifeless planet, what are the various energies present on earth and from whence do those energies originate?

    For example, the gravity of the earth and the gravitational pull of the sun.

    “Potential energy exists whenever an object which has mass has a position within a force field. The most everyday example of this is the position of objects in the earth’s gravitational field.”

    Potential Energy

  72. Yes I am not a physicist and no I don’t know all the lingo.

    It’s not so much the lingo, it’s the underlying concepts. If you want to talk about the physics, you have to do some work at first, e.g., to learn how to differ between forces and energy. I don’t expect you to become a physicist, but it takes a little bit more than exchanging comments on a message board. Why should I answer your question

    Assuming the earth as a lifeless planet, what are the various energies present on earth and from whence do those energies originate?

    knowing that you will be at best be baffled by the answer, and at worst misinterpret it?

  73. “Why should I answer your question…”

    Why not?

    “…knowing that you will be at best be baffled by the answer, and at worst misinterpret it?”

    Well, because I’d really like to know, for one.

    And you’re a nice person who hates to see people wallowing in ignorance. :)

    I don’t buy into the 2LoT argument against OOL or the possibility of evolution, but neither do I think it’s a matter of “just add energy.” So I thought I’d try to explore more deeply the issues involved.

    If you don’t want to hey, this is just a blog. This thread will likely soon die. The 2LoT in action. ;)

  74. What you wish for is a transformation of energies, a flow of energy: a battery for itself is nice, but it gets only interesting if you have an electrical circuit.

    On the earth, there are many processes which involve the transformation of energies – you have the radioactive decay of elements in the core which power the convection currents and move the tectonic plates around, there is the rotational energy of the earth itself which decreases and allows for the tides, and of course the radiation of the sun which powers e.g., our weather…

  75. DiEb:

    On the earth, there are many processes which involve the transformation of energies…

    That’s what’s in my thinking. So I wonder why people feel the need to appeal to energy from the sun in refuting Creationists over the 2LoT?

    It may appear as a convenient source of energy but it’s not the only source, right?

  76. “Life is a kinetic state.”

    So proclaims Nick on multiple occasions. I have said this doesn’t make sense and Nick accuses me of not understanding the groundbreaking work Pross is doing (in brief, Pross has been studying chemical reaction rates in the self-replication process.)

    Well, what does the phrase actually mean? “Life is a kinetic state” is a seductively concise, even elegant, formulation. It sounds like it should mean something, and yet if we rephrase the words it may help us move away from the cute formulation and into the facts.

    “Kinetic” in this case refers to the rates of chemical processes, or chemical reaction rates. Great, now we can rephrase the sound byte:

    “Life is a state of chemical reaction rates.”

    or perhaps

    “Life is characterized by chemical reaction rates.”

    As soon as we define what the initial phrase actually means, the objective observer should immediately scratch their head and say “What?!” I defy anyone to show how this is meaningful.

    Of course chemical reaction rates are relevant to life, but it makes no sense to pretend that they are any kind of answer to OOL or thermodynamic considerations or the evolution of self-replicating systems and so on. Chemical reaction rates are what they are and are used by the overall system: a system dominated by digital code and information processing and molecular machines, and carefully orchestrated systems . . .

    —–

    If you are still not convinced and think there may be some deeper meaning to “life is a kinetic state,” let me put forth an equivalent scenario:

    Let’s say we have studied DNA and note that hydrogen bonds are critical to DNA formation and stability. We then announce that “Life is a state of hydrogen bonds.” We could even write a few papers and a book or two putting forth this theory. We could even pretend that this concept somehow helps explain OOL and the evolution of complex self-replicating systems, and also helps overcome any thermodynamic considerations anyone raises. Thereafter, any time someone raises one of these substantive issues, instead of answering on the merits, we put forth our one-liner, with all the gravitas and authority we can muster:

    “Life is a state of hydrogen bonds.”

    The objective outside observer might be forgiven for raising their eyebrow, shaking their head, and responding: “What in the world are you talking about?”

    —–

    Again, I have said it before, Pross is no doubt doing some excellent work on chemical reaction rates and there may be some good data or insights that come from his work about specific reactions in specific replication systems. But to use the statement that “life is a kinetic state” as some kind of answer to legitimate questions is both: (i) a meaningless misdirection, (ii) a failure to engage the real issues.

  77. Mung @75:

    It may appear as a convenient source of energy but it’s not the only source, right?

    Good point.

    More generally, the sun’s involvement and the whole “earth is an open system” line or argumentation is nonsense and fails to address the thermodynamic issues (whatever those may be).

  78. Life is carbon chemistry in action.

  79. “Life is matter controlled by symbols”

    Prof Emeritus, Physics, Howard Pattee.

    ;)

  80. Pattee @79 (via Mung), that is getting a bit closer to the truth. At least the statement is comprehensible. :)

    But I think we’d still have to add in some other parameters. My digital watch is matter controlled by symbols, but it is not alive.

  81. Oops, sorry, UB.

    That was UB @79.

  82. No doubt, Eric.

    Pattee’s comment was centered within a specific discussion of physical facts – designed to throw the common “its just chemistry” view on its side (and appropriately so).

    Life is not just chemistry.

  83. Positioned at the crossroads of the physical and biological sciences, chemistry deals with neither the infinitely small, nor the infinitely large, nor directly with life. So it is sometimes thought of as dull, the way things in the middle often are. But this middle ground is precisely where human beings exist.

    The Same and Not the Same

    So much for the claims that macroevolution has nothing to do with chemistry.

  84. UB @82:

    Agreed. And the symbolic control factor is indeed critical.

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