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The Darwin lobby on origin of life: Keep teaching the current line, whatever it currently is

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So Suzan Mazur gets a baloney-free appraisal from well-known OOL researcher (and current conference organizer) Steve Benner in advance of the OOL Gordon Conference (see “Only so long you can bang your head against a wall before the wall complains”). And get this: The Darwin-in-the-schools lobby jumps into the action in an evolution education journal.

What to tell students:

Abstract Evolution and the origin of life are separate, if connected, topics, but they are frequently conflated—especially by creationists. Regarding the natural origin of life as “the soft underbelly” of evolution, creationists argue that it is impossible, improbable, or insusceptible to scientific investigation. Underlying their arguments is the hope that the failure of scientific research on the origin of life is evidence for a supernatural account. It is crucial for teachers to understand the nature of science in order to be able to explain why appeals to the supernatural are out of place in explaining the origin of life and why scientific research on the origin of life is not intrinsically a threat to faith.

It’s not like we have anything to learn from the abject failure of a specifically materialist line of inquiry into an event that screams “information.” Which could be one reason Mazur thinks that origin of life studies are shifting to “nonmaterial events.” Information, famously, can’t be measured or studied using methods developed for matter or energy.

In their article, Darwin lobbyists Branch and Scott immediately invoke Darwin, with becoming reverence, whereas Benner told Mazur, “We are finding all sorts of problems in getting behavior that we find useful, let alone Darwinian out of this.”

The sooner the researchers dump all that Darwin stuff the better. They should start by asking themselves: What is the question we are asking, specifically? What would constitute an answer to the question we are asking? What if that answer isn’t available because the question assumes that events happened in a way that they did not? How might we research the problem from an information theory perspective (to take just one example)? It would be historic if the conference chose to break the mold, but don’t hope for it. In fairness, it is probably easier to get grants to follow the same old routines, each with a different twist, even if little or nothing results.

Our Darwin lobbyists conclude,

As with evolution (Wiles and Branch 2008), though, teachers are often not teaching their students the basics of what scientists have learned about the origin of life, whether because they reject it, or because they are fearful of the consequences of presenting the material to students or in a community with religiously motivated objections to it, or because they are not confident of their knowledge of and ability to teach the subject. As with evolution, understanding the science is necessary but not sufficient to help them overcome these obstacles. Understanding the nature of science—and the ways to deploy it to help to defuse likely objections and misconceptions on the part of the student—is necessary as well. More.

The problems outlined by Benner are the most likely reason a teacher might prefer to teach something better established and more demonstrable than OOL. Like cell biology. Not only do we hear crickets about such practical issues, we should be grateful the Darwin lobby has not yet got teach-the-nonsense laws rammed through.

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5 Responses to The Darwin lobby on origin of life: Keep teaching the current line, whatever it currently is

  1. as to:

    It is crucial for teachers to understand the nature of science in order to be able to explain why appeals to the supernatural are out of place in explaining the origin of life

    Actually it is impossible for us to truly understand the nature of science without an appeal to what would be, on a methodological naturalistic view of reality, a ‘supernatural’ explanation for our ability to practice science in the first place. A few notes in that regards:

    Is Life Unique? David L. Abel – January 2012
    Concluding Statement: The scientific method itself cannot be reduced to mass and energy. Neither can language, translation, coding and decoding, mathematics, logic theory, programming, symbol systems, the integration of circuits, computation, categorizations, results tabulation, the drawing and discussion of conclusions. The prevailing Kuhnian paradigm rut of philosophic physicalism is obstructing scientific progress, biology in particular. There is more to life than chemistry. All known life is cybernetic. Control is choice-contingent and formal, not physicodynamic.
    http://www.mdpi.com/2075-1729/2/1/106/

    “Nonphysical formalism not only describes, but preceded physicality and the Big Bang
    Formalism prescribed, organized and continues to govern physicodynamics.”
    http://www.mdpi.com/2075-1729/2/1/106/ag

    How we could create life – The key to existence will be found not in primordial sludge, but in the nanotechnology of the living cell – Paul Davies – 11 December 2002
    Excerpt: Instead, the living cell is best thought of as a supercomputer – an information processing and replicating system of astonishing complexity. DNA is not a special life-giving molecule, but a genetic databank that transmits its information using a mathematical code. Most of the workings of the cell are best described, not in terms of material stuff – hardware – but as information, or software. Trying to make life by mixing chemicals in a test tube is like soldering switches and wires in an attempt to produce Windows 98. It won’t work because it addresses the problem at the wrong conceptual level.
    http://www.theguardian.com/edu.....ucation.uk

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

    “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)

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: By their (Materialist’s) own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False – Thomas Nagel
    Excerpt: If materialism cannot accommodate consciousness and other mind-related aspects of reality, then we must abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature in general, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology. Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history.
    http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/pro.....9919758.do

    Dr. Eben Alexander Says It’s Time for Brain Science to Graduate From Kindergarten – 10/24/2013
    Excerpt: As long as scientists hold onto that simplistic (materialistic) thinking they are going to be mired down to never, ever explain consciousness or the enigmas of quantum mechanics. But there are a lot of scientists out there who do get it,,,
    The pure scientific materialist model that I worshiped for so many years has absolutely nothing to offer up in terms of explaining how consciousness might emerge from the physical brain.,,,
    consciousness is a far deeper, more profound mystery than “kindergarten level” scientific materialism offers up. Now that’s why I include in my book the hard problem of consciousness and the enigma of quantum mechanics.,,,
    It’s time for brain science, mind science, physics, cosmology, to move from kindergarten up into first grade and realize we will never truly understand consciousness with that simplistic materialist mindset.
    Of note: Dr. Alexander is working on a new book he says will unpack the science behind his recently adopted theories on brain, consciousness, and spirituality.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....51093.html

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (Leggett’s Inequality)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

  2. semi related:

    Does the Soul Exist? – JP Moreland, PhD – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asXiOCnwPtI

  3. As with evolution (Wiles and Branch 2008), though, teachers are often not teaching their students the basics of what scientists have learned about the origin of life, whether because they reject it, or because they are fearful of the consequences of presenting the material to students or in a community with religiously motivated objections to it,

    Ironic how one religion is accusing the other of being religious. It’s time for the people to make their voices heard as to what should be taught to their children in the schools. It’s time to use ballot-box propositions to throw the con artists out of the school system. It’s time to kick the dictatorship of Darwinism out into the gutter where it belongs. The people should not be forced to use their hard earned money to fund viewpoints that they disagree with.

    This is not totalitarian North Korea. This is a democracy, for crying out loud. We should all get together and force the Darwinist religion out of the government and out of the classroom. The ballot box is our friend.

  4. So, what are one or two of “the basics of what scientists have learned about the origin of life”?

    Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

  5. The French daily Le Figaro made the following comment after reporting on a convention of biologists held in Paris: “Where does life come from? . . . Intervention from outer space in the form of extraterrestrials or asteroids? Divine intervention? No one has a scientific explanation.” The article went on to state: “There is already such a great difference between the most complex mineral systems and the most simple cells that no one is able to understand how the transition was made. The appearance of life on earth is the accumulation of such a series of improbabilities that it has become in itself highly improbable.”

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