Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Natural Theologian's Dilemma

Before developments in the 20th century like post modernism, and watershed shifts in the philosophy of religion like reformed epistemology, the standard approach to the existence of God was natural theology.  Natural theology takes the view that it is possible to render a successful argument for the existence of God.  That is to say, a reasonable person who finds the premises to be acceptable is rationally committed to accept that God exists.  For centuries, the debate has been over the acceptability of those premises whether in cosmological, ontological, or teleological arguments. 

Now, the NT theist faces a dilemma.  Either our epistemic situation is such that it renders the conclusion “God exists” reasonable, or our epistemic situation with regard to God’s existence is ambivalent (or worse.)  If the NT takes the view that our total evidence supports “God exists” more than the alternatives, then he faces a new problem.  Consider whatever particular line of argument that he puts forward as showing “God exists.”  The question we must ask now is, could an omnipotent, all knowing, all good God have rendered our epistemic situation in some regard so that the evidence was better in favor of that conclusion?  If God had wished his existence to be known through this particular form of argument or line of reasoning, could God have made the evidence better, brought it about so that there were even stronger considerations, or a more compelling case to be made?  Most people’s views, including believers and non-believers, are that God’s existence cannot be proven or shown through the evidence.  So, by implication, those people think that the case for God could be much better than it is. 

Non-believers insist that, at a minimum, our evidential situation makes non-belief, or even disbelief, epistemically inculpable.  She violates no epistemic duty in not believing.  She may even feel that our total evidential situation is such that believing or being agnostic are epistemically culpable.  Believing in or even suspending judgment about God are not supported by the evidence. 

The problem for the NT theist who insists that the evidence supports G is that by most people’s reckoning, the existence of God could be more manifest, more abundantly clear, and non-belief could be less epistemically inculpable.  Informally, among my students and the believers I talk to, the vast majority of them are skeptical that believing in God can be arrived at through argument or proven through reasoning.  Believing, to the masses, is a matter of faith and requires going beyond what is available evidentially. 

If the case for God could be better than it is, and it is not as good as it could be, then what can we make of the NT theist’s position in the context of arguments or evidence that could have been? 

If the case for God could be better, then why isn’t it?  It is very difficult to fathom how a being as powerful and knowledgeable as God is alleged to be would not be able to make his existence better know through some means that would be amenable to our investigations, our arguments, and our reasonings.  Since he didn’t, the only sort of limitation that there might be on his bringing that state about must be his own goals.  In some fashion, God, if he is real, must not want us to believe by way of the natural theological project.  A number of answers or possibly justifying goals have been offered along these lines: 

Theists like Howard-Snyder and Moser in Divine Hiddenness have suggested a preliminary list:

Maybe revealing himself is not a high priority.  It is not something he wants.  That would explain why he doesn’t do it.  It’s not that he can’t do it, he doesn’t want to. 

Remaining hidden enables people to freely love, trust and obey Him.  Coercion is incompatible with love.

Being hidden prevents a human response based on improper motives like fear of punishment. 

Being hidden prevent humans from relating to God and their knowledge of God in a presumptuous way. 

God's being hidden allows us to recognize the wretchedness of life on our own without God, and to stimulate us to search for him with the appropriate attitude (contrition.)

If he revealed himself, then it would not be possible to have the real risk associated with passionate faith. 

If he revealed himself, then the temptation to doubt would be reduced or eliminated.  Doubt makes religious diversity possible and gives us opportunities to assist others and ourselves in building personal relationships with God. 

While these are fascinating suggestions, I think they fail for a variety of reasons.  But arguing against these justifications for divine hiddenness is not my goal here.  (Hidden Theists are to be commended, however, for acknowledging what atheists have been arguing for all along—there are not sufficient evidential grounds for concluding that God is real.)  What I’d like to focus on is the implications of divine hiddenness for natural theological approaches to belief. 

The NT theist cannot have it both ways.  He cannot on the one hand argue that “God exists” is the reasonable outcome of a non-question begging, objective analysis of the arguments and evidence, while endorsing justifications of divine hiddenness like those on the list on the other hand.  He cannot insist that God’s existence is manifest and reasonable while also claiming that God has his reasons for withholding his existence from serious inquiry.  God’s existence is either justified by our epistemic situation or it is not.  And the very fact that the arguments for his existence are so embattled, weak, complicated, and unconvincing, even to other believers, works against the NT theist.  By defending the NT approach with some new, carefully constructed, and subtly nuanced version of the cosmological argument, or whatever, he faces the much harder question:  if this is how God wanted us to arrive at belief, then why did he give us so little to work with?  Why would God have done such a poor job or facilitating our apprehension of the reasons and their implication of his existence?  Why did God do such a poor job of it?  Currently, over 70% of professional philosophers whose careers and expertise are devoted to ascertaining the reasonableness of the very best arguments we have concluding that there are no compelling rational grounds for God’s existence in the traditional, NT sense.  A NT theist may think that there is a successful argument for the existence of God.  But given the historical, social, and philosophical context, he cannot reasonably conclude that existence of God could have been no more convincing than it currently is, by any measure.  Even if he thinks some argument succeeds, surely he doesn’t think that God could not have arranged the epistemic situation to be better than it is.  To think that God’s existence is manifest through argument, and that not even God could have made it more obvious is just to flatly ignore the hoards of reasonable people who have thought long and hard about the problem and concluded otherwise.  God’s existence is obvious to no one, and it is obvious it could have been more so.  Put it this way, I am a mere human being with exceedingly limited faculties; making my own existence undeniable and obvious to someone is painfully easy. 

One common reply here is that God could not fully reveal himself to us without robbing us of our freedom.  It’s not at all clear to me what sort of freedom would be compromised—it didn’t seem to have robbed Moses, Abraham, or Satan of their freedom.  But the problem here would be for the NT theist to make this claim.  If God cannot , for whatever suspicious reason, show himself to us for fear of robbing us of our freedom, then that suggests that the best arguments we have leave our freedom with respect to God’s existence intact.  That is to say that the best arguments we have do not commit us to believing, which is another way of saying that they just don’t work. 

The NT theist is saddled with a deep dilemma, then.  Not only must he meticulously construct a version of the case for God (of the argumentative gaps) that does not fall prey to the long list of standard criticisms of the close cousins to that argument, he must also explain why it is that God was forced to bury this glorious, essential, and redemptive truth in exactly the contentious, ambiguous, and unconvincing, indecisive  circumstances where we find it.   He has to argue that the evidence shows that God exists, and then explain away so much epistemically inculpable non-belief, so many failures of other arguments for God’s existence, and the absence of a better reasons and evidence.  He has to navigate the impossibly fine line between “the evidence is compelling—not believing is irrational and epistemically culpable,” and “God has his reasons for withholding his existence from us lest we be convinced.”  Coming up with an argument for God now, I maintain, is too little and too late. 

If, on the other hand, the theist embraces the other disjunct of our premise from the outset:  our epistemic situation with regard to God’s existence is ambivalent (or worse.) Then we are done.  He has now acknowledged the atheist’s point—believing is not justified by the evidence.  What remains will be determining whether believing anyway in a situation like that is reasonable.  At the very least, the theist who acknowledges divine hiddenness cannot maintain that non-belief in that situation is epistemically culpable.  He cannot claim that God’s existence is not manifest because he has justifying reasons for not revealing himself and  that a person who does not believe in that circumstance is irrational, unreasonable, or somehow epistemically blameworthy for not believing.  He may argue, I suppose, that such a non-believer is failing to fulfill some duty to have faith, or a responsibility to believe passionately, or some other mandate to believe that which is not epistemically justified.  But I have my doubts about his being able to successfully defend this strange new form of obligation to believe. 

So one of my standing questions about any allegedly successful argument for the existence of God is not about the support for the premises or the details of its justification.  My question is, why isn’t the argument vastly more convincing than it is given that God surely could have done better sooner.  And since he didn’t, I have to conclude that not even God wants us to believe by route of such an argument—if he did, then he could have easily made it believable.  Call this the epistemic challenge for God:  even if you think that God’s existence is supported by some argument, you must acknowledge that God could have arranged things so that the evidence was much better than we find it.  That he didn’t shows that it wasn’t his intention.  So why should any of us take your argument seriously?  Not even God wants us to.  

106 comments:

martin.finnegan said...

rather than trust your opinion of abundance or shorthage of evidence for Gods existance the new testament says in Romans 1-18to20
or the O.T. psalms 14-1.
As humans we have the awful habbit of denying the obvious ,no one want`s to die but we smoke , drink,take drugs, are obese denying all the evidence that stares us in the face and believe it wont happen to me.The fool spoken of in Psalms is not an intellectual fool but a moral fool who does not want God telling him what to do so he can easliy deny the evidence staring him in the face.

Fester said...

I wonder why anyone would want to worship a god that is so ungenerous as to hide himself so effectively. We humans seem to appreciate those who are forthright and say what they mean without beating around the bush. Humans do not normally speak to each other in the languages of diplomacy. I wonder why god feels it necessary to be so vague about himself?
The "positive" reasons you provide as to why god hides himself are, to my mind, precisely those negative reasons one should avoid this entity like the plague.

Havok said...

Martin.Finnegan: As humans we have the awful habbit of denying the obvious
if the evidence is so obvious, as the Roman's passage suggests, then NT would be successful - you would be able to demonstrate the existence of God.
Such doesn't appear to be the case, hence Matt's point in the post.

martin.finnegan said...

Havoc , the evidence is obvious but circumstantial, I watched a documentary on Bernie Madoff , the fact that something was very wrong with what he was doing was obvious and was brought to the attention of the S.E.C but because they saw him as the golden boy of the markets they could not or would not see the evidence which was staring them in the face, so you see as humans its hard to see what we dont want to believe.
A for instance might be is that atheists dont beliieve in miracles , but do believe that the universe made itself by itself out of nothing or as close to nothing, as to be called nothing.
They dont believe Jesus rose from the dead, how can a dead man come back to life? but have no problem believeing that a random collection of chemicals can assemble themselves and make life in the first place , and this from hydrogen gas and helium which was all that was created in the big bang.So can Gods existance be proven ,no, but is there overwhelming evidence for his existance , yes.

Havok said...

Martin.Finnegan: Havoc , the evidence is obvious but circumstantial, I watched a documentary on Bernie Madoff , the fact that something was very wrong with what he was doing was obvious and was brought to the attention of the S.E.C but because they saw him as the golden boy of the markets they could not or would not see the evidence which was staring them in the face, so you see as humans its hard to see what we dont want to believe.
The cases don't seem comparable, as the evidence is not available for God, while people simply ignored the evidence in the Bernie Madoff case.

Martin.Finnegan: A for instance might be is that atheists dont beliieve in miracles , but do believe that the universe made itself by itself out of nothing or as close to nothing, as to be called nothing.
Since the origin of the universe is still an open question, I'd prefer to say "I don't know for sure, but people are working on it". There are a number of plausible scenarios which extrapolate from known physics, which while speculative, are also informative. The God hypothesis seems to neither extrapolate from known physics, nor provide much in the way of explanation, hence I don't accept it as a viable explanation.

Martin.Finnegan: They dont believe Jesus rose from the dead, how can a dead man come back to life?
Well, given the poor quality and quantity of the evidence in favour of this "rising from the dead", and our generally uniform experience that such things don't happen, coupled with the various "coming back to life" of other people in different stories, I think it becomes quite obvious what the case it - Jesus' resurrection is a literary rather than historical event.

Martin.Finnegan: but have no problem believeing that a random collection of chemicals can assemble themselves and make life in the first place , and this from hydrogen gas and helium which was all that was created in the big bang.
Perhaps you ought to read up on origin of life research?
Or perhaps you'd like to point out just where the "magic" was injected, since biology is nothing more than (very) complex organic chemistry?

Martin.Finnegan: So can Gods existance be proven ,no, but is there overwhelming evidence for his existance , yes.
I'm not seeing any of this so called "overwhelming evidence", Martin. Perhaps you could provide some (more)?
This also plays into Matt's original post - why isn't God's existence far more evident than we observe?

martin.finnegan said...

The creation of the universe is certainly an open question I watched a programme on the BBC , so it was not in favour of God , but it discussed the big bang and all the scientist agreed the big bang was still a valid theory as long as they could figure out what , dark matter, dark flow , dark energy , and dark light were , and thats if they exist in the first place, but they had to admit they realy had not got a clue about the creation of the universe and the more they find out the less they know . i will discus the creation of life later

Havok said...

Martin.Finnegan: ...and all the scientist agreed the big bang was still a valid theory as long as they could figure out what , dark matter, dark flow , dark energy , and dark light were
We have some idea of what dark energy and dark matter might be. Dark light appears to be your own creation :-)
Big bang cosmology is doing just fine even with these "unknowns", and takes us, with quite a lot of confidence, back to what is called "Planck time", when the visible universe was incredibly dense and tiny, and quantum effects would have been important. A theory of quantum gravity is needed to extrapolate further with confidence, but that doesn't mean we can't do so speculatively (and various hypothesis do so).

Martin.Finnegan: , and thats if they exist in the first place,
"Dark Matter" and "Dark Energy" are postulated to account for observations of the visible universe (galaxies having a gravitational effects greater than estimates of their "visible" matter can account for, and the accelerating expansion of the universe respectively, if I'm not mistaken). There is some explanation for these observations, so in some sense, they certainly exist (there are few possibilities for each, which are under investigation, as I mentioned).

Martin.Finnegan: but they had to admit they realy had not got a clue about the creation of the universe and the more they find out the less they know .
That doesn't mean "God did it" is a viable, plausible alternative. It simply means the cosmologists are being humble and admitting that there is no well attested theory (though as I mentioned, there are a number of hypothesis currently being investigated).

Martin.Finnegan: i will discus the creation of life later
Looking forward to it :-)

Enchanted Naturalist said...

This is a fantastic post.

I think the point Martin is trying to make is similar to those made by the likes of Alvin Plantinga (and Jim Spiegel in his recent book, "The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief"). The argument is basically that moral defiance as opposed to rational inquiry is the primary cause of unbelief. It's an alternative to the divine hidenness argument. Sin and the desire to sin have caused a defect in our intellects such that we can't see the obvious. We don't want to be held to account for our sins.

Enchanted Naturalist said...

The argument from immorality allows a wholesale dismissal of all arguments against the existence of god. It's an insult to all the atheist/agnostic philosophers who have spilled oceans of ink engaging theists on the issue of god's existence.

Havok said...

Enchanted Naturalist - such a position also seems to be completely unsupported by the evidence. For the argument to stand the person putting such an argument forward ought to at least try to justify the claim with evidence, rather than mere assertion (as seems all to often to be the case).

martin.finnegan said...

if you discount the possibility of a God and say that there cannot be a God then evidence is not relevant, and vice versa if I say there is a God no matter what evidence there is against it we will go nowhere. But I believe as you have said re the big bang , speculation, hypothesis, ideas, theories, are in abundance but hard evidence for a universe creating itself by itself from nothing , and then becoming organised,designed,complex, and in my opinion contrary to the 2nd law of thermodynamics is sadly lacking. If you disagree, what law can you cite which allows matter to organise itself and to go as far as to create life.Does this mean God exists , no, but in life I see complex coming from design, planing, intelegence etc so I draw the conclusion re the universe.
A model of the solar system needs a designer and builder why is it different for the real thing, is this not a valid point of view?

Matt said...

Hydrogen collapses by gravity into giant balls which initiates fusion under intense pressure which creates Helium and all the heavier elements.

Said star eventually nova's spreading it's remains across the galaxies. Those remnants collapse and create other stars and planets. Planets, and all the elements and molecules on them are not closed systems, subject to the 2nd law of thermodynamics. They are open systems with energy being put into them by the stars which heat them. In order for entropy to decrease, energy must be put into the system. That's exactly what the star does.

The whole universe creation argument for God isn't very good. It's basically:

1. ?
____________
2. God.

Which is not to be confused with the teleological argument of:

1. Wow!
____________
2. God.

Havok said...

Martin: I say there is a God no matter what evidence there is against it we will go nowhere.
No one is saying that, and Matt's post seems predicated on the acceptance that evidence for God can/does exist.

Martin: But I believe as you have said re the big bang , speculation, hypothesis, ideas, theories, are in abundance
And are exrapolations from existing physics, for the most part. This is a very important point to keep in mind.

Martin: but hard evidence for a universe creating itself by itself from nothing , and then becoming organised,designed,complex, and in my opinion contrary to the 2nd law of thermodynamics is sadly lacking.
The second law of thermodynamics is not contrary to the big bang in the least, nor against any of the proposed explanations for the origin of the visible universe.
The God hypothesis, in contrast to the more naturalistic explanations, is contrary to the second law (God is non-entropic as I understand it) and is not extrapolated from existing physics. It is also rather ontologically excessive (postulating an entirely "different" substance), empirically empty (it seems any observation and it's opposite could be evidence in favour of the hypothesis) and goes well beyond what is required by the initial observation (a being which is only capable of creating the universe's initial conditions would be a better fit, for example).

Martin: If you disagree, what law can you cite which allows matter to organise itself and to go as far as to create life.
Gravity combined with the other 3 forces of nature.

Martin: Does this mean God exists , no, but in life I see complex coming from design, planing, intelegence etc so I draw the conclusion re the universe.
But in life we see no such thing. We see contingency not planning. We see ad-hoc contrivances rather than well designed structures, and we have an explanation for how this would have come about, an explanation which is supported by a vast body of evidence.

Martin: A model of the solar system needs a designer and builder why is it different for the real thing, is this not a valid point of view?
Gravity again.
Newton was unable to work out how to remove perturbations from his model, and therefore thought that God kept the solar system in order. Laplace achieved what Newton could not, and demonstrated that the solar system did not require intervention to stay in its dynamic equilibrium.

martin.finnegan said...

Havoc what you and Matt are saying have some truths in them but saying the solar system was formed by gravity and 3 other forces does not explain where and how these forces came from, hydrogen under the force of gravity has caused every living thing we see, please tell me how,these are stories not facts, the 2 law I assume came into being straight away after the big bang , the universe is a closed system but the laws of thermodynamics coupled with gravity and hydrogen made people , and you dont belive in God.But at least you are still religous because you have great faith in nature .You say you dont see planing in nature,come on your car your house , even how the average city takes planing and design for transport, waterworks, sewage,etc are you saying how every living thing interacts and co habits did not need design and planing, to me thats just denying the obvious. i tell you what why dont you get some metal , wood, bricks, water plastic, tons and tons of the stuff make a big pile in the desert and come back in a few thousand years , not forgeting the earth is an open system and see how your city is getting on.One more thing can you explain how gravity made the solar system, and how gravity works in space and on earth what cause`s gravity.

Rian said...

Martin: but saying the solar system was formed by gravity and 3 other forces does not explain where and how these forces came from,
Nor was it intended to explain that.
There are some possible explanations for "how" the forces came to be, one being due to spontaneous symmetry breaking.
I'm not sure how postulating "God" help you here - it wouldn't seem to explain anything.

Martin: hydrogen under the force of gravity has caused every living thing we see, please tell me how,
Gravity caused intense temperature and pressure, which brought about fusion, which ended up creating the heavier elements, which ended up with us. Very simplistic of course.

Martin: these are stories not facts,
They're supported by the empirical evidence, and are therefore much more than "stories".

Martin: the 2 law I assume came into being straight away after the big bang , the universe is a closed system but the laws of thermodynamics coupled with gravity and hydrogen made people ,
Pretty much.

Martin: and you dont belive in God.
Because there is no convincing evidence for the existence of this being.
You seem to be making an argument from ignorance and/or personal incredulity - "You can't explain X, therefore God" or "I can't see how X, therefore God". These are not valid arguments.

Martin: But at least you are still religous because you have great faith in nature .
No, I have trust in the process of scientific investigation because it works. It's not comparable to religious faith.

Martin: You say you dont see planing in nature,
There is no evidence of intelligent agency (outside of humans, etc).

Martin: come on your car your house , even how the average city takes planing and design for transport, waterworks, sewage,etc are you saying how every living thing interacts and co habits did not need design and planing, to me thats just denying the obvious.
What you're making here is again an argument from ignorance/incredulity.
Perhaps you ought to investigate the theory of evolution, the vast body of literature which supports it, and what it entails.
Martin: i tell you what why dont you get some metal , wood, bricks, water plastic, tons and tons of the stuff make a big pile in the desert and come back in a few thousand years ,
What would that supposedly demonstrate?

Martin: not forgeting the earth is an open system
The earth is an open system, which receives energy from the sun, which is often used to create local decreases in entropy (and global increases - 2nd law and all that).

Martin: and see how your city is getting on.
How about we set up conditions like the early earth, rich in organic compounds etc, give it a billion years or so and see if we don't have some simple self replicators?

Martin: One more thing can you explain how gravity made the solar system, and how gravity works in space and on earth what cause`s gravity.
You could use the internet to suppliment your ignorance in these areas you know.
Simply:
gravity caused the cloud of elements left over from a previous supernova to coalesce, leading to the formation of the sun and the planets (gravity is an attractive force).
Gravity "works in space" because, according to general relativity, gravity is a curvature of space-time.
And, as I just mentioned, gravity is "caused" by the effects matter has on space-time, warping it.
If you want a more in depth explanation you're probably best finding an introductory physics text book or something similar.

If nothing else, expanding your knowledge in these areas (cosmology, physics, biology, etc) ought to prevent further arguments from ignorance and personal incredulity ;-)

Havok said...

The comment above from "Rian" is from me.
The perils of multiple online idenitities :-)

martin.finnegan said...

I am no more arguing from ignorance
and person incredulity than you
neither of us know how hydrogen gas makes people i believe God did it you BELIEVE nature did it.What we do now is the greatest minds in the world with the best available knowledge, and ideal conditions cannot make life as of today, but random collections of chemicals became living organic compounds all on its own , you belive this not based on empirical evidence or test or obsevervation but by igorance or incredulity because God does not exist nature must have done it.

Havok said...

Martin: I am no more arguing from ignorance and person incredulity than you
I'm not making an argument based upon incredulity or ignorance, whereas you are :-)

Martin: neither of us know how hydrogen gas makes people
We know how hydrogen gas becomes different elements.
We know how those elements condense to form planets.
We know what those planets, such as our own, are likely to be like (abundant organic molecules, even amino acids etc).
We know those organic molecules can form more complex polymers, spontaneously self-assembling.
We know that lipids can form spontaneously (your cell membranes are lipids).
We know of several possible pathways from chemical evolution to biological evolution (though the details remain to be worked out).
We know that "life" is nothing more than (very) complex organic molecules.
We know that once we have a simple replicator, descent with modification is able to produce an abundant array of other replicators (ie. the species we see around us).

So you see, we do have an awful lot of knowledge concerning how hydrogen gas becomes people. Even if some of the stages are vague or not well understood, that doesn't make the process unlikely, implausible or impossible. There doesn't seem to be any need to invoke God either :-)

Martin: i believe God did it you BELIEVE nature did it.
I just gave an admittedly brief run down for a naturalistic/scientific explanation. I'm yet to see anything remotely similar to explain the how, what, why, when for any intervention in the process by a God, assuming it existed.

Martin: What we do now is the greatest minds in the world with the best available knowledge, and ideal conditions cannot make life as of today, but random collections of chemicals became living organic compounds all on its own ,
Life had something those studying abiogenesis do not - enormous resources and vast stretches of time. Abiogenesis reasearch is still very new (the Miller-Urey experiment was some only some 60 years ago). To count it out as impossible, and pointless as a field, given that it is still making progress, is rather premature. Especially as there is no viable alternative hypothesis presented outside of the current study.

Martin: you belive this not based on empirical evidence or test or obsevervation but by igorance or incredulity because God does not exist nature must have done it.
I suspect this is the case (ie. abiogenesis occurred) because of the track record of naturalistic explanations when compared to supernaturalistic explanations.
You're arguments would fit in well hundreds to thousands of years ago - "No one understands how lightning could be caused without the intervention of Yahweh/Zues/Thor, therefore Yahweh/Zues/God must be the cause".
The supernatural has a terrible track record of providing explanations for reality.

martin.finnegan said...

i have to say you have a far to simplistic view of how hydrogen gas becomes people , its like me saying i can build a space shuttle
or hadron collider and when ask how i say well by getting all the parts and putting them together. We as of today have tested the chemical evolution route it has failed , as Crick himself said why he would not write another book about the origen of life, he said there was way to much speculation chasing way to few facts I know by empirical evidence, by obsevervation , by laboratory testing, that life comes from life, biogenesis please show me by the same scientific methods why you believe different abiogenesis .
All the times you said we know we dont know we believe , we know life is just organic compounds , you joking if so making life should be simple , i watched people and animals die , life leave them ,where is the life gone , what was it to begin with so it can just go.

Havok said...

Martin: i have to say you have a far to simplistic view of how hydrogen gas becomes people
There are large amounts of evidence behind much/all of the "process", and it' far more detailed than the "God did it" hypothesis you seem to favour.

Martin: We as of today have tested the chemical evolution route it has failed
Then why is investigation ongoing, and results still coming in?
As I said, your dismissal is rather premature.
This is exactly the god of the gaps argument - "you can't explain right now, therefore God did it". Never mind that even if abiogenesis was seen as impossible, you would still need to provide some sort of positive evidence in favour of your own hypothesis.

Martin: we know life is just organic compounds , you joking if so making life should be simple ,
What is the magic ingredient, Martin?
If there is something other than very complex chemistry involved, then how are we able to construct DNA, place it in an empty cell membrane, and end up with "life" - neither of the 2 parts had "life".

Martin: i watched people and animals die , life leave them ,where is the life gone , what was it to begin with so it can just go.
Now you're endorsing "vitalism" or something like it, which is a rather outdated position to hold.
"Life" stops when the processes (all chemical) cease for some reason. There is no magical ingredient, no elan vital, just molecules.

Add some biology to the cosmology and physics you should look into ;-)

Havok said...

Matt, sorry for leading the discussion somewhat away from your original topic.

If Martin would be so kind as to produce the abundance of evidence in favour of the Christian God, as opposed to thinking "Christian God" is some kind of default position which one assumes when currently lacking an explanation, or perhaps explain why it is that God is so hidden, some justification for why the evidence we do have is exactly what one ought to expect from God, then the discussion might get back on track :-)

martin.finnegan said...

now we have a problem please cite the evidence for man making life from non life the actual evidence , as even Mr Dawkins admits it hasn`t happend yet so please cite the evidence.

martin.finnegan said...

also you are making the arguement that intellegent man can make life
please cite the evidence that random shuffling of chemicals can make life without the interference of any intelegence, or are you agreeing that it takes intelengence to make life.

Havok said...

Martin: now we have a problem please cite the evidence for man making life from non life the actual evidence ,
I've admitted we don't have a compete picture as yet, but there are several promising hypothesis for various stages in the process.
If you tell me which part of the process you're interested in an explanation for I might be able to help you out :-)

Martin: also you are making the arguement that intellegent man can make life
I'd ask that you learn a little more concerning the science involved, as this would not at all be what is demonstrated if and when we have a theory or theories of abiogenesis.

And, I'll throw it back at you Martin: Please cite the evidence that an immaterial person can and does exist, can break the known laws of physics, and is not only capable of, but actually did do any/all of the following:
• "create" the universe from nothing. Create all matter and energy as well as spacetime itself, from nothing some 14 billion years ago.
• "intervened" in the prebiotic chemical soup of the early earth, in order to arrange for the first self replicating molecule, first cell, or whatever it is you believe you deity did to "create life"
• "intervened" in the history of biological evolution to "tweak" or wholesale introduce novel genes, and generally direct evolution, to a greater or lesser extent.
If you could provide detailed explanations of these, including enough information to actually test your hypothesis against the evidence, preferably allowing novel predictions to be tested, so that should your hypothesis actually pass muster as an explanation of whatever feature of the universe you're seeking to explain, we can have confidence that it actually reflects reality to some degree. If you could provide independant evidence that this "God" exists and what it is capable of, outside of the things you're seeking to explain, that would also be great. And since you seem to be a proponent of vitalism, if you could provide some evidence that there is something more to life than complex chemistry, that would be much appreciated.

Failing that, if you could simply provide a detailed description of why your speculative and undetailed hypothesis that this being you are postulating, God, provides a better explanation than the current theories of science, whether speculative or solidly attested, that would be a grand start.

Thanks! :-)

Havok said...

Ps. You could possible start small by justifying your initial claim that Romans 1:18-20 and Psalm 14:1 are actually the case, and reflects reality rather than simply being your beliefs.

martin.finnegan said...

I appreciate the civil ,friendly
way we have discussed this subject I will take a bit of time and make my case in a day or two.

Havok said...

I won't hold my breath, as it been my experience that what theists think of as justification of their beliefs is, on the whole, sadly lacking, and generally amounts to special pleading for their god concept(s) - perhaps your own arguments will be different.

Havok said...

I wrote a brief description of why I see appeals to the supernatural as rather poor explanations here :-)

martin.finnegan said...

are you willing to accept that there could be evidence for God, not that there is but that there could be, if you say no then what evidence could I present that will make a difference to you.

Havok said...

There could be evidence for God, though I'm not sure what that evidence might look like, since everything seems to be "physical" (for some appropriate definition of physical), and yet God is supposed to be "non-physical".
I'm also unsure as to how we would know about evidence for God, since again, the evidence we have tends to be "natural", while God is supposed to be "supernatural".

One of the major failings I see regarding the project to amass evidence for anything "supernatural" is the complete lack of methodology (compare with rational intersubjective empiricism ie. science). There seems no way to confirm/falsify the "supernatural" which does not rely upon subjective "testimony" (eg. the feeling that God is "present"), isn't circular (eg. assuming God exists in your premises), or is not in some way fallacious.

Of course I'm willing to entertain the idea that such a methodology is possible, and that evidence for the "supernatural" could be presented, but I would hope that such arguments and evidence would be of a similar standard, quality and detail to ordinary "scientific" arguments and evidence :-)

I would also hope that you will be open to your hypothesis (God exists) being disproved or at the least being unjustified (and irrational), with all that entails - this seems only fair since you''re asking the same of me.

martin.finnegan said...

sure as long as you will abide by the same rules , we can only deal with laws and rules of science,that laws carry more weight than theories and hypothesis, that we use tests, observation, empirical evidence,
that if a theory or part of theory fails the test it be discarded, and opinion or consensus carry no weight.

Havok said...

New Note 40

Martin: sure as long as you will abide by the same rules
Of course - It wouldn't be a reasonable discussion otherwise

Martin: that laws carry more weight than theories and hypothesis,
Laws, theories and hypothesis are not quite comparable in the fashion you seem tom be trying for. From Wikipedia:

• A scientific law or scientific principle is a concise verbal or mathematical statement of a relation that expresses a fundamental principle of science, like Newton's law of universal gravitation.
• A scientific theory comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules (called scientific laws) that express relationships between observations of such concepts.
• People refer to a trial solution to a problem as a hypothesis — often called an "educated guess" — because it provides a suggested solution based on the evidence. Experimenters may test and reject several hypotheses before solving the problem.

So it seems a law is a fundamental principle, a theory generally a broad(er) explanation which is comprised of laws and other concepts, and a theory is a provisional explanation, often narrower in scope than a theory.
All laws, theories, hypothesis are provision - All of science is up for disproof.

Martin: that we use tests, observation, empirical evidence,
that if a theory or part of theory fails the test it be discarded,

That's ok generally, but It's not quite that simple. We need to consider whether the test was actually testing what we believe it was, whether the test results are accurate, and what impact the result may have for the theory. It can also depend on how well attested the law/theory/hypothesis is by other evidence, and how well it has stood up to previous attempts at falsification. It can also depend on whether the test is even within the bounds of what the law/theory/hypothesis is intended to cover - for example, it seems that many people think that the current lack of a complete well attested theory of abiogenesis means that the theory of evolution fails, or that the current lack of an explantion for the origin of the visible universe entails the failure of big bang cosmology.

Martin: and opinion or consensus carry no weight.
Opinion I agree about, but the case of consensus is a little more complicated (isn't everything?). If the consensus consists of the experts in the field, and has been arrived at through reasoning through the evidence, then the consensus does carry some weight. If the consensus is held by non-experts, or has been arrived at through ideological commitment or some other non-objective/non-intersubjective means, then the consensus carries little to no weight.

I think we should also acknowledge that the default position is one of ignorance, and if there is no current explanation for some phenomena, then we should admit we simply don't know - though even here we can still indulge in informed speculation.

Martin, I'm actually rather surprised you're opting to stick solely with the scientific method, as that means you're basically restricting yourself to methodological naturalism.

martin.finnegan said...

you see if we test the theory of abiogensis or chemical evolution
and it fails the test,will you accept it has failed ,as no one has ever observed or made happen in a lab life from random shuffling of chemicals.If you keep moving the goalpost how can anything be disproved.If I was to say i will pray to God that meteor will hit Dublin at 3 0 clock tomorrow and this will prove Gods existance , but when it does not happen i say well it did hit it just broke up into pieces to small to observe you would rightly mock me so when abiogenesis fails the actual real test why cannot evolutionists admit it, and say yes it failed but we believe this is how it happened, we cant prove it but we believe it.

Havok said...

For some reason this comment keeps getting eaten by blogger.

Martin: you see if we test the theory of abiogensis or chemical evolution and it fails the test,will you accept it has failed
Which theory of abiogenesis are you talking about?
Which step of the process postulated to have occurred do you mean?
How would it have failed?

Martin: ,as no one has ever observed or made happen in a lab life from random shuffling of chemicals.
And yet every single step required has a plausible explanation. Some parts have good supporting evidence (availability of organic chemicals, for example, or the spontaneous assembly and "reproduction" of lipid membranes - proto-cells), some are less well supported, but nevertheless are likely (concentrating reaction products is possible in a number of different ways - clay, bubbles in ferrous "smokers" on the sea floor, etc), some are more speculative but given our present knowledge seem amenable to further explanation (DNA from earlier/simpler "inheritance mechanism", for example).
So I'm not really sure why your claim above, which seems to be that since we don't currently have a relatively complete theory of abiogenesis, that it is therefore impossible, is supportable.

Martin: If you keep moving the goalpost how can anything be disproved.
I'm not moving any goal posts as far as I can tell.

Martin: If I was to say i will pray to God that meteor will hit Dublin at 3 0 clock tomorrow and this will prove Gods existance , but when it does not happen i say well it did hit it just broke up into pieces to small to observe you would rightly mock me
Perhaps I'd think you were fooled, or delusional, and I would certainly discount your claims as any sort of evidence for anything other than your own delusions. Since Christians DO carry out just this sort of ad-hoc rationalisation when confronted with evidence against the truth of their beliefs, such behaviour wouldn't surprise me, however :-)

Martin: so when abiogenesis fails the actual real test why cannot evolutionists admit it,
Abiogensis hasn't "failed", unless you take failure to be a current lack of a complete theory.
And as I mentioned, abiogenesis and evolution are completely separate, so including the term "evolutionists" here is somewhat silly.
Oh, and since relativity does not/cannot explain things at a small scale, I wonder if you think physicists should admit that relativity is completely false?

Martin: and say yes it failed but we believe this is how it happened, we cant prove it but we believe it.
What you state there would basically be the current state of abiogenesis research, as I understand it - "We currently understand many steps, have firm leads in some areas, and less firm leads in others, and so we do not know exactly how things happened, but given the evidence, it is likely to be something like this"
Oh, and science doesn't "prove" things :-)

Also, I thought you were going to be presenting evidence for your God, since that was the topic of this blog post initially - since, even if we were to find that abiogenesis was impossible given our current understanding of the laws of nature, this would not constitute positive evidence for the "God hypothesis" - you would need to present a positive case in favour of your hypothesis.

martin.finnegan said...

The creation of life, the universe etc was either natural or super natural, unless you know of a third explaination ,so by discounting one you prove the other, that`s what atheist have been saying for years if they can show a natural explaination of our universe it discounts the supernatural.Re abiogenesis the evidence is intelegence direct I can hardly claim to show you how cars make themselves , and proceed to bring to the local toyota plant to make my case, please cite the evidence for the random process that allows, life to have a random non directed begining.
Even Francis Crick addmited it must be almost a miracle becaue it could not happen by chance hence his theory of panspermia.By your belief system you can fly you have a lot of the parts required muscles, blood,heart, etc so jump from a tall building and just see how the parts you dont have effect your chances.

Havok said...

Martin: ...that`s what atheist have been saying for years if they can show a natural explaination of our universe it discounts the supernatural.
Actually, there is currently no "supernatural" explanation for the origin of the visible universe - not one of any details.
In the absence of your own testable scientific hypothesis, you would need to demonstrate not just that current scientific hypothesis fail, but that any possible future scientific hypothesis cannot succeed, in order to even begin supporting your own position.
What scientists have been saying for years is if we find a successful explanation for the origin of the visible universe, then we have ourselves a successful explanation for the origin of the visible universe.
You seem to be doing what I cautioned you about - assuming "God" in the absence of an explanation rather than providing an explanation yourself.


Martin: Re abiogenesis the evidence is intelegence direct
No it isn't.

Martin: I can hardly claim to show you how cars make themselves , and proceed to bring to the local toyota plant to make my case,
Why is the manufacture of cars a good analogy to organic chemistry?

Martin: please cite the evidence for the random process that allows, life to have a random non directed begining.
Physics and chemistry are seems sufficient to get us from organic molecules to biology. Though we don't have the details completely worked out, there is no "magic" ingredient.
Again, this is an argument from ignorance - "You can't explain life naturally, therefore God did it!". Martin you must propose you're own hypothesis which explains all of the evidence. Barring that you must demonstrate that a abiogenesis is impossible rather than simply improbable.


Martin: Even Francis Crick addmited it must be almost a miracle becaue it could not happen by chance hence his theory of panspermia.
I don't care about opinions Martin, I'd like actual arguments an evidence. Besides that, you seem to be taking Crick out of context, not to mention that at worst panspermia pushes the question of abiogenesis back a step, to some place other than earth.

Martin: By your belief system you can fly you have a lot of the parts required muscles, blood,heart, etc so jump from a tall building and just see how the parts you dont have effect your chances.
Martin, I'm not the one proposing things which are physically impossible here - you are :-)

Please, provide evidence and argument (and not just random quotations and assertions) to support your own position, or accept that we don't have a firm answer, but that a naturalistic explanation is most likely (going on the present state of hypothesis as well as the past performance of scientific investigation).

martin.finnegan said...

please stop saying you have the evidence please cite the evidence
for abiogensis.If you dont cite the evidence I can only assume you are bluffing and dont have any.
If there are only two options and you discount one the other is a valid conclusion unless you are saying this is not so.

Havok said...

Martin: please stop saying you have the evidence please cite the evidence for abiogensis.
Martin, I've admitted we don't have the full picture, and have asked you previously to indicate what step of the process you were interested. So far you've not responded.

I've also made clear what it is you would need to provide in order tom demonstrate that abiogenesis is a "failed" scientific endeavour. Again, you've not responded.

Martin: If you dont cite the evidence I can only assume you are bluffing and dont have any.
Check the scientific literature if you would like to know the present state of the field :-)

Remember, the comments here began with you proclaiming an abundance of evidence staring us in the face, yet thus far you've not even presented even the outline of any hypothesis supporting your contentions.

Martin: If there are only two options and you discount one the other is a valid conclusion unless you are saying this is not so.
If the two option are "natural" and "supernatural", and considering that you've not discounted the natural, nor have you presented any evidence or arguments in favour of the supernatural, and since the natural has a far superior track record regarding explanations than the supernatural, and also remembering that we have a number of working natural hypothesis regarding various stages between chemistry and biology, on the balance of the exchange thus far, I can only assume that the supernatural claim is rather empty and worthless.

martin.finnegan said...

Your comment about opinion is correct , so Sherwood Chang chief of exobiology at N.A.S.A said
any senario for the stepwise progression toward the origin of life is still a convenient fiction.That is we have almost no data to support the historical transition from chemical evolution to prebiotic monomers, polymers, replecting enzymes, and finally cells.Scientist from the European space agency said experments over the last 150 years on the origin of life have led to no clear conclusions.Paul Davis physicist in his book the fifth miracle said many investagators felt uneasy stating that the origin of life is a mystery, even though behind closed doors they admit they are baffled, a reason being if they admit their ignorange it will give credibility to creationists and undermime their funding for searching for life in outer space.
Now rather than accept their opinion if you can present actual evidence to the contrary I will then not have to accept their opinion or your opinion I can weigh up the actual evidence.
sorry just one more opinion Ken Nealson a geobiologist from the university of southern California said , nobody understands the origin of life if they say they do they are probably trying to fool you, once again actual evidence would refute this opinion.

Havok said...

Martin, you may want to take a look through the wikipedia page concerning Abiogenesis before continuing to claim that it has "failed" in some sense.

martin.finnegan said...

just to get it straight , the list of people i have just quoted just need to look at wikiipeda to have their doubts put to rest , you are joking ,please once agsin cite the evidence just so I am sure you understand it and you are not putting you faith in men but in the evidence

martin.finnegan said...

I had a quick look at wikipieda it starts with protiens being created and cites the miller urea experiment
so if you are willing i will discuss the finding in this experiment with you just to see the actual finding of this experiment.

Havok said...

*sigh*
And here I thought you might be interested in actual having a reasonable discussion. Serves me right for being an optimist.

Martin: just to get it straight , the list of people i have just quoted just need to look at wikiipeda to have their doubts put to rest , you are joking ,
I recommended wikipedia for you because you seem ignorant of abiogenesis research.

Martin: please once agsin cite the evidence just so I am sure you understand it and you are not putting you faith in men but in the evidence
1. I haven't claimed that abiogenesis is "settled" science - you've attributed that claim to me.
2. I've provided some pointer to get you started regarding actual evidence and research on abiogenesis.
3. You've done nothing to demonstrate that a natural scientific explanation for the origin of life is impossible, implausible or improbable.
4. You've done absolutely nothing, not a single thing, towards establishing your own claims, that the supernatural is even a reasonable thing to postulate, or, if we go back to your initial assertions on this thread, that there is abundant evidence demonstrating the existence of your God.

So, Martin, stop with the merry-go-round, quite asking me to support claims I have not made, and hold up your end of the discussion, else I can only conclude that not only do you have no evidence or arguments, but that you are not and never intended to engage in a genuine discussion.

Havok said...

Martin: I had a quick look at wikipieda it starts with protiens being created and cites the miller urea experiment
It's "Miller Urey", and that experiment didn't demonstrate the production of proteins, but rather the production of life's "building blocks" (well, some of them).
Research has moved on, including using revised information regarding the makup of the early earth, etc.

Martin: so if you are willing i will discuss the finding in this experiment with you just to see the actual finding of this experiment.
Shouldn't we discuss the latest evidence rather than a 60 year old experiment (unless you're interested in the history of abiogenesis research, rather than the present state of that research).

And even I was to accept, for the sake of argument, that abiogenesis has "failed", that doesn't mean your own hypothesis (whatever it is - you've not bothered to detail anything) wins by default. We would simply be left to accept our ignorance, and hope some future finding can shed further light on the subject.

martin.finnegan said...

I have looked into the research for abiogenesis and I have come to the same conclusion as the list of scientists who I stated earlier
who are not creationist by the way, I can see no validity in the conclusion that life could arise by non directed random chance. If both I and scientist mentioned can see no validity in the arguements made is it not a case that the evidence is lacking I mean you dont have to convince me of gravity i can demonstrate it so once again please demonstrate abiogensis.By the way you directed me to wikipidiea , where I subsequently found the miller experiment now you say thats old hat , so once cite the upto date evidence and findings.
Are you saying that if the natural explaination for life can be disproved that the supernatural is not the only alternative, if there is a third please tell me what it is.

martin.finnegan said...

at last we are getting to the crux of the matter , the creation of the universe, life , man etc are all historical events neither you or I can demonstrate that natural or supernatural powers were the cause but both of us believe certain thing, you that somehow , the universe,et al could happen by itself naturaly you can`t demonstrate this but believe the evidence is in your favour I on the other had am not convinced by the current evidence that a universe ,et al could create itself
without the intervention of an intelegent creator I believe the laws of thermodynamics, biogenesis, probability, reproduction, complexity,etc favour the conclusion of an intelegent creator because you have to cite exception to all of these to make random evolution a reasonable conclusion.
but when push comes to shove both the atheist and theist are positions of faith its just which is the most reasonable position of faith.

Havok said...

Martin: at last we are getting to the crux of the matter
I doubt it, especially as you've done absolutely nothing to demonstrate abiogenesis implausible, or "supernatural" genesis even possible.


Martin: , the creation of the universe, life , man etc are all historical events neither you or I can demonstrate
Regarding the origin of the visible universe, we have promising avenues of research.
Regarding abiogenesis, we have promising avenues of research.
Regarding the origin of man, evolution provides a solid naturalistic explanation.

Martin: that natural or supernatural powers were the cause
Well, for "supernatural powers" to even be a cause, we would need decent evidence for their existence. Since we lack that evidence, this alone gives us good reason to reject supernatural causes (unless such evidence is forthcoming, of course).

Martin: but both of us believe certain thing, you that somehow , the universe,et al could happen by itself naturaly you can`t demonstrate this but believe the evidence is in your favour
There are speculative hypothesis, and these hypothesis extrapolate from existing physics, so such speculation is not completely without basis.

Martin: I on the other had am not convinced by the current evidence that a universe ,et al could create itself
without the intervention of an intelegent creator

Except of course you actually need to provide independant evidence of such a creator - my point about needing to demonstrate that supernatural causes exist/are possible before we can think of them as actually being legitimate causes.
You're simply making an argument from ignorance here, which I warned you about much earlier.

Martin: I believe the laws of thermodynamics, biogenesis, probability, reproduction, complexity,etc favour the conclusion of an intelegent creator
Then I doubt you understand the things you cite, since none of them rules out a natural explanation, and you're yet to even rule in a supernatural one.

Martin: because you have to cite exception to all of these to make random evolution a reasonable conclusion.
*sigh* so you're yet another wannabe Christian apologist who lacks an understanding of the theory of biological evolution?
And one who claims the second law of thermodynamics argues against it?
Wow...just wow!


Martin: but when push comes to shove both the atheist and theist are positions of faith its just which is the most reasonable position of faith.
"Science" is not a faith position, nothing I've mentioned rules out a generic kind of God, and I suspect believers can be found who would accept a natural explanation being most probable of all 3 of the "origins" you mentioned (in fact, the origin of man already has an explanation, so "special creation" has already been shown unnecessary).

So, Martin, any positive evidence for your own position, or are you happy claiming (falsely) that both of our positions are equally based on faith?

Enchanted Naturalist said...

Martin, no way. You are not getting away with the juvenile canard that science and religion are both faith-based. This assertion betrays your complete denigration of the scientific enterprise. Science recognizes all knowledge as provisional. Religion seeks absolutes. Why is it that you don't have the stomach for provisional knowledge or even the suspension of judgment in admission of incomplete data? Why is it more reasonable to posit "goddidit" than recognize that a current theory may simply be incomplete? By your account any scientific theories that are open to but a shred of doubt are subject to being jettisoned in favor of the vacuous explanation: "goddidit." By your methods we would still be treating epileptics with prayer, not medicine, as if their condition were caused by demon possession.

Especially based on the overwhelming success of science in the history of human inquiry your epistemological position is untenable.

Havok said...

Enchanted Naturalist: You are not getting away with the juvenile canard that science and religion are both faith-based.
Of course that's what he wants to do - though doing so would still render his earlier comments concerning the abundance of evidence for God completely unjustified, and they can be summarily dismissed as such.

What Martin doesn't seem to realise or understand is that scientific investigation relies on solid methodology and epistimology, while the vague claims of "Goddidit", which seem intentionally devoid of empirical content (we wouldn't want to risk our God being falsified now, would we?).
Without concern for any other details, and in the complete absence of any sort of naturalistic hypothesis, this makes claims of a naturalistic explanation far more plausible than supernatural claims.

Enchanted Naturalist: Especially based on the overwhelming success of science in the history of human inquiry your epistemological position is untenable.
Indeed it does, though I would expect it to fly completely over the head of someone who just claimed that evolution is in violation of the laws of thermodynamics, as Martin just did.
I don't know whether I should laugh or cry :-)

And of course neither of us is likely to receive any reasoned, coherent responses to our questions, but one can always hope :-)

martin.finnegan said...

I never said science was a faith position I said the notion that the creation of the universe et al being a once of historical event is beyond the realm of testable
science, if you disagree please state the test you would use to
show me wrong ,

martin.finnegan said...

while we are here please tell me how biological evolution works, I can show you any animal you wish reproducing after its own kind please demonstrate how you break free from these constraints.please tell me neo darwinian evolution did it.

Havok said...

Martin: I never said science was a faith position I said the notion that the creation of the universe et al being a once of historical event is beyond the realm of testable
science,

Which simply means that you have a very limited understanding of what science is.

Martin: if you disagree please state the test you would use to
show me wrong ,

Well, lets see. Hypothesis for the origin of the visible universe generally entail predictions beyond simply "the universe started here". Those predictions can be tested to see if they hold up under investigation or not. And so the great wheels of science roll on...

Martin: while we are here please tell me how biological evolution works, I can show you any animal you wish reproducing after its own kind please demonstrate how you break free from these constraints.please tell me neo darwinian evolution did it.
Are you identical to your parents? Your grand parents? Are/will your children be identical to you?
Evolution is, basically, descent with modification. Basically every single organism differs from every other, genetically (eve identical twins tend to have a couple of differences). Over time these usually small differences add up to great big differences, ergo evolution!
If you would like more in depth information, you might try talkorigins.org or one of the other sites devoted to combating the irrational hilarity that is creationism and the embarrassment that is intelligent design.

And if you wouldn't mind, could your begin providing some positive arguments for you position, rather than simply attempting to pick holes in things you don't understand and don't agree with? Thanks :-)

Matt said...

Martin:
1. Your arguments are nonsensical.
2. Your spelling is atrocious.
3. Your ignorance is mind-boggling.

Stop wasting our time and go to school. Explain evolution? Are you fucking kidding me? GO TO SCHOOL. Read a book. Learn something. Anything.

Ant said...

Havoc: I applaud your patience!

Berry said...

Martin,

I’ve been following your conversation concerning natural proofs of the existence of a god, which you assume to be the version you prefer. I wish to comment on a few things that stand out.


ANALOGY BETWEEN HUMAN CREATION AND NATURAL PHENOMENA.

In several posts you have tried to compare the creation of complex non-living things by humans with the existence of living things on earth. This is fallacious reasoning. The creation of non-replicating things by advanced biological entities is not parallel to the development of self- replicating biology. They are qualitatively different. Things that are designed by thinking biological minds are made to be as efficient and simple as possible while biological things which replicate and change over time are frequently inefficient or needlessly complex. The first is designed by a mind with intent; the second is directed by non-sentient environmental factors from faults and accidents of biological reproduction. The imperfections in replicating biological systems is what creates diversity over time. Imperfections in human designed things that do not replicate does not lead to diversity, but to redesign from scratch.
There are similar problems with equating man made objects with natural phenomena which act or are acted upon by other things in their environment. It becomes a better parallel when man does something that unintentionally changes the environment, whether that be for good or for bad. However, it is still not a perfect analogy.


THE UNIVERSE IS NOT BENIGN.

The elephant in the argument from design is that all things are not “bright and beautiful”.

* The vast majority of space is hostile to humans. The universe will eventually kill all life on earth; it is only a matter of time.
* Animals life on earth must kill to survive, usually viciously.
* Medical science exists because of faults in human design and anatomy, vulnerability to attack by other forms of life and the down side of reproductive copying errors.
* Weather (cyclones, storms, lightening) and geophysics (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis) causes death, suffering and destruction without regard for religious belief or moral behavior.

This suggests that there is either no god or that the existing god is limited or lacking in power, benevolence, caring, intelligence, wisdom, competence, morality and efficacy. The argument that god’s ways are “mysterious” and not able to be understood by humans leads directly to the counter argument that the person making such a claim has therefore no valid claim to know anything about this god or to claim that such a god is “good”.


ABIOGENESIS (WHICH IS INDEPENDENT FROM THE CONSEQUENT EVOLUTION)

Here is a link to the latest update in research on biogenesis.
http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2011/04/was-it-the-ultimate-origin-of-life-biologists-create-self-replicating-rna-molecule.html


This article is written for non-scientists. Nevertheless, if you do not have an advanced background in biochemistry you may have some difficulty understanding what the researchers have done or in grasping the implications of their research. Until you have accumulated recognized credentials in abiogenetics you have no authority to make pronouncements about this field that contradict what the legitimate researchers state. Nor do you have any good (rational) reason to latch on to the opinions of otherwise highly intelligent people who are _not_ doing research in this area but who seem to express a point of view that you have emotional reasons for wishing to be true.

Havok said...

Ant: Havoc: I applaud your patience!
Thanks!

Berry, that article on RNA replication was very interesting.
Funny how a failed science can manage to keep producing results, isn't it :-)

I'm sure Martin would stupidly claim it is simply another example of "Intelligent Design".

martin.finnegan said...

So do you agree that real science is done by experimentation, obsevervation, testability, repeatibility, and drawing the logical conclusion from the results.

martin.finnegan said...

sorry havoc you will have to go back and review how you believe evolution is supposed to work , you believe Darwinian, variation then natural selection , this has been disproved decades ago and replaced with neo Darwinian which is random mutation then natural selection as after many test`s and experiments they showed that all creatures are what they are because it is programmed into their dna and any variety is limited by their dna so random mutation was proposed as the process`s to break free from this limiting factor.Hope this enlighten`s you a little.
I will elaborate on this subject on this matter when you answer my last post on real science.
Matt I am not a terrible speller just a terrible and lazy typer, but relax no need to get personal,as you can see from this post I have read a book and I can explain how evolution is supposed to work, can`t say the same for all involved in this civilised debate.

Havok said...

Martin: So do you agree that real science is done by experimentation, obsevervation, testability, repeatibility, and drawing the logical conclusion from the results.
Sometimes, but not always. Some things aren't amenable to repitition (history, for instance). Observation, hypothesising and testing are definitely a part.

Martin, random mutation is what give variation, so your claimed differences there are not differences at all.
Perhaps you need to brush up on modern evolutionary theory, since it seems rather obvious from that brief summary that you don't have a clue.
Oh, and it also seems from your dismissal of abiogenesis that you don't have a clue about that either.
I suspect your knowledge of cosmology is on a par as well.

Martin: I will elaborate on this subject on this matter when you answer my last post on real science.
Since you've provided no decent, rational arguments against ANY of the positions I've put forward, nor does it seem you have the remotest idea of what modern evolutionary theory is, I can't wait to see what your elaboration is.

Martin: I can explain how evolution is supposed to work,
Well, you can incorrectly summarise the theory of evolution. I wonder what book it was that you claim to have read?

Martin: can`t say the same for all involved in this civilised debate.
So far it isn't a debate, it's a one sided discussion, with me (and others) providing arguments, and you poo-poo'ing them without offering any logical reasoning to back up your statements.

Martin, it's about time produced an argument in favour of intelligent design, rather than your ill informed dismissal of science you seem not to understand. Have at it!

Ps. If you weren't so lazy with your spelling, bothered about punctuation, sentence and paragraph structure, perhaps your thoughts wouldn't come across so poorly.

martin.finnegan said...

ok do you agree then test`s that have consistant repeatable results are more valid than than inference drawn from non repeatable like once off historical events..I know plenty about the most upto date evolutionary theory it is still natural selection working on random mutation which is the supposed mechanism , if it`s not please tell me whats the mechanism to get from a reptile to a bird.

martin.finnegan said...

sorry to be pedantic but in your explaination of the method of evolutionary change you stated variation was a factor and then stated we are not like our parents or grand parents etc ,and all offspring differ from their parents , but the variation between my parents and I has nothing to do with random mutation
but is caused by just a mix of both parents genes, so in your mind which is you can`t have it both ways you can`t state normal variation caused by a mix in parental genes and when i point out this error you then state no random mutation causes the variation well which is it .Its really quite funny how evolutionist cry out about the virtues of random mutations but not one of them wants their offspring to be mutated when they are born , as they know how dangerous mutations are,

Berry said...

Martin.Finnegan said...
Its really quite funny how evolutionist cry out about the virtues of random mutations but not one of them wants their offspring to be mutated when they are born , as they know how dangerous mutations are.


Martin, at this stage of your science education, you seem to assume that all genetic mutations result in a person with a gross deformity of some kind. This is false. Gene mutations, combined with the environment in which they occur, may be useful, neutral, inert, irrelevant as well as dangerous.

We generally do not see the effects of the most dangerous kind because they are not viable. If they are lethal the blastoma dies soon after conception. The body generally rejects the rest. It is estimated that over half of all pregnancies end this way with the woman being unaware that she ever conceived. Most seriously detrimental gene mutations are thus never passed on to future generations.

The body’s garbage disposal unit is not perfect. Mongolism is one example. Mongolism occurs when a DNA copying error produces a blastoma with three, instead of two, copies of the 21st chromosome.

While the body rejects embyros with extra copies of most other chromosomes it fails to detect and abort incidences of trisomy 21. This failure is one of many examples of "stupid design" that suggeststhat if life was designed by a deity then the deity did a rather poor job. Niel de Grasse Tyson covers a number of these design faults in his treatment of the ad hoc nature of the evolutionary process. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4238NN8HMgQ

Most gene mutations have no apparent effect on their own.

Some copying errors produce additional copies of "junk DNA" which has little to no effect until there are more than 5 extra copies. ADHD is correlated with this type of error.

The cell division process also creates a variety of benign or apparently irrelevant mutations. It is these that drive the process of speciation

Berry said...

Martin.Finnegan said...
The variation between my parents and I has nothing to do with random mutation but is caused by just a mix of both parents genes



Martin, you write as if you understood how genetics and the process of evolution works, but it is sadly clear to anyone with a good basic knowledge of these subjects that you do not. The Dunning-Kruger effect explains why this is not self-evident to you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

I would do something about this state of affairs, if I were you.

It is time for you to read material written by those who have international credibility in the fields of evolution and genetics, rather than restrict yourself to agenda-filtered "summaries" of this material which either deliberately or ignorantly misses, ignores or omits the crucial points. The con artists who have "educated" you are not going to tell you the truth. Their agenda is to make you feel superior (a very nice feeling, don't you agree) so that you will give them the adulation that they crave.

Here is a link to a unit of an Evolution 101 course which covers the basics for you.
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIICGeneticvariation.shtml

Take some time to understand the significance of the various forms of gene mutation, copying errors and recombinant problems and then make sure that you understand the significance of the Lederberg Experiment.

Be aware that this is REALLY BASIC STUFF. If you do not even understand material at this level you cannot expect to be taken seriously by anyone who has a decent U.S. College Level science education, let alone a professional understanding of this topic.
Try to remember that most of the world's Christians have no difficulty combining their belief in a Christian-style god with an acknowledgment that the process of evolution has resulted in the development of all species from an original cell. You do not have to be an atheist to accept this overwhelmingly confirmed and laboratory observed explanation (the scientific theory) of how evolution (the empirical fact) works.

If you think this is at variance with your indoctrinated view of the inerrancy of the Christian Bible then that is another matter. We can discuss that elsewhere, if you wish. It is off topic for this forum.

gatogreensleeves said...

@Enchanted Naturalist. How does Plantinga explain immoral Christians that keep their faith or Christians who lose their faith unwillingly?

In my experience, theists will still blow off this whole (finely argued) post, saying, "you DO know that god is real and it has been adequately explained to you and you are just LYING!" Case closed.

martin.finnegan said...

havoc we agree that most mutation are neutral or so inconsequencial to be neutral but we do know for a fact that some are very detrimental and even fatal to the offspring which receives them but as a former atheist , and trying to be as honest as possible i have yet to see in any litrature a list of beneficial mutations, if mutations are the driving force for new information, new traits, new appendages surely there has to be experiments that prove this.
If every living living creature we see today is the product of random mutation and natural selection why can`t we get mutations to produce new genetic information in a lab.
Berry just had a quick look at evolution 101 the lederberg experiment all that was concluded from this was that bacteria did not evovole resistance to penicilin
but this resistance was already in the genes of some bacteria, so whats your point, that the bacteria did not evolve.

Rian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosemary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Havok said...

Martin: and trying to be as honest as possible i have yet to see in any litrature a list of beneficial mutations, if mutations are the driving force for new information, new traits, new appendages surely there has to be experiments that prove this.
Check out Lenski's experiments - he started with ecoli bacteria, and over generations some evolved to be able to metabolise citrate. In the environment they were in this was of definite benefit.
I'm sure a simple search would of the literature would serve to satisfy your curiosity.

Martin: If every living living creature we see today is the product of random mutation and natural selection why can`t we get mutations to produce new genetic information in a lab.
we can and have - you're showing your ignorance again Martin.

pboyfloyd said...

".if mutations are the driving force for new information, new traits, new appendages surely there has to be experiments that prove this."

You'd just tell us that it was done by an intelligent designer(the experimenter) anyway, right?

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

Martin’finnegan wrote:

if mutations are the driving force for new information, new traits, new appendages surely there has to be experiments that prove this.
If every living living creature we see today is the product of random mutation and natural selection why can`t we get mutations to produce new genetic information in a lab.
- - - just had a quick look at evolution 101 the lederberg experiment all that was concluded from this was that bacteria did not evovole resistance to penicilin but this resistance was already in the genes of some bacteria, so whats your point, that the bacteria did not evolve.


[Insert big sigh here]
Martin, you need to take more than a “quick look” at the stuff I took some effort to find for you. The Lederberg Experiment was evidence for pretty much what you are asking from Havoc – a laboratory experiment that proved that mutations are the driving force behind evolutionary change in organisms.

If you’d understood what you were reading you would have gathered that there could be no such thing as a list of beneficial mutations. Randomly occuring mutations may only become beneficial when the environment changes. In the Lederberg Experiment mutations that allowed the bacteria to resist pencillin became beneficial when, and only when, the drug was added to the environment. The new environment then selected for these mutations and they were passed on to future generations. Bacteria breed sufficiently quickly for this example of evolution to be seen in the laboratory. While the experimenters changed the environment in this case (which technically makes it an example of artificial evolution or breeding) there is no reason to suppose that it differs from what happens when the same bacteria come into contact with pencillin in a natural environment (which would be an example of natural evolution).

What you don’t yet recall, although we’ve pointed it out to you, is that mutations occur all the time. You are likely to carry many of them in your own cells, some of which will be in your sperm cells.


Here some text from the Wikipedia article on genetic mutations. The emphasis is mine.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutation_rate

“In evolutionary biology, mutations can have a neutral, favorable or unfavorable effect on the organism, with respect to the present environment. The effect of a low mutation rate on a population is that few variations are available to respond to sudden environmental change. This means the species is slower to adapt. A higher mutation rate damages more individuals, but by increasing variation in the population could increase the speed at which the population can adapt to changing circumstances. The majority of mutations in a multi-cellular organism's genome are neutral and do not harm the organism. Occasional mutations are unfavorable, and rarely a mutation will be favorable. As a result of natural selection, unfavorable mutations will typically be eliminated from a population while favorable and neutral changes accumulate. The rate of elimination or accumulation depends on how unfavorable or favorable the mutation is.”

[My Google account insists on logging me in as Rosemary today. I also post under my nickname, Berry.]

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

Martin, here is some more information on the rate of natural mutations in the human genome. The article is quite technical so I am just quoting a small section.

http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/M/Mutations.html

"In the 30 April 2010 issue of Science, Roach, J. C., et al., reported that the rate for humans is in the same range: ~1.1 x 10-8 mutations per base pair in the haploid genome. With a diploid genome of 6 x 109 base pairs, that works out to some 70 new mutations in each child. They derived these numbers from comparing the complete genome sequence of two children and their parents.

Should we be worried about such spontaneous mutation rates? Probably not. With our high proportion of "junk" DNA, many mutations will occur in regions that will have no effect on our phenotype. [Most (as much as 97%) of our DNA does not encode anything]

Additionally,
* fathers are more likely than mothers to transmit newly-formed mutations to their children. (But chromosomal aberrations, like aneuploidy, are more apt to arise in eggs than in sperm.)
* The children of aged fathers suffer more genetic disorders than those of young fathers.
"

Havok said...

Martin: but as a former atheist , and trying to be as honest as possible i have yet to see in any litrature a list of beneficial mutations
It really does appear that you've made no effort to look, Martin.

I do love the "as a former atheist" shtick - so completely irrelevant. And, given your apprent lack of knowledge and research skills, I can only think that your "conversion" was not due to evidence :-)

martin.finnegan said...

berry- you need to have a quick look at the latest research in so called junk dna it seems it may not be junk after all, and bacteria became resistant to penicilin due to a section of their genes called plasmids.It does not prove anything re evolution .
Havoc a recombination of existing bacteria parts to allow it to metabolise citrate is not conformation of new genetic material, its just an organism developing a new trait it does not even say that this trait was not always a posibility just like bacteria and penicilin .
please cite a mutation which increases information for example a reptile x ammount of millions of years ago has not got the genetic information to have wings , what science has discovered is that most if not all of beneficial mutations result not in an increase but a decrease in information so how this decrease in information leads to the complex structures like avian wings is yet a mystery. by the way still not convinced there are benefical mutations, one experiment showing how bacteria can metaboilse citrate is hardly convincing when i know you could list lots of neutral and detrimental mutations, so when trying to get from non life to humans, the bacteria citrate argument is more than a little flimsy

martin.finnegan said...

I am sure we all agree the experiments which have results which are repeated time after time after time and the same results occur are stronger than inference, so please explain why every breeding experiment has only ever reproduced ofspring like the parents , cats, dogs, humans, pigs not once ,ever, never, has a creature reproduced a different offspring or an ofspring with different parts that was not already in the parents , eg pigs with wings
race horses with gills , now is it wrong of me to assume if every test and experiment produces the same consistant results that this is the rule and if both you and I were to do an experiment and i was to claim that the offsping of my breeding will be just like the parents , maybe fatter , taller shorter but the same species and with only body parts of the orignal parents i will be right, and you may claim that some how this changes but obsevervation , experimantation, repeatability will be on my side, surley i am being scientific in my process and conclusion and you are being religous as you believe your results I can actually show my results.

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

Martin.finnegan wrote:
"it seems it may not be junk (DNA) after all, and bacteria became resistant to penicilin due to a section of their genes called plasmids."


Martin, your ability to misunderstand and misconstrue scientific evidence and reasoning is truly remarkable.

It reminds me of the time when our son used to excuse his failure to do his homework correctly by telling his teacher that she said or meant something different from what she had actually said or meant. It made sense to his immature thought pattern but the reasoning was insultingly ludicrous to his teacher and frustratingly embarrassing to us.

Sure, I know that not all material designated as "junk DNA" is permanently or always without function or effect. Some of it, like the defunct Vitamin C gene, is a broken copy of a gene which occured in our ancestors. Some of it has no effect until there are 5 to 600 extra copies of it. Some of it it has been found to have a function that was previously overlooked. And sometimes some of it can turn into a functioning gene that does something new. Like the pencillin-resistant bacteria.

Bacteria can only be pencillin resistant if they have the appropiate plasmid. The point is that this is not a feature of earlier bacteria except for the rare few that have developed it due to copying errors. If this were not the case then pencillin would not have been a wonder drug in the past.

Please, start at the beginning of the Evolution 101 course that I directed you too and work your through it to the very end.

It will be nice if we could get you to the point where you stop making embarrassing ignorance-based faux pas.

And, by the way, I am also an ex-atheist. Just about everyone is.
My original lack of belief in the supernatural was uninformed and uncritical and the Christian belief made sense in the vacuum. I have no reason to believe that your ex-atheist state was any different.

After I critically examined a variety of expressions of the Christian religion, including comparing them to other world religions, I became an informed non-believer. It is quite clear that you have not experienced that type of atheism yet.

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

Martin.Finnegan wrote: "please explain why every breeding experiment has only ever reproduced ofspring like the parents , cats, dogs, humans, pigs not once ,ever, never, has a creature reproduced a different offspring or an ofspring with different parts that was not already in the parents , eg pigs with wings, race horses with gills"

Martin, evolution does not work that way, as you would know if you had done the homework we set you and you had been paying attention to what we have already said.

Race horses cannot develop gills because the part of the anatomy that developed gills in the past is now used to make the front legs and part of the ear.

Pigs cannot develop wings because the pattern area for wings developed from the area used to make front feet. That is the reason why birds have two feet instead of four and Pegasus will always remain a mythical horse.

If you had played the game SPORE with your kids you might understand.


On the other hand it is not true that selective breeding programs by humans (= unnatural or controlled selection) have failed to produce a new species. Wolves and dogs are now a separate species. So are domestic cats and their wild cousins.

Havok said...

Martin, ALL you are arguing for is a state of ignorance. Even if your ill informed and ignorant claims against abiogenesis/evolution/whetever were spot on, we would be left simply claiming "We don't know".

What you need to do, and what I've requested you begin repeatedly, is to make a positive case in favour of your "God did it" hypothesis.

"God did it" is not the default position, and given the inherent difficulties inherent in the God hypothesis, especially when contrasted with scientific hypothesis (abiogenesis), as well as the long history of failure of God hypothesis in general to explain anything, we ought to prefer ANY possible naturalistic hypothesis over it, even when all we have is a vague "it could have happened".

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Havok said...

Rosemary, thanks for trying to save my post from the blogger monster ;-)

I thought I'd seen it on in the comments, and so didn't repost. I'll do so now (with some amendments):

Martin: It does not prove anything re evolution.
The Lenski experiment demonstrated that a couple of point mutations, which they pinpointed and isolated if I recall correctly, caused a new trait to arise.
It is also a possible speciation event, since e.Coli are pretty much defined by their inability to metabolise citrate.


Martin: Havoc a recombination of existing bacteria parts to allow it to metabolise citrate is not conformation of new genetic material, its just an organism developing a new trait it does not even say that this trait was not always a posibility just like bacteria and penicilin .
please demonstrate that this trait existed in some form in the "parent" bacteria. If you cannot then you're simply blowing hot air.
Before you bother to try, as I mentioned above, the Lenski experiment isolated the mutations, so you're going to fail in your task.

Martin: please cite a mutation which increases information for example a reptile x ammount of millions of years ago has not got the genetic information to have wings
It would be many many mutations, Martin. And there is amply evidence of mutation "increasing" information. The increase or decrease in information has nothing to do with whether the mutation was beneficial, detrimental or neutral, as those can only be figured out when the environment is taken into account.

rosemary said...

Martin, it is really not hard to find examples of beneficial gene mutations if you do a simple Google Search on the web. Here is what I found after about five minutes.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Examples of beneficial genetic mutations.
http://www.gate.net/~rwms/EvoMutations.html#metabolic

The section on evolution of new metabolic pathways, gives examples of a series of mutations that "build on one another" so that new metabolic pathways are evolved and added to the organism. This is the sort of "new genetic information" that creationists claim is impossible.

Section 8 details the evolution of a new enzymatic function by recombination within a gene. In this case two mutations within the same gene combine (in one of two ways) to form the capacity to perform an entirely new function.

The author gives examples of the evolution of a unicellur organism into a multi-cellular organism as the result of a laboratory accident. The original organism was a variation of Chlorella vulgaris. The resulting multicellular organism was reclassified as a new species in the genus Coelosphaerium, which is in a different family from Chlorella.

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

While it might take you a little longer, since objective research does not seem to be your one of your strong points, I am sure that you could find at least twice this number of examples in a day or two of serious internet searching.

I admit that much of the material is as yet beyond your education-fueled level of understanding and I strongly suspect that this is actually the real problem.

However, if you do not work hard to fill in those educational gaps you will continue to be a faith patsy for pushers of IDiot versions of how the world works. They find their prey among the scientifically ignorant and they seek to keep them in that state. When you know enough to critique their work instead of swallowing it without question, then, and only then, will you be capable of making a free and informed decision about their claims.

Like all of us, you are confined in a mental cage that is only as large as your mastery of the material that supports the subject matter that confronts you. It seems that yours is a little cramped at the moment.

Havok said...

Martin: surley i am being scientific in my process and conclusion and you are being religous as you believe your results I can actually show my results.
If your claims were'nt huge non sequiters, then perhaps you'd have a point. Since your conclusions are based upon flawed arguments and ignorance, and therefore are to be rejected.

Also, clean up your sentence structure, grammar and spelling. Not only does what you intend seem ignorant, but the way you write it makes you seem even more idiotic.

Havok said...

The order of my last 3 posts is messed up - the most recent is actually the second.

Stupid blogger! :-)

martin.finnegan said...

The plasmids you say were a product of driving evolution , how is it that bodies were discovered and the bacteria in those bodies were found to contain plasmids which were resistant to penicilin and these bodies preceeded penicilin by 100 years so why would
they develop this resistance maybe they forsaw the coming of penicilin.
And its funny as piere paul grasse said evolutionists do so much work on bacteria to prove evolution ,but bacteria have been more or less stable for a billion years, so it has gone through a billion years of mutation and natural selection and its still bacteria so no upward evolutionary change, just adaptavive changes.
And you mock me and thats ok but the names I mentioned in an earlier post are bona fida scientists but you just ignored their comments , maybe these guys are misguided or then again maybe they are being honest and dont have a vested interest in needing research funds to justify their jobs , but no scientist would over do the favorable evidence and play down the negative on his research they are far to honest for that, ha ha.

Havok said...

Martin, you made these claims:
bacteria became resistant to penicilin due to a section of their genes called plasmids.It does not prove anything re evolution.
and
Havoc a recombination of existing bacteria parts to allow it to metabolise citrate is not conformation of new genetic material, its just an organism developing a new trait it does not even say that this trait was not always a posibility just like bacteria and penicilin .

I'd like you to justify these claims, and demonstrate that the penicillin resistance and ability to metabolise citrate were already present in the genomes of these organisms prior to the experiments. If you can't then these claims are just so much hot air (especially as your own claims seem to be clearly contradicted by the experiments themselves).

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

Martin,
You asked why we ignored your unreferenced “quotations” from several scientists who have made comments or expressed opinions relating to evolution, genetics and abiogenesis. You got the short answer from Havok. Here is the long one.

Pierre Paul Grasse (1895-1985) was a French Zoologist. He studied medicine and entomology and specialized in human anatomy amd insects, notably termites. He was not specialized in evolutionary biology, genetics, or abiogenesis so his opinions do not carry much weight in those areas.

Francis Crick (1916-2004) Molecular biologist, biophysicist, neuroscientist. In his view Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, Gregor Mendel’s genetics and knowledge of the molecular basis of genetics, when combined, revealed the secret of life. He believed it was important that evolution by natural selection be taught in schools and that it was regrettable that English schools had compulsory religious instruction.

He predicted that erroneous Christian concepts about the nature of humans and the world, such as traditional notions of a “soul”, would no longer be tenable when the workings of the brain became better understood and that such concepts would be replaced by an understanding of the physical basis of mind. According to him, the idea that a non-material soul could enter a body and then persist after death is purely an imaginary..

His speculative panspermia hypothesis has not attracted much of a following among reputable scientists. Crick was not an expert in abiogenetics so his un-evidenced speculations do not count for much.

Sherwood Chang is a retired exobiologist with training in physical organic chemistry. He is not involved in cutting edge research in abiogenesis but could be expected to understand it. However, any statement he made during his working years will be outdated by now.

If Paul Davis is a physicist then he has no legitimate authority in the fields of abiogenesis, genetics or biology. They are well outside his area of expertise. He is quite unlikely to be in a position to understand these fields or to know key researchers working in them.

If Ken Nealson is a geobiologist then he explores interactions between the biosphere, the lithosphere and the atmosphere. That means that he is not an expert in abiogenesis.

Professor Richard Dawkins is a biologist but not an expert in abiogenetics. We cited the most up to date evidence in abiogenesis but I don’t think you understood what had been achieved or its significance.

Havok said...

Thanks for that Rosemary - you're far more thorough than I :-)

Martin, I had assumed that most of the comments were, as Rosemary pointed out, from non-experts, and were directed specifically at the question "How did life arise on Earth a few billion years ago?", a question which, due to the evidence no longer existing, is likely impossible to answer with great confidence.

Abiogenesis research, from what I understand, is focussed on the far more general question of "How could life, such as we find on Earth, occur?".
At present there seem to be a number of promising and plausible pathways from chemistry to biology, which are being investigated - it's not as if there is only a single hypothesis or cluster of hypothesis available, and it/they have completely failed, it's that there are a number of avenues to pursue, and each step is difficult (like science in general, I suppose).

If we find multiple paths life may have taken, we may be able to give a higher probability to one over the others.
If we can discover only a single path, then we would say it is most probable, since it will be all we have to go on.
If we can discover no pathways, then we will have to accept that it is simply an unknown (note: You don't get to insert "God" as a default, as I've mentioned a number of times).

As I said much earlier in the thread, you dismiss an entire area of research on the basis that it hasn't provided solid explanations yet, without regard to the fact that research continues apace, pieces of the puzzle are being found and fitted together, and there is no reason to think the task impossible.

To establish your own claim, that the Christian God did it, you would need to provide your own competing hypothesis, and it would need to beat out the "opposition".
Regardless of how much time is spent finding a natural explanation for abiogenesis, we simply cannot rest on the unproven assumption of "God did it".

So, as I've requested repeatedly, please present some of the positive evidence in favour of your position(s).

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

Martin wrote: “you mock me and thats ok”

Since you have twice mentioned mocking you are obviously not O.K. with it. Unfortunately you take no responsibility for the behavior that causes it.

You set yourself up for ridicule every time you insinuate that you understand what scientists working in a specialized area are talking about and then compound this by implying that you understand their area so well that you can see flaws in it that they cannot. If that were really the case then you would have published several peer-reviewed papers on the subject by now. You would also be a lot more humble about the extent of your knowledge and your level of certainty. Instead, you are claiming a superiority to which you are clearly not entitled.

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

Martin wrote: “The plasmids you say were a product of driving evolution , how is it that bodies were discovered and the bacteria in those bodies were found to contain plasmids which were resistant to penicilin and these bodies preceeded penicilin by 100 years so why would they develop this resistance maybe they forsaw the coming of penicilin.”

A five minute web search makes it plain that you have no idea what a plasmid is, how it operates or why your rhetorical questions are as funny and as indicative of ignorance as a child asking an adult why he has never met any of his sexual relations.

Let me explain what I discovered.

A plasmid is a loose piece of DNA that replicates within a cell independently of the chromosomal DNA. Plasmids are able to insert themselves into chromosomes in regions where there is a common sequence of nucleotides. Because of this property, and the relative ease with which they can be cloned and mutated, they are used in recombinant DNA research to transfer genetic material between cells. Plasmids are important in certain bacteria since they code for proteins, especially enzymes. This means that mutations can confer resistance to antibiotics.

In other words, plasmids are free-floating genetic material that mutate just like chromosomal genes. That means that the existence of these objects prior to the invention of penicillin does not mean that cells containing them have always been resistant to penicillin. That is ludicrous.

It is possible that some ancient bacteria had plasmids that contained code that made them slightly resistant to penicillin compared with other bacteria. However, without the presence of penicillin any mutations that could offer such an advantage would have been naturally de-selected from the DNA pool. At the very least they would have become as rare as the gene mutation that confers resistance to the AIDS virus.

All that is required to start the process of selection is a change in environment and one or more mutations that give an organism a slight advantage over the others in this milieu. Reproductive selection will then shape the colony towards solid adaptation to the new environment (or threat). With fast replicating things like bacteria you can see this evolutionary goal fulfilled in a remarkably short time.

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

THE MECHANISMS OF SPECIATION.

Martin wrote: “bacteria have been more or less stable for a billion years, so it has gone through a billion years of mutation and natural selection and its still bacteria so no upward evolutionary change, just adaptavive changes.”

It normally takes millennia to develop a species that looks noticeably different from its ancestors. It also requires that the new group be geographically isolated from the parent group until their genetic code is sufficiently different to prevent viable breeding between the two groups. After speciation has occurred the parent group may die out or, as it usually the case, continue in parallel with its progeny. This is why bacteria still exist as a species but so do all the other species which developed from them.

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

THE LANGUAGE ANALOGY

The evolution of languages is a good parallel to the evolution of plants and animals.

American English, with all its variants, is derived from British English, with all its variants. American English diverged because of prolonged geographic isolation from its source. British English continued to survive, and to develop along different lines. If the world had not invented a plethora of language media the two variants would have eventually become entirely different languages.

British English continues to exist in the presence of its various offshoots (American, Australian, South African, Indian, Singaporean, New Zealander), all of which have distinctive differences and several of which are sufficiently dissimilar to have different grammatical rules, different dictionaries and even agreements among publishing firms to translate one into the other before selling it. Did you know that American English must be translated into British English before being sold in any bookstore in the countries of the British Commonwealth?

If you understand how British English can exist in the presence of its linguistic descendants, then you have no reason to ask why bacteria, crocodiles and fish exist in the presence of the species that branched off from them.


In Europe the very similar Romance languages of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese all descended from the Roman language, Latin. Latin has since died out but its descendants survive.

Linguists can tell how languages developed from one into another on the basis of the linguistic similarities and differences. This is supplemented by written and aural history, archeological findings and knowledge of human migration paths.

These Romance languages are like the Ape family (which includes monkeys, great apes, and humans), all of which descended from a common ancestor that no longer exists.

Italian, Spanish and Portuguese are so similar that a native speaker of one can understand the native speaker of another, although neither speaks or writes the other language. Likewise, the genetic structures of members of the Ape family have strong similarities.

Just as the internal structure of similar languages can be used to determine how and when they branched from one another, genetic information can show how animals and plant species branched in the course of their developmental history. As with languages, determining the derivation of different species can be assisted by reference to external things such as fossil records, the distribution of blood types throughout the world, animal migration paths, weather patterns and a whole lot of other apparently unrelated things.

If you can understand how Italian, Spanish and Portuguese continue to exist while Latin does not then you should be able to understand how humans, gibbons, monkeys, apes and baboons exist in the absence of their common ancestor.


CROCADUCKS AND JAP-LISH.

If you can understand why English is not going to suddenly change into Japanese or combine into Jap-lish then you can understand why tadpoles are not going to grow into frogs that have wings. This is not a perfect analogy as it is possible for elements of English to influence Japanese and vice versa. As far as the products of species development is concerned, the origins of the combinants are so different that they are incompatible. If crocaducks existed they would destroy the current theory of evolution.

martin.finnegan said...

so I dont understand science maybe you can enlighten me , every expert in abiogensis is an intelegent person working in his/her given field can you please
forward me any information of any person`s working in the field of random not directed processes,
that come up with the same results as that is what we are discussing here, I assume a random not directed , non designed orgin of life.Also are you doing research work in the field work of abiogenesis if not then your view of the results of this work is no more valid than mine and certainly less valid than the list of names you have said are not experts in the field, so are you an expert in abiogensis?.

martin.finnegan said...

since you used the language analagy
if you wished to translate a book from english to japanese given as long a time as you want which method would you chose , random non directed coping mistakes , then hope these mistakes would be selected , or deliberate ,directed,
intelegent,translators, I know by obseveration, experimentation etc
which would be most sucessful.
I am not an expert in languages and if you are not either, then neither of our opinions mean anything in regard to this do they.

martin.finnegan said...

sorry Berry one more thing please direct me to the latest upto date work on abogensis, i typeD in in to google and just got talk origins site it this upto date or should I be looking elsewhere

Havok said...

Sorry to mention it yet again, Martin, but seriously, a little sentence and paragraph structure wouldn't kill you.
If you're going to splat your thoughts onto a page, you might as well try translate it from "Martin Speak"

Martin: every expert in abiogensis is an intelegent person working in his/her given field can you please
forward me any information of any person`s working in the field of random not directed processes,

Apart from what you've been directed towards, you always have google ;-)

Martin: I assume a random not directed , non designed orgin of life
No, you assume a designed origin of life, but you're yet to provide ANY justification for such an assumption.

Martin: if not then your view of the results of this work is no more valid than mine
Martin, you're views are, thus far, illogical and irrational. If you would care to provide alternative views, you're more than welcome to.

Martin: so are you an expert in abiogensis?.Martin: I am not an expert in languages and if you are not either, then neither of our opinions mean anything in regard to this do they.
And again you are presenting a completely ridiculous caricature of modern evolutionary theory - I thought you knew aprobably lot about the science here.

Martin: i typeD in in to google and just got talk origins site it this upto date or should I be looking elsewhere
I hate to talk for someone else, but it's probably a decent place to start. Of course, you may need to shed the ideological blinders you seem to be wearing - it looks like they obscure a large part of reality.

Havok said...

And, I do hate to harp on about this, but you still have not provided even an outline of your own position.
Since you've not shown abiogenesis impossible nor implausible, and it is in line with existing science, and you're yet to offer any alternative hypothesis, I guess we ought to accept a natural origin for life, no? :-)

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

Martin,

I directed you to a layman’s summary of the latest research on biogenesis in my very first post. Check back.

You don’t have sufficient science background to understand original papers. They require a professional level knowledge of biochemistry.

The TalkOrigins site is an excellent place to start. Follow all of its links. It will take you a couple of days to work through it all but you will stop asking silly questions after that.

One of the episodes in Morgan Freedman’s excellent” Through the Wormhole” series gave a fairly good lay person’s summary of the elements of abiogenesis research. You might also find other episodes in this series enlightening. See if you can track down a copy of the set.

If you haven’t seen Julia Child’s kitchen video which includes the recipe for Primordial Soup, then I suggest you watch it. You will find it here.
http://www.holycow.com/mel/2009/09/23/cooking-primordial-soup-with-julia-child-and-other-stories/

The following link takes you to a serious of videos on the topic. This first one is a little complex but it’s constantly attacked by Creationist sites so it is presumably saying something that Creationists don’t want people to know. It needs British Year 10 level chemistry (GCSE) to understand it easily. (Unfortunately that translates as a U.S. college level minor in chemistry from an Ivy League school). http://wn.com/How_Abiogenesis_Works


Everyone working in the field of abiogenesis is concerned with discovering how life began as the result of random events directed by environmentally ordered natural selection. No-one is doing any more “directing” than would happen in the natural world of that time.

The aim of abiogenetics is to artificially reproduce an environment that represents one that existed at the time life was thought to commence and then introduce chemicals that form the building blocks of simple life. There have been huge advances in the field over the last twenty years.

The experts now have colonies of self-replicating chemicals that can copy RNA, the precursor to DNA. Other scientists have discovered how other steps in the sequence work, such as the crucial development of a cell wall to keep things together and how self-replicating molecules attract other self-replicating molecules.

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

No, Martin, I am not doing research in abiogenesis and Yes, Martin, any opinion I were to express on the veracity of the work would be from a lay person’s perspective. But I am not offering opinions of this nature. What I am doing is summarizing the research in lay language.

I understand enough of the relevant science, enough about research skills and techniques, enough about critical thinking and enough about professional level teaching to be able to do that relatively successfully. I have had plenty of experience writing lab reports and papers that require that relevant preceding research, both pro and con, be accurately and objectively summarized before proceeding with any work of my own. That is, I am used to looking at both sides of every question critically and objectively.

Since I do this kind of thing better than you at this point in your education, that gives my summary of the current research more credibility than your doctrinally-biased regurgitation of what non-experts have told you, don’t you think? Obviously, if an expert in abiogenesis were to visit this site and tell you that I did not have it quite right then you should listen to him or her in preference to me.

At the moment you are a sitting duck for the misinformation put out by the likes of Michael Behe. Behe and his ilk are entrepreneurial con-artists. They bank on the hope that the members of their audience have less science education than they, and no inclination or ability to check their statements of “fact”. They thrive on the average Faith Patsy who desperately wants an authoritative sounding reason for believing what is otherwise unsupportable. Remember that one of them is in jail for fraud and another was held in legal contempt for lying to a judge in a court of law on the subject of “intelligent design”. Don’t you think that it’s time to stop being a willing victim of their bid for power?

Matt said...

53 comments later, nothing has changed. Surprised?

-I'm not.

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

@Matt

I don't know about that. I've learnt a lot about abiogenesis :-)

BTW, are you deleting selected posts or is Blogger eating them? I've lost several, and so, it seems, has Havok. I don't want to upload them again if you have censored them.

Havok said...

Rosemary, the blogger commenting system is a little strange - I've had similar experiences on other blogger sites.

When comments are deleted there is a "placeholder" comment left, saying that it had been deleted (by the author or administrator, for example).

Matt said...

I am not the blog writer, although we share the first name. He often signs with "MM" or something similar. Sorry for the confusion.

I'm just a student who goes to school and, y'know, learns stuff. :P

Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM said...

@Matt
Keep learning :-)

Matt McCormick said...

Rosemary, the Blogger system is indeed squirrelly. It has all sorts of quirks with posting and answering in the comments section. In fact, even though I write the blog, I don't like trying to have a real conversation in the comments section. But I really appreciate everyone's thoughtful comments and continued discussions here. And for the most part, I've been quite happy to see the level of civility remain pretty good (given how often these things degenerate) through this long exchange with Martin.

Matt McCormick

XB70 said...

Tell me Martin,
If we are created in GODS image and he is omnipotent, should his creation be unfearing towards MRSA,Tuberculosis,H1N1
and so on , surely, he would intervene.
These bacteria and viruses have evolved from a struggle against man made medicine.
A harmful organism like that should in your world not exist because it would threaten his most valued creation.
Yet, they do exist and prey on the most weak of us all (infants , elderly , infirm,...) those of us who can not fend for themselves.
It seems like abiogenesis can to certain degree be proven , there have been amino-acids made from base chemicals during the Miller-Urey experiment.
And humans themselves have evolved , although not so drastically, in the dark ages ( when religion was king.:).) life expectancy was 30 to 40 years ,
with our environment becoming less harsh and better care for our health it has been boosted to 70-90 years.