Seriously, Aren’t Atheists Embarrassed by P.Z. Myers?

May 29, 2011 3:01 pm 569 comments

Dr. P.Z. Myers (photo by Flickr)One of my mentors, Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, (of blessed memory), made the following, rather sobering, observation about human nature: “Nobody ever allowed something as trivial as facts and logic to interfere with their agenda. If the facts and logic don’t fit, then the facts and logic will just have to fend for themselves.”  Nowhere do we find more glaring examples of the human predilection for intellectual corruption than when we examine the writings and lectures of an ideologue who is driven, not by a burning desire for truth, but by a burning desire to further his or her own agenda.

Having said that, we are now ready to introduce one of the more zealous and outspoken (read: tiresome and obnoxious) advocates of the Darwinian/atheist worldview, P.Z. Myers. Dr. Myers is an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Morris, a satellite of the main state university, or as David Klinghoffer put it, “well known as the Harvard of Morris, Minnesota.” In a lecture at the Atheist International Alliance in 2009 (Burbank, Ca.) entitled Design vs. Chance, Myers administered, what he considered to be, a thorough thrashing of Intelligent Design theory. What actually transpired was a startlingly clear demonstration of the aforementioned principle set forth by Rabbi Weinberg; namely, that there is no simple fact or logical construct that will not be trampled into dust when it gets in the way of an agenda. I leave it to the readers to decide for themselves which of those options more closely mirrors reality.

Myers began by presenting a brisk summary of Intelligent Design theory:

“The core of the argument is this: (A) Complexity can only be created by a designer, (B) Biology is really complex, (C) Biology was created by design.”

He then poses the following to his audience,

“What about the whole complexity issue? We biologists will freely admit that things are really complicated inside the cell. So how do we explain it? Don’t we have to resort to a Creator? And we say, of course not. There’s lots of things that are very complicated [and aren’t the result of an intelligent creator]. I’ll show you an example here.”

At this point in his PowerPoint presentation there is a photograph showing a rather large pile of driftwood along what is obviously a coastline. Myers informs us that it is Rialto Beach in upper Washington State. He continues…

“And this is a very common thing along beaches…driftwood. You find these walls of driftwood between you and getting down to the beach, real walls, very complicated walls. It has been constructed, who did it? We know the answer, natural processes did it. We don’t need a designer to build this kind of wall. This is complex, you simply can’t deny it. If I turn the projector off would you be able to draw it? No.”

To be honest, when I saw this lecture for the first time, I thought Myers was joking. A pile of driftwood as being analogous to the “complexity” of a living cell?! Myers is arguing that since a “complex” and “complicated” pile of driftwood can accumulate through an undirected natural process, so can a living cell. I guess if by “complexity” you mean a chaotic collection of junk, then I would have to agree; a large pile of driftwood is certainly “complex.” In any case, no self-respecting ID theorist would ever use the term “complexity.” The terms that are always used are “functional complexity” or “specified complexity.” In other words, complexity that achieves some pre-determined goal, complexity that clearly functions towards a specific purpose. The argument is that “functional complexity” and “specified complexity” clearly are the result of intelligent intervention. A pile of driftwood is immediately recognizable for exactly what it is; a random, disorganized, purposeless collection of….well, driftwood! To describe this argument as flawed logic would be misleading; we first would have to dignify it by labeling it as some form of logic in the first place. It is not flawed logic, it is simply ridiculous.

It may be hard to believe, but it gets worse. A photograph of an expertly-constructed brick wall surrounding a garden flashes on the screen. Dr. Myers continues:

“On the other hand we are familiar with this kind of wall. So this is also a wall, it’s one that we can recognize that has a specific purpose, that was built by human agents, and I’d have to say that of these two walls, which one is simpler? The human built one…When we look at natural walls [i.e driftwood] what we discover is natural things are built by chance and necessity, they are functionally unspecified, there’s nothing that says that a pile of driftwood is a wall…and they tend to be complex. In this sense, complex often means sloppy, but it’s still complex. Artificial walls [i.e. the brick wall] are built with intent, they are functionally very specific…and relatively simple.

Let’s carefully follow this “logic” as it leads us straight into a train wreck:

  • Piles of driftwood are “functionally unspecified,”  “sloppy,” are assembled randomly by natural processes, and are considered to be “complex.”
  • Brick walls are “functionally very specific,” have a “specific purpose,” are assembled by intelligent agents, and are considered to be “simple.”
  • Ergo, a living cell which is “complex” is comparable to a pile of “complex” driftwood and has nothing in common with the “simple” and “functionally very specific” brick wall that obviously is the product of intelligent design.

Does Myers actually expect us to believe that the simplest living organism that exists, a bacterium – which is, in the words of Australian microbiologist Michael Denton, “a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of elegantly designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up of all together one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machinery built by man and without parallel in the non-living world…an object resembling an immense automated factory…carrying out almost as many unique functions as all the manufacturing activities of man on earth,”  – is assembled like a pile of driftwood on a beach? Isn’t it glaringly obvious that it resembles, not the “functionally unspecified” and chaotic collection of driftwood, but the “functionally very specific,” “built with a purpose,” and “built with intent,” brick wall?! Has he gone mad? Has this man completely abandoned any semblance of rationality? How is it possible that his audience continues to sit through this nonsense, bobbing their heads up and down in approval like a pack of toy dogs on the back window of a car?

I didn’t think it was possible to present a more convoluted, agenda-driven response than the one with which I was presented by Dr. Jerry Coyne, an atheistic biologist at the University Chicago. What was Dr. Coyne’s smug response to the simple fact that science has no clue how something as functionally complex as a bacterium could have emerged from non-life?

“We may never understand how life originated on Earth, because the traces of early life have vanished. We know it happened at least once, but not how. I’m pretty confident that within, say, 50 years[!] we’ll be able to create life in a laboratory under the conditions of primitive Earth, but that, too, won’t tell us exactly how it did happen – only that it could.”

No wonder Dr. Coyne turned down an invitation to a moderated discussion with me on the subject of Origin of Life; even if he agreed today, he would need 50 more years to prepare his case! Be that as it may, P.Z. Myers has clearly surpassed even Jerry Coyne. But the “jewel in the crown” of P.Z. Myers’ level of integrity and intellectual potency in this whole discussion is best illustrated by what he himself authored on his blog-site “Pharyngula,” on March 8, 2011:

“If we’re going to start comparing lacunae, let’s start with thermodynamics. We’ve got detailed, complete mathematical descriptions of a fundamental mechanism that drives all of biology; the Torah’s got nothin’…We win. Argument over. F**k off, rabbi.” (Just for the record, Dr. Myer’s wrote the word as it is properly spelled, I added the asterisks)

I have to admit that I would find the prospect of a debate with Dr. Myers to be quite daunting. After all, between his still-lifes of driftwood and his rich vocabulary of four letter words, it’s clear that this man is packing a devastating level of intellectual firepower. But all sarcasm aside, I have a heartfelt question for all you skeptics out there and I want you to answer seriously: Doesn’t P.Z. Myers make you embarrassed to be an atheist?

Rabbi Moshe Averick is an ordained orthodox rabbi and educator for over 30 years.  He is the author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist, and frequently lectures on spirituality, belief in God, and atheism. He can be reached via his website: www.RabbiMaverick.com

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569 Comments

  • “Nobody ever allowed something as trivial as facts and logic to interfere with their agenda. If the facts and logic don’t fit, then the facts and logic will just have to fend for themselves.”

    Germany circa 1936 loves this quote, FYI.

  • These are some interesting observations and some of the comments are even more thought provoking. Ultimately it comes down to how is truth defined. Do we as a society define what is true or is it defined by a higher moral standard? Does motives dictate whether truth can be believed? Meyers makes a great sum of profit from his books, so do others on the other side of the debate. Is profit a reason to define truth in order to generate income. I think not. Man will believe anything as long as it makes him or her feel comfortable in living a lifestyle they enjoy.

  • WHEN IS HUMANITY AS A WHOLE gonna stand up to these compete deniers of reality?
    We have no freewill. Random particles are writing this message. A lego universe popped out of nothing and assembled consciousness. There are no actual morals. DNA is not a code. There is an infinite universe maker machine.

    All the design we SEE has been backed up by the MATH for almost 50 years–yet they keep trying to explain it away because it is mainly atheists who enter the fields of Origins–for one simple reason–Theists already have the answer so they have no obsession in origins.
    These atheists are making a mockery of reality. They’re the OJ Simpson jury. Dweebs with tin foil hats are in charge of truth?

  • Hi, the link to PZ’s PPPresentation/sketch is disabled.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFLRy1zCedA

  • I think he poses the same kind of polemics that the author of this piece does.

  • In answer to your question – as an atheist I find him a huge embarassment. Her has hopeless arguments and spends most of his time in personal attacks. He is a fingers in the ears I am not listening type of debater and uses only rhetoric and poor reason.

    But you have fallen into the same trap with talking about Coyne and his smug reply. Debate is too loaded and there is no sense of being impartial or pragmatic. So if you want to criticism him also take a look at yourself.

  • He used the wrong anaolgy.

    Heres a better one:

    An Ectopic pregancy.

    When the fertlized egg moves slowly or is blocked it can not reach the uterus(womb) through the fallopian tube, so then divides/grows in the either the cerivx, ovaires or abdomen. Ectopic preganices are dangerous due internal haemorrhage. It can lead to death.

    Thus, an almight (intelligent) creator would not be so careless as the allow births to occur like this i.e. he would have NOT desgined the vagina in this way. The agrument for intelligent design is flawed.

    There are many examples, more intelligent examples than drift wood Dr. Meyers.

    • Moshe Averick

      Alex,

      Just because you do not like the way the machinery works does not mean it is not designed. Your question is not about a Creator, it is a theological question as to why painful things happen to people. Your question is one of relating to the Creator, not the existence of the Creator.

  • Delia Wamsley

    Readers should probably look very closely at the statistics geoff put in there. Because this is a strategy that I employ effectively to make a quick 30% on margin simply by shorting the stock the day before the B.D.’s are released. I will generally hedge with calls out of the money in case market is positive.

  • I just found the credibility of this article dropped as soon as I found out the author was a Rabbi. Though I caught on by the end of the first paragraph. I don’t think listening to an opinion from someone who talks for a living and doesn’t have to hold himself to any objective standards in his work, except how well one cheats others into believing nonsense, is really worth listening to on subjects like this. If there was a question of someones credibility, I’d rather hear a critical opinion from someone who wasn’t brain washed into a biased form of thinking.

    My answer to the attention grabbing title of this article:

    Not as much as I’d be embarrassed to be represented by a Rabbi, or any nonsense driven preacher.

    GG.

    • Ad hominem: Rabbi in Hebrew means Teacher. I guess that would apply to PZ Myers’ too.

      However, unlike Rabbi Averick, PZ Myers is a teacher ergo a Professor – who along with Dawkins – is siding with the ruling classes and breaking the backs of the working classes whom they are trying to block out of ‘higher’ education by supporting ridiculous tuition fees.

      I say, who really needs such professors anymore. Those of us who can’t afford extortionate university fees should take the means of education into out own hands and self-educate ourselves. If nobody attended their lectures they would soon have to fend for themselves in the real world like the rest of us. How long before the gutter press labelled them as disgusting criminals too, eh?

  • Bruce Gorton says: “Didn’t you learn the most even basic levels of philosophy in school?

    And you wonder why people call you illiterate!”

    I’m sorry you feel that way, Bruce, but isn’t the word you’re looking for ‘literacy’ as opposed to ‘philosophy’?

  • Interestly one of the first statements in this article is “Nobody ever allowed something as trivial as facts and logic to interfere with their agenda. If the facts and logic don’t fit, then the facts and logic will just have to fend for themselves.”

    That is exactly what religious individuals do. They put belief before facts, faith before logic. If someone doesn’t value evidence and facts what facts and evidence can you present them that they would value? The answer is none. How ironic that the author points out the downfall of religious thinking before he’s even gotten to an attempt at crticising P.Z. Myers.

    • Cat WIlliams

      I was thinking the same thing when I read that quote. Religions are nearly always pushing their own agendas and trying to put facts & evidence in the trash can.

  • Religion requires one to lie to one’s self.
    Religion is a drug and you are so under its influence you wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you. I hope it will anyway.

    Look, here’s a video so you don’t even have to strain your religion-blinded eyes. Here’s the truth. Have you the guts to accept it? I doubt it. I can still hope. I prefer the Truth over comforting lies. You should too. Please wake up.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcAq9bmCeR0

    • You think youtube video is somehow going to answer the most important questions in someones life.

      I bet you anything you do not know enoguh biology, chemistry and physics to assess or understand the origin of humanity

      You do not have enough knowledge of psychology, history, logic and philosophy and belief.

      So how were you able to assess that about religion?

    • I cringe every time I see one of these simulations aimed at proving the viability of “evolution”. I saw your “watch video” with your ‘evolution code’ and, frankly, I felt embarrassed FOR YOU. Before starting, I thought I’d respond to the one-or-two flaws in your argument. As I watched, I realized that I could spend the next few days responding to your numerous (uncountable!) flaws – I was overwhelmed with the prospect. So I just left it alone.

      I’ll just say that Moshe Averick’s article was spot-on and you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Take your own advice – accept the Truth over lies … WAKE UP !!!

  • I came across this article and then took a look at P.Z. Myer’s “Design vs. Chance” talk at the Atheist Alliance International 2009 Conference in Burbank, California.

    I hadn’t watched any of his videos before and I am very impressed.

    I don’t see any reason to be “embarrassed” by P.Z. Myers at all.

  • Just for the fun of it, I’m going to use Averick’s technique of selective quotation on him:

    “Rabbi Moshe Averick is an ordained orthodox rabbi and educator for over 30 years. He is the author of Nonsense…”

    Now if I hadn’t warned what I was doing, that would have been very dishonest, wouldn’t it, Averick? Just as it was when you did it to Jack Szostak.

    • You’re pretty selective when it suits you, KG. On this thread you have repeatedly accused me of making ‘unsupported personal accusations’ against PZ Myers yet you haven’t said anything about the fact that people from the Pharyngula blog falsely accused me of posting vile messages on a blog called Jeffrey D’s blog that I’d never even heard of, let alone ever commented on. When I eventually did find the Jeffrey D’s blog that they were on about the messages that I’d been accused of leaving on there had been deleted. So I found myself in the somewhat Orwellian position of having been found guilty and condemned for committing a crime which I had not only NOT done but furthermore didn’t even know what it was. Whoever left whatever on Jeffrey D’s blog it wasn’t me. But have you ever thought that it may have even been one of you lot from Pharyngula who left those posts – sinking to a new low in order to discredit me?

      • “Like a woman scorned”, you make the bizarre, and completely false assumption that I waste my time investigating what you may or may not have done. Everything I have said about you relates directly to what you have said here, and your failure to produce any evidence that PZ personally insulted you. If I was aware at the time of your appearances on Pharyngula, I have no memory of it, I have not searched for them, and have no intention of doing so. You’re not nearly as interesting or important as you think you are. Got it, you paranoid narcissist? Please, do yourself and everyone else a favour, and get some psychiatric help.

        • KG
          June 7, 2011
          4:52 pm
          “If I was aware at the time of your appearances on Pharyngula, I have no memory of it, I have not searched for them, and have no intention of doing so.”

          That’s interesting KG, because earlier on this thread you told me that you did:

          “KG
          May 31, 2011
          4:41 pm
          I did click on the link you provided, LAWS, and there is no evidence whatever there that PZ Myers personally insulted you.”

          If you are finally telling the truth when you claim that you actually haven’t however, then you are just as guilty as believing something on faith as the religious people that you decry. That’s because by drawing a conclusion without looking at the evidence in this instance you have failed to follow the rationalist scientific methodology which PZ Myers espouses as necessary in order to establish something as fact. Your failure to do this may well be a practical demonstration of Rabbi Averick’s example in the article of someone who purposely leaves out (or is too afraid to investigate) facts that may challenge their comfortable theories.

          Another thing that I’ve noticed is that you are also keen to criticize others for making ‘ad hominem’ attacks but that is exactly what you have done yoursel in virtually every post you’ve made here. (Btw. ad hominem means resorting to irrelevant, petty name-calling needlessly).

          Anyway many thanks for helping me prove my point on this thread. Do enjoy life in your fantasy world.

  • “Johann
    June 2, 2011
    4:41 pmRatko Mladic (atheist)

    Eastern Orthodox, actually, and Mladic himself says he was sheltered and supported by the Orthodox Church while he was on the run. Plus, you know, there’s the whole bit with Serbian Orthodox priests blessing his troops in preparation for the massacre. But by all means don’t let the facts get in the way of your obsessive campaign of ad hominem.”

    Johann: I think Ratko Mladic is going to have a lot more to worry about than my supposedly ‘ad hominem’ remarks when he goes on trial at the Hague this week. How about you show some compassion for the 8,000 human beings who were murdered. I really don’t find your pathetic attempt at satirical humour very funny. Please take your Nazi views elsewhere, verstehen sie?

    • And btw Johann please try not to use latin words like ‘ad Hominem’ when you clearly have no idea what they mean; it just makes you look silly.

    • I was talking about you tacking on “some ‘eminent’ professor” to the end of your list of potential genocidaires. Being upset with something PZ said a while back is one thing, but going from that to casually referencing him as a possible author of genocide suggests you are a little off in the head.

      • I’d say “a little” is understating it. Certainly, serious psychopathology is the only possible excuse for “Like a woman scorned”‘s obsessive campaign of unsupported accusations of bigotry and worse.

      • So out of morbid curiosity, I went back to check out the Pharyngula thread where your obsession with PZ started.

        KG is right. I take back the “a little”.

  • he’s totaly wearing a Melbourne University Secular Society T-Shirt =)

  • I think that what also needs to be remembered is that for many people who come from a family background that historically happens to belong to a religious minority group this is also a part of their heritage even if they don’t practise their religion anymore. I’m afraid that PZ’s bombastic approach all-to-often encourages some people on Pharyngula to overstep the mark between left-of-centre atheism and right-of-centre bigotry. Compared to a muslim woman in a burka who gets spat at in street by complete strangers or a Jew who gets mocked and beaten up for wearing hassidic clothing the attacks by complete strangers on individuals wearing lapel badges declaring their atheism is, by comparison, pretty low. I think that going out of their way to say ‘hey look at me disrespecting other cultures’ unfortunately reinforces far-right hate groups even if self-proclaimed aggressive atheists are convinced that they are dissing religious minorities for different reasons. In this respect, the brand of atheism which PZ Myers and his Pharyngula blog markets is, I believe, a liability for anyone seriously wishing to promote liberal, progressive values. So in this way, yeah, an embarrassment.

    • No-one is obliged to read Pharyngula. Like most of those who do, I have religious believers among my family and colleagues with whom I get on well, and I do not go out of my way to confront believers in everyday life – although if they try to evangelise me in public places, I have no hesitation in arguing with and mocking them. I would, of course, never insult anyone, in the street or elsewhere, for wearing religious garments. But when ignorant and dishonest people like Averick talk ludicrous rubbish in public fora, the stupidity of their beliefs is fair game.

  • Bill Thacker

    On Analogies

    Rabbi Averick is severely hung up on Myers’ use of a driftwood “wall” to illustrate how complexity can occur naturally.

    It reminds me of this online cartoon about gravitation, from xkcd.com: http://xkcd.com/895/ Scientists use simplified analogies because people like the Rabbi don’t have the math and theoretical background to understand the actual concept. Then they attack the analogy, and they think if they find a flaw in the analogy they’ve killed the theory. Instead, as this cartoon shows, all they’ve destroyed is their opportunity to learn something.

    • William Butler

      The problem is that Myers analogy just sucked. He took a pile of driftwood and equivocated that with the biological complexity we see in the cell.

      If this was the first time Myers fumbled we could overlook it, but he has a bad habit of being nasty and obnoxious. I know the lapdogs drink it all up, as they have similar natures but its very off putting and seriously undermines the case he is trying to make.

      • The problem is that Myers analogy just sucked. He took a pile of driftwood and equivocated that with the biological complexity we see in the cell.
        —————–
        The real problem is it is the Rabbi who made that association not PZ. Any biologist who says driftwood is as complex as a cell would lose tenure in non christian universities.

        However by saying complexities can occur through natural processed is a way of saying there is no evidence that cells could not evolve through natural processed.

        To be simple if A is complex and occurred through natural process then it is possible that B which is more complex may also have evolved through natural process, the evidence is that it did.

        PZ couldn’t use galaxies because the religious have this wacky idea that the creator made them.

      • Bill Thacker

        Lapdogs? *Now* who’s being nasty and obnoxious?

        But scientific proofs don’t go to the most tactful, they go to the most correct. If Myers’ attitude is off-putting that’s regrettable, but it doesn’t undermine his case one whit. It simply makes it harder for you to understand him.

    • GENTLEMAN:

      I have proof positive that even the High Priest of Atheism, himself, Richard DAwkins agrees with me on the issue of complexity and driftwood. Here is the link, watch the last couple minutes, but here is the key citation: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa55s9Gs_Eg&feature=related)

      “And I think the point of complexity having to have evolved is not just a point of observation…I think its a matter of logic that complex things, by their very definition are improbable things, statistically improbable things, and statistically improbable things don’t just happen.”

      Piles of garbage, junk, and driftwood JUST HAPPEN all the time, and therefore Dawkins would not consider them to be complex, he would consider them to be the same thing I called them: A chaotic collection of garbage. There is nothing “statistically improbable about a pile of driftwood.” Therefore the driftwood, at least according to Dawkins (and me), could not in any way be used as some sort of example as to how a living cell emerged. From now on, don’t argue with me, argue with Richard Dawkins over at his website.
      Moshe

      • am not sure how many times this needs to be said but Myers did not say that driftwood could be used as an example of how a living cell emerged. Saying it over and over again does not make it true.

        • “Saying it over and over again does not make it true.”

          Why not? Seems to works well for every other aspect of the religious lifestyle.

      • Bayesian Bouffant, FCD

        “Piles of garbage, junk, and driftwood JUST HAPPEN all the time, and therefore Dawkins would not consider them to be complex, he would consider them to be the same thing I called them: A chaotic collection of garbage.”

        Would you please give us the mathematical definitions of “complexity” and “chaos” that you are using? Or else admit that you literally do not know what you are talking about?

  • Alex Vranas

    I will admit, Myers’ argument that stacks of driftwood are just a complex as a living cell is pretty awful. There are MUCH better arguments (galaxies, solar systems, weather patterns) that would have worked.

    However, the rest of this article doesn’t go on to defend Intelligent Design (Biblical Creationism), it simple bashes PZ Myers. I guess you could say that there is no opponent that won’t be ridiculed to help support a baseless agenda. Aside from what is written in the Bible, there is absolutely no real-world evidence that there was a creator.

    What truly baffles me is that Evolution is the real topic you should be arguing against to support “Intelligent Design”, and you never even touched on it…

    As an atheist, I am embarrassed by Myers’ argument, as it was poorly thought out and easily debunked (you did a great job pointing out all the flaws in it; thoroughly debunked!). However, I am not embarrassed by Myers himself, because at least he is smart enough to see that natural processes are responsible for the world around us. I guess you just run out of analogies and proofs when trying to convince stubborn people that their imaginary friend doesn’t exist.

    • Alex,

      It may sound trivial, but I did not start this, PZ Myers started it with his vulgar language and pompous blustering tone. I have listened to the lectures and read articles by many scientists who do not believe in a Creator, and they do it without being obnoxious like PZ Myers.

      I did not defend Biblical Creationism because that has very little, if anything , to do with the point I was making. There are only two viable options for the emergence of life: A. Creator B. Naturalistic processes

      There is no denying that the bacterium certainly LOOKS like it was created. There is no reason not to go with this obvious conclusion. Every functionally complex piece of machinery we see, we assume immediately that it was constructed with intellgent input. Why should the first bacterium be different? In my opinion, only one reason: People are afraid of the implications, that there is a Creator outside of the physical universe. Why should that bother anybody? If you want me to believer that something like a bacterium could emerge through an undirected natural process, please give me the evidence that demonstrates it.

      Whether or not evolution took place after the initial creation is irrelevant.
      Moshe

      • ManhattanMC

        “It may sound trivial, but I did not start this, PZ Myers started it with his vulgar language and pompous blustering tone….”

        Pardon me for asking, but was there any exchange between the two of you prior to this article in which you call Professor Myers ‘tiresome and obnoxious’? If so, could you give us a link? If not explain how you didn’t start this.

        Thanks.

      • “There is no denying that the bacterium certainly LOOKS like it was created. . . . If you want me to believe that something like a bacterium could emerge through an undirected natural process, please give me the evidence that demonstrates it.”

        Whoa there. You expect me to accept the existence of a transcendent creator on the basis of a superficial comparison between a self-replicating life form and our experience with human or animal-created artifacts? And yet you expect to be given evidence that demonstrates that a bacterium or similar life form can emerge through an undirected natural process before you can accept the truth of that assertion?

        Well just like you, I require evidence for creation by the transcendent creator. Without it all I have are the two possibilities–life arose through natural processes or through the action of a transcendent creator. Neither one can be definitively proven.

        It doesn’t bother me to think there might be a creator, who by definition–”outside the physical universe”–is farther beyond my ability to comprehend than I am beyond the ability of a bacterium to comprehend. The difference between finite and infinite is more than orders of magnitude–it is an uncrossable divide, at least by me. If the transcendent being seeks some kind of personal connection to me, I will have to leave the details to that being. In the meantime, its existence makes no difference in my life or in how science works. So to that extent, it is certainly possible to simultaneously believe in the possibility of a creator and to pursue scientific knowledge.

        • Dear Cowalker,

          The comparison is not superficial, it is as deep as the ocean. If you received a morse code transmission from the great spiral galaxy delineating the universal genetic

          code you would be certain that it is the result of intelligent intervention, when you see the astounding nanotechnology and the pure digitally encoded self replicating mechanism of the simplest bacterium, it is obviously the result of intelligent intervention. That is not the God of Abraham, but it puts Dawkins and Hitchens out of business and opens the way for the next step.

          • What a fine example of religious stupidity Averick is! If he didn’t exist, one would have to invent him. It is also “obvious” that the earth is flat, that the sun goes around it, that rain is the sky god taking a leak, that sickness is caused by witchcraft or evil spirits, that the culture one grew up in is superior to all others. Note well that this is Averick’s only argument: it’s “obvious”.

          • To add a few more modern examples, it’s “obvious” that heavy objects fall faster than light ones, that rotting meat generates maggots, that “god” would never let a species become extinct, that nothing can behave both as a wave and as a particle, that the apparent speed of light will differ according to whether you’re moving toward or away from the source… Science is all about denying that the “obvious” must be true, Averick.

          • No, the design of the bacterium is not “obviously” the result of a transcendent creator. Frankly, I would expect elegant, flawlessly designed living creatures from a transcendent creator, not an ecosystem that depends on sentient creatures devouring each other alive to survive. Human knees, prostates, backs and the human childbirth process alone provide many examples of poor design. Doctors believe that from 20% to 25% of fertilized human eggs never develop due to lethal errors in the replication of DNA. But not all of these mistakes are miscarried. Some are born and live short, painful lifes. That is not pure design. It’s the kind of waste I would expect from a value-free process that developed through hit or miss endless repetition that was just good enough to allow survival of the species.

            “. . . it puts Dawkins and Hitchens out of business and opens the way for the next step.”

            That’s my other point. There is no “next step” based on the possibility of a transcendent creator. It’s just a possibility that has no relevance to beings who are not transcendent.

            Even religious scientists don’t factor in the variable of divine intervention when they are designing controls for an experiment. Nor do engineers introduce aspects of the supernatural into their models. Doctors don’t prescribe prayer or the shaking of a wand by a shaman for illness.

            The next step can only be theological, and that is an area full of theory with no evidence.

      • Rilke's Granddaughter

        Moshe, in what sense could Myers have “started” this? You are the one who wrote the OP. You are the one who denigrates an area of scientific study that you apparently don’t have any understanding of. You are the one who consistently misrepresents Myers arguments in the first place.

        That’s intellectually dishonest.

      • Bill Thacker

        “People are afraid of the implications, that there is a Creator outside of the physical universe. Why should that bother anybody?”

        It doesn’t bother me. It’s just not a useful assumption. Suppose it’s true… so what? That knowledge doesn’t tell me how to cure a disease, invent the Internet, or be a better person. It doesn’t change human biases or the scientific method we devised to overcome them. It doesn’t conflict with — or prove — any scientific law or theory. The designer could have created life by sending lightning through puddles of organic chemicals for a billion years, which is exactly what science thinks. Or he could have created everything last Tuesday, with deceptive evidence to make us think the universe is older.

        It’s useless to attribute anything to an agent that, by definition, you cannot study. That way lies only ignorance.

        • If that was the end of it, I would agree, it is nothing more than an interesting academic point. However, once we have established God, the Creator, at the very least it means that we are here because a higher power wanted us to be here. The next step would be to determine if this God is also the God of Abraham (meaning a personal God who is involved in our lives.) If that is true then it is obviously much more than an interesting academic point. That topic, of course, is an entirely different undertakins
          Moshe


      • PZ Myers started it with his vulgar language and pompous blustering tone

        ——————-
        So to confirm it is not OK for an Atheist to use a mild expletive but it is OK for the religious of the word to use the ultimate expletive every day?

        For those confused the ultimate expletive is a TLA Greed Over Doing.

        When someone gives me objective proof that the good done by the religious of the world outweighs the evil done by the religious of the world then that TLA is no longer an expletive.

      • “Whether or not evolution took place after the initial creation is irrelevant.”

        Irrelevant? Am not so sure. Assume for the sake of argument that evolution did take place and that we went from something as complex as a bacterium to something as complex as a human being. How much more complex is that? How many orders of magnitude? No idea, but there are a lot of zeros involved, but to make my point lets just say a human is 1000 times as complex as a bacterium. So now lets move in the other direction and drop the question as to whether something as complex as a bacterium was created and imagine what something 1000 times less complex might look like or a 1000 times less complex than that and so on. If evolution is true we can go back like that a long way can’t we? What are we looking at then? Something very very simple no doubt. If you believe in evolution that is what we need to be looking at when we ask the question as to whether a creator or a natural process is the more likely.

        Either you believe evolution is true and life started with something far far simpler than a bacterium or it is not true and the creator did it all right up to humans.

        • Mark,
          The point you raise is an important, however you are mistaken in your conclusion. I think the following two citations will do

          Dr. Robert Shapiro – Professor Emeritus of chemistry NYU “The difference between a mixture of simple chemicals and a bacterium is much more profound than the gulf between a bacterium and an elephant.”

          Dr. Lynn Margulis (a world renowned biologist)
          “To go from a bacterium to people is less of a step than to go from a mixture of amino acids to a bacterium.”

          You raised a critical point, Mark. The greatest jump of all is from non-life to life. THat is what makes the problem so overwhelming. thank you for bringing up this important matter.
          Moshe

          • ok so we are in agreement then that we shouldn’t be looking at a bacterium we should be looking at in trying to assess the likelihood that life first formed from a naturalistic process…glad we can agree on something.

            In terms of the two quotes you provide I have no idea how you would measure the difference in complexities referenced so I am happy to just assume they are right. But on is saying that there is more complexity between life as it first came to be and a bacterium and a bacterium and a person and the other says there is profoundly more. Putting aside the question of what the shared ancestor of a person and a bacterium might have looked like is there not enough time available for evolution to have crossed such a gap?

            I am no expert in proposed evolutionary timelines but it still seems to me like there would have been lots of time to get from the common ancestor of humans and bacteria back to something very very simple indeed, particularly when you start taking account how much smaller the time between generations would have been back then compared to what it is now.

            What is your guess as to what the very first life form looked like?

          • I should add that whether or not we can look at a bacterium and imagine how you might get there from non-life is not really all that important either, even though lots of pretty intelligent people don’t have any trouble believing that it did happen. If we go back 200 years you would have struggled to find a single person who believed we shared a common ancestor with chimps. Today even the Pope is willing to concede the point.

            I have no doubt at all that in another 200 years we will know things I have no capability of imagining today.

          • TruthOverfaith

            “a world renowned biologist”

            Well, then, he must be right!!
            Bozo the clown is world renowned, too.

            Many problems have seemed overwhelming in the past. But those problems were never answered with invisible sky fairies, moshe boy.

      • Rabbi Averick writes:
        There is no denying that the bacterium certainly LOOKS like it was created. There is no reason not to go with this obvious conclusion.

        He could as easily have written:
        There is no denying that the sun certainly LOOKS like it orbits the Earth. There is no reason not to go with this obvious conclusion.

        In both cases we reject the “obvious conclusion” for the simple reason that the totality of evidence is better explained by the less obvious conclusion.

        Rabbi Averick also quotes Rabbi Weinberg as saying:
        “Nobody ever allowed something as trivial as facts and logic to interfere with their agenda. If the facts and logic don’t fit, then the facts and logic will just have to fend for themselves.”

        I suggest that Rabbi Averick read Stephen Jay Gould’s account of J Harlan Bretz and the great scablands debate (found in Gould’s collection “The Panda’s Thumb”). Bretz was mocked for his hypothesis as to how the scablands of Washington state were formed by a catastrophic flood. In time — and with the added evidence of the existence of glacial lake Missoula — Bretz was shown to have been correct. His colleagues response was “We all are catastrophists now .”

        And so we see that Rabbi Weinberg was mistaken — in the example above, those geologists let facts and logic change their agenda. It is what scientists and engineers do.

        Best,
        Jim Bales

    • Amii Lockhart

      There is nothing wrong with Myer’s analogy, the rabbi just got it wrong (whether by accident, or design I cannot say). Don’t make his mistake.

      The analogy did not compare driftwood to a living cell. The analogy was to show that design and complexity are not mutually exclusive. You can have design without complexity (brick wall). You can have complexity without design (driftwood).

      Sheesh!

  • The problem with PZ Myers is that his science blog is an atheist rant. When he publishes science, he is excellent; when he publishes atheism, he is often also excellent, but there’s way too much of that and far too little of the science. Having said that, at least he has something to say. Religion has nothing new to say, and nothing of interest or of use to offer.

    • Ian,

      Nothing? How about this: We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that all men have been endowed by the creator with unalienable rights, and that among those are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

      Where did you think that came from? Aristotle?
      that is nothing more than a paraphrasing of the verse in Genesis that all men are created in the image of God.
      Moshe

      • All men, yes, but what about all women? Do you want me to quote a few passages from your holy book about them?

        • Yes, let’s hear what you have to say.
          Moshe

          • At your request Moshe.

            I’m only going to be using the first five books of Moses as is written in the NIV, because that’s what I’ve got. And if I did more, I’d be working on it for a year.

            Genesis:
            3:16 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. 
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” – (There goes gender equality already.)

            19:6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” – (Don’t harm my guests but do onto my daughters whatever you want as they are ONLY women. Lot, the only moral man to be found in Sodom and Gomorrah, according to your holy book.)

            19:30 Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.” – (So Lot got his two daughters pregnant. Lots excuse is that his evil daughters got him drunk, but seriously how drunk do you have to be to not realize you’re boning your daughter!? Not just once, but twice?)

            Exodus:
            22:18 “Do not allow a sorceress to live. – (Often the label Witch is used. This is probably the most over used excuse in all history to subdue freethinking women.)

            Leviticus:
            (This book talks a lot about when a woman is unclean.)

            20:16 “‘If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. – (Death for her and the animal is a bit harsh.)

            21:9 “‘If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire. – (Again, a bit harsh.)

            Numbers:
            31:15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he (Moses) asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the LORD in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man. – (These girls watched everyone they had known being killed, which means their parent’s, brothers and friends, and then they were forced to be with the men that had done such an evil deed. What do you suppose they were being saved for?)

            Deuteronomy:
            20:13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. – (Women and children are just plunder, to do with as you please, of course some niceties apply. In the Jewish Ten Commandments women are put in with the livestock and other property as well. At least the Roman Catholics separated them.)

            21:10 When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her. – (It says nothing about if she’s not pleased; after all he just killed her father and mother. She’s bound to not be pleased.)

            21:15 If a man has two wives… – (A man can have multiple wives.)

            22:23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you. – (It’s ok to rape a girl, as long as she doesn’t scream.)

            25:11 If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity. – (If she rescues her husband, she deserves praise.)

            28:15 However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you: – (Here follows a list of curses, but two curses affects his wife) – 30 You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her… – (So, for your crime of not being obedient to male chauvinist God, your wife will be raped. That doesn’t sound very fair to me.) – 56 The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter 57 the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For in her dire need she intends to eat them secretly because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of your cities. – (She’ll eat your kids!? Are you serious!?)

          • “There goes gender equality already”. – Parky

            Yeah, but to Averick and his chums, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

      • Pretty evident that God was created in the image of man.

      • Bill Thacker

        “Where did you think that came from?”

        Those words were written by Thomas Jefferson, who believed in a Creator but did not subscribe to any organized religion. He paid homage to “Nature’s God”, a term favored by Deists of his day. He wrote his own version of the Bible, omitting the mysticism. It’s laughable to suggest “endowed by their Creator” is his homage to Genesis.

        Here are some other things Jefferson wrote:

        “Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”

        “Priests…dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live.”

        Indeed, I am extremely pleased to find this Jefferson quote, which reiterates a point I made in an earlier response on this thread:

        “Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.”

        • Whether or not Jefferson believed in the Bible or parts of it, etc. is beside the point. The essential idea is clearly based on the biblical passage. For that alone you should be grateful. For the atheist, the idea that men are equal is laughable. As G.K. Chesterton put it:

          “The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right, for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal.”

          For the atheist, the crucial foundation of democracy stated in the Dec.of Independance is a fairy tale.
          Moshe

          • Andrew Spencer

            Oh come on, you’re completely ignoring the context. The Declaration of Independence, like John Ball’s “When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman?” speech was a political argument against the then dominant belief in the divine right of kings. Of course they were basing it off a biblical passage, since they were arguing against another biblical passage: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?”. This is probably less relevant to Jews, not having had a Jewish king for millenia, but from my (non-Jewish) perspective it seems the Kings of Israel are explicitely stated to have been placed there by God, and that gentile rulers over the Jews were sent by God as a punishment. I’m less sure about this, but I get the impression that the Jewish conception of the Messiah is as another divinely appointed ruler or king for the Jews (this may be due to my Christian upbringing which emphasised Jesus’ non-violence and acceptance of non-Jews being unusual for supposed Messiahs). I’m fine calling the Declaration of Independence a fairy tale, because it’s supposed to fight another fairy tale, that of the Good and Noble King Appointed By God.
            Does this make me a fascist or other authoritarian? Of course not. Sure, I don’t believe all are created equal, that’s why I’m a capitalist not a communist and support wealth redistribution to ensure our rich are the smart and hard working rather than as Warren Buffett calls them “the Lucky Sperm Club”. I am still a liberal democrat, because it’s fairly trivial to show that human rights and democracy prevent suffering and make better societies. I don’t need to point to God, I just point to all the people fleeing dictatorships for democracies, or refighting the liberal revolutions of the 19th century in their own nation.

          • it’s a good thing he didn’t quote the biblical passage where God makes a pact with Abraham which makes his jewish people, God’s people, chosen above all.

          • ManhattanMC

            Are you, and Chesterton, deliberately confusing equality before the law with equal abilities? It would seem so.

            And yes, I’m grateful that Jefferson reached into the common heritage of bible speak so that King George would understand that the ‘divine right of kings’ was null and void.

          • Bill Thacker

            “Whether or not Jefferson believed in the Bible or parts of it, etc. is beside the point. The essential idea is clearly based on the biblical passage.”

            You’re claiming that Genesis is the foundation of democracy?

            Democracy developed in Greece around 500 BC, before any possible influence from Judaism. Where did they come up with the idea? Meanwhile the ancient Hebrews, who WROTE Genesis, never adopted a democratic government. This claim is rejected.

            You might argue that Genesis justified democracy to *Jefferson*, though others before him didn’t see that. In 1776 the orthodox view was that God annointed kings, and people must obey the kings to obey God. Why did it take 18 centuries of church-endorsed monarchy for someone to notice that Genesis “clearly” demands equality and democracy? And why was that breakthrough made by a man who rejected every organized religion and named god?

            Finally, do you understand that the Declaration of Independence doesn’t actually establish democracy? It never even mentions the word. It only justifies the collective right of a group of people to declare themselves an independent nation equal to any other nation. It doesn’t even denounce monarchy, it only says that the governed must consent to it.

            It was a decade later when the Constitution established our democratic republican form of government. And it doesn’t mention any deities at all.

            So Rabbi, I’m afraid I have to add US Political History to the list of topics you’re not an expert on. Your version seems to be half fantasy and half revisionism.

            “For the atheist, the idea that men are equal is laughable.”

            Your mind-reading also isn’t very good. I’ll assume you didn’t think that statement through far enough to realize you just called me an elitist. No insult taken. Instead I’ll explain a bit of atheology to you.

            I have no choice but to assume all people have equal rights and potential. To think otherwise, I would have to know of an objective standard to measure people against and determine which are superior. None is apparent.

            (The only people who claim such a standard are theists. They declare that God judges homosexuals to be inferior so they can be denied secular marriage rights, or women are inferior and can be ordered to wear a burqa or be silent in chuch.)

            I can also derive democracy from a simpler approach, basically a social contract. If you and I are stranded on a new continent and need to co-exist, we need to agree on rules to live by — laws. Until we agree on that, I have no reason not to kill you. (Murder won’t be illegal until we agree that it is.) If you want peace, you must respect my equality.

            It’s the theist, Rabbi, who has to struggle to justify democracy. Democracy flows naturally from atheism, but is antithetical to a system which acknowledges God as a King to be obeyed, and who prefers some people (e.g. Jews) to others (e.g. atheists).

            But I admit ignorance of Judaism. Maybe you can describe the ancient democratic traditions of your church, Rabbi. May I assume that all members of your congregation, male and female, vote democratically to select their rabbis? Are interpretations of God’s law decided by elected representatives of the people, on the principle “No damnation without representation”? And do you have to be Jewish to vote, or does Judaism respect the equal God-given wisdom of all people?

          • And I suppose you’ll argue that the Bible is based on the word of god, as opposed to being based on any number of older mythological traditions that nobody in modern society seriously considers to be true (e.g., Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, ancient Egyptian religion).

            Moreover, your entire argument is laughably bankrupt. Monotheistic mythologies as we known them didn’t even come into existence until the appearance of the heiratic city state. Thus, organized government pre-existed (or at least corresponded) with the appearance of the “One God.” The reason for the concurrence is obvious–to imbue the governmental leadership with an unquestionable (mythological, devine, religious) authority not merely derived from the people sought to be ruled. Historically, antropologically, the one, all powerful god you are so self-servingly citing as the font of democracy has more accurately been the source of hierarcy, monarchy, dictatorship, demagoguery, and even slavery.

            No thinking person needs the concept of a personal god to espouse equality among people as a virtue. In fact, the entire concept of the one god (as of Judaism) is antithetical to equality because it is based on at least a dualistic hierarcy. The existence of a “devine”, personal god is the existence of “the other,” a concept that underlies every kind of prejudice and judgment.

            The notion of equality of people is a concept that arrives in spite of the traditions of a monotheistic faith–not because of them.

          • Men and women are not created equal. We come in all shapes and sizes.

            But everyone is, well should be, born with equal rights and opportunities.

            To confuse Jeffersons’ language is to either be dishonest or completely stupid.

          • Averick is both, so it’s hard to tell which of these characteristics is operating in a particular case.

      • Rilke's Granddaughter

        Actually, that phrase owes everything to the Enlightenment and virtually nothing to religion.

        You might consider doing some research on the Founding Fathers that their faith (or lack thereof) before spouting off.

      • It came from Jefferson, ironically a deist, not a theist

  • This has been an absolutely brutal read. Is it finished now? The Rabbi has been so incredibly game, in a Dunning-Kruger kind of way. But enough’s enough, surely.

  • I’m not embarrassed by P. Zed, no. Also, your argument was terrible. That’s all.

    • Rilke's Granddaughter

      Did he actually have an argument? All I saw was a tone-troll with his own blog. Myers think’s he’s funny, so far as I can see. Funny, but irrelevant.

  • After reading this article and then reading the comments it has become obvious that one phrase encompasses the reality of this writing. That phrase is “Epic fail”.

    I’d like to note that the author is admitting ID is a religious Trojan horse and not a scientific concept. He does this through his constant repeating of metaphysics and philosophy in the comment section. These words have no value in a biological discussion dealing with the origins of life.

    You see, the situation here is not PZ Myers intruding onto the realms of the fairy tales and bad mouthing them. The situation is fairy tales tried to intrude onto the realms of science and got their rears handed to them in spades. They now have the audacity to call foul.

    • Unfortunately most of the people commenting have very little understanding of the current state of Origin of life research. Why don’t you ask Dr. Myers and Dr. Jerry Coyne to contact the following prominent origin of life experts and ask them to each post a clear statement on their websites where things stand:
      A. Jack Szostak
      B. Robert Shapiro
      C. Gerald Joyce
      D. Paul Davies
      E. George Whitesides
      F. George Church

      but you should all ask yourselves the following question. How is it that after the highly publicized and highly touted Origins conference at ASU that was just a couple of months ago, veteran Scientific American writer John Horgan (who is anti-ID) posted an article with the following headline on the Scientific American website regarding the conference: PSSST, DONT TELL THE CREATIONISTS, BUT SCIENTISTS DONT HAVE A CLUE HOW LIFE BEGAN ?

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=pssst-dont-tell-the-creationists-bu-2011-02-28
      F. George Church

      • But this is the very definition of the “God of the Gaps” argument. Just because scientists don’t know how life began, doesn’t mean Goddidit. Either you choose to not understand this point, or you’re being willfully deceitful, because you keep repeating this debunked argument repeatedly.

        • God of the Gaps? No, its the reason that classical alchemy is no longer practiced. We know too much about why you can’t transmute lead to gold under normal conditions. Now, we know plenty about why life will not appear on its own. Now only the materialist philosophy drives people, despite all that has been discovered in chemistry, biology and mathematics to believe that life could somehow assemble its self. These gaps are very real, and they are much larger now than they were 50 years ago.

          So, in fact, it is the “No God for our gaps” theory that you hold to.

        • William Butler

          //Just because scientists don’t know how life began, doesn’t mean Goddidit.//

          Nor does it mean, “GodDidntDoIt”. However, it’s certainly SUPPORTIVE of the idea that God created life. Some might even say COMPELLING. But those would be more open minded people than yourself.

          // Either you choose to not understand this point, or you’re being willfully deceitful, because you keep repeating this debunked argument repeatedly.//

          What debunked argument is he repeating? All I see him doing are quoting atheistic scientists who keep saying they don’t have a clue how the first life originated.

          • “Nor does it mean, “GodDidntDoIt”. However, it’s certainly SUPPORTIVE of the idea that God created life. Some might even say COMPELLING. But those would be more open minded people than yourself.”
            It is certainly not SUPPORTIVE, it is a gods-of-the gaps solution again.
            Question: Would these open-minded people also be compelled to believe that Thor created life, or Zues, or Allah or any other deity?

          • Bill Thacker

            [That scientists don't know how life began] “However, it’s certainly SUPPORTIVE of the idea that God created life.

            It’s equally supportive of all these other ideas:

            - Life has always existed
            - Life created itself
            - Bill Thacker created life
            - The Quaker Oats Company created life
            - John Ames and Andrew Miller created life
            - Coke created life (that is, the quantity of life in a closed system increases when Coca-cola is introduced)

            And let me rephrase the idea. “Scientists don’t YET know how life began.” The “yet” is critical.

            A thousand years ago science didn’t know the Earth orbited the Sun. You could have said, “This supports my interpretation of Genesis that puts the Earth at the center of the universe.” (People DID say that.)

            A hundred years ago we didn’t know how the sun generated heat. The prevailing theory (Helmholtz’s contraction model) predicted the sun couldn’t last as long as our best estimates of its age. You could have said, “This supports my interpretation of Genesis that the sun is no more than 6000 years old.” (And people DID.)

            Betting that scientists will remain ignorant has made a lot of people look like fools.

      • Stating that the theory of evolution is wrong because it does not explain the beginning of life is like claiming an umbrella doesn’t work because it doesn’t predict the paths of hurricanes.

        It simple isn’t meant to explain where life comes from. It does, however, tell us about the change in the genetic composition of a population over successive generations.

        As for your appeal to authority with the listed “Creationist scientists”. The appeals to ignorance that each of them make are no more convincing coming from someone with a degree in biology any more that an appeal of ignorance coming from someone with a degree in fairyology.

        How many scientists in the biology/chemistry fields could I appeal to for each of yours? Somewhere of 36,000 per as a rough guess. True as this may be, it would be dishonest of me to claim as fact without polling said scientists.

        As for John Horgan I quote, “Creationists are no doubt thrilled that origin-of-life research has reached such an impasse (see for example the screed “Darwinism Refuted,” which cites my 1991 article), but they shouldn’t be. Their explanations suffer from the same flaw: What created the divine Creator? And at least scientists are making an honest effort to solve life’s mystery instead of blaming it all on God.”

        So seriously, are you ready to explain, if God done it, who done God?

        • also … I must give credit to the umbrella analogy to cdk007…. Please visit his videos on youtube, they are very enlightening.

        • William Butler

          Dogger807,

          //Stating that the theory of evolution is wrong because it does not explain the beginning of life is like claiming an umbrella doesn’t work because it doesn’t predict the paths of hurricanes.//

          First of all, Moshe doesn’t say anything at all about evolution.

          Second of all, if you want us to embrace atheism/materialism you have to give us an at least a somewhat plausible scenario where atheism/materialism might be true. You don’t get to skip over certain key and essential parts that you don’t have any evidence for.

          Evolution is largely a peripheral issue in the theistic/atheistic debate. Theists can tolerate evolution being true. Some of their beliefs or interpretations might have to be modified, but so be it. Atheists cannot tolerate evolution being false. Thus theists are free to be more open minded on the issue of macro-evolution than atheists are.

          //As for your appeal to authority with the listed “Creationist scientists”. //

          This is getting embarrassing. None of the scientists he mentioned are in the Intelligent Design camp. Many, if not all, are atheistic scientists and some are among the leading experts in origin of life research…

          //Their explanations suffer from the same flaw: What created the divine Creator? And at least scientists are making an honest effort to solve life’s mystery instead of blaming it all on God.”

          So seriously, are you ready to explain, if God done it, who done God?//

          Are you positing a THEOLOGICAL objection to SCIENTIFIC fact? Very fascinating. BTW, the answer to your question is that the Rabbi believes in the God of the Torah, who self describes as eternally existing and having no beginning. Thus this particular intelligent designer doesn’t need a prior cause.

          Please never post anything on the Internet again. You are starting to make P.Z. Myers look good.

          • “First of all, Moshe doesn’t say anything at all about evolution. ”

            Not directly, but it’s implied.

            “Second of all, if you want us to embrace atheism/materialism you have to give us an at least a somewhat plausible scenario where atheism/materialism might be true. You don’t get to skip over certain key and essential parts that you don’t have any evidence for.”

            Nah, if I wanted you to embrace atheism I’d have you read the bible from front tho back. The more you know about the book the less believable it becomes. Of course that’s assuming your fairy tale beliefs lean toward christianity. However the same able to the torah and the koran as well.

            “Evolution is largely a peripheral issue in the theistic/atheistic debate. Theists can tolerate evolution being true. Some of their beliefs or interpretations might have to be modified, but so be it. Atheists cannot tolerate evolution being false. Thus theists are free to be more open minded on the issue of macro-evolution than atheists are”

            The word that comes to mind here is “BULL”. What it is that atheists can not tolerate is the intellectual dishonesty and out right lies peddled by creationists. If you prove evolution wrong and I’ll shake your hand for advancing human knowledge. However, evolution isn’t a scientific theory for nothing. We are pretty sure about a lot of it.

            “This is getting embarrassing. None of the scientists he mentioned are in the Intelligent Design camp. Many, if not all, are atheistic scientists and some are among the leading experts in origin of life research…”

            Ok, I didn’t bother to read his list of scientists. I need to apologize to them for mistaking them part of the creationist camp then. My point that a degree does nothing to strengthen a flawed argument still stands. Even if it is out of place in this particular segment of the argument.

            “Are you positing a THEOLOGICAL objection to SCIENTIFIC fact? Very fascinating. BTW, the answer to your question is that the Rabbi believes in the God of the Torah, who self describes as eternally existing and having no beginning. Thus this particular intelligent designer doesn’t need a prior cause.”

            No I’m posting a theological objection to a theologian proposing that fantasy is more believable than reality. The whole god doesn’t need a prior cause but the universe does is just inane btw.

            “Please never post anything on the Internet again. You are starting to make P.Z. Myers look good.”

            Request denied.

          • William Butler

            //Not directly, but it’s implied//

            He’s never said anything whatsoever about evolution. He’s actually gone out of his way to say that he’s keeping his personal opinions about evolution to himself. And what do you care what he thinks about the issue anyway? Are you part of the Darwinian thought police?

            (And btw, I have no bones about saying publicly that the whole neo-Darwinian synthesis is a wild fairy tale).

            //Nah, if I wanted you to embrace atheism I’d have you read the bible from front tho back. The more you know about the book the less believable it becomes. Of course that’s assuming your fairy tale beliefs lean toward christianity. However the same able to the torah and the koran as well.//

            And how exactly would rejecting the Bible, Torah, or Koran prove atheism and disprove, say, Deism?

            //However, evolution isn’t a scientific theory for nothing. We are pretty sure about a lot of it.//

            Well evolution can mean alot of things. If you are meaning that species are capable of changing and adapting to their environment (largely through loss of pre-existing information) than I would completely agree.

            On the other hand, if you mean a bacteria turns into a human being through genetic mutations over 4 billion years then I would say that is a fantastic story and completely unsupported by the scientific evidence. For example, Barrow and Tipler identified 10 distinct steps necessary for human evolution, each of which is so improbable before they could occur the sun would burn out and incinerate the Earth!

            //The whole god doesn’t need a prior cause but the universe does is just inane btw.//

            We know from science that the Universe popped into existence out of nothing from some previous cause. That’s not really debatable. So the issue boils down into what you think the prime reality is. The God hypothesis resolves the philosophical issues. If you have another idea I’d be interesting in hearing it.

      • Bill Thacker

        Rabbi Averick can’t comprehend how scientific thinkers can refuse to accept God when “SCIENTISTS DON’T HAVE A CLUE HOW LIFE BEGAN”. It’s surprisingly easy, in fact.

        People who don’t understand science often take science’s self-criticism too literally. Science measures itself against a very high standard of proof. In the scientific sense, I don’t know who my parents are. (The only way to be sure would be DNA testing.) So if the Rabbi were to call me a bastard, in the scientific sense I can’t disagree. :-) Yet I could sue him for defamation because I have sufficient *legal* proof.

        If science used the legal standard of proof (or even easier, the standard accepted by clergy), science has an excellent understanding of how life began. If science stopped studying the origin of life today and declared, “Earth created its own life,” it would still have a far more accurate and useful theory than the Rabbi offers.

        Because the scientific process makes it hard to prove something, scientists are forced to admit our ignorance a lot. It bothers us not to know, but we prefer being ignorant to being wrong. (Another difference between us and religion.) Moreover, admitting that we don’t know something invites future researchers to find the truth.

        Four hundred years ago the Rabbi could have wailed, “Science doesn’t have a clue how lightning works.” Fortunately for him he was born too late to be caught in that blunder — though he seems determined not to miss *this* chance.

        Again, it’s a matter of an untrained mind failing to understand science. The Rabbi’s profession discovered every truth it would ever know over 2000 years ago. How hard it must be hard for him to understand a process that is constantly learning facts nobody ever knew before.

        Had the Rabbi read the last paragraph of the article he cited instead of stopping at the part he liked — the headline — he would have noticed Horgan’s closing comment. “[Creationists'] explanations suffer from the same flaw [as Panspermia]: What created the divine Creator? And at least scientists are making an honest effort to solve life’s mystery instead of blaming it all on God.”

      • While we don’t understand the origin of life, is that reason enough to assume a god did it, and specifically an Abrahamic god? I think not. Let the evidence lead where it may, but until then, your words are just so much blather.

      • ManhattanMC

        Horgan is a journalist, not a scientist, and he’s wrong.We have many clues and we will very likely know many chemical/mechanical pathways it could have occured but will probably never know precisely how the first self replicators began.
        Yours is an argument from ignorance in any case.

        • Horgan is not just a journalist, but a professional contrarian. He was the guy who wrote the book “The End of Science” in 1996, proclaiming that there would be no more great discoveries made. In 1998, completely unexpectedly, evidence appeared that the universe’s expansion is accelerating, not slowing down; subsequent work indicates that the universe is dominated by a still-mysterious “dark energy” responsible for the acceleration.

    • RABBI MOSHE AVERICK’S REPLY TO DR. MYERS’ REBUTTAL

      I thank everybody for their patience and again I apologize that I simply do not have the time to respond to every comment. I try to put in as much time as possible. Here is my response to Dr. Myers:

      First of all I am appreciative that Dr. Myer refrained from crude language in his admirably dispassionate and measured reply to my article. (It’s about time he started taking his medication regularly!) However, he did accuse me of believing in “invisible magic men in the sky.” That simply is not true; for the past 3500 years, Jews have declared their belief in one, infinite, transcendent God. The Greeks were the ones who believed in invisible magic men in the sky (along with the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, etc.)

      Be that as it may, in Dr. Myers’ rebuttal he stated the following:

      “Nowhere in the talk do I claim that a pile of driftwood is analogous to a cell.”

      From Dr. Myer’s lecture at the Atheist Convention:

      “We biologists freely admit that things are really complicated inside the cell. So how do we explain it? Don’t we have to resort to a creator..There’s lots of things that are very complicated [and aren’t the result of an intelligent creator.] I’ll show you an example.”

      He then proceeds to show the picture of the driftwood. Clearly, Dr. Myer is comparing the “complexity” of the cell to the “complexity” of the driftwood. If the “complicated” pile of driftwood could be the result of natural forces, so too could the “complicated” cell be the result of natural forces. This is the entire thrust of his argument; if the two “complexities” are not analogous, the argument disintegrates.

      The terrible confusion here is because the word “complexity” is being used in totally different ways. The “complexity” of the driftwood is clearly the jumbled chaos of undirected, random naturalistic forces. It is the same type of chaos one would see at a garbage dump after the wind has blown piles of papers up against a wall. That is one type of complexity. What about a living cell?

      Dr. Jack Szostak and Dr. Alonso Ricardo:
      “Every living cell, including the simplest bacterium teems with molecular contraptions that would be the envy of any nanotechnologist…It is virtually impossible to imagine how a cell’s machines…could have emerged spontaneously from non-living matter.” (“The Origin of Life on Earth”, Szostak and Ricard, Scientific American, September, 2009)

      Dr. Harold P. Klein: “The simplest bacterium is so damn complicated from the point of view of a chemist that it is almost impossible to imagine how it happened.” (from “In the Beginning”, John Horgan, Scientific American, Feb. 1991)

      Dr. Paul Davies: “Scientists have fabricated invisible cogwheels, motors the size of a pinhead, and electrical switches as tiny as individual molecules…the burgeoning field of nanotechnology – building structures and devices measured on a scale of billionths of a meter promises to revolutionize our lives…but…nature got there first. The world is already full of nanomachines: they are called living cells. Each cell is packed with tiny structures that might have come straight from an engineer’s manual. Miniscule tweezers, scissors, pumps, motors, levers, valves, pipes, chains, and even vehicles abound. The various components fit together to form a smoothly functioning whole, like an elaborate factory production line. The miracle of life is not that it is made of nanotools, but that these tiny diverse parts are integrated in a highly organized way…with a fine tuning and complexity as yet unmatched by any human engineering…how do all these mindless atoms know what to do?…somehow, collectively, these unthinking atoms get it together and perform the dance of life with exquisite precision.” (The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life, Dr. Paul Davies, p. 97-98)

      Clearly, the “complexity” of a living cell is nothing at all like the “complexity” of a pile of driftwood. Dr. Myers would have us believe that if a random collection of junk on the beach could accumulate through an unguided process, so could “nanotechnology which is unmatched by human technology.” “Invisible magic men in the sky” sounds positively rational in comparison. If Dr. Myer wants us to believe such an extraordinary claim, then he needs to present us with extraordinary evidence that will conclusively demonstrate its truth. Enough said. The rebuttal is as absurd as the original lecture.

      FYI: I have been informed by an inside source that Dr. Myers was upset that he was not included in the series of interviews with Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris that was entitled “The Four Horsemen.” He has therefore decided to do a solo interview which will be entitled…….you guessed it: “The Headless Horseman”

      • You can’t refrain from unsupported personal sneers even here, can you Averick?

      • Daniel Schealler

        It all boils down to this:

        Clearly, the “complexity” of a living cell is nothing at all like the “complexity” of a pile of driftwood.

        The problem as I see it is that there are two different concepts of ‘complexity’ that you are bringing to the table.

        1) A low-entropy system when compared to the relative local average.

        2) Something else that you refuse to define.

        Myers is only using the word ‘complexity’ in the sense of 1), and he is using it consistently throughout his response to you.

        Myers is not equivocating. The entire point of his rebuttal is that the only difference between the driftwood and a cell is a question of magnitude – and that this difference is immaterial.

        It is you, Moshe, who continually insists that there is some other sense of the term ‘complexity’ that is being used. Of course, you continue to refuse to define it in a meaningful way, so the rest of us are left scratching our heads.

        So in conclusion, it is not ‘clear’ to me at all that there is another concept of complexity that can be brought to bear.

        • Daniel Schealler

          I should have said: … and that this difference is immaterial in the context of the arguments presented in favor of intelligent design.

  • Though I’d rather take apart your hypocritical and otherwise silly attack on my own, I think Mr. Myers speaks well for himself. You know where his site is, I presume, so you won’t have much trouble finding the article in question.

    The highlight, the one point you should take from this, is:

    The message you should take away from these examples is that complexity and design are independent properties of an object. One does not imply the other. You cannot determine whether something was designed by looking at whether it is complicated or not.

    Yet as we see just about every time some clueless creationist, like Rabbi Averick, starts bellowing about design, we see the same blithe assumption: they look at a cell, they say “gosh, O Lord, it’s really, really complicated”, and then they start blithering about how it must have been designed. The two are not connected!

    Then again, let’s see how the facts stand: We have a man who has dedicated a significant portion of his life to studying the field of biology and is routinely asked to speak on the subject in open forums.

    Then, Rabbi, there’s you, with no proof and very little reason, defending a position Science made obsolete decades ago.

    Please, Rabbi, I implore you, Listen. If God does exist, then would he not be powerful enough to create such a system as Evolution? Would he not be able to make our world an ever-growing, constantly shifting place filled with wonder? Or must he be shackled by your human definition of him?

    • William Butler

      //Then again, let’s see how the facts stand: We have a man who has dedicated a significant portion of his life to studying the field of biology and is routinely asked to speak on the subject in open forums…//

      Here’s the appeal to authority…

      //Please, Rabbi, I implore you, Listen. If God does exist, then would he not be powerful enough to create such a system as Evolution? Would he not be able to make our world an ever-growing, constantly shifting place filled with wonder? Or must he be shackled by your human definition of him?//

      And here’s the misrepresentation of the Rabbi’s position.

      Rabbi Moshe has steadfastly refused to state any positions on evolution, which he regards as a peripheral issue (and which you seem to agree with him on). This whole debate is about abiogenesis, or chemical evolution.

      And the Darwinists (including Richard Dawkins) freely admit they have no idea how the first life originated. So there really is nothing to debate. Your champions freely confess they don’t know how life originated.

      • //Here’s the appeal to authority…//

        I’m not appealing to the authority just because he’s the authority. I’m appealing to his work as a biologist to show that he might have a better idea of how these things work than the Rabbi who criticizes him.

        An ‘appeal to authority’ as you describe it would be me agreeing with George W. Bush’s position on Global Warming because he’s the President, and not because he’s a climate scientist [which he is not.] Or, agreeing with Barack Obama on how the health care issue should be dealt with because he’s the president, not because he’s a doctor [which he is not.]

        //Rabbi Moshe has steadfastly refused to state any positions on evolution, which he regards as a peripheral issue (and which you seem to agree with him on). This whole debate is about abiogenesis, or chemical evolution.//

        But he has stated a position by advocating intelligent design, the fig leaf over Creationism’s naughty bits. By saying he believes in an intelligent designer, he is throwing out the decades of study that points to natural causes for the beginnings and evolution of life on earth.

        //And the Darwinists (including Richard Dawkins) freely admit they have no idea how the first life originated. So there really is nothing to debate. Your champions freely confess they don’t know how life originated.//

        Wrong. We do have ideas, testable and falsifiable, of how life formed on the planet’s surface. Miller-Urey experiments were happening as far back as the ’70s. Hell, look up ‘abiogenesis’ on Wikipedia if you don’t think we have ‘ideas’.

        But then again this is a canard. Darwin never pondered how it started, just how it grew. Evolutionary Science is just that: Evolution. Not Origin. You, like many ID’ists, tend to use a completely different branch of study to attack the one that you find the most threat in.

        Sorry, but he’s still wrong.

        • William Butler

          //I’m appealing to his work as a biologist to show that he might have a better idea of how these things work than the Rabbi who criticizes him//

          AKA an appeal to authority. You are essentially saying that unless one has a Ph.D. in some biological science and has done comparable work, one is never allowed to question PZ Myers on anything he says about biology. That is absurd. And something tells me you don’t give this same deference to Douglas Axe, Michael Behe, or Stephen Meyer.

          //By saying he believes in an intelligent designer, he is throwing out the decades of study that points to natural causes for the beginnings and evolution of life on earth//

          What decades of study? Have you read anything he’s written? He just mentioned an origin of life conference that happened a few months ago where a science reporter said scientists don’t have a clue how life began!

          //Wrong. We do have ideas, testable and falsifiable, of how life formed on the planet’s surface. Miller-Urey experiments were happening as far back as the ’70s. Hell, look up ‘abiogenesis’ on Wikipedia if you don’t think we have ‘ideas’.//

          Anyone can come up with an “idea”. It’s interesting that none of the ideas scientists come up with for a naturalistic origin of life ever bear any fruit.

          And you need to get caught up on your research. The Miller-Urey experiments, which started in the FIFTIES, btw, ended up producing a few amino acids, something which scientists now think are common throughout the universe. Amino acids are like 0s and 1s in a computer language. Just because you see some 0s and 1s on a page doesn’t mean they can assemble into a complex computer program.

          And finally, the Miller-Urey experiments were conducted under faulty conditions that most scientists think existed on the early earth. When the experiement is conducted with the correct gases, even these few amino acids don’t form. So no serious origin of life researcher gives any credibility to Miller-Urey as having any relevance whatsoever.

          For that matter, the whole “primordial soup” theory of the origin of life has been recently put to rest.

          http://scienceblog.com/29647/new-research-rejects-80-year-theory-of-primordial-soup-as-the-origin-of-life/

          //But then again this is a canard. Darwin never pondered how it started, just how it grew. //

          Wrong again. Darwin did ponder how it all got started. He wrote:

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

          //You, like many ID’ists, tend to use a completely different branch of study to attack the one that you find the most threat in.//

          If the neo-Darwinian sythesis were true it wouldn’t be fatal to most forms of Christianity or Judaism. Some of our interpretations of scripture might have to be modified, but we would accept it and move on. The Rabbi is correct that macro-evolution is largely a peripheral issue to the theistic/atheistic debate.

          But on the other hand, if neo-Darwinism were proven false, that would be fatal to atheism, which is why atheists argue so vehemently for it. The problem for them is their rear flank is really exposed. They’ve got nothing on the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning of the laws and constants of physics, or the origin of the first life.

          So essentially, if someone wants to believe in a divine Creator, there is plenty of space in the scientific realm to allow for such a belief, and individuals like PZ Myers shouldn’t be so nasty and condescending. Essentially, Myers and his ilk are religious fundamentalists for atheism.

          • ManhattanMC

            I’m not going to plunge into the battle and debunk your post entire-I’ll leave that to the far more qualified. I do read enough on the subject to know you’re wrong about this, however:

            “..And you need to get caught up on your research. The Miller-Urey experiments, which started in the FIFTIES, btw, ended up producing a few amino acids,….”

            May I recommend:

            “Old scientists never clean out their refrigerators”

            http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/10/old_scientists_never_clean_out.php

            Category: Evolution • Science
            Posted on: October 16, 2008 10:52 PM, by PZ Myers

            And the papers cited?

            Briefly, a recent reanalysis of Miller’s flasks showed his experiment produced twenty two amino acids and five amines rather than the five amino acids he reported. And no ‘designer’ necessary.

          • William Butler

            ManhattanMC,

            The paper (by PZ Myers of course) that you cited really has nothing to do with the arguments. Just because its so much fun, I’ll go ahead and rehash them.

            1) We already know that amino acids are common throughout the Universe. We’ve even found them on meteorites. So generating some amino acids in a test tube really isn’t that big of a deal.

            2) No serious OOL researcher believes in a primordial soup theory any more (see the link I referenced in my previous post). Amino acids self assembling into proteins is for all intents and purposes completely impossible statistically. It would be like mixing up an ocean of alphabet soup and getting the works of Shakespeare.

            You could have quintillions of earth like planets all filled with large oceans of amino acid soup for the entire age of the Universe and it is virtually impossible from statistics that you would ever form even one simple protein. And even the simplest organism requires 250-450 of distinctly different proteins in order to function.

            This type of reasoning was basically debunked in the 90s. I still remember debating atheists back then who insisted it was possible for proteins to randomly form from oceans of amino acid soup. Man they fought tenaciously over that idea! I wish I could track some of those guys down.

            3) The reducing atmosphere that Miller-Urey used was nothing like the atmosphere of the early Earth. So its a moot point. Even PZ Myers concedes this in the article you quoted.

            And btw, what happens when we use the correct atmosphere? Amino acids DON’T get generated! So if anything these types of experiments support intelligent design rather than natural processes.

          • ManhattanMC

            WB

            {{I was going to do this, but you seem to be a bit misinformed.}}

            The paper (by PZ Myers of course)

            {{Of course-it’s right there in the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, you are so perceptive. But Myers is commenting on a paper by:
            Johnson AP, Cleaves HJ, Dworkin JP, Glavin DP, Lazcano A, Bada JL (2008) The Miller Volcanic Spark Discharge Experiment. Science 322(5900):404.

            So there goes your first thrust-that sly implication I don’t have multiple sources.}}

            that you cited really has nothing to do with the arguments.

            {{Really? How about your assertion that Miller “ended up producing a few amino acids”? Is 25 ‘a few’? That is precisely what I was talking about-and I think you know that.}}

            Just because its so much fun, I’ll go ahead and rehash them.

            {Have at it. I could use some LULZ.}}

            1) We already know that amino acids are common throughout the Universe. We’ve even found them on meteorites. So generating some amino acids in a test tube really isn’t that big of a deal.

            {{Then why strain so hard to debunk Miller? Disingenuous. And creobots did claim it was a very ‘big deal’ for a long time.}}

            2) No serious OOL researcher believes in a primordial soup theory any more (see the link I referenced in my previous post).

            {{Right-I did follow that link. “hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor”.
            Doesn’t that just move the ‘soup’ from the tide pools (yes-that is an elaboration on Haldane-but so what?) to a new location? I think so.}}

            Amino acids self assembling into proteins is for all intents and purposes completely impossible statistically.

            {{Oh no-you didn’t really. The ‘fallacy of the really big number? And the ‘permutational’ argument against self assembly? Yikes!
            Who thinks that modern proteins self-assembled? Surely you are aware of the work of Lincoln/Joyce and Sutherland? RNA has been shown to form spontaneously under simulated early earth conditions and to self catalyze.}}

            It would be like mixing up an ocean of alphabet soup and getting the works of Shakespeare.

            {{LOL Even that is more probable than an ‘uncreated creator’. And don’t pretend you don’t buy that one.}}

            You could have quintillions of earth like planets all filled with large oceans (..and blah blah blah…)

            And even the simplest organism requires 250-450 of distinctly different proteins in order to function.

            {{Wrong. Speigelman’s monster-218. And many think that isn’t yet the lower limit.
            BTW- you, like most creobots-are still assuming modern organisms rather than their likely precursors.}}

            This type of reasoning was basically debunked in the 90s.

            {{LOL Not as thoroughly as the really really big number based on calculations of permutations of amino acids found in modern proteins that you’re still trying to peddle.}}

            I still remember debating atheists back then who insisted it was possible for proteins to randomly form from oceans of amino acid soup.

            {{LOL ‘atheists’ not ‘scientists’?
            Again-who is claiming modern proteins formed that way? And as recently as yesterday I was debating creobots insisting on the efficacy of mind/spirit dualism. Do you have a point?}}

            Man they fought tenaciously over that idea! I wish I could track some of those guys down.

            {{Why? Looking for people you can still bamboozle” Lotsa luck with that.}}

            3) The reducing atmosphere that Miller-Urey used was nothing like the atmosphere of the early Earth.

            ((We don’t know what the atmosphere of pre-biotic earth was. And ‘we’ in this instance includes ‘you’.}}

            So its a moot point.

            {{Nor really. Read on.}}

            Even PZ Myers concedes this in the article you quoted.

            {{I didn’t exactly ‘quote’ it-I paraphrased one line and provided a link. And uhm, no, he does not admit it’s a ‘moot point’.

            “…Yes, I know that Miller’s reducing atmosphere is no longer considered to be an accurate representation of the ancient earth’s atmosphere. However, the experiment still supported a key idea: that the synthesis of these organic compounds did not require any kind of guiding hand, but would naturally emerge from unassisted chemical reactions. Furthermore, the authors of this paper argue that while it was not a good model of the global atmosphere, it might still model local conditions in isolated areas.”
            Myers article.}}

            And btw, what happens when we use the correct atmosphere?

            {{Again, how would you know what the ‘correct atmosphere’ might be? Still open to a great deal of speculation.}}

            Amino acids DON’T get generated!

            {{Wrong. So wrong you’re not even wrong.
            The experiment has been repeated with a variety of better educated guesses on the gas mixture and energy sources. Some variants produced even more amino acids.

            “..The University of Waterloo and University of Colorado conducted simulations in 2005 that indicated that the early atmosphere of Earth could have contained up to 40 percent hydrogen—implying a possibly much more hospitable environment for the formation of prebiotic organic molecules. The escape of hydrogen from Earth’s atmosphere into space may have occurred at only one percent of the rate previously believed based on revised estimates of the upper atmosphere’s temperature.[21] One of the authors, Owen Toon notes: “In this new scenario, organics can be produced efficiently in the early atmosphere, leading us back to the organic-rich soup-in-the-ocean concept… I think this study makes the experiments by Miller and others relevant again.” Outgassing calculations using a chondritic model for the early earth complement the Waterloo/Colorado results in re-establishing the importance of the Miller–Urey experiment”

            “Early Earth atmosphere favorable to life: study”. University of Waterloo. Retrieved 2005-12-17.

            Fitzpatrick, Tony (2005). “Calculations favor reducing atmosphere for early earth – Was Miller–Urey experiment correct?”.
            Washington University in St. Louis. Retrieved 2005-12-17.
            Additionally, Jeffrey Badda “…has estimated that more accurate measurements could easily bring out 30 or 40 more amino acids in very low concentrations…” on Miller’s original flasks.
            You have been misinformed.}}

            So if anything these types of experiments support intelligent design rather than natural processes.

            {{Hahahaha-
            and pig bladders can prevent earthquakes, so I hear.
            Do you understand what is meant by ‘simulated early earth conditions’?

            We are finished.}}

          • William Butler

            ManhattanMC,

            Looks like that last post I made really hit a nerve with you! My response follows:

            //So there goes your first thrust-that sly implication I don’t have multiple sources.//

            I wasn’t trying to imply that you were doing anything. I was merely taking note that the article you cited was written by our favorite atheist cheerleader P.Z. Myers.

            //How about your assertion that Miller “ended up producing a few amino acids”? Is 25 ‘a few’?//

            I think what have going on here is the principle of least charitable reading going on here. You are straining mightily to find any flaw in what I am saying because you are so emotionally hostile to the idea of a divine Creator. (and btw, did you know that life only uses 20 different amino acids)

            You were also changing the subject. The Miller-Urey experiment is irrelevant a) because it used the the wrong mix of gases, and b) because no one thinks that you can take a test tube, (or even an ocean) of amino acids and have it form into a protein.

            //Then why strain so hard to debunk Miller? Disingenuous//

            I’m not threatened by Miller in the least. The reason why i took the the time to debunk it is because your post was the 154,453th time I’ve read some village atheist talking about Miller-Urey as though that has anything to do with anything. I admit that it gets annoying to see the massive amounts of ignorance out there.

            //yes-that is an elaboration on Haldane-but so what?) to a new location?//

            Well sure. They are basically admitting that the primordial ocean theory that everyone’s been drilling into our heads for the past 70 years is now debunked and its time to move on to greener pastures. You can keep coming with ad hoc alternatives till the cows come home (how about crystals…or comets! or…or…)

            //LOL Even that is more probable than an ‘uncreated creator’. And don’t pretend you don’t buy that one.//

            So what you are doing is self-identifying as a close minded person who will not consider any alternative other than materialism.

            You can believe in these massively improbable things if you want (and trust me, this is just one of hundreds of massively improbable things that you have to believe in in order to construct a materialistic model of reality) but I’m not going to swept away by the nonsense.

            //Wrong. So wrong you’re not even wrong.
            The experiment has been repeated with a variety of better educated guesses on the gas mixture and energy sources. Some variants produced even more amino acids…You have been misinformed.//

            Your strategy appears to be find some study where someone hypothesis that something “might have…could have” happened and then present it as though the matter is settled. I don’t find this persuasive.

            Perhaps you need to write the Duke University facility and tell them to stop saying that the early Earth’s atmosphere wasn’t reducing:

            http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/Exobiology/PBearth.html

            “…most of the scientific community now believes that the early Earth’s atmosphere was not reducing. Instead, scientists beleive the atmosphere was full of oxidants, such as CO2 and N2. An oxidizing atmosphere is essentially neutral, and does not permit organic chemistry to occur…”

            But rather than get into a copy and paste war with you let me just concede for the sake of argument that the Early earth’s oceans and atmosphere were chock full of all the right amino acids. Show me how its done.

            As a matter of fact, I’ll do you one better than that. Let’s go to a super-lab and you can mix whatever combination of organic chemicals you want (even if they weren’t on the early earth) in a giant vat and stimulate it with electrical currents or anything else you want to do. Build me a life form from scratch. This is an argument you should be able to win in 5 minutes.

          • ManhattanMC

            Looks like that last post I made really hit a nerve with you! My response follows:

            {Hahahaha-like I said-I’m not the one to take you down. But you did make a few egregious errors. I pointed them out. Deal.))

            //So there goes your first thrust-that sly implication I don’t have multiple sources.//

            I wasn’t trying to imply that you were doing anything. I was merely taking note that the article you cited was written by our favorite atheist cheerleader P.Z. Myers.

            ((That’s a deliberate lie. And there you did it again.
            ‘favorite cheerleader’? Seriously?
            Listen to yourself.))

            //How about your assertion that Miller “ended up producing a few amino acids”? Is 25 ‘a few’?//

            I think what have going on here is the principle of least charitable reading going on here. You are straining mightily to find any flaw in what I am saying because you are so emotionally hostile to the idea of a divine Creator. (and btw, did you know that life only uses 20 different amino acids)

            ((You screwed up-man up and admit it. Your knowledge of the current state of research was completely outdated or you purposefully fudged the number.
            I’m hostile-not at all emotionally, to any assertions made without a shred of proof, In particular when the idiots pushing them are inserting them into my government’s foreign policy, laws and my child’s education.
            Yes-life uses only 20 amino acids-do you have a point>))

            You were also changing the subject. The Miller-Urey experiment is irrelevant a) because it used the the wrong mix of gases, and b) because no one thinks that you can take a test tube, (or even an ocean) of amino acids and have it form into a protein.

            ((I’m not missing the point on Urey/Miller, fool, you are. And it’s rather difficult to believe you’re not doing it willfully.
            Who said the experiment was supposed to produce a protein? Are you an idiot? We’ve been through this already-twice.))

            //Then why strain so hard to debunk Miller? Disingenuous//

            I’m not threatened by Miller in the least. The reason why i took the the time to debunk it is because your post was the 154,453th time I’ve read some village atheist talking about Miller-Urey as though that has anything to do with anything. I admit that it gets annoying to see the massive amounts of ignorance out there.

            ((I rather doubt it is as annoying town creobots claiming for the 154,454th time that Urey/Miller was intended to produce modern proteins. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve had Discovery ‘Institute’ wankers try to slip that little straw man past me? Your mind would boggle-more than it apparently already does. Urey/Miller proves that your ‘god’ isn’t necessary to produce amino acids and amines in some concentration. And let’s not pretend that your side wasn’t saying it was impossible before the experiment.))

            //yes-that is an elaboration on Haldane-but so what?) to a new location?//

            Well sure. They are basically admitting that the primordial ocean theory that everyone’s been drilling into our heads for the past 70 years is now debunked and its time to move on to greener pastures.

            ((Bullshit. The need for energy input was recognized long ago. Tide pools were considered, and still are considered a viable possibility to supply it. Your ocean vent link is still considered variation of the ‘primordial soup’ BTW, and it certainly doesn’t debunk the models that preceded it.))

            You can keep coming with ad hoc alternatives till the cows come home (how about crystals…or comets! or…or…)

            ((I didn’t come up with anything, fool. I merely read the papers of respected researchers in the field. The idea of crystal scaffolding or cells is actually quite intriguing and has much to recommend it. You should not dismiss it so lightly-but then-you can’t admit you doubt your sky fairy did it, eh? And uhm, why do we need comets after the updates of Urey/Miller? No reason I’ve heard of. Do you have anything besides reductio ad ridiculum?))

            //LOL Even that is more probable than an ‘uncreated creator’. And don’t pretend you don’t buy that one.//

            So what you are doing is self-identifying as a close minded person who will not consider any alternative other than materialism.

            (( Hahahahah. So what you are doing is self-identifying as a close minded person who will not consider any alternative other than judeo/chriser/islamic myth.
            How many times have I asked for evidence for your ‘alternative’ now? Still waiting for anything other than personal attacks.))

            You can believe in these massively improbable things if you want (and trust me, this is just one of hundreds of massively improbable things that you have to believe in in order to construct a materialistic model of reality) but I’m not going to swept away by the nonsense.

            (Trust you? Not bloody likely-you’re a wedge document drone for the Discovery ‘Institute’ quacks.
            All your ‘hundreds of massively improbable things’ are still arguments from ignorance-every single one of them. And most have been debunked. In fact-I challenge you to post a few that haven’t been debunked.
            Hahahahaha-you’re killing me, guy. What is more nonsensical than the thousands of variations of your ‘immaterial’ creator ‘gods’ with their thousands of ‘holy’ texts?))

            //Wrong. So wrong you’re not even wrong.
            The experiment has been repeated with a variety of better educated guesses on the gas mixture and energy sources. Some variants produced even more amino acids…You have been misinformed.//

            Your strategy appears to be find some study where someone hypothesis that something “might have…could have” happened and then present it as though the matter is settled. I don’t find this persuasive.

            ((You obviously haven’t read the literature-only the Discovery ‘Institute’ hacks misquotations and misunderstandings it. Are you denying, seriously, that different mixtures of gasses, closer to our best guess on pre-biotic earth’s atmosphere, didn’t produce even better results than Urey/Miller? Seriously?))

            Perhaps you need to write the Duke University facility and tell them to stop saying that the early Earth’s atmosphere wasn’t reducing:

            http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/cruise_chem/Exobiology/PBearth.html

            ((You know there is no consensus. And if the Duke university ‘facility’ imply there is-(you mean ‘faculty, perchance?)-you know they’re full of shit. You also know that Jeffrey Bada and others produced completely plausible results.))

            “…most of the scientific community now believes that the early Earth’s atmosphere was not reducing. Instead, scientists beleive the atmosphere was full of oxidants, such as CO2 and N2. An oxidizing atmosphere is essentially neutral, and does not permit organic chemistry to occur…”

            ((Oh, if only you had read on in your wikipedia ‘research’, eh?

            “….However, the early Earth may have had significant amounts of iron and carbonate minerals able to neutralize the effects of the nitrites. When Bada performed the Miller-type experiment with the addition of iron and carbonate minerals, the products were rich in amino acids. This suggests the origin of significant amounts of amino acids may have occurred on Earth even with an atmosphere containing carbon dioxide and nitrogen…”

            And you salivate when you think you can say scientists ‘believe’ something-even though you know full well they don’t mean anything remotely like what you mean when you say you believe your sky fairy.))

            But rather than get into a copy and paste war with you let me just concede for the sake of argument that the Early earth’s oceans and atmosphere were chock full of all the right amino acids. Show me how its done.

            ((You first-prove that immaterial beings exist. LOL
            I don’t have to show ‘how’ it’s done, only that it can be done.))

            As a matter of fact, I’ll do you one better than that. Let’s go to a super-lab and you can mix whatever combination of organic chemicals you want (even if they weren’t on the early earth) in a giant vat and stimulate it with electrical currents or anything else you want to do. Build me a life form from scratch. This is an argument you should be able to win in 5 minutes.

            ((Same dumb ass straw man.
            There were billions of experiments being run on early earth. All it took was one of those billions to begin replication.’
            And if the immaterial can act on the the material you should be able to prove that easily, no?))

      • who cares what my name is.

        “Rabbi Moshe has steadfastly refused to state any positions on evolution”.
        I don’t know about that. Rabbi Moshe supports ID, and ID has a very clear and strong stance on evolution: it does not live up to the task of creating complex systems such as living beings. From there you get that complexity cannot evolve, and thus a creator is needed. The problem is that the original statement is unjustified.

        • William Butler

          //I don’t know about that. Rabbi Moshe supports ID, and ID has a very clear and strong stance on evolution: it does not live up to the task of creating complex systems such as living beings. From there you get that complexity cannot evolve, and thus a creator is needed. The problem is that the original statement is unjustified.//

          It is possible to support ID and still think macro-evolution and common descent are true. I don’t think these things are correct because I don’t see the scientific evidence for them.

          I don’t want to speak for the Rabbi, but I take him at his word that he is focused on the origin of life issue. To go after his other beliefs which he chooses to keep to himself is something akin to a witch hunt. It’s rather bizarre actually.

          • who cares what my name is.

            Of course it is possible to support ID and evolution. Many things are possible. Its not consistent though. Belief in ID => natural selection cannot generate complex structures (eg the eye) => all eyes must have been created => dito for every cell in every body => we were fully created in our present form in a single or possibly several events. Random mutation and natural selection between generations does not significantly increase complexity => natural selection does not play a significant role in the history of life (in terms of complexity).
            Although inconsistent, supporting evolution and ID is better than just ID. I don’t see anywhere in this discussion that the rabbi has stated belief or non-belief in evolution, just the evasive “I have my own personal opinions about that, but they are irrelevant for the time being” Perhaps they are irrelevant, but they would be helpful to the discussion. My suspicion (I have not read his book) is that his beliefs are consistent with ID.

  • Moshe Averick: ““Nobody ever allowed something as trivial as facts and logic to interfere with their agenda. If the facts and logic don’t fit, then the facts and logic will just have to fend for themselves.” Nowhere do we find more glaring examples of the human predilection for intellectual corruption than when we examine the writings and lectures of an ideologue who is driven, not by a burning desire for truth, but by a burning desire to further his or her own agenda.”

    Moshe, were you speaking of Meyers when you said these words, or of yourself?

    The entire purpose of your article was ad hominem. You’ve attempted to discredit P.Z. Meyer’s credibility, not his arguments. You’ve conflated analogy and evidence to make the strawman argument that piles of driftwood are direct evidence of biological evolution. They aren’t. They are evidence that simple, mindless processes can “create” complex structures.

    You quoted Michael Denton to demonstrate the level of complexity within the cell. Tell me, do either you or Denton claim that all of the components of a cell are equally and vitally important? How do you explain the fact that roughly 70% of the genetic code in those cells is inactive? Zooming out to the human body as a whole, how do you explain the human appendix, male nipples, and vestigial tail bones?

    To directly answer your question, yes, P.Z. Meyers’ actions and words occasionally embarrass me as an atheist. The “F**k off, Rabbi” statement, for example. I do think that the Torah and all religious texts offer particularly poor theories and evidence. I merely disagree with the verbiage and tone of his statement. It’s obvious that Meyers has thrown in the towel in trying to convince the rabbi in question. I understand where he’s coming from. It is frustrating to argue with people who effectively start with the premise that god constantly changes anything we don’t yet explicitly understand.

    There is nothing inherently conflicting between God and Science. Science is the study of existence. If we start with the premise that God exists and that God created the rest of existence, then Science is the study of God’s work, nothing more, nothing less. Claiming that valid science is false is a claim that God is false.

    • William Butler

      //The entire purpose of your article was ad hominem. You’ve attempted to discredit P.Z. Meyer’s credibility, not his arguments.//

      P.Z. Meyer’s discredits himself. The guy is a complete joke who makes a name for himself by attacking people who have different views than himself. If he attacked any other group (minorities, women, homosexuals) he’d be immediately condemned, but because he attacks people of faith he is given a free pass.

      //Tell me, do either you or Denton claim that all of the components of a cell are equally and vitally important? //

      I’ve never seen anyone make that claim.

      //How do you explain the fact that roughly 70% of the genetic code in those cells is inactive? //

      Are you trying to perpetuate the junk dna myth?

      //Zooming out to the human body as a whole, how do you explain the human appendix, male nipples, and vestigial tail bones?//

      The human appendix has function (hint, check wikipedia). The human coccyx (tail bone) serves as an anchor point for several muscles and allows you to defecate and urinate. Male nipples look cool, and at any rate makes for a more efficient design than having two separate nipple genomes for male and female.

      //It’s obvious that Meyers has thrown in the towel in trying to convince the rabbi in question//

      Honestly, why does Meyers (and other militant atheists) care what the rabbie or anyone else believes? Why is it such a threat that others can have different viewpoints?

      //There is nothing inherently conflicting between God and Science.//

      Finally you say something that makes sense!

  • Bill Thacker

    “Doesn’t P.Z. Myers make you embarrassed to be an atheist?” Not as much as Rabbi Averick makes me embarrassed to be a human being.

    First, the Rabbi uses this public essay for what’s obviously a personal feud between him and Myers. What is this, the Jerry Springer Show? Don’t air your feuds in public.

    Second, he defends Intelligent Design. That’s about as respectable as designing a perpetual motion machine. I reckon Myers ridicules Averick because the Rabbi’s position is ridiculous.

    Third, it’s embarrassing to hear any clergyman talk about “facts”. You make you living from beliefs, Rabbi; Myers makes *his* from facts. You have no scientific background according to your website, so my first reaction to your criticism of a REAL scientist like Myers is derision. You may in fact be an expert, but that’s not apparent from your handling of the topic.

    Myers’ analogy (and all analogies are simplified, you know) is correct enough. We call the structure a “driftwood wall” because it *looks* like a wall. Not a good one, but it still performs some of the basic functions of a wall. The stack of driftwood DOES have enough functional complexity to support an analogy.

    “Does Myers actually expect us to believe that… a bacterium … is assembled like a pile of driftwood on a beach? ”

    Let me turn that around. The human appendix is a useless organ that sometimes leads to death. You expect me to believe it was designed by the most perfect creature ever to exist? You actually *worship* the designer? Are you nuts?

    Further, if (functionally) complex things like bacteria require intelligent designers, then the designer is even more complex, so *he* must have had a designer, and so on. If ID supporters ever could make their argument work, it would prove that God is just the lowest-ranking in an infinite hierarchy of creators.

    • William Butler

      //Third, it’s embarrassing to hear any clergyman talk about “facts”. You make you living from beliefs, Rabbi; Myers makes *his* from facts. You have no scientific background according to your website, so my first reaction to your criticism of a REAL scientist like Myers is derision. You may in fact be an expert, but that’s not apparent from your handling of the topic.//

      There’s alot of appealing to authority going on here. You criticize the rabbi for his lack of scientific credentials and give credence to Myers for his scientific credentials.

      Do you give the same recognition to Stephen Meyer (Ph.D in Philosophy of Science from Cambridge), or Michael Behe (PhD in Biochemistry from the University of PA), or Douglas Axe(PhD in chemical engineering at Cal Tech with post doctoral research at Cambridge, and who has published research in the Journal of Molecular Biology)?

      No? Because they advocate for Intelligent Design they are not “real” scientists?

      Well how about Richard Smalley (Ph.D in Chemistry from Princeton University and winner of the 1996 Nobel prize for discovering a new form of carbon) who stated:

      “Evolution has just been dealt its death blow. After reading Origins of Life with my background in chemistry and physics, it is clear that biological evolution could not have occurred…”

      //The human appendix is a useless organ that sometimes leads to death. You expect me to believe it was designed by the most perfect creature ever to exist? You actually *worship* the designer? Are you nuts?//

      Dude! You need to get up to speed on your facts if you are going to advocate for atheism. The human appendix has been found to have function that are beneficial to the human colon. This is on wikipedia for goodness sake!

      //Further, if (functionally) complex things like bacteria require intelligent designers, then the designer is even more complex, so *he* must have had a designer, and so on. If ID supporters ever could make their argument work, it would prove that God is just the lowest-ranking in an infinite hierarchy of creators//

      ID doesn’t identify the designer as such. For someone who thinks this designer is the God of the Bible, those scriptures quote God as saying that He has always existed and had no beginning. Problem solved.

      And let me get this right… you seem to be using a THEOLOGICAL argument to advance a scientific argument….interesting.

      • Bill Thacker

        “There’s alot of appealing to authority going on here.”

        Not really. I’m simply taking both men at their credentials. Myers’ show that he understands science, while Averick’s do not.

        You list some people with scientific credentials who defend Creationism and ID, but they didn’t write this essay. I’m arguing with the author.

        Nor do authorities convince me. When I can’t prove something for myself I rely on the entire scientific community, not a short list of authorities. I favor Myers because his view represents the scientific mainstream and my own understanding, not because he has a sexy job title.

        So while I can dispute the authorities you cite, there’s no need. I have thousands of scientists disputing them for me.

        Re: the appendix, I stand corrected. It’s only an *apparently* useless organ. There are some published theories as to functions it might perform. But medical experiences shows can be removed from adults with no apparent ill effects.

        In the future I’ll use the human eye’s blind spot as an example of the Designer’s incompetence.

        “ID doesn’t identify the designer as such.” It doesn’t matter. If complexity requires a designer, a complex designer also requires a designer, ad infinitum. Call the designer whatever you want.

        This isn’t a theological argument, it’s simply logic. It’s ridiculous to claim to that life had to have a designer, but the designer did not because “he always existed”. If we’re playing that game, I counter with the secular theory that life exists on Earth because life has always existed. It’s superior to your theory because we know life exists; your designer’s past or present existence is pure conjecture.

        • William Butler

          //In the future I’ll use the human eye’s blind spot as an example of the Designer’s incompetence.//

          It is another myth that the human eye is poorly designed. The human eye is so well designed that it only takes one photon of light to stimulate an electrical response.

          If you’re interested you can read about it on these links:

          http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/08/the_human_eye_is_so_poorly_des009951.html

          http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2000/PSCF3-00Bergman.html

          //If we’re playing that game, I counter with the secular theory that life exists on Earth because life has always existed//

          But we know (from science) that the Earth and the Universe have not always existed. Things made out of matter cannot have existed eternally in the past. Some immaterial cause outside of nature brought everything else into existence.

  • I agree we have not yet proved that life can emerge from the elements without human intervention. It is unlikely that we will ever be able to replicate the conditions that existed on earth 4 billion years ago. If scientists succeeded in doing this, and life evolved, would that be an argument for ID? I mean, if scientists succeed in cloning a wooly mammoth using the most advanced DNA extraction techniques, does that prove a female mammoth couldn’t have grown one in her uterus without thinking twice about it?

    I’ve never understood what is gained by proposing the ID argument anyway. Life on earth might have originated with a creator. OK, so what? There are tons of evidence supporting the theory of evolution, so it was an indirect creation of all sentient life on earth. If there was a purpose, we have no way of knowing what it was, whether the purpose has already been achieved, or whether it lies far in the future. We have no way of knowing whether it has anything to do with human beings, or even with earth. It’s a big universe. How do we know earth isn’t a by-product? All that plastic debris forming dead spots in the oceans was designed. Is that what it was designed for?

    There is certainly no reason to think that ID suggests that we have a supernatural component called a soul.

    There is a huge gap between saying there might have been a creator and saying we have evidence this creator has a relationship with one particular kind of life on one particular planet AND shares the trait of a consciousness that is independent of the material world with this life form.

  • slashgoddess

    PZ Mayers, I like him~

  • William Butler

    What a great article! I completely agree that P.Z. Myers seldom makes any coherent arguments. He (and his zombie followers) usually resort to the usual profane ad hominem attacks that are intended to silence and intimidate their opposition. This is extremely comical in nature, and exposes what little they have in terms of logic.

    Driftwood huh? That’s really something. So because of a pile of driftwood Darwinism is proven true. All he needs to do now is throw in a few four letter words and he’ll seal the deal!

    • PZ Myers is nothing but a know-nothing rabble rouser. He’s a polemicist and nothing more – take a look at that one post where he tried to make some genuine “intellectual” arguments to justify his belief that there is no God – it was so bad that even his usual sheep couldn’t stomach it!
      He’s only good for them when knocking off quick insulting posts, justified by nothing but a heap of self-congratulatory intellectual masturbation. Then they can get the emotional kick they are looking for, high-five, and suck each other off in the comments.

      It’s hilarious to watch, if it weren’t so sad. Pharyngula is more like Age of Autism than Respectful Insolence, and it’s worse for it.

      • Didn’t you notice that your claim that PZ’s arguments were rejected by the commenters on his blog immediately refutes your claim that that they are “sheep”? How do you manage to avoid stuffing your food into the wrong orifice?

    • I don’t believe it! A commenter who is on my side of this argument! that is a clear miracle and proves the existence of God!
      Moshe

  • You invented the creator, the creator did not invent you.

    I can already predict what a debate with you would be- I am that good. First, you attack the study of the real, visible, measurable universe which actually surrounds us by using arguments drawn from your a priori, axiomatic system that comes from a book written by crazy old goat herders. Because science must operate within your axiomatic system in order to disprove you on your own terms, and since atheism categorically rejects such apriorist axioms in favor of a different system centered on the observable universe, you would claim to have won or have the upper hand. In reality, all you have done is attacked an apple with an orange.

    The reality you fail to see is simple. Because you insist on your own beliefs (read: a priori system of untestable axioms) and the scientific empiricist refuses to take their own beliefs at face value, they have won at describing the real world. In your own mind you may have won the argument of spiritual invisible transcendent truth, but no matter what, the argument is actually about the real observable world, and you simply fail next to a scientist atheist at explaining that.

    I can even predict what you would say to this; you would throw the toaster at me: “I dont need to know how a toaster works to use one!” Well, if you know how a toaster works, then you know it isn’t magic. There is an actual, logical explanation for how it works that does not require you to believe in magic or invisible powers.

    The same applies to the real world.

    • William Butler

      I’m sure this bit of psychoanalysis was directed at Rabbi Moshe, but I’d like to weigh in.

      //since atheism categorically rejects such apriorist axioms in favor of a different system centered on the observable universe,//

      This is the basic problem. The claims of atheistic scientists are not based on what we observe in the Universe. They insist that the first life began by purely natural means, yet have failed to demonstrate how this is possible. Many then proceed to hurl insults at skeptical people who do not wholeheartedly embrace their assertions.

      Meanwhile, the book written by the crazy goat herders, as you put it, makes assertions that we are only now beginning to discover are true. For example, in the first verse in Genesis, it says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.”

      So the universe had a beginning? Really? When did we finally prove that to be true? How did the crazy goat herders get it right thousands of years ago when many of the atheistic scientists of the twentieth century insist otherwise (by vehemently advocating for the steady state theory)?

      And as we discover more about biology and the cell we see ever increasing levels of complexity. The problem is just getting worse for the materialists. And their insults and taunts don’t carry water anymore. The truth speaks for itself.

      • Shaka Zulu IV

        Actually, Mr Butler, my ancestors living in the rainforests of Congo discovered that the Earth was created when the great elder Shaka Zulu I had a waking dream. He saw with his own eyes hat Lord Abuwagazuzu Bebee conjured the universe from the coals of his ancient fire.

        So you see, my Abuwagazuzu Bebee followers and I worship the one true God.

      • “And as we discover more about biology and the cell we see ever increasing levels of complexity.”
        Maybe you should actually watch a presentation by PZ. Especialy the part about “Complexity complexety complexity”.

      • Believers have persisted for even longer than atheists and have failed to demonstrate a single god.

      • “The claims of atheistic scientists are not based on what we observe in the Universe.”

        Um, yes they are.

        “They insist that the first life began by purely natural means…”

        And you’ve failed to show that there are any other possible means.

        “So the universe had a beginning? Really?”

        Not necessarily. The word beginning is a very time based concept, the flow of time itself is relative.

        “by vehemently advocating for the steady state theory”

        Really? Who vehemently advocates that? The big bang theory has replaced it a long time ago. That’s the value of science, the concecus can change based on observations and new data. You don’t have to ignore data simply because it conflicts with your heavily invested pre-concieved notions.

        “And as we discover more about biology and the cell we see ever increasing levels of complexity.”

        Which is easily explainable by evolution. This stuff isn’t really that complex when you’re not struggling with conflicts founded by a bronze age mythology.

        • William Butler

          //Not necessarily. The word beginning is a very time based concept, the flow of time itself is relative.//

          Time flows in a relative way depending on a variety of factors like velocity and gravity, but that has nothing to do with the fact modern cosmology has now demonstrated, with mathematical proof that our Universe had an absolute beginning.

          From Alexander Vilenkin’s book, Many Worlds in One:

          “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning…”

          //Really? Who vehemently advocates that? The big bang theory has replaced it a long time ago. That’s the value of science, the concecus can change based on observations and new data. You don’t have to ignore data simply because it conflicts with your heavily invested pre-concieved notions.//

          How I wish that were true. The very name “Big Bang Theory” was a pejorative coined by Fred Hoyle who was a diehard advocate of the steady state model and hated the theistic implications of a cosmic beginning.

          Many other twentieth century scientists fought tooth and nail against the Big Bang theory because they couldn’t stand the theological implications. For example Sir Arthur Eddington wrote:

          “Philosophically the notion of a beginning of the present order is repugnant to me. I should like to find a genuine loophole. I simply do not believe the present order of things started off with a bang…the expanding Universe is preposterous… it leaves me cold.”

          Who’s to say how long scientific progress in physics was stifled because fundamentalist atheistic scientists refused to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence for a cosmic beginning?

          It’s kind of like the fiasco with junk DNA in a way, but that’s another story.

          //Which is easily explainable by evolution. This stuff isn’t really that complex when you’re not struggling with conflicts founded by a bronze age mythology.//

          Atheists always claim everything in biology is so simple but the experimental data and real world results show the exact opposite. Craig Venter created an artificial form (from living organisms) and had to jump through all kinds of hoops in order to do it. It took several years, millions of dollars, the most sophisticated lab equipment in the world and a team of elite bio-engineers and they are still not finished with their project.

      • We’re actually quite close to showing how biological life naturally came about from chemicals. Give it about 3 more years. Of the 14 steps required we’ve figured out 13 of them. The majority of those steps figured out in the last decade. Advice to the religious… if you use the life from non-life argument you are likely going to have pie in your face very shortly.

        • William Butler

          “We’re actually quite close to showing how biological life naturally came about from chemicals. Give it about 3 more years. Of the 14 steps required we’ve figured out 13 of them…”

          This is completely untrue. Scientists are nowhere close to showing how life came from non-life. And there’s a heck of lot more than 14 steps involved.

          I suggest you check your sources or do better research. For starters, I’d recommend Stephen Meyer’s book, “Signature in the Cell” which discusses this topic in-depth.

          • ManhattanMC

            Doesn’t it ever bother you that you keep coming back to the same three names: Ax, Meyer and Behe, people that no one in the scientific community (who doesn’t happen to be a die hard creationist) takes seriously?

            And really, why should anyone care what a Phd in history and philosophy of science says about biology or his misapplications of information theory?

  • Heat Seeker

    Hey Moshe lets cut through all the riff raff. Prove a god exists. Good luck bubba. Then…prove that said god is the jewish god of the old testament. And then well take your drivel seriously. No god no ignorant theories on how we got here.

    • To All:

      I’m very sorry I cannot answer everyone’s comments personally, although I would like to. I simply do not have the time, but I appreciate the fact that you feel it is important enough to state your opinions and feelings. I have read Dr. Myer’s rebuttal and will post my own response shortly.
      Moshe

    • Prove life could originate from non-life through a naturalistic process.
      Moshe

      • Uh, really?

        No wonder you find the prospect of debating Prof. Myers to be “daunting”. Your rhetorical skills amount to little more than “I know you are, but what am I?”

      • IF you are going to give this argument, then you need to explain where in the heck your god came from, and who MADE him!
        Complex problems have complex solutions, you can NOT commit intellectual laziness by assigning everything to god.

      • Heat Seeker

        You are the one that is making the positive claim that a god (namely the abrahamic god) exists. I made no claim concerning abiogenesis.

        Once again please provide proof your deity exists before you start talking about all the miraculous things hes capable of.

      • Daniel Schealler

        As I’ve said elsewhere in this thread: I’m actually impressed you’re taking time to respond at all.

        I’m confident you have other (and more urgent) things to do than just spending all day engaging with random internet people in the comments threads of an article you wrote.

    • I would posit that proof has been provided. You have a choice to either believe or not believe the proof provided.

  • Embarrassed by PZ? No, not one bit. But you should be embarrassed of yourself.

    • Sometimes an article based on a survey will come up and it will force us to ask: “Why do People mistrust or even hate atheists?” Read the rest of the comments on this article.

  • Chris Sparks

    No.

  • Oh apparently it was dam with a n that got me moderated.

    I’m constantly amazed how upset you yankees get with an expletive that is less offensive than a good strong tosh or even a really strongly delivered bless you my son

  • who cares what my name is.

    Dear Rabbi Moshe,
    I actually think it is pretty cool that you have taken the time to respond to a crowd that is clearly hostile to your point of view. Congratulations for that. I would still like to know, honestly, how does ID justify the claim of necessity of the designer? Proof of necessity in the scientific world requires more than a list of examples. For starters, you need to quantify complexity, have a means of measuring it in an object/organism. Then you must show on some theoretical or empirical basis that it is not possible for an object with “complexity index” greater than some threshold to arise without design. You must disprove the contention of mainstream Science that natural selection is sufficient, and by disprove I mean provide a train of logical propositions, or at least something more convincing than the “you can’t be serious” argument (which is the only one I have ever heard coming from ID. So please Rabbi, point me to that research in ID that has convinced you of its logical superiority to natural selection.

    • PZ DOES have an agenda, much like Galileo did in telling the truth about the shape of the earth and it’s true role in relationship to other celestial bodies.

      It is 2011, not 329 or 1256. PZ is doing what any rational person should do when others go around making absurd claims. Just like you WOULD, or should, make noise if someone went around today claiming the sun was a god.

      Thoughts do not occur without a material process, a brain. Talking about non-material super brains with magical super powers is like still claiming the earth to be flat.

      YES, atheists do have an agenda, to pull the rest of humanity out of their myths.

      Einstein said called the Jewish religion, in his last letter, “Nobel but Childish”

      Thomas Jefferson said “question with boldness even the existence of a god”

      IF humans never questioned social norms our species never would have left the caves.

      Standing up to myths is not hateful or dishonest. We are merely saying to ALL god/s, deity believers, that they do not need a fictional friend to live life, any more than the Egyptians really needed to believe ths sun was a god.

      I DO think it is absurd in an age where we know what DNA is and have cell phones, and modern medicine, that people still cling to these ancient myths.

      We do not hate believers, nor will atheists give you cooties, We simply find invisible friend claims absurd.

    • Daniel Schealler

      Good luck, Who Cares.

      The Rabbi’s response to me below boiled down to: Brick walls are obviously designed, so bacteria are obviously designed too. Therefore, you must prove they weren’t intelligently designed!

      I shit you not.

      I’m still looking forward to a reply to my response to that one.

      I hope you get something better.

    • To the man/woman with no name:

      Let me try to answer briefly, if you want to continue discussing this seriously please email me at Rabbimaverick@hotmail.com

      Nearly a third of my book deals with Origin of Life,
      I specifically and explicitly left out the whole issue of Darwinian evolution and natural selection. I have my own personal opinions about that, but they are irrelvant for the time being. Darwinian evolution does not and cannot explain the origin of life. You must first have life before you have natural selection. Most of the people making comments on this article are still under the grossly mistaken assumption that researchers like David Deamer and Jack Szostak understand how life began through a naturalistic process. (Neither Deamer nor Szostak ever would make such an outrageous claim) Jack Szostak is a brilliant researcher who is trying through synthetic chemistry and/or synthetic biology to create proto-life in the laboratory. Everything he has accomplished so far could ONLY take place in the most highly advanced laboratories under the rigorous guidance,control, and ingenuity of the most brilliant chemists and microbiologists. This, of course, is a perfect example of intelligent design. The one who has been most outspoken on that point is Dr. Robert Shapiro (agnostic) professor emeritus of chemistry at NYU.
      Jack Szostak has stated quite candidly many times, that science has no idea how life could have originated naturally, but despite this he is steadfast in his “belief” that science will find the answer. This is similar to Jerry Coyne’s statement that he is certain that in 50 years science will have cracked this problem.

      You are mistaken when you say I need to quantify complexity. The only time I would need some precise formula is in borderline cases. When Dr. Myers flashed the picture of the brick wall on the screen neither he, nor I, now anyone else watching needed a mathematical formula to know instantly that it was the product of intelligent intervention. When he flashed the picture of the pile of driftwood nobody who still has their faculties about them needed a mathematical formula to instantly know that it was a random collection of driftwood that needed no intelligent intervention. This notion of the need for mathematical definitions of “functional and specified complexity” is a red herring of the atheist/materialist idealogue. They use it when they want to attack ID, and in every other aspect of their lives immediately recognize the difference between a pile of junk and an intelligently built structure.

      The first living bacterium is so astoundingly functionally complex that it is beyond anything that can be produced by human technology. If not for the impications about God there is no one in their right mind who would not immediately acknowledge that it was created by intelligence.

      That of course does not tell us who the creator is, any more than if we received a morse code transmission from the great spiral galaxy, we would know who sent it.

      However, once we know that life must be created, we then must confront the PHILOSOPHICAL (ie. not scientific) dilemma of the infinitely regressing series of creators. All serious believers and atheists understand that ultimately it boils down to that question. In other words, the final determination of the existence of a supernatural creator is a philosophical question, not a scientific question.

      If you want to continue please email me at the address above.
      Thank you for your genuine and insightful comment and question
      <\
      Moshe

      • William Butler

        Rabbi Moshe,

        Thanks for being willing to defend your point of view on a very public forum. I just love talking to internet atheists! Money can’t buy entertainment like this!

        BTW, I just bought your book on Amazon Kindle and can’t wait to read it!

        William Butler

        • William,

          Thanks for your “intelligent intervention” on this comment section. Some of the people who commented who are skeptics also raised serious points and I try to respond whenever I have time. Most seem to be “Richard Dawkins wannabees” and engage in adolescent taunting and insults. It is entertaining, though. In fact one might even characterize it as:
          THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH! (yuk,yuk)

          • I find it incredibly amusing that you accuse Atheists of using adolescent taunting and insults while calling them “Richard Dawkins wannabees”, implying that they’re not intelligent, and suggesting they’re clowns. All this after writing an article you titled with a childish attack and filled with a bunch of personal insults. Well done.

      • Daniel Schealler

        “Jack Szostak has stated quite candidly many times, that science has no idea how life could have originated naturally, but despite this he is steadfast in his “belief” that science will find the answer.”

        Citation please.

        I’m familiar with Szostak’s position that we do not currently have the required evidence to determine what happened historically. If there is insufficient evidence from the pre-biotic era potentially available, maybe we never will be able to answer the historic question of what, specifically, happened.

        But that doesn’t mean we can’t investigate how life could have arisen.

        In particular, we can investigate pathways that are consistent with the pre-biotic environment and see what does or doesn’t work when similar conditions are replicated in the lab.

        Jack Szostak is cited as author on an article titled ‘Origins of Cellular Life along with Jason P. Schrum and Ting F. Zhu.

        Here’s the opening sentence. Emphasis is mine.

        Understanding the origin of cellular life on Earth requires the discovery of plausible pathwaysfor the transition from complex prebiotic chemistry to simple biology, defined as the emergence of chemical assemblies capable of Darwinian evolution.”

        Another sentence from the opening paragraphs.

        “Although such laboratory studies may not reflect the specific pathways [note the use of 'may' leaves the question open either way] that led to the origin of life on Earth, they are proving to be invaluable in uncovering surprising and unanticipated physical processes that help us to reconstruct plausible pathways and scenarios for the origin of life.

        http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/publications/Szostak_pdfs/Schrum_et_al_CSH_2010.pdf

        As the article goes on to explain, there are still many gaps in our knowledge. But then the article goes on to propose a model of how life could have arisen in the prebiotic environment – showing clearly which areas still need more work, and where the current boundaries on our understanding lie.

        This is the view that while science may not have the answers yet, it may still be investigated. That science could very well have the answer, or something very close to the answer – but we cant have strong confidence just yet.

        Finally, based on the state and rate of current research, optimism that future research will continue to shed light on the question is not an unrealistic position to hold… No need for scurrilous accusations of scare-quote/un-scare-quote belief. (By the way: project much?)

        But, as always, I may be wrong.

        I am not an expert.

        My knowledge of the subject matter is not exhaustive.

        So, as always, I am not certain, and remain open to correction.

        You have claimed that Szostak has stated on many occasions that “Szostak has stated quite candidly many times, that science has no idea how life could have originated naturally.”

        Citation please.

        • Thanks for the ref. Daniel! I note that Schrum et al give a favourable mention to the alkaline vent hypothesis pioneered by Mike Russell and William Martin, which I point to elsewhere in this thread. No doubt Mr. Averick will continue to repeat the false claim that scientists have “no idea” how life could have originated naturally; it’s quite evident that information which doesn’t fit into his narrow, ignorant worldview is simply not taken in.

          • Daniel Schealler

            One of the nice side-effects of the whole atheism/religion/evolution/creationism thing is that it’s prompted me to learn a lot of things about biology that, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have been all that interested in.

  • No, not embarrassed. Thanks for checking.

  • I’m embarrassed I bothered to read this dumb article. Thanks for trying, I suppose.

  • travitt hamilton

    No.

  • I think the Rabbi and the rest of the “it’s complex therefore it must have been designed” crowd have it all backwards. I was always taught that the hallmark of good design was simplicity.

    Given its inherent and mind boggling complexity (and frequent redundancies) either the universe is the product of undirected, blind natural forces, or God is one sloppy designer…

    • Simplicity is “A” hallmark of good design, but a design must also be complex enough to achieve its intended purpose. A cell is sufficiently complex to achieve self-replication.

      Since you feel the universe is evidence of sloppy design, you must feel yourself adequate to adjudicate between those types of universes capable of creating life on their own and those not.

      If only God had had you around to show him a tidier way!

  • Mike McCants

    “No wonder Dr. Coyne turned down an invitation to a moderated discussion with me on the subject of Origin of Life”

    He assumed you would say “God did it”, the moderator would say “we are done here” and the 3 second discussion would be over. Then the religious audience would cheer.

    You might say “I can’t believe it is even possible that life arose from non-life”. He would say “I can’t believe that god did it 4 billion years ago”. Then the 6 second discussion would be over.

    Why should any scientist discuss anything with a rabbi? They have nothing to discuss. The weather?

  • Nope. I’m a secular humanist and I think he’s awesome. I’d love to buy him a beer and chat a few minutes with him.

  • The fact that the commentors have repeatedly explained the flaw in the Rabbi’s argument and the fact that he still pops up periodically to say, ‘show me the flaw in my argument’ demonstrates a peculiar form of “complexity”.

  • Psychodigger

    I´m obviously not going to read through all of this apologetic religious drivel, since a line from the first paragraphcompletely negates the good rabbi´s entire point, regardless of whether Myers is right (yes):

    ´…an ideologue who is driven, not by a burning desire for truth, but by a burning desire to further his or her own agenda…´ pot, kettle, anyone?

  • marshall gibson

    The article states:

    Nowhere do we find more glaring examples of the human predilection for intellectual corruption than when we examine the writings and lectures of an ideologue who is driven, not by a burning desire for truth, but by a burning desire to further his or her own agenda.

    -If the ideologue happens to be a rabbi, I couldn’t agree more.

  • Unfortunately, PZ is zealous and outspoken. But that’s only because there are so many people making moronic statements about the origin of the universe. No one is “embarrassed”. I can’t believe so many people (myself included) bothered to waste time commenting on this silly article. I am slightly embarrassed about that…

  • No, not embarrassed by P.Z. at all, thanks for asking. Rather proud of the man, in fact!

  • I think PZ Meyers is making some interesting arguments. I am not embarrassed at all.

  • Hopefully the almost complete unanimity of the commenters gives the Rabbi pause to reflect on his conclusions. Particularly since, if there was actually a logical flaw in Myers argument, the same crowd would be racing each other to be the first to point it out to him and anyone else that would listen.

    • William Butler

      Something tells me that the good Rabbi is not one to be intimidated by mobs, nor does he have a desire to be part of the “in” crowd.

      I find it quite hilarious that you think that a random mob of village atheists (no doubt many with the same ip address) saying nasty things on a blog would cause an author of book attacking Darwinism to recant his views in order to be “cool”….

  • Another atheist here. Not embarrassed at all!

  • Nope, not embarassed at all.
    Atheist share a common respect for reality. PZ is one of the extremely bright people in the world who try to convey the importance of acknowledging reality.
    We can only thank him for his effort, his passion, and his persistance.

  • LightningRose

    Anyone who believes in bronze age magical sky fairies has no business lecturing anyone else on logic.

  • No, I am not embarrassed by P.Z. Myers. No idea should be held so sacred that it cannot be questioned. No object should be held so sacred that it cannot be destroyed.

  • Actually, a pile of driftwood has a substantial amount of functional complexity (by that I mean complexity that serves a function, meaning “makes something nonobvious happen”). Driftwood laying on the beach is subjected to gravity, strong winds and waves, which all tend to distribute it evenly across the beach, destroying any structures it may form. To withstand it, driftwood has to be put in a pile in a specific way, so that it’s bits and pieces intersect and support each other. A human child may find that it is not a trivial thing, to assemble a pile in such way that she’ll find it unchanged and undamaged the next morning.

    Of course waves, wind and gravity don’t have to design. They simply keep adding new pieces of wood randomly, and take away those that lie unsupported.

    And that’s how functional complexity arises: by adding random complexity (mutation), and removing unhelpful complexity (selection).

    “Specified information” is a subset of total (random) information, you don’t need any special ways to create it (do design), you just need ways to create random information (physics provides) and ways to remove the bits that are not “specified” (and since the difference lays in functions needed for survival, they remove themselves). Nothing to do with intelligence whatsoever.

    It would be really helpful if creationist stopped making up excuses, pardon, arguments and for once tried to understand how the evolution mechanism works.

    • Dear Dedor,

      In his lecture Dr. Myer said that the driftwood wall had no functional or specified complexity- that applied only to the brick wall. So you have already disagreed with Dr.Myer. With your statement about mutation you have begged the question. How did the original genetic material arise so that mutations could start?
      Moshe

      • We are working with different definitions. I focused on performing a function (because only that you can undoubtedly find in nature), Myers on performing a pre-specified function (because only that implies design, sadly, you’d need to interview the designer about his intentions first to prove that you’ve got something pre-specified). The mess is ID proponents fault, since they haven’t come up with a proper definition yet. I find my approach more charitable towards ID. It still doesn’t help it much, but makes the discussions run a little bit longer.

        I don’t think that my post is begging a question, it looks more like a case of changing the subject on your behalf (I hope you are above switching it to “what caused the Big Bang”, when direr time comes). But all right.

        I assume you are asking not about the chemical “hardware” details, but about the information content.

        Answer is simple: you start out from pure random. No functions.

        “Specified information” in our world is necessary only because organisms need to combat (or compete with) other organisms with “specified information”.

        Whatever model of life’s origin we’d talk about, the initial situation is ruled by simple chemical properties (self-replication of RNA or certain proteins, self-aggregation and splitting of membrane bubbles etc.). When functions, i.e. “specified” biochemistry (supplied by RNA or something similar) arise, they only speed up what happens by itself (aggregation of matter, replication) – and only when they arise, “happening by itself” becomes insufficient. And that is how evolution starts.

        I hope you won’t be asking where do we get random information from?:)

        Seriously, there are people out there who can explain it a lot better. Origins of life is an interesting field, the only problem is that you need to learn it, not make up excuses for why it is impossible:). When I see a creationist, an IDer, I see a man with a desperate need to learn. Sadly, they so rarely do.

    • What is the function of driftwood lying on a beach? Do you mean to define “functional complexity” as complexity that “makes something nonobvious happen”?

  • Did ya notice how you asked Atheists if they were embarassed, and they answered you? Did ya also notice the responses are 100% supportive of Dr. Myers and 100% dismissive of your inane argument?

    In case you missed it, not one atheist has answered your question in the affirmative.

    Maybe you weren’t really writing the article to appeal to atheists, maybe it was just pablum for your pathetic followers who are looking for justification for continuing to believe the fairy tales you are pushing?

    • I mentioned no fairy tales. The only fairy tale is that a pile of driftwood can be used as an analogy for a bacterium, and the beleivers of fairy tales are the loyal minions who nod their heads mindlessly at anything they hear supporting their agenda.
      Moshe

      • Most people who identify as atheist are skeptics at heart. Mindless nodding is hardly the hallmark of a skeptic. You seem to have us confused with the faithful.

  • Rabbi:

    Mr Myers claims that the driftwood picture was shown in support of the following:

    “We have complicated things that are not designed, and we have simple things that are designed. We also have complicated things that are designed, and simple things that are not. The message you should take away from these examples is that complexity and design are independent properties of an object. One does not imply the other. You cannot determine whether something was designed by looking at whether it is complicated or not.”

    I don’t see anything in here that suggests the complexity of a cell could arise in the same way a pile of driftwood could. Did he say something different at the actual presentation?

    • The problem of course is that Dr.Myer uses the word “complexity” in different ways. He calls a pile of garbage “complex” and then calls a bacterium “complex”. Only someone who has completely lost touch with reality could fail to see that the two have nothing to do with each other. He says quite clearly, “We biologists admit that the cell is very complex, how do we deal with complexity?” He then purports to show that “complexity” can arise through undirected processes, LIKE THE PILE OF DRIFTWOOD. That is the main thrust of the lecture. Watch it yourself.
      Moshe

      • They both ARE complex (needing a lot of information to describe accurately). I’m sorry, but it’s not Myers who doesn’t understand the term. IDers are constantly confusing complexity (which goes hand to hand with randomness) and order (which goes hand to hand with simplicity).

        Yes, products of evolution are more complex than human designs. It means more random. Simplicity is aim of the designer. Compare photovoltaic panel to a leaf, a car to a race horse, a plane to a bird. Higher performance, higher effectiveness, and orders of magnitude less complication – that is a feature, not a bug. Complexity is evolution’s signature, not design’s.

      • Surely even an ID proponent can see that words can have different meanings at different times, even if that time frame is a nanosecond (designed), depending on the context.

        Language is complex and yes it has evolved so that confusion arises for the simple at heart and those like you who push mendaciousness as an art form. Language has specific functional complexity. Parts of it are designed, eg jargon and the TLA’s you yankees love, but even in the bits that are designed the majority evolved from people like me making fun of the pomposity of the designers and changing the meaning so we can secretly poke fun at them.

        So in simple terms functional complexity does not have the same meaning as specific functional complexity or even the root complexity. Semantics is a fun game in a world that has evolved because just like statistics you can make it mean whatever you want if you lie hard enough.

      • Honest people don’t need to play those kinds of word games. If you wouldn’t mind, please have an honest discussion. There is no need for misdirection or sleight of hand.

        If you cannot deal with honest debate then you have no business being in a debate at all.

      • ok I watched the original and have to confess that with the context of the rest of the presentation this whole debate becomes somewhat meaningless.

        Clearly Dr. Meyers struck a nerve with his presentation opening which describes the weakness of the argument you have presented here in your comments so well. It is hard not to conclude that after that blow you went looking for any little thing you could take out of context misrepresent to make yourself feel better.

        Let us know when you have something better than complexity=design

  • “Intelligent Design” is no more than an argument from personal incredulity: “I don’t understand how this could have arisen naturally, therefore, it happened by magic”. Not very impressive. No, I’m not embarrassed by PZ, but you should be embarrassed by this article.

    • If by “personal incredulity” you mean that without conclusive evidence I find it impossible to believe that a bacterium could have arisen through an unguided, undirected natural process you are absolutely correct. In this I am joined by Dr. George Whitesides, one of the leading chemists in the world who stated regarding a naturalistic origin of life, “Based on all the chemistry I know, I find it astonishingly improbable.” Why don’t you write Dr. Whitesides?
      Moshe

      • Wow, did you just use an argument from authority?

      • Are you serious? You say it’s impossible, then as support for this viewpoint you quote a scientist (whose field isn’t even biology, for god’s sake) saying that it’s improbable? Have you no shame, sir? Does your intellectual dishonesty know no bounds? I am AGAPE, sir.

      • Daniel Schealler

        “Why don’t you write Dr. Whitesides?”

        Hey – if he has a recent article up somewhere online where I can leave comments, I will. Point the way.

        “If by “personal incredulity” you mean that without conclusive evidence I find it impossible to believe that a bacterium could have arisen through an unguided, undirected natural process you are absolutely correct.”

        But then you’re happy to believe, without conclusive evidence, the existence of a divine intelligent designer?

        Okay, okay. Low blow, low blow. Couldn’t resist. ^_^

        No-one is suggesting that a modern, complex bacterium sprung fully formed from the complex pre-biotic chemistry on Earth, constructed of whole cloth (if you’ll permit the metaphor).

        Well, technically cdesign proponentsists claim exactly that – only they also include the posited intelligent designer that inexplicably did not itself require a brain that evolved in its own right, which violates everything we know about information requiring data which requires a storage medium which requires a brain which requires evolution which requires the very cells under discussion… But I digress.

        Instead, people are trying to understand what pathways could allow for a transition from complex pre-biotic chemistry to the formation of very simple, self-replicating chemical structures capable of something very much like* Darwinian evolution. The kind of proto-cell that would barely even qualify as ‘alive’ by modern standards, and certainly wouldn’t qualify as a modern bacterium. The kind of proto-cell that could, through sufficient millenia of gradual not-quite-evolution, grow to resemble the earliest forms of life of which we currently are aware.

        So the question is not whether or not you think that a modern bacteria could form spontaneously. That’s irrelevant. Of course it couldn’t – I share your skepticism on that front.

        So does everyone else.

        No one is suggesting that a modern bacterium sprung fully-formed from pre-biotic chemistry.

        —————

        You can’t possibly have watched cdk007′s YouTube video. He covers this very clearly in the introduction. Complex biological machinery at the start of the process are out of the question.

        Seriously, watch that video. It’s only 10 minutes, and it’s easily worth your time. It covers a lot of the misconceptions you’ve been spouting in the comments here. You have something to learn from this resource. Please, please, please watch it.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg

        —————

        * I say ‘very much like’ because it appears from current findings that heredity as it is currently understood didn’t kick in for a while: the roots of the tree of life are far messier than initially supposed.

      • Following up an appeal to magic with an appeal to authority is even less impressive.

    • PS, No it did not happen by “magic” anymore than the clothes you are wearing happened by “magic”. It was created by an conscious, intelligent being.
      Moshe

      • “PS, No it did not happen by “magic” anymore than the clothes you are wearing happened by “magic”. It was created by an conscious, intelligent being.
        Moshe.”

        You meant to say “a magic conscious, intelligent being.”

      • Oh yeah? Well, setting aside the fact that this is ignorant drivel, how did that conscious intelligent being come into existence?

      • Daniel Schealler

        “It was created by an conscious, intelligent being.”

        So… A wizard did it?

        Sounds like magic to me!

  • Apparently saying PZ’s beard is longer than mine made me fail moderation.

    OH well what a shame.

    Of course it couldn’t be thanking the rabbi for confirming atheists tell the truth and the religious don’t.

    Not embarrased

  • A creator is the answer to everything we don’t understand!,As long as we don’t have to explain that creator.

  • How arrogant and narrow-minded is it to proclaim that, since science doesn’t yet know how a bacterium may have come from non-life–keeping in mind that science once didn’t understand that the Earth moved around the sun rather than vice-versa, but as technology and scientific knowledge expanded, we were able to discover that very thing–that your unscientific explanation based on an ancient book written by primitives must be, instead, correct? I mean, really. Aren’t you ashamed of such a silly conclusion–to assume that because something isn’t yet known, that it cannot be known or will not be known? We’ve learned so much just in the past 100 years that it boggles the mind–although, apparently not your mind.

    • Dear green geek girl,

      How arrogant of you to assume that science will definitely find an answer.
      Why don’t you just be honest and say (like Dr. Paul Davies) that right now “we haven’t a clue” how life originated and we will have to see if it is possible if it could arise by a natural process or if the only real possiblity is a creator?
      Fair enough?

      Moshe

      • This is not arrogant. This is extrapolation of a previous tendency. Science provides.

        The funny part is that creator is not an alternative answer at all. When one asks about the origins of “specific complexity”, something that had to be even more “specifically complex” ( to make designs) does not belong to a set of potential answers – it’s not even false, it simply doesn’t answer the question.

        Even if we assume that we are completely puzzled by the existence of some one-celled organisms (we are not, we simply don’t know which of miriad possible paths they took) few billion years ago, it is still a better explained, less puzzling situation than existence of an unknown intelligent agent with great powers (and lousy designing habits that weirdly resemble randomness). We know that all intelligent agents we are aware of (us) come from something simpler. No reason whatsoever to simply assume & accept solitary, unexplained existence of another one.

        You don’t open boxes by putting them in bigger boxes. You don’t explain something complicated and improbable with something more complicated and more improbable. This would be the antonym of “explain”.

      • Except that we DO have a clue. Nothing definitive but we have a mountain of this stuff called “evidence” based in “empirical findings” that give a clue as to how this could have arisen. The possibility of a creator certainly exists. However, evolution and abiogenesis have a mountain of that “evidence” stuff that creationists absolutely abhor and the ID stance has exactly… well… zero evidence. So, which is the more logical assumption?

        I know, lets disregard the evidence and go with what we THINK makes sense, what FEELS GOOD, and what some ancient book written by pre-scientific goat herders 2000 years ago said. Yeah. Makes perfect sense.

  • Not embarrassed at all by PZ. You, on the other hand, should be ashamed of this drivel.

  • Tim Lehnerer

    No, I’m not embarrassed by PZ Myers. I’m glad I could help you with your question.

  • But what if truth and facts and logic are your personal agenda?

    What then, rabbi, what then?!

  • Derek Young

    P Z Myers was using an analogy to make a point that is worth making (namely that the supposition on which ID rests – that only simple things occur naturally, while functional complexity requires an intervener – is bogus). His analogy may not be perfect: in a world already full of life, it is hard to imagine a perfect analogy for the origin of life itself.

    But if you want one, a good scene-setter occurs in Dawkins’s book The Greatest Show On Earth, where he describes an experiment based on countless controlled random mutations. After a while, these do show a process developing, with clear evolutionary steps, even leaps, which seem so outlandish at first glance that most would doubt or struggle with them, at least to begin with. To this extent, ID is onto a winner with some people because conceptually it makes more sense to quite a few human brains. Our brains evolved to seek patterns and to prefer inaccurate but simple solutions to complex ones.

    The problem for ID theory is that it still offers up the great creationist conundrum: if a creator is necessary for complex life, the creator must be fabulously complex him/her/itself, so how exactly did s/he come about? This does not seem to be a question which more light will be shed upon with observable evidence – it’s a philosophical problem. However, the comprehensive answer to the reasonable question, “how did life originate under undirected scientific processes from a state of no life?” might take a while to discover – but at least we can foresee that we will discover it. There were times when we were 50 years away from proving gravity, or quantum theory, or that the Earth revolved around the Sun – but these were all still true even before they were discovered. You’re a little disingenuous to be dismissing that as “50 years to prepare an argument”: you could, if you want, criticise it as taking 50 years to gather enough evidence to draw a firm conclusion, though I’d be interested to hear what approach to deducing fact you would prefer.

    These are complex issues in which no analogy is perfect, and I grant you that this includes driftwood. But it is more helpful in explaining the origin of life than a museum in Kentucky which shows humans interacting with dinosaurs, which is the near cousin of ID theory.

    • Name me one “functionally complex” object or one showing “specified complexity” (at the level of the brick wall in Dr. Myer’s lecture) that you can conclusively demonstrate emerged from an undirected natural process.
      Moshe

      • You know that you’d need to finally define “specified” complexity to ask for that?

        • Use the same definition that Dr. Myers used in his talk. He also used the term
          Moshe

          • We all play the guessing game with you fuzzy thinkers:). If you go by “pre-specified function”, nothing arising naturally has specific complexity. Living creatures including.

        • A snowflake does not do anything. It is not “functionally complex.”

          • Well, it forms snowdrifts, for starters.

            Among the many other skills religion does not give people – -[observation]-.

          • It is telling that after a week, the rabbi fails to respond further on this point: it demonstrates both his error of logic, and his misrepresentation of Myers.

      • JaneDerbyshire

        The AIDS virus.

      • Crystalline development in cooling magma.
        Columnar basalt.

      • Daniel Schealler

        The water cycle.

        Evaporation -> Condensation -> Precipitation -> Evaporation.

        This definitely ‘does something’; i.e. tornadoes.

        And I think that anyone could agree that the patterns exhibited by the weather are so complex as to only be model-able in a very generalized, statistical way.

        The water cycle has functional consequences over the entire surface of our planet far in excess of any brick wall, which is starting to look pretty damn inert by comparison.

        The water cycle is also incredibly complex in how these functions are achieved far in excess of the brick wall, which is starting to look pretty damn simple by comparison.

        Yet the water cycle requires no designer to be set in motion – just the confluence of certain key conditions to do with temperature, atmosphere, pressure, and the available surface area of water.

      • Bill Thacker

        How about a star? It’s a complex device whose apparent function (from a human-centric viewpoint) is to keep our planet warm, lit, and hospitable to life. We can see ongoing star formation at various stages with no evidence of any direction.

        Or a coral reef? It functions as a breakwater and filter system, creating habitats for innumerable species that would die in the open ocean. (Indeed, hobbyists find it very difficult to reproduce that habitat artificially.) It can also function as an island where people can live. It’s created by mindless polyps.

  • “I have to admit that I would find the prospect of a debate with Dr. Myers to be quite daunting. After all, between his still-lifes of driftwood and his rich vocabulary of four letter words, it’s clear that this man is packing a devastating level of intellectual firepower”

    You decry Dr Myers by complaining about his profanity – do you have any substantive argument with which to refute his assertion? What does the Torah say that is more plausible than the biological explanation?

    Why not address the content of his argument, rather than the tone?

    Your ignorance of biology and chemistry (you know, real sciences – not the theology and superstition you study) is breathtaking – and would be humorous, if it didn’t underpin such a dangerous ideology.

    • The Torah states quite clearly that life is created.
      I am fully prepared to accept that life can emerge from non-life through a naturalistic process – just prove to me that it is true.
      Moshe

      • Prove that the Torah is true. You’re the one making the claim; you’ve got the burden of proof

        • We are talking about origin of life, not the torah. We can discuss that another time if you like. For the time being, believe whatever you want about the Torah. In the meantime, prove that life can emerge from non-life.
          Moshe

      • “just prove to me that it is true.”
        These 8 little words highlight the problem with your entire line of thinking and this article. Science operates by removing doubt, your notion of “proof” is twisted and it shows that you don’t really know the first thing about empiricism or how the scientific method functions. Totally shameful for someone writing about science.

        And of course can’t and won’t “prove” the Torah is true. You will just assert it to be so because in your mind a creator is a given. Scientific “truth” is hard, religious truth can just be fabricated and then defended with twisted half-logic, like you are doing.

        Have you seriously never heard of the appeal to ignorance? Because you are committing it over and over again. Bertrand Russell man: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

        • the only reason you are bringing up the Torah is to avoid that fact that none of you, including Jack Szostak ,(of course he doesn’t make the wild claims you people do. And he certainly did not approve of that silly propoganda cartoon on YouTube. There is nothing that Jack Szostak has accomplished, whether it is constructing artificial membranes from phospholipids, causing them to split and “reproduce”, etc. that would be possible without extremely rigorous intervention and control of the team of chemists and microbiologist he works with. Every step of the way is monitored, regulated, etc. None of it is plausible on a pre-biotic earth, and he does not claim differently) has the slightest idea how life could emerge from non-life through a naturalistic process. Believe whatever you want about the torah, it is irrelevant to our discussion. when I write a column about the Torah you can tell me your opinions on that subject.
          Moshe

          • The only reason you are bringing up the fact that we’ve yet to prove with reasonable certainty any particular process for abiogenesis on earth is to avoid the fact that none of you theists have even the slightest idea how to prove that the Torah, Bible or Koran is true.

      • The Torah also states quite clearly that the earth and plants existed before the sun, that there was a global flood, that insects have four legs, that rabbits chew the cud, that all animals were originally vegetarians, that a man lived several days inside the stomach of a giant sea creature, that the first woman (as if there ever was such a thing) was made from a man’s rib…

        The Torah, in short, is a load of ludicrous bilge, put together by people even more ignorant than you.

      • Ah, the age old retort of the ignorant – it must be true, because it’s written in a book!!

      • The Elder Eddas state quite clearly that the the first humans were created from the body of Ymir the frost giant, and the earth was built from his body. I am fully prepared to accept that life could have emerged through the process described in the Torah – just prove to me that it is true

      • Moshe, what the heck dude. How can you just bail out on this part of the conversation and move on to tackling the easier softballs below. PROVE THE TORAH IS TRUE! Are you going to respond to your confusions about the very nature of empiricism and proof/doubt?

        (This is why internet conversations suffer by the way. Mr. Averick can just pick and choose the easy battles.)

    • Daniel Schealler

      In Defense of Profanity:
      http://hilariousbookbinder.blogspot.com/2007/12/in-defense-of-profanity.html


      In fact, I’d argue that cursing—and cursing well—is pedagogically effective; it wakes the little assholes up—just as you woke up when you read that. Cursing in the classroom affords me the opportunity to seize their attention, if only for a moment.

  • “The world of metaphysics and philosophy”? Are you kidding Rabbi?

    You peddle myth and superstition – nothing more, and almost certainly less.

  • “A pile of driftwood is a meaningless, functionless, pile of junk”

    So is religion, but it is still complex – or so you religious people claim ;-)

  • “Rabbi Moshe Averick is an ordained orthodox rabbi and educator for over 30 years”

    The fact that this sentence is grammatically incorrect shows that the rabbi should probably get out of the education business. He should probably also get out of “the making himself look like an idiot when discussing science” business as well.

  • Leah Ostler

    … it’s telling that there aren’t more than a couple criticisms of Myers here.

    So I’d say ‘no’, no I am not embarrassed by PZ – I am often admiring and on rare occasion I disagree with him, but I am not embarrassed. Even if I were, there are plenty of people who are atheist who could be of embarrassment to me if I cared. I simply ignore them, or scorn them. PZ is not among them.

  • The point of Myers’ example is not really biological in nature. It’s that things which arise by design are not (comparatively) complex. The brick wall, though serving the same function, has a much more elegant streamlined form which minimizes the energy and/or material needed to do the job.

    Ask any engineer, simplicity of design is what you aim for. Assuming living things were designed, the world is littered with examples of terrible engineering decisions.

    • Mikhail,

      You have made the mistake that many skeptics have made in this discussion. You have entered the realm of theology and confuse it with science. The fact that you don’t like the design of a particular washing machine does not mean it was not designed.
      Moshe

      • And the fact that any human engineer can point out huge flaws in the design of any living thing is pretty damn good evidence that the designer you worship is lazy at best and incompetent at worst.

        • Daniel Schealler

          To paraphrase something I first heard from Hitchens:

          While I cannot claim with certainty that the human genitals were not designed by God… But I can at the very least hope that if they were, He was having a bad day at the time.

  • I’m confused by the constant linking of darwinism and atheism. Is the poster aware that the I’D movement is a minority amongst western Christians? The Pope endorses evolution, as does the head of the English church.

    It makes more sense for the ID position to be conflated with Islam than evolution to be a non-Christian concept.

  • I’m frequently embarrassed by PZ – I’ve not had as many of my thought processes proved wrong by one person. But I’m learning – and most of that process seems to be the rejection of most of my religious upbringing when faced with facts – something you should try too.

  • “…complexity that achieves some pre-determined goal…” Pre-determined by who/what? You, and the rest of the ID movement have only post-determined goals, “I’m wonderful, therefore I must have been designed by some superior intelligent agent (aka God).” Don’t make me laugh, you’re not that wonderful!

    “…complexity that clearly functions towards a specific purpose.” We do have a purpose, to survive. That’s what has lead to our complexity. That’s how evolution works, we have to compete to survive, which often, but not always, means greater complexity.

    I’m very proud to have PZ Myers speak up for me! He gave a great presentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba2h9tqNYAo

  • You may be offended by Myers’ dismissal of you and the general crockpot of ignorance that is Creationism all you like, but his point stands. Science has for centuries and continues today to add to the wealth of human knowledge. Your jest that Coyne would need 50 years to preare his argument demonstrates how abyssmal your understanding of good reasoning is. Religion claims absolute knowledge and religion doesn’t adapt to new information: these are weaknesses, not strengths. Until you come to understand that, you will continue to be as misguided as ever.

    • Dear Xujan,

      I don’t know what religion you are talking about, but it is certainly not mine. Jews knew over 3000 years ago that the universe came out of nothing. Science has finally caught up. Jews also always knew that there were Pre-humans who were not created “in God’s iumage” – these are very well known ancient traditions among Orthodox Jews. Again, science has finally caught up. Don’t be so arrogant about scientific knowledge, scientists also gave us the Hydrogen Bomb
      Moshe

      • Utter tosh. They did not know anything of the kind. The fact that a myth happens to get a few things right among the many it got completely wrong (earth and plants existing before the sun, all humans descended from a single pair, men living several centuries, a global flood, insects having four legs…) is not evidence of knowledge. BTW, why did you use a computer to get your message across? Why not just pray that your audience would receive it?

  • No, there’s no reason to be embarrassed by P.Z. Meyers at all. Truly embarrassing is the religious propaganda you prsent, Mr. Averick. But that’s just what apologists like yourself do; shame on me for going for the bait and reading this article in the first place.

  • Didn’t pass moderation? Let me try again…

    Embarrassed by P.Z? You gotta be kidding? Embarrassed by the ignorance of the IDiots (and general theist arguments) – without doubt!

    Btw
    “Nobody ever allowed something as trivial as facts and logic to interfere with their agenda. If the facts and logic don’t fit, then the facts and logic will just have to fend for themselves.” 
    - hearing this coming from theist truly embarrassing (and laughable)

  • Chris Owens

    So yeah, what’s your evidence for iD theory? How do you explain the fossil record through ID theory? How do you explain different strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria arising? How do you explain useless vestigial structures present in organisms through ID theory? God get lazy and use old parts? Sounds like someone is letting an agenda drown out logic…

    • Chris Owens

      Additionally, I find it amusing when theists complain about atheists lacking complex metaphysical arguments… We don’t need them. We only need point out all your arguments rest on assumptions without evidence… It essentially just makes you look silly, because at the end of the day, the emperor still has no clothes.

  • I see the same two terms keep popping up in the author’s responses to comments: metaphysics and philosophy. Philosophy is all well and good, but any time I see a clergyman of any kind using ‘philosophy’, especially lumped together with ‘metaphysics’, it’s never actually following a school of philosophical thought as much as it’s the user building castles in the mind to live in while their foil has hard evidence against their opinion. The answers are elaborate but the effect is always the same: you’re going to believe what you want, and there’s no limit to the cognitive dissonance you’re going to use so you don’t feel uncomfortable about how ignorantly you’ve lived your life, how very wrong you currently are, and how much you really don’t want to change.

    • Surly SCot,
      Next time,instead of just making self-righteous declarations, why don’t you present a rational argument?
      Moshe

      • Looked in a mirror lately, Moshe?

      • Bruce Gorton

        Moshe you don’t present a philosophically valid argument. Not one of your points is actually rational. Not one.

        Lets start off with your intro which is entirely poisoning the well. Okay, nothing valid there.

        Then lets go onto your body where you straw man your opponent, then repeatedly take refuge in incredulity to the arguments you granted your opponent.

        There is the odd blank assertion, but nothing to back them except appeals to authority which we can’t trust because you have already been shown to be straw manning your opponent.

        If you are going to tell people off for not presenting rational arguments maybe you should try presenting one yourself.

      • You have no right to demand from others what you refuse to give from yourself. Present your rational argument for belief in a god, any god.

        You can’t. You don’t have one. If you did, you would be on the cover of People magazine shaking hands with Oprah while the Pope watched on admiringly. You would have accomplished what countless people like you dream of accomplishing. You would be universally acclaimed. Your name would ring throughout the world.

        If you were telling the truth, that is.

  • who cares what my name is.

    Dear Rabbi,
    What you have described here is not the position of one outlaw atheist. It is not even the position of atheists in general, who have as their central tenet a non-belief in God, not a belief in evolution. What you have described in fact is the backbone of the entirety of the Living Sciences, as it has now been accepted for decades by the vast majority of scientists. It will take a little more than outraged expressions of incredulity to defeat it. And Intelligent Design is little more than that. No? Then please answer this: what is the definition of complexity (prior to functional complexity) adopted by Intelligent Design. How is it measured? What is the threshold above which the complexity of an object necessitates a designer? How was this threshold measured? How do we prove necessity of a designer, as opposed to providing a list of examples? These are questions that Intelligent Design proponents do not even begin to touch, because they are NOT REAL SCIENTISIS. They are creationists, pure and simple, dishonest creationists.

  • P.Z. Myers is one of my heroes. Embarrassed? Not hardly. I check his blog several times a week. Next question?

  • Benjamin Smith

    What I find amusing is your use of “ID” and “theorist” in conjunction with each other, as if they are somehow related. They aren’t, and you do not understand the scientific process.

    For example, you’re trying to prove your “theory”, which is exactly bass-ackwards to how real science actually works. In real science, you look for a theory that explains all available evidence in such a fashion that predicts a result that can be tested. The goal is a theory that can be clearly invalidated, and a theory that could not be proven wrong is worthless. (Hint: Gravity is a both a theory and a law, knowing the difference between the two would do you wonders)

    Lastly: Just because you can’t imagine how it could have happened doesn’t mean that it didn’t.

    • Dear Benjamin Smith,

      Simple fact that cuts through the fog: So far you, nor anyone else, has a clue, theory, law, etc. that can demonstrate that it is possible for a bacterium to emerge from non-life through a naturalistic process. My simple testable, falsifiable prediction is that you will NEVER find one. Prove me wrong.
      Moshe

      • How about you prove yourself right, first? What you don’t understand about the scientific method could fill volumes.

      • Mike McCants

        “My simple testable, falsifiable prediction is that you will NEVER find one.”

        Never is a long time. So your “prediction” is simply a rhetorical trick.

        It is obvious that there once was no life on this Earth and now there is life on this Earth. So either 1) life came from non-life without any “miracle” intervention from an unknown (supernatural?) entity or 2) such a “miracle” intervention by an unknown entity was performed some 3 or 4 billion years ago on this Earth.

        Case 1 is scientific and case 2 is “and then a miracle occurred”.

        Why should science have the “burden of proof”? I have a very simple prediction: no one will ever prove that a miracle occurred.

        So which is “rational”? Science or a miracle? PZ chooses science and that is not embarrassing. It seems that you choose a miracle and reject science.

      • A question on the logic here. If the timeframe is infinite, as implied by “never”, how would we test this prediction?

      • TruthOverfaith

        Well, I’m sure that bacterium’s origin is far less impressive than your invisible fairy in the sky.
        Where’d he come from, again, moshey?

  • But of course

    Of course atheists aren’t ashamed of him. The atheists of today are high on attitude and low on content. Can you find a more anti-intellectual bunch, parading around like intellectuals. They are akin to children walking around in graduate robes and condemning the adults in the room for behaving like adults.

    • Uh the last time I was at church it was full of adults parading around in silly robes mumbling majic words to sky daddy. Was that the adult behavior you were refering to?

  • PZ Myers is an excellent scientist, a prolific and well-respected blogger, and an outspoken atheist. You may argue over the specifics of the examples he uses in his speeches. I hope he won’t be mad at me if I admit that while I thoroughly enjoy viewing his public appearances through the proxy of the internet, I do not consider him the best public voice or best debater for the atheist team. That would be Hitchens or Dawkins, or, depending on your sensibilities, maybe even Dennett. PZ has a special value to the atheist community. While the vast majority of us are intelligent enough to see the hogwash of ID for what it is, PZ is educated in exactly those areas that are necessary to illuminate with specificity (assuming you can speak PHD biological evo-devo jargon) EXACTLY how out of line the false claims of ID ‘science’ really are.

    The problem today for ID science is the same problem that has always existed. It’s the anchor than drowned them in Dover (maybe the Judge noticing the overt perjury of ID witnesses might have helped a bit). THERE IS NO SCIENCE IN INTELLIGENT DESIGN. Only a religious extremist could educate themselves to as high a level as Behe and still be able to confuse an honest theory (evolution) with an unsubstantiated hunch (ID).

    Enjoy.

  • Proud Kuffar

    No. God is dead. Get a life.

  • ModusPwnens

    Quoting the likes of Michael Denton, the “microbiologist” with some notably peculiar beliefs running counter to mainstream biology, is no way to sway your scientifically literate readers, Mr. Averick.

    • If I had quoted Michael Denton’s views on life, spirituality, or metaphysics, perhaps you would have a point. In fact, I do not even know where Michael Denton stands on these things. I quoted his description of a living cell, which nobody disputes, including PZ Myers. Jack Szostak could have written the same thing, in fact he did: “Every living cell, even the simplest bacterium teems with molecular contraptions that would be the envy of any nanotechnologist…it is virtually impossible to imagine how a cell’s machines…could have formed spontaneously from living matter.” “Understanding how life emerged on Earth is one of the greatest challenges facing modern chemistry.”

      Moshe

      • Nothing more than a flowery way of saying “I don’t know, therefore Goddunnit.”

      • This is the usual utterly dishonest creationist quote-mining – the ellipses give the clue. The quote from Szostak is from a September 2009 “Scientific American” article, by Alonso Ricardo and Szostak, entitled “Life on Earth” or in the online version “The Origin of Life on Earth” (it’s part of a special issue on origins). Here’s the actual start of the article:

        “Every living cell, even the simplest bacterium, teems with molecular contraptions that would be the envy of any nanotechnologist. As they incessantly shake or spin or crawl around the cell, these machines cut, paste and copy genetic molecules, shuttle nutrients around or turn them into energy, build and repair cellular membranes, relay mechanical, chemical or electrical messages—the list goes on and on, and new discoveries add to it all the time.

        It is virtually impossible to imagine how a cell’s machines, which are mostly protein-based catalysts called enzymes, could have formed spontaneously as life first arose from nonliving matter around 3.7 billion years ago. To be sure, under the right conditions some building blocks of proteins, the amino acids, form easily from simpler chemicals, as Stanley L. Miller and Harold C. Urey of the University of Chicago discovered in pioneering experiments in the 1950s. But going from there to proteins and enzymes is a different matter.

        A cell’s protein-making process involves complex enzymes pulling apart the strands of DNA’s double helix to extract the information contained in genes (the blueprints for the proteins) and translate it into the finished product. Thus, explaining how life began entails a serious paradox: it seems that it takes proteins – as well as the information now stroed in DNA – to make proteins.

        On the other hand, the paradox would disappear if the first organisms did not require proteins at all. Recent experiments suggest it would have been possible for genetic molecules similar to DNA or to its close relative RNA to form spontaneously. And because these molecules can curl up in different shapes and act as rudimentary catalysts, they may have become able to copy themselves – to reproduce – without the need for proteins.”

        I understood one of the ten commandments reprobated “bearing false witness”. I really can’t think of a clearer example of doing so than Averick’s misrepresentation of Szostak. This, of course, is why Averick did not give the source of his quote – but Prof. Google was equal to the task of uncovering his deceit.

  • Well I think the comments section answers the question posed by the article. Not that it will matter much to the theist.

    PZ for continued Overlord!

  • I’m so sick of this back and fourth between atheists and theists. The fact of the matter is both sides are narrow-minded. Any Scientist that does not allow for the possibility of a higher power/infinite unconsciousness is just as ignorant as a theist who constantly bashes science and tries to paint it as wrong. Am I embarrassed at him for his 2009 interview? No, but his blog was an embarrassment. I am also embarrassed at you for bashing him for his beliefs. As a person of faith you should know better. And just so there isn’t any confusion, I am a theist, a spiritualist to be exact, who believes in Darwinism and the scientific view of creation. Fact is by utilizing scientific theory one can come up with the conclusion that God can in fact exist, but some theists are too ignorant to accept science and some athesists are too ignorant to accept even a possibility of God. Both sides need to get over themselves.

    • Heat Seeker

      “Fact is by utilizing scientific theory one can come up with the conclusion that God can in fact exist”

      Care to post what your theory is? Ins and outs? Maybe some examples? Equations perhaps?

      Lets see an example of how one can use science to prove the existence of god. You might just become the most famous person to ever walk the earth!

      Were waiting…

      • Sorry, maybe I should have said Theory is utilizing….

        Anyway I’m going to take some basic tenants of many religions, an omnipotent, all knowing God, who is everywhere, and part of everyone. I am also going to use the idea of a soul. I will know attempt to correlate these things to scientific theory.

        Before I even start, if the scientists out there don’t agree with the scientific theory I am using as examples, too bad, they are theories out there in the wild and not for me to prove or disprove, I am not a physicist/biologist.

        God is everywhere and in everyone: look at God not as a single entity, but rather as everything. God physically is the culmination of all matter and energy. Now before you go and cry foul, think of it: if atoms can create proteins which can create DNA which can create cells which can work together to create sentient life, why then cannot sentient life be connected to each other in a giant hive mind. Think of how animals can sense danger, or know if it’s going to rain, etc.

        all knowing- There is a theory of a place/dimension/area/etc. which consists of all of the accrued knowledge of the universe. This is called the akashic field. If God is everything, the akashic field is part of God, therefore God knows everything.

        Omnopitent- Ok there are two courses of action here: if the Akashic field contains all knowledge about everything, than one can mathametically compute the probability of future events, therefore “knowing the future” is possible. Alternatively, if one believes in multiverse theory, the infinite universes for every choice one, not the fixed multiverse one, than it is possible that some of these multiverses have occurred in time after the current date, as time is not a fixed straight line, this is theoretically viable. If this is the case, Than The future multiverses could contain data about choices we haven’t made yet, therefore the future is known.

        Soul-everything exudes energy all the time, and all living things with brains think constantly. Looking at it this way, the culmination of all energy exuded and all thought from one’s life could consist of a soul. Using this as a baseline, the starwars-esque idea of the force kind of makes sense. all matter exudes energy, therefore everything being connected, one can interact with everything, all souls in harmony etc.etc.etc. This also explains the concept of Gaia/mother earth. If you use the hive-mind mentality, than everything on Earth makes up Gaia and so on and so forth until everything in existance makes up God. Same thing as planets, systems, Galaxies, clusters, super clusters, universe.

        • Until you can demonstrate that “God physically is the culmination of all matter and energy” every single word that follows that sentence is entirely meaningless. All you have done is slapped the “God” label onto everything. I could slap the “God” label onto a tree, doesn’t make it God.

          And to accuse the atheist side of being narrow-minded is unfounded. I doubt you’ll find many atheists who would dismiss the possibility of a God like being completely. PZ Myers is a special case in this regard. Speaking personally, I have dismissed every God which has been put to me because none of them have been supported by positive evidence.

          Atheism is a response to unjustified claims regarding God(s), it is not a claim itself.

          • I define Atheism as itself a “religious belief system of thought” or at the vary least a “faith based system of thought”. I believe it does make claims regarding the existence / non-existence of deities. Those claims, as do any claims, require faith for belief.

            I think you might be limiting, and it is purely my opinion, your body of knowledge based upon this statement you made:
            “Speaking personally, I have dismissed every God which has been put to me because none of them have been supported by positive evidence.” Supposing you were blind (perhaps you are, no insult is intended), what evidence could be presented to you such that you would believe an apple I placed before you was a red apple?

          • Daniel Schealler

            @ciphertext

            I define ‘quixiogobblediquix’ as ‘a person who thinks that their own asserted definitions regarding terminology must hold for everyone else all the time.

            Ergo, you are a quixiogobblediquix.

            So there!

            ^_^

            If atheism is a religion then not playing football is a sport.

            Regarding the apple thing: It would easily be possible to construct the following device.

            An attachment that can be inserted over the index finger with a small pen-like sensor at one end to receive digital imagery.

            A small nub would press against the pad of the index finger.

            This nub would gently vibrate at different rates depending upon the surface-color towards which the sensor-tip is pointed.

            The general accuracy of such a device could be determined by seeking out disinterested third parties prior to the apple-experiment. For example, ordering a ‘red-fire-truck’ online that comes with a detailed textual description of how the truck is colored (voice-reader) then pointing the sensor towards the parts described as ‘red’.

            Once the device was calibrated and the blind user had become proficient in its use, testing your claim regarding the apple would become a trivial exercise.

        • Heat Seeker

          DeadPixel….You have started with the premise that a god exists and then digressed into mumbo jumbo. You cannot make the assumption that a god exists when youre trying to prove his existence. Im sure I dont have to point out why that is ridiculous.

          Try again.

    • I am a great supporter of science. However, scientists should either stick to science which is what they know how to do, and if they enter the philosophical or metaphysical arena, they should realize that their scientific credentials hold no weight and give them no special priveleges.
      Moshe

      • In other words, scientists should stick to places where we can actually know stuff, and leave the just-so stories to people like us who are good at making things up.

      • Heat Seeker

        I am a great supporter of religionists. However, religionists should either stick to religion which is what they know how to do, and if they enter the scientific or things that require proof arena, they should realize that their religionists credentials hold no weight and give them no special priveleges.
        Heat Seeker

        I was going to use hocus pocusionists but I felt like being nice today. Heed your own words Moshe. Its obvious from your article you havent a faint clue on how real science works. When you know more than an ID articles worth of knowledge about the subject at hand come back and talk to us. Youre embarrassing yourself.

      • Would you be willing to keep your nose out of science? I am sure you would say no, if you answered at all. If science contradicts your world view you have every right to speak up about it. If your worldview contradicts science, scientists have every right to speak up about it as well as anyone else.

        If you demand otherwise then you are once again hypocritical. You will not under any conditions live by the rules which you expect others to live by.

        You should be ashamed of yourself. If your beliefs were honest and true you would not be taking hypocritical positions in this way.

      • Problem is you want it to be a one-way street because the metaphysical/magical-frost-giant realm rules over everything else. So when your god says “science” is wrong (in whatever manner god allegedly speaks to you–and I scare-quote it because I am not sure you even know what science is!) science must be wrong!!

    • A spiritualist? A member of the sect started by the self-confessed frauds the Fox sisters cracking their toe joints? Now that’s really hilarious!

  • Am I (an atheist) embarrassed by PZ Myers??? Quite the opposite!

  • Daniel Schealler

    I’ve seen the video to which the Rabbi refers, as well as the slides.

    It’s important to be generous in disagreement, so I’ve striven to try and view the world in the same way the Rabbi has done above.

    This has proven to be a bit of a struggle.

    The only way I can do it is to take a single, tiny slice of the presentation from Myers, ignore everything that came before or after it, and then extract the worst possible interpretation from that single out-of-context snippet of the overall talk.

    Things like this always make me grin, given that this is exactly what we atheists are accused of.

    Myer’s example, when placed in the proper context, gives an example of something that is both complex and was not specifically designed.

    It is an example that shows that we cannot extrapolate from complexity to design without first knowing more.

    In short-hand bullets, it would go something like this.

    1) Some complex things are designed.
    2) Some complex things are not designed.
    3) Some simple things are designed.
    4) Some simple things are not designed.
    Therefore
    5) Complexity and design are independent properties.

    In the case of the brick wall, we understand the mechanism by which brick walls are designed. We have a functional definition of what a brick wall is. We understand how to determine if a structure is a brick wall. And we know the mechanism by which such walls are constructed, and can replicate the process.

    In the case of allegedly ‘specified complexity’ so beloved by the cdesign proponentsists? There is no functional definition. There is no method to measure to verify that something demonstrates specified complexity. And there is no suggested mechanism – ID flirts with ‘God did it by magic’ without every stating it outright.

    The Intelligent Design Speculation (I will not dignify it with the label of ‘Theory’) will remain intellectually bankrupt until they can move past God-of-the-gaps and actually produce the above criteria.

    All the same, I’d like to thank the Rabbi.

    It’s always good to see sophistrycated theology in action every once in a while. It completely justifies the other 99% of the time I ignore theologians as a matter of principle.

    • Dear Daniel,

      If there is no method to determine “functional complexity” why is Dr. Myers – and anyone else watching – absolutely certain that the brick wall is the the product of intelligent design? None of us actually saw it being built. It is simply the obvious truth.
      How do we all knwo that the pile of driftwood is not the product of intelligent design? Simple, it is the obvious truth. The only time you need an EXACT definition of “functional complexity” would be to determine borderline cases. Those on either side of the border require no theory or formula at all.

      Ergo: WAll obviously the product of intelligence, driftwood obviously not the product of intelligence, bacterium, obviously the product of intelligence.(unless you can prove otherwise.)
      Moshe

      • You say “obviously” as if we all have an intuitive understanding of how the universe works. To which I can only reply: how far away is your home planet, and when will you be going back?

      • Daniel Schealler

        If there is no method to determine “functional complexity” why is Dr. Myers – and anyone else watching – absolutely certain that the brick wall is the the product of intelligent design? None of us actually saw it being built. It is simply the obvious truth.

        Actually, I think there is an interesting point to be made here.

        First of all, I consider that ‘absolute certainty’ is something of a dirty word. (Word? But there’s two words. Dirty phrase? Dirty clause? Hmm… Not as snappy. Dirty word will have to do.)

        Anyway, the concept of ‘absolute certainty’ is one that I will always shy away from. It’s one thing to be overwhelmingly confident – but even so, this is a different class of thing to absolute certainty.

        So with the brick wall, I would not consider it ‘absolutely certain’ that it was designed.

        However, I would be overwhelmingly confident that it is designed.

        The key question is: Why such confidence?

        I always strive to proportion the confidence of my beliefs to the available evidence. Overwhelming evidence provides overwhelming confidence.

        And the evidence that a brick walls are very, very probably designed by humans is very strong indeed.

        In a nutshell, we know of no non-human mechanism that can produce brick walls. But we do know of human mechanisms that can produce brick walls. I have contributed to the construction of brick walls myself on a number of occasions. You can find the recipes for the various cements and ceramics online, look at the actual blueprints used, or go and observe a brick wall being constructed at a great number of building sites.

        The evidence is overwhelming that brick walls (defined as structure, material and pattern) are constructed by human beings. So, upon identifying a brick wall I would be overwhelmingly confident that it was, in fact, produced by humans.

        Overwhelming evidence leads to overwhelming confidence… But still not to the point absolute certainty, which is anathema to my methods.

        Now: Similarly so for piles of driftwood. We can observe and watch as the ocean pushes driftwood up to the shore, without a mind in evidence. We can understand how the location of the driftwood wall can line up with the bands set up with the boundaries formed by the ebb and flow of the tides. And very importantly, we can also understand the natural mechanism that produces driftwood walls without the need for any direct intervention by intelligent agents.

        So again: There is ample evidence that driftwood walls can form naturally, without a designer. This is only ‘obvious’ in the sense that the evidence in support of the notion is widely available and implicitly assumed. So again, it is the evidence that gives us confidence in our assessment that the driftwood wall is a naturally occurring phenomenon.

        The point that each of these examples boils down to is your use of the term ‘obvious’.

        The assertion that a brick-wall is man-made and that a driftwood wall is not are only ‘obvious’ in the sense that the evidence in favor of each assertion, as well as an understanding of the mechanisms involved in each assertion, are so widely known as to be tacitly assumed.

        It is the unconscious acknowledgement of this evidence and the mechanisms involved that make these assertions seem ‘obvious’.

        But consider your closing statement: That bacterium are ‘obviously’ the product of intelligence.

        Really?

        Really?

        Contrasted against the example of the brick wall: I cannot go to a construction site and observe intelligent agents (or an Agent) in the act of constructing a bacterium from scratch.

        I cannot observe the blueprints that such an Agent might use in their construction, or an original recipie on how to perform that kind of function.

        I certainly cannot go and engage in the act of bacterium construction myself, in the manner I could do with walls.

        I can’t understand any kind of mechanism by which an intelligent agent could design a bacterium save those only recently being discovered and researched by the likes of Szostak and Venter and similar researchers. Even these cutting-edge discoveries are limited – and they are also very recent, so they have not been available historically.

        However, I can understand – in part – a naturalistic mechanism by which such a bacterium could be produced.

        While we may still be ignorant of the historic specifics, we certainly understand enough about the prebiotic environment of our planet to make some clear predictions. And as I and some other commenters here have already mentioned, we have enough of an understanding of spontaneous polymerization of naturalistic organtic chemistry as well as spontaneous formation of lipid vesicle to make sensible predictions about the mechanisms behind how a replicating proto-cell could have formed.

        Once you get a replicating proto-cell in place, evolution and time are all that are needed to slowly and gradually ramp up the complexity until you have the kinds of cellular machinery in place that so impress the cdesign proponentsists today.

        That is not to suggest that this area is fully understood or that there will not be surprising discoveries to be made around the corner. Anything less would be rather astonishing.

        So we have a naturalistic mechanism that we can understand, components of which we can replicate and are increasingly more able to replicate – see my links in the comments below to the impressive research produced by Szostak Labs in the last few years for more information on this subject.

        But evidence in support of an intelligently-designed bacterium arising during the hadean period? Not a ghost.

        All you offer is an assertion that it is ‘obvious’, and you attempt to push this forward using a flawed analogy with the sense that the design apparent in a brick wall is ‘obvious’.

        But this is an erroneous assumption.

        In summary:

        1) The assertion that brick walls are designed is only ‘obvious’ because we tacitly assume the overwhelming evidence that it is so.

        2) The assertion that driftwood walls are not designed is only ‘obvious’ because we tacitly assume the overwhelming evidence that it is so.

        3) In the case of bacteria, viable naturalistic processes have been proposed and are being researched. While the picture is yet to be completed, we have the corners and a few of the edges – we don’t have cause, yet, to dismiss the naturalistic accounts of abiogenesis out of hand.

        4) In the case of bacteria, no mechanism of Intelligent Design has been proposed, and no evidence that they must have been designed have been proposed. Such arguments presented in favor of IDS have failed to supply:

        4.1) A functional definition of specified complexity.

        4.2) A reliable and clear method of measuring specified complexity: ‘It just looks designed‘ is not a measurement.

        4.3) A comprehensible mechanism by which an Intelligent Designer could create specified complexity. Just saying that ‘God works in mysterious ways we cannot comprehend’ is no better than the claim that a Wizard did it. We need a mechanism.

        With points 1-4 in place, it should become clear that the assertion that ‘it’s just obvious that bacteria are designed’ is little more than an argument from credulity. And I have a hard time taking such arguments seriously.

        And while I cannot prove that intelligence most certainly did not produce bacterium (unfalsifiable claims and whatnot), I can provide some evidence (Szostak, etc) that that particular hypothesis isn’t necessary at this point in time. Other, better (though addmitedly incomplete) naturalistic accounts of abiogenesis exist.

        And that’s not even getting into the subject of evolution itself, particularly the evolution of structures so loved by cdesign proponentsists, such as the eye, the blood clotting cascade, the bombadier beetle or the bacterial flagellum. (I can provide citations of plausible naturalistic explanations for each of the above on request).

        Yours is an argument from credulity, Rabbi.

        And though you can duck and weave all you like, the burden of proof remains squarely on your own shoulders.

        ————————

        Additionally, you could suffer to be more generous when interpreting the arguments of those you disagree with, both Myers and myself.

        In the context of your response to me: I don’t think that tying brick-wall-building and driftwood-formation back to the evidence, then pointing out the state of the evidence behind bacteria, is a particularly surprising move from a self-confessed Gnu Atheist fan such as myself.

        My counter-arguments above should not be hard to predict for anyone who has been paying attention to the gnus and engaging with their arguments with honesty and generosity.

        Your objection to my post could well have been better.

        To the point that, now I think about it, I have a very mild (perhaps paranoid) suspicion that maybe, just maybe, there is a slim chance that I am not actually addressing Moshe Averick directly at all: That this is actually someone who has taken liberal use of the Rabbi’s name.

        The argument presented (It’s just obvious that I’m right, m’kay?) just doesn’t seem up to the standards that I would have expected from a Rabbi… At the least, not the standard that I would have expected from a Rabbi that was attempting to address the criticism of the Gnus.

      • Oh no, “absolutely certain”. this is again a) not how science works and b) not pragmatically useful! No one can prove with absolute certainty the sun will come up tomorrow or that their brakes will continue working at this next red light. But we all behave as though that were the case, for reasons that will mostly elude you I fear. See: coherentism for more info.

      • Duh! We’ve seen people building brick walls. We know how and why they do it. The IDiots simply assert that organisms were designed, without even trying to specify* how or why it was done. Really, this level of stupidity can’t be the result of blind natural forces: Averick must have been carefully cultivating it for years, by repeatedly exposing himself to the drivel that is the Torah, and forcing himself to believe it. It’s impressive, in a rather ghastly way.

        *Here’s how you use that word properly, IDiots.

  • fatty acids spontaneously form stable vesticles, the driftwood comparison is actually quite appropriate for the origin of life discussion.

    The Origin of Life – Abiogenesis – Dr. Jack Szostak
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg

  • Nope not in the least, but then I have no reason to be.

    On the other hand I’m fairly certain you don’t get the concept of complexity and this is indeed where most of the theist problems with science arise as fundamentalist preachers of any creed are generally poor at grasping concepts based on critical thinking as they don’t ever exercise those skills. Everything you need to know about any subject is in the bible thus you never excel at understanding concepts which are foreign to you as you never seek out view points which are not self affirming. If you had looked impartially at the evolution debate and acknowledged your inherant bias as any scientist must you would find the problem resides with you not with evolutionary theory. But you won’t do this as you are sure you are right because if you are wrong it calls the very foundation of your faith into question because you don’t truelly believe in your religion and thus you make sure that the world you create reflects in every way the religion you cannot believe in.

  • Not remotely embarrassed.

  • Yes, I did watch the lecture by PZ Myers and felt incredibly stupid. I am an atheist through and through – but that seminar was one of the stupidest arguments for evolution I have ever come across.

  • Proud-Atheist

    NO, NO, and no

  • Nope, not embarrassed. It’s more like… what’s the word? Oh, yeah. “Proud”.

  • Jan Suchanek

    “self-respecting ID theorist”

    I LOLed

  • The Adversary

    The Rabbi, who makes his living poisoning the minds of young people, thinks P.Z. Myers lacks integrity? That takes the cake.

  • Before making fun of the academic credentials of P.Z. Myers, it could have been wise to check the number of times he has been referenced in the scientific literature. His most referenced paper is “Lithium perturbation and goosecoid expression identify a dorsal specification pathway in the pregastrula zebrafish” which was co-written with S.E. Stachel and D.J. Grunwald. It has been referenced 332 times. PZ Myers has another 3 papers with more than 100 references, and has been published in Nature. To put that in perspective, the average number of citations for a Ph.D. is about 10.

    • Any “making fun” was tongue in cheek. I don’t for a moment doubt his scientific credentials. As I wrote to someone else, I am attacking his egregious blundering into the world of metaphysics and philosophy, not his science.
      Moshe

      • Marconi Darwin

        Let’s see an attack with teeth, Moshe

      • *chuckle*
        Such a claim, from someone blundering out of his home territory of ridiculous fairy tales about invisible superbeings prone to commit genocide, into the world of rational discourse, is truly laughable. Science shows organisms to be replete with over-complicated kludges that only make sense in terms of a long and convoluted evolutionary history. Why did your “intelligent designer” give human beings weak backs, too many teeth for the size of the mouth, and too narrow a female pelvis to birth babies safely? Why did it loop the recurrent laryngeal nerve down into the chest – so that in the giraffe it is several meters longer than it needs to be? Why did it give whales the remnants of legs? While we’re at it, why did it find it necessary to design the Guinea worm? The rabies and smallpox viruses? Huntingdon’s disease? Rabbi, you just carry on worshipping your imaginary sadistic psychopath, and leave the adults to talk about reality.

      • Hold on, it’s not PZ who has egregiously blundered into the world of metaphysics and philosophy. He’s simply stating that those who are trying to pass off their unfounded hypothesis as science are idiots. Idiots who have no respect for the scientific process, the only process which has been proven to lead to the truth.

      • natural cynic

        All anyone can do with metaphysics is egregious blundering.

      • Please familiarize yourself with Professor Myers’ /The Courtier’s Reply/ http://richarddawkins.net/articles/463 before spouting The Courtier’s Reply (“…egregious blundering into the world of metaphysics and philosophy”).

      • His science contradicts your philosophy and metaphysics. Science carries more weight, so the huge and obvious flaws in your philosophy cause you cognitive dissonance. You feel something similar to pain each time the rational part of you realizes that you need to evade and misdirect in order to have a conversation on this subject.

        Shame.

    • All you need to know about Moshe is that he signs his name at the end of every comment.
      Joe g

      This was by Joe g
      -
      Joe g

  • PZ never said that a driftwood wall was comparable to a bacteria. The author misrepresents as usual. He was only demonstrating that complex hints do not require design. ID theory provides no way to distinguish “specified” complexity from any other. ID is NOT science, it’s just bad theology.

    • Watch the video again Kris, that’s EXACTLY what he said.
      Moshe

      • Moshe, why don’t you look into some of the creationist drivel that PZ is refuting? While the things he is saying may seem absurd on their own, he is refuting specific claims made by creationists. If I recall correctly, the talk where he mentions driftwood was refuting the concept of irreducible complexity.

      • That is another false claim, Moshe. Does your religion punish for lying?

  • Like a woman scorned

    “tiresome and obnoxious”

    Yes, pretty much sums up PZ Myers.

    He seems more concerned with ingratiating himself to his online fanclub and maintaining that popularity even at the cost of failing to challenge some of the very bigoted posts that regularly appear on his Pharyngula blog.

    In many cases when the going gets tough he runs away from debate and his high-minded supposed ‘principles’ are always sacrificed in the interests of keeping in with the majority – even if the majority want something bad. (If he’d been 2,000 years ago and been a Roman emperor at a gladitorial match he would have been one of the worst!)

    And don’t let the patronizingly awful, faux feminist act fool ya – nor the lip service to LGBT rights. The man is a chauvinist of the worst order…let’s just say in my experience and evidently that of quite a few others, too.

    • Dear Like a woman scorned,
      I sympathize with you, although I don’t know anything about him personally and I very much try to stay away from personal attacks. I am attacking his philosophy and his forays into metaphysics, not his person, and not even his scientific credentials. All the best.
      Moshe

      • All the best, Moshe. I must admit that I am a bit biased as to PZ Myers’ personality as I have personally had a very unpleasant experience of him. Suffice to say, he thought it amusing to suggest that a transwoman like myself is really a man called Donald – which is quite a surprising statement to come from the mouth of a self-proclaimed enlightened ‘liberal’.

        Similarly, one of things that disappoints me and – imho – reveals the true colours of the Myers Cult is some of the latent anti-semitism reflected in some of the language that his supporters use. I do see an overabundance of terms like ‘peddling’, ‘pushing’ etc. used by Myers’ fans whenever a person who happens to be Jewish criticizes him. I find it curious (and disturbing) that so-called ‘rational thinkers’ so easily slip into recycling the same hateful old medieval myths about Jews that the very worst elements of the churches they often rightfully criticize have done for the past 2,000 years. Sadly, anti-semitic stereotypes die hard and unfortunately even bigots who boast of their educational qualifications are stupid enough to buy into them.

        It seems that some of them – even if they wouldn’t think of themselves as being anti-semitic or extreme right-wing – are, nevertheless, subconsciously so. Unfortunately, many seem to overstep the line between being critical of religions and other cultures because of aspects they disagree with to being anti-semitic, islamophobic and sectarian.

        Unfortunately, a lot of his supporters are also snobs who think that just because they’ve got better qualifications and more prestigous, higher paied jobs than the rest of us means that less-qualified, economically poorer, less lucky and privileged people than them are more stupid than they are and that we don’t have anything of any worth to say.

        I also think the way that PZ Myers (and again, some of his supporters) use derogatory words like ‘retard’ etc. or are apt to label someone brain-damaged as put-down insults for those they criticize. I think this is absolutely terrible ignorance and arrogance. These ‘educated’ supposedly intelligent people who use these phrases should realize that it is only by chance that they weren’t born mentally handicapped, or with Down’s Syndrome and as for being ‘brain-damaged’ – well, that can happen to anyone. I’d say that perhaps they ought to think ‘there by the grace of God go I’, but that would probably rile them even more!

        Anyway, many thanks for letting me comment on your post and my advice is take everything that Myers’ and his sychophants say with a pinch of salt. It almost seems as if they are brainwashed in their unquestioning loyalty towards him. Cult of the personality indeed. But isn’t that so true of so many of those who set out to be radicals and revolutionaries that when they become leaders they end up turning into that which they originally despised and set out to destroy?

        • I note that the moderators are content to allow unsupported personal accusations against Prof. Myers to be posted.

          • These are not ‘unsupported accusations’, KG. The evidence is there for all to see on PZ Myers’ website. The remainder is just a case of accepting reality. Btw…isn’t that what rationalists purport to do?

          • Your claim that PZ Myers personally insulted you, which is what I was referring to, is indeed an unsupported personal accusation. Most of the rest of what you say refers to unnamed commenters on Pharyngula, and anyone who spends much time there will know that your claims of cult-like sycophancy are complete nonsense.

          • I’m sorry if I incorrectly assumed you were the Michael Kingsford Gray who wrote the articles on Judaism, KG. To be fair to him though, I came to the wrong conclusion that he was singling out Jewish people specifically for criticism as when I clicked on the rest of his articls he also seems to have a go at other religions, too.

            I would agree that PZ Myers’ brand of aggressive atheism could prove to be more of a liability than an asset, though. For starters, going out of your way to disrespect other cultures could prove to alienate people rather than encourage them to take on board atheist points of view.

            I say ‘disrespect other cultures’ because for many people being Jewish, Muslim, Catholic etc. is not solely a religious ideal but also an integral part of their heritage of which many are proud. Religious minorities have had to endure much persecution and discrimination throughout the centuries.

            Even today, it is far more likely for someone to be verbally abused, physically attacked or even murdered if they, for example, are visibly Jewish by their Hassidic clothing or a Muslim woman wearing a burka than it is for the same things to happen to someone wearing a badge publicly declaring that they are an atheist. The right-wing tabloid press regularly slander Muslims as terrorists when the majority of Muslims are decent, peaceable law-abiding citizens. Muslim women who wear niqabs or burkas are regularly spat at in the street by complete strangers yet how many atheists wearing a badge declaring their ‘godlessness’ are – by comparison – spat at and abused for their credo? Attacks on Hassidic Jews are also common – as are desecrations of Jewish cemeteries by those cowards who are too afraid to attack the living.

            Unfortunately, I fear that the gleefully bombastic approach of self-proclaimed aggressive atheists such as PZ Myers and his supporters on the Pharyngula blog all-too-frequently overstep the mark between intellectual criticism of religious belief and hate-filled misinformed bigotry towards people of other religions and cultures. This is a sad death for progressive thought for all this does is reinforce the hateful twisted ideologies of far-right groups such as the BNP, KKK and EDL.

            Rabbi Averick as a question in this article: Aren’t atheists embarrassed by PZ Myers?

            A poster on the Pharyngula blog in PZ Myers’ response to this article asked where the poll was? Intrigued, I decided to put one up on my blog. It seems whilst a majority of 66 per cent of atheists do not claim to be embarrassed by PZ Myers a sizeable 33 per cent actually are.

            http://www.algemeiner.com/2011/05/29/seriously-arent-atheists-embarrassed-by-p-z-myers/

          • Right, “Like a woman scorned”, so you were prepared to make unsupported accusations of antisemitism against both me and Michael Kingsford Gray, and yet you have the impertinence to lecture others on how they should behave. I should have thought shame would have kept you quiet for a while, beyond an apology. You’ve been very free with accusations of bigotry against others on this thread as well; indeed, making such accusations appears to have been your only reason for commenting.

            It is true that some atheists are also bigots. If you actually knew anything about Pharyngula, you would know that such bigots get very short shrift from most of the regular commenters, including me.

          • Also, are you really stupid enough to believe that a poll you put up on your website means anything? How exactly have you ensured that only atheists vote?

        • Bruce Gorton

          Okay, somebody answer this question – how the eff do peddling and pushing refer to Judaism?

          In the slightest?

          Maybe Becky is projecting her own anti-semitism on others. Because you know, referring to people who sell stuff? Isn’t race specific.

          • No, Mr Gorton, I’m not anti-semitic for if I were that would mean hating myself and I figured some time ago there are plenty of other people willing to do that for me I may as well sit back and devote my energy to something more constructive – like painting my nails.

            So you ask ‘how the eff’ could the disproportionate repetition of phrases such as ‘peddling’, ‘pushy’ and ‘pushing’ denote an undercurrent of latent anti-semitism? Presumably, you’d be similarly baffled as to why – for some peculiar reason – the inference that the individual is only out to make money or is somehow automatically wealthy just because they happen to be Jewish (as somewhat oddly espoused here by the poster Karl Hubert) could be a clue that there are powerful anti-semitic overtones that run through here.

            Then, what was it you said yourself in your first comment directed at Rabbi Averick on this thread…shall I remind you? You said: “Lets start off with your intro which is entirely poisoning the well.” Poisoning the well? Strange sort of irrational church-promoted medieval anti-semitism coming out of the mouth of a self-declared rational atheist, eh?

            If that wasn’t deliberately intended to be anti-semitic I think you really need to research some medieval Jewish history. Maybe you already had and half-remembered somewhere something about the Jewish populations of Europe being scapegoated for the bubonic plagues of the 14th century with lies which were spread around accusing the Jewish communities of poisoning the wells? If so, unfortunately, you seem to have internalised this and bought into it somewhere along the way. How else would you come out with such a bizarre analogy? Or were you actually trying to goad Rabbi Averick – because if you were that sure doesn’t make you liberal or progressive or in most decent people’s opinions very nice.

            Most of the comments haven’t had anti-semitic undertones on here – but, unfortunately, I find (as I do on Pharyngula and other atheist blogs) that there is a sizeable minority of bigots who hide behind atheism to promote their anti-Jewish and Islamophobic views. It’s so often assumed that an atheist is by default a political liberal, but actually not all atheists are liberals and the same style of discourse that can be found on far-right blogs can also be found on supposedly left-of-centre blogs like Pharyngula. Some people just can’t seem to help letting their racism, anti-semitism, transphobia or sexism get the better of them.

            This is sad. And this is also something that serious progressives in the atheist movement NEED to condemn. I’d be hopping mad (I know y’all think I’m hopping mad already) but I’d been ever crazier if I were an atheist and I realised that some people were using and abusing my ideology as a tool to promote their retrogressive bigoted fanaticism.

            As for KG, once again, the evidence is there if you click on the link I provided. What you call my ‘accusations’ are not unsupported and you can read many other things that people said to me on PZ Myers’ Pharyngula blog including referring to me as ‘it’ and ‘him’ when I’d already explained to them that I was a transwoman and also calling me things like ‘illiterate’, suggesting I was a ‘b/f*cker’ and wishing that I’d ‘die in a fire’. Which, I guess, would count as insults and threats, eh?

            When I entered PZ Myers’ blog I found some of the comments on there so bigoted that I’m afraid I automatically assumed that it was a far-right hate blog. At no stage before banishing me to his cyberbastille did PZ Myers feel it worthy to stoop down and explain just what he meant with regard to the transvestite jibe either.

            Someone on here called Rabbi Averick ‘a coward’ but I think he’s shown himself to be the very opposite of a coward. It takes a lot of guts to stand up for what you believe in, in the almost certain knowledge that the majority of people are going to scorn you for it. Rabbi Averick has been totally outnumbered on this thread yet still he has not thrown any of his critics into a ‘cyberdungeon’. The majority of people on PZ Myers’ blog agree with him and when one or two don’t they end up with a banhammer coming down upon them and being thrown into his dungeon. I would say that in this case, the Rabbi is much more tolerant than the Professor. Whether you’re religious or not (and I’m not religious) you’ve got to respect Rabbi Averick’s courage and willingness to include other points of view here without telling anyone to ‘fxxx off’.

          • I did click on the link you provided, LAWS, and there is no evidence whatever there that PZ Myers personally insulted you. It is a completely unsupported personal accusation, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

          • I also googled *Michael Kingsford Gray* aka KG and found this:

            http://www.antitheistdaily.com/tag/judaism/

            Would seem that you’ve got a bit of a chip on your shoulder when it comes to Jewish people, KG.

            Do you think you should be ashamed at trying to pass this obsession off under the more respectable guise of atheism?

          • Bruce Gorton

            Like a woman scorned

            Then, what was it you said yourself in your first comment directed at Rabbi Averick on this thread…shall I remind you? You said: “Lets start off with your intro which is entirely poisoning the well.” Poisoning the well? Strange sort of irrational church-promoted medieval anti-semitism coming out of the mouth of a self-declared rational atheist, eh?

            Seriously? You are seriously going to argue that simply naming a well known fallacy is anti-semitic? Didn’t you learn the most even basic levels of philosophy in school?

            And you wonder why people call you illiterate!

          • “I also googled *Michael Kingsford Gray* aka KG and found this:

            http://www.antitheistdaily.com/tag/judaism/

            Would seem that you’ve got a bit of a chip on your shoulder when it comes to Jewish people, KG.” – Like a woman scorned

            It would seem to be your practice to make highly unpleasant and totally unsupported accusations against people who disagree with you. I am not Michael Kingsford Gray.

          • I should add: although his name is familiar to me, I have never followed Michael Kingsford Gray’s blog nor read any articles by him, and have not investigated whether “Like a woman scorned”‘s accusation that he is antisemitic has any foundation. Given her false, weird and completely unfounded claim that I am he, and the way she throws accusations of antisemitism around here on the flimsiest grounds, I would not put any reliance on it.

        • Peddling and pushing? You take offense to those words?

          Then you are out of your mind. Those words are used across religion and race and give you absolutely no reason to be claiming offense.

          • There does seem to be a clear pattern in “Like a woman scorned”‘s responses: anyone who disagrees with her is liable to be smeared with accusations of bigotry. I suspect this is indeed the product of psychopathology, but she may just be a very unpleasant person.

      • “…I very much try to stay away from personal attacks. I am attacking his philosophy and his forays into metaphysics, not his person…”

        “Having said that, we are now ready to introduce one of the more zealous and outspoken (read: tiresome and obnoxious) advocates of the Darwinian/atheist worldview, P.Z. Myers.”

        “I have to admit that I would find the prospect of a debate with Dr. Myers to be quite daunting. After all, between his still-lifes of driftwood and his rich vocabulary of four letter words, it’s clear that this man is packing a devastating level of intellectual firepower.”

        Those statements sum up the depth of your character quite nicely. You stay classy, now. Hear?

    • Dear woman scorned,

      From what you wrote me, it seems that you gotten a good like at the emperor’s clothing. All the best,
      Moshe

      • I see: you profess not to make personal attacks, but you are ready to implicitly endorse unsupported accusations. Have you no shame?

      • Moshe, you are nothing but a coward. When challenged to provide rational and reasoned defenses you have nothing but the same old tired fallacies and misrepresentations of fact.

        If you could prove your god was real you would be world reknowned. You are not, therefore you have not, therefore you cannot.

        Don’t pretend otherwise. It would be too obviously a lie, you see?

  • Dean Buchanan

    Mr. Averick, your argument reflects a vast ignorance of biology.
    I am not embarrassed by Dr. Myers in the least.

  • You tip your hand far too early in your article, talking of pushing agendas. And trying to shame others for their thoughts – such hubris is all too common among those of your profession. And being a clergyman is a profession, not a calling.

    Let’s face it, it all comes down to the cash. You’ve got to keep those coffers filled, so why not dabble into a field of study in which you are less than proficient to stir the pot and generate some publicity? The mortgage has to get paid after all, and a little controversy isn’t just free advertising, but it gets the dollars a-flowin’.

    Best of luck, Rabbi Maverick. You betcha ;)

    • I wish the cash was flowing the way you make it out to be. I have a lot of mouths to feed. From your mouth to God’s ears, as they say. Take care,
      Moshe

  • I don’t have a passionate stake in the game of atheism v belief, despite my beliefs.

    That being said, your rant is misleading and weak. That you led in with the idea that you *might* let “your readers” decide, and then went on to insult everything as you heard it, is evidence enough of that.

    Your mind was and is clouded because your type of faith blinds you to impartial listening. I feel sad for you, that you deny the wonderful levels of communication possible between human beings. It must be frustrating to live life with your thoughts ready to form words at the edge of your tongue before the person you’re speaking with has finished a sentence.

    • PZ Myers, if you haven’t noticed, does have a very passionate stake in this game. He aggressively and relentlessly pushes the atheist/Darwinian agenda.

      You are certainly welcome to decide for yourself after evaluating the evidence whether or not what I said made sense. I don’t understand why you think I deny the wonderful ways in which people communicate. I think you might be projecting too much.
      Moshe

      • There is no such thing as an Darwinian/atheist agenda. There is, however, an agenda to promote scientific understanding and reason. The mere fact that there is a debate between ID and evolution is the result of a concerted effort on the part of religious folk to undermine science that conflicts with their specific religious beliefs about how the world was created. Science tries to find natural causes to natural phenomena. ID doesn’t, it projects a supernatural ‘creator’ in lieu of scientific evidence. Supernatural=theology, natural=science.

  • I didn’t even bother to finish reading this. My interest was completely lost as soon as you misconstrued the complexity argument which PZ presented in his 2009 lecture. All I’m going to say is that the core of his argument is that nature is more likely to produce complexity on its own… since it does not have foresight, while a designer would have no reason for unnecessary complexity. By the third paragraph of this article it became very clear to me that you did not take much (or any) time researching the concepts behind evolution. Not only that, but the poor logic and bias is blatantly obvious.

    So in short, no I am not embarrassed by PZ. I doubt hardly any atheists are. Indeed they have no reason to be.

    • I never mentioned evolution in my article, and in fact it had nothing to do with evolution. You have simply repeated Dr.Myer’s misleading argument. Dr. Myer defined a pile of driftwood as “complex.” A pile of driftwood is a meaningless, functionless, pile of junk. That is exactly what Nature produces in unguided processes. To produce specified complexity and functional complexity you need intelligent intervention
      Moshe

      • I think that Meyer’s point, the point that you are missing, is that cells more resemble a pile of driftwood in their randomness than a simple brick wall. Consider vestigial organs, those non-functional relics of organs that have been made obsolete by evolution. Even humans have these types of organs. Life is not the “machinery” that you make it out to be. In this sense, animal and plant life more resembles something constructed over time with no specific plans as opposed to something designed all at once.

      • Mr. Averick, a pile of driftwood is meaningless and functionless, only because you refuse to see its function as a wall. This is the core of the problem with ID, the fact that functionality is in the eye of the beholder.

        Speaking of eyes, the human eye is a perfect example of how many ID “theorists” claim irreducible complexity (or whatever it is you’re calling it these days), when it can be easily deduced how the eye evolved, step by step, with each iteration existing in nature.

        The good ol’ mousetrap comes to mind when speaking of functionality. Sure, the mousetrap has a very specific purpose and function, but if you take one part away, it can easily serve another function and purpose. It is the same with living beings and bodily parts. Just because taking away a part of a system nullifies its current functionality, doesn’t mean there isn’t another function/purpose in its earlier state.

      • John Tornabene

        Sorry, no, YOU need intelligent intervention. Anyone else, without the powerful filter full of blinding bias that is religious dogma and faith, uses the tried, tested, repeatable and refutable method that is logic and science. You sound like an intellient chap, under test conditions probably more so than most that have posted here including me, so how do you cope with repressing the pain induced by cognitive dissonance when confronting the overwhelming and evergrowing body of knowledge that is science. I’m fairly sure you’ll answer ‘faith’, but why not try letting go and get involved working towards something that could help the whole of humanity. When I was a child I remember crying when I realised that I wouldn’t be able to fly like superman. This new understanding didn’t stop me from suspending my logical belief system temporarily to enjoy a good story. Let go.

      • Evolution has everything to do with intelligent design. ID exists solely as a counterpoint to evolution. Evolution is either true or false, and intelligent design is either true or false. If evolution is false, intelligent design is most likely true. Thus, evolution’s falseness necessitates the existence of an alternate theory, such as intelligent design, and lends credibility to such a theory. If evolution is true, then intelligent design is both false and unnecessary, since evolution is a purely natural process. Therefore, intelligent design would not exist if evolution had never emerged.

        Also, you claim that “a pile of driftwood is a meaningless, functionless, pile of junk.” I posit that such an attribution can be made to any object, including complex biological constructs, such as the eye, which you claim are the product of intelligent design. The value of an eye is entirely subjective, and it is just as meaningless and functionless as a pile of driftwood, until a human being applies meaning and function to it. An eye that is not being used to see is meaningless and functionless. A pile of driftwood is exactly the same. It has no meaning or function until it is given one by a human. A pile of driftwood may be used as shelter from the weather, or sea, or as a pre-constructed bonfire, among other things.

      • Couldn’t you at least make an effort to spell Prof. Myers’ name correctly? It is “Myers”, not “Myer”, and it does not become “Myer’s” under any circumstances. The fact that you are apparently unable to get this right indicates, quite correctly, that you are likely to be completely incapable of understanding anything as, er, complex, as an argument.

      • Specified complexity: You have not put forward anything to support your claim that the complexity has been PRE-specified. You have only assumed that it was because you can’t think of how it could not have been, which is an argument from ignorance.

        Functional complexity: Just because something has a beneficial function, does not automatically mean it was designed ahead of time. If what you believe is true, God is the ultimate functionally complex being. Where’s his (sorry, His) designer?

      • ManhattanMC

        “…A pile of driftwood is a meaningless, functionless, pile of junk. That is exactly what Nature produces in unguided processes. ….”

        Just curious-are you aware of the percentage of your DNA thatis non-coding, methylated retro viruses and pseudogenes? Comparing it to a pile of driftwood is a bad analogy even if that was undeniably not Professor Myers point.

        More questions:

        Do you do anything other than launch attacks on those with who you disagree?

        What have you been teaching for 30 years? It certainly wasn’t biology nor logic and I would have trouble believing anyone paid you to lecture on philosophy or metaphysics either.

        Buy your book?

        I don’t think so.

    • Moshe- People keep explaining how you’ve misinterpreted what PZ had said, and you just keep putting your hands over your ears and repeating the same nonsense over and over.

      Take some time to think about what he actually says, and what you say he says. They aren’t the same thing.

      Surely you aren’t deliberately ignorant, are you?

      • Obviously he is. He has no choice. The responses to a truth like that tend to be evade, ignore, or deceive. He uses all three.

      • Joe. G,

        Please see my reply to Dr. Myers’ rebuttal. His entire argument hangs on the equivalency of the “complexity” of the driftwood and the “complexity” of the cell. This of course is utter nonsense, which in turn causes his entire point to simply evaporate.

        I also want to thank William Butler for fleshing out some crucial points in this whole discussion. One of them is the fact that serious thinkers on both sides of this argument understand that ultimately the entire question of a creator boils down to the “Who created the creator” issue. Dawkins spends quite a bit of time in The God Delusion attempting to deal with this issue. In my opinion, of course, as I point out in Chapter 5 of Nonsense of a High Order, his attempt fails. That, however, is a different discussion.

        I want to reiterate what Mr. Butler said: This is a PHILOSOPHICAL/THEOLOGICAL issue, it is not a scientific issue. Win,lose, or draw this question will not be decided by scientists. Unless they actually demonstrate conclusively that life can come from non-life through a naturalistic process, they have nothing to say on this issue. Darwinian evolution has nothing to do with Origin of Life, and Darwinian evolution is irrelevant to the whole question of the existence of a Creator.

        Life is obviously created. The same way the Dr. Myers knows that a brick wall is the product of intelligent design, we also know that the staggeringly sophisticated nano-machinery of a bacterium and its pure digitally encoded self replicating system is also the product of intelligence. WE didn’t even know there was such a thing as “digital” information until relatively recently. Somebody obviously knew about it 3.5 billion years ago.

        Whether or not the created molecular machinery and genetic code are capable of evolving into all the marvelous variety and complexity of the living world is beside the point. If it did, then it was created with that potential and if if did not, then it did not.

        Again, I thank all those who took the trouble to make serious comments and I will continue to try to go through the list of comments and respond. For those who still insist on ranting about “bronze age goat herders” and “sky fairies”, etc. I wish you luck in your passage through adolescence into adulthood.
        Moshe

        • What a joke, from one who takes the stories of (admittedly mostly iron age) pastoralists about their sky fairy seriously! It’s time to grow up, Averick, and take responsibility for your own moral judgements rather than justifying genocide on the grounds that your sky fairy ordered it.

  • No. Actually, I am rather pleased with Dr. Myers. Maybe a little envious, too, since he has a smokin’ hot Trophy Wife™. Squidelicious!

    Are you upset because P.Z. doesn’t invoke talking serpents and magical fruit and invisible magical sky fairies as logical constructs in his lectures?

    Or are you just miffed that he didn’t toss a zeroa in with the communion wafer and the pages from the qur’an and The God Delusion and the coffee grounds and banana peel that he threw in the trash?

  • “Nowhere do we find more glaring examples of the human predilection for intellectual corruption than when we examine the writings and lectures of an ideologue who is driven, not by a burning desire for truth, but by a burning desire to further his or her own agenda.”

    I am… speechless. You should be ashamed of this article. But I know you aren’t. That’s sad.

  • “Doesn’t P.Z. Myers make you embarrassed to be an atheist?”

    No, but I’m sure you phrased the question in such a way as to try and lead one or two atheists your way, Rabbi. It’s a shame really – you appear to be one of those theists who think that any/all atheists need a figurehead that can all follow and, perhaps, worship. I’m afraid it ain’t so, which is why you’ll find plenty of atheists who don’t blindly follow people just because they ‘champion’ the cause.

    However, in this case you’re talking crap and you might see that many have pointed that out.

    I have to wonder why you only seem to mention what appears to be the first few minutes of the talk given by Myers. Could it be perhaps that he elaborated upon what he was saying? Perhaps not: it could be that (many, many people agree) rightly he dismissed the notion of ID almost outright.

    You also seem to be under the incredibly incorrect assumption that scientists (yes, plural – you have so few on your side that the fraction might as well be considered comparable to zero) have absolutely no evidence/facts to back up their continual dismissal of ID: “…he would need 50 more years to prepare his case!”
    Either that or you’re deluding yourself, which could be why you mentioned the piles of driftwood and created a few strawmen for yourself several times, as well as throwing in a few too many ?s, !s and !!??!?!?s.

    By the way, just a tip: When scientists use the words “design” or “created” etc… they don’t mean what you want to think they mean.

  • Not embarrassed by him at all actually, but I do empathize with him having to put up with allegedly “learned” people such as yourself willfully and deliberately misrepresenting his words in order to try and make your case against him. Then there’s the personal attacks on his character and mental stability. Really? That’s the best you could come up with?

    I guess ignorance really is bliss for such as yourself…

  • Also, if you’ll take a look at Jeffery Shallit’s contributions to the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, you’ll see that Shallit explains how William Dembski’s notion of “specified complexity” is baloney. How can anyone be expected to use the right terms when IDers can’t even define the terms?

  • No, not embarassed at all. Proud. He was logical.

  • Even before I looked at your article, my answer was “no.” Why would I be embarrassed of a man whom I’ve never met and who in no way represents me? Even if his speech were full of holes, I wouldn’t be embarrassed of him. I’d simply challenge him.

    As for embarrassment, I have to imagine that the Supreme Being of All Things is thoroughly mortified by the vast majority of those who claim to represent it. Why aren’t you writing this article to your co-superstitionists?

  • Domingo Subero

    No.
    Ojalá hubiese muchos más PZ… y en todos los idiomas.

  • Nope. I’m embarrassed that I read your article though. I’m embarrassed that the United States still holds on to silly, superstitious beliefs. That is all.

  • Yeah, I don’t think you have a firm grasp on the lecture you watched, Rabbi.

  • Dashing Leech

    No, not at all. In fact, it seems you are the one to have missed out on the facts here.

    By your definition of complexity, “complexity that clearly functions towards a specific purpose”, there is nothing that exists that meets it. Show me something anywhere that occurs naturally that you can separate a description of how it functions to that of its “purpose”.

    The fact that you don’t recognize the circular reasoning of defining a “purpose” and then using that to define a “purposer” (aka, Intelligent Designer) is rather embarrassing. That should be simple.

    Your entire article is a strawman argument. You are confusing P.Z.’s demonstration of the natural assemblage from simple to complex, with some sort of all-encompassing description of life. Where did he say that?

    All it takes for life to start is a molecule that has the property that it makes a copy (or inverse copy) in the presence of the raw materials that make it up. There is a whole class of molecules that have this property, and the components of them readily form with ease in the presence of raw materials and an energy source. Given enough materials, time, energy, and reactions, such as on the early Earth, such a molecule is inevitable.

    Once that happens, the principle of natural selection, which implicitly includes a variety of principles of efficiency economics, will lead to more complex and specialized molecules, interactions, and adaptations that effectively provide useful functions. One might even say a “purpose” if one equates it with a description of function, as you seem to.

    P.Z. merely described the basic principle of complexity, not how life arrived via the principle as I’ve described above. You seem to have either intentionally or mistakenly made up a specific purpose to his talk that nobody had designed into. But then, you seem to be in that habit. How embarrassing for you.

    • You are grossly ill informed about the state of Origin of Life research. No one has a clue how a self replicating molecule could form without chemists or laboratories creating them. By the way, that includes Jack Szostak.
      Moshe

      • Marconi Darwin

        Which has what to do with anything? If no one has an idea of something, then it is a subject that needs research.

        Whup de do!

      • Completely false, of course. If you want an elementary introduction (although I very much doubt you either want one, or are capable of understanding it), read the first two chapters of Nick Lane’s “Life Ascending”.

      • Just because we don’t know how life was originally formed on this planet (and may never know) does not give any support to your claims of a God. We currently have many positive theories of how life may have started, which is much stronger than your negative arguments against abiogenesis to support your God hypothesis.

      • Therefore, your only logical conclusion is that a bearded, magical ghost did it. Excellent use of logic. *facepalm*

      • Well, that reply makes it quite clear that you’re either willfully, GROTESQUELY ignorant, or more likely just a liar. Whichever it is, it obvious even to me as a layman that you are incorrect. We have quite a lot more than just ‘a clue’ about the origin of replicating molecules.

        Fortunately for us, your ignorance does not equal a problem for science.

        Thank you for making it so very clear how little you actually care about honesty or reality, I can henceforth ignore any claims you make. It was seeing just how often and how blatantly and unashamedly the religious would LIE to further their ideology that helped lead me out of the stinking mire of organized religion, and the world is a far better place once I got myself out of that festering swamp and into the cold, clear light of reality.

        Keep on spinning!

      • Daniel Schealler

        As I’ve stated in my reply to you above: You may want to check out the work of Szostak Labs.

        I’ve already left some links in these comment threads, and I don’t want to yank the chains of the moderators any more than I already have done.

        Search through the comments with your browser for the phrase ‘Check out Szostak Labs!’ – it should appear near the bottom of the page.

        I provide a link to a YouTube video that summarizes Szostak Labs’ research in a manner that is easily accessible to a scientifically literate non-scientist.

        I also include a few other links providing supporting references to the underlying research.

        The research publications themselves are somewhat dense. But the YouTube video is well-worth the 10 minutes it takes to view it.

        Check it out.

      • “No one has a clue how a self replicating molecule could form without chemists or laboratories creating them.”

        Good fizzing grief.

        Crystals.

        – TWZ

  • Jeremy Cohen

    I’ve read several articles by Moshe on this site and they all seem to boil down to a common theme. Moshe seems to have a tough time getting over the idea that a world without god means that all of our lives are as pointless and meaningless as that of a “ground worm” (,etc). I have good news for you, Moshe! A life without god is actually NOT pointless, and many atheists I know have a tremendous respect for life, human or otherwise. I myself am an ecologist-in-training (grad student), and I chose this particular profession not because of the pitiful salary I will likely be earning, but because I love studying animal life. All of nature is an incredible source of interest to me, and I am fascinated by the many wondrous adaptations life has evolved to solve ecological problems.

    As far as human life, it’s true, I don’t believe I was created by a supernatural being with a purpose. I was, however, created by my parents with a purpose, which was to become a productive member of society. But fortunate for those of us who can’t say that, even this is irrelevant. I think that what really matters is creating one’s own purpose in life. For me, I’m trying to use my short existence to further what we understand about the universe, as well as to protect the environment. Many other people have given themselves numerous other diverse purposes in life. Our lives are significant because of what we are doing with them, not because of what they were intended for.

    Moshe, I was an Orthodox Jew once upon a time myself, and believe that I see where you are coming from. Please try to see what I am saying as well. We can make our own lives meaningful through our own actions, even if it is technically an accident that humanity as we know it exists at all. And to answer your question, no. I think that PZ, while he can be excessively critical at times, is an extremely intelligent man who thoroughly understands evolutionary biology. He makes me proud to be an atheist.

    • Daniel Schealler

      One thing I’d add to that.

      Not only can we make our own meaning in life… But I strongly suspect that we must make meaning in life, in the sense that web-spinning spiders must make spider-silk.

      It seems that the creation of meaning is something of a human universal, to the point that it is very difficult to not create meaning in life.

    • I love how Moshe responds to all the comment he finds easy to respond to – usually with the typical talking points we’ve all heard hundreds of times before – but when confronted with an actual conversation and a new, well-worded thought he stays mysteriously silent.

      • Daniel Schealler

        Actually, I’d have to disagree with you there.

        Given the sheer volume of comments that an average article can generate, and given the fact that people who publish articles usually have other (better) things to do than respond to random comments on teh internetz… I think it should be entirely forgivable that Moshe should respond selectively to the comments that he views as the most egregious and in need of response.

        If anything, I’m a little bit impressed that he’s responding at all.

  • I am not embarrassed by Myers at all.

    I am surprised that you are not embarrassed by your own article.

  • Embarrased by PZ, why on earth would I be?

    I’m just amazed that after centuries of highly productive scientific inquiry and honing of philosophical/logical thinking (with heaps more to come) there are still people like yourself who try to convince us that the limited experiences and psychological makeup of bronze age goat herders can inform us in any way.

    You really are a sad individual.

    • Gary. Your comment is gold. Are you on twitter? If so, I’d like to follow you. My user name is @ChazBarnz. Please inbox me on twitter or something.

  • Nope not embarrassed at all. Besides the fact that asking a question like “aren’t atheists embarrassed by PZ Meyers” is like asking “aren’t all men embarrassed by Charlie Sheen?” YOU should be embarrassed that not only did you not understand the point of Meyers talk (which was actually quite witty and spot on) but you didn’t even bother to TRY and understand it. Arguments from personal incredulity don’t hold much water.

    And yes, the whole point of molecular and cell biology is it is EXTREMELY clumsy, cumbersome, often redundant, and usually downright poorly executed. This is because EVOLUTION doesn’t purpose build things. If an engineer today had the power of god to design and will a cell or plant or animal into existence, I promise you they would look NOTHING like they do now. They would look more like the brick wall – simple, elegant, purposefully designed. The processes that drive a cell are indeed cumbersome, random, complex like that driftwood pile. So please, try and do some research and understand things before you write such a garbage piece based solely on personal incredulity and ignorance.

    • When you can build a cell from scratch or you can build a better eye than the one you have now, I might take you seriously. Until then…?
      Moshe

      • “build a better eye than the one you have now”

        Yeah, because the human eye is so clearly the best one around. I mean, we can’t even see in the near ultraviolet like reindeer, or the far uv like bees, or even detect the polarisation of light like those damned squid. And hey, frogs can detect single photons whereas humans have the superior requirement of at least nine, well nine on the fovea, 90 to ensure that those 9 get to the fovea. And on the subject, why fovea? That’s a brilliant piece of work there, isn’t it Rabbi. Yeah, put all the blood vessels on the wrong side of the retina, and then move some away from one spot. Woo.
        \sarcasm
        You stupid stupid man, Rabbi.

        • *claps*

        • If God forbid, the “terribly designed” eyes you have stopped functioning properly, you would run like a maniac to find someone who devoted 8-12 years of his/her life intensely studying this poorly designed piece of machinery, because once they were gone, all of the greatest engineers in the world couldn’t replace them. You had better hope that the Doctor who examines your eye doesn’t think about your eyes like you do.

          • ‘terribly designed’ eyes – you mean like babies with congenital blindness?

          • Moshe, this argument doesn’t address Hen3ry’s argument at all. You specifically asked about building a “better” eye, and his answer then gave examples of eyes with capabilities beyond those of our own.

            Likewise, your assumption that those cells are “designed” at all immediately derails your understanding of this discussion. Just because Hen3ry may not be able to “build” an eye does not mean it is not possible for others to do so.

          • Yes, nobody can build an eye better than the imaginary sky wizard. Makes perfect sense now…. sheeeesh.

          • Chili Pepper

            Nice strawman.

          • “All the best engineers in the world couldn’t replace them” because the connection interface is an even worse design. We can build better eyes, we just can’t plug them into that mess of a nervous system.

            From the POV of a designer (which has to think about stuff like repairing, replacing parts, modyfing one part without screwing up all the others, adjusting parameters etc.) we are more of a pile of driftwood than a JumboJet. Too much nonfunctional complication, too much random interconnections, no industry standards kept whatsoever. You can’t even borrow a part from similarly “designed” neighbour without having to protect it from your own body for the rest of your life.

      • When you can show some real evidence that your “God” exists, I might take you seriously. Until then…?

  • Not embarrassed but proud that a smart, witty, and educated man is espousing his non-belief in such a public forum, you on the other-hand…

  • We’re not embarrassed by PZ, no.

    If you’d really like me to be embarrassed, I can be on your behalf, for your apparent total inability to recognize that ID and other forms of creationism are baseless and intellectually bankrupt. If the very simple explanation of this, provided by PZ, was enough to get your hackles up enough to write this breathless, hopelessly misguided dismissal of the reality that PZ has been trying to describe for your benefit, you ought to feel embarrassed as well.

  • No.

    Thanks for spreading the word about Myers though.

    You clearly have an agenda of your own with this text, and it is very hard to take you seriously because of it.

  • I’ll have to second Dusty. This article was weak.

    Goodluck with your own agenda.

  • Aaron Maxwell

    Not embarassed by Dr. Myers, at all.

    I am embarassed that I read this article thinking that it may have some credible substance.

  • Sandiseattle

    I read Pharyngula almost every day. It is tremendously amusing. Once in a while I learn something but mostly it the comedy I keep returning for.

  • Answer: Nope.

  • I am SERIOUSLY embarrassed by the quotation you selected as the banner headline of your argument: “Nobody ever allowed something as trivial as facts and logic to interfere with their agenda. If the facts and logic don’t fit, then the facts and logic will just have to fend for themselves.”

    It illustrates very clearly one of the main differences between Atheists and Creationists. You select a cooked up conclusion and discard any “facts and logic” which don’t support that conclusion.

    We prefer to use our reasoning powers to look logically at the facts and come to a rational conclusion that fits the evidence.

    Your superstitious nonsense has no place in today’s world.

  • I like how you berate PZ Myers for exploiting science to promote some sort of “agenda” as if you are Mr. Super-Objective-Open-Minded-USA? You don’t have an agenda either right?

  • Professor Meyers is in no way embarrassing. What is embarrassing is that America is still so mired in peasant superstition.

  • As an atheist, I am not embarrassed by P.Z. Myers. He is a well respected biologist and embryologist, an expert on evolution and a committed opponent of pseudoscience and stupidity in general.

    As a Jew, I am deeply embarrassed by Moshe Averick, who clearly knows little about the subjects he has made a point of commenting on here: evolution and atheism. I can only hope that the Rabbi knows more about the faith that he practices than the propositions he criticizes, else he must be a horrendously stupid Rabbi.

    • Mr. Stein,

      How a well respected biologist can actually compare a living cell to the chaotic “complexity” of a pile of driftwood needs to seriously rethink his position. I have no problem with people criticizing what I write or strongly disagreeing. I wonder if you are able to put your money where your mouth is and actually point out to me, where you think my argument was flawed. My guess is that you are short on logical thinking and long on self-righteous indignation. Looking forward to hearing from you.
      Moshe

      • natural cynic

        No, PZ does not need to rethink his position because he does not compare the driftwood to a cell and he does not consider a cell to be the result of some whirlwind assembling a 747. Myers simply stated that something that appears complex may or may not be designed. It seems that you made an unwarranted jump in logic in making up the analogy. Myers’ analogy was between the driftwood wall and a brick wall.
        A bacteria resembles an “immense automated factory”? Now who is making unwarranted jumps in analogies? Do factories reproduce themselves? You’re comparing computer chips to oranges.
        And.. how long has artificial life processes been a subject of study? It seems to have progressed at a much more rapid rate than the search for any definitive statement on theology that is congruent with all religions.

      • Many of us have pointed out where you’re flawed, so I’m not going to bother here. But I do want to say thanks for letting us comment. The comments to this article are much better than the article itself. ;)

      • I could forgive you misrepresenting in the article what PZ said because anyone could make a mistake (especially when something conflicts with ones own agenda), but now that your mistake has been pointed out to you several times in the comments – it seems dishonest to keep defending it.

        • It’s pure pride on the Rabbi’s part, he simply cannot comprehend that he could be wrong. Therefore, when he is in fact very wrong indeed, he digs in his heels and defends it all the way.

          Similarly, a lot of people (including the Rabbi, I expect) oppose evolution due to pride of another sort. The pride that won’t accept that no, humans are not the single perfect jewel in the entire cosmos. We’re just like everything else, every other animal. Just with more capacity for self-delusion and, well, pride.

      • Reality Chic

        Why is it assumed that JStein is a male?

      • He did not. Once again you are misrepresenting his words. Honest people don’t need trickery.

        This implies that your beliefs are not honestly held. You must be a man of great doubts.

  • Not at all embarrassed by Myers. But I am continually embarrassed by the odd conclusions my fundamentalist religious family come to.

  • Best I can tell, all your arguments are based on dishonesty. You misrepresent what Professor Myers had to say, then attack the false position YOU created.

    It is quite evident to everyone who knows anything about biology and evolution, that you are in way over your head here. Perhaps you should stick to writing about gods. Attempting to bring science into the article just made you look foolish.

  • Speaking of illogic, isn’t it Begging the Question to ascribe “design” or “specified complexity” to human or beaver creations as being anything other than the product of extremely complex natural processes in the absence of proof that humans and beavers possess agency that is outside natural law?  Last I checked that claim rested solely on supposition and, even then, the assumption was being challenged by neurological research.

    So even IF you could argue it was designed, you’ve only shown it was a complex natural process unless you can prove such design originated supernaturally.

    Not embarrassed by PZ in the slightest.

  • Oh, and please consider brushing up on punctuation: your comma key will thank you.

  • You’ll notice that at no point does Myers ever suggest that a pile of driftwood is analagous to a cell–the rabbi has missed the point of PZ’s lecture, which is simply that complexity does not imply design, and that design does not impart complexity, not that all complexity is arbitrary and identical (as inferred by Rabbi Averick).

    • If “complexity” is a description of a pile of junk, like the driftwood, and “complexity” also describes the living cell, then you are obviously comparing the two. Dr. Myers himself says that “we biologists admit that the living cell is very complex”, he then goes on to show that “complex” things like a pile of driftwood happens naturally, ergo the cell does not need a designer. You are the one who has misunderstood Dr. Myers.
      Moshe

      • “You are the one who has misunderstood Dr. Myers.”

        Anyone who wishes to can see the complete falsity of this claim by reading Myers’ own response to Averick.

      • You are using the same deceptive tactics that theists use with the word Faith. They switch between definitions at will and refuse to be locked down to a single definition or use clearer terminology.

        You are doing your best to trick people but they are seeing right through it. Please, take a few steps back, consult those you respect, and see if you can find a way to deal with these questions honestly.

        Each time you make those false claims you lose something in the eyes of those who respect you. Your words bring shame to people who can discuss faith honestly.

      • “Compare”, the word you use here, does not mean the same thing that “analogous” does, which you use above. The latter necessarily implies equivalence, especially in biology. The former does not imply any similarity whatsoever: you can compare things that are dissimilar in every way. So, yes, PZ does compare the two. Good show. Again, at no point does he suggest the two are analogous.

        Clearly, you understood Myers’ lecture, because you got it right here. The only conclusion to be drawn from this is that since you wrote this, you’ve had a sudden burst of intellectual wherewithal, or you understood it from the start and deliberately distorted it to justify writing a hit piece.

  • If atheism was a religion then there are atheist who I might be embarrassed by. But it isn’t so I’m not. But if it was Prof. Myers would not be one of them. I find his use of vernacular restrained and deliberate. I have not read what he was responding to of yours that elicited his bluntness but in this article you’re asking to be told.

  • I just about swallowed my gum when I read that quote. I’d figure the blatant hypocrisy would make the top of your head going spinning off into space. Go peddle that to some illiterate sheep herders. If you give them food they’ll listen to you for an hour or so.

  • nope. if i see him imma buy him a beer :3

  • Averick, you’re no brighter today than you were the last time you posted this moronic argument. Everytime you post it (and it’s clear that you will be posting it again and again and again), you get schooled in the comments, and none of the comments ever make a dent in your muddled thinking.

    Go learn.

  • You should be embarrassed by writing this article. The fact that you are not speaks volumes about your character.

  • No, I’m not embarrassed by P.Z.

    But then, I understood the point he was making.

  • Helpful Hand

    “Rabbi Moshe Averick is an ordained orthodox rabbi and corrupter of young minds for over 30 years.”

    Fixed that for you.
    Now get back to your sheep, Rabbi, before their fearful bleating disturbs the neighbours.

  • Not embarrassed.

  • Rabbi,

    Would you be offended if I should ask your fellow Jews if they’re embarrassed by your clear failure to understand that which you seek to so venomously criticise?

    It wouldn’t surprise me to hear “No”, because you probably don’t see yourself as representing all Jews – a view likely reciprocated.

    And now you know the answer to the question posed in your title.

    The rest of your article bears no further discussion.

    • It probably bears no discussion from you, because you are unable to point out the flaws in my argument. If you think I did not understand, please explain where I went wrong.
      Moshe

      • Judging by your responses in this thread and your other articles there would be little point – you’ve failed to take anything else said to you on board, especially where others have gone to the trouble of correcting you. You seem to quite happy to stick your fingers in your ears and repeat creationist mantra.

        This is not the first time you’ve embarrassed yourself regarding science or non-belief and it likely won’t be the last. If you fear nonbelief & misunderstand science so much, perhaps you’re better off avoiding them both.

      • Those flaws have been pointed out countless times and you ignore them. You argue the way an uninformed child does. One of your standing should be held to a much higher standard than a child, don’t you think?

        No more ignoring contradictory evidence. No more misdirection, no more evasions.

        Deal with the topic honestly. You chose the topic, you chose the battlefield, don’t run away.

  • Thanks again for proving if you want truth come to an atheist. If you want lies go to the religious .

    The only thing that PZ Myers embarrasses me about is that he is more intelligent than me and his beard is longer, damn you corporate life.

  • This is ridiculous.

    One of my mentors, Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, (of blessed memory), made the following, rather sobering, observation about human nature: “Nobody ever allowed something as trivial as facts and logic to interfere with their agenda. If the facts and logic don’t fit, then the facts and logic will just have to fend for themselves.” Nowhere do we find more glaring examples of the human predilection for intellectual corruption than when we examine the writings and lectures of an ideologue who is driven, not by a burning desire for truth, but by a burning desire to further his or her own agenda.

    This better describes yourself than any scientist. You even claim that your mentors told you to act this way. I am disgusted. You clearly desire nothing more than to further your own hateful agenda.

  • Of course your rabbi was the only man to have ever lived without an agenda. Yes, he had no agenda when he was pushing his version of god and thereby ensuring that his livelihood continued.

    Funny how it’s always easier to see the other person’s agenda.

  • Janice in Toronto

    You’re kidding, right?

    I mean, seriously, you’re just joking eh?

  • downtown dave

    DR: God supplies the evidence. http://atheistlegitimacy.blogspot.com/

    • ManhattanMC

      Before anyone else bothers-
      ‘athiestlegitimacy’ isn’t worth clicking on.
      Proselytizing nonsense complete with bible quotes.

  • No, I’m not embarrassed by PZ- I am, however, awestruck by his wealth of knowledge, patience and persistence in dealing with the deliberately ignorant.

    Conversely, good Rabbi- are you not embarrassed by your orthodox Jewish brethren at Der Tzitung attempting to erase powerful women from the historical record? It’s quite telling that when one of your mob doesn’t like reality, the obvious solution is to deny it altogether- which is precisely what you have done in this missive.

    Evolutionary biology is real and there’s mountains of evidence to support it. Pretending it does not exist does not well support your cause or credibility.

  • No reason to be embarrassed bey PZ, he actually knows what he’s talking about when it comes to biology. You on the other hand…

  • What I got from your argument: Meyers attempted to simplify the points in his lecture for laypersons like yourself to understand, and you STILL failed to understand it, so you think he must be the ignorant one, and we atheists must be embarrassed of him.

    Not even close.

    Meyers is an incredibly well-educated and accomplished thinker and scholar and a great spokesperson for the atheist community. Your feeble attempt to discredit him based on your own ignorance and bias is utterly futile.

  • Caine, Fleur du mal

    No, I am not at all embarrassed by Dr. PZ Myers. Why on earth would I be?

    However, Rabbi, you are definitely cringeworthy here. You should know the value of a good education, so please, educate yourself before you attempt something like this again. It’s embarrassing.

  • No, not at all. Even his weakest analogies are cast iron compared to the strongest of your faith based arguments.

  • Wow, talk about smug! The argument of this essay is so deeply defective that a sophomore biology student could point out dozens of problems — indeed, that would make a good bio exam question, no? And yet the author has the chutzpah to call someone else an embarrassment?

    • Dear Believer,
      You don’t have to point out dozens, how about pointing out three.
      moshe

      • Bruce Gorton

        To the mods: Three flaws in the article.

        1: You start off the whole piece with what bad people atheists are. This is called “poisoning the well.”

        2: Myers never compared the cell to a pile of driftwood – his point was on complexity. So the primary flaw is that you engage in straw manning.

        3: Your whole argument around functional or specified complexity is a base assertion. You fail to point out how complexity in these cases leads to the conclusion of design except via appeals to incredulity.

        It takes some special kind of incompetence to fail to answer your own straw man.

        • Thanks Bruce.

          I received a similar challenge to point out the rabbi’s glaring flaws but elected not to bother, based both on concise replies such as yours and those more detailed, all of which Moshe seems thus far to have ignored wholesale, or attempted to talk around.

          The active ignoring of simply-explained rebuttals makes me wonder at the Rabbi’s actual intent. Surely a learned man shouldn’t balk at having an argument debunked; it provides an opportunity to gain more knowledge. Yet dogma seems to have a stronger pull than reason, logic or even basic fairness.

          \m/

      • Respond to Bruce’s list of flaws or forever mark yourself as a liar, Moshe.

        The flaws are right there, listed all nice.

        You have little choice left at this point. Your credibility is strained to say the least.

        No more lies please.

  • Not embarrassed at all by PZ. But YOU should be, Mr. Averick, by the poorness of your argument. Read up about both biology and atheism, and then come back and discuss in a serious and honest way. Thanks and have a nice day.

  • Sorry, but if anyone out to be embarrassed, it’s you. Dr. Myers’ logic is actually logical, but your entire article is an excellent example of someone disregarding all logic if it doesn’t fit the (completely illogical) conclusions you’ve already reached.

  • No. I’m not embarrassed by PZ Myers.

    I’m embarrassed by the author of this article, though. For not understanding PZ Myers’s straight forward and incontrovertible point. Ugh.

  • Not embarrassed by him at all. I do feel sorry for you though. Never try to argue against a biologist about evolution. It is the cornerstone of modern biology and medicine, and we understand it and it’s “alternative” far better than any theologian.

  • Nope, not embarrassed by him at all, we quite like the guy.

  • I am certainly not embarrassed by Dr Myers. However, like Martin Zeichner commented I am embarrassed by you, seeing as though I am an atheist that’s from a Jewish family. Your argument against PZ was poorly done and was a strawman argument.

    By the way, the entire ID arguement boils down to an argument from ignorance, which is a fallacious form of argument.

  • Doesn’t P.Z. Myers make you embarrassed to be an atheist?

    No, not in the least. Let’s consider a couple of points:

    1. Myers’ lecture was on biology, specifically evolution, not on atheism. I’ve heard him give a similar lecture and, when it was over, I applauded. He’s a good lecturer and obviously knows his subject well (not surprising, since he’s a PhD biologist and a biology professor).

    2. It’s also obvious that you don’t understand what Myers was saying. Just because something is complex doesn’t mean it’s designed. The basalt columns at Devil’s Causeway in Ireland are complex but aren’t designed. In a similar way, a cell is complex but undesigned.

    Rabbi, that wooshing sound was the point flying over your head. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?

    • You are just repeating Dr. Myer’s argument. A pile of driftwood is “complex” and emerges through natural forces, so too a living cell is “complex” and could emerge through natural forces. I repeat: Anyone who compares a living cell to a pile of driftwood needs to get his head examined.
      Moshe

      • Marconi Darwin

        Why?

      • Mr. Averick, let me ask you something. If a person from, say, the 17th century saw the Nike “swoosh” logo, would he consider it simple, or complex? In its design, it is incredibly simple. Yet we know for a fact it was designed.

        Similarly, take a look at the human body — let’s focus on one aspect: the laryngeal nerve. In every mammalian species, it is far longer than it needs to be. In the giraffe, as a matter of fact, it is 15 feet longer than necessary. This is needlessly complex, as it travels from the brain, ALL the way down around the aorta, then ALL the way back up to the larynx. If the human body were truly designed (or if evolution had a divine hand in the process), this would be considered a design flaw, a needlessly complex one at that. Is this complexity supposed to convince me that it was designed that way? If engineers today were to craft the human body, the laryngeal nerve would certainly go directly from the brain to the larynx, without taking a needlessly complex detour around the aorta.

        Complexity is seldom a sign of an entity having been designed. And simplicity is not always a sign of an entity having occurred naturally. I hope you understand that someday.

      • Rabbi, for goodness sake please READ the following words:

        PZ Myers NEVER compared “a living cell to a pile of driftwood”. He has never said that. YOU made that jump all by yourself.

        And just FYI: The difference between a pile of driftwood and a living cell is a few billion years. Scientists have filled countless pages with information on the processes that took place in those billions of years. Information based on evidence I might add.

        If you don’t want to read a book about the process, atleast just google “evolution of the cell”. After some more research I am sure you will realize that you completely missed the point PZ was making.

      • It’s a METAPHOR, Moshe! Aren’t you sky fairy people supposed to be good with metaphors?

        And BTW, you said a time or two that early Jews knew that the universe came out of nothing. That’s not even a good understanding of your own religion. It teaches that the universe came from god (who came from nothing).

  • “After all, between his still-lifes of driftwood and his rich vocabulary of four letter words, it’s clear that this man is packing a devastating level of intellectual firepower. But all sarcasm aside, I have a heartfelt question for all you skeptics out there and I want you to answer seriously: Doesn’t P.Z. Myers make you embarrassed to be an atheist?”

    So let me get this straight, your attempt to denigrate .Z’s argument comes down to:
    a.) A clueless strawmanning of the actual argument he was putting forward; that simplicity and complexity are NOT in any way linked to whether something is naturally occurring or intentionally designed, and therefore complexity cannot be used as an indication for design.
    And just in case:
    b.) use of language you don’t like invalidates an otherwise valid argument.

    For arguments sake, let’s give you a pass on the silliness of your assertions here…

    Don’t all those child-molesting pastors, bishops and preachers make you embarrassed to be a theist?

    What’s that you say? The validity of your world view is in no-way linked to the public perception of someone else who shares it?

    We all know this isn’t going to win over anyone with a modicum of common sense, so let’s just call it what it is. A fluff piece to make the poor saps who’ll read it and think “Yeah, those dumb atheists must be feeling real sorry for themselves now, hurr hurr!” feel good about themselves and for us to shake our heads and sigh (or possibly facepalm/headdesk) at.

  • Wow are you ignorant.

  • Not even slightly embarrassed.

  • No. What I find embarassing is that someone is arguing science on the basis of a book written by some ignorant desert-dwelling savages. This could be acceptable a couple of millennia ago, not now.

  • You seem to think that Atheism is a tangible, structured, orginization that we are a part of and that one member reflects the whole, atheism is neither of those things. Your imagination of Atheists is quite far from what atheists actually are. We deny the existence of your gods, and that’s all. Have a nice day.

  • Why should anyone be embarrassed by what someone else does? That being said, I don’t think you made a case at all for why anything PZ Meyers has said in his lecture to be wrong. You simply make the “I can’t believe he said that!” argument, which is no argument at all. So why don’t you come back with a clear case of why ID is clearly a superior scientific theory to Darwinian evolution and then you can ask the same question again…

  • Embarrassed by P.Z? You gotta be kidding? Embarrassed by the ignorance of the IDiots (and general theist arguments) – without doubt!

    Btw
    “Nobody ever allowed something as trivial as facts and logic to interfere with their agenda. If the facts and logic don’t fit, then the facts and logic will just have to fend for themselves.” 
    - hearing this coming from theist truly embarrassing (and laughable)

  • Whoa. This Rabbi is arguing with someone who is not PZ Myers. Did he even realize what Myers was arguing?

  • Martin Zeichner

    No, Rabbi. As an atheist from a Jewish family I am embarrassed by you. Is this the standard of critical thought that they taught at the seminary?

    As a start, I suggest that you avoid bloviating about subjects that you know nothing about.

    Poor, very poor.

    MZ

  • I’ve listened to P. Z. Myers in YouTube: he is not even funny.
    One certainly does not learn anything listening to his lecture.
    I notice that Johann has no reply to your quotes from that lecture.

    • I’m somewhat reluctant to get into another argument with Moshe before we wrap up the one in which he’s been trying to convince me that genocide is a good thing, Maurice.

      • ManhattanMC

        Johann,

        I read your entire exchange as it stood on 5/29.
        You delivered the smack down and didn’t let the Rabbi ignore nor change the subject.

        Good work-I’m in awe.

  • To answer your question, Rabbi, no. But arguments like yours make me embarrassed to be human.

    You can find Myers’ response to your attack — I won’t dignify it by calling it an ‘argument’ — here.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/05/i_am_lectured_in_logic_by_a_ma.php

  • Sorry the only embarrassing person is the one who wrote this article!

  • Where is YOUR evidence, rabbi? And by evidence, I don’t mean vague statements like “is LOOKS designed”, but rather something by which you can DEMONSTRATE that something is designed. How would you go about constructing such an argument, in a way that can be both tested, and yet not be defeated by a simple possible counter-proof? You can’t follow Mr Behe and call upon examples of seemingly irreducible systems, since that is open to a simple demonstration that the system CAN be seen as reducible, as was the case with every single example Mr Behe could conjure. The ball is in your court, sir.

    The problem with ID is that it is fundamentally a religious argument, not a scientific one. It’s a way for believers to hold on to their belief by using an explanation which cannot be defeated by Science: GODDITIT. But by making itself undefeatable by Science, it makes itself fundamentally un-scientific.

    And with all un-scientific arguments, such as the recent missed Rapture, when shown to be wrong, it will simply morph into yet another un-scientific argument.

    • If you found a smiley face on the beach with the words
      “Hello Dr. good morning”, would you assume it was designed. Could you demonstrate it was designed.
      Moshe

      • So, no, you don’t have any evidence. Admitting that is the first step. Congratulations. Now you’ll just have to ask the magical being in the sky for help.

      • We have prior evidence of people having written words such as “Hello Dr. Good Morning”, and NO evidence of it ever having occurred naturally. Therefore, we can reasonably assume that such a statement occurred by design.

        HOWEVER, if there were small pebbles arranged in such a way that SOME people thought it resembled the word “Hello”, there is definitely a chance that it could have occurred naturally. We can pretty much assume that if somebody had written such a message, it would be more legible, and they would have probably used bigger rocks. We can also assume that since the arrangement of pebbles is so open to interpretation that it could just as easily say “Help”, or even “Helb”, that it may very well just be a naturally occurring placement of pebbles that just so happens to appear to the human, English-speaking mind to be a word we can pronounce.

        Is it very LIKELY that such a sequence of pebbles could have naturally been arranged in such a way to appear to be a message? Not very likely, but STILL probable, and therefore possible. Meaning you can’t rule out a natural occurrence.

        tl;dr – Your example would really depend on how legible the message was. If it wasn’t very legible or clear, it could very well be natural.

        • Dear Terran Rich,

          I agree that there are border line cases where it might be difficult to determine, but a message in morse code from outer spaced delineating the universal genetic code is obviously well over that line. The molecular machinery and the actual genetic code of the simplest bacterium is also over that line.
          Moshe

          • And of course we should accept the mere assertion of a credulous believer in ancient fairy stories on this point over the expertise of many thousands of professionals who have studied the matter for decades.

          • One simple fact remains: you creationists explain everything as having been created/designed by a god, which by its very definition is even more complex than the entities it has created.

            Does that mean that God was also created? If so, who/what created him? Do you see how your logic falls apart like a house of cards held together by wishes and dreams?

          • And quit using the bacterium as the example of the most elemental life form. It is not. Grab a biology book from your kid’s eighth grade class.

      • I don’t think you’ll find anyone on this thread who would fall for such a silly argument. XD

      • I think you are showing a fundamental disconnect in your thought patterns here. Let me elaborate:

        That driftwood wall you’re so upset about – how did it get there? Each individual piece had to come from somewhere; what were the forces acting on each piece – tides, winds, currents, etc. – so that each piece ended up in that exact place in the world? How do those pieces fit together? They certainly don’t all match, yet a structure arises that is made up of incredibly diverse pieces, brought to that place on the shore by incredibly complex forces.

        Now, a cell – it may not be the precise piece of engineering you seem to think it is. In fact, a cell is pretty much a hodge-podge of systems. Processes that might be more efficiently accomplished in one step take five or more, precisely because the cell is NOT a finely-engineered system. It’s the result of many driftwood walls being formed, and then being acted upon by natural selection.

        I know I don’t have to tell you that natural selection doesn’t necessarily favour the BEST solution overall, but the one that works for the environment at hand. This means that things don’t always fit together perfectly – because they don’t have to. They just have to work well enough.

        And they break all the time – stuff goes wrong, stuff is improperly built, cells divide wrong, chromosomes are abnormal. Our chromosomes are full of broken stuff – it would be a lot more efficient to just get rid of that stuff, instead of letting it pile up…but we don’t. It doesn’t affect our survival, so it stays.

        So a cell actually is a lot more like a driftwood wall than a human-made brick wall. You just need to be able to step back and see it.

      • I’ve seen a burned piece of toast with Jesus on it. Will you accept that it was designed by an intelligent force and become a Christian?

  • Your entire argument is based on the ridiculous creationist canard that normal people think a cell somehow arose by chance. Ever heard of viruses? Ever heard of prions? Ever heard of *chemistry*?

    “ Nowhere do we find more glaring examples of the human predilection for intellectual corruption than when we examine the writings and lectures of an ideologue who is driven, not by a burning desire for truth, but by a burning desire to further his or her own agenda. ”

    Really? You have the gall to say that? You are a clown.

    • If you know how the first bacterium origniated through an unguided chemical process, perhaps inform the world and not only will you win the million dollar Orign of Life Prize, but a Nobel Prize as well. AS Dr. Paul Davies recently stated about how life originated,

      “WE HAVEN’T A CLUE” – He also said the same thing at the recent ASU Origins conference quite matter of factly in front of some of the world’s leading scientist, including your High Priest, Richard Dawkins.

      Unfortunately like many atheist/materialists, you are amazingly ill informed when it comes to the status of Origin of Life research.

      • Um, Paul Davies is a physicist. He has no specific expertise in the origins of life. The fact that you think a quote from him makes your case merely confirms the vast extent of your own invincible ignorance. If you (or anyone else) want a simple primer on the current state of origins of life research, the first two chapters of Nick Lane’s “Life Ascending” will supply it.

        • Paul Davies was invited to sit on the panel of the recent ASU Origins conference because he is a renowned expert in origin of life research. He has written several books on the subject and has devoted the last 25 years of his life to this subject. He is not alone in this assessment. In fact everyone is in agreement. KG, you are simply minsinformed.
          Moshe

          • He is, as I said, a physicist. He has recently made a fool of himself (as many eminent scientists do when they move outside their field) by wrongly claiming that cancerous tumours are good models for early metazoa, and that there are bacteria that use arsenic in place of phosphorus. Aside from recent articles on these fringe topics, he has published two speculative and waffly articles on life’s origins in the generalist journal “Science Progress”, in 2001, a couple in “AstrobiologY”, and as far as I can see from his publications list, no other peer-reviewed journal articles on any biological topic. He is a dabbler; to compare him with real experts in abiogenesis such as Jack Szostak, George Church, Mike Russell, William Martin and Nick Lane is laughable.

  • facts and logic – You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

  • Rabbi, due to your wailing of inanities at invisible sky-fairies, it’s hard to get past your first sentence. I tried, though. Your long, dull screed makes me unembarrassed for Prof. Myers. It does make my doubly assured that the religious world brings with it very few honest people. You do not count as one of that small company.

  • I’m not embarrassed by PZ at all.

    However, as a human I’m embarrassed by people like Moshe Averick. An allegedly grown ass man who still needs imaginary friends to satisfy his fear of things like death and the unknown and the meaning and origin of life.

  • What I find truly embarrassing is, in the face of waning support for organized superstition, the panicked proponents thereof desperately attempt to tear down objective knowledge by insisting that magic is a superior answer.

  • Moshe: You’d do well to read this list of books I’ve compiled. It isn’t as difficult to understand as you’d think, and once you understand, you’d realize that the ancient and convoluted (not to mention self-contradictory) philosophy you follow is but an insignificant (and likely incorrect) explanation:

    http://www.phoenixgarage.org/show_article/74

  • PZ Meyers is awesome. Thanks for writing this article about how cool he is, and how ridiculous ID proponents are. Need a reminder here and there, appreciate your use of satire to show us how dumb creationists can be;)

  • But wait! My apologies for doubting your memory – it was likely a tragic formatting accident instead, since it has simultaneously eliminated the link to Dr. Coyne’s post.

  • Embarrassed? I’m more embarrassed to be a member of the same species as you (Moshie) than I am of supporting Prof. Myers. Perhaps if you’d read his blog for a while you’d learn something factual about atheists.

  • Very weak. You say that evidence of naturally occuring things is not as good as no evidence for a creator because you cannot grasp complexity. Simply foolish and what is embarrassing is that someone would claim that things are too complex and must have a creator without any evidence.

  • Also, you seem to have forgotten to put in the link to the context of that last quote. Here you go, glad to help:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/ignorant_rabbi_demands_evidenc.php

  • Ah, here you are again, Moshe. Would you care to continue our discussion regarding your support for genocide? You kind of vanished there.

    • Hi Johann,

      seriously, Johann, isn’t that a bit of a stretch to say that I support genocide? You need to show at least a little bit of integrity.
      Moshe

      • seriously, Johann, isn’t that a bit of a stretch to say that I support genocide?

        If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and says that there’s no problem with exterminating a nation when divinely ordered to do so…

        • Indeed so. Mr. Averick, if your beliefs lead you to justify genocide – and then to deny that genocide is indeed, genocide – then it’s a pretty whopping clue that there’s something seriously wrong with those beliefs.

      • Rilke's Granddaughter

        I have read the discussion that Johann referred to. You do support genocide. When God orders it, of course, but genocide nonetheless.

        After all, Johann provided you with a precise, common definition of genocide, and pointed out that it occurs in the Old Testament. He asked for your response.

        You never gave him one; you simply avoided the question. This is not honest, this does not show intellectual integrity. You may not be comfortable with what the Bible clearly states: that the OT God ordered murder and genocide on a reasonably frequent basis; but to simply REFUSE to deal with shows a basic inability to deal with the consequences of your religion.

        That is, in a word, intellectual cowardness.

        • Grandaughter,

          Much of the discussion we had was offline, so you are missing a good portion of the movie, but perhaps this will help:

          If one posits the existence of the one, infinite God/Creator of the universe, or more specifically, the God of Abraham, and this God commands you to do something, then that command must be obeyed no matter what it is.

          In truth, if one understands the concept, then a command from God to eradicate a nation is not genocide (at least not in the way we use the word, which invariable connotes an immoral act) it would be the eradication of evil.

          The example I used was dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which was, as far as I’m concerned, totally moral. Imperial Japan was one of the most evil regimes in human history and to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of Amercian soldiers to stop them would have been obscenely immoral. This was clearly a case where killing hundreds of thousands of men, woman and children was not only justified but obligatory. The same would apply to Nazi Germany. By definition, God’s commands cannot be immoral. That is an entirely different topic and this post is not the place to elaborate.
          Moshe

          • There you are: Averick justifying genocide and denying that it is genocide. Let’s be quite clear what we’re talking about here: the Book of Joshua, in particular, is full of accounts of how the Israelites slaughtered everyone in the cities they conquered, from babies to the sick and elderly. That’s genocide. It would be genocide even if there were a god and that god ordered it. You don’t get to redefine words to suit yourself, Averick. Here we see the moral rottenness of theism in all its vileness.

          • If your god commanded you to rape and brutally murder a toddler, would you do it? Would it be moral?

            Please note, I am not asking you whether you believe your god WOULD ask you to rape and brutally murder a toddler, just where you would hypohteically stand if he/she/it did.

          • “If one posits the existence of the one, infinite God/Creator of the universe, ”

            posits? You base the moral correctness of genocide on something you “posit?” Good grief, man! At least ask for a shred of evidence before you go off killing thousands of kids. This is insanity!

          • Much of the discussion we had was offline, so you are missing a good portion of the movie…

            …wait, what? That must have been a very interesting conversation. Pity I missed it.

            (For everyone else, to clarify – what you can see for yourself here, plus the few posts in this thread, is all the communication I’ve had with Moshe. I’m not sure what he’s talking about here, but as far as using whatever it is to duck these questions, I recall someone saying You need to show at least a little bit of integrity. Not sure why that comes to mind.)

          • “If the one, infinite transcendent God of the Torah exists (which I am quite certain he does) and he commands Abraham to sacrfice his son, Abraham obeys without
            a murmur of protest and Jews have always considered it a heroic act. The problem is that you don’t believe that God exists. You have no objective basis for your morality at all. It is all social conditioning and your own personal feelings. If you grew up in the Fiji islands you’d be roasting human beings for your barbecue instead of hot dogs.
            Before you get all self righteous about moral issues, you need to acknowledge that for the atheist, morality is a totally artificial construct that has no actual reality.

            “Morality is the custom of one’s country and the current feelings of one’s peers. Cannibalism is moral in a cannibalistic country.” Samuel Butler (he was talking about atheists.)

            Moshe”

            Come on now, Moshe. It’s really quite a simple question.

            Hypothetically, if your god commanded you to rape and brutally murder a toddler, a.) would you do it and b.) would it be moral to obey?

            a.) yes/no
            b.) yes/no

            Have the courage of your convictions to tell the world!

          • “KG
            June 1, 2011
            2:29 pmThere you are: Averick justifying genocide and denying that it is genocide. Let’s be quite clear what we’re talking about here: the Book of Joshua, in particular, is full of accounts of how the Israelites slaughtered everyone in the cities they conquered, from babies to the sick and elderly. That’s genocide. It would be genocide even if there were a god and that god ordered it. You don’t get to redefine words to suit yourself, Averick. Here we see the moral rottenness of theism in all its vileness.”

            I find this a weak argument, KG.

            Have you been following the news lately by any chance? If you have then you’ll know that a certain Serbian military commander Ratko Mladic (atheist) is about to stand trial at the Hague accused of the genocide of 8,000 Muslim men and boys (theist). This took place – not several thousand years ago – but in Srebenica barely some 16 years ago in 1995.

            Have you ever heard of Pol Pot? Have you ever heard of Stalin? Each guilty of genocide; each one an atheist. I presume you’ve heard of Adolf Hitler – who whilst not being an atheist wasn’t particularly religious.

            Might I suggest that being a genocidal maniac has nothing to do with whether a person or persons are religious or not but has much to do with them being filled, with hate; with being a fanatic; with being someone who gives up thinking for themselves in favour of letting someone else do the thinking for them…entrusting responsibility to some demagogue whose every word and gesture they hang on, mesmerised…enthralled. Sound familiar? Cos sometimes there are people who feel that they cannot think for themselves and therefore feel a need to be told what to do. By a cult leader, by a dignitary high up on a podium, by someone in a fancy uniform with lots of gold braid on it…even occassionally by some ‘eminent’ professor.

          • Ratko Mladic (atheist)

            Eastern Orthodox, actually, and Mladic himself says he was sheltered and supported by the Orthodox Church while he was on the run. Plus, you know, there’s the whole bit with Serbian Orthodox priests blessing his troops in preparation for the massacre. But by all means don’t let the facts get in the way of your obsessive campaign of ad hominem.

          • I should have said “the moral rottenness of theism at its most vile”, since by no means all theists are apologists for genocide like Averick and William Lane Craig.

          • I note that johann has already pointed out that Mladic is a Christian. The fact that atheists, among others, have committed genocide does not excuse anyone apologising for any instance of it, modern, ancient, or (as in the case of most if not all the Torah/Bible genocides), entirely mythical. Followers of Stalin and Pol Pot excuse their genocides in terms of their morally rotten ideology of Stalinism, just as Averick and William Lane Craig do of their morally rotten theism. In both cases, what would readily be recognised and denounced as evil if carried out by others is excused in the name of a “Higher Truth”. I note that I have not accused Averick of anything other than being an apologist for genocide, which he clearly is; I specifically do not accuse him of wanting to perpetrate it. Nor, unlike you, do I make despicable and cowardly accusations against unnamed but (given your hate campaign against PZ Myers) clearly identifiable targets. Do you really have no shame at all?

          • “Might I suggest that being a genocidal maniac has nothing to do with whether a person or persons are religious or not but has much to do with them being filled, with hate; with being a fanatic; with being someone who gives up thinking for themselves in favour of letting someone else do the thinking for them…” Like a woman scorned

            This abdication of thinking for oneself and taking responsibility for ones own judgement and actions is of course precisely what Averick does. His view is that if “God” commands it, it is right. The fact that his “leader” is entirely imaginary makes little if any difference.

            If you are accusing me or others on Pharyngula of treating PZ Myers as a cult leader, you are making yet another of the false and unsupported accusations you are so very fond of. Go and read the thread “Barbarous Africa” (where he attacked homophobia in Uganda) on Pharyngula, where a parade of regular commenters, including me, took him to task for this dreadful choice of thread title.

  • Brian Westley

    Short answer: no.

    By the way, I’d bet that life is created in the lab long before any gods ever show up.

    • Daniel Schealler

      Check out Szostak Labs!

      Summary YouTube video by cdk007:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg

      Introductory Educational Resources:
      http://exploringorigins.org/

      Noteworthy Papers:
      http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/publications/Szostak_pdfs/Budin_et_al_JACS_2009.pdf
      http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/publications/Szostak_pdfs/Mansy_et_al_2009_CSHS.pdf
      http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/publications/Szostak_pdfs/Zhu_2009_JACS.pdf

      Publication History:
      http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/publications.html

      Szostak Labs Home:
      http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/index.html

      (Hope all that makes it past the spam filters: Moderators, I assure you that these links are legitimate to the context of the comment to which I am replying!)

    • Marconi Darwin

      I’d double that bet

    • I’d go with that.

      Unfortunately, because we don’t have a planet size test tube and 1/2 billion years to wait until it happens, lab created life will have to be designed…and the cdesignism proponents will still say that it couldn’t happen naturally.

      • I’m not so sure. Real experts on abiogenesis (this does not include Paul Davies, let alone Moshe Averick) appear to be converging on the hypothesis that it occurred in honeycombs of hydrostatically inflated iron-sulphur compartments within alkaline vents below the early acidic ocean, with the basic chemical building blocks being produced by the reverse Krebs cycle, driven by thermal and chemical gradients – an idea originally proposed by Mike Russell in 1994. The compartment walls would act both as sites of catalysis, and to contain the products, while allowing them to spread from compartment to compartment through the honeycomb. If the hypothesis is correct, it might be possible to reproduce early stages of the process under fairly realistic conditions; it might even be that proto-life emerges rather easily in such an environment. Even if that particular hypothesis is wrong, it seems highly likely that abiogenesis occurred in environments combining fairly complex, compartmentalised, non-living structures to allow the concentration and abiological sorting of large molecules (i.e., not in a “soup”), with chemical and/or thermal gradients providing energy. Averick’s repetition of the mantra that we have “no idea” how abiogenesis occurred is simply evidence that he has no idea what he’s talking about.

        • Another purely specualtive theory on the origin of life.
          Moshe

          • Daniel Schealler

            ‘Purely speculative’ you say?

            Hardly.

            Many promising and testable mechanisms have been proposed. And the proposed mechanisms are consistent with what would have been available in the pre-biotic environment of the planet.

            Many of these mechanisms have been successfully replicated in laboratory conditions – some of which look very promising.

            Until you (or any other cdesign proponetnsist) can offer a testable, replicable mechanism that backs intelligent design… Methinks it would be prudent to keep your stones firmly on the inside of that glass house of yours.

          • On the contrary, a number of its components have been tested, and there is considerable evidence that LUCA (the Last Universal Common Ancestor of extant life) was not a free-living cell. The alkaline vent hypothesis is not of course confirmed, but it exposes as completely false your claim that we “have no idea” how life started. However, I’ve no doubt at all that you will continue to make that false claim.

            By the way, you are misusing the term “theory”, which I was careful not to do. A scientific theory is not a speculative guess, as IDiots invariably seem to think, but a sufficient and fully-articulated explanation of a range of empirical data. I don’t think the alkaline vent hypothesis has attained that status.

          • And yet still 100% less speculative than the ignorant, confused ravings of bronze aged tribes committed to text and perverted over the course of 2000+ years.

            What is your point?

    • I agree that one day scientists will create life in the lab, proving of course that you need the most advanced lab equipment and the most brilliant minds to create life; in other words: Intelligent Design
      Moshe

      • OK, now this is just showing your intellectual dishonesty. As long as scientists fail to create life in the lab, then any theory about the origin of life is a “purely speculative theory”. Once they do manage to create life (which you earlier predicted would never happen), then it is Intellegent Design.

        There is literally no scenario that would convice you to change your mind. Your quote on the top of the page applies to you, not Professor Myers.

        • Arkasi,

          Scientists need to prove that life could start WITHOUT the need for chemists and laboratories. If the only way to get life is to manufacture it in the laboratory, what else could you call it but Intelligent Design?

          I never predicted that scientists would not create life in the lab. I am certain that they will. I predicted that no one would ever find a NATURALISTIC way for life to emerge from non-life.
          Moshe

          • And if they do, you will of course squeeze your God into an even smaller gap, as indeed theists bright enough to realise that “Intelligent Design” is a load of dishonest bilge invented solely to get round the first amendment (google “cdesign proponentsists” and “The Wedge Document” for proof of this) routinely do.

          • Rilke's Granddaughter

            The entire point of a scientific experiment is to reproduce conditions that we cannot directly observe. According to you, all weather represents intelligent design because we can reproduce certain meteorological conditions in the laboratory.

            Do you understand how confused you are on this point?

          • The Rabbi here shows a depressingly limited view of what NATURALISTIC actually means.
            Just for kicks however, Rabbi, would you say that growing cress in a beaker in a lab is not a naturalistic process just because it takes place in a lab and is directed by a human?
            You do understand that a natural process is a natural process whether it happens in a lab under controlled conditions or in the wild, right? It’s not magic. Or else scientists would be gods.
            If we can recreate the early earth conditions and using the basic chemical building blocks available at that time, under those conditions, cause life to spontaneously generate, WE WILL HAVE A PLAUSIBLE MECHANISM FOR ABIOGENESIS.
            What you propose is that unless we invent a time machine and go back to watch it happen directly, or observe it on another planet, we will always be wrong.
            I propose the same for your god. Therefore you are wrong.

      • Rilke's Granddaughter

        Which shows us nothing whatsoever about the original origin of life. Nothing.

        I had thought that the Jewish tradition involved intellectual rigor: are you planning to apply any of that rigor to this argument?

        For example: the fact that we can reproduce a dried-up lake by artificially draining it does not in any way imply that the original dried-up lake was created in that fashion.

        This is basic, simple logic: a fifth-grader would have little difficultly with it. Why are you having so much trouble?

        • KG,

          You are a big talker. The simple fact is that Scientists do not know how life began. No one has even come close to demonstrating that life can emerge from non-life through a naturalistic process. Frankly, I’m a little fed up with your obnoxious, adolescent attitude. READ MY LIPS BIG SHOT: I give you the following falsifiable prediction: You will never discover a plausible, empirically demonstrable naturalistic explanation of the origin of life. When you do, you can tell everybody that you proved me wrong. Until that time however, shut up, and grow up.

          Sincerely, Moshe Averick

          • Good to see I’m hitting home. You’re dishonest as well as stupid and ignorant, Averick. You deliberately distorted what Jack Szostak said, as I showed by giving the full quotation from the September 2009 Scientific American article above (you didn’t of course give the reference, but anyone who wants to can check what I’m saying). You have repeatedly made the false claim that scientists “have no idea” how life could have started. You support and propagate the lies of “Intelligent Design”, which as I’ve said, was invented by creationists solely to get round the first amendment. Of course, you can probably get me banned from the site, but I’m not shutting up at your behest.

          • Rilke's Granddaughter

            Your first sentence is false. Your second sentence is true. Your third sentence is either based on ignorance (highly unlikely, since you have been given information on this point before) or an outright lie.

            Which is it?

          • “I give you the following falsifiable prediction: You will never discover a plausible, empirically demonstrable naturalistic explanation of the origin of life.”

            READ MY LIPS BIG SHOT.
            I give you the following falsifiable prediction: You will never discover a plausible, empirically demonstrable proof for the existence of your god.
            When you do, you can tell everybody that you proved me wrong. Until that time however, shut up, and grow up.

            Sincerely, Rabid.

      • Bayesian Bouffant, FCD

        “I agree that one day scientists will create life in the lab, proving of course that you need the most advanced lab equipment and the most brilliant minds to create life; in other words: Intelligent Design”

        So since scientists have created fusion bombs in the lab, this proves the Sun was made by a bomb maker?

        • Dear Bayesian,
          that’s an interesting question. someone once raised the same question about the planetary movements. I don’t know enough about what goes on in the sun to answer your question.
          I don’t see what the connection is to the origin of life, though. IF the SETI scientists received a Morse code transmission from another galaxy asking specific questions about life on earth, there would be no debate about whether or not the transmission was the result of intelligent design, even though you could raise the exact same question with them.

          As far as the mathematical formulas for piles of junk and chaos, the SETI scientists would not need to consult any mathematical formulas to know that the above message was the result of intelligence and Dr. Myers did not need to consult mathematical formulas to know that the brick wall was constructed and that the driftwood was most definitely not constructed by intelligence, so whatever standard they are using, I am using the same one. You would only need a formula of some kind when dealing with borderline cases; Morse code transmissions, brick walls, and digitally encoded self replicating systems are so far over the line that a formula is not necessary.

          Moshe

          • You’re demonstrating both your ignorance and your stupidity again, Averick. Your ignorance: when the signals from pulsars were first detected, it was thought they were produced by intelligent aliens, as no natural process, it was considered, could produce such a regular signal. Your stupidity: as I’ve already pointed out, we know brick walls are designed because we’ve seen people build them. There are natural formations such as the well-known “giant’s pavement” in Ireland, that are as regular as a brick wall, and appear (as the name suggests) to have been built. Your ignorance and stupidity: the repetition of the claim that it is “obvious” that bacteria were designed. As I’ve already pointed out – but as you are too stupid and ignorant to take in – the progress of science has been one long process of discovering that what appears “obvious” may not be true. You have nothing, Averick, apart from your stupid book of fairy stories, which has been proven wrong again and again and again – and which I notice even you are not stupid enough to try and defend.

          • If SETI scientists received a Morse code transmission, of course, no matter where it appeared to come from, their conclusion would be that they were actually picking up a transmission from somewhere on earth, or from an earth-launched satellite or space-probe. You see, Averick, we know Morse code to be a human invention, independently of any of its features.

  • Thank you for your concern.

    • WOW … moshe!!!! you have really opened my eyes. I feel like I have been living with eyes closed for my whole academic life. I have bought your book ‘nonsense’
      I eagerly await my amazon shippment. Thanks…

      • Dear Dutchboy,

        Thank you for the compliment. I wish some of the other people commenting were as open minded as you.
        Moshe

        • By “open-minded”, Mr. Averick means “Willing to accept the unsupported assertions of a painfully ignorant and credulous believer in ancient fairy stories about an immaterial genocidal psychopath.”

          • How could it be wrong for God to be genocidal? Hasn’t he killed every person that has ever lived? Aren’t you confusing the rules for you with the rules for God? What is this ruleset outside of God that you are appealing to in order to judge God?

          • Theists routinely insist that their God is good. If “good” does not mean the same for God as it does for human beings, this makes no sense whatever. You have a point in that the mere existence of suffering and evil show that if there is a god, it cannot be both omnipotent and good. But the genocidal acts attributed to YHWH go well beyond merely allowing natural death to occur: entire cities are wiped out by the Israelites at his command (this is the genocide Mr. Averick attempts to justify), all but 8 people are killed by the extremely painful method of drowning, the firstborn of Egypt are slaughtered after YHWH has deliberately “hardened Pharoah’s heart” so he can show off. He is also pathologically jealous, prone to insensate rages, and mistreats his faithful servant Job in pursuit of a bet. He is, as Richard Dawkins puts it, “possibly the most unpleasant character in all fiction”.

        • Rilke's Granddaughter

          We are actually quite open-minded: we are willing to follow evidence where it leads us, and create testable explanations for our observations.

          Moshe is unwilling to do this. He is unwilling to apply basic logic to everyday observations. He is precisely the person he warns against in the OP.

          Moshe appears to be an embarrassment to God.

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