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September 25, 2011 5:54 am

Dear Professor Dawkins: Science Is a Servant of Truth, Not Atheism

avatar by Moshe Averick

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Professor Richard Dawkins.

Professor Richard Dawkins, the High Priest of atheism in our day, has created an entire weltanschauung based on his unshakeable belief in the truth of Darwinian evolutionary theory. He has disseminated this belief system in one scientific/atheistic manifesto after another, culminating in his best selling, viciously anti-religious magnum opus, The God Delusion. Dawkins, along with other atheistic ideologues following his lead, have aggressively and disingenuously co-opted science as a propaganda tool to promote, not the search for truth, but to promote their own ideological agenda. In light of all of the above, it is painfully and exquisitely ironic to discover, that a careful investigation of the scientific facts will reveal that Darwinian Evolution is actually irrelevant to the question of the existence of God the Creator. Evolutionary theory, in fact, will turn out to be the great Maginot Line of atheism. If we are to have an intelligent and informed discussion about the existence of God the Creator, the critical issue that demands our attention is not how species evolved, but rather: How did life begin? It is my contention that Dawkins understands, quite well, the truth of this assertion, but fears that a no-holds-barred confrontation with the question of the origin of life, would force him down the same path as the one traveled by the great 20th century philosopher and atheist-turned-believer, Antony Flew.

Origin of Life and Darwinian Evolution are separate scientific disciplines

It must be understood that Origin of Life and Darwinian Evolution are two completely separate areas of science that must be investigated and evaluated in different ways. None other than Dr. Eugenie Scott, head of the fiercely pro-evolution National Center for Science Education (NCSE) and a self-declared atheist, writes the following in her book Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction:

“Although some people confuse the origin of life with evolution the two are conceptually separate. Biological evolution is defined as the descent of living things from ancestors from which they differ. Life had to precede evolution!…We know much more about evolution than the origin of life. [As we shall see, this last assertion is wildly understated.]

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In other words, Darwinian Evolution is based on random mutations in the replication of the DNA of a living organism. Sometimes by pure luck these random mutations confer a survival advantage which in turn makes it more likely that these traits will be passed along to surviving offspring. Eventually all these little changes add up and from the original microscopic bacteria, here we are! However, even if we assume – for arguments sake – that the theory is true, it is all based on an existing self-replicating organism with a fully functioning genetic code. Darwinian Evolution and natural selection are only operative and relevant from that point forward; Darwinian evolution in no way at all accounts for the existence of the first self-replicating bacterium, which is the simplest living organism known to have existed. Evolution is, for the most part, the domain of the biologist; Origin of Life, which tries to understand how non-living chemicals could transform into living organisms, is the domain of the chemist and the microbiologist.

A “simple” self-replicating molecule?

In truth, there is no scientist in the world today who would claim that evolution started with a “simple” bacterium. The simplest bacterium is “intricate beyond imagining.” It is packed with “tiny structures that might have come straight from an engineer’s manual…with a fine tuning and complexity as yet unmatched by any human engineering.” Dr. Robert Hazen writes that, “human brains seem ill suited to grasp such multi-dimensional complexity.”  The level of functional complexity of the simplest bacterium is, without exaggeration, beyond that of an F-15 fighter bomber. This is what prompted the late Dr. Harold Klein of NASA to exclaim, “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.” (A sneak preview of the surprise ending: It is impossible to imagine how it just “happened.” It didn’t. It was created.) The challenges scientists face in discovering some sort of undirected naturalistic explanation for the emergence of the first bacterium some 3.8 billion years ago, become even more vexing in light of startling new discoveries by chemists and microbiologists. Richard Dawkins, himself, elaborates:

“After Watson and Crick we know that genes themselves…are living strings of pure digital information…they are truly digital, in the full sense of computers and compact discs…the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like. Apart from the differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal…DNA characters are copied with an accuracy that rivals anything modern engineers can do…DNA messages…are…pure digital code.” (River Out of Eden)

We have only been aware of the concept of digital information for a number of decades. Who knew about it 3.8 billion years ago? It is obvious that the notion of a fully functioning DNA-based bacterium popping out of a pre-biotic swamp somewhere is too preposterous for even the most deeply committed advocate of scientific naturalism to swallow. Scientists therefore offer as a point of conjecture and speculation that an undirected naturalistic origin of life must begin with some sort of “simple” self-replicating molecule. Since no one has ever seen such a molecule existing in nature, it is accepted as an article of faith by materialistic scientists that it must have existed. We turn again to Professor Dawkins:

“Life still has to originate in the water, and the origin of life may have been a highly improbable occurrence. Darwinian evolution proceeds merrily once life has originated. But how does life get started?…once the vital ingredient – some kind of genetic molecule – is in place, true Darwinian natural selection can follow…The origin of life is a flourishing, if speculative, subject for research.” (The God Delusion)

“But how did the whole process start?…nobody knows how it happened, but somehow…a molecule arose that just happened to have the property of self-copying.” (Climbing Mt. Improbable)

In two of his books, The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, Dawkins offers hypothetical, speculative scenarios for the emergence of these self-replicating molecular machines:

“A molecule that makes copies of itself is not as difficult to imagine as it seems…the small building blocks were abundantly available in the soup surrounding the replicator.”

“Now suppose the origin of life, the spontaneous arising of something equivalent to DNA really was a quite staggeringly improbable event. Suppose it was so improbable as to occur on only one in a billion planets…and yet even with such absurdly long odds [since, according to Dawkins’ calculations there are a billion billion planets in the universe] life will still have arisen on a billion planets.”

Dawkins’ theories about life’s origins are summarily rejected

Origin of Life expert, Dr. Robert Shapiro, a self-declared agnostic and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at NYU, nonchalantly, condescendingly, and summarily dismisses Dawkins decidedly unscientific analysis of the problem:

“Richard Dawkins wrote a wonderful book but the place where he absolutely blew it was in a section on the origin of life…he has no other recourse – he’s not a chemist – than to invoke some improbable event. So his schoolboy howler is the section on the origin of life…I’m always running out of metaphors to try and explain what the difficulty is. But suppose you took Scrabble sets, or any word game sets, blocks with letters containing every language on earth and you heap them together, and then you took a scoop and you scooped in that heap, and you flung it out on the lawn there and the letters fell into a line which contained the words, “to be or not to be that is the question,” that is roughly the odds of a [self-replicating] molecule appearing on the earth.”

At a lecture sponsored by the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative, Shapiro stated categorically that “any abiotically prepared replicator before the start of life is a fantasy.” Where does this leave us? For the truth-seeking individual the very best that Darwinian Evolution can tell us is the following: Once you have in place a fantastically complex piece of molecular machinery called a living cell, which has at its core an astonishingly sophisticated self replicating system based on the storage, retrieval, and decoding of encyclopedic amounts of digital information – given enough time – the interactions between this organism, its “uncannily computer-like” digital code, and its environment (i.e., natural selection), are able to produce an astounding variety of living organisms. All varieties of life are possible – if, and only if – this amazing piece of machinery is in place. How did it get there?

Lest anyone have the impression that the deeply significant nature of this line of reasoning appeals only to orthodox Rabbis and the like, here is what distinguished Professor of Philosophy Thomas Nagel, of New York University (who describes himself as “just as much an outsider to religion as Richard Dawkins), had to say in his review of The God Delusion:

“The entire apparatus of evolutionary explanation therefore depends on the prior existence of genetic material with these remarkable properties…we are therefore faced with a problem…we have explained the complexity of organic life in terms of something that is itself just as functionally complex as what we originally set out to explain. So the problem is just pushed back a step: how did such a thing come into existence? (The New Republic, October, 2006)

Darwinian Evolution is beside the point

As it turns out, Darwinian Evolution is not – as skeptics like Dawkins would have us believe – a testimony to what can emerge from undirected processes; it is a testimony to the unimaginably awesome capabilities and potential contained in the first living cell and its genetic code. A paradigm shifting insight emerges from all this: Contrary to popular belief, not only is Darwinian evolution not the cause or explanation of the staggering complexity of life on this planet; Darwinian Evolution itself is a process which is the result of the staggering complexity of life on this planet. This, in essence, is what the acclaimed biologist, Dr. Lynn Margulis, meant when she wrote: “To go from bacterium to people is less of a step than to go from a mixture of amino acids to a bacterium.” When trying to resolve the age old question of the existence of God the Creator, the only relevant scientific question is: How did life begin?

It is shocking how uninformed the general public is about the true state of Origin of Life research.  From a purely materialistic/atheistic view of science – how did life start? Dr. Paul Davies, in a lecture on life’s origins, posed this very question to his audience and candidly provided the answer as well: “We haven’t a clue.” [16 minutes into the lecture]

The burden of proof is on Richard Dawkins

There is a very good reason for this cluelessness. A smiley face in the sand with the words “Good morning Professor Dawkins” written next to it, is obviously the result of intelligent intervention. I don’t need to prove it was created; that is the obvious, undeniable, self-apparent truth. The burden of proof would be on the one who would claim a naturalistic explanation (good luck!). The molecular machinery of a bacterium is more sophisticated than anything that can be produced by human technology. I don’t need to prove that it was created any more than I need to prove that the smiley face in the sand is created. The notion that something as functionally complex as a bacterium could emerge through an undirected process from non-living chemicals is so absurd that it can be rejected out of hand. If Richard Dawkins wants me to accept such an outlandish idea, then he should please present conclusive, empirically demonstrable evidence. What was that evidence again, Professor Dawkins? – “We haven’t a clue.”  In fact, that is exactly the evidence we would expect to find when discussing such a nonsensical proposition.

Richard Dawkins understands the problem

Dawkins, who is a highly accomplished biologist with intimate knowledge of the astounding complexity of the living world, understands this problem even better than I do. In my opinion, however, he does not have the intellectual courage or integrity to face the question squarely. He is unable to admit the profound nature of the challenge that origin of life research presents to his atheistic view of reality. It seems to me that he has deluded himself into thinking that scientific investigation exists not to serve the cause of truth, but to serve the cause of atheism. Here is what Dawkins had to say on the subject in a debate with Dr. John Lennox, a Christian mathematician:

“I think that when you consider the beauty of the world and you wonder how it came to be…you are naturally overwhelmed with a felling of awe, a feeling of admiration…and you almost feel a desire to worship something…we all of us share a common kind of religious reverence for the beauties of the universe, for the complexity of life…and it’s tempting to translate that feeling…into a desire to worship some particular thing…you want to attribute it to a maker, to a creator.”

What then stops Richard Dawkins from actually taking that step? In his own words:

“What science has now achieved is an emancipation from that impulse to attribute these things to a creator…It was a supreme achievement of the human intellect to realize there is a better explanation…that these things can come about by purely natural causes…we understand essentially how life came into being.”

A  personal message to Professor Dawkins

I’m sorry Professor, but you know as well as I do that nobody understands “essentially” or “non-essentially” how life came into being. Dr. Ken Nealson, a microbiologist and co-chairman of the Committee on the Origin and Evolution of Life for the National Academy of Sciences summed up the current state of affairs: “Nobody understands the origin of life, if they say they do, they are probably trying to fool you.” Dr. Stuart Kauffman has caustically remarked: “Anyone who tells you they know how life started on the earth some 3.6 billion years ago, is either a fool or a knave.” I certainly hope you are not trying to fool us, Professor; it would not befit a man of your stature. In fact, in an interview with Ben Stein, in the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, you explicitly acknowledged this scientific reality:

Stein: How did it start?

Dawkins: Nobody knows how it started, we know the kind of event that it must have been, we know the sort of event that must have happened for the origin of life.

Stein: What was that?

Dawkins: It was the origin of the first self replicating molecule.

Stein: How did that happen?

Dawkins: I told you I don’t know.

Stein: So you have no idea how it started?

Dawkins: No, No, nor does anyone else.

Actually, you were right the first time, Professor. Life is clearly the result of a magnificent and glorious act of creation, by a Creator whom we instinctively desire to reach out to and worship. I will freely admit that God, the Creator of life, is not necessarily the God of Abraham or the God of the Bible. The investigation of that matter is clearly an entirely different undertaking. However, once we accept that we are here because someone wanted life to exist, the parameters of the discussion have been irrevocably transformed.

Even if you are not prepared to concede that life is the result of an act of creation, even if you feel that we should give scientists more time to try and see what they can find, you should at least be prepared to admit that the believer in God the Creator is standing on rock-solid, rational ground; that it is the believer in a naturalistic origin of life who bears the extraordinarily heavy burden of proof. And if you are going to insist – as you do implicitly in The God Delusion – that the key factor in your confident rejection of God the Creator, is due to a philosophical problem with intelligent design (what you called “The Ultimate 747 Gambit”), then quit spreading the falsehood that believers are anti-science. Be man enough to admit that the scientific facts on the ground point very strongly to a creator, but that ultimately, this battle must be settled not in the scientific arena, but in the philosophical arena, where your scientific credentials hold no weight. Either way, it’s time to buck-up and come clean, Professor. Only the truth shall set you free.

Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. It is available on Amazon.com and Kindle. Rabbi Averick can be reached via his website at http://rabbimaverick.com/

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  • Jack Hoff

    of course nobody knows… except you. nice one einstein

  • Schlener.T

    JP,this is also similar to the non contradiction theory of truth, one of two we get from aristotle the other being the corresponding theory ofcourse u probably know this this is aristotle and i think it has hurt western civ for a long time life and reality are not that simple bro.

    • jp

      The best meaning I can make out of your post is that you think that the refusal to believe contradictions has hurt Western civilisation.

      If that’s what you mean, then I think that’s rubbish. If that’s not what you mean, then could you post again in coherent English, please?

  • A very well written article thank you, it was a fascinating read.

    However now I’ve started to read the comments section I must admit to being quite staggered by the number of offensive not to say extreamely rude comments.

    I hope the commenters above do not represent the views of the average Athiest in the street, because if they do then there are a lot of truly horrible and poisons people around.

    Maybe they lack enough love in their lives or are just filled with an anger they can’t control, but learning to love more can only be a good thing whether one believes in God or not.

    Anyway, thanks again for your post.
    All the Best

    Si

    • Kodi

      These kind of reactions are not uncommon. Might you check out the video that led me to this article?

      http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/atheist-to-christian/

    • Schlener.T

      I too thoroughly enjoyed the article. Thank you for it. I know it will serve as a reference tool if nothing else. Perhaps even a catalyst for further debate. I’ve heard this Dawkins before and have looked at a few of his publications during my studies. His comments on irreducible complexity and those regarding evolutionary leaps or the increase of information in the genome are most amusing. Again, I pray the Almighty bless you in your work.

  • Piobairean

    A very good article except for the reference to the movie ‘Expelled..’ which was pretty bad in every way (just an opinion). Science is restricted to looking for natural causation for phenomena, so to see scientists fixated on a natural explanation for the origin of life is not surprising. Dawkins himself has admitted that he is only 6.9 out of 7 sure that god does not exist, because as a scientist he is never absolutely positive about anything. I’ve seen Dawkins make extremely good arguments for his positions, but your arguments are every bit as convincing and I’d pay good money to see you debate him.

  • Pluto Animus

    That’s not merely bilge, but endless bilge at that.

    You can stick your magical, invisible friend (and your slander) where the Sun don’t shine.

  • Why?

    “Your particular strain of theism comes from a tribe of desert savages whose angry god had a bizarre obsession with war and foreskins and you think this creature is some sort of benevolent creator? Read your Torah again Sparky, your god is a lunatic and only the same could think it real or worthy of worship.
    Now, I know that many people commenting about this article have very, very strong beliefs. And I am honestly not trying to be rude in any way; I just want to know why many of the Atheists that posted feel the need to go after Christianity and Judaism?

    • jp

      I agree it’s unnecessary.

      I think its mostly pushback against Averick’s claims in another article that atheism is the start of a slippery slope to approving of child sexual abuse – a gratuitously offensive claim that’s getting some rude but entirely predictable responses.

      • moshe averick

        Jp,

        I did not see anywhere that the virologist contradicted anything I said, except to inform me that he is a virologist. Nobody claims that viruses came before bacteria. Based on our knowledge at this point, it would be impossible.

        There is nothing that I wrote in either this article or the one about pedophilia that I do not stand by 100%. Atheism implicitly implies amorality. That does not mean that all atheists are amoral, but it is DESPITE their claim to being atheists that they profess devoted adherence to what we would call a moral system, not BECAUSE of atheism. Nearly every prominent atheistic philosopher takes for granted that the best an atheist can have is a set of personal preferences that parallel some of the conventional moral precepts of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Those atheists who do not concur simply do not understand the inescapable philosophical implications of an atheistic worldview.

        • jp

          And indeed, most atheist philosophers point out that theistic moral systems are no more than a set of personal preferences – somewhat communally defined, but often overriden on grounds of conscience – that mirror secular moral systems, precisely because morality, in their view and mine, springs from neither theism nor atheism, but simply from our humanity and capacity for empathy. They AGREE that atheists are moral despite their atheism, but they point out that theists are mostly moral despite their theism, too, and you don’t seem to be able to face that reality, despite ample evidence in the newspapers each day and in every history book.

          When you misrepresent atheist philosophers as claiming that atheism is the basis of morality, you’re being “that guy” again, just as bad as those who quote scripture without contextual knowledge or sensibility.

          I’d advise you to stop making a fool of yourself, but just like “that guy” I know you won’t listen, or even reflect on whether my criticisms have any validity.

    • Why,

      I disagree with JP’s answer. If you’ll notice, there are a number of posts that, while clearly disagreeing with what I had to say, focus on the arguments I presented. Frankly, many of the people who comment on these types of articles simply do not have the maturity to focus on the actual issues involved in a discussion like this. Instead they simply use it as an opportunity to vent; some more hysterically than others. They sort of have stock talking points to attack religion and they find an excuse to mention them whether or not they are relevant to the discussion at hand.

      The slippery slope argument that JP mentioned is also presented as a step by step series of arguments that build one on the other. While I certainly understand that people may disagree, most just react from their gut without addressing the argument itself. That is what is really going on.

      • jp

        I agree, Moshe, that some people just have arguments that they let loose indiscriminately. However, your articles certainly convey a sense of smug moral superiority. The claims that God is a lunatic and a monster are a direct reponse to (a) God’s actions as described in the Torah, and (b) your claims that morality derives from this God.

        When you say that atheism is the start of a slippery slope to acceptance of child sexual abuse, you defame good people, and when you claim that your superior morality comes from a God that turned a blind eye to Lot offering his daughters to be raped, then you earn people’s contempt. Some people are able to calmly articulate their contempt, and others simply lash out, but you’re not a random target, and you’re not a target purely because of your theism. It’s your contemptible arguments that get you that sort of response.

        • Moshe Averick

          Jp,

          Whether or not you read a “smug moral superiority” into my articles or not is something that I have no control over.

          Whatever I advocate in my articles is backed up by the presentation of an argument. In order to bolster my claim that atheistic philosophy is on a slippery slope to the normalization of child-sex was backed up by citations of two very prominent atheistic philosophers.

          Nowhere in my article did I write anything even remotely suggesting that atheists should be immediately suspected of child molesting. In fact, it is clear, to anyone who read the article seriously, that the entire “plea” was because I know quite clearly that most people, including atheists find the idea of child sex disgusting. Because I presented an argument that atheistic philosophy was being used to justify this behavior, people for some odd reason assumed that I was accusing them of child molestation. My only conclusion is that either they did not take the trouble to read the article carefully or that my argument touched such a raw nerve that it evoked an hysterical reaction.

          Anyone who disagrees with me is free to attack my logic and to point out the flaws in my reasoning. Anyone looking at my replies can see immediately that I answer these types of posts seriously and respectfully. I even try to answer the hysterical posts seriously although I admit, sometimes I lose it.

          Nowhere have I ever advocated that people accept Judaism. It’s hard to understand what controversial Biblical episodes have to do with Origin of Life research. In the pedophilia article I stated explicitly that we should come together on principles that we all agree on. We can argue about the rest afterward,

          As far as incidents in the Torah: I have pointed out a number of times that there is no way to have any coherent JEWISH understanding of these stories by simply reading an English translation. There is quite a bit of background information that is necessary in order to put them in a proper context. For example, the story of Lot and his daughters. Why do you say that God turned a blind eye to what he did? In Jewish tradition this story is understood to convey how corrupt Lot had become due to his choice to separate himself from Abraham. If God had wanted to turn a blind eye, the story never would have been recorded. As the story continues, as you know, it even gets worse.

          If I attack Christopher Hitchens or PZ Myers, I attack them for things that they themselves wrote or said. I understand that when I do that I have to be prepared for pushback. If someone wants to push back aggressively that is fine, just make sure its coherent and presents an argument, not just hysteria and adolescent taunting.

          • jp

            Moshe wrote:

            “Whether or not you read a “smug moral superiority” into my articles or not is something that I have no control over.”

            Ah, but Moshe, it is. To refuse responsibility as an author for the tone of your writing is just cowardice. Be a mensch, for God’s sake: you yourself can tell if other people’s writing conveys anger, or erudition, or condescension, I’m sure. Don’t bank on others lacking those abilities when they read yours.

            Moshe wrote:
            “As far as incidents in the Torah: I have pointed out a number of times that there is no way to have any coherent JEWISH understanding of these stories by simply reading an English translation. There is quite a bit of background information that is necessary in order to put them in a proper context.”

            Indeed. I will admit that I put that in there fishing for this response, because I wanted to take you to task for something. You say, repeatedly, that it’s impossible to understand Jewish texts without a Jewish mindset, and that misinterpretation and misrepresentation are the common results of doing so. And yet, apparently without any capacity for self-reflection, you grandly pass opinions on secular moral philosophy while conveying a lack of contextual understanding that makes the people who think “an eye for an eye” is a statement about facial disfigurement look like Talmudic scholars. And it’s not just secular moral philosophy – you take the same low road when discussing evolutionary biology, or as in the comments in this very article staunchly resist correction on the basics of virology from actual virologists. When people identify your own misreadings, misunderstandings and misrepresentations, you close your ears.

            Again, be a mensch: accept that in these fields there are those that know more than you do, and learn from them, or else you’re just that guy who keeps shouting ever louder “but it clearly says an EYE for an EYE, and if you don’t think that proves it’s about facial disfigurement, it goes on to say a TOOTH for a TOOTH. Gotcha!”

            Seriously and sincerely, if you want high-quality thoughtful debate, you have to stop being that guy, because (and you do have control over this) that’s how you’re coming across.

        • Schlener.T

          JP, morality is for us not for God. God does not depend on our morality neither does He wait for it. Neither is it a basis of acceptance, it is a tool for us first, to define for ourselves then, to employ in our own lives and society. Much like ethics. stop being so trivial and show some sincerity dude.

          • jp

            Of course it is. Given that in my worldview God has the same fictional status as other mythological characters, it’s very obvious to me that morality is for people to define and use in our lives and societies. I keep trying to get the good Rabbi to understand this, but he is most hostile to such a concept. It’s him you need to address your arguments to, not me – I agree with you on this point.

      • Mike

        Moshe,

        There you go again… spouting nonsense. Nothing you say is of any value unless you can show evidence for your presupposition of the existence of some kind of deity. Why do you refuse to back up this position, inherent as it it to everything you say? Maybe because you know you can’t? You’ve dodged and hidden from this simple request over and over.

        You seem to think that you are possessed of a maturity many who justly criticize you lack. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are the worst kind of poisonous, immature, malicious person. Every time you make these sort of idiotic claims; these sad, dangerous sophistries that serve only to reinforce the misconceptions of the simple; you make the world a sadder and more ignorant place. You should be ashamed of yourself. I know you won’t. You aren’t mature enough to see the world as it is and you’re far too childish to look even at your own ideas realistically.

        .

      • Schlener.T

        There is a book called in six days, edited by John Ashton phd., it speaks for itself. Suffice it to say, questions such as can random molecular interactions create life or, where do coded language structures arise, these are profound and elucidating questions worthy of anyones time, especially scientists. The study of origins is outside the realm of observable science, neither is there empirical evidence either way, as is evolution and creation for that matter, both outside science. nobody has seen God nor the big bang, well, Moses kinda saw him. 😉

    • salvage

      Is there a nice way to call someone insane or delusional? Can you gently talk a lunatic out of being crazy? If you can I doff my cap and admire your spare time. 

      Moshe along with Muslims and Christians worship a creature that is cruel, insane and if it were real a criminal of the highest order. Jews believe this thing had designated them elite, Chrisitans believe it will torture anyone who thinks differently than they do and Muslims, well same stuff different words to express it. 

      How can anyone with respect, respect such things much less those that pimp them out? I don’t like Moshe, I don’t like what he says or how he says it and I’m glad that’s made clear. 

      Now there are some very thoughtful posts that politely point out how wrong Moshe is and his reaction? He ignores the salient points, recycles his nonsense and continues on as if he is still correct and no one has shown him otherwise. He is as imune to reason so why be reasonable?

      I attack the foundation of his nonsense, those stupid books, so clearly stuffed with myths that even the simplest of children would question if not told by their  parents that it’s all
      fact. Is that rude? Pointing out that his god demands penis mutilation? That his god cheered on wars that we would call genocide? That he celebrates a holiday that has his god murdering babies in their crib? Am I wrong to do so?

      I know, it’s awful for me to point out all these elephants in the room but I’m afraid they’re all I can see and I have nothing but spite for them.

      And to be clear I would gladly take a bullet to defend Moshe or any other idiot’s right to their religious freedom both to practice and preach but that’s where my respect for it ends, the rest is red hot contempt, bile and mockery. 

  • jp

    As far as your two options are concerned, you remind me of my very young children and their views on Santa Claus.

    From their limited perspective, there are only two options for the emergence of their presents under the tree at Christmas.

    1. The naturalistic explanation that the presents simply self-create out of nothingness.

    2. The supernatural explanation that there is a fat, jolly man who visits every home on a flying sled and, despite his girth, shimmies down 8 inch chimneys to hand deliver gifts to tens of millions of homes per hour, using his psychic sleep-detection powers to avoid being caught in the act.

    Those, as my kids see it, are the only two options. Being raised in a sceptical household, of course they know well enough to evaluate these options on the available evidence, which is as follows:

    a) there are presents. This favours 1 and 2 equally.

    b) objects do not just self-create out of nothingness. This is the principle of object permanence that most babies learn at around 18 months of age. This favours option 2.

    c) the biscuits they left out for the reindeer, and the wine they left for Santa have both been mostly consumed, leaving only crumbs and a drop in the bottom of the glass. This correlates very well with what the dinner table looks like after dinner, and heavily favours option 2, and counts heavily against option 1.

    And so, believing themselves to be the pinnacle of rationality, they pat themselves on the back for working out that option 2 must, logically, be the answer, for option 1 is a poor fit to the evidence, as well as being intuitively absurd.

    I’m pretty sure that my 9-year-old understands that there’s a third option, and is keeping shtum for the benefit of her younger brothers.

    To adults, children using this sort of reasoning is sweet, and watching them discover enough about how the world REALLY works to grow out of it is a source of pride. Until then though, humouring their delusions is seen as harmless fun, even if it isn’t very sporting to take advantage of naivety. We could humour you the same way, and say “Yes, yes, little Moshe, of course God magically created life.” and sit back anticipating the pride we’d all feel when you worked out that we’d been pulling your leg, but somehow that game just isn’t as much fun with adults.

    • moshe averick

      JP,

      I guess that Richard Dawkins has a childlike “Santa Claus” view of the world. He has stated that before 1859 “he could not imagine” being an atheist. In other words, the overwhelming complexity of the living world brought him to the obvious conclusion that it could not happen by itself, and could only be the result of an intelligent creation. Of course, now that we have shown that Darwinian Evolution is irrelevant to the entire question, I guess Dawkins, if he is intellectually honest, will have to go back to believing in Santa Claus.
      thanks for your insight into the personality of Richard Dawkins, I will use it in my next debate with believers in the myth of naturalistic origins.

      • jp

        Moshe, apart from being a blatant evasion, what on earth has any of what you just wrote got to do with my post?

      • salvage

        Dawkins was being sensible. At first glance its reasonable to think the earth had a creator, specially if you’re raised in a culture that takes it as given.

        Then SCIENCE! came along and said hold on, look closer and we did and real answers, logical answers, proven answers began to form.

        Oh but these answers weren’t comforting, no god in the sky watching out for you and yours? Not sharing your political and cultural beliefs? Affirming how right and righteous you are? No, no, and no! Unacceptable!

        You believe in your god despite reason because you are too small, egotistical and frightened to do otherwise.

        • Schlener.T

          Give me a SINGLE example salvage, just one, of variation or random mutation. Living organisms are the realization of coded language structures. “all the detailed chemical and structural complexity associated with metabolism, repair, specialized function, and reproduction of each living cell is a realization of the coded algorythms stored in its DNA.” Also, look up professor Murray Eden, a specialist in information theory and formal languages at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he said, “No currently existing formal language can tolerate random changes in the symbol sequence which expresses its sentences. Meaning is almost invariably destroyed. Any changes must be syntactically lawful ones. I would conjecture that what one might call ‘genetic grammaticality’ has a deterministic explanation and does not owe it’s stability to selection pressure acting on random variation.” I think you ought to revisit your “answers” that we haven’t even seen yet.

          • salvage

            Once again and one more time, just because we cannot explain something that doesn’t mean magic. No one in science outside of the mad departments claim to understand how it all works or even how it all started.

            But we do know that if the answer is found it will be via science and not superstition.

    • Schlener.T

      I love all your “laws” and “boolean-logic” jp, they are so, comfy. You rely know how to write about kids and santa, well done. Now I truly know how life works.

      • jp

        Shlener, your snide and vacuous post here is actually a good counterexample to the one you made directly above it. You’ve expressed something in a language, English, and randomly inserted and left out symbols (extra commas, missing commas, extra hyphens, missing “a”s and “l”s), and yet your meaning is not destroyed. Good job, my man.

        Can I assume that because you do not address the content of my post you agree with it?

        • Schlener.T

          you assume too much JP vacuous, do you have an example of an evolutionary proces which increases the information in the genome? my comment was actually addressed to salvage you completely miss the point here and have you ever looked at ancient hebrew for example the ancients did not use vowels neither commas periods nor hyphens i speak read and write five languages how about you?

          • jp

            Is English one of your five languages?

  • Herpy McDerp

    Religion would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.

    Medevial superstition has no place in the 21st century.

  • Nick

    Take a step back and look from a historical perspective…

    The ancient Greeks explained lightning with a deity, Zeus. A Greek who was attacking that explanation, and was asked to provide an alternative explanation, would have had a very difficult time because he/she would be centuries away from the uncovering of the laws of electrostatics.

    Scientists have the same trouble here. We don’t know how inorganic molecules could “evolve” into bacteria, because the usual fossil/genetic evidence we rely on doesn’t extend back that far. Instead, we may have to create life in the lab… or maybe even wait until we are advanced enough to use whole planets as labs. Who knows? We’re like the ancient Greeks with respect to this.

    So I’d like to put forth a third option:

    C. Relax.

    Science is always expanding the scope and power of naturalistic explanations, but we are a long way from understanding everything. If we get to a point where it becomes clear science has already taught us everything it can, only then will we have arrived at your choice between A and B.

    • moshe averick

      Nick,

      I would reframe your third option(which is not entirely unreasonable) as “sitting on the fence.” If a person says that they are not sure of the answer and needs to adopt a “wait and see” attitude, well, fair enough.

      How long are you prepared to wait? The scientific quest to discover a naturalistic origin of life has gone absolutely nowhere in 65 years. In fact, the more that is learned about the complexity of the simplest living cells, the bigger the problem has gotten, not smaller. For example, the completion of the human genome project did not simplify our understanding of how DNA works as most scientists predicted, it opened up a hallway with a hundred more doors that need to be opened. The depth of the problem is staggering. How much time should we give them?

      • Nick

        Hello Moshe,

        The statement:

        Because we don’t currently have a naturalistic explanation for X, the supernatural explanation is therefore true.

        doesn’t account for the fact that we may later develop a naturalistic explanation.

        The statement:

        Because we will never have a naturalistic explanation for X, the supernatural explanation is therefore true.

        needs further support. Are you such an expert predictor that you know which avenues of science will proceed and which will stagnate? In 100 years? 1,000 years? I would argue that nobody is such an expert. Our history is rich with examples of naturalistic explanations overturning previous science and even common sense. The earth orbits the sun? Disease is caused by living things too small to see? Time is not absolute, but relative? Particles can exist in multiple paradoxical states at the same time? What’s next? Even if I was completely convinced it was impossible for molecules to evolve into cells… people 100s or 1000s of years ago would have had very good reason to believe it was impossible for the earth to orbit the sun, disease to be caused by miniature animals, etc.

        To answer your question directly, then, I don’t think it’s a question of time. I don’t think we will arrive at the hard choice of naturalism vs supernaturalism until science rationally proves that it has discovered everything that can be discovered, if that is even possible. No progress in 65 years? Humans have discovered everything we know today in just a few thousand years. We have billions of years left in the universe as we understand it, and the rate of scientific progress has accelerated exponentially. 65 years is nothing.

        Besides, I think it is questionable that even if science discovers its own limits, supernaturalism should fill in the void. One could just as reasonably fill the void with “it just happened for no reason whatsoever, completely outside causality.” I find it interesting that people need God as a step between this explanation (which is really the explanation for the existence of God) and explanations of physical events.

  • Mike

    Moshe, Moshe, Moshe, you’re at it AGAIN? My goodness, you are determined in your ignorance, aren’t you?

    Lets go through your errors one by one (this may take a while):

    1. Stop using the idiotic term “self described atheist” as a stupid attempt at making a negative implication about a person. Calling someone an atheist is a compliment, implying they are better educated, more moral, less likely to commit a crime and more likely to give to charity. You are a “self described Jew”.

    2. You are quote-mining various sources to make it look like various scientists agree with your foolish claims. Stop that. It’s a lie, and while it mat have escaped you with all your theistic “morals”, lying is bad.

    3. The fact that science is as yet unaware how biogenesis occurred is not evidence for special creation. Again, as has been pointed out to you many times by me and others, you are engaging in a false dichotomy.

    4. Again, you are lying when you quote mine Dr. Shapiro. You are trying to make it appear that he somehow believes in special creation. He doesn’t. Why is it that simple-minded creationists want to deny science when it proves them wrong and trumpet it when they mistakenly think it supports them? You can’t have it both ways.

    5. The burden of proof is not on the scientist and atheist when it comes to questions of the existence of any gods. Sorry, but you are simply wrong. Say it all you want, shout it to the rooftops but it is still wrong. Theism is making the claim and is failing to support it.

    6. Ben Stein is an idiot with no grounds to speak about anything but economics. Quoting him in anyway makes you look even more foolish, if possible.

    7. The believer in god is not on solid ground. That is simply a lie, but you are an inveterate liar, Moshe.

    OK, maybe you aren’t a liar… but if you believe everything you say, you are certainly an idiot. Which is it.

    All your claims rest on the unsupported assumption of the existence of a deity. No one has ever given a logical or realistic proof for that claim. It is a fantasy, like dragons and fairies and Russell’s teapot. Maybe you can do better. Want to try? Of course, I won’t be buying your book, so please don’t drag out that tired old crap.

  • Secular Voice

    This is a really bad article. Ignorant of modern science and apparently intentionally dishonest. Shame on the author.

  • Curt Cameron

    Your implication is that Dr. Robert Shapiro (the guy you quoted about Scrabble pieces) thinks that naturalistic explanations about the origins of life are absurd. I’m sure an honest rabbi such as you wouldn’t lie by omission, so let me point out the rest of his point of view.

    What Dr. Shapiro views as absurd is one particular model of abiogenesis: the RNA-first model. He thinks that life was more likely to have started with simpler self-replicator molecules.

    I’m sure in your next revision of this article you’d want to mention that, because you wouldn’t want people to think you may be dishonest.

    • Mike

      Clearly you haven’t read much of Mr. Averick’s work, Mr. Cameron.

      • Mike,

        Haven’t you gone back to work yet? Why don’t you give it a rest.

    • moshe averick

      Curt,

      Dr. Shapiro does not think that life began with simpler self-replicator molecules. He is an advocate of the “metabolism first” model, similar to what Dr. Stuart Kauffman proposed a number of years ago. Of course, advocates of the RNA FIrst theory attack the “Metabolism First” theory as vociferously as Shapiro attacks RNA First. Dr. Leslie Orgel (advocate of RNA First) said that Shapiro’s theory is based on “if pigs could fly chemistry”. Because of my deep respect for scientists, I, of course, agree with both Shapiro and Orgel.

    • Curt,

      While it may be true that the “metabolism first” theory involves groups of molecules in some sort of cycle of replication, it is misleading to call it “self-replicator” molecules. The type of self replication that is envisioned in his theory is completely different than self replicating RNA molecules, which is already a primitive sort of genetic system.

  • Dan C

    Wow that was a really bad article. I see there are plenty of commentors that have pointed out the glaring flaws in the article, But i would like to know one thing. If there is a creator, then who created the creator? A creator sounds like an awfully complex creation. Is this creator A living being? Sounds like you’ve got some explaining to do.

    • DAn C,

      The classical “First Cause”, that is, a cause that is outside of the physical world does not require a creator, this Creator is not subject to the laws of cause and effect, he CREATED the laws of cause and effect. There is no cause before, because this Creator is not in time, there is no “before.” I am a little shocked at the gaps in the philosophical understanding of many of the commenters on this site. The concept of a “first cause” outside of the natural world is a very old concept. I have repeated over and over again that there are only two options for the origins of life:

      A. naturalistic process (scientists are clueless)

      B. A conscious act of creation by the “First Cause”

      THERE ARE NO OTHER OPTIONS , it is either one or the other

      • Ben T.

        Er, what necessitates the “conscious” in B.? Why couldn’t the first cause be some, as an example, principle or rule that causes life in a universe such as our own?

        I don’t see any reason why this life-causing thing needs to be conscious, it just seems like you’ve placed your bias in that option.

        So despite your capital letters, there is either another option or you need to drop “conscious” from option B.

        • Ben T.

          If you see a smiley face in the sand with the words, “Hi, Ben T. thanks for your post”
          the cause could also some unknown principle or cause. If we start considering every “maybe” that is “possible” there are no answers to anything. There are theoretically an infinite amount of “maybe’s”. There is one clear, very well known cause for functional complexity and specified information: Intelligence. Unless there is a REASONABLE alternative option, there is no need to consider another answer.

          • jp

            Rabbi, given the absolute lack of ANY evidence for ANY supernatural agency (not just theistic) on our universe, “it happened supernaturally” will never be a REASONABLE explanation for anything. It’s just wishful thinking.

        • Ben T.,

          I would like to add, however, that you did raise a very important point. This is something that I discuss at length in my book. It is a crucial issue that must be clarified. I appreciate your bringing it up.

      • Curt Cameron

        I’m a little shocked by the gaps in your philosophical understanding. The concept of a “first cause” is a very old concept, only slightly older than someone pointing out the huge flaws in that argument. Saying that the universe requires a cause but your “creator god” doesn’t, is simply the special pleading fallacy.

        Your “two options” for the origins of life are basically these:

        1. There are myriad potential ways that life could have come from non-life. Since that process happened a very long time ago and would have left little or no evidence of its particulars, our only way of figuring it out is to come up with the specifics of a model, then try to find why that one model would not have worked. We have a couple of major categories identified that haven’t been ruled out, but we haven’t yet come up with exactly how, and there are so many possible ways that it could have happened, that this is likely to take a long time to figure out.

        2. Or, a magic man in the sky did it.

        Which of these two options seems most reasonable to you?

        About your example of the smiley-face drawn in the sand; if smiley-faces in sand self-reproduced, and the ones that were more smiley-face like tend to reproduce more, and we had a long line of historical evidence that they had been doing this for billions of years, where the ones longer ago were cruder and simpler, then I think it would be reasonable to figure that the smiley face you found on the beach this morning was the result of a natural process.

        • Moshe Averick

          Bruce,

          Living organisms only reproduce once they have the staggeringly sophisticated genetic machinery to self replicate. Where did the first such mechanism. I understand the question and atheistic professor Thomas Nagle understands the question, I don’t understand why you don’t. You again have confused Darwinian evolution with origin of life

        • Schlener.T

          thank you for the options, really. and the next time you trivialize me can I have a ferrari? I did not see it as an option, so. fyi

      • Bruce

        The infinite regress referred to by Dan is not blocked by any Aristotelian unmoved mover or arguments from Aquinas’ First Cause stipulation.

        There would have to be cause and effect in order for any such creation event of a material universe to occur. Thus if there is a creator, they must be causal in order to influence any material causal entity. They would then have to be causally accessible and materially provable. Where’s your proof? Not faith based assumption, but material proof.

        It is perfectly justifiable for you to be challenged to provide a coherent reason beyond faith stipulation that the causal agent had no cause. Let’s start by proving the existence agent though – shall we? Don’t forget that little detail.

        Scientists are not nearly as clueless as theologians who cannot demonstrate any causal link between purported deities and the material world. Scientists don’t claim to know everything: they claim to have a defeasible mechanism for acquiring facts over time and through trial and error. Theologians claim to know the ultimate truth without having to do more than imaginatively tweak a few fictions.

        Dawkins can physically demonstrate live biological processes from polypeptide synthesis upward (and downward) that provide working causal explanations for the development of complex systems. You theists have got – what – “it’s complex and you can’t prove there isn’t a causally undetectable god, so that unprovable god must definitely have made the complex systems (even though you have a coherent material/physical story plus real evidence and we have – err – faith based assumptions)”.

        Don’t even start with the lack of evidence argument unless you yourself can prove a physical interaction between a god being and the physical universe. Any interaction that influences the physical universe would have to be physical. There has never been materially provable evidence of any other kind of interaction – never in recorded scientifically validated and properly materially verifiable human empirical experience. Such validation and verification is what works: cars, medicine, bombs, hadron colliders, solar panels etc. There’s no spooky stuff in those Mr theological salesman.

        There is no real existing process that we know of that does not ultimately reduce to physical elements. You can go on about abstracta and Platonic entities all day, but take away all of the physical stuff and there will be no one around to talk or even think about such fictions as the god character. Prove otherwise materially.

        Ontological arguments for God all fall to the infinite regress argument – this includes Godel’s attempt and those of contemporary ‘philosophers’. You can’t just stipulate that some putative creative being that would have to naturally necessarily be causally interactive had no cause because it suits your doctrinal commitments and faith based desire-driven assumptions. It is something for which you would have to provide material evidence.

        It is typical of the arrogance and duplicity of theists that they expect everyone to provide proof of non-existence of certain highly specified things with complex properties.

        If I told you that the flying spaghetti monster was real and moreover claimed that said being had specific properties you would rightly demand strong material evidence – unless you were an idiot or up to no good. You would rightly state that the onus is on me – the person making the positive ontic claim that something exists – to provide material proof.

        Say I then told you that said pasta-based being must be real because you had no evidence he wasn’t: you would rightly laugh in my face. That you cannot materially prove that they are not real is no argument for the existence of purple people eaters – or anything else. There is nothing there to disprove. This is asking for material evidence of the non-existence of something. By definition something non-existing will have no material evidence associated with it – positive or negative: no material anything of any kind in fact. Thus if it doesn’t exist, you will always be safely sure no evidence of non-existence will be found unless everything in the material universe is catalogued, and you can carry on pushing delusive nonsense to the unwary!

        Back to spaghetti monster: If I then claimed that the noodly one’s material creation was evidence for his existence, I would have added nothing whatsoever of substance to my argument – for I would just be begging the question on (assuming) the noodly one’s existence as a causal creative entity. More circular reasoning. It’s analogous to saying that the buy-bull text is evidence for the existence of a god, and that you know the god is real because the buy-bull text says so. It’s circular reasoning, and you have to be arrogant and cynical to push it on the unsuspecting, and downright predatory to push it on kids.

        As Nietzsche once said “A walk through the asylum shows that faith proves nothing”. And no, faith in things that are not materially empirically demonstrable is not the same as having faith that your car will start – obviously. The latter is based on repeated empirical evidence based upon material causal interaction. Nietzsche wasn’t a nihilist about truth as facts: he just knew that theologians didn’t really care about factual truth at all and he said so. That’s why they hated him.

        You know that there is a physical causal pathway from the ignition switch to the starter motor when you start your car. The causal pathway can be physically interacted with all the way along if one makes the scientific effort. There is no such verifiable causal pathway demonstrable for ‘god interactions’. Asserting materialism isn’t begging the question, because material processes are the only kind that are empirically demonstrable.

        If you want to prove the existence of some supernatural deity as materialist science proves physical facts, you must provide physical evidence of the cause-effect link between said deity and the physical world. That’s the rational and undisputed standard – not because science is begging the question (petitio principii) about what exists – but because that is what works.

        Show us the scientific instrument that detects a causal pathway to the god you speak of – or an angel. Oh – that’s right – you can’t because ‘god’ want’s you to have faith. How very convenient that you don’t have to prove anything except by unverifiable spiritual experience – whatever the spiritual actually is or means. Why don’t you stop un-justifying your existence by distracting people from helping themselves (and others) by peddling delusive narratives and memes with no foundation in any reality except the reality of the collective and individual imaginations of religionist liars?

        I’m only sorry that people like you are let loose on the rest of us. God antennae – if such a neural correlate to religious delusion really exists – are not innate: they are programmed into the cognitive architecture at a young age by theologians and other assorted predatory bullshitters.

        The cited researchers (see bottom) all provide a story for how the complex mechanism for protein synthesis came into existence via emergence and natural selection. They don’t need to know exactly what happened – although they are arguably getting closer. What they do have is at least three things you don’t:

        1. A viable story in which the theorised processes are all related to existing scientifically known material processes
        2. A logically coherent physically and scientifically plausible explanation as determined by 1.
        3. No need to invoke any creative influence aside from natural selection which – unlike your ‘god’ – is materially verifiable as real

        Wolf, Y. and Eugene V Koonin (2007) On the origin of the translation
        system and the genetic code in the RNA world by means of natural selec-
        tion, exaptation, and subfunctionalization Biology Direct: Biomed Central
        1-25.

        Copley, S.D., Eric Smith and Harold J. Morowitz (2005) A mechanism
        for the association of amino acids with their codons and the origins of the
        genetic code. PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102,
        4442-4447.

        Sella, G. and David H. Ardell (2006) The Coevolution of Genes and Ge-
        netic Codes: Cricks Frozen Accident RevisitedThe Journal of Molecular
        Evolution, 63:297313
        Religion and faith still deserves no more respect than any other serious disease, even one with an advertising budget and marketing campaign.

        • drew

          nice. very nice. think that about wraps it up.

        • Ushox

          Great comment!

        • Moshe Averick

          Bruce,

          Our experience has taught us that highly sophisticated, intricate, and complex digital information storage, retrieval, and translation systems are the result of intelligent intervention. Then there is the problem of the source of the information itself. Richard DAwkins’ book THE GOD DELUSION contains a tremendous amount of highly specified information. Whether I agree or disagree with Richard Dawkins, the only possible source for all the information contained in the book is some type of intelligence. The simplest bacterium contains:

          A. Encyclopedic amounts of information B. A highly sophisticated digitally encoded data storage system (DNA) C. A highly sophisticated system for retrieving the information (RNA polymerase and mRNA) D. A highly sophisticated system for translating the information and constructing highly complex protein structures based on this information (tRNA and ribosomes)

          This of course is a SIMPLIFIED presentation of the mechanisms involved. It is impossible to deny that at the very least, a POSSIBLE source of these mechanisms and the actual information involved, is intelligent design.

          What is the evidence for the intelligent designer? The information and molecular machinery itself. In the same way that my suit itself is the evidence for the existence of the tailor, and the poem on the piece of paper itself is the evidence for the existence of the poet,
          the bacterium itself is the evidence for its designer and creator.

          If the bacterium is the result of a creator and not naturalistic processes, the only possible creator must be a supernatural creator with no previous cause as I described in another post. Any other creator is subject to the question “Well, who created him?”

          Again, and this is really quite simple. The two options for the origin of life are either a supernatural creator or naturalistic processes. I don’t have to first prove the existence of this supernatural being. The evidence for his existence is the bacterium itself. Now the only task in front of us to determine which option is more reasonable and fits with the evidence: Creator or undirected processes.

          As far as all the papers you cited. All of them contain purely SPECULATIVE theories about the origins of DNA, RNA, and the incredible amount of information needed for life to exist.

          I keep pointing out to people that earlier this year there was a conference about the origin of life at ASU hosted by Lawrence Krauss, whose panel consisted of Nobel Laureates, Sidney Altman, Lee Hartwell, plus J. Craig Venter, Chris Mckay, Paul Davies, Richard Dawkins, etc. Besides the fact that Paul Davies got up and nonchalantly made theunchallenged statement that Origin of Life research has made no progress since the early 50’s, John Horgan’s Scientific American article on the conference was entitled, “Pssst, DON’T TELL THE CREATIONISTS, BUT SCIENTISTS DON’T HAVE A CLUE HOW LIFE BEGAN”

          John Horgan is on YOUR side of the argument, but he is honest enough to state the unadulterated truth.
          C. A hi

        • Schlener.T

          Random interactions of atoms and moleculs will not neither does produce life as we know it. e.g.,think about what is involved with demanding that a purely random process find a minimal set of about 1000 protein molecules needed for the most primitive form of life. supposing you already have 999 of the 1000 different proteins required and all that remains is the final sequence of ammino acids which gives the last protein. restrict yourself then to the set of 20 amino acids found in living systems and ignore the hundred or so that are not. also ignore that only those with left-handed symmetry appear in life proteins. also ignore the unfavorable chemical reaction kinetics involved in forming long peptide chains in any sort of plausible non-living chemical enviornment. what do think about this that chance interactions explain the complexity we observe

      • Mike

        Do you know what a special pleading is? Creation is required for everything but your idea of a creator? No, that is quite unacceptable.

        Provide evidence for your claim of a special creator.

      • LOL

        Actually this is logical bunk that relies on granting special exceptions to make it work.

        In the end it does nothing to support *your* version of a creator or your version of religion.

        ” The concept of a “first cause” outside of the natural world is a very old concept. ”

        So is the idea that the earth is flat and the center of the universe. Just because an idea is old does not grant it some magical powers of reconciling reality with fiction.

  • jp

    Mr Averick – you state that: “Life is clearly the result of a magnificent and glorious act of creation, by a Creator whom we instinctively desire to reach out to and worship.”

    I’m sorry Rabbi, but you know as well as I do that nobody understands how life came into being. Dr. Ken Nealson, a microbiologist and co-chairman of the Committee on the Origin and Evolution of Life for the National Academy of Sciences summed up the current state of affairs: “Nobody understands the origin of life, if they say they do, they are probably trying to fool you.” Dr. Stuart Kauffman has caustically remarked: “Anyone who tells you they know how life started on the earth some 3.6 billion years ago, is either a fool or a knave.” I certainly hope you are not trying to fool us, Rabbi; it would not befit a man of your stature.

    • JP,

      Please see my comment to DanC. There are only two options for the emergence of life. I don’t think you’ve fully accepted the implications of this simple truth

      • Brad Feaker

        Rabbi – please provide some evidence to back up that statement. I am going to go out on a limb here and state that you have NONE. Your entire article was full of refuted arguments, circular logic and wishful thinking. You really need to do better than that.

        • Curt Cameron

          Brad, as Moshe sees it, there are only two possible options:

          A. A god did it, or

          B. It happened without any god(s).

          See? Only two options!

        • Moshe Averick

          Brad,

          I presented my arguments in the article. If you fell there is a flaw in my reasoning and you want to join the discussion, by all means. Proclamations that my article is full of refuted arguments, etc really adds nothing at all.

      • jp

        Moshe, surely even you are not so dim as to recognise that my entire criticism of your claim to knowledge of how life started is a quotation FROM YOUR OWN ARTICLE.

        I agree with Kaufmann, but it’s people like you who claim to know the origin of life (as I quoted above) he’s calling a fool or a knave, not Dawkins (who you yourself quoted repeatedly rejecting that claim).

  • Kivahut

    Moshe, you are as dishonest as the religions that you defend.
    Science, and Professor Dawkins honestly evaluate all of the available data and have found NO evidence for a god.
    A Theory is something that is testable, and falsifiable. Please tell what it would take to invalidate your theory of a god?

    • Kivahut,

      You obviously did not take the trouble to read the article carefully. I did not defend any religion at all. I said explicitly that God the Creator is not neccesarily the God of Abraham or the God of the Bible. If you are going to comment, please at least take some time to compose a coherent and accurate statement.

      I have implicitly put forth a testable and falsifiable hypothesis. I have stated that the notion that something as functionally complex as a bacterium could emerge through an undirected process is absurd. Since there only two options, (Either a naturalistic process for the emergence of life from non-life, or a supernatural creator), the only reasonable option is an act of creation. The testable and falsifiable prediction is simple: YOU WILL NEVER FIND A PLAUSIBLE EMPIRICALLY DEMONSTRABLE NATURALISTIC EXPLANATION FOR THE EMERGENCE OF A BACTERIUM FROM NON-ORGANIC CHEMICALS. In the meantime, scientists are clueless, the ball is in your court.

      • Mike

        Moshe, Moshe, Moshe, no you poor boy… you have not put forward a falsifiable claim. No matter how many evolutionary paths science can find and explain, there will always be something as yet unknown fools can point top while jumping up and down and shouting “There! There! See! Goddidit! Goddidit!”

      • jp

        Moshe, I counter with:

        YOU WILL NEVER FIND A PLAUSIBLE EMPIRICALLY DEMONSTRABLE SUPERNATURALISTIC EXPLANATION FOR THE CREATION OF A BACTERIUM BY A CONSCIOUS CREATOR ENTITY.

        Because I shouted louder, the ball’s back in your court.

        Seriously, do you think that what you posted above counts as argument? We don’t understand, therefore it must be magic? How primitive your worldview is.

        And how mind-blowingly arrogant to imply that things we do not yet know must be unknowable and undiscoverable, as if this very moment is the pinnacle of human knowledge and understanding.

        • Moshe Averick

          JP,

          Again, you did not take the trouble to read my post carefully.

          I made a testable and falsifiable prediction based on my theory. In fact Dr. Robert Hazen, a materialistic Origin of Life expert has explicitly acknowledged that it is not true that ID is not science. In fact, the above prediction is very scientific and truly is a testable and falsifiable prediction.

          It has nothing to do with shouting louder. My suit itself is the evidence for the tailor who made the suit, the poem on the paper itself is the evidence for the existence of the poet, the bacterium itself and the genetic material itself is the evidence for its creator, that is unless you can show that a bacterium could emerge through a naturalistic undirected process.

          • jp

            Neither side can show how life started, that’s the whole point. But I’d rather back naturalistic explanations, which tell us how we got from bacteria to humanity, with all the complex life that’s evolved alongside us, naturally and undirected, than bet on supernatural agency, which has failed every single test that’s ever been made into its existence.

  • Definition of an argument from ignorance. Because there is no scientific explanation I will go with the story that seems most comfortable. Christians clearly have it wrong. The universe was created by Transcendant Universe Creating Pixies.

    • AThens Huff,

      Get your act together. Richard Dawkins has stated that he could not imagine being an atheist before 1859. He understands as do all scientists that the staggering complexity of the living world requires an explanation. either there is a naturalistic explanation or an act of creation. THERE ARE NO OTHER OPTIONS.

      Your adolescent comments don’t change that simple truth. Perhaps you should read Dawkins more carefully

      • Mike

        There is actually only one option, naturalism, since theism is logically untenable and has no evidence to support it. maybe you would care to present some. You sound like you think theism’s truth is a foregone conclusion. It isn’t.

        • jp

          Not only is there no evidence for theistic truth claims, there’s also a wealth of evidence, both sociological and scientific, that theism is a combination of ordinary fictional myth forms and brain chemistry that allows people to attribute psychopharmalogically-induced delusions to supernatural reality. A good place for those interested to start would be to read up on the Good Friday experiments conducted by Walter Pahnke and Timothy Leary, or to read this research paper:

          http://www.maps.org/w3pb/new/2008/2008_Griffiths_23042_1.pdf

  • Ray Dobson

    I always wonder why it never occurs to religionists that “goddidit” doesn’t really explain anything. How did god do it? What mechanisms did he use? Where did he come from in the first place? To invoke a magic man in the sky is merely to wrap one’s ignorance up in a box and call it god, and to declare arbitrarily the science stops at a certain point, and you are forbidden from asking questions beyond that point. Scientists at least are trying to follow the evidence, to come up with theories that will convince their fellow scientists with the weight of evidence in their favor. However much Averick may rant and splutter with outrage, the inescapable fact is that religionists have no clue how life started, any more than scientists – all they have are fairy tales from ancient scrolls written by primitive savages, with every tribe having a different set of fairy tales, and prepared to wage war to the death against every other tribe for not believing in the same set of fairy tales.

    • Dan Allison

      I can’t even count the number of category errors and logical fallacies in that paragraph.

      • jp

        Why is it that when theists make claims – even snarky ones like this – they can’t bring themselves to cite evidence. It’s like they’re allergic to it, or something. But I guess Dan could be right – perhaps he *can’t* count.

      • Joanna

        In truth, there is no scientist in the world today who would claim that evolution started with a “simple” bacterium.

        Yes, because they would say virus, or something virus-like. Please try to understand what you are talking about if you are going to preach against it.(fyi, there is a debate on whether viruses are alive)

        • Joanna,

          Viruses cannot be the first life. That is why all origin of life researchers are trying to understand how bacteria could emerge from non-living chemicals. Viruses are parasites that cannot live without previously existing living DNA based organisms.

          • ERV

            Im sorry, Mr. Averick– Where exactly did you get your degree in virology, again?

            Again,
            <– Actual virologist

      • Dan,

        Why don’t you point out “one”? Put your money where your mouth is

    • jp

      When Averick asserts, without support of any kind, that “Life is clearly the result of a magnificent and glorious act of creation, by a Creator whom we instinctively desire to reach out to and worship.”, he reminds me of my university days when we were taught that in mathematical proofs, the word “Obviously, ” means “I want/need this to be true, but I clearly can not prove it.”

      • JP,

        While perhaps the probabilities you calculated are accurate you have made a serious error in evaluating their significance. If what you are proposing is true, then ask yourself a simple question: Why would the casino be totally justified in accusing me either of cheating or in realizing that something was wrong with the roulette wheel? If what you’re saying is true, there would be no reason to suspect that anything was wrong.

        The answer is because the ball falling on 16 red and me betting on 16 red represents a discernible pattern towards a very clear goal and objective; namely winning money by playing roulette. Not only is it improbable, but it is an improbability that reflects a clear purpose. Whenever we see these two factors converging we immediately recognize that there is something other than pure chance or undirected forces guiding the process. Hence: Either I am cheating, the casino employee is cheating for reasons known only to him, or there is something wrong with the wheel.

        If a computer generates random strings of a 100 numbers at a time, you are correct in stating that every group of 100 numbers is “improbable”. but if I predict ahead of time the 100 numbers that will come out, you immediately know something is fishy.

        Random combinations of molecules are equally improbable. However, when we see an “improbable” collection of molecules that work towards a specified goal and functional purpose, that convey specified information, we immediately perceive that design is at work.

        Put simply: Any randomly generated group of 15,000 letters on the front page of the Boston Globe is equally improbable. However, if the 15,000 letters convey specified information, we know that it was caused by an intelligent agent even though that collection of letter is just as “improbable” as any other combination. It is the convergence of improbability and specified information that indicates intelligent design. Improbability by itself indicates nothing at all.

        • jp

          “Random combinations of molecules are equally improbable. However, when we see an “improbable” collection of molecules that work towards a specified goal and functional purpose, that convey specified information, we immediately perceive that design is at work.”

          That’s exactly my point. We perceive design *whether or not there is any*. And sometimes, it IS just chance. When astronomical number of atoms in the universe sit stirring for billions of years, a truly staggering number of atomic combinations are “tried out” without any design at all. Sometimes, when you try that often, stuff as probable as 100x 16 Red is going to come up without any design at all.

          And, it shouldn’t need saying, if you go perceiving design where there is none, you’ll be wrong.

          I absolutely agree with your casino analogy. If, at the first few hundred attempts at atom arrangement a self-replicating structure emerged, that would be a reason to suspect design. But that’s thousands of orders of magnitude of numbers of “attempts” away from what we’re discussing, and as such the probability that it is not, in fact, design is also thousands of orders of magnitude higher.

          Your argument rests on the fact that improbable events are in fact IMPOSSIBLE, and therefore we must reject the possibility entirely in favour of something else – in the case of supernatural agency, something which itself has a probability indistinguishable from zero.

          And that’s where your argument fails. The naturalistic explanation is merely that a trillion-to-one shot came off once in a trillion attempts (albeit that both the odds and number of attempts are both many times more than a trillion), and the supernatural agency explanation has a probability of zero, based on all reliable, repeatable, testable observations of the universe to date. (And to be clear; many many experiments have been done on supernatural agency, and it’s not just that we have no evidence for it, we actually have mountains of evidence against it.)

          Let’s do a deal: out of respect for your position as a Rabbi, I won’t try to teach you to interpret the Torah, and in return you can stop trying to teach Bayesian probability to someone with a higher degree in mathematics. (Or, if it’s not clear by now: you’re being “that guy” again.)

          • moshe averick

            JP,

            You are simply uninformed about the types of probabilities involved in a chance emergence of life. Leslie Orgel and Gerald Joyce calculated that for a simple RNA replicator to occur by chance you would need a collection of random RNA molecules that was greater than the mass of the entire earth. NOBODY, not even the most die hard atheist/materialist scientist believes that chance could possibly explain the emergence of life. Chance has been totally abandoned by the Origin of Life research world. What they acknowledge is needed is perhaps a little bit of luck plus some natural law or perfectly reasonable series of events bound by the laws of chemistry and physics
            that explain the Origin of LIfe. At this point they are clueless as to what that process could be. My conclusion is the rational one. They are clueless because it is impossible and they will never find an answer. Again, I challenge you to prove me wrong.

          • jp

            My position is that we don’t know how life began.

            Your position is that we DO know how life began.

            It’s perfectly clear that your position is wrong, and if you insist on claiming that we DO know that life was a result of intelligent supernatural intervention in our universe that the burden lies with you to provide evidence for that, not just repeat “Well nah, nah, you don’t know either, so I must be right!!” like some 8-year-old schoolyard bully.

            Your immature approach to argument (and your smug delusion that others can’t rise to your own lofty intellectual standards) will continue to get you plenty of hits, but not any respect, I’m afraid.

    • Ray,

      Are you as stupid as your words imply? Probably. I did not invoke any religion or any religious texts. Antony Flew, one of the most famous atheistic philosophers of the past 50 years, became a believer because of the issue of origin of life. It has nothing to do with religious texts. It has to do with reason and logic. I think your problem is that you read too much of that blustering obnoxious blog written by PZ Myers.

      • Mike

        Reason and logic? No, no no… your are mistaken. Not knowing a thing is not reason to believe that something else you know nothing about and can’t prove the existence of exists. You work form a single presupposition that you can’t prove and until you do, everything you say is meaningless.

  • drew

    You wrote: “I will freely admit that God, the Creator of life, is not necessarily the God of Abraham or the God of the Bible.”

    Really? An orthodox rabbi? I don’t understand how that can be. You are probably being disingenuous. Or, if not, your statement cuts you at the knees, anyway. You’re essentially saying “ok, i might not be right about the type of god, but one definitely exists!” This wishy washy stuff just doesn’t cut it, I am afraid. Even if you could prove that god exists (which you can’t), your ‘lack of faith’ in knowing precisely what “it” is and, more importantly, what “it” wants us to do means that the whole discussion is moot, anyway.

    • jp

      Well, Averick has to admit the creator God may not be the Abrahamic God, because it’s trivially easy to disprove the Abrahamic creation story as set out in Genesis. So again he reverts to:

      1) The universe was not created by God A.
      2) God B is not God A.
      3) Therefore the universe was created by God B.

      As sophistry, it’s laughable. As sincere belief, it’s pitiable.

      • Schlener.T

        boolean logic, wow, you must have read at least a book or two, very smart. glad to see your applying yourself.

        • jp

          That’s not the end of my smarts, I can even use capital letters, and spell “you’re”.

          Do you think that if we all chipped in we could get Moshe to take a logic course?

  • William

    Dear Moshe Averick: A teller of fables is welcome at the children’s table. Would you ever consider selling tales of Santa Claus, Fairies, and Unicorns at the grownup’s table? Didn’t think so.

    • Moshe Averick

      William,

      WOW, are you clever!

  • That was some of the most convoluted nonsense I’ve read in a while. I’m astonished I was able to read it to the end without banging my head against a wall. You could just as easily ask the question of how the rocks, elements, and matter of the universe was created as ask how life was created. It’s no more answerable by philosophy as any question of nature. Science is the method for answering questions of nature. It does not claim to be able to answer all questions in any given moment. But it is the only way to answer questions without dogma. My simple question for you is if God did create life, then what created God? God is either a natural being and therefore subject to science or unnatural and therefore no amount of logic applies. I can say anything and you have no defense, just as you have done. Therefore, your arguments are pointless.

    • Isoceles,

      From what you wrote, I think you already must have spent too much time banging your head against a wall. Nothing you said made any sense.

      DR’s Shapiro, Hazen, Orgel, DeDuve,etc. all discuss explicitly the notion that the options in origin of life are either a naturalistic explanation or a supernatural creator.

      As far as your question about who created God, please see my answer to DanC above, This is a very old question with a very old answer.

  • Rich Wilson

    Let me know when we have a mechanism to investigate this God of Life which may not be the God of Abraham.

    Until then, any assumption that abiogenesis is the work of God is premature, to say the least, just as Newton’s assumption that the planets were held in orbit by God was premature.

  • Aaron Maxwell

    Sir,

    The title of your article nullifies its content. You use the word truth as if you…or anyone else…actually knows what truth is. And, of course, we are refering to the “truth” of the origin of life and this universe. Are we not?

    From the photo attached to your byline, you appear to me to be a human being. Therefore, I am compelled to accept that you came into this world in the same way as myself, with the same degree of knowledge regarding what this universe is, where it came from, why it exists, and why we (as human beings) exist in this universe; of course, we have no knowledge at all of any of those things. Yet, still, you use the word “truth”, as if you do possess some knowledge of those things.

    All you have is a collection of stories handed down from stone-age and bronze-age ancestors (who asked themselves the same questions that we still ask today). Stories that are inconsistent, contradictory, at odds with observable reality, and which invoke morally questionable actions. And those stories are what you heinously refer to as “truth”.

    Even worse, as a human being, you know that you don’t really believe those stories. And, you know that you don’t believe the things you say. As a child or adult, faced with the fear and incomprehensabilty of death, you decide to join the “Faith Club” and seek solace in like-minded people who are similarly afraid of and frustrated by the ignorance of our common existence in this universe. But, what does the word “faith” mean? Doesn’t it mean: Acceptance without benefit of knowledge? Simply by declaring that you have “faith”, you have already admitted that…You Don’t Know! Yet still you have the audacity to claim that the absurd stories that delineate your faith are “truth”.

    The scientists and researchers that publish articles contrary to your declared faith are not claiming any such absolute knowledge of this universe. They are reporting the results of rigorous scientific research regarding the nature of our existence in this universe that we share in common. It is you and other deluded theists, bound and tethered by the dogmas of your childish stories, who are in a panic and grasp at the most flimsy and ephemeral of arguments to sustain a relevance and station in life that you do not deserve.

    Please grow up. Please leave behind the childish ways of humanity’s adolescence. Join those of us who wish to usher in an era of maturity, free from the dogmas and strife of our historical childhood.

    Regards,
    Aaron Maxwell

  • Tom Hudson

    Perhaps the good Rabbi will agree that having a theistic explanation for abiogenesis, while accepting evolution by natural selection is internally consistent for Judaism, but it destroys the concept of original sin, which to many Christians is essential for Christianity.

    This entire argument is based upon a logical fallacy: the argument from ignorance–because I can’t think of an explanation, therefore it cannot be explained.

    An example of scientific ignorance–“self-replicating bacterium, which is the simplest living organism known to have existed.” This is just silly. A virus is a million times less complex than a bacterium. In fact, a virus is clearly on the line between life and non-life, but it is clearly a self-replicating molecule which is precisely the subject of study on the issue of abiogenesis.

    Sorry, this is incomprehensible.

    • Viruses cannot exist before bacteria. Viruses can only reproduce by parastical means.

      • David

        I believe the oceans are full of viruses.They must be reproducing somehow.

      • Dogger807

        This statement is just false.

      • Dogger807

        I’d like to clarify…. Moshe’s statement is false .

        I was not countering David’s

    • Tom,

      You have misunderstood or at least misrepresented the argument from ignorance. The argument from ignorance:

      1. A cannot be the cause of X
      2. Therefore B must be the cause of X

      That is not the argument I presented. It is as follows,both in theory and actuality:

      1. A-X cannot be the cause of Z
      2. Y has been shown to cause Z over and over again in our experience
      3. Therefore it is eminently reasonable to infer that Y is the cause of Z

      In our case:

      1. There is no evidence that undirected processes can account for highly specified information and systems for its storage, retrieval, and translation. Nor is there any evidence that undirected processes can account for highly functional machinery
      2. Intelligent Intervention has been shown to be the source of highly specified information and highly functionally complex machinery in our experience
      3. Therefore it is eminently reasonable to infer that the aforementioned functions of the earliest bacterium were the products of intelligent intervention

      • jp

        Sorry Moshe, but evolution is evidence that undirected systems can create highly complex functional machinery. Evolution, and undirected process, took us from bacteria to human beings. How much more functionally complex do you want? No intelligent intervention at all. Do bacteria have eyes? No. Did anyone design the eye? No. Your premises are simply false.

        Not to mention that there is no evidence of the existence of any supernatural phenomena, or their ability to materially act on our universe, which makes your conclusion doubly problematic.

        • moshe averick

          JP,

          Evolution is most definitely NOT evidence that undirected processes can be the source of functional information and functional complexity. AS I pointed out in the article (and confirmed by atheistic professor of philosophy Thomas Nagle), evolution cannot operate without an incredible amount of functional machinery and functionally specified information already in place: namely, a bacterium. Where did it come from?

          • jp

            “Evolution is most definitely NOT evidence that undirected processes can be the source of functional information and functional complexity.”

            Bullshit. Evolution is precisely evidence that functional complexity can arise from undirected processes. How can you not be ashamed of your ignorance on this subject?

            Answer this: Is the eye functionally complex by your definition? Did the eye arise from undirected processes?

            And don’t repeat the bullshit that bacteria direct the process, that’s just embarrassingly ignorant.

      • jp

        So, putting it another way, in cour case:

        1. There is no evidence that supernatural processes can account for highly specified information and systems for its storage, retrieval, and translation. Nor is there any evidence that supernatural processes can account for highly functional machinery. In fact, there is no evidence that supernatural processes can account for anything – at all – or even that they exist – at all.

        2. Naturalistic processes have been shown to be the source of highly specified information and highly functionally complex machinery in our experience, such as the evolution of the eye, or bacterial flagellar motor.

        3. Therefore it is eminently reasonable to infer that the aforementioned functions of the earliest bacterium were the products of naturalistic processes.

        Also, to avoid hubris, it’s also eminently reasonable to research those processes to better understand how it may have happened – firstly because that’s the right thing to do when evidence is still to be gathered, and also because it’s fascinating.

        I can’t see any merit – on either side – to the position that don’t know so we should form a conclusion anyway and stop looking for how life started because we have certainty without knowledge.

      • jp

        Moshe wrote to me in an email (perhaps he’s not keen to have this torn to shred here):

        “Evolution is not unguided. It requires highly sophisticated machinery to occur. i.e. a bacterium and its genetic machinery”

        So now apparently, “guided” no longer requires “intelligent” or even “conscious”. So by Averick’s own logic, neither intelligence nor consciousness is necessary for abiogenisis. As long as the process is complex, it can be entirely naturalistic.

  • David

    This article, for me at least, begs one question that I never see addressed. What is life? Can anyone come up with a definition of what life is? Where do you draw the line. Viruses replicate. Are they alive?

    • ERV

      ‘Life’ is a gradient. Viruses are on that gradient.

      <–Actual virologist

      • Moshe Averick

        ERV,

        If that’s the best that an “actual virologist” can present, you have confirmed what I already knew.

  • ERV

    LOL!!!

    I love the first paragraph in this review!

    The author ‘degrades’ Dawkins and his fans by calling them all ‘religious’ (High Priest, unshakeable belief [sic], belief system, etc)– Even *believers* know religion is bad!

    AHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    • When a writer starts using religious language to describe the non-religious, it says more about him/her than the subject of atheism. It betrays a worldview consisting only of anointed leaders and blind followers, of people who have no opinions of their own without reference to “authority”.

      Plus: it’s a cliché, it’s lazy journalism, and it allows you to dismiss the whole thing without reading it, if you feel so inclined.

    • ERV,
      I see that irony is lost on you

  • Yet another scathing book review by a theist who appears not to have read the book. How many articles are we going to see where someone rails against Dawkins by pointing out things he never said in his book, and then present arguments he clearly does deal with and thoroughly debunks right there.

    Is attacking The God Delusion the new Christian-apologist pastime? If so, do us a favor by reading and understanding what’s actually in the book before you “debunk” it.

    • moshe averick

      Mathew,

      I always welcome discussion.However it adds nothing to make proclamations without backing them up with clear examples or a reasoned argument. I understand Dawkins’ book better than you do. If you disagree, please give specific examples.

  • dcontard

    Moshe Averick,

    You’re using the “Watchmaker Analogy” argument without addressing all the criticism that it has received:

    If complexity implies design and design implies a designer, and your answer to existence is “an extremely complex being/thing MUST have designed all the universe AND the species that live in it”, then we have something so complex that MUST have been designed. What or who designed this extremely complex being/thing?

    Also, is complexity such a good measure to imply design? If so, why don’t we see perfect spheres emerging all the time in nature? Spheres are among the most simple three-dimensional objects, and yet the only ones we can observe are in our imagination (even man-made pool balls have small but bast and complex imperfections).

    In addition, if we take into account that the design of most individuals from different species are far from flawless, full of imperfections that are damaging and even lethal sometimes, what says that about the designer? We should have to accept that this being/thing is nothing like the perfect god that religious people speak of.

    In your article you’re also dismissing all the Abiogenesis Hypothesis that haven’t been tested yet, granted, but that are way less far fetched than “An extremely complex being (with no explained origin) did it”. Why do we must say “We don’t know, so (a) god must have done it” while we can say “We don’t know YET, but we are working on it and we have some good leads to start with”?

    You’re also asserting that Dawkins promotes Atheism as a Religion and Evolution as a Dogma, as an Ideology. The reality is that Atheism is only a position (and, sometimes, not even a conscious one) about lacking the believe in (a) god; the Science’s path to truth that you speaks of leads to Evolution, is reaching for an explanation to Abiogenesis and is increasing its understanding about the origin of the universe, but (most importantly) science hasn’t found yet any meausurable/replicable evidence of the existence for (a) god.

    We can argue that Dawkins has a crusade: he tries to defend and promote the knowledge and understanding of reality that science has provided us from people and institutions that imposes their own none-scientific explanations as the only ones that are true (sometimes, even trying to pass them as scientific explanations). He also defense the right of people of having an atheistic position and attacks all religious leaders and institutions that are against this right and other’s people rights.

    As science sees it, the burden of proof is still in the creationist posture.

    Bye.

    • Moshe Averick

      dcontard,

      The reason why the watchmaker analogy has been rejected is because an alternative explanation has been accepted: Darwinian Evolution. The major thrust of my article was to explain that Darwinian Evolution – even if we assume it is 100% scientific truth – it is IRRELEVANT to the question of the existence of God the Creator. In other words, we are right back where we started from in 1858.

  • Rebeccah

    Same old, same old! We don’t understand it so it must be Gods work! It gets sooo tired!

    • The problem with most of the commenters here is that they have accepted concepts like “Argument from Ignorance” and “god of the gaps” without really understanding what these concepts are and applying them indiscrimantely.

      The design argument is not an argument from ignorance. We KNOW very clearly wbat the source of highly complex information and machinery is. It is always the result of intelligent intervention.

      It also seems that most of the commenters haven’t quite come to grips with the simple reality that there are only two choices for the origin of the first bacterium: A. a supernatural creator who is not bound by the physical laws of the universe, not in time or space and consists of neither matter or energy; this being is the creator of the physical universe and does not require a creator or B. some naturalistic process

      If it is not one it is the other. Scientists have no clue how such a thing could have happened by itself, and as I pointed out in the article, for a very good reason. The notion that digital information tape could create itself is absurd. The only reasonable answer is a creator.

      If scientists want to continue to bang their heads against the wall in the “search for the atheistic holy grail” then I have no objection, but in the meantime the believer in a Creator is a perfectly rational position. The burden of proof is on you,not me.

      You also should read Dawkins more carefully to understand the parameters of the argument. Dawkins himself admits that he could not imagine being an atheist before 1859, in other words, before evolutionary theory. As I’ve pointed out, evolutionary theory is irrelevant to the entire question. we are right back where we started from in 1858: the simplest living organism is more sophisticated and functionally complex than anything that human technology can produce and science hasn’t the faintest idea how it could have happened. If you refuse to at least consider the possibility of a creator you are obviously a fanatical atheist/materialist.

      • Sasan

        I’ve read your article, as well as the comments you’ve left, carefully and sympathetically, so please now try to consider these responses:

        “The design argument is not an argument from ignorance. We KNOW very clearly wbat the source of highly complex information and machinery is. It is always the result of intelligent intervention.”

        That’s actually not correct. As you yourself have said several times, you merely “know” the smiley face in the sand isn’t the result of a natural process. It could have been drawn by another person earlier in the day, it could have been left there by aliens who themselves evolved naturally, it could be an incredible coincidence. Your attribution of complexity to a higher power doesn’t actually give any insight into the nature of that complexity, nor the nature of the higher power from which it came; thus it’s an argument from ignorance. There are not, in fact, two choices as to how life came to be and disproving Darwinian Evolution would in itself do nothing to strengthen an intelligent design argument’s tenants. Of course, your argument is far from disproving Darwinian Evolution so you don’t quite have to worry about that.

        “The notion that digital information tape could create itself is absurd.”

        You’re absolutely right; nor could a watch, bicycle, or smiley face drawn in sand. The several fallacies in your argument are, to be brief: none of your examples are self-replicating, an example that is self-replicating would further have to be susceptible to mutation the way all life forms are, and all of your example are irreducibly complex traits; even if cassette tape were to self-replicate with modification, its traits would need to have preliminary functions before they adapt to their arguably modern trait of playing music. No life form of any sort, however, has ever been shown to have a trait that is irreducibly complex: from the eye to the bacterial flagellum, ever trait has been shown to have a more archaic form and function beneficial to a previous state.

        “The burden of proof is on you,not me.”

        You’ve talked down to commenters on the basis that they have a lacking understanding of western philosophy, so I’m quite baffled to see you say this. The burden of proof always lies with the positive claim. If that claim is, “God exists,” or, “A higher power created life,” the burden of proof then lies entirely on those who purport the claim. In the case of Darwinian Evolution, the claim is, “The illusion of design in life on earth is the result of reproduction with modification, which is then guided by natural selection, gene flow, genetic drift, genetic drift, and biased mutation to produce life which adapts to its environment.” The burden of proving that claim lies on Dawkins and the scientific community, but it has been sufficiently proven. If there’s a single aspect of Darwinian Evolution, or the fields it bases itself on such as chemistry, biology, paleontology, physics, or geology, which you believe you can refute using scientific theory I would genuinely love to have a more correct scientific system than we do at present.

        “Dawkins himself admits that he could not imagine being an atheist before 1859, in other words, before evolutionary theory.”

        To close, this is simply because Dawkins bases his beliefs on evidence. Even though you defame his character and attempt to make him out to be a slave to ideology you fail to see the genuine and honorable gleams of his character: in saying that, he’s said that he would not believe in Darwinian Evolution, the tenant in his beliefs which I’m sure he puts very much if not the most value in, if there was not sufficient evidence for it. Could you say the same about God?

        • Noel

          Nicely put. What, no reply Moshe?

        • Sasan,

          First of all, I would like to say I appreciate the thought you put into your comments. I think you show a level of intellectual integrity that many of the commenters simply don’t have, by addressing the arguments I put forward and the line of reasoning I took. You obviously disagree with what I had to say, but there is the basis for a mature, adult discussion.

          A.You said that there are more than two options for the emergence of life. I don’t understand how you added another option besides the ones that I proposed; namely, naturalisitic or creator. What else could there possible be?

          B. You are correct, the smiley face in the sand could be an incredible coincidence but nobody actually would consider such an improbable possibility. If in Las Vegas, I bet on 16 red 100x in a row on roulette and won each time, it is possible that it is an incredible coincidence, but so unlikely that it would not be considered.

          C. I don’t understand your comments about “disproving Darwinian Evolution”, I never claimed to disprove it and did not attempt to disprove it. In fact, for arguments sake, I conceded the truth of Dariwinian theory. What I said was that it was Irrelevant to the question of the existence of a Creator of life.

          D. you say that no life form has been shown to be irreducibly complex. I told you that for arguments sake I have conceded the truth of Evolutionary theory. The first bacterium is irreducibly complex. The origin of life is irreducibly complex. Nobody knows how the FIRST DNA based self replicating system emerged. DNA by itself is useless. It needs a highly complex and sophisticated system of information retrieval and translation in order to have any effect on the organism. All the complex macromolecules involved in this process themselves must be synthesized from information contained in the DNA. This is one of the reasons why scientists are clueless as to the origins of life. As several researchers have said, the origin of life is the origin of biological information. Nobody knows how it happened (naturalistically that is.)

          E. You are mistaken about the burden of proof.
          It is already an established fact that functionally complex machines and digitally encoded functionally specified information is the result of intelligent intervention. The obvious answer is that the bacterium, whose nanotool technology and digitally encoded self replicating system is beyond the engineering capabilities of human technology is the result of a highly intelligent creator. If someobody wants to propose that such machinery could emerge through an undirected process, the burden is on them to prove that such a thing is possible.

          F. “Dawkins admits that he could not imagine being an atheist before 1859”

          The major thrust of my article is that Darwinian Evolution is IRRELEVANT to the question of the existence of God the Creator of life. My point is obviously true, that is why Thomas Nagle came to the same conclusion.
          Thomas Nagle, himself an atheist, writes that Dawkins deals with this point by “hand waving”. Thomas Nagle is not out to prove the existence of God, but he has honestly confronted the issue. THat is why he gave such high praise to the book, “Signature in the Cell” by Dr. STephen Meyer which discusses origin of life and intelligent design theory. Dakwins, though he admits that science is clueless as to the origin of life, refuses to confront the question honestly, in my opinion. Although I have been told that in a recent interview he admitted that a plausible case could be made for Deism, though he himself does not accept it. I am trying to confirm if this is true.

          In short, with regards to the question about the existence of God the Creator of life, we are in the exact same position we were in in 1858.

          G. I have made a falsifiable and testable prediction based on my line of reasoning: The notion that a bacterium could emerge through an undirected process from non-life is absurd, and scientists will NEVER find a plausible, empirically demonstrable process which could explain a naturalistic emergence of life from non-life.
          Look forward to your response if you choose to do so.

          • Sasan

            I was happy to read your response and am happier still to further clarify my points.

            The reason I wrote in defense of Darwinian Evolution despite your proclaimed concession of it is that in your misunderstanding of its mechanics you continue to put forward arguments which it explains well. You, for example, say, “The obvious answer is that the bacterium, whose nanotool technology and digitally encoded self replicating system is beyond the engineering capabilities of human technology is the result of a highly intelligent creator. If someobody wants to propose that such machinery could emerge through an undirected process, the burden is on them to prove that such a thing is possible.”

            First, the fact that humans lack the ability to replicate something with our technology doesn’t make it unnatural. “Nanotechnology” is merely a matter of scale: current technology is similarly useless in replicating mountains or creating a second moon. Next, Darwinian Evolution is in no sense undirected: as I said earlier (albeit with a typo I only just noticed), Darwinian Evolution is directed by the natural mechanisms of natural selection, genetic drift, genetic “hitchhiking,” gene flow, and mutation. The only one of these which is random is mutation, while the rest direct evolution to a relatively specific yet unintentional and unconscious path. Even the proposed organization of non-living matter in a manner which produced living matter would be directed by various physical and chemical laws. Again, to reject that life evolved naturally requires empirical evidence to the contrary or the disproval of Darwinian Evolution either directly by means of empirical evidence or indirectly by means of disproving basic tenants of other sciences on which it relies.

            You were right in saying, however, that the person proposing the positive claim that life emerged naturally bears a burden of proof, and I’m sure you’ll easily find that there’s a non-trivial body of evidence in support of evolution. Still, the claim that life came from a higher power is a separate positive claim and carries with it its own burden of proof.

            You’ve established a false dichotomy between Darwinian Evolution and Intelligent Design. Under the premise that those two models are the only ones that makes sense to you, you’ve rationalized that they are the only possible options. This, of course, excludes the vast multitude of completely non-sensible yet technically possible alternate theories: the solipistic view that life and everything we perceive is merely an illusion, the panspermic theory that life on earth was intentionally or unintentionally brought by extraterrestrial means, the Nordic myth that at the beginning of time the pre-existing lands of Muspell and Niflheim met and created the first life through steam. It doesn’t even have to be a theory that has ever been genuinely believed in any academic sense, such as life being merely a part of the Matrix or having been started by Bill & Ted’s misadventures in their time machine: the Intelligent Design model requires empirical evidence or supporting research in compliance with the Scientific Method to be granted any more merit than the many other conceivable theories of bio-genesis, rather than relying on commonplace appeals to appeals to popularity, tradition, common practice, authority, belief, or fear.

            The case of Thomas Nagle is certainly commendable as the categorical dismissal of Intelligent Design arguments is disingenuous to the integrity of science. Though I’d need to research the matter to give any worthwhile opinions in regards to it, I will say that while atheists are generally much more lenient in accepting the premises of Deism (on the grounds that it doesn’t conflict with any existing theory or evidence), its general dismissal is due to the fact that it’s merely an argument from ignorance: an attempt to fit the concept of a god into whatever unlit crevice it’ll still fit into within science.

            So, to respond to your final claim, the notion that a bacterium could emerge through an undirected process from non-life is indeed absurd, yet that is not the claim of Darwinian Evolution. Science has already found a plausible process to explain our naturalistic origins in that it complies with everything we have empirically observed in our universe and its demonstration is limited only by man’s reach, not his grasp; I see it as merely matter of time.

            Again, I appreciated your courteous response and welcome any still to come.

          • jp

            Moshe wrote:
            “If in Las Vegas, I bet on 16 red 100x in a row on roulette and won each time, it is possible that it is an incredible coincidence, but so unlikely that it would not be considered.”

            Moshe, while 100x 16 Red is incredibly unlikely, it is not impossible. Indeed if you spin a roulette wheel 100 times and write down the sequence of 100 numbers, that exact sequence, in that order, is exactly equally likely as 100x 16 Red. And yet it happened. Now the odds of your sequence you wrote down occurring are about 1 in 10^158, or one in a hundred thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. Not very likely, and yet if I were to confront you and say “You are a liar. The sequence of numbers you have written down is so unlikely that I believe that that arrangement of numbers is effectively impossible.” then you would know that I was being very unfair, not least because the same argument could be made about any sequence of 100 roulette numbers. You know your 1 in 10^158 incredibly unlikely sequence happened for the very simple reason that you are looking from a time AFTER the spinning of the wheel, and you know what you saw. The probablity of that sequence, to you, is now 100%. Just as we know that the probability of a life-forming arrangement of atoms is 100% because we are having this discussion. How likely it was before it happened isn’t actually relevant, it’s a certainty now.

            Your entire argument rests on the premise that rather than being simply unlikely, event like 100x 16 Red are in fact IMPOSSIBLE, when clearly they are not. If there are billions of billions of billions of possible atomic arrangements (which there are) then each is incredibly unlikely, and yet billions of billions of atomic arrangements ACTUALLY EXIST at an point in time.

            Your roulette analogy is actually a good one in showing that incredibly unlikely events do indeed happen, and incredibly often.

  • All credible scientists freely admit that they do not know the answer as to how life arose. They can hypothesize all they want. As Dawkins clearly says, “I told you I don’t know” followed by “No, No, nor does anyone else”. Further to this, Dawkins would never use Darwinian evolution to explain how life arose. This would be a big mistake.

    Dawkins really has no burden of proof unless he makes a claim. The answers provided are perfectly reasonable considering the poor questions asked by Stein.

    Contrast this with the opinion of a theist, “I’ve read the Bible, the Christian God created us”. No-one in the history of Christianity has been able to provide evidence of God or that he created us. Meanwhile, science continually disproves the fantastical stories of the Bible and continues to close the gaps where theists place their Gods. Atheism becomes more powerful with the ally of science.

    Smiley faces don’t make themselves, computers don’t make themselves and by extension, God didn’t make itself. They are all man made as far as we can tell and prove.

    Who created God, how did life arise and what is wrong with saying, “I don’t know”, and using science to figure it out.

    ++++

    Science knows nothing and expects evidence for everything. Religion knows everything and expects evidence of nothing – Anonymous

    • Aaron,

      As I pointed out, God the Creator is not neccessarily the God of the Bible. I have also pointed out over and over again, that the God of Monotheism does not require a creator. The only thing that requires a prior cause are those objects that are part of the physical universe. The first cause is fundamentally different than any other cause. This is not a new philosophical point, it seems that most of the commenters are unschooled in some of the classical philosophical concepts.

      • What God we are referring to has no bearing on the argument. A God could have created a universe that contained the God of the Bible that created a sub-universe that contains Earth and us. Moving the idea of God the Creator up one level leaves you with the same conundrum. Infinite regress.

        Having read the other comments, the arguments you have made ARE arguments from ignorance.

        Science hasn’t explained phenomenon X, therefore God.

        Remember that science could not explain rainbows and earthquakes once upon a time. Rainbows and earthquakes were believed to be signs from Gods. Science proved those theories wrong. No Gods required.

        Mostly, I feel that modern theology is about word play and logical fallacy, rather than admitting that we just don’t know the answers yet.

  • dutchboy27

    I think the point of what he said is that at least logically you can assume that a creation has a creator. jp, How did you miss that?

    • Jimmy

      Don’t you think the term creation is derived from the presumption that there is a creator and not the other way around? You can’t define your god into existence.

    • jp

      Jimmy beat me to it, but as well as reading up on “God of the gaps” perhaps you and Moshe could read up on the fallacy of affirming the consequent while you’re at it.

      Crystal formation is a naturalistic process where atoms align and combine in ways well-understood by science. Do you think crystal self-creation is a natural process, or does God spend all his spare time assembling our salt and diamonds, too?

      • JP,

        What characterizes crystals is redundancy, like patterns in sand dunes. The “information content” is extremely low in redundant patterns. In other words, If the only thing my computer is able to do is repeat Ablm Ablm Ablm, I essentially can convey no information.

        The structure of DNA is exactly the opposite. There is absolutely no physical or chemical reason why the order of the nucleobases should be one particular way or the other on the longitudinal axis of the double helix. That is why an encyclopedic amount of information can be packed into a DNA molecule. In other words, in the same way that the chemical properties of ink and newsprint have nothing to do with the arrangement of letters on the paper, the chemical properties of DNA have nothing to do with the arrangement of the genetic code on the double helix. It is as absurd to suggest that the staggering amount of information on a DNA molecule is the result of an undirected process as it is to suggest that the arrangement of letters on the front page of the NYT is the result of an undirected process.

  • Brian

    Mr Averick,

    Before writing such a long column next time, please read up on “the God of the Gaps”.

  • cabbagesofdoom

    Dawkins and others argue about evolution because Creationists and IDers attack evolution. You are entirely right that the issue of the origin of life is different.

    This does not make ID right, though. Any derivation of probabilities are hand-waving in the extreme – this is a one-off (as far as we know) event that happened over 3 billion years ago in conditions very different from our own. It may well be that we never know how it happened. Does this mean it could not have happened? No. Does this mean that I need faith to believe that it did happen? No. It is simple extrapolation from current experience. No life that we have encountered needed divine intervention as an explanation. Nothing in the modern world makes more sense with a deity than without. Why should the past be any different?

    By the way, the Bayesian probability of life spontaneously arising is 1.0 because we know that life exists, so all scrabble-board arguments are pointless. They only work if you are outside the system. (The fact that we are here taking about it alters the probability that it happened in our Universe/timeline to be a certainty.) Unless you know how many planets, galaxies and universes there are, it is impossible to say that a one-off event is so unlikely that it could not have happened by chance. In fact, as the number of planets and universes tends towards infinity, so does the probability of anything happening.

    You also have to ask yourself the question: so what if a deity kicked everything off 4 billion years ago and then watched. This is fundamentally different to a deity-free universe how, exactly? There is no need to invoke such a being in the first place and, if you do, their existence is pointless. (And then there is the boring old chestnut of where did THEY come from and what is the probability of THEM spontaneously arising?) Is an ageless ever-existing deity REALLY more likely than an infinite number of universes? Not to me.

    • Cabbage,

      You are mistaken about the probability issue. Many, highly competent scientists have made probability calculations about the origin of bacteria, proteins, self replicating RNA strands, etc. These include, Robert Shapiro, Harold Morowitz, Sir Fred Hoyle, Leslie Orgel, FRancis Crick, Christian DeDuve, GC Smith,etc. NONE of whom support Intelligent Design theory. They all conclude that a chance emergence of life can only be accepted by someone who has abandoned all rationality. Therefore they propose that there MUST be some sort of natural process, as yet unknown and undiscovered, that would account for life. It absolutely cannot be pure luck. The Bayesian possibility of life arising sponataneously is not 1. It is much more likely that it was created. I don’t understand your reasoning at all.

      Because the event happened 4 billion years ago does not entitle you to special pleading. The Big Bang happened much longer back and there are highly plausible theories about that. The fact that there is zero evidence that life can emerged from non-life is the problem of the atheist and agnostic, not mine.

  • salvage

    >Life is clearly the result of a magnificent and glorious act of creation, by a Creator whom we instinctively desire to reach out to and worship.

    No, not clearly and not even likely.

    Poor theists, science keeps on eating your mythology and superstition leaving you so frightened all you can do is keep repeating circular nonsense like the above.

    Your particular strain of theism comes from a tribe of desert savages whose angry god had a bizarre obsession with war and foreskins and you think this creature is some sort of benevolent creator?

    Read your Torah again Sparky, your god is a lunatic and only the same could think it real or worthy of worship.

    • Salvage,

      I read your comments with great interest. How many years did you say you spent in 8th grade?

      • salvage

        Hmmm, being called immature by a man who thinks angels and other magic beings are not only real but take an active interest in his life.

        Yeah, the burn lacks a certain amount of sting.

        But hey, since you can’t answer our points (reality being hard to argue with and all) I can see why you’d fall back on lame insults.

        Seriously, if your god hates foreskins so much why they heck did it slap ’em on?

        Same reason it keeps making gays? Just needs stuff to get angry about?

  • Moshe Averick

    Jp,
    The argument is very simple, it’s hard for me to understand how you wrote what you did.

    Smiley faces in the sand do not make themselves, bicycles do not make themselves, poems on pieces of paper do not make themselves, sohisticated molecular machines with encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded information that can self replicate do not make themselves.

    • Jimmy

      But omnipotent creators create themselves?

    • salvage

      >sohisticated molecular machines with encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded information that can self replicate do not make themselves

      But a god who seems to the think the Sun and the rest of the stars are not the same thing did make it?

      It’s so strange how your god is able to make all this fantastic stuff but fails miserably when explaining how it did it or even what they are.

      Your god’s lapses are plentiful and it fascinates me to no end how you and your fellow travellers whistle past the glaring flaws and take umbrage when others point it out.

      Certainly a species of pathological denial or perhaps it’s just how you get through your day; living life without a supreme being safety net I imagine would be tough for your kind.

    • jp

      Moshe, I understand that you find it hard to understand why the premise “the cause of X is unknown” does not, and can not, validly lead to the conclusion that “the cause of X is known to be Y” for any X and Y, not just X=abiogenesis and Y=God. If you understood this rather obvious logical reality, you would not be able to write as you do.

      If you truly believe your line of reasoning, then when you see a smiley face in the sand, you ought to conclude that God created it, and indeed if you come across a bicycle leaning on a tree, you can use your argument to believe that God put it there when God created the Earth. After all, bicycles don’t just create themselves. Once you admit that unevidenced supernatural explanations are acceptable and preferable over explanations based on how the universe actually operates, then why not apply them to bicycles of unknown provenance?

  • Pete

    Wow. Your unshakeable evidence just ripped the scales from my eyes. Not.
    Do you smell a bestseller here, Rabbi? No? Me, neither.

  • You are absolutely right, while science does have the best possible hypothesis for the emergence of life, it cannot prove it beyond all doubt, yet. Therefore it is only rational to assume some tribal deity created by a gang of roving religious thugs did it. Seems only natural doesn’t it? Best not to consider the other deities that pre-date this one with creation myths of their own that it “borrows” directly from, or even the other ones that have fractured our world since their invention that still hatefully linger.
    Aside from the intellectual honestly you bemoan Dawkins et al for, I wonder where is your morality when you somehow lay credit for all this at the feet of a being who thought nothing of killing whole peoples along with their children and livestock.
    How glad am I that we are beyond this kind of “thinking”. You sir – apart from exposing the nature of your own wish thinking, immoral and credulous character – have “explained” absolutely nothing.

  • Carl Mangole

    I’m no fan of Richard Dawkins. His attacks on people of faith are arrogant and destructive. That doesn’t stop me from seeing he’s been honest and forthright in acknowledging the limits of current science on origin of life – even the author of this text quotes him repeatedly on this point.
    Now, what this text doesn’t provide is the bridge between the statements: “we don’t have a clue on how life started” to “Life is clearly the result of a magnificent and glorious act of creation”. Scientists are at least trying to find the answer, while creationists are not trying at all.

  • Lars

    A “scolar” making an argument in Viking time Scandinavia:

    “Even if you are not prepared to concede that thunder is the result of a god throwing a hammer, even if you feel that we should give scientists more time to try and see what they can find, you should at least be prepared to admit that the believer in Thor is standing on rock-solid, rational ground; that it is the believer in a naturalistic explanaition of thunder who bears the extraordinarily heavy burden of proof”.

    Sorry, but something being unknown at this time does not in any way indicate a god being involved. It simply means that we do not know.

    • Lars,

      Your metaphor is amusing but way off the mark. Thunder is not the equivalent of highly sophisticated, functionally complex nanotool filled molecular machinery. Thunder is not the equivalent of a highly sophisticated digitally encoded self replicating system that stores, retrieves and translates encyclopedic amounts of digital information. Every origin of life researcher in the world, every microbiologist, will tell you the same thing: The simplest bacterium has machinery and exhibits a functiional complexity beyond anything that is capable of being produced by human technology. The problem of origin of life is not due to superstitious tendencies of human beings, as scientists discover endless layers of complexity in the simplest cell the problem becomes greater, not smaller. In other words, the problem has not been solved by science, rather the problem has been excacerbated by new scientific discoveries.

      • salvage

        >The simplest bacterium has machinery and exhibits a functiional complexity beyond anything that is capable of being produced by human technology.

        Therefor MAGIC so your our god is real and blah blah blah blah blah. Yeah, you keep repeating the same argument, slice it as thin as you like it’s still baloney.

        Speaking of bacteria, why didn’t your holy books mention it? It’s the older critters on the planet, certainly the most vital and most populous yet your origin mythology seemed to be completely oblivious.

        Almost like they were stories not written by a divine supreme being trying to explain its creation but rather a primitive people struggling to find order in the chaos with a very limited field of view.

        Science! How you must hate it.

        Nah, magic, has to be otherwise Rabbi, your life’s calling a bit of a joke, no?

  • jp

    So your argument is:

    We don’t know, therefore we know it was God.

    If you can’t see the problem with this logically, then you’re in no position to lecture anyone on faulty reasoning.

    • Darrell

      You guys need to study how to argue. I agree with JP – this is an “argument from ignorance”. Look it up. Been debunked over and over.

      After you have studied how to argue and read the existing arguments and their debunking, then join the debate.

    • 2011

      Fundies will reply: “Oh, well, the bible tells us so, and I believe it whatever it says. That was how I knew.”

      The problem is the bible is a not book that fell from the sky. People who profess to be fundamentalist Christians should at least understand how their present-day bible came to be. It was a political decision and there was absolutely no guarantee that it was the word of any god.

      Professor Bart Ehrman has written many books about this topic, biblical criticism included. Fundamentalist Christians: please read them.

    • JP,

      see my reply above where I explain what the argument from ignorance is and why it is clear that what I presented is not an argument from ignorance. Neither is it god of the gaps, which is essentially the same thing

      • salvage

        Ta-Dah!

        See? It’s easy, call black white, a chicken a moose and make reality nothing more than a malleable clay to be shaped in whatever comforting form you like.

        There are some amazing posts in this thread (by the commentators) that are well thought out, clearly explained and quite logical and naturally none of that has found purchase with Moshe.

        He does not want reality or truth or anything else that suggests there isn’t a universe creating benevolent entity hanging on his every prayer, who shares his cultural and political beliefs, waiting for the day that they finally meet and talk about how much they dislike homosexuals and Palestinians.

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