Dr. Jerry Coyne: My Culturally-Jewish, Atheistic, Biologist Bro’ at the University of Chicago

December 22, 2011 12:49 pm 183 comments

Dr. Jerry Coyne: My Bro' at U. of C.

I recently took a look at Dr. Jerry Coyne’s blog Why Evolution is True, and came across a post entitled “Oy Gewalt! A creationist rabbi attacks me.” Intrigued, I immediately began reading. Imagine the shock to my system when I discovered – in the very first sentence – that the identity of this “creationist rabbi” who attacked Dr. Coyne, was none other than myself: “The notorious and obstreperous Rabbi Moshe Averick…” Ok, I wasn’t really shocked. Someone had mentioned to me that he had responded to a recent article of mine where I had…well, attacked him.

While the “Fort Sumter moment” of this battle of dueling-blogsters was a post by Dr. Coyne entitled “David Berlinski makes an ass of himself defending Intelligent Design to which I fired back with a column on Algemeiner.com, the substance of our disagreement has boiled down to two points, which really turns out to be one main point with a distracting sidebar. The main point in Dr. Coyne’s own words:

  • “The notorious and obstreperous Rabbi Moshe Averick, whose shtick is that life couldn’t have arisen by natural means, ergo God…”
  • “Averick, who thinks he’s struck the Achilles heel of evolution by arguing that we know nothing about the origin of life…”
  • “Averick’s shtick has always been that since science can’t tell us how life arose from nonliving precursors, God must have done it. He claims to be a novice in all other areas of evolution, not qualified to pass judgment on neo-darwinism, or my  own work, but he’s 100% sure about abiogenesis [life from non-life]; science not only can’t tell us how life began, but never will.

In other words, Dr. Coyne and I disagree about what is the most reasonable answer to the question “How did life begin?” Everyone agrees that science has no answer; in fact the origin of life is one of the biggest mysteries in the scientific world. It is important to clarify that Darwinian Evolution and Origin of Life are two completely separate fields of scientific inquiry. Once the staggeringly complex and sophisticated machinery of life is in place – more specifically, the DNA-based self-replicating system common to all life – it becomes possible to envision a process of Darwinian Evolution. On the other hand, Origin of Life researchers are involved in the extraordinarily difficult task of trying to figure out how that machinery, along with an encyclopedic amount of genetically coded information could have been assembled in the first place from non-living chemicals. It is a terrible mistake to confuse these two areas of research. That is why I found it strange that Dr. Coyne wrote, “Averick…thinks he’s struck the Achilles heel of evolution by arguing that we know nothing about the origin of life…”

The fact that we know nothing about the origin of life is not the Achilles heel of evolution – evolution can take place only after life begins – it is the Achilles heel of atheism. You see, Dr. Coyne is certain that one day scientists will propose/discover a plausible, empirically demonstrable, testable, and falsifiable natural pathway through which life could have emerged from non-life. I, on the other hand, confidently assert that the gaping chasm between non-life and life is so wide, that it is absurd to think that it could have been crossed by means of an unguided, naturalistic process. Bridging the gap between life and non-life is a fundamentally different type of challenge than bridging the gap between higher and lower forms of life: “The gulf between a mixture of simple chemicals and a bacterium is much more profound than the gulf between a bacterium and an elephant.” (the late Dr. Robert Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, NYU – not a supporter of ID theory) In my opinion, the astoundingly high level of functional complexity found in the “simplest” bacterium could only have been the result of an act of creation by a conscious intelligent agent.

Why should we fight?

It does not seem to me that a simple disagreement about the origin of life should be cause for me and Dr. Coyne to be at each others throats. From my perspective, the salvos we fire back and forth at each other are more like two gamers playing an online version of Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto; although it is clear we strongly disagree there is certainly no personal hostility involved. My guess is that Dr. Coyne feels the same. In fact, in his Oy Gewalt! post he does display a slapstick, Jerry Lewis-like sense of humor which I found to be very entertaining and funny. In the middle of the post he inserted this picture:

No, it is not Dr. Ernst Mayr (the distinguished gentleman on the screen), the famous evolutionary biologist who is issuing the challenge, it is the distinguished gentleman in front of the screen, Dr. Jerry Coyne, who is saying, “Come At Me Bro.” As I said, this picture shows a playfulness and sense of humor that I appreciated. I would also like to point out that nobody has ever seen Jerry Lewis and Jerry Coyne in a room at the same time.



Jerry, I am respectfully answering your challenge and would like to “come at you bro.” Let’s stop fighting over the internet and meet in person and have a mature, civil discussion about Origin of Life. I think the University of Chicago would be a wonderful place to have an exciting and stimulating evening of mind vs. mind, intellect vs. intellect, and worldview vs. worldview. Don’t forget, I grew up in

the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago and Hyde Park was my old stomping grounds. I’ve always loved the U. of C. campus. The more I think about it the better it sounds. After all, we do have quite a bit in common; two nice Jewish boys in Chicago who love Hyde Park, who love to hack away at our word processors, who thoroughly enjoy an honest battle of ideas, and most important of all, we both love pastrami sandwiches!

As a show of good faith that I sincerely want to bury the hatchet, I am sending you a virtual gift. Happy Chanukah Jerry, to you and your loved ones. Looking forward to hearing from you.

A Peace Offering from Rabbi Averick to Dr. Jerry Coyne.

Re:  the distracting sidebar (read: tempest in a teapot) that I mentioned earlier.

“Every living cell, even the simplest bacterium, teems with molecular contraptions that would be the envy of any nanotechnologist. As they incessantly shake or spin or crawl around the cell, these machines cut, paste and copy genetic molecules, shuttle nutrients around or turn them into energy, build and repair cellular membranes, relay mechanical, chemical or electrical messages—the list goes on and on, and new discoveries add to it all the time. It is virtually impossible to imagine how a cell’s machines, which are mostly protein-based catalysts called enzymes, could have formed spontaneously as life first arose from nonliving matter around 3.7 billion years ago.” (“The Origin of Life on Earth”, Jack Szostak and Alonso Ricard, Scientific American, Sep. 2009)

Disclaimer with prejudice: Dr. Jack Szostak, Nobel Laureate, is an atheist and a firm believer in a naturalistic origin of life. Although it is clear from the above citation that Dr. Szostak is well aware of the profound challenges involved in discovering a naturalistic origin of life, he has made it absolutely clear that he does not believe in Intelligent Design theory. While Dr. Szostak has offered some speculative theories about how life might have emerged from non-life, suffice it to say there is no conclusive evidence to support his proposals. I have quoted Dr. Szostak, both in my book and in articles, to support the undisputed fact that Origin of Life researchers face enormous challenges in their attempt to discover an unguided process which would result in the emergence of life from the pre-biotic slime 3.8 billion years ago, and that until now these attempts have met with failure. I have never tried to portray Dr. Szostak as a supporter of ID theory or a believer in God. I stated explicitly in my book that none of the scientists I cite are supporters of ID theory, including Dr. Szostak. If anything I’ve ever written made it appear that I did, it was unintentional.

If you wish to be notified when Rabbi Averick’s new columns appear, send an email to moe.david@hotmail.com and simply write the word Subscribe in the subject bar.  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. .


183 Comments

  • One should be a “firm believer” in the natural origin of life for the same reason one should be a “firm believer” in gravity. It is nature that exists (not the “supernatural”).

  • Rabbi -

    Kudos on another excellent column! In the absence of a natural explanation for the origin of life, the answer must be supernatural! Life HAD to have been intelligently designed. In time, people will come to accept (at least those who are not fanatics) that the creators could ONLY be the Marklar, a super intelligent race from another dimension. The evidence is undeniable.

    Keep up the good work!

  • “[T]he gaping chasm between non-life and life is so wide that it is absurd to think that it could have been crossed by means of an unguided, naturalistic process.”

    For one thing, we don’t know that any such alleged “gaping chasm” ever actually existed. It is just another speculation. Some may find it a comfortable speculation, but there is no research that shows it to be the reality of the process.

    For another thing, whether there is or isn’t a “chasm,” it is absurd to think that life could have been created an unnatural process (e.g., via otherworldly guidance). There simply isn’t any alternative to nature, i.e., to reality.

    Now while it is true that some people can put a great deal of effort into trying to find some alternative to reality/nature — say though meditation, dreams, drugs, fasting, etc. — whatever they imagine is simply fiction (sometimes rendered quite poetically) when they put it in words.

  • In fact, I would predict that there is no way in the world to make either a provable or a “falsifiable” hypothesis about anything supernatural, i.e., not-of-this-world.

  • Moshe, you haven’t yet “put out a falsifiable hypothesis,” but if you wanted to, what would it be like?

  • Earlier, Moshe asked the question, ““Isn’t that how we test scientific theories, by their predictive value?

    And the answer is that, no, it isn’t.

    We test scientific theories by their accuracy at specifying the causes and conditions of results. Not by “predictions.”

  • DNA indeed specifies RNA information

    That description is an ANALOGY. It is not a literal scientific description of the facts on the ground.

    Moshe tries to push it as a literal statement, so that he can use it as the basis for his “IDOLism.”

    In fact, there is no “specified information” in DNA, in rocks, or in galaxies, etc.

    There IS “specified information” in your credit card bill, in a jpeg file, or even in many text books.

  • DNA indeed specifies RNA information

    That description is an ANALOGY. It is not a literal scientific description of the facts on the ground.

    Moshe tries to push is as a literal statement, so that he can use it as the basis for his “IDOLism.”

    In fact, there is no “specified information” in DNA, in rocks, or in galaxies, etc.

    There IS “specified information” in your credit card bill, in a jpeg file, or even in many text books.

  • Stuck in with his “rampage of insults,” Glen did offer this on-thread remark: ‘…there’s nothing inherently wrong with calling genetic information “specified information.”

    On the contrary, there is something decidedly wrong with it. It inserts the notion of a “specifier” where no such intelligence is possible. By that usage, Moshe tries to use the need for “intelligence,” i.e., the ability to “specify information,” as the proof of his “IDOL.”

    The notion of “specified information” in this context is completely wrong-headed, inaccurate, misleading, mistaken, obfuscating, and so on and so forth.

  • I admit it, I got fooled. Glen and Moshe managed to throw me off the track there for a bit. Hope I can stay back on it now.

    But, I can’t do it alone: the theists have to get back in the game.

    Life arose in the universe naturally — causally, by real processes involving real stuff. It was neither “random” nor “supernatural” nor “luck” nor “design.” It was just what happened naturally.

  • Oh, what the heck — let’s get back to Moshe’s stuff (forgetting what those guys brought up about the history of the Jews — and even the “Palestinians”).

    If a person actually believed that some unnatural, otherworldly guide was involved in the emergence of life in the universe, how in the world would such a person (or a group if one could be put together) propose to research that unnatural (supernatural!) otherworld in order to find out what really did happen?

    How, that is, would it be possible to research the origin of life if it didn’t happen naturally?

    If you wanted to try to research supernatural intervention, you’d come up with nothing. If you didn’t want to research it, you’d come up with nothing.

    Blind faith is not a substitute for the facts of life. The notion of the “supernatural” explains nothing — and evades everything.

  • Moshe thinks we should take “God” seriously, and Glen thinks we should take the “Palestinians” seriously. As jp noted, distinguishing fiction from reality “is a bit of a problem for some.”

    • As jp noted, distinguishing fiction from reality “is a bit of a problem for some.”

      You mean those who twist “dispossession” into something having to do with nationalism? As if the American natives couldn’t have been dispossessed if they had no “nation”?

      You do a good job of showing that it doesn’t take religion to make a thoroughly dishonest and dumb “argument,” Steve.

      Why you’re bothering with this tangent is another question. But since you want to push it, your shifting of the issue is as disreputable as anything Moshe’s said.

      • But you are the one who brought it up! Why’d you do that? Do you have an explanation for what you meant by it?

        I took it as an attack on Israel, but maybe I was wrong and you meant it as an attack on Hamas, the PLO, etc.

        You are right, of course, that it is not terribly relevant to this thread, but you must have had some reason for bringing it in. Since Moshe seems to have dropped out, maybe you wanted to start a new thread . . . ?

        In my opinion, the people we’ve come to think of as “Palestinians” would be best served if the state of Israel were extended a bit — say more or less from Suez to Tripoli (Lebanon) to Al Haditha (Saudi Arabia) to the whole Gulf of Aqaba. (And, of course, Iran needs to be de-nuclearized, de-militarized, de-theocritized, and . . . well maybe you get the idea.)

        Still, let us not forget that life could not have been “intelligently designed” because intelligent design only became possible subsequently to the evolution of humans. The fictional “IDOL” is no more than a vague dream.

        • But you are the one who brought it up! Why’d you do that?

          Because it is one of the excuses religion provides. You just rely on your profound bigotry and sophistry to provide your excuses. I didn’t see why I couldn’t mention a current misuse of religion without some racist like yourself sneering that I care about Palestinians.

          I was just going to let your first stupid and dishonest attack slide, because it should be obvious how you dissembled, but no, you had to push the matter further.

          I took it as an attack on Israel

          Oh well, then any lie will do for a bigot like yourself.

          • “Because it is one of the excuses religion provides.”

            Provides for what? Believing that God created life? You’re not making a whole lot of sense. (Going off the deep end with all that obtuse name-calling is getting a bit weird.)

          • “Because it is one of the excuses religion provides.”

            Provides for what? Believing that God created life?

            Dimwit, it’s one of the reasons for religion altogether, to excuse what you do to those in your way. Or in your case, the people you treat as nothing due to your evident racism.

            So your reading comprehension is low as well, I see.

            Going off the deep end with all that obtuse name-calling is getting a bit weird

            Oh yeah, weird that I’d call you a racist for your faulting me for taking the Palestinians seriously.

            Well, frankly, it isn’t Moshe who makes me so thoroughly disgusted, it’s you, Steve. I don’t see why I should bother further with this thread, as you’re too obtuse even to comprehend plain writing, unless you’re just too dishonest to do so.

            95% chance of my not returning.

          • “…to excuse what you do to those in your way.”

            Nothing unique to religion in that. All you really need is a concept like “the greater good.” Or “social justice.” Or “spreading the wealth around.” Or “the dictatorship of the proletariat.” Even “Obamacare” would get you some slam-bang excuses.

            But maybe you had better drop this thread.

      • Those “American natives” of tribes which had no concepts of property rights did not, therefore, have any property to be “dispossessed” of.

    • Just for the record, here’s Steve’s distortion of what I wrote:

      Glen Davidson claims that somebody has been engaged in “dispossessing the Palestinians.”

      But nobody has ever done any such thing, since the “Palestinians” never had any country in their possession in the first place.

      Palestinians owned land in Palestine. Then they were dispossessed. You can argue the details, I didn’t, and still don’t, want to do it, since by no means is this what the thread is meant to discuss.

      The sheer dishonesty of claiming that because Palestinians weren’t part of a certain kind of “country” they couldn’t be dispossessed is breathtaking, the sort of tactic I see regularly from creationists.

      Any chance we can leave this Steve’s mendacious idiocies behind, and get back to the topic?

      • “Palestinians owned land in Palestine.”

        If by “Palestine” you mean the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, then do you include the people of Israel as “Palestinians.” A bunch of them have certainly been “dispossessed,” if that’s what you’re getting at.

        • then do you include the people of Israel as “Palestinians.”

          Here’s a thought: You could quit twisting everything to fit your bigotry. “Palestinian” actually used to refer mostly to Jews in Palestine, now it largely refers to the arabs not allowed to live where most of them long had.

          A bunch of them have certainly been “dispossessed,” if that’s what you’re getting at.

          Actually, you know what I’m getting at, which doesn’t change the fact that you’ll distort and malign whoever disagrees with you.

          You even did it to Moshe, since there’s nothing inherently wrong with calling genetic information “specified information.” I know how self-serving it is for IDists, and that it’s not the typical way of speaking of it, but there’s no reason to deny something that agrees tolerably well with the meanings of the words, as DNA indeed specifies RNA information and for replication of DNA information.

  • Moshe’s tactics of distraction and avoidance are making me a bit frustrated with this blog.

    So, does that mean his tactics are working?

  • Moshe said: “The only answer to the miraculous journey of the Jewish People through history can only be explained by the hand of God”

    Ah, I see. You are unwavering in your belief of a deity because you associate your superiority with being divinely chosen. That sounds like an argument my daughter would have ventured – when she was six!

    Let’s put some perspective around the miraculous journey that resulted in the divinely ordained greatness that is Moshe Averick:

    I see precisely zero difference between the Jewish “journey” and the Mormon journey. Charismatic leader, divinely chosen, supported by scripture, suffering often brutal oppression and discrimination, creating a holy land and subjugating or ejecting the previous inhabitants of that land. Show me how, other than timescale, these are different. They’re not. We learn more real truth about the birth of a religion from studying the Mormons than we’d ever learn from the centuries writings of the Jewish faithful.

    Besides, each time Israel Finkelstein turns a spade, the Jewish “journey” loses another miracle.

    “The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.”
    – Christopher Hitchens

    • Rick,

      You remind me of a story of one of the great talmudic sages of the 20th century, Rabbi Shlomo Kahaneman who founded one of the largest yeshivas in the world after WWII, the Ponoveich Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, Israel. He was traveling in post WWII Europe and found himself in Rome. EVen thought it was nightime, he hired a taxi to take him to the ARch of Titus, which was constructed by Titus to celebrate his final victory over the Jewish rebels in Judea. The fact that he erected this monument is testimony to the difficulty of putting down the rebellion, which shook the entire Roman empire. In any case, when he arrived at his destination, he got out of the cab, looked at the arch and said, “We are still here, Titus,” and got back in the cab and left. The ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Holy Roman Empire, the great empires of Spain, Great Britain (which tried to prevent the return of Jews to Israel), Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are nothing more than footnotes in history and tourist attractions. The Jewish People live on gloriously, back in our land and stronger than ever. Christopher Hitchens, who ironically was Jewish, is also gone, but the Jewish People live on.

      • So how would you go about researching whether otherworldly forces were ever involved?

      • Well, now Moshe’s taking ethnic offense, making the stunning point that those who survived have survived. Pretty much true of anyone still here, and typically against the odds.

        Just note that this “miraculous fact” is on par with his belief that a fiction made life because, you know, the fictional accounts make said fiction out to be amazingly powerful, and move on to someone who will discuss facts rather than understanding everything as a battle against oppressors.

      • A nice little story and a deft avoidance of my argument.

        Yes, Jews are still here. Yet in spite of being “God’s Chosen”, Jews:

        - have been executed by the millions;
        - do not live longer than the human norm;
        - do not enjoy a special social status;
        - are subject to the same death rate as any other race/creed in natural disasters;
        - have a culture that is old, but not as old as the Chinese;
        - have experienced an unusual quantity of discriminations, annihilations, pogroms, genocides, and other events that would make any sane person conclude that if there is a God, the LAST people He favors are the Jews.

        Now, you’re going to think me an anti-Semite. Let me be very clear that I’m having a similar debate with a fundamentalist Catholic who insists HE benefits from divine favor and I do not.

        I am anti ANYBODY who makes up a deity in an attempt to place himself/herself above others through undisputed divine right. I think that is an affront to human dignity and simply disgusting.

        And you have failed utterly to demonstrate a single example of divine intervention or any evidence that your god is any different than the aforementioned fairies, or the midichlorians from Star Wars. Until you do better, it is all just shared fantasy.

        • Or you could figure that God favors the Jews the MOST, and therefore he tests and stresses them the most to make them the strongest.

          Moshe could even believe that God sends atheists to this blog to test his resistance to reason, logic, and evidence: to strengthen his ability to stick to the faith.

          • Anything’s possible in fiction.

            (And that’s no way a negative comment on fiction. Fiction is immensely cool, but being unable to distinguish it from reality is a bit of a problem for some.)

        • Rick,

          There was a prediction made rougly 3,300 years ago that the Jewish people would be the eternal nation of God, that they would be exiled from their land, scattered around the world, be the most hated nation that ever existed, and yet at the same time bring blessing to the entire world and transform all mankind to their worldview. Succintly expressed in the book of Jeremiah:

          Thus says the Lord,
          who gives the sun for light by day
          and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
          who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
          bthe Lord of hosts is his name:
          36 “If this fixed order departs
          from before me, declares the Lord,
          then shall the offspring of Israel cease
          from being a nation before me forever.”

          In other words the existence of the Jewish people is as immutable and indestructible as the laws that govern the motions of the heavenly bodies. The Jewish people are simply indestructible, everything you have written above confirms the truth of this prediction. The chinese survived because there are hundreds of millions of them. Jews are less than one fifth of one percent of the worlds population and they have been homeless, scattered and hated, and yet we are right back where we started from in the land of Israel. The Jewish people and the ideas they brought into the world have been by far the most influential ideas in the history of mankind, despite everything you listed above.

          You can hem and haw all you want, but the simple reality is that the predictions have come true. Isn’t that how we test scientific theories, by their predictive value?

          • Isn’t that how we test scientific theories, by their predictive value?

            No, it isn’t.

            Would you believe that a theory that unicorns cause the sun to rise is confirmed by the sunrise?

          • I’d be really impressed if that all happened in a blinded trial. Unfortunately, the fact that all the experimental participants were not only aware of the predictions, but treated them as canon, makes the prediction scientifically worthless.

            Put it this way, if I was able to predict what you, Moshe, have for every meal for the next year – write it down, put it in an envelope – and get you to make a food diary, and at the end of the year we open the envelope, compare notes and find I’ve got it all right, then that would be impressive.

            But if I make a prediction on what I’ll eat every meal for a year – write it down and stick it to my fridge – and make a food diary, then if they match at the end of the year the two lists match up, the appropriate reaction is “So what?”.

            See how that works?

          • Isn’t that how we test scientific theories, by their predictive value?

            If so, Manifest Destiny must have been a truth from God that Americans ruthlessly followed in accordance with God’s will

            In other words, it’s a typical self-serving fallacy of the victors.

            I wonder how many religions predicted that they would last until the end of time. Plenty of Jewish sects did, and then went the way of the Essenes.

            No, science doesn’t take note of all of the predictions by religions that they will continue until the denouement (of whatever), and then consider the people who were killed off, or merely convinced to think otherwise, to have had “false religions” while the persevering religion is considered to be the “true religion.” That’s what the successful religion does, its own excuse for, say, dispossessing the Palestinians.

            No, science notes that it is likely that one or more religions predicting its success will succeed, due to the odds. Then it is unsurprised that one or more religions succeeds.

          • Glen Davidson claims that somebody has been engaged in “dispossessing the Palestinians.

            But nobody has ever done any such thing, since the “Palestinians” never had any country in their possession in the first place.

          • Oh wow! The god that the Jews invented declared that the Jewish people would last forever?

            Well, that settles it. There’s simply no other explanation. Nobody’s gods have EVER said that about other people, other races, other faiths.

            So it must all be true. The god that created the universe and the Earth was indeed doing it just for a ragtag band of displaced desert tribespeople. Somehow this god spoke all these supposedly magical words to only this tribe, managing never to mention any details about things like… the American continents, the Chinese, marsupials, germs, galaxies, or any of the vast majority of his creations. No, this god just ignored all that stuff and got personally involved in petty turf wars over neighboring patches of sand.

            Thank you Moshe. It’s all clear now.

            Setting sarcasm aside, I’m VERY disappointed by the inane level of debate on this blog. Given the excellent conversations I’ve had with one rabbi and several religious Jews, I expected better.

            I was hopeful there for a while when you raised the issue of the age of the Earth before the first indications of life. That’s an interesting topic. But then you dove into this faith-based rabbit hole of Jewish fairy tales, and sanity vanished from the discussion.

      • Moshe’s made his master race argument a few times, and got a bit of a response a few times. So now, knowing that it will result in comments, he’s banging it in anywhere he can. He’s happy to prostitute himself for attention, and if it works to distract people from the failures of his on-topic arguments, then he probably feels like he’s been paid twice.

        • Actually, I’ll make a prediction. Moshe’s got enough of a reaction for his little tangent that he’s probably off turning it into an article. Stay tuned.

        • Distraction and avoidance are rather crucial to the religious mindset.

          Religion and reason don’t mix. Religion and common sense don’t mix.

          If you consider the Spanish Inquisition and the “Palestinian” Intifada, even religion and respect for human life don’t mix.

      • The scriptural evidence that God is a flaming racist (and worse, of course) has always seemed like the best religious argument against religion.

        Heck, if there were evidence that God favored people who do good and help others regardless of their ethnic or cultural background, I’d be a true believer in a heartbeat. As it is the Abrahamic religions don’t even bother trying to claim that being or doing good is intrinsically worthwhile. These people believe in talking animals, invisible flying giants, and miracles, but being decent to people who don’t look or act like you is just too much of a stretch.

        This idea that God has imbued Jews with some sort of miraculous ability to go on being Jews is laughable, too. It comes back to the idea that God is only able to work in ways that are imperceptible to anyone who isn’t a believer. Well, unless there’s a football player involved.

  • Maybe you’d rather not think about it, so we could put it this way:

    If you believed that some unnatural, otherworldly guide was involved in the emergence of life in the universe, how in the world would you propose to research that unnatural (supernatural!) otherworld in order to find out what really happened?

    If you wanted to try to research it, you’d come up with nothing. If you didn’t want to research it, you’d come up with nothing.

    Blind faith is not a substitute for the facts of life.

  • In light of the confused and illusory world of the theist, I suppose we could point out that “reality is the Achilles’ heel of theism.’

  • Think about it:

    If you believed that some unnatural, otherworldly guide was involved in the emergence of life in the universe, how in the world would you propose to research that unnatural otherworld in order to find out what really happened?

    You’ve got nothing.

    It looks like Moshe is simply claiming that it is impossible to know how life started. So he wants us to resort to blind faith as some sort of substitute for understanding. The big trouble with that is that blind faith is always a waste of time; blind faith is not a practical method of dealing with life.

  • Moshe has declared that “I have quoted Dr. Szostak, both in my book and in articles, to support the undisputed fact that Origin of Life researchers face enormous challenges in their attempt to discover an unguided process which would result in the emergence of life from the pre-biotic slime 3.8 billion years ago, and that until now these attempts have met with failure.”

    Notice that no matter how many times such attempts fail, there is nothing else for the researchers to look for. It would do them no good to lapse into fiction and start looking for “supernatural guidance” somewhere in “the pre-biotic slime.” (Or over, under, beyond, etc.)

    Scientific researchers can only research reality. There isn’t anywhere else to do research.

  • Rabbi Moshe states: “In my opinion, the astoundingly high level of functional complexity found in the “simplest” bacterium could only have been the result of an act of creation by a conscious intelligent agent.

    The obvious problem with that opinion is that it ignores the fact that bacteria existed before any conscious intelligent agents (viz., humans) evolved.

    Stories about otherworldly, non-human, supernatural “conscious intelligent agents” are pure fiction. Scientifically, realistically, there is nothing to such stories.

  • The notion that “DNA is full of information” is the same as the notion that “rocks are full of information,” or that “galaxies are full of information.” That is, such notions are analogies for human use.

    Information is entirely a human way for organizing the many facts of the world into human-comprehensible form. All that exists “out there” in the world are facts, relationships, processes involving physical things — none of it is information per se, but is only the basis for information when humans start filtering it through various attempts at learning about how the world works.

    In short, without humans, there is no information.

  • Moshe, perhaps you could convince some of us that bacteria are the result of information specification by a supernatural intelligent agent by explaining how this supernatural intelligent agent managed to arrange atoms in our universe into a bacterium according to its specification.

    • But who specified the information for creating that “supernatural intelligent agent”?

      If the answer is supposed to be that “God doesn’t require ‘specified information’ in order to exist because God does not exist in the natural world,” then that is the same as saying: “God doesn’t require ‘specified information’ in order to exist because God does not exist, period.”

      The natural world is it: there’s no place else to be.

  • Moshe makes a request: “Let us agree that specified information can result from evolutionary processes,…

    We cannot agree to that because evolution was proceeding apace long before humans ever invented “specified information processing.”

    Life came first, “specified information” came later.

    • Steve,
      You are simply mistaken. The simplest life form that we know of, bacteria, cannot exist without an encyclopedic amoung of specified information.

      Here are the words of (non-believing origin of life researcher Dr. G.C. Smith:

      “There seems to be a more fundamental difficulty [in the origin of life]. Any conceivable kind of organism would have to contain messages of some sort and equipment for reading and reprinting the messages; any conceivable organism would thus seem to have to be packed with machinery and as such need a miracle (or something0 for the first of its kind to have appeared. That is the problem.”

      • Sir Isaac Newton, the originator of much of our understanding of physics, said that while gravity and momentum controlled the movement of the planets, only a miracle could have originally set them in motion. He had no concept of the effect of contracting, spinning clouds of dust, heavy element formation, radioactivity, and the other components of planet formation.

        So he filled in his ignorance with “God”.

        Now, if an intellect like Newton could take this course of action and be proved completely and utterly wrong, and if thousands of people who have claimed divine/supernatural explanations for natural events have later been proved wrong, then it is a fools bet to think that you are right. You’re just doing like people have done, unsuccessfully, for thousands of years – you’re using God to caulk a gap in your knowledge of the natural world.

        When will people learn?

        • Rick,

          Your logic, in my opinion, leaves much to be desired. Whether or not Newton was correct in his assessment or not is really beside the point. David Hume pointed out, quite correctly, that just because the sun rose yesterday and for a million years worth of days before that, does not in any way prove that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. (By the way, some of the great Jewish sages pointed out the same ideas independantly of Hume).

          Even assuming, for argument’s sake, that Newton was wrong, it does not have any bearing at all on the discussion at hand. Each case has to be evaluated on its own merits and each argument has to be evaluated on its own merits.

          This would seem to be elementary. When will you ever learn?

          • In the past 3000 years we’ve solved many mysteries of nature. Name one that was solved with a divine/supernatural answer.

            Just one.

            Because until you do, claiming the answer is “God” has exactly as much merit as claiming the answer is “fairies”.

          • On that particular subject, Hume was rather a nincompoop. (And perhaps there were some “Jewish sages” who were in the same boat.)

            In any case, your contention that “divine/supernatural assertions” are capable of answering any questions whatsoever about the real world (i.e., nature) is claptrap (to say the least). You’ve got nothing going for you on that count; you are just making noise (and presumably waving your arms).

          • Yes, RickK, fairies and God are the same thing in this context. They are logically/cognitively equal, viz., zilch.

          • Moshe, you are right about Hume, but I’m not sure why you want to equate the probability that you’re right about abiogenesis with the probability that the sun won’t rise tomorrow.

            Not being able to prove that the sun will rise tomorrow is a loooooooooooong way from proving that it won’t, and yet that’s the sort of logical snafu you’re basing your entire argument for a creator god on. Embarrassing, no?

            (Well actually, it’s infinitely more likely that the sun won’t rise tomorrow, so perhaps that where the attraction lies :) )

        • Rick,

          Origin of Life is all I need.
          but I’ll give you another one. The only answer to the miraculous journey of the Jewish People through history can only be explained by the hand of God

          • Can’t get enough of that master race argument, can you, Moshe?

          • Since neither the origin or life nor the “journey of the Jewish people through history” was miraculous, that still leaves your “hand of God” as a fictional construct.

            In trying to explain either biological history in general, or human history in particular, using the fictional character God (your “IDOL”) is worse than useless — it’s really a form of obfuscation (and attack on science).

      • Moshe,

        That you and Dr. Smith agree that life is unnatural, and therefore miraculous, does not prove your “IDOL” theory. It only goes to show that more than one person can believe in miracles at the same time.

        Since information specification requires intelligence, your claim that life “cannot exist without an encyclopedic amount of specified information” is merely a restatement of your claim that “the first life had be designed and created by supernatural means, i.e., God.”

        But the simple fact is that it is NOT true that bacteria, for instance, “cannot exist without an encyclopedic amount of specified information.”

        Your “argument” boils down to this: “Only God could create life, therefore, God created life.

        You ignore the fact that “specified information,” encyclopedias, etc., did not exist prior to the evolution of humans.

        You keep claiming that life is just not natural — ignoring the fact that you can look all around the world and see that life is perfectly natural. There it is, you cannot miss it.

        The notion that “[a]ny conceivable kind of organism would have to contain messages of some sort and equipment for reading and reprinting the messages; any conceivable organism would thus seem to have to be packed with machinery…” is merely an analogy; it is not a proof of the “miracle of creation” by your “IDOL” (the “Intelligent Designer Of Life”).

        Naturally, there existed no “messages” nor “equipment” before there were people to create them. Analogies aren’t miracles.

      • Organisms do not require “messages” in order to exist, any more than rocks require “messages” to roll downhill.

        All these notions of supernatural “messaging” and “information specification” are nonsense.

      • Moshe,

        I’m realistic, not mistaken. You are confusing being realistic with being “mistaken,” since being realistic, in this context, means not falling for the myth of the supernatural “IDOL”.

        You feel that nature is just not good enough for you, that nature is not capable of standing on its own, that nature requires supernatural support. But you are not being logical, since the same argumentation would mean that the supernatural cannot stand on its own, either, and requires the super-supernatural to support it — and so on ad infinitum (all adding up to nothing more than nature when all is said a done, anyway you slice it).

        In fact, nature is it. We don’t need anything else — and, as a matter of fact, we don’t get anything else.

        Your “God, the Intelligent Designer Of Life,” is fiction, not fact.

  • A recently published manuscript presents a new and iconoclastic theory that purports to resolve the theory of life. Since I’ve never posted here before and I don’t want to spam your thread, the publisher is MDPI and the title of the article is “Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life.” The author’s contention is that his theory is an alternative to natural selection. I guess that remains to be determined. Regardless, it should add to what is already a lively discussion.

    Happy Holidays to all.

    • Since we’ve seen natural selection drive evolutionary change many many times, why do we need an alternative theory? Since thousands of scientists are doing research based on the current theory of evolution, and their research is successful, why do we need somebody’s alternative? What is it about evolutionary theory that doesn’t work?

    • I’ve read this paper and, while is makes some interesting points, I suspect it may be mad ranting. Granted, it could also be legitimate science that is simply far beyond my comprehension, but the conclusions the author draws and the fact that this one paper is supposed to represent a sort of unifying theory of everything makes me doubtful. Still, if any of this is valid, it would be of tremendous scientific value.

  • I had a couple of minutes here, and realized that the “Averick IDOL” theory that “life isn’t natural” has been fully refuted already by — you guessed it — NATURE.

    That is, by reality, for anyone who is interested.

  • I don’t expect someone like Moshe Averick, who evinces no evidence of knowing either science or epistemology, and has no apparent interest in learning about them rather than pushing his own unquestioned beliefs, to care about what I have to say here. But it is important to make clear what does matter to real scientists, or indeed, to anyone committed to an honest inquiry into, well, any matter at all. Szostak is committed to one thing, so far as I know, which is the honest path to truth, while Averick won’t even acknowledge what epistemology requires as he endlessly repeats his misunderstandings of how one should arrive at an answer to a question. Averick’s words in bold (if the html tags work, anyhow):

    Disclaimer with prejudice:

    “With extreme prejudice” would more adequately cover Averick’s illegitimate attack on Szostak and other scientists who conform to science standards.

    Dr. Jack Szostak, Nobel Laureate, is an atheist and a firm believer in a naturalistic origin of life.

    I don’t know Szostak, but it is much more likely that he is a firm believer in honest inquiry, in utilizing the epistemology of both science and the court, rather than in a predetermined result. In other words, of course he would not as a juror entertain the notion that a master Designer chose to place the $200,000 missing from the bank in the accused house. He would instead assume that known, or at least knowable, processes did this, quite possibly the accused’s actions (subject to further evidence, of course).

    Although it is clear from the above citation that Dr. Szostak is well aware of the profound challenges involved in discovering a naturalistic origin of life, he has made it absolutely clear that he does not believe in Intelligent Design theory.

    I bet he doesn’t believe in ghosts or witches, either. Probably wouldn’t believe the accusers of the Salem “witches,” you know. Somehow, the travesty of accepting accusations of magic in Salem isn’t supposed to extend to the condemnation of considering an unevidenced supernaturality way in the distant past. Presumably because that’s where magic has usually been assumed. Averick evidently thinks there’s something wrong with avoiding such unevidenced assumptions.

    While Dr. Szostak has offered some speculative theories about how life might have emerged from non-life, suffice it to say there is no conclusive evidence to support his proposals.

    The important issue is that Szostak understands how to obtain a proper conclusion from the evidence. Hence he does not say that he has conclusive evidence to support his proposals, while Averick makes his “counterclaims” without the slightest bit of evidence for his claims.

    I have quoted Dr. Szostak, both in my book and in articles, to support the undisputed fact that Origin of Life researchers face enormous challenges in their attempt to discover an unguided process which would result in the emergence of life from the pre-biotic slime 3.8 billion years ago, and that until now these attempts have met with failure.

    While Averick totally fails to acknowledge the insuperable challenge of invoking a “Designer” from a fictional account.

    I have never tried to portray Dr. Szostak as a supporter of ID theory or a believer in God.

    But Averick has no problem with portraying Szostak as a “believer” for simply sticking with known or derivable phenomena, and not considering ancient prejudice as a reasonable source.

    Science has progressed for many reasons, including its unwillingness to privilege ancient prejudices and the naive certainties that Averick espouses. The latter does not present us with any evidence of a Designer of the cell, he merely claims that an ancient fiction is the logical default to abiogenesis, which he also dismisses with prejudice and without any obvious understanding of the very grave difficulties in dealing with a process that left so few clues.

    He wouldn’t be comfortable with a court being presented with two suspects, himself and another, and his being condemned if the other were shown to have an airtight alibi. This is not far from approximating the “case” that he presents here, except for the fact that he has absolutely no ability to show that abiogenesis could not occur. So we have two “miscarriages of justice” on our hands, so to speak, a false dilemma (how does he know what exists “outside of the universe” anyway? For all I know, it could be endless streams of abiogenesis, which occasionally seed life into our universe), and his inability to even show that abiogenesis on earth can’t do it.

  • You guys may not be too Christmas-y around here, but I’ll be somewhat busy the next couple of days, and may not be heard from a lot. I guess you can thank God for small favors . . . .

  • Moshe Averick asks, “…would you be willing to concede that the idea of an Intelligent Designer would become much more plausible [under any circumstances]?

    The answer is, “Naturally not.” There are no circumstances which can miraculously make the supernatural appear out of nowhere. Zero plausibility doesn’t leave any reasonable room for doubt.

    • You’re both right. ID would become a hundred times as likely in Moshe’s scenario, AND its probability would be unchanged.

  • Moshe remarked: “Bacteria are around 3.5 billion years old, they cannot exist without encyclopedic amounts of specificed, digitally encoded information…

    Encylopedias and “specified information” are human ways of understanding things.

    You cannot reasonably claim that the human way of understanding bacteria in any way controls or determines the existence of bacteria. Bacteria existed in nature long before humans ever specified any information about them, or made any encylopedia entries.

    • Steve,

      YOu are mistaken:

      “In River Out of Eden, Dawkins describes the intricate functioning of genetic coding in the living cell:

      “After Watson and Crick we know that genes themselves…are living strings of pure digital information. What is more they are truly digital, in the full and strong sense of computers and compact discs, not in the weak sense of the nervous system. The genetic code is not a binary code as in computers…but a quaternary code, with four symbols. The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal. Our genetic system, which is the universal system for all life on the planet is digital to the core…DNA characters are copied with an accuracy that rivals anything modern engineers can do…DNA messages…are…pure digital code.”

      Dr. Paul Davies on the same subject:

      “In a living organism we see the power of software, or information processing, refined to an incredible degree…the problem of the origin of life reduces to one of understanding how encoded software emerged spontaneously from hardware. How did it happen? How did nature “go digital?”

      Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, echoes Dawkins’ and Davies’ description of the genetic coding in the cell, “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.”

      • Moshe,

        You are mistaken to confuse analogies with causes, especially otherworldly causes, designers or intelligence.

        There is only the world of nature; there is no alternative.

        And “information processing” is a human way of looking at things in reality. Biologic molecules are no more “processing” the “information” in DNA than a boulder in a landslide is “processing” the “information” of gravity, friction, the other bouncing boulders, etc. Computer processing is exclusively a human enterprise. Silicon doesn’t process information, and neither do bacteria.

        The combination of intelligence and design capabilities to create information processing machines is an exclusively human enterprise (among currently known species).

      • Notice that neither Watson, Crick, Gates, Dawkins, or Davies ever claimed that encyclopedias, journals, computers, etc., miraculously pre-existed before humans, or life as such.

  • http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?EvidenceVersusProof

    Kindly review a time or two, grasp why theology (much like *most of what you believe*) cannot be ‘proven’–it’s accepted based on evidence. Proof is for mathematics and alcohol. When you demand ‘proof’ of something that you don’t believe, this is more a rhetorical flash than an actual logical counter. Equivalent to me saying “Bennett is a man. All men are mammals. All mammals are warm-blooded. Ergo, Bennett is warm blooded.” And you replying “Oh yeah? How do I know you’re a man? Have you been genetically tested? That could be a fake. Maybe you’re just a computer. Maybe we’re really in the Matrix. Maybe when Neo got out of the Matrix, that was only a deeper level of the Matrix, and that’s how he could shut down those robots. And how do you know all mammals are warm-blooded? Maybe they aren’t. Science hasn’t had enough time to make sure. There could be exceptions. You could be a robot with a blood packet carefully inserted under your arm to fool everyone when they take the blood test, and you’re only warm because of the servomotors and anyway it was Ancient Greeks who came up with the phyla and kingdoms and all that jazz, and they didn’t have modern science. There’s literally zero proof for your absurd claim.”

    And that absurd dodge would still be less absurd than trying to dodge the implications of fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life. Within the fifteen or so constraints that determine whether or not the universe should just have re-collapsed into itself, matter should have formed, planets would have been able to congeal, etc., there’s a chance against that is so high, it’s literally impossible that *any* sort of life, intelligent or otherwise would begin, within the age of the universe. Impossible on the order of buying two lottery tickets a week, and winning the jackpot both times, every week, for fifty years running.

    I realize a Humean could put forth with “Of course we should’t be surprised, otherwise we wouldn’t be here,” but that would show an appalling failure to grasp statistics–much like his ‘proof’ that miracles can’t occur really just provided evidence that Hume A) Didn’t know how stats work, and B) didn’t understand the definition of a miracle. Yes, it is something that goes beyond the pale of nature, in an extraordinarily rare way, due to outside intervention. If your presupposition is that that is not possible, then you bear a burden of proof to show such. Not that it is unlikely (that’s rather the point) but that it is impossible. You can’t sustain that burden of proof, or at least if you can, you’d be the first. You can assert agnosticism all you want, by all means. It’s a much more enlightened attitude than atheism, and easier to get along with for everyone. You could even try hard agnosticism, but again, you’d be making presuppositions.

    If neither of us can manage a decisive victory, perhaps we ought to just have a Coke and relax. I mean, if we’re all just deterministic biological machines providing throwaway vehicles for selfish genes brutal, indifferent, arbitrary process which leaves us as nothing more than farts in the cosmic wind, before and after, then why waste time? Go to your families. Don’t let a day go by where they don’t know you love them. Any time you’re spending on the internet arguing is time you can never get back, on a very, very brief, finite life. Couldn’t your wife, your kids, your neighbors, anyone you know use that energy more than some guy you want to ‘beat’ in an internet argument? D’you think the City of Tomorrow will pop up and we’ll cure the aging process and life like small gods, because all the Christians threw in the towel and agreed with you? Won’t happen in your tiny lifetime anyway. Go. Learn a hobby, see something beautiful, learn to play an instrument.

    What difference does it make to your selfish genes anyway, if I’m a theist? At least it’s understandable why Moshe or I, or other theists think it’s a deadly game to spit in the eye of God. I can’t imagine why atheists think it’s so awful to spit in the eye of, what, progress? Progress towards *what*? Look down the road, friends. It’s the same black pit at the end, whether you get there in a starship or a rowboat. You won’t remember any of it, and none of it will remember you.

    If you’re going to live consistently with your atheism, you might want to read up on some of the heavyweights, not these fluffy “New Atheists”. Nietzsche, Russell (now there’s a man who knew his math), and Sartre would be a good beginning. You can be consistent with it, or you can act like there’s purpose and happiness in the world. Doing both is schizophrenic. Maybe if you’re a hardcore philosophical Buddhist (in the Western tradition, not the crass polytheism of actual modern practice in most Asian locales), then you can just live in the moment, and find some peace and direction–but again, you’d be too filled with love and joy and in the moment to have snarky arguments. Heck, avoiding trivial or frivolous chatter is one of the Buddha’s principles for right living.

    Now, is the terror of annihilation a motive to believe in God? Not a valid one, no. But it’s certainly a valid motive to get off your hump and quit kvetching like a schmendrick. Go, live, be free. It’s what you sold your birthright for–better enjoy the soup while it’s hot.

  • Moshe makes the claim that “An intelligent being that is not physical does not necessarily need a designer.

    But such a supernatural being is entirely imaginary — and therefore utterly dependent upon being designed by those who are doing the imagining.

    Note further that the notion of “an intelligent being that is not physical” is a contradiction in terms. It’s like trying to imagine a person with a brain who doesn’t have a head.

    • Steve,

      No it’s more like imagining a concept like liberty, dignity or morality and trying to touch it, weigh it ,smell it or describe it’s molecular or chemical structure.

      • And what if I told you that liberty, dignity or morality arranged some atoms into a bacteria? You’d think I was mad. How could they do that? They’re just ideas!

      • Kevin Bjornson

        Liberty, dignity, and morality do no exist in some imaginary Platonic realm, but are aspects of reality that can be perceived in examples. The real (empirical) and the ideal (logical), are two aspects of reality that are co-joined. Ideals cannot exist by themselves, without substance. We perceive phenomena and logically organize the information.

      • Moshe,

        Kevin and jp pointed out your errors in that post. So I’d just like to chime in with the comment that “weighing an abstraction” is such a worn-out, ridiculous fallacy that it seems almost amazing that you would resort to it.

        It would be impossible to find an intelligent being that had no weight or physical presence in nature. (You could try to find one if you so wish, but you would be wasting your time.)

  • Let’s be clear that anyone that says science knows nothing about the origin of life is either ignorant or dishonest or some unhealthy blend of the two.

    Sure, there are big exciting unanswered questions in origin of life research. Nobody says this more or better than scientists. Big unanswered questions are why scientists exist!

    However, there is a LOT that we now know about the origin of life:

    1) All known life can be traced back to a common ancestor “species”.

    2) Those early organisms (1) relied on symbiotic relationships and (2) freely traded genetic material.

    3) That common ancestor “species” itself descended from even more simple forms of life which probably won’t closely resemble any life on Earth today.

    4) Self-replicating molecules that are NOT alive can still demonstrate Darwinian evolution. Therefore, just as we debate whether viruses are actually alive or not, the dividing line between early “pre-life” and early “life” was fuzzy, just as the evolutionary divide between one species and another is not clearly defined.

    5) The increasingly simple ancestors of modern life weren’t made out of just anything, they were made out of chemicals that just happen to be generated by plausible abiotic mechanisms found in early solar systems.

    Look through the research papers cited here, and the claim that “science knows nothing about the origin of life” collapses.

    http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/2008/12/origin-of-life-outline.html

    • RickK,

      Great link. Thank you.

    • Rick,

      Almost everything that is described in that post are processes that are only known to take place in a laboratory under highly controlled lab conditions.

      If you watch the YOuTube lecture by renowned Origin of Life expert Dr. Paul Davies you will hear him describe what scientists can actually tell us about what happened under purely natural and undirected processes on the ancient Earth. The important part is about 16 minutes into the presentation. Paul Davies is most definitely not an supporter of ID.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGaId-E0BF4

  • Where once we carried out theological debates by standing on wine barrel in the park, we now carry out (the depressingly unchanged) theological debates over a global communication network connecting billions of people.

    Why? Naturalistic science.

    Where once we thought gods inhabited the space outside the spheres, right behind the sphere carrying the stars, we now know something of the size and shape of the universe, the nature of stars, and the origin of planets like our own.

    Why? Naturalistic science.

    My teenage daughters now know more about the true origins of man than was known by all the creators of all of the world’s great religions combined.

    Why? Naturalistic science.

    There is what we know and understand about the natural origins of man and life and everything, and there is what we don’t yet understand about the natural origins of man and life and everything. Given what we know today, using “God” to fill a gap in our knowledge of life’s origins is no different than the ancient Hawaiians using “Pele” to fill the gaps in their knowledge of volcano formation. Black robes and skull cap, or grass skirt and a bone through the nose – just different versions of the same basic superstition. And the fact that humanity needs and thrives on superstitions doesn’t change the nature of the superstitions.

    Here’s a simple question for those who are certain life was created by a deity with a plan. Imagine if life wasn’t created by a deity, but did in fact arise out of unguided natural processes. How would that unguided life be different than what you see today? How would an unguided, completely materialistic universe differ from your God-directed, divinely mapped universe?

    • TO ALL COMMENTERS:

      I propose a simple thought problem to all of you. I would be very interested in seeing your responses. But for clarity’s sake please keep them as simple as possible.

      WOULD IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO YOUR VIEWPOINT IN THIS DISCUSSION IF YOU FOUND OUT THE FOLLOWING PIECE OF INFORMATION AND KNEW WITH REASONABLE CERTAINTY THAT IT WAS TRUE: THE SIMPLEST ORGANISM THAT EVER EXISTED IN THE UNIVERSE WAS A BACTERIUM.

      Again, please keep your answers as short and concise as possible.

      • “THE SIMPLEST ORGANISM THAT EVER EXISTED IN THE UNIVERSE WAS A BACTERIUM.”

        This demonstrates spectacular ignorance.

        Modern bacteria are the result of three billion years of evolution.

        Because you have no clue about evolution or how life began doesn’t mean nobody has a clue.

        • Rick,

          You are simply mistaken, the earliest known organisms are forms of cyanyobacteria that are roughly 3.7 billion years old. there are no known life forms earlier. One of the big problems in Origin of Life is that in between the time the earth finally cooled off enough for life to survive and the actual emergence of life there is a very short window of opportunity. That is why nobody who is rational at all accepts that pure luck was enough for life to begin. There isn’t enough time. Therefore everyone is looking for some chemical process that would make life INEVITABLE.

          • Moshe Averick,

            You say there wasn’t enough time for life to begin. I was wondering, how long would it take?

          • “One of the big problems in Origin of Life is that in between the time the earth finally cooled off enough for life to survive and the actual emergence of life there is a very short window of opportunity.

            Even if it were a geologically short period of time, it is erroneous to refer to it as a “window of opportunity” as if there was anyone alive to notice opportunies.

            “That is why nobody who is rational at all accepts that pure luck was enough for life to begin.”

            It is rather bizarre to try to substitute “pure luck” for the reality of nature. It was neither “pure luck” nor “supernatural intervention.” It was nature, all nature, and only nature.

        • Rick,

          Origin of Life research boils down to this: How to bridge the gap between non-organic chemicals to a step by step process that will end with a bacterium. What if you knew that there never was anything simpler than a bacterium. Would it change your views of the subject. It is a thought problem.

          • No matter how life actually originated, the impossibility of the supernatural isn’t going to change.

            The fantasy of the “IDOL” is never going to magically change to becoming reality — regardless of bacteria.

          • “Origin of Life research boils down to this: How to bridge the gap between non-organic chemicals to a step by step process that will end with a bacterium.”

            The “gap” has obviously been bridged: we can see life all around us. So the research boils down to figuring out how that natural bridge worked.

            And why “end with a bacterium”? Nature obviously didn’t.

      • Oh, and it did not escape notice that you did not attempt to challenge my assertions that:

        1) divine explanations have an unbroken record of utter failure to explain our origins or natural phenomena in general;

        2) natural explanations have a record of tremendous success at explaining our origins and natural phenomena in general; so

        3) therefore the rational, sane, honest default answer is life arose naturally, and the burden to prove otherwise is firmly on you.

        Instead, you changed the subject with your “thought problem”.

        That was a potentially effective, if intellectually cowardly tactic.

        • Rick,

          Divine assertions to explain the origin of life have not failed because nobody still has any clue how life began.

          Divine assertions to explain the origin of time space matter and energy have also not failed because nobody has a clue how the big bang happened.

          Science has no explanation whatsoever for the origin of life. All they have is specualative theories based on the faith-assumption that there MUST be a scientific explanation for everything.

          • “Divine assertions to explain the origin of life have not failed because nobody still has any clue how life began.”

            Humans have made divine assertions about pretty much every natural phenomenon they’ve witnessed. EVERY single mystery of nature EVER solved turned out to be NOT magic – divine or otherwise.

            You’re simply ignoring my point – intentionally I’m sure. So I’ll say it again.

            There is no reason whatsoever to propose any divine argument for the origin of life because divine arguments have failed so consistently, and natural causation has succeeded so consistently, for literally millions of examples, that to propose divine causation makes as much sense as proposing that Santa Claus delivered the first organism.

            The science is far from complete. But to suggest that the answers be sought anywhere other than natural causes is to surrender your intellect and integrity to close-minded dogmatism.

          • “All they have is specualative theories based on the faith-assumption that there MUST be a scientific explanation for everything.”

            You are so intellectually dishonest that I wonder how you live with yourself.

            Scientists are looking for a natural cause to the phenomena of life beginning. They’re doing this based on the fact that every single natural phenomenon ever explained had a natural cause.

            That is overwhelming evidence to guide scientists in their search.

            They’re ruling out starting with divine/supernatural causes because every divine/supernatural explanation for any other explained natural phenomenon has failed – every single one. Every mystery ever solved turned out to be NOT magic.

            That’s overwhelming evidence against divine/supernatural explanations.

            All of the evidence points toward the search for natural causation and away from supernatural causation.

            It doesn’t take “faith” to follow the evidence.

            Your pursuit of divine explanations, in spite of its centuries of utter failure, requires “faith”, as well as a huge dose of intellectual dishonesty.

          • Kevin Bjornson

            Divine assertions are impossible linguistically.
            Because an assertion is a form of communication.
            In order to communicate, the terms used must be empirically defined or they are nonsense. “divine”
            if equivalent to “supernatural” does not say what
            such terms means, only that they are other-than natural.
            Yet humans can communicate only using natural means.

            We cannot talk about “supernatural” and simultaneously communicate meaning. Because the means of communication are entirely natural.

            If you doubt, let’s try an experiment. What do you mean by “divine” (i.e. “supernatural”)?

          • Divine assertions to explain the origin of life have not failed because nobody still has any clue how life began.

            Now wait a sec … doesn’t that mean precisely that all those “Divine assertions” HAVE FAILED?!

            If nobody “had any clue,” how do you manage to interpret that to mean anything other than that every single attempt to explain the origin of life has failed?

            If any attempt had succeeded, then we would have more than “a clue,” we would actually know how it happened.

          • It doesn’t take “faith” to follow the evidence.

            In fact, trying to use faith instead of reason is the road to sabotaging understanding.

          • “Divine assertions” explain nothing. How could they, since they are not about reality (but rather about “something beyond…”)?

        • Rick,

          Rick,

          You’ve missed the point. Discussing Origins is fundamentally different than other types of investigations. If Life itself was created by God that means that everything that life encompasses is created by God. Put simply, Science explains how the plumbing works. Origin of Life is the question of where did the plumbing come from in the first place.

          • Discussing origins is NOT fundamentally different.

            How can you SAY this stuff with a straight face?

            The only reason we’re discussing the origin of some tiny spec of self-replicating matter and no longer discussing the magical origin of humanity is because of science!

            The origins of the Jewish people are understood better now than in Biblical times because of scientific investigation of archaeology. We know more about origins since Israel Finklestein than before because of science.

            We know more about the origin of our continents now because of the science of Lyell and Smith and so many others.

            We know more about the origins of early life because of the science of paleontology.

            We know a LOT more about the origins of humanity thanks to the science of Charles Darwin.

            The origin of life is not a different frontier, it’s just the LATEST frontier.

            Stop with the special pleading. Stop trying to cast the argument as fundamentally different so you can avoid the failure of the divine.

            And above all, stop sacrificing intellectual integrity in your attempts to defend your faith.

          • Firstly, it’s nice to see someone being so transparent with a “special pleading” fallacy. Most people try to disguise it more.

            And secondly, tell us Moshe, where the plumbing came from in a way that’s distinguishable from fiction. I could say that the plumbing is just tubular spaghetti appendages of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You say it came from God. Our arguments, if you insist on calling them that, are logically equivalent until one of us presents some evidence.

            We know tubular spaghetti exists and was created in the image of the FSM.

            Your turn.

          • Kevin Bjornson

            To say “Life itself was created by God” is logically equivalent to saying “Life itself was created by XYZ”.
            Because you have not defined your term.

            You might be right in your own head, but we will never know until you communicate what you mean.

          • But Kevin, it’s been claimed in this very thread (not by Moshe, though) that God is undefinable. It’s cute how that works, but not for long.

        • Rick,

          by the way, no one has any reasonable explanation for the history of the jewish people, their survival, their influence on mankind, the universal hatred they’ve experienced and the miraculous return to their homeland after 2000 years. Do you have a scientific explanation?

          • You’re kidding, right?

          • That question doesn’t even make sense.

            Of all the religions in the world, one has to be the oldest – Hinduism. One has to be the fastest growing – Islam. One has to be the most wide spread – Christianity. One has to be the most persecuted – Judaism.

            So what? There’s no magic here – just statistics.

            But here is an interesting fact. The ONLY mysteries of God that have been answered in the past 3000 years were answered by science. Science taught us that God doesn’t make earthquakes, plate tectonics do. God doesn’t cause lighting, atmospheric electrical charges do. God doesn’t make the planets move – gravity does. God doesn’t live outside the spheres – there aren’t even spheres.

            Of all the millions of words wasted in theological writings, there is not one definitive answer about God. We don’t know God’s gender, God’s location, God’s size, God’s color, how many gods there are, or any aspect of the nature of God(s). None of that is answered by theology. Theological arguments waft and wane like clothing fashions, but they never end in answers.

            But thanks to reason and rationality, thanks to people who set aside the veil of their superstitions and actually LOOKED at what the universe had to tell them, we’ve learned a great deal about what God isn’t, where God isn’t, and what God doesn’t do.

            If you want to learn something true about God, close the Torah and open a physics book.

      • It might make a difference. It sort of depends on the bacterium we’re talking about. As I understand the concept, a bacterium could be any organism with a cell membrane and lacking defined organelles, which, also as I understand it, could include the first organism.

        Just going from experience, however, I suspect you mean a fairly complex bacterium, something which necessarily skips a few steps between its current state and free floating polypeptide chains.

        So yes, if there were factual evidence of a jump such as that, and if we knew that said bacterium were unique in the universe, it would mean drastic changes to science, certainly, and this discussion would be going differently. I suspect that if we had the ability to make observations which encompassed the entire universe we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all.

        • Andrew,

          Again, this is only a thought problem. If that fact were true would you be willing to concede that the idea of an Intelligent Designer would become much more plausible?

      • >THE SIMPLEST ORGANISM THAT EVER EXISTED IN THE UNIVERSE WAS A BACTERIUM.

        If that were proven it would change my viewpoint on bacterium being the simplest organism that ever existed.

        But we know it’s not, we know that it’s the product of a few billion years of evolution so I’m not sure what your point here is.

        • Salvage,

          The point to a thought problem is not to change the parameters of the thought problem but to deal with it as it is.
          IF it were proven how would it change your viewpoint of this discussion. Bacteria are 3.5-3.8 billion years old. The oldest are essentially the same as the bacteria we have today. (I understand there are many types of bacteria, but they are not fundamentally different)

        • Salvage,

          You are mistaken about bacteria being the products of billions of years of evolution.
          Bacteria are the oldest living things on the planet that we know. There is a very short time frame in between the earth being cool enough to support life and when the first bacteria appear. This is one of the big problems in origin of life research. In order for there to be a naturalistic origin of life, the gap from non-organic chemicals to bacteria must be crossed VERY QUICKLY. Nobel Laureate Dr. Christian DeDuve suggested that it must perhaps begin within MILLENIA of the earth cooling off.

          • >There is a very short time frame in between the earth being cool enough to support life and when the first bacteria appear.

            Ah, so your god did some old hocus pocus and boom! bacteria. And for its next trick; the intestinal worm! NO OTHER POSSIBLE EXPLANATION IS POSSIBLE!

            Then later on your god would insist that he did it all in a few days and then it got messed up by a talking snake.

            You keep on putting a dress on the pig and insisting it’s Kosher.

            Unless you tell me that this God the Creator thing has absolutely nothing to do with that lunatic in the Torah.

            Unambiguously separate the two or every chat we have will always, always and forever come back to the mythological roots of your belief in Origin of Life even if it starts off in science.

          • I love how you believe without question that science has definitively proved bacteria like today’s bacteria existed 3.7 billion years ago, but you don’t believe science should look for natural causes for the formation of life.

            We didn’t find perfectly preserved bacteria from 3.7 billion years ago. We found carbon deposits we think were put down by some sort of bacteria.

            Just like some Discovery Institute shill, you firmly believe whatever science you can cherry pick to fit your faith-based assertions, and disregard the rest.

            What we KNOW is that the science is far from complete.

            What we KNOW is that divine/supernatural causes have been offered to explain EVERYTHING in nature, and these causes have a 100% rate of failure.

            What we KNOW is that 300 years from now our knowledge of life’s beginnings will have definitively advanced, but arguments over Biblical numerology, the divinity of Christ or the truth of the Trinity will not have changed one iota.

            Opinion is not fact. Without evidence, “God” is an opinion. You’re entitled to your own opinions, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.

        • Salvage,

          I’m actually a little surprised that you wrote what you did. I have said many times that the Creator that is implied in Origin of Life is totally separate from the God who spoke at Mt. Sinai, as is claimed by the Torah and the Jewish People.

          Because a person comes to the conclusion, like Antony Flew, that God the Creator exists,
          does not necessarily have any implications at all about religious dogma. It means one thing only: God created life. More than that we cannot say based on what we’ve been discussing so far.

          I have not attempted in this forum to present evidence that God is necessarily involved personally in our lives or that he revealed himself to human beings at any time other than it is apparent that he created life and wanted it to exist.

          So relax, you can rationally believe in God the Creator and still have your BLT sandwich at Macdonalds….you don’t have to keep kosher…..yet!

          • Moshe, by positing a God “totally separate from the God who spoke at Mt. Sinai, as is claimed by the Torah and the Jewish People.” aren’t you breaking one of the ten commandments?

          • >I’m actually a little surprised that you wrote what you did. I have said many times that the Creator that is implied in Origin of Life is totally separate from the God who spoke at Mt. Sinai, as is claimed by the Torah and the Jewish People.

            You’re little surprised? I’m over her with my gob smacked, you mean to say you:

            a) Believe in two gods?

            or

            b) Do not believe in the Torah god?

            >Because a person comes to the conclusion, like Antony Flew, that God the Creator exists,

            He came to the conclusion while dying of dementia, not sure if that’s much of an endorsement. A component that makes religion attractive is it’s a cure for mortality, when the abyss yawns wide loopholes are often sought.

            Except for my mother, when she was dying I would crack her up by asking if she had found Jesus yet.

            >does not necessarily have any implications at all about religious dogma.

            I think it does, gods and religious dogma are pretty tightly entwined.

            >It means one thing only: God created life.

            Um.. that’s some Underpants Gnomes logic right there.

            >I have not attempted in this forum to present evidence that God is necessarily involved personally in our lives or that he revealed himself to human beings at any time other than it is apparent that he created life and wanted it to exist.

            He? So this other god has a sex? Why would this God the Creator have one X & Y chromosome? Does it have a penis? Greater upper body strength and more hair? An inability to ask for directions when lost on vacation?

            >you can rationally believe in God the Creator

            No, I don’t think there is any more evidence for the one god over the other. This God the Creator if real has gone to great lengths to make its work seem natural to the point that assuming it exists is pointless.

            So, let’s say it’s real. So what? Your Torah god makes demands of its creation, the God the Creator doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with us.

            Well that makes it far more sensible than the other god, I will grant.

            I’m curious, what do you tell your congregation when you’re on the bima?

      • Moshe, if it were shown that there was no simpler organism, ever, than a bacterium, AND it was shown that there was no mechanism possible by which it may have arisen out of simpler non-living material using our current understanding of naturalistic processes, then I’d concede that we needed to start looking further afield.

        A few things to note:

        1) proving that there is NO mechanism possible by which it may have arisen out of simpler non-living material using our current understanding of naturalistic processes would a stupendously significant scientific result. If you can do this, you need to contact the Nobel committee urgently. At the moment, you have a hunch – that all future research in this field will be fruitless. The basis for this knowledge – if demonstrated, not just asserted – would make you the greatest biological scientist of our time, and your name better known than Darwin. Go to it.

        2) assuming that you’ve collected your Nobel, and shown that we must start looking further afield, then that’s all you’ve shown. Perhaps at this point, it would be appropriate to START looking in the direction that you propose. At this point, we wouldn’t have even begun to confirm your theory, but some people may well decide that, unlike at present, it’s worth checking out. Other scientists would no doubt also start checking out other possibilities – new naturalistic models, outside what we currently find plausible. It would remain to be seen which of these approaches yielded evidence, but you can not automatically assume the first would be successful. From what we know today, it’s not reasonable to expect that even if our current models were shown to be inadequate in explaining a bacterium, that yours could, because yours is supported by no evidence at all that’s in any way distinguishable from fiction.

        So yes, Moshe, I’m prepared to accept that if nothing ever existed that could lead to a bacterium through current understandings of naturalistic processes (I’ll consider your Nobel sufficient evidence for this), that we should START looking at your theory, as well as others, and see where that leads.

        • Moshe, you emailed me that you would respond to this after (last) Shabbat. How’s that going? Are you evading the task of writing an evasive reply? ;)

    • Rick K,

      “My teenage daughters now know more about the true origins of man than was known by all the creators of all of the world’s great religions combined.”

      The whole point of this discussion is that nobody has any clue what the origins of life are. There is no logical connection between science inventing a cellphone and science understanding how life began.

      I fail to see any connection whatsoever. Science knows about the things that science knows about. It is spectularly ignorant anywhere else. Modern scientific research in medicine has saved countless lives, on the other hand science has absolutely nothing meaningful to tell us why a human life is worth saving in the first place.

      Please see the thought problem I proposed. I am curious to see your response.

      • Moshe Averick,

        While there isn’t an accepted scientific theory of abiogenesis, that’s a long way from saying nobody has a clue. Science has all the pieces at this point, and current lines of experimentation appear to be very close to producing a workable mechanism.

        • Andrew,

          See this link to a lecture by Dr. Paul Davies on the origin of life. Dr. Davies is an expert in Origin of Life research, a believer in Scientific Naturalism. You can watch the first 20 minutes or you can go to abour 16 minutes into the lecture and hear what he has to say.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGaId-E0BF4

          Dr. DAvies sat on the official panel of the highly touted Origins Conference at ASU earlier this year which was chaired by Lawrence Krauss. On the panel were Nobel Prize Winners Sydney Altman and Lee Harwell.
          Also: J. Craig Venter, Richard Dawkins, Christopher McKay. Google it and see Davies’ presentation. Nobody disputes what he has to say.

          Most of what you see on that link that was provided are all things that can ONLY be done in the laboratory under the most pristine of conditions. Davies’ of course is talking about what could reasonably be expected to happen under purely natural conditions.

          • Moshe Averick,

            I’m heading out of town for the weekend at this very moment (actually getting dirty looks from the wife as I type this) so I won’t be posting for a while and I’ll have to watch that link when I get back.

            Happy Festivus,
            A.F.

  • Rabbi Moshe –

    Would you argue that since humans can never know the exact value of pi, that therefore geometry is too complex for us to have developed or learned naturally, so that it could only have been revealed to us by God?

    Would you argue that since we can never know the precise number of people killed in the Nazi Holocaust, that therefore the Holocaust never happened and is only a myth implanted in our minds by Otherworldly forces (for God knows what sinister purposes)?

    Would you argue that since we don’t know how life originated, that therefore God created it?

    • Steve,

      Life depends on the existence of functionally complex machinery and encyclopedic amounts of specified information. That is why I conclude that it is the result of intelligent information. Also Please see the thought problem that I just posted.

      • “That is why I conclude that it is the result of intelligent information.”

        Pretty sure you meant intelligent design. If so, I recommend more coffee. If not, please disregard this post.

      • Life depends on nature. There is no alternative.

        “[E]ncyclopedic amounts of specified information” did not exist until after humans evolved. Before that, there were no encyclopedias, specifiers, or users/gatherers of information.

        Intelligence evolved from life — before life, intelligence didn’t exist.

        Have you ever seen a bicycle that was built before life existed? Was there a newspaper called the “Pre-Life Times” that was published before life started?

      • “Life depends on the existence of functionally complex machinery and encyclopedic amounts of specified information.”

        No, it does not. You are dreaming.

        Having somebody around to “specify information” can only happen AFTER life has originated and evolved, not BEFORE. Let’s not kid ourselves.

  • Moshe,

    You claimed to have offered an hypothesis about the origin of life, but you actually offered nothing.

  • Moshe Averick declares, “My claim of intelligent agency is not unsubstantiated.

    But as a matter of fact, it is completely unsubstantiated. And notice that he has not even tried to offer any description of the design or design process that his supernatural “IDOL” allegedly used to bring about the beginning of life. He merely falls back on the excuse that nobody can say anything about it because God is not-of-this-world.

    Making that unsubstantiated claim that life is unnatural offers no cognitive help in understanding the origin of life. The supernatural is simply impossible, so it cannot explain anything.

  • Maybe some of the commenters would benefit from considering the difference, not between faith and reason, but between science and philosophy. Naturalism is not a fact or a science, it’s a philosophical worldview, and a self-refuting one at that, much like verificationalism before it. You ask for scienctific evidence of a philosophical point (“Prove God with science!”) but accept philosophical evidence of scientific points (“Naturalism is true, ergo abiogenesis transpired naturally”).

    The idea of secular/academic neutrality is absurd. Men like Richard Dawkins don’t want to protect science, they want to promote their own worldview. A worldview which, as David Robertson says, is likely going to lead to Europe being overtaken either by neo-fascism or Islam within the next few generations, most likely in our lifetimes, if they should succeed in tearing down Christianity.

    And over what? You think sand just spontaneously combusted into bacteria? Fine, whatever. So why is there something *at all* rather than nothing? Where did human consciousness arise from? How about Anselm’s ontological argument? Religious experience? Man’s desire for God and transcendant experience? The contingency of every existent thing? The impossibility of infinite regress? And that’s just natural theology, we aren’t even going to get into things like fulfillment of prophecy or the historical veridicity of the Torah and/or Christian holy books.

    The notion that ‘science’ –a term many throw around with the bravado of Dr. Doom promising to vanquish the Fantastic Four with his “Science!” (emphasis on the capital S and exclamation point, regardless of position in the sentence)–will explain everything is, ultimately, a philosophical one. In fact, it borders on religious. Richard Dawkins even admits himself to be a religious nonbeliever, in “The God Delusion”. Personally, I prefer the counter-option of being a non-religious believer. What’s really the bigger danger to human reason, amigo? Dogmatism, aggression, and contempt, or metaphysical disagreement? If it’s the former, then kindly tend to the log in your own camp’s eye.

    • > Naturalism is not a fact or a science,

      Sure, science on the other hand is science and facts are facts and there has never been anything better at finding facts than science.

      For instance naturalism doesn’t say anything about all life on this planet coming from a single cell but science? Won’t shut up about it!

      >Prove God with science

      Well yes, that’s how we find out if stuff is true, if you make some crazy claim that this invisible entity that no one reliable has ever seen made the universe in 6 days smart people are going to want some sort of proof.

      >The idea of secular/academic neutrality is absurd. Men like Richard Dawkins don’t want to protect science, they want to promote their own worldview.

      Richard Dawkins worldview is science, have you ever read any of his stuff? He won’t shut about it!

      >A worldview which, as David Robertson says, is likely going to lead to Europe being overtaken either by neo-fascism or Islam within the next few generations, most likely in our lifetimes, if they should succeed in tearing down Christianity.

      Oh… you’re a crazy person, I’m sorry, I thought you were merely silly.

      >And over what? You think sand just spontaneously combusted into bacteria?

      Um… no, why would anyone think that?

      > Fine, whatever. So why is there something *at all* rather than nothing?

      Why not?

      >Where did human consciousness arise from?

      Dunno, so it must be your god!

      >How about Anselm’s ontological argument?

      Is that when you debate with a bird?

      >Religious experience?

      Oh this one we know, it’s how humanity dealt with being aware of a world they didn’t understand so they filled in the “gaps”, so to speak, with gods. As science expanded our knowledge, filling those gaps, gods decline, hence the drop in religiousness of many Western cultures. The more educated the people the less then need voodoo.

      >Man’s desire for God and transcendant experience?

      We want there to be a sky daddy to take care of us.

      >The contingency of every existent thing?

      Uh not, sure what you mean here.

      > The impossibility of infinite regress?

      And that’s why Jesus is real?

      >And that’s just natural theology, we aren’t even going to get into things like fulfillment of prophecy or the historical veridicity of the Torah and/or Christian holy books.

      You mean like Noah’s Ark? The talking snake and the magic fruit? Jesus copying from other characters in the Bible? The whole hate gays thing? Yeah, you’re on pretty solid ground with that Bible thing!

      >The notion that ‘science’ –a term many throw around with the bravado of Dr. Doom promising to vanquish the Fantastic Four with his “Science!”

      And then Reed Richards kicking his ass with better “Science!”

      >will explain everything is, ultimately, a philosophical one.

      No, science has given up on that pipe dream thanks to quantum mechanics, where for every step forward you take three steps back but still end up in the same place only yesterday and tomorrow.

      > In fact, it borders on religious.

      No, you crazy silly person, it does not even live in the same ZIP code, science doesn’t do faith in any shape or form, you have to show your work, every single inch.

      >Richard Dawkins even admits himself to be a religious nonbeliever, in “The God Delusion”.

      Yes, and Einstein said that he didn’t think God plays dice with the universe but he was still an atheist. I think writers sometimes say stuff that you don’t understand.

      He was also wrong, God does play dice with the universe and they’re weirder than the ones they use in D&D.

      • “and there has never been anything better at finding facts than science.” — That, again, is a statement of naturalism. I believe you’d find that the Greeks found plenty of facts, without the modern scientific method. I do indeed believe in science and its power, but I don’t worship it.

        “Well yes, that’s how we find out if stuff is true, if you make some crazy claim that this invisible entity that no one reliable has ever seen made the universe in 6 days smart people are going to want some sort of proof.”

        I’m not a Young Earther, and calling witnesses unreliable or ‘crazy’ doesn’t make it so. As Sheldon says, I’m not crazy–my mother had me tested ;)

        “Richard Dawkins worldview is science, have you ever read any of his stuff? He won’t shut about it!”

        He makes a wonderful amount of sense when he talks about science, except for that hogwash about ‘memes’. When he talks about atheism, he sounds like a teenaged wiseacre.

        “Oh… you’re a crazy person, I’m sorry, I thought you were merely silly.”

        Referring again to those old, benighted Greeks, that would be an example of “ad hominem.” The point of the plight that Europe’s in has to do with the inability of a secular paradigm to deal with something as muscular as Islam, not some wackly Harold Campingism. When you insult Anglicans, they whinge and wring hands and surrender slowly. When you insult Islam, well… those cats don’t play nice.

        Clay producing the first bacteria via some odd electrostatic process is, in fact, one of the popular theories of abiogenesis. So you’d have to ask your pries–excuse me, scientists, why they think life popped out of the sand

        “Why not?”

        Seriously? That isn’t a retort, it’s either baldly incurious, logically incoherent, or conceding the point.

        “Dunno, so it must be your god!”

        Ouch, sarcasm. I’ll never be able to handle this level of shredding. Next you’ll accuse me of worshipping a sky fairy.

        “Oh this one we know, it’s how humanity dealt with being aware of a world they didn’t understand so they filled in the “gaps”, so to speak, with gods. As science expanded our knowledge, filling those gaps, gods decline, hence the drop in religiousness of many Western cultures. The more educated the people the less then need voodoo.”

        This one’s called “The God of the Gaps”. Two kinds of people believe in it. They’re both fundamentalists. Also, your statement is hideously Eurocentric–secularism just hasn’t risen up in places like Asia or Africa, despite the explosion of scientific education and research there. Secularism is a cultural ‘meme’ it you like that term, not an inevitable outcome. In fact, if you’d care to read the charter of most universities, you’ll find they were founded by (gasp, wait for it… Christians.)

        “Is that when you debate with a bird?”

        Now it’s puns? One might get the feeling that you like to mock more than to read philosophy. Then again, it is easier to joke than to think.

        “We want there to be a sky daddy to take care of us.”

        Tsk, there it is. Of course, Freud’s theory conflicts with what an awful, terrible celestial dictator Hitchens et al say God is. What is this GOd you don’t believe in? A brutal homophobe, or a kindly loving figment? Let’s not forget that we also just made up gods to fill in the gaps, so… geez, there sure are a lot of reasons for us to make up God. What about the one where religion is just a genetic virus that promotes social behavior? Sounds like the Reformed Church of Atheism needs to get its theology down.

        “Uh not, sure what you mean here.”

        I’m shocked. Argument from Contingency. Classic proof for God. It’s only been around for about seven centuries. I can understand if you’re too busy studying Laplace transforms or improving processing times for seismic imaging to catch up.

        “And that’s why Jesus is real?”

        Who said that? Certainly not me. Infinite regress refers to a non-eternal universe, nothing to do with Logos Christology, which wouldn’t even belong to natural theology anyway. The Straw Man is not your enemy, don’t take such swipes at him.

        “You mean like Noah’s Ark? The talking snake and the magic fruit? Jesus copying from other characters in the Bible? The whole hate gays thing? Yeah, you’re on pretty solid ground with that Bible thing!”

        Jesus copying from other characters in the Bible? I think you mean other characters in mythology, like the “Sun God” (Get it, ha ha, cuz he’s the son of god? Oh wait, that pun only makes sense in English… drat), or Osiris, etc? Zeitgeist The Movie, that the one? It’s utter tripe, but at least cite it properly. Also, you again seem to confuse me with a Young Earth Creationist or some kind of fundamentalist who takes ever word literally, in the strict sense. As in, when Jesus says “I am the Vine”, I must think he’s leafy, green, and gives off grapes? Boy, what a rube I am! Once more, focus your attention on me. The Straw Man… his voice is only in your head.

        “And then Reed Richards kicking his ass with better “Science!””

        And his super-stretchy arms, and three companions. However, as a point of agreement, let’s stipulate that Reed Richards is a pretty awesome dude. It’s nice to be able to come to some terms here. The point however is that people use the term ‘science’ when they in fact mean a talismanic belief in the scientific class to explain everything, when in fact very often scientists are really lousy at reasoning, and just as emotionally blinded as anyone. After all–clearly you *don’t* want there to be a “Sky Daddy”. The shoe goes on the other foot, maybe it’s atheists who are blinded by their desire for an atheistic universe, where they are the most evolved, enlightened creatures ever.

        “No, you crazy silly person, it does not even live in the same ZIP code, science doesn’t do faith in any shape or form, you have to show your work, every single inch.”

        Silly and crazy? Usually when denigrating an opposing view, it’s traditional to go with ‘stupid and evil’. But I guess I’m ‘delusional’, n’est ce pas? In which case, why are you arguing with me? Delusional, remember? And of course science doesn’t do faith, that’s why scientists never say anything like “We can’t explain this, but I’m completely confident that in time, we will.”

        Oh, darn.

        “I think writers sometimes say stuff that you don’t understand.”

        Of course they do. I scratched my head through half of “L’Etranger” before I realized I needed an English translation. Don’t even get me started on my foray into Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But no, I fully understood what Richard Dawkins meant. He is a fundamentalist believer in a naturalistic, materialist worldview. It’s very important to him. If he could exterminate every “religious” person in the world, he’d do it. If you don’t believe–ask him. He’s said it in as many words.

        “God does play dice with the universe and they’re weirder than the ones they use in D&D.”

        Well, there’s a few inconsistencies there. One, how can God do anything if he’s just a sky fairy? Or daddy. Whatever the hip kids call it these days. Two, I don’t think omnipotent, omniscient beings could be rightly said to take chances. An Open Theist might agree with you, but… an Open Theist is so desperate to be liked, he’d probably agree if you said the sky was purple, just to make a friend.

        What was it Hitchens said? “There is no God, and I hate him?” You might not think much of my brain’s function, but at least I’m not cogntively dissonant.

    • If I say: “Shakespeare never existed – this is absolute truth”, any sane person is going to respond by saying “prove it, and I will believe you.”

      If I say: “Elvis is still alive – this is absolute truth”, any sane person is going to respond by saying “prove it, and I will believe you.”

      If I say: “Jesus never existed – this is absolute truth”, any sane person is going to respond by saying “prove it, and I will believe you.”

      So when someone says: “The laws of physics always apply except when God intervened to create life”, no sane person is going to believe it until it is proved.

      But here’s some interesting context for this discussion. Intervention by god(s) has been used as the explanation for literally millions of events over thousands of years. And these claims have failed, time and time and time again, to survive critical scrutiny. In fact, in all those claims, not once has divine intervention been definitively proved.

      In short, divine intervention has all the traits of something that actually doesn’t exist and has never existed.

      So when discussing the origin of life we have two proposals: (1) natural processes – which have successfully explained natural events literally millions of times; and (2) divine intervention – which has failed to explain natural events millions of times.

      Given this, only an insane person would consider the “divine” explanation to be the default explanation. The ONLY valid default position is that life arose from natural mechanisms.

      The burden of proof is entirely upon those claiming divine intervention.

      Moshe Averick – however popular your divine argument may be, it can be completely dismissed until you can present irrefutable evidence. Truth is not determined by popular vote, and won’t be accomplished by writing opinion blogs. Go out and prove it.

      • Rick,

        YOur analogies are flawed. The fitting analogy is the following:

        If I find a papyrus that is 50,000 years old and it has some sort of writing on it that we can decipher and has a clear message. One investigator concludes that it was the result of naturalistic unguided processes and another concludes that it was written by an intelligent being, Upon whom is the burden of proof

        If SETI scientists receive a message in Morse code sending greetings to the people who call themselves human beings that they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt comes from a galaxy that is a million light years away and one investigator claims there is naturalistic explanation and another claims it is incontrovertible evidence for intelligent life outside of earth, upon whom is the burden of proof?

        • You did NOT just use the “words on papyrus” analogy, did you?

          Do you have a copy of “Signature in the Cell” next to your copy of the Pentateuch?

          Your analogy fails utterly because (1) neither your papyrus nor William Paley’s pocket watch are capable of replication with variation, and are therefore incapable of evolution; and (2) evolution “designs” without a designer.

          Completely natural processes create information (Meyer’s definition of “specified” is muddy at best, so I’ll use Shannon’s). So there is no reason to interject a deity to explain how we got here. Even self-replicating molecules “improve” through evolutionary mechanisms.

          How the DNA processes formed is just another gap in our knowledge of nature. It is a fascinating question. But it is no more fascinating than the origin and nature of the stars were to sky-gazing philosophers 500 years ago. They inserted God to explain, and they were wrong.

          How is it that you, who probably possess a deep cultural appreciation of history, are so immune to the lessons that history teaches?

  • Andrew,
    As far as the time limit on research, that is up to you.
    As I’ve said many times, I have already predicted that finding a naturalistic origin of life is a lost cause.
    It will never happen. My claim of intelligent agency is not unsubstantiated. There are certain levels of functional complexity and specified information beyond which no reasonable human being is prepared to accept are the result of an unguided process. Example: A bicycle, the front page of the boston globe. No rational human being is prepared to accept that those are the products of any unguided process because they are obviously well beyond those limits, whatever the actual line might be.

    The nanomachinery of a bacterium and its DNA based self replicating system are not only over that line, but they are beyond anything that current human technology can produce. If human technology ever becomes advanced enough to manufacture a bacterium it make it even clearer that an advanced intelligence was needed to create the originals.

    The products of Darwinian Evolution are irrelevant here because they totally depend on the highly sophisticted machinery of life being in place. Where did the machinery come from.

    As I said, certain levels of functional complexity and specified information are always, 100% of the time, products of intelligent agents. If you know of one please tell me.

    • Andrew,

      What I meant to say at the end was If you know of an exception please tell me.

    • Moshe Averick,

      As I’m sure you’re aware, evolution isn’t exactly an unguided process. I’m also sure you’re aware that bicycles and newspapers don’t have the ability to reproduce. The reason those items could only be produced by design is because they lack the ability to reproduce, not because of any limit on complexity.

      The lack of a workable theory of abiogenesis does not invalidate the theory of evolution. That’s a false dichotomy. Just because we don’t have all the details lined up in front of us doesn’t mean all bets are off. Even if this were a valid complaint, positing a designer just adds another level to the same problem. If lack of a provable theory of the origin of life is a problem for evolution (it isn’t), why isn’t the lack of a provable designer a problem for intelligent design? Since when does ID have a working scientific theory of abiogenesis?

      You claim that “functional complexity and specified information” only originate from intelligent design, but this really doesn’t appear to be a scientific opinion, nor does it tally with observable fact. Do you know of anyone other than Dembski and the Discovery Institute clowns who feel that specified information cannot arise from natural processes?

      Science is currently aware of two sources of complex information, those being evolutionary processes and human design, which is arguably an extension of the evolutionary process. That would mean that specified complexity arises from design about 50% of the time, unless you tally individual instances. If you compare biodiversity to human ingenuity, examples of actual intelligent design constitute a portion of the whole that is only significant in terms of novelty.

      • Andrew,

        Perhaps you misunderstood me. I don’t invalidate the theory of evolution at all. In fact, for arguments sake, I am fully prepared to concede that neo-darwinian theory is true. It is beside the point. All I am saying is that before darwinian evolution can be operative you need the highly functionally complex bacterial machinery plus its digitally encoded genetic self replication system in place. Once it is there, then evolution can proceed. The question is where did the machinery come from in the first place.

        In other words Darwinian evolution is nothing more than a testimony to the incredibly awesome potential contained in the genetic information of the first living organism. It is not a testimony to what can result from non-intelligently directed processes. The bacterium is designed to evolve.

        Let us agree that specified information can result from evolutionary processes, once you have the evolutionary machinery in place. Where did it come from? Evolutionary processes obviously cannot explain its existence because evolution itself is dependant on this machinery.

        The origin of all of this can only be reasonably explained by an intelligent designer. However if scientists come up with a plausible alternative I will be forced to admit I am wrong. I put it to you that the chasm between life and non-life will never be crossed.

        • Moshe Averick,

          I suppose I didn’t quite grasp your position there. My apologies. I do believe I addressed your core argument of complexity nonetheless. There simply isn’t enough information to rule out naturalistic process or rule in anything else.

          I’d have to say, and in fact I quite possibly have said, that positing an intelligent designer based on the available evidence is decidedly unreasonable, especially while the option of admitting that nobody actually knows for sure exists.

        • Moshe wrote:

          “Let us agree that specified information can result from evolutionary processes, once you have the evolutionary machinery in place. Where did it come from? Evolutionary processes obviously cannot explain its existence because evolution itself is dependant on this machinery.”

          Likewise, intelligence obviously can’t explain its existence because intelligence itself is dependent on this machinery, as far as 100% of available evidence tells us.

          • JP,

            You have confused the scientific facts with philosophical conclusions. Any functionally complex material object certainly needs an intelligent designer.

            An intelligent being that is not physical does not necessarily need a designer.

            Please see the thought problem I posed at near the beginnning of the comment section

          • No, Moshe, complexity does not imply design. If there’s one thing we learn from evolution (if we listen) it’s that.

            Human beings are pretty complex, wouldn’t you say? But they’re not designed – we’re the way we are due to a series of adaptive responses to our environment.

            Even if you contend (without evidence) that the mechanisms of adaptation are designed
            (and I’ve seen no evidence that they are), that doesn’t change the fact that human beings, and every other lifeform on earth, in all their complexity, are not designed. Not one.

            If you contend that the design of every living thing on the planet (past, present and future) was encoded in the very first bacterium, then you are, in very simple terms, demonstrably wrong. At that point, even with the adaptive mechanisms in place, not a single future living thing’s form was determined. Not one. 0% design present.

            So to argue that complexity is evidence for design, and that complexity requires intelligence are not only assertions without evidence, but you yourself are evidence that those assertions are false.

    • Life in the physical universe is not a “product of intelligent agents.”

      Intelligence is a result of life, not the other way around.

      The “IDOL” is pure, blind faith — fiction, not fact.

    • “…whose shtick is that life couldn’t have arisen by natural means, ergo God…. the Achilles heel of [atheism]…”

      That nails the Averick “IDOL” shtick . . . . God is the Achilles’ heel of atheism!

  • I know blogging is raw but this is just cringe inducing…

    Moshe I hate to burst your bubble but Coyne is an internationally published author who gets paid an awful lot of money to talk I’m pretty sure he’s not going to bother talking to you; a guy on the Internet who recycles ID nostrum.

    Out of your league doesn’t even begin to describe the situation. I know, you talk to a universe creating god but, still.

    • Salvage,

      OK, why don’t you arrange for the two of us to have a public debate.

      • I have a better idea, why don’t you actually try to understand the theories you are so vehemently insisting are wrong?

        With a foundation of knowledge THEN try and poke holes in it that’s what science is all about.

        See that’s what really funny about ID clowns, they think they’re the ones attacking science when science is snake that eats itself constantly. Whenever any scientist makes any new theory there are dozen ready to pounce like Hyenas in glasses and pocket protectors shouting thinks like “Poppycock!” and “Balderdash!”. They will do everything in their brainy power to prove their colleagues are wrong.

        If there were real issues with evolution science would have left it on the scrap heap with ether a medium for light, Ptolemy’s model of the solar system and New Coke.

        Whereas you theist types just pretend that your god had a really good reason for killing babies in their cribs. In fact you make it a holidays!

        Like Hanukkah, celebrating the Zealots driving Hellenic culture out to ensure their savage god rules supreme.

        Say, which came up with democracy, math, architecture and all that other civilization stuff?

        It’s symbolically ironic that candles are lit.

        • Say, which practiced rampant infanticide, pedophilia, sexism, militant nationalism and had a total disregard for human life (gladiators come to mind)? And the God of the Torah is the “savage”?

          The creationism discussion aside, your complete disregard for reality when it comes to the nature of Hellenism and Judaism demonstrates how hopelessly brainwashed you are. You’ve got your facts a bit mixed up. Time to read something other than Hitchens and Dawkins.

          • >Say, which practiced rampant infanticide,

            Both but to be fair it was only the Spartans that killed their own kids as policy and only if they were physically defective. Considering their lifestyle probably a mercy.

            But killing the children of your enemy was pretty much SOP for any conquering force back then. Well the boys anyway, the women you could enslave.

            Hey, what does the Torah say about slavery again? Pro? Con?

            >pedophilia,

            Both but to be fair when you’re in a culture that has a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years and a high infant mortality rate you have to start banging out the spawn as soon as biologically possible.

            >sexism,

            Both. A recently hysterical example of the Jewish strain was the photoshoping out Hillary Clinton out of the kill bin Laden photo.

            Of course the Jewish myth has Eve blamed for The Fall and that’s why women are filthy creatures that Rabbis like Mushe won’t even shake hands with.

            >militant nationalism

            Both but to be fair that’s typical of every nation.

            And that sure got the Jews in trouble with the Romans didn’t it? If only the Zealots had been good clients and paid their taxes they could have kept Israel as a homeland. Roman has no flex when it comes to bucking.

            >and had a total disregard for human life (gladiators come to mind)?

            I’m not sure if Galidators are all that Hellenic, that was more a Roman thing but I’m sure they had blood sport of their own just like pretty much every civilization has.

            Our version is stuff like the NFL, how many crippling injuries have there been for our entertainment on the grid iron? I mean we stop the game when some poor bastard’s leg gets snapped but the minute they haul his carcass and career off the field it’s game on!

            >And the God of the Torah is the “savage”?

            Oh very much so:

            Deuteronomy, chapter 7

            1: “When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Gir’gashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Per’izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb’usites, seven nations greater and mightier than yourselves,
            2: and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them; then you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them.
            3: You shall not make marriages with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons.
            4: For they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.
            5: But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Ashe’rim, and burn their graven images with fire.
            6: “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth.
            16: And you shall destroy all the peoples that the LORD your God will give over to you, your eye shall not pity them; neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.

            Aw, what a sweet god you have! He makes people just so his Chosen ones can cleanse them off the Earth.

            I wonder, did your god watch these wars the way I watch the Giants pound on the Eagles? Cheering on his team?

            >how hopelessly brainwashed you are.

            Ha! Ha! Yes! I am brainwashed by history books that list all the awesome things that came out of the Hellenic period! I am also an anti-Semite because I notice that the Jewish god is a fan of genocide.

            Ironic no?

            >You’ve got your facts a bit mixed up.

            Strange, you haven’t actually addressed the stuff I did bring up, I will refresh:

            Say, which came up with democracy, math, architecture and all that other civilization stuff?

            So, what have I got wrong there?

            >Time to read something other than Hitchens and Dawkins.

            Oh I do, truth be told I’m not much a Hitchens fan, the man was a drunk and his writing while technically proficient was pretty derivative. He was also a bigoted, sexist, fevered ego *sshole.

            Hey, kind of like the god of the Torah!

      • Debates are won by oratorical skill, not strength of argument. Duane Gish is a liar and charlatan who wins a lot of debates. George W. Bush did better in debate than Al Gore.

        Arguments over natural processes are won on paper, with logic, words and math. He who sets aside evidence and appeals to faith can win a public debate, but surrenders any chance of actually finding truth.

    • Salvage,

      keep on cringing, it’s good for you

  • I agree, Normann. I also find it astonishing that someone (Rabbi Averick in this case) can find it implausible that something as simple bacteria (or even something more basic) can come to be without some kind of creator, yet something as insanely complex and advanced as God could just pop into being.

    To Rabbi Averick I say, prove that God exists, then we’ll discuss whether he had a hand in creating life or not. Until then, you’re further away from an explanation of life than any scientist is.

    • For Rabbi Averick to “prove” that “God – that you imagine to be “insanely complex and advanced” (whatever you mean by that!) – exists” you need to provide a better idea of what you mean by that. Like I do, Rabbi Averick believes (at least I think he does) in the undefinable G-d of Abraham, Issac and Jacob (from Torah)… something that you don’t even have a nominal grasp of.

  • Normann Wheland

    Moshe said: “In other words, Dr. Coyne and I disagree about what is the most reasonable answer to the question “How did life begin?”

    Wrong again, Moshe, as usual. The most reasonable answer is: “we don’t know but SCIENCE is working on it.” Falling back into “we don’t know so God MUST have done it,” is the just the same old discredited argument-from-ignorance fallacy that you repeat like a endless tape loop. Is that what you say when you lose a sock in the dryer: “I don’t know what happened to that sock, so God MUST have dematerialized it and teleported it to Heaven.”?

    • Norman,

      You are certainly entitled to your opinion. there is no dispute that scientists are working on it. the difference is that you have accepted as an article of faith that they will find an answer and are prepared to wait an indefinite amount of time for them to try and find an answer. I have already come to the conclusion that they will never find an answer because as I said, the gaping chasm between life and non-life is too great to have been crossed by natural means. I’m not going to twist your arm, if you disagree with my conclusions you disagree.

      The other difference between us is that I have put out a falsifiable hypothesis. You have no falsifiable hypothesis, just faith that eventually they will find an answer. I am more than happy to debate you in a public forum also if you make the arrangements.

      • Rabbi,
        The reason why it’s reasonable to assume that science will find an answer is that it has a track record of finding the answers. Your argument against science finding the answer is simply an argument from incredulity.

      • Normann Wheland

        Wrong again, Moshe, as usual; you said, “the difference is that you have accepted as an article of faith that they will find an answer and are prepared to wait an the difference is that you have accepted as an article of faith that they will find an answer and are prepared to wait an indefinite amount of time for them to try and find an answer for them to try and find an answer.”

        I have never said anything close to the words that you are trying to put into my mouth. I don’t invoke “faith” at all nor am I able to wait “an indefinite amount of time for [scientists] to try and find an answer.” My time on this earth is finite, as is yours. I would be pleased if the abiogenesis scientific breakthrough occurs in my lifetime, but if it doesn’t, so be it.

        • Norman,

          You just confirmed that you have accepted as an article of faith that scientists will find a naturalistic pathway to life. You write that if it occurs in your life you would be pleased but if not so be it. How much time should we give scientists, how much time are you willing to wait until you are prepared to accept there is no answer. If 500 years pass and no solution is found you would still be proclaiming “I believe”

          • Moshe Averick,

            How long should we wait for religion to provide proof of its hypothesis? Atheists don’t have faith that science will find the answer. We just recognize an unsubstantiated and frankly unreasonable claim when we hear one.

            Science may not have an answer, but science is at least trying to find one. What we have on the religion side of things is an unsubstantiated claim and no researched logged for the last… well, ever.

            So, since you feel there should be a time limit placed on research, my question to you is, how long should we wait?

            Regards,
            A.F.

          • It makes absolutely no difference whether scientists ever figure out and prove exactly how life began. There is simply no other “pathway” to life than nature. You fanatically wish there could be something supernatural to comfort you, but wishing won’t make it so.

            You can’t get “outside the physical universe:” there is no such place (outside your imagination).

          • Normann Wheland

            Wrong again, Moshe, as usual. You are just flat out lying. I NEVER invoked “faith” in my argument or even hinted that I accepted on “faith” if or when a naturalistic scientific explanation of abiogenesis would be. If you disagree, please be specific and reference a direct quote from me that supports your unfounded claim. What I said was, “we don’t know…” What don’t you understand about that simple declarative three-word sentence?

          • How many years are theists prepared to wait for God to put in an appearance?

            And if God started blogging and put up his picture, would you really believe it? How would anybody be able to know?

      • You haven’t put out any hypothesis at all, let alone a “faslifiable” one. You need to get real.

      • Moshe, you haven’t yet “put out a falsifiable hypothesis,” but if you wanted to, what would it be like?

    • Norman – I am curious why you label a logical argument as “argument-from-ignorance fallacy”? It seems clear that life either arose from random processes or from intelligent processes. It has to be either one or the other. So if science is not finding plausible answers in random processes then why is consideration of the other alternative deemed “fallacy”? It seems to me your argument is closer to the “shoot the messenger because I do not like what he is saying fallacy.” Instead, why not present your rock-solid proof that intelligent design is not possible?

      • Randy,
        You’re going to have to look up the meaning of “argument from ignorance fallacy.” It doesn’t mean what I suspect you think it does.

      • >It seems clear that life either arose from random processes or from intelligent processes.

        “seems”

        That’s a funny word, people use it without thinking about what it means.

        Every culture has myths that attribute natural phenomenon to gods and they’ve never been right. Not about the sun, the moon the Earth or the stars.

      • “It seems clear that life either arose from random processes or from intelligent processes.”

        It is perfectly clear that that is NOT the case. Your false alternative doesn’t provide any cognitive service.

        For one thing, remember that intelligence arose from life, so it couldn’t have happened the other way around.

        And “random processes”?!? That’s more pure fiction.

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