Orthodox Rabbi vs. Atheistic Biologist Who Won’t Put his Money Where his Mouth is: A History

January 23, 2012 3:00 pm 120 comments

University of Chicago in Hyde Park, home of Dr. Jerry Coyne

I have some very sad news to report…Dr. Jerry Coyne (Zealous Atheist – Professor of Biology at the U. of Chicago), and I (Orthodox Rabbi – Fearless Crusader for Belief in God and Spirituality)…are breaking up. I know it’s hard to believe, but our passionate, tempestuous, whirlwind affair has come to an end. In his final letter to me Jerry wrote: “I’m done with Averick, and certainly will not accept his invitation to meet and discuss whether God created the first organism.” The hottest love has the coldest end – Socrates

As an aside, it’s interesting to note how Dr. Coyne framed the “discussion-that-we-will-never-have.” He did not say we would discuss “whether it is possible for life to emerge from non-life through a naturalistic process.” We already know the answer to that question: Scientists have their backs against the wall and in 65 years of research have come up with no plausible suggestions. As Dr. Paul Davies put it, “We haven’t a clue.”  If that was the subject of the discussion it would be over before it started. The only question worth discussing is if we can be certain it was created by God. (If Mrs. Davies is reading this: No, I am not saying that Dr. Davies supports Intelligent Design theory and to Terri-Lynne McCormick: I hope you don’t think that writing a special message to Mrs. Davies is “sexist”)

Origin of Life expert, Dr. Paul Davies. To the question of how life began, he answered, "We haven't a clue."

In any case, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a final walk down “memory lane” before we bury this once and for all. You see, my very first column here at Algemeiner.com, which appeared on 4/1/11, was entitled An Open Letter to Dr. Jerry Coyne: Atheistic Biologist. This was the beginning of my wonderful relationship with Algemeiner about which Dr. Coyne recently wrote: “Rabbi Moshe Averick has been a royal pain in the tuchus…spreading his creationist views all over the internet, most shamefully at the Algemeiner Journal, a Jewish weekly newspaper…” How did this all come to be? Without further ado, a brief history of Jerry and me:

1. 3/6/11 – Rabbi Adam Jacobs, of Aish Hatorah of Manhattan, a Jewish adult-education center, posts an article entitled A Reasonable Argument for God’s Existence on his blog in the religion section of the Huffington Post. He graciously acknowledges that much of it is based on material he culled from my “indispensable” book, Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. The article draws 7000 comments and 8000 “Likes.” It also draws the wrath of Dr. Jerry Coyne…..

2. 3/7/11 – The very next day Jerry launches an attack on Rabbi Jacobs (who happens to be the sweetest, gentlest, and most wonderful person you could ever  meet…not like me at all), on his Why Evolution is True blog in a post entitled, A rabbi proves God. In the first line Jerry shows us what a classy guy he really is: “As a cultural Jew, I’m especially embarrassed when someone of my “faith tradition” makes stupid arguments.” (Jerry seems shocked to discover that there are rabbis who actually believe in God) Oddly enough, Dr. Coyne also exhibits a streak of racism: “Evangelical Christians can be as moronic as they want, but when a rabbi says something dumb, well, that sets my DNA on edge.”  I guess that Jews, through the magic of natural selection, are supposed to be smarter than inferior gentiles (unless, of course, they are non-Christian gentiles). Jerry ends the post with one of those declarations that make us understand why he is so admired and beloved as an atheistic/humanistic/universalistic type of guy: “Rabbi Jacobs, you make me ashamed to be a cultural Jew.”

On 3/9/11, in a post "Why I am a Cultural Jew", Dr. Coyne offered this photo with the caption, "As a form of self affirmation, I submit for your consideration the pastrami sandwich at Harold's New York Deli."

3. 3/9/11 – The screaming headline on Why Evolution is True reads: Moshe Averick: Another Creationist Rabbi. Although Dr. Coyne employed the full-frontal assault technique against Rabbi Jacobs, with me he tries a different tack; he turns on his oh-so-exquisitely-subtle wit and charm: “Perhaps I was wrong to assume that rabbis have higher respect for science and less tolerance for theological bull$#**, than do Christian preachers or Muslim imams… frankly, I’m weary of arguments like this one, and deeply saddened that they come from Jews.” O.K., so it wasn’t so exquisite, it wasn’t so subtle, and exhibited neither wit nor charm…nobody’s perfect.

4. 3/27/11 – In a post entitled Another Rabbi embarrasses me, Jerry attacks Rabbi Jacobs and myself for the third time, again emphasizing our Jewishness while expressing his contempt.

5. 4/1/11 – I post my first Algemeiner.com article – which I mentioned earlier – An Open Letter to Dr. Jerry Coyne: Atheistic Biologist. This was essentially a response to Dr. Coyne’s nasty attacks on Rabbi Jacobs and myself. Prior to this – with the exception of my book – I had done very little writing and was pleasantly surprised at the positive reaction I received from the editors at Algemeiner. I continued submitting articles and they continued posting them (Jerry, you have no one to blame but yourself). For the next 7-8 months Dr. Coyne and I go our separate ways.

Is Dr. Jerry Coyne guilty of racism for suggesting that Jewish DNA is superior to that of "moronic Evangelical Christians?"

6. 11/21/11 – In his usual charming, affable style – David Berlinski makes an ass of himself defending intelligent design” – Jerry attacks a friend of mine, Dr. David Berlinski, and in the process gratuitously insults the scientists at the Discovery Institute – “the idiots at the Discovery Institute…[which is] reserved for only the highest poo-bahs of ignorance.”- Berlinski is a rather brilliant academic, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, and describes himself as a “Jewish agnostic.” He has written extensively on – what he perceives as – the very serious flaws in modern evolutionary theory. In this post Jerry did show his “mellow” side, though; at least he didn’t say anything about the fact that Berlinski is Jewish.

7. 12/14/11 – In disgust, I respond to the aforementioned post about Berlinski and the Discovery Institute with: Severe Weather Alert: Dr. Jerry Coyne – Militant Atheistic Biologist – Is Blowing Very Hot Air in Chicago. I freely admit that I really did dump on Jerry here. The offensive tone of his article was completely uncalled for.

8. 12/15/11 – Jerry wastes no time responding. On Why Evolution is True, he posts: Oy Gewalt! A creationist rabbi attacks me. (One thing you cannot say about Dr. Coyne is that he “never writes or calls.”) Although he does describe me as the “notorious and obstreperous Rabbi Moshe Averick,” and does say that: “Averick is a liar and makes me ashamed to be a (cultural) Jew” (the Professor doth protest too much about the “Jewish” thing, methinks), he did show a playful side and along with the article posted the following picture, which seems to be a clear challenge to engage him in a debate on the main topic about which we so profoundly disagree: the Origin of Life.

Jerry challenges me to a debate with this picture on his blog

9. 12/22/11 – (Don’t worry we’re almost finished) I offer to bury the hatchet and hold out the peace-pipe to Dr. Coyne with: Dr. Jerry Coyne: My Culturally-Jewish, Atheistic, Biologist Bro’ at the University of Chicago: “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. 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….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!” I even sent him a “virtual gift”  of kosher pastrami as a peace-offering.

My virtual "peace-offering" to my culturally-Jewish bro', Dr. Jerry Coyne. I really thought it would do the trick.

10. Oddly enough, I do not hear back from Dr. Coyne about his challenge to me and my positive response. I thought that the era of “blog-to-blog” salvos was finished and we would discuss the issue in a menschlich way. Alas, it was not to be. In a series of posts on 12/17/11, 1/8/12, and 1/17/12 by Dr. Coyne, and my own response on 1/16/12 (where I called him “The Nutty Professor,” playing on the fact that Dr. Coyne does have a certain resemblance to Jerry Lewis), our relationship dissolves due to irreconcilable differences. In his final post where he announced the “break-up” and that he would not meet me in a debate, the nicest thing he had to say was that I was a “sexist” actively engaged in enslaving and oppressing women on every continent.

"I certainly will not accept his invitation to meet and discuss whether God created the first organism." -Dr. Jerry Coyne

Frankly, it is clear that Dr. Coyne was relieved that he found a good excuse not to discuss or debate the issue of Origin of Life with me in an open forum. Origin of Life is the soft, defenseless underbelly of the façade of “scientific” support for an atheistic worldview. It’s clear to me that it is for this reason that Richard Dawkins also “indignantly” refuses to debate Dr. Stephen Meyer on the same subject. The Talmudic adage “this too shall pass,” is appropriate here. Despite the zealous attempts by materialistic scientists like Coyne to cloud the public’s understanding of the issue, in the end the truth will emerge victorious. So long Jerry, it’s been good to know’ya. All good things must come to an end.

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. .

120 Comments

  • Great article! Orthodox Rabbi vs. Atheistic Biologist Who Won’t Put his Money Where his Mouth is: A History | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com certainly tends to make my afternoon somewhat better :D Keep going alongside the exceptional articles! Thank you, Simply

  • Freeman Dyson wrote: “There is an enormous gap between the simplest living cell and the most complicated naturally occurring mixture of nonliving chemicals. We have no idea when and how and where this gap was crossed.” (A Many Colored Glass: Reflections on the Place of Life in the Universe, Freeman J. Dyson, Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2010, p. 104)

    Moshe Averick offered this as a response: “The obvious answer is that the gap was never crossed by some unguided process, but that life was created/designed by some super-intelligent being.

    The contrast between Dyson’s realistic humility, on the one hand, and Averick’s preposterously conceited arm-waving about a magical “super-intelligent being,” on the other hand, is stark.

    Practically speaking, Dyson admits that he doesn’t know how the gap was crossed, and Averick claims that he does know. The problem with Averick’s nonsensical claim is that he hasn’t got a clue what he is talking about. Averick claims that the gap was crossed by “God,” yet he has no coherent, explicable idea about Who, What, or Where this alleged “God” is — and has not the slightest hint of an idea about how He performed that crossing. Dyson doesn’t know, and admits it. Averick doesn’t know, yet keeping proclaiming that he does. Dyson has knowledge, science, and humility; Averick has faith, blather, and bluster.

    • gather what lifeless materials you wish, rocks , sand, water, minerals, etc., and get back to me when you have created life.

  • Score: Orthodox Rabbi -1; Atheistic Biologist 110.

  • Score: Orthodox Rabbi 0, Atheistic Biologist 100.

  • To the question of how life began, origin of life expert, Dr. Paul Davies answered, “We haven’t a clue.”

    And that is correct. Anyone who claims to know how life began, most especially including IDists/Creationists, is talking through his hat.

    At least the scientists looking into abiogenesis are on the right track. The religionist, on the other hand, not only don’t have a clue, but their “theories” are absurdly impossible.

  • And the Orthodox Rabbi cannot “put his money where his mouth is” because he is purporting to talk about something not-of-this-world. There isn’t any way to turn real money into something supernatural that will actually leave reality behind.

    Obama is highly practiced at making money disappear — but even he is not getting it to the “otherworld.”

  • Rabbi Moshe Averick also likes to refer to what he calls “the unproven ASSUMPTION that life came from non-life.”

    But check out the context here. If life did come from something, then “non-life” is the only possibility. The only alternative is that life was always around somewhere — but, given the harsh conditions of the “big bang,” that’s not too likely. So, abiogensis is the reasonable assumption.

    The “IDOL” “theory,” on the other hand, is pure nonsense-on-stilts. “Nonsense of a High Order,” as one might point out: the goofy believe in a God who commands, “Thou shalt have no other Intelligent Designers Of Life before me!”

  • Rabbi Averick keeps trying to generate sympathy for his argument by trying to recruit bicycles on his side.

    But how could that help him, unless he could show us a spec sheet for a bicycle written by God? He cannot even do that, let alone produce a God-written spec sheet for how to make bacterial DNA.

  • Moshe, your sarcasm betrays your insecurity.

    “Almost everyone is familiar with the term defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are the “automatic” (i.e. unconscious) mental behaviors all of us employ to protect or defend ourselves from the “threat” of some emotional pain. More specifically, ego defense mechanisms are mental behaviors we use to “defend” our self-images from “invitations” to feel ashamed or guilty about something. There are many different kinds of ego defenses and the more traditional (psychodynamic) theories of personality have always tended to distinguish the various personality types, at least in part, by the types of ego defenses they prefer to use. One of the problems with psychodynamic approaches to understanding human behavior is that they tend to depict people as most always afraid of something and defending or protecting themselves in some way; even when they’re in the act of aggressing. Covert-aggressive personalities (indeed all aggressive personalities) use a variety of mental behaviors and interpersonal maneuvers to help ensure they get what they want.”

    - “In Sheep’s Clothing” by George K. Simon on how to deal with manipulative people.

  • Moshe Averick
    January 25, 2012
    11:38 pm
    Salvage,

    No, I’m just right.
    _________

    Hush child, you are not. You are a typical theist who believes in its god the same way a junky believes in its heroin; against all reason.

    Confession time, I don’t read your stupid dribbling nonsense anymore, I haven’t read this post and I doubt I will read any others as you are a) cringe inducingly unfunny when you try b) repeating the same nonsense over and over again and c) well not need for a c), a) and b) are more than enough.

    What I do like to read is the one new commentator that always shows up and carefully takes your silliness apart and then gives up when they realize just how obtuse you really are. Glenn Davidson has that honor in this one.

    Thanks Glenn but to paraphrase the great Mitch Hedberg, you’re playing tennis with a (wailing) wall; it doesn’t matter how you hit the ball with whatever spin it will always come back the same way and you’ll collapse long before it does.

    • Thanks, and yeah, I think it’s time to quit with this matter for the time being.

      The pointlessness of invoking “God” has been made clear, and Moshe just repeats the ID mantra because he has nothing.

      • Glen, consider that invoking “determinism” is at least as pointless as invoking God. Maybe you could exercise your skills by debunking the determinists for a while (though they barely showed up in this thread, after trying to make a splash in the “Nutty Professor” one). Just to make some interesting reading for those of us who enjoy it.

        Also, I’m not sure I follow your references to “forms”. Are you contending that Platonic “Forms” (not to mention Kantian “Categories”) are just as pointless/meaningless as “God”? Is that the “coincidence” you mentioned?

  • When I was a kid in school back in the last century, I remember studying a phenomenon called “freeze-thaw scree formation.” But none of the teachers were nuts enough to claim that the cracks in the rocks were “specified information” giving the rain “assembly instructions” for making the scree slopes.

    There is a lesson in that for the believers in “Creation by God!” — a notion pushed by Moshe in the form of his “IDOL” (the “Intelligent Designer Of Life”).

  • Rabbi Moshe Averick holds to the belief that ‘The DNA in the “simplest” bacterium is a series of highly sophisticated messages giving instructions on the assembly of highly complex proteins and molecular machinery that sustain life.”

    One of the “simplest” messages from WWII is nicely applicable to that belief:

    NUTS.

    In fact, DNA does NOT contain “messages,” not even of any “sophisticated” sort. DNA does NOT contain “assembly instructions” of any kind to anyone.

    Except perhaps metaphorically . . . .

    But, of course, biology, like reality as such, is not a metaphor.

  • Rabbi Averick points out the truism that “specified information and specified complexity are ALWAYS the result of intelligent intervention.”

    In other words, products of intelligence are ALWAYS the result of intelligent intervention.

    Or, to put it another way, the results of intelligent work are ALWAYS the result of intelligent work.

    But the Rabbi then goes on to make the absurd claim that “… bacteria are no exception,” as if he believed that bacteria were the result of some intelligence at work — which is an impossibility because bacteria pre-date the evolution of intelligence!

  • Moshe,

    If Coyne is a chicken for refusing your offer, then you are a chicken for refusing mine. How’s that for logic?

    Bawk, bawk, bawk!

  • “The obvious answer is a Creator,…”

    Not only is that non-obvious, it is also a non-answer.

    Obviously, the supernatural is neither necessary for nor possible in nature.

    And as for that notorious “Creator,” well remember the obvious question: “Who created Him!?” If your answer is that “God the Creator” didn’t Himself need to be created because He is not part of the universe . . . . well, that is the whole point. God isn’t there; He isn’t anywhere. He simply isn’t, period.

    • A “Creator” is indeed the OBVIOUS answer – I’m sorry that your training in Logic 101 does not allow you to immediately conclude this. Listen carefully: there are 2 and only 2 possibilities – either life emerged solely via ‘internal’ physical laws acting on mass-energy (the “no-Creator” option) *OR* the emergence of life required an ‘external agent’, namely, a “Creator”. Be kind enough to propose a viable third alternative (HINT: it doesn’t exist!). The body of evidence known to science today very strongly opposes the ‘no-Creator’ option, i.e., a purely natural origin of life. Conclusion: a “Creator” is the OBVIOUS answer. You can argue who or what that “Creator” is but only someone that is uninformed would argue the fact of a “Creator”.

      • “The body of evidence known to science today very strongly opposes the ‘no-Creator’ option, i.e., a purely natural origin of life. Conclusion: a “Creator” is the OBVIOUS answer.”

        Concluding option B is true based on a lack of evidence for option A = Argument from Ignorance (logic 101).

      • I love the theistic mindset; “I don’t know the answer, you don’t know the answer therefor I know the answer!”.

        What must it be like to live in such a möbius loop of illogic.

      • Jorge offered this fallacy: … there are 2 and only 2 possibilities – either life emerged solely via ‘internal’ physical laws acting on mass-energy (the “no-Creator” option) *OR* the emergence of life required an ‘external agent’, namely, a “Creator”.

        In fact, there are NOT “2 possibilities” but really only 1. That is, there is only NATURE — there isn’t any alternative. The notion of an unnatural “‘external agent’” that is not part of reality does not make sense (and offers no possibilities whatsoever).

        Jorge also added this myth: The body of evidence known to science today very strongly opposes the ‘no-Creator’ option, i.e., a purely natural origin of life.

        In fact, 100% of the “evidence known to science today” is that there was “a purely natural origin of life.” There is no actual evidence for anything else — and there is no possible evidence for any “unnatural origin of life.”

  • I disagree that I have the burden of proving that there is a creator.

    Of course you do, for you don’t have the first bit of evidence for it.

    The truth of the origin of life is either one of two options: either the functional complexity of the simplest life is the result of intelligent intervention or there is a naturalistic process.

    What about Aristotle’s forms? Sure, you don’t care about them, but I can’t see that they’re any worse than conjuring up a God. Indeed, why are you using typical scholastic arguments, but are unwilling to consider the Greek thought that was behind that?

    Every single example of functional complexity and specified information that we know (beyond a certain level of sophistication, a bicycle, poem by Robert Frost) of is the result of intelligent agency.

    Is that so? Tell me how life would exist without such information. The fact is that it’s rather obvious that life has the information necessary for it to function.

    More importantly, have we ever observed life to be created by intelligent agencies?

    Of course we haven’t, and that’s what is at stake. Move the goalposts as often as you like, and life is still physis, while what we create is techne. The two are almost always immediately distinguishable.

    Anything emerging through a Darwinian evolutionary process is irrelevant because it depends on the already existing highly functionally complex and specified information-rich machinery of life.

    No, evolution is relevant, because no serious abiogenesis researcher would pretend that the information-rich machinery of replication arose during abiogenesis. Simpler forms of life are always proposed precisely because the odds of, say, a bacterium arising from the muck are virtually zero.

    Higher odds than those for your unevidenced fictional cause, no question, yet still too low for science.

    The obvious answer is a Creator,

    What’s obvious about proposing a Creator when no creator has ever been observed producing things like life de novo? Why not eternal forms, or magical beans? The fact is that if you’re going to credit mere fictions as causes, your Creator is hardly better than any other bizarre concoction.

    I don’t need to prove that anymore than I need to prove that cave drawings in France are the result of intelligent design,

    Because humans have created life de novo? If not, the analogy clearly fails. As it indeed does.

    or for that matter, in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, nobody needed to “prove” that the obelisk was the result of intelligent design, that was obvious.

    Was the obelisk living? A clear fail.

    The extraordinary claim is that the machinery of life could emerge through an undirected process,

    The non-extraordinary claim is always the one that uses the known to explain the unknown. It’s a species of absurdity to explain the known via the unknown.

    for that claim, you need extraordinary evidence.

    Ours is the least extraordinary claim, for it relies upon actual probabilities, not ID fakery and epistemological fallacies. Nonetheless, we await the evidence prior to claiming to have it. All we’re doing is insisting on using evidenced causes, not fictions like you do, and yet you don’t mind claiming that your mere fiction is the “best explanation.”

    • Glen,

      You confuse and complicate the issue unnecessarily.

      There are only two options.

      The effect is the proof of the cause. The existence of my jacket is the proof of the tailor, I don’t need to know anything else about him. Morse code signals from outer space themselves are the proof of the intelligent life that sent them, even if we never meet them or see them.

      You are right, simpler forms are always PROPOSED, but there is no evidence that they ever existed or could exist. The only reason simpler life forms are proposed is because scientists accept as an article of faith that there MUST be a naturalistic explanation. In 65 years they have gone absolutely nowhere.

      • You confuse and complicate the issue unnecessarily.

        The issue is complex. You’re a reductionist who tries to reduce it to simplistic levels that favor your preconceived notion.

        There are only two options.

        Only if you force it to be so.

        The effect is the proof of the cause. The existence of my jacket is the proof of the tailorr, I don’t need to know anything else about him.

        The muskrat is proof of muskrat parents. Of course if you actually care about the science, you want to know a great deal about the tailor, the muskrat parents, its parents, and the parents of those back millions of generations, to when there weren’t muskrats, only a vole-like rodent.

        Eventually you get back to the origin of life, naturally. Of course that’s interesting and difficult, but you get nowhere by demanding that we treat physis (“nature” is a common translation of that) as if it were techne. Or if you assume that life and intelligence are not as they are now, the products of a long process of evolution and of dependence upon material, energy, and inheritance.

        If we see a tailor-made jacket, we expect other products of civilization. If a muskrat is similar to a jacket, then where are the cities, the metallurgical detritus left behind in making needles, the pottery, perhaps even the writing of this intelligence which made the muskrat? Oh, nowhere, this is “like the tailor,” only utterly unlike the tailor, because this God has nothing whatsoever to do with metallurgy or other products of intelligence.

        Yes it’s complicated. Intelligence is complex, not the simple magic that IDists demand that it must be, since they assumed the deductive stance of the scholastics, believing that complex intelligence derived from simple intelligence. There is no reason to believ that there was ever a simple intelligence at all.

        Morse code signals from outer space themselves are the proof of the intelligent life that sent them

        If we decode those coded signals, we will learn of civilization, technology, and a long history of development of their species, unless they just sent us myths and theology. Why don’t we get any of that from your God? Because he’s a simple construct from people who didn’t understand the complexities of life and the development of intelligence.

        You are right, simpler forms are always PROPOSED

        There is evidence for an RNA world, although that world is not necessarily close to the origin of life. Why are rhybozymes involved with transcription, or even exist at all?

        Simpler forms aren’t just proposed, bacteria, archaea, and eukarya are all observed to be highly evolved forms, unless they are the odd “degenerate” forms. The genetic code shows signs of having evolved, with amino acid affinities being higher for RNA sequences that are close-by to those now coding for them.

        No, we have evidence of evolution that you have never learned, because you aren’t interested in exploring the matter, rather in pushing the simplistic view of IDists. Since you don’t care about the evidence for evolution heavily shaping present forms of life, you can just ignore the fact that we actually have evidence of simpler forms of life existing before the present complexity. It’s convenient for you to ignore said evidence.

        but there is no evidence that they ever existed or could exist.

        “We show here that anticodons are selectively enriched near their respective amino acids in the ribosome, and that such enrichment is significantly correlated with the canonical code over random codes…. The ribosome thus serves as a molecular fossil, preserving biological evidence that anticodon-amino acid interactions shaped the evolution of the genetic code.” From the abstract by David B. F. Johnson and Lei Wang, “Imprints of the genetic code in the ribosome,” PNAS May 4, 2010 vol. 107 no. 18 8298-8303

        No, you don’t know, or, apparently, care about the evidence. It’s not that it doesn’t exist, ID doesn’t lead you to any such evidence, hence you don’t have to do science or even learn it.

        The only reason simpler life forms are proposed is because scientists accept as an article of faith that there MUST be a naturalistic explanation.

        The only reason anything is assumed in science is to try to fit cause and effect together. That isn’t what ID is about, that isn’t what apologetics is about, rather they are about not doing science and not caring about the general effects of causes, such as intelligent life. And it’s not at all the case that it is still only done because of the integrity of those who don’t settle for simple answers, there is now evidence that life was once simpler. You don’t know it because you don’t care about evidence, only your simple “answers.”

        In 65 years they have gone absolutely nowhere.

        In about the same amount of time the standard model of physics has held, despite being widely believed to be rather incomplete. What should we do, give up physics, say that God imposed the standard model upon us?

        In 500 years the “design hypothesis” has given us nothing of any value whatsoever.

        • “Ribozymes,” not “rhybozymes.” Don’t know where that last one came from.

          • Glen,

            In other words, you cannot think of a single example. The article you quoted is a speculative hypothesis based on the unproven ASSUMPTION that life came from non-life. Those types of declarations come out all the time. they have almost no bearing on any real answer to the origin of life “conundrum” as microbiolgist Eugene Koonin put it.

            The reason why there are no examples of specified information and complexity that emerge through an unguided process is because the notion itself is absurd. Anyone who thinks that a short hyrogliphic
            on a cave wall is the result of a natural process has lost touch with reality. Specified messages simply do not emerge except from an intelligent source. The DNA in the “simplest” bacterium is a series of highly sophisticated messages giving instructions on the assembly of highly complex proteins and molecular machinery that sustain life. It is as absurd to imagine that they emerged without intelligent guidance as it is to assume that the comparitively “primitive” instructions that came with your cellphone are the result of an unguided process.

          • In other words, you cannot think of a single example.

            In other words, you still haven’t in the slightest advanced any evidence that there is a god that would produce life as it is. Hence you throw up all of this fluff about how DNA is like writing or some such thing, when there isn’t even any reason to understand DNA sequences as being symbolic.

            Science fits cause to effect. That is why language is expected of humans. What can we expect of an unseen and unobserved being? Nothing at all.

            Santa Claus, God, what’s the difference? If I said that Santa Claus made life you’d laugh. Change the name of your magical being, though, and it’s supposed to be a serious claim.

            The article you quoted is a speculative hypothesis based on the unproven ASSUMPTION that life came from non-life.

            Obviously you don’t recognize how science is done. Make a hypothesis, do the observations. That’s what the paper I quoted documented.

            Naturally it doesn’t impress you, it’s honest science dealing with actual evidence, something that ID apologists neither do nor respect.

            The reason why there are no examples of specified information and complexity that emerge through an unguided process is because the notion itself is absurd.

            There is a host of examples of specified information emerging through an unguided process, those seen in evolution. The predictions of how such derivation will occur have been made, and life has borne them out.

            Even Stephen Meyer admits late in his book, after egregiously conflating “design” and evolution for hundreds of pages, that “…there are some features of living systems that we should expect only if mutation and selection had generated them…” p. 457 Stephen Meyer, Signature in the Cell New York, Harper Collins, 2009.

            Sure, you deny it, then turn around and say that you’re discussing the origin of life, when clearly the whole denial of science can’t help but deny both evolution and the hypothetical abiogenesis. But of course you did deny that specified information arises without direction, something that you assert in various places regarding evolution, so of course I have to respond to such unevidenced assertions.

            Oh, where’s the evidence of a God, or any other magical being, producing life, or of even doing anything else?

            Anyone who thinks that a short hyrogliphic
            on a cave wall is the result of a natural process has lost touch with reality.

            And anyone who thinks that a short hieroglyphic is the result of a supernatural being is equally at a loss of mental capacity.

            Also, anyone who confuses life’s hereditary and evolved complexity with the often simple productions of humans does not argue legitimately. Complexity has never been the mark of human design, and God has hardly been observed.

            Specified messages simply do not emerge except from an intelligent source.

            And genetic information is not a specified message. Only in a broader sense is it even specified complexity, as in the confusion of “specified” meaning merely that it is specified and specified meaning that someone specified something are quite different meanings.

            DNA information is not a message. It is a digital-type causal informational state that exists in a complex evolved transcriptional and translational environment.

            Has God ever been caught producing such information? I thought not.

            The DNA in the “simplest” bacterium is a series of highly sophisticated messages giving instructions on the assembly of highly complex proteins and molecular machinery that sustain life.

            I’ll slightly backtrack, because, again in a very broad sense, you could consider genetic information to be “messages.” Clearly not as you mean “messages,” however.

            Say, has God ever been found to produce messages, you know, of the kind that could stand up in court as having come from God? No, I thought not.

            Not that genetic information is even like human messages. It exists in a much more evolvable form.

            It is as absurd to imagine that they emerged without intelligent guidance as it is to assume that the comparitively “primitive” instructions that came with your cellphone are the result of an unguided process.

            Sorry, they evolved. I pointed out evidence, you dismissed it with prejudice and ignorance. That is your problem.

            What is also your problem is to actually give us a magic being that exists unlike any known intelligence, produces life that is a great deal unlike our products, and that would want to operate within the limits of evolution and the pre-biotic chemicals (believed to be) reasonably common on earth.

            Find a specific cause for a specific effect. That is what science does, that is what any honest enterprise does. That is not what you do.

          • And anyone who thinks that a short hieroglyphic is the result of a supernatural being is equally at a loss of mental capacity.

            To move slightly further into the absurdity of claiming that a supernatural entity goes around writing messages anywhere, how does anyone ever propose to do archaeology under Moshe’s “worldview” (attempt at a heavily-fictionalized imposition upon the world is more like it)?

            So you find pictures in caves: Well, who do you suppose did it, God or humans?

            How can you know? God’s quite the prolific writer, you know, spitting out the P. falciparum (cause of malaria) genome, virus genomes, insect genomes (you know God and his beetle collection), monkey genomes, and people who at least claim that they speak for God when they say “magic can do it,” or the equivalent.

            Throw out your useless archaeology books. God’s been spraying graffiti across the landscape, and there’s no telling what he might have written. Babylonian cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Linear A, Linear B. You say it’s all “natural,” that evolved beings did it. You simpleton, intelligence isn’t the product of evolution, it is a precursor to it.

            Moshe has spoken. Who cares what the evidence says, he says that intelligence doesn’t depend upon evolution and context, and that writing needn’t come from observable beings.

            So much for science.

        • Glen,

          The design hypothesis has never been refuted.
          Let’s assume you find a message in the sand that reads ” Hi Glen, nice to write to somewhere else besides the Algemeiner, cheers, Moshe” with a smiley face next to it. Let’s call that “Level X” of specified information.

          Let’s call a child’s Hot Wheels car Level X of specified complexity.

          Name me one example of specified information or specified complexity equal to, or higher than Level X that was not the result of an intelligent agent.

          Products of Darwinian evolution from Bacteria onward are not relevant because they are dependent on the machinery of life already being in place and just beg the question.

          In other words, there are no examples, specified information and specified complexity are ALWAYS the result of intelligent intervention, bacteria are no exception.

          • So, ignore all of the relevant information that I discussed and resort to the same type of disanalogies that are all that you have ever used.

            Supply some evidence for the design of life on the order of human techne, or you have nothing.

            You won’t, rather, if you do anything, it will be to spin another false analogy.

            It’s boring and useless, and it’s the best that ID can muster.

          • Just one more thing, a cross-post from Faye Flam’s column:

            The issue always comes down to meaningful evidence for a claim. If you have meaningful evidence for a “God” that creates rabbits, you very well have to consider that possibility when you’re looking at rabbits.

            If, however, you just think that rabbit immune systems “just couldn’t evolve,” there’s no call for evoking a rabbit-making God. Or for a flagellum-making God, if you can’t imagine how the bacterial flagellum evolved. What, specifically, points to God as a cause, if you haven’t seen what God does, or don’t even have evidence that it exists?

            Science found out how Platonic solids (as crystals) form in the earth because they didn’t invoke fictions like “forms” or “miracles” to explain them. Indeed, that is how explanation is even possible–by recognizing that not just anything and everything “could happen.”

            What has been observed to happen could happen, as well as derivations from said observations, while what cannot be observed or reasonably extrapolated from observations (not from analogies) have no standing to be considered.

            Either you recognize the limits of this world, or you can’t do science. Magic beans, magic gods, Aristotelian forms, they’re all ways of contriving to prevent science and discovery.

            The magic believers will always insist that whatever hasn’t yet been explained is their magic’s doing, of course, but that route has always been the anti-knowledge and anti-science route.

            Moshe and ID explain nothing meaningfully, and think that they have a right to do so because past contingent events are very difficult things to know. It simply doesn’t work that way.

            Their lack of knowledge and standards of evidence is their nadir, not anyone’s forte.

          • “[S]pecified information and specified complexity are ALWAYS the result of intelligent intervention, bacteria are no exception.”

            Except that bacteria are not examples of “specified information and specified complexity.” You are just making that up (in order to appear to have an argument when you don’t).

            Your notion is to assume a Supernatural Specifier, namely your beloved “IDOL” — but faith is not the maker of reality.

      • Rabbi Moshe Averick offered this as his understanding of science: “The only reason simpler life forms are proposed is because scientists accept as an article of faith that there MUST be a naturalistic explanation.”

        In fact, there is nothing of faith involved in science (since faith is anti-science). Scientists quite simply accept the fact that nature actually exists, that there is no alternative to it, and that you need to stick to the facts and evidence in order to understand anything.

        Rational scientists (and non-scientists, too) operate on the principle that religious faith is not only a dead end but intellectual suicide.

        • Mark Patterson

          Faith is not anti-science. In fact the scientific enterprise arose in a faith milieu. Scientists don’t just accept the fact that nature exists. They also have a faith that the application of their minds will reveal hidden depths. There is no a priori reason to assume that.

          Faith is not intellectual suicide. Some forms of religion may have that effect, but so do some forms of atheism. In fact, atheism can lead to a strong sense of alienation from the universe, as expressed by Jacque Monod. Faith leads people to see the universe as harmoniously designed and worthy of study.

          • >do some forms of atheism.

            How many forms of atheism are there and how are the different?

          • “Faith is not anti-science.”

            You may have faith that “faith is not anti-science,” but nevertheless, it is.

            Faith can only come up with idiocies like “Creation by God!” Faith has to be anti-science — or else admit that there is nothing left for it (faith) to do.

            “In fact the scientific enterprise arose in a faith milieu.”

            Historically, religion did come first. Then science arose — not because of the “faith milieu,” but against it and in spite of religion.

            “Scientists don’t just accept the fact that nature exists. They also have a faith that the application of their minds will reveal hidden depths.”

            There is no faith involved in using reason. Faith is anti-reason.

            “There is no a priori reason to assume that.

            Nothing “a priori” about it: As people grow up, they learn that they can perceive reality well before they ever get any dose of faith. After that, faith can do nothing but get in the way.

            “Faith is not intellectual suicide.”

            So maybe “intellectual polio” or “intellectual lobotomy” are better descriptions.

      • “In 65 years they have gone absolutely nowhere.”

        In the 3000 or so years since the Old Testament got its start, world-wide efforts to find God have gone absolutely nowhere. You’re not working with a level playing field, Moshe. (Or a full deck, for that matter, evidence-wise.)

  • Rabbi Moshe Averick makes the assertion that “The extraordinary claim is that the machinery of life could emerge through an undirected process,…”

    He’s wrong, of course, since an “undirected process” is the only possibility. Before the emergence of life, not even Hollywood existed, let alone directors.

    It is not in the least bit extraordinary to point out that life is perfectly natural. It is, on the other hand, a rather extraordinary claim to say that life was miraculously created (since miracles are only mirages).

    • Steve, you are talking nonsense.

      ‘…since an “undirected process” is the only possibility…’

      How do know this? You don’t. Your claim is nothing other than an irrational and unjustified bald assertion.

      For argument’s sake, let’s say that God really did create life. Then your dogmatic irrational assertion would be false. But worse, your epistemic system would have no way of knowing this fact this because you a priori rule out the possibility. Thus your science is nothing but irrational fundamentalist dogmatism.

      How silly.

      You need to be open to ALL possibilities to access the truth about the universe. Take off your blinkers… science is about searching for TRUTH, not setting up arbitrary boundaries to exclude what you don’t like.

  • Rabbi Averick points out that “Every single example of functional complexity and specified information that we know (beyond a certain level of sophistication, a bicycle, poem by Robert Frost) of is the result of intelligent agency.

    Now that is certainly true — since intelligence is required for creating “specified information.” And that is precisely why the emergence of life did not involve any “specified information”: there was nobody around to create any specifications.

    The notion that there was some NOT-OF-THIS-WORLD being to do the specification makes no sense, because NOT-OF-THIS-WORLD specifications would have no effect on this world (i.e., reality).

  • Rabbi Averick asserts: “The truth of the origin of life is either one of two options: either the functional complexity of the simplest life is the result of intelligent intervention or there is a naturalistic process.”

    Logically, the Rabbi has presented only one option, viz., a naturalistic process (which is the truth). His other alleged “option” of “intelligent intervention” in the origin of life is simply a contradiction in terms: he is trying to claim that “there was intelligence before intelligence evolved.” Strictly nonsense, Moshe.

  • What a sad saga…. :( Lets try and count how many times Steve Stoddard embarrasses himself. I make the count at 15 so far.

  • Since Averick is too afraid to debate me, I’ll just post my reasonable argument for Alien Design (AD):

    Bacteria are so complex that the human mind simply refuses to accept they are the product of an undirected process. Who put these tiny machines together? Creators of course!

    The philosophical problem is: How do we escape from the dilemma of the infinitely regressing series of creators? The answer is simple: There must be creators who are outside of the physical universe, who do not require a preceding creator.

    These creators are ALIENS who have existed forever in a dimension that is outside of the physical universe. The entire plot of the classic film, 2001: A Space Odyssey is based on this obvious principle.

  • Averick” “The facts on the ground are as follows:…”

    Well, Rabbi, you got the facts almost all wrong, so what is your next step going to be?

  • Kevin Bjornson

    Of course Ashkenazi Jews tend to be genetically superior. This can be explained by artificial selection, not intelligent design.

    First because the selection process consisted of prohibiting Jews (in medieval Europe) from engaging in many ordinary careers, but allowing higher level professions like money-lending and trade. Those Jews in higher level professions tended to be more intelligent and they reproduced at greater rates than economically oppressed Jews. Though the policies were not intelligent, they resulted in greater intelligence among subsequent generations.

    Second because this was not by design. Because medieval Christians did not intend to create greater intelligence among European Jews. The “hidden hand” of evolution created what was not intended or designed.

    Thus, the very greater intelligence of European Jews proves that evolution can proceed through artificial (human-caused) selection, and that intelligent design plays little or no part.

    One more thing. The allegedly learned Rabbi conflates affirmative “humanism” with negative “atheism”. In reality, humanism affirms positive human values, while atheism nihilistically rejects the undefined as if it were defined. Agnosticism with respect to “xyz” is the proper humanistic approach.

    • ‘negative “atheism”.’

      The prefix “a” does denote a negative on theism, viz., the rejection of belief in an undefinable, impossible supernatural being. But there is certainly nothing necessarily nihilistic about that. Nihilism is a separate issue.

      Agnosticism, though, is the worst possible choice of a stand — even worse than theism (which is dead wrong). The theist claims that the impossible is possible. The atheist points out that the impossible is not possible. And the agnostic crys that maybe the impossible is possible but who the hell could figure it out one way or the other (the mind and logic being so unreliable and all)?!

    • Kevin,

      There really is no such thing as “artificial” selection. Everything, including human beings, are part of nature, therefore every type of selection is natural selection. The distinction is arbitrary and untrue.

    • >while atheism nihilistically rejects the undefined as if it were defined

      Uh.. no, not is doesn’t, it rejects the idea of gods as being real.

      Beyond that atheism says nothing about anything.

      It’s truly bizarre that some people can’t seem to understand that simple fact.

      • False. Atheism makes positive claims about God, thus needs to defend itself.

        He who makes the claim bears the burden of proof!

        This cowardly style of argument is very telling of the new atheists.

        • What is a “positive” claim that atheism makes about God?

          • Jr,
            That he does not exist.

          • No, the typical atheist approach today is to say that there is no evidence that God does exist. That one has no sufficient reason to say that God exists.

            Your distortions are only a bad-faith response, much as your ignoring the issues that a person brings up against your simplistic approach, only to repeat your simplistic view once again, is.

          • Can you explain how claiming something does NOT exist constitutes a POSITIVE claim?

        • There are no such things as gods is as “positive” a statement as saying there are no such things as dragons in the London Underground. If I were to say that would anyone sane leap up and demand that I prove it? Insist that I travel to every station recorded the compete lack of dragons? How would I “prove” such a thing? Aha you would cry, you can’t prove there are no dragons in the tubes therefor there MUST be at least one!

          If you think gods are real than I’m afraid it’s you who has the burden of proof, this is common sense and not some sort of rhetorical trick.

          Cowardly makes as much sense in this context as new atheists.

          Although I think when your kind says new or militant or any other nonsensical prefix you mean vocal.

          Yes, we are finally calling you theistics out on your deep silliness and I’m guessing that stings.

  • Let’s face it: Moshe Averick is a chicken!

    I have offered Averick (zealous nonalienist) a pastrami sandwich to debate me (Fearless Crusader for Belief in Aliens) on the origin of life. Unfortunately, he is afraid that his militant faith that aliens did not create life will be exposed.

    Bawk, bawk, bawk!

  • Rabbi, you haven’t noticed (perhaps) that by putting together “highly specified information through an unguided process” you are contradicting yourself. It has to be one or the other. If the process is “unguided,” then the information cannot be “specified”. You cannot have your cake, and eat it, too.

    And if information is “specified” in a process, then the process is guided — as only actual conscious living entities are capable of doing.

    Thus, not to put too fine a point on it: “specified information” was not possible before the origin (and evolution) of life.

  • “He did not say we would discuss “whether it is possible for life to emerge from non-life through a naturalistic process.” We already know the answer to that question: Scientists have their backs against the wall and in 65 years of research have come up with no plausible suggestions.”

    Hah! I can go one better than that. It’s been 400 years since Newton proposed universal gravitation but we still don’t know how gravity acts at a distance. Does that mean God sucks?

    Only a moron would take the inability in a mere 65 years (with funding a fraction of what is spent each year on coming up with a new acne cream) as “evidence” that there can’t be a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life. But if you do believe that (rather than just engaging in rhetorical games), will you promise to stop believing in God if we do come up with a naturalistic way for life to have arisen?

    No, I didn’t think so. Dishonesty does not become “a man of the cloth.”

    • Even if the actual mechanism of abiogenesis has not yet been discovered in 650 years, or even 6500 years, there still wouldn’t be any more evidence for an unnatural explanation than if it had only been 6 days. An unnatural explanation is simply not a possibility. There is not, nor could there ever be, an iota of evidence for Moshe’s “IDOL” (aka God).

      All evidence, past, present, and future, consists of something in real life — not anything of fantasy, e.g., religion and not-of-this-world dreams. “Evidence for the unnatural” is a contradiction in terms.

    • If “man of the cloth” means “religious authority pushing the existence of the supernatural and submission to God’s Will” — what do you imagine could be an honest way to be such a person? Is it possible to be both religious and honest at the same time and in the same respect?

      • Yes, its possible. One can honestly accept the assertions of religion as true and abide by them, as long as no thought is applied to those assertions. A little bit of wishful thinking, personal credulity and fear helps the process along. Some people honestly see no indignity in any of this.

        • chala,

          In order to believe that life came from non-life you need more than just a little bit of wishful thinking.

          • Sir,

            It may just be chauvinism to think life is more than an emergent property of a collection of chemicals in a specific way. It is within the ambit of chance in the eons that have elapsed.

          • Zero wishful thinking is needed to grasp that life is a 100% natural phenomenon.

            And even a lot of wishful thinking isn’t quite enough to believe in the supernatural, the not-of-this-world — that takes massively blind faith (the rejection of reason, facts, evidence, logic, common sense, etc.)

    • John,

      The facts on the ground are as follows: There is a gaping chasm between the simplest living organism known to exist (bacteria) and non-living chemicals. There is no known process that can assemble functionally complex machinery and highly specified information through an unguided process. (Darwinian Evolution only occurs once life has begun.) Science is clueless how such a thing could happen. In the meantime the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that such a phenomena is possible. If you feel you are allowed an unlimited amount of time to “solve” the problem then be my guest. I don’t have your faith.

      • “There is a gaping chasm between the simplest living organism known to exist (bacteria) and non-living chemicals.”

        That alleged “gaping chasm” is entirely a figment of the imagination. In real life, no such “gaping chasm” exists. You have no clue as to how to scientifically support such a “chasmic” notion.

        Simply quoting people who claim that they have no clue how abiogenesis happened, and therefore it couldn’t have happened (since you and/or they are so smart) is quite senseless.

        “There is no known process that can assemble functionally complex machinery and highly specified information through an unguided process.”

        Notice how you prepared that statement to include the unwarranted assumption of “highly specified information” — thereby assuming the existence of the “IDOL” you claim to be proving.

        So let’s take the claim you pretend to be making, viz., that there is no known process that can cause life to emerge from non-life.

        In that case, the proper response is: so what? What in the world makes you feel that makes any difference to (or about) the nature of life?

        I know you don’t like to discuss (or debate) these kinds of questions, but they are questions relevant to your claims.

      • “There is a gaping chasm between the simplest living organism known to exist (bacteria) and non-living chemicals.”

        What are “non-living chemicals”? Name a single molecule in any living creature that isn’r made up of the same 92 naturally occurring atoms. Name the chemical differences between the reactions of DNA and the reactions in any high school lab beecker. Sure, the reactions get more complicated but they remain the same basic chemical reactions

        “In the meantime the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that such a phenomena is possible. If you feel you are allowed an unlimited amount of time to “solve” the problem then be my guest. I don’t have your faith.”

        Science fully accepts that it must produce evidence of how life arose before it becomes a truely scientific subject. But science IS allowed an unlimited time in which to do that because science is interested in truth not rhetoric.

        But YOU have the burden of proving that some god created life and that’s not met by citing to books written by people without a clue how the world really works or by appeals to your personal incredulity about science.

        I do have a kind of “faith” that science is our best way to understand the world but it’s based on the incredible increase in human knowledge since science became an organized human activity. What comparable increase of knowledge has come from religion?

        • Moshe Averick

          John,

          Perhaps I should have said “non-organic” chemicals as in “organic chemistry” and “non-organic chemistry”

          I disagree that I have the burden of proving that there is a creator. The truth of the origin of life is either one of two options: either the functional complexity of the simplest life is the result of intelligent intervention or there is a naturalistic process. Every single example of functional complexity and specified information that we know (beyond a certain level of sophistication, a bicycle, poem by Robert Frost) of is the result of intelligent agency. Anything emerging through a Darwinian evolutionary process is irrelevant because it depends on the already existing highly functionally complex and specified information-rich machinery of life. The obvious answer is a Creator, I don’t need to prove that anymore than I need to prove that cave drawings in France are the result of intelligent design, or for that matter, in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, nobody needed to “prove” that the obelisk was the result of intelligent design, that was obvious. The extraordinary claim is that the machinery of life could emerge through an undirected process, for that claim, you need extraordinary evidence. In this type of case, lack of evidence is clearly evidence of lack.

          • Rabbi Averick pleas his case that “I disagree that I have the burden of proving that there is a creator.”

            Here I agree with the Rabbi. The burden of proof applies only to philosophically and/or scientifically dealing with real things and processes. Rabbi Averick claims that his “IDOL” (a supernatural “God the Creator”) is NOT OF THIS WORLD. That is, in practical terms, Rabbi Averick is talking about nothing and so therefore has nothing to prove.

            The old saying is that “the burden of proof is on him who asserts the positive,” and it is totally negative to claim that “God the Creator” exists somehow NOT of this world. Following that line, the Rabbi has nowhere to go, nothing to say, and nothing he could possibly prove. Supernatural claims suffer under the burden of faith and do not rise to the level where the burden of proof applies.

          • “Perhaps I should have said ‘non-organic’ chemicals as in ‘organic chemistry’ and ‘non-organic chemistry’”

            No, that doesn’t help you. We may speak of ‘organic chemistry’ and ‘non-organic chemistry’ the same way we may talk of “Victorian English Literature” and “20th Century American English Literature” but were still talking about something with the same rules and nothing but human distinctions. The chemistry is EXACTLY the same.

            “I disagree that I have the burden of proving that there is a creator. The truth of the origin of life is either one of two options: either the functional complexity of the simplest life is the result of intelligent intervention or there is a naturalistic process. ”

            Ah, what Judge Jones rightly called a “contrived duality.” It is much like a Christian arguing that, unless you can give a reason Jesus rose from the dead other than that he is God, Judaism must be false. I suppose even YOU can see the logical fallacy … or maybe not!

            “Every single example of functional complexity and specified information that we know (beyond a certain level of sophistication, a bicycle, poem by Robert Frost) of is the result of intelligent agency.”

            Do you honestly think that self-reproducing chemical reactions (i.e. “life”) are like bicycles and poems? I suppose you never read Kant, who demolished that “argument” 200 years ago. No, given the level of your argument, ignorance is the major ingredient.

            “Anything emerging through a Darwinian evolutionary process is irrelevant because it depends on the already existing highly functionally complex and specified information-rich machinery of life.”

            No, it doesn’t … but why should I be surprised that you are ignorant of that too? All it takes is something that “replicates” imperfectly. Chemistry replicates (Google “chemical clocks”) and imperfection is rampant … as you constantly demonstrate.

            “The obvious answer is a Creator,”

            And that is somehow better than Coyne saying the “obvious answer” is natural processes, how? How do we distinguish the “obvious” from the “oblivious”?

            “I don’t need to prove that anymore than I need to prove that cave drawings in France are the result of intelligent design, or for that matter, in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, nobody needed to “prove” that the obelisk was the result of intelligent design, that was obvious.”

            So we can find your God’s bones and ant the tools he used to create life and identify them with known material creatures with known motives?

            “The extraordinary claim is that the machinery of life could emerge through an undirected process, for that claim, you need extraordinary evidence.”

            But a God with no limitations and no known methods of how he/she/it achieves what it supposedly does doesn’t need extraordinary evidence? Your lack of self-awareness would be funny if there weren’t lots of other people so unselfaware as to actually think you have something worth listening to.

            “In this type of case, lack of evidence is clearly evidence of lack.”

            So much for God.

          • “In this type of case, lack of evidence is clearly evidence of lack.”

            If you understood how logic works, you would understand that the rules of logic are not determined “case-by-case”. Claiming that lack of evidence is “evidence of lack” is an Argument from Ignorance, a logical fallacy. The crux of your argument is illogical.

        • Moshe Averick

          John,

          I also understand very well that you have “faith” in science. That is a serious error and is most “un-scientific.” Your faith in science no more creates realities than my “faith” in the existence of God makes him a reality. The truth is one or the other no matter what “faith” either of us has. The question then becomes, where does the evidence point? Science gets no special pleadings here. Science essentially is involved in explaining how the machinery works. Where the machinery came from is an entirely different and unrelated question. Either there is a scientific answer or there isn’t. If not for Judaism you and everyone else in the world would still be involved in human sacrifice and infanticide would be routine. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they have been endowed by their creator with unalienable rights…” This is a biblical concept.

          Because science has opened up knowledge in certain areas does not in any way give it special priveleges. Evidence, nothing else will do.

          • “The question then becomes, where does the evidence point?”

            That is always the question. Always has been, always will be.

            “Science essentially is involved in explaining how the machinery works.”

            That’s quite true as far as it goes. Science is for explaining how nature works.

            “Where the machinery came from is an entirely different and unrelated question.”

            There you are wrong, Rabbi. There is no separate question of WHERE nature came from. There isn’t anywhere else than the real world (i.e., nature, and how it works).

          • I also understand very well that you have “faith” in science. That is a serious error and is most “un-scientific.”

            I said a “kind of faith” but you have already displayed your quote mining dishonesty, so I am not surprised. Science does make the PHILOSOPHICAL assumption that humans can understand the material universe for the simple reason that the very purpose of science is to understand the material universe and it would be, with that motive, pretty stupid to set out assuming you’d fail. Since we have made that philosophical assumption, human knowledge of the material universe has multiplied exponentially. I have, at the very least, good empiric evidence that the philosophical assumption is justified. What empirical evidence do you have that the assumptions of religion are successful?

            “Your faith in science no more creates realities than my “faith” in the existence of God makes him a reality.”

            Science made the realities of your computer and lets you publish babble on the internet. Stop using the reality of the internet to confuse people and I’ll be satisfied.

            “The truth is one or the other no matter what “faith” either of us has. The question then becomes, where does the evidence point?”

            You just denied that YOU need evidence. Which is it?

            “Science gets no special pleadings here.”

            You just claimed that religion does get special pleading.

            “Because science has opened up knowledge in certain areas does not in any way give it special priveleges. Evidence, nothing else will do.”

            And where is YOURS for God?

          • There is no evidence for God, naturally. God is not real, but only imaginary.

            Check out some of the writings of people who explain that God is not really (physically, spiritually, or otherwise) part of the universe.

    • John, If you were and engineer, perhaps you would have some feel for how complex simple life is. Go read about the “simple” cell…

      • Compared to what the cell evolved into calling it “simple” is quite correct.

        A 10 speed is complex compared to the first version of a wheel just as it’s simple compared the latest Kawasaki.

        Humans are quite complex compared to a simple cell and that is one of the many reasons why it’s pretty clear there was no “Intelligent Designer” much less a god.

  • from Rabbi Jacobs (at the PuffHo): “it would appear to require an unreasonable commitment to naturalism to maintain a denial of the transcendent.”

    Notice the inversion between that statement and the actual truth: It takes an unreasonable commitment to “the transcendent,” i.e., the supernatural to maintain a denial of naturalism. Reason only goes with nature; to believe in “the transcendent” requires blind faith, i.e., the rejection of reason (and nature).

    Reason support nothing in religion, per se. Religion, as such, in 100% unreasonable.

  • Frankly, it is clear that Dr. Coyne was relieved that he found a good excuse not to discuss or debate the issue of Origin of Life with me in an open forum.

    Since you don’t “discuss or debate,” but merely repeat various versions of your “Science hasn’t explained the origin of life, therefore it could only have happened through supernatural intervention” schtick — it would be a fraud to pretend to “discuss or debate” the issue with you.

    Besides, this problem is one of scientific research not of “discussion or debate” with non-scientists. Religion has nothing to offer (not in the way of positive contributions or of valid criticisms). Your “IDOL” is irrelevant as well as imaginary.

    Also, I googled the “Discovery Institute,” and they do have to be idiots to pretend that somehow they can support “intelligent design” as being anything different from the nonsense of “Creationism.”

    • For crying out loud Steve, what sort of ignoramus are you? Discovery Institute scientist Stephen Meyer’s recent book was rated in the top 10 books (for 2009 IIRC) by a very very top atheist philosopher in the USA.

      And your understanding of Intelligent Design is beyond child-like. It is beyond pathetic. It is not even wrong! Go read a book about it. I would recommend dual-PhD scholar William Dembski for example. Or perhaps begin going thru their 50 peer-reviewed papers. Or at least watch Philip Johnson’s videos on YouTube…

  • Ah ha, science doesn’t explain life’s origin, therefore eternal forms must be the explanation.

  • “The only question worth discussing is if we can be certain it was created by God.”</b

    Nothing was ever “created by God,” since God is nothing more that a fantasy lots of people like to indulge in.

    There is no evidence for God, and there is lots of evidence for life.

    • “The only question worth discussing is if we can be certain [life] was created by God.”

      That would be a discussion that was over before it started, since life exists and God doesn’t. In fact, though we don’t know exactly how life started, we can be certain that it was NOT “created by God.”

      • Rabbi Averick maintains that “The only question worth discussing is if we can be certain [life] was created by God.”

        That would be a discussion that was over before it started, since life exists and God doesn’t. In fact, though we don’t know exactly how life started, we can be certain that it was NOT “created by God.”

        • Mark Patterson

          “In fact, though we don’t know exactly how life started, we can be certain that it was NOT “created by God.””

          We have no useful ideas about how life got started.

          And how can we rule out the God hypothesis?

          • No matter what the state of knowledge about anything, the “God hypothesis” is always ruled out by the fact that it contradicts nature (and reason) — and nature is where we are (and reason is how we know).

            Notice also, that “God” is not actually an hypothesis. God is only a fantasy.

    • Edward Peltzer

      Steve:

      On the contrary my friend, there is overwhelming evidence for the existence of God for those who are willing to accept it. I’ve known the power and presence of God in my own life and seen it in my friends. When the lame walk and the deaf hear, healed by the power of God alone, it is hard to deny His existence any longer.

      I’ve seen too many lives changed by God’s presence to doubt anymore. [Notice the evidence based thinking here; not a blind leap of faith.]

      And from the point of view of a believer, all the bold statements by agnostics and atheists that God does not exist only prove one thing: that agnostics and atheists are incredibly ignorant concerning the existence and nature of God. And given how wrong they are on this subject, why should we listen to what they have to say regarding anything else?

      And for those who aren’t willing to consider the evidence? Well, reason never got anyone out of a position that reason didn’t get them into.

      • If you are overwhelmed by zero evidence, then it wasn’t reason that got you in that fix: it was blind faith (which is the only way to belief in God).

      • On the contrary my friend, there is overwhelming evidence for the existence of aliens building the pyramids for those who are willing to accept it.

        On the contrary my friend, there is overwhelming evidence for the existence of flying monkeys for those who are willing to accept it.

        On the contrary my friend, there is overwhelming evidence for the existence of L. Ron Hubbard being a techo-mystical saviour for those who are willing to accept it.

        See, if you’re willing to accept anything than you’ll accept anything facts immaterial.

        >I’ve known the power and presence of God in my own life and seen it in my friends.

        And Muslims know the power and presence of Mohammad in their own lives and seen it in their friends.

        And Hindus know the power and presence of Vishnu in their own lives and seen it in their friends.

        And Romans knew the power and presence of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in their own lives and saw it in their friends.

        So why is it that all those BILLIONS of people got it wrong and you got it right?

        >When the lame walk and the deaf hear, healed by the power of God alone, it is hard to deny His existence any longer.

        Absolutely, now if your god would actually, y’now, do stuff then of course sensible people would believe in it.

        For instance if you woke up this morning deaf would you go to church / synagogue / mosque / bloody alter and pray until your hearing came back or would you go find some medical science?

        I know where I would go because I’ve seen medical science make the lame walk and the deaf hear.

        Never seen your god do jack. If he’s the father of creation than that mofo is a deadbeat dad.

        • Edward Peltzer

          Steve and Salvage:

          Eye witness testimony is not zero evidence; it is one of the pillars of our legal system.

          Whether people believe in aliens, flying monkeys, charlatans, other gods or cruel despots is immaterial to our discussion.

          Clearly I’ve presented you both with evidence that you have no rebuttal for so you have chosen to ignore it and cover-up with a smoke screen of misdirection. A nice trick for a magician but it carries no weight with me.

          That you have chosen to ignore any evidence of God’s existence is clear, but it is your choice not a conclusion based upon evidence.

          Have you ever considered that you are looking in the wrong places using the wrong methods?

          Now God IS alive, and He still does show up and do “stuff” and so sensible people having seen do believe which leaves us with an interesting logical inference: could it be that it is the non-sensible people who don’t believe?

          It also doesn’t matter what billions of other people believe or don’t believe. What matters is what you believe for it will color all of your thinking for the rest of your life.

          In fact, it already has.

          Think about it. Aloha.

          • Once again the theist doesn’t bother to answer any points directly and no, you silly god person you have not presented eye witness testimony of any sort, you have presented “feelings” and I’m pretty sure that there is no proper legal system that would call that evidence of any sort.

          • Your problem in this case is that there is no eyewitness testimony regarding God.

            To claim that you can see that which cannot be seen is NOT “eyewitness testimony”. It is sheer tomfoolery (if not blatant dishonesty).

  • ‘…discuss “whether it is possible for life to emerge from non-life through a naturalistic process.” We already know the answer to that question: Scientists have their backs against the wall and in 65 years of research have come up with no plausible suggestions.’

    Not only is it “possible” that life arose through “naturalistic processes,” it is actually the only way it could have happened. The alternative would be some sort of supernaturalistic process, i.e., a miracle. In other words, there isn’t any alternative.

    Nature is it, and that is what we have to live with (like it or not).

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