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February 16, 2012 2:31 pm

Who Created the Creator? Who Designed the Designer?

avatar by Moshe Averick

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As I have pointed out many times in this column the origin of life is one of the greatest mysteries facing science today. As renowned physicist Dr. Freeman Dyson recently wrote:

“The origin of life is the deepest mystery in the whole of science. Many books and learned papers have been written about it, but it remains a mystery. 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)

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 atheist/materialist vehemently denies, not only the truth of this conclusion, but that such an answer can even be considered! Why? As is implicitly pointed out by Dyson – a point on which there is unanimous agreement – it is certainly not because the atheistic scientist has some plausible naturalistic explanation for how the “enormous” gap from non-life to life was crossed. What then?

The Philosophical Dilemma

Most people are unaware that many, if not most, prominent atheist thinkers reject the idea of a creator, not because of a Scientific alternative (there is none) but because they feel this approach is philosophically untenable. To their understanding, the question of “Who Created the Creator?” presents us with a philosophical barrier so formidable that it cannot be breached. Ergo, we are left with only one viable alternative: some unknown naturalistic process. The late atheistic propagandist, Christopher Hitchens, put it this way:

“[I was asked] where is the first cause…how can you do without a first cause? [My answer is] because it only gives you a sterile infinite regression. Where did the first cause of the first cause come from? The argument from design gives you the same problem; who designed the designer?

Dr. Jason Rosenhouse, Associate Professor of Mathematics at James Madison University

In our case we are more concerned with the aspect of the dilemma that is articulated as “Who Designed the Designer?” Atheistic mathematician Jason Rosenhouse poses the question in the following manner:

“Proponents of Intelligent Design [assert] that living organisms exhibit a certain kind of complexity…that is most plausibly explained as the result of intelligent design…the complexity of [the simplest living bacterium] is used as the evidence that a certain sort of designer exists.”

Rosenhouse points out what seems to be the inherent problem in proposing such a solution:

“This leads to a problem. The existence of complex entities was precisely the phenomenon in need of explanation. Hypothesizing the existence of something more complex than the thing to be explained only replaces one problem with a far greater one. If [the first living bacterium] can only be explained as the product of design, then any designer capable of crafting the [first living bacterium] must also be so explained. The result is an infinite regress of designers, each invoked to explain the existence of the one before.”

In fact, the High Priest of modern “militant” atheism – Professor Richard Dawkins himself – uses this same idea as his trump card to justify his rejection of God the Creator and Intelligent Design:

“Seen clearly, intelligent design will turn out to be a redoubling of the problem. Once again, this is because the designer himself immediately raises the bigger problem of his own origin…any entity capable of designing something as improbable as [the  first living bacterium] would have to be even more improbable than [the bacterium itself.] (The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins)

While the question posed by Hitchens, Rosenhouse, and Dawkins is a reasonable one, the answer they propose – that some as yet unknown unguided process produced the first living organism – is anything but reasonable.

The Solution

One of the skills stressed in Talmudic study is that when posing a logical difficulty, one must struggle to formulate the question as precisely as possible. Many times, the largest part of finding a solution to a difficulty is asking precisely the right question. Properly presented, the question of “Who Designed the Designer?” is as follows:

Any functionally complex and purposefully arranged form of physical matter (a Boeing 747, a calculator, a bacterium) or functionally complex specified information (the front page of the Boston Globe, machine code of a computer, DNA of a bacterium) must itself have a creator/designer at least as complex as the object in question. How then do we escape the dilemma of an infinitely regressing series of creators?

When the question is posed properly three points immediately become clear; three points which bring us very close to the solution to our problem.

(A) “Who Designed the Designer?” is a question that applies to physical matter.

(B) “Who Designed the Designer?” has absolutely no bearing at all on the obvious conclusion that the molecular machinery of the bacterium – which Dr. James Shapiro describes as displaying structural complexities “that outstrip scientific description,” – and it’s digitally encoded operating instructions (DNA) are the result of intelligent causation. If astronomers received a detailed message in Morse code from a distant galaxy they would conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the result of intelligent extra-terrestrial life, even though they could not know “who designed the designer?” To state that a 747 and a laptop computer are the result of unguided processes because we cannot answer “who designed the designer” would be absurd. Just as it is obvious that the 747, the computer, and the Morse code signals are designed – whether or not I can answer “who designed the designer?” – so too it is obvious that the bacterium is designed whether or not I can answer that question.

(C) The dilemma that emerges from “Who Designed the Designer?” does not lead us to conclude that the bacterium is the result of an unguided process, it tells us one thing only: That there cannot be an infinite regression of physical creators. And as we shall see shortly…there isn’t!

Bacterial Cells: "Biochemical and structual complexities that outstrip scientific description."

I pose a simple thought problem: Imagine we are looking at the very first living organism that ever existed in the entire universe. The truth is one of two possibilities: (a) It was created/designed or (b) it was not. Since the only known cause of functional complexity and specified information is intelligent intervention, the only rational conclusion is that it was designed. There simply are no examples of functional complexity or specified information beyond a certain level (for example: a plastic car from a cereal box or a smiley face in the sand with the words “Good morning Dr. Rosenhouse, how are you?” next to it) that are the result of unguided processes. Examples using Darwinian Evolution are irrelevant. Even if we concede the validity of Neo-Darwinian theory, for Darwinian Evolution to proceed there must be pre-existing molecular machinery and a genetic-based information system already in place. This would be a begging of the question.

Since we are speaking about the very first living physical organism, the creator is obviously not physical at all. There is no other living physical organism in existence. In short, we are dealing with a supernatural creator; a creator to whom the natural laws of cause and effect do not apply. A creator who consists of neither matter nor energy and does not exist in time or space does not require a cause or a designer. There is no cause “before” this creator because he does not exist in time; there is no “before.” The concepts of “before” and “after” exist only in time. Modern physics teaches us that time itself had a beginning with the Big Bang. What was “before” the Big Bang? The obvious answer is that there is no such thing as “before” the Big Bang. While this may be an irritation of the mind and beyond the capacity of the human intellect to fully grasp, it does not change its essential truth.

The narrow-minded mistake of these atheist thinkers is that they assumed that the prime reality can only be physical. A paradigm shift in our perception of reality is necessary; We are created and subject to the physical laws of cause and effect, the creator simply “Is.“ Once we are open to the possibility of a supernatural creator, all problems disappear. There is no infinite regression, there is no problem of who designed the designer, and most significant of all, we do not have to take a giant leap of faith and believe that some unknown naturalistic process can transform non-living chemicals into a bacterium which – as described by molecular biologist Dr. Michael Denton – has the functional complexity of a Boeing 747 shrunk down to a millionth of a meter.

"The complexity of a jumbo jet" packed into a millionth of a meter

In fact, the existence of a supernatural creator provides a clear and simple explanation for some of the baffling “mysteries” that atheist/materialist Darwinian socio-biologists and psychologists must struggle to answer: Why are billions of purely physical/material human beings constantly seeking something “more?” Because there is something more. Why do countless billions of purely physical/material human beings yearn to connect with a non-physical, spiritual realm? Because there is a non-physical, spiritual realm. Why is it that for all of recorded human history the overwhelming majority of mankind has been seeking to connect with a supernatural “God” in one form or another? Because he’s there.

The biggest flaw in the simple answer we have proposed is not in the logic, but that some skeptics and atheistic scientists find it psychologically disturbing. So what? Get over it and deal with it.

Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi, a  regular columnist for the Algemeiner Journal, 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. .

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  • Phil

    Steve Stoddard: You are an Atheist Saint sir. Clearly quite a bit of patience and persistence here. I also prefer to form an understanding of the world we see based on evidence.

    It does seem odd to me that theists start this “Atheist’s don’t know, therefore these arguments can’t be true”, but then leave off the part where they know exactly what god’s nature is, as explained in the NKJ version of the bible. Apologetics fall dead flat here.

  • —-“(A) “Who Designed the Designer?” is a question that applies to physical matter.”—-

    There are no legitimate questions that do not relate to physical matter in some way, i.e., to something that actually exists.

    To say that “God, the Designer” isn’t part of the physical universe is to admit (at least implicitly) that God does not actually exist.

    • Servant

      I know this is a bit old but I am just coming across this now….to your statement I have to ask how so? dumbing this down to laymen terms that even I can understand, You seem to be arguing that merely because Notch, creator of minecraft, doesn’t have a physical presences within the mindcraft universe, he must not actually exist?

  • So Rabbi Averick’s position essentially boils down to this: he admits the supernatural doesn’t exist, yet insists that he believes in it anyhow.

  • Claiming that the universe or life was designed and created by some intelligence is exactly as ludicrous as claiming that the universe and life were designed on an iPad — an invisible, untouchable, non-physical, magical, miraculous, not-of-this-world, totally other iPad.

    When life started, intelligence was as yet nowhere to be found. Moshe Averick’s theory is: of course it was nowhere to be found because it was supernatural magic! totally other! not-of-this-world!

  • JB

    Here’s a simpler loop:

    All SCSI is the product of intelligence.
    All intelligence contains SCSI.

    So, take your pick of Moshe’s circular arguments:

    1. SCSI –> evolution –> intelligence –> SCSI

    or

    2. SCSI –> intelligence –> SCSI

    • The correct line is:

      abiogenesis -> intelligence -> SCSI

      It is an error to try to anthropomorphize the first step.

  • “If you assume that all SCSI is preceded by intelligent life, then the first bacterium could not have been the first living organism.”

    In that conditional statement, the consequent appears unrelated to the antecedent, so the statement seems senseless. You have left out the hidden premise that “the first bacterium contained SCSI,” which is false. And that’s why the argument is nonsense.

    • Eli

      Steve,

      Your objection is noted. You don’t need to repeat another 7 times. I’ll say this one last time: my argument assumes, for the sake of argument, that the first bacterium contained SCSI.

      • So far I haven’t minded repeating it as often as you do.

        “I’ll say this one last time: my argument assumes, for the sake of argument, that the first bacterium contained SCSI.”

        And to repeat again: that assumption is most definitely incorrect.

  • Eli

    Moshe writes, “Your logic is flawed.”

    Where exactly is the “flaw”? Specifically, which conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premises?

    1. (a) All SCSI is the product of intelligence. (b) The first bacterium contains SCSI. (c) Therefore, the first bacterium is the product of intelligence.

    2. (a) All intelligence is a product of evolution. (b) Whatever created the first bacterium was intelligent. (c) Therefore, whatever created the first bacterium is a product of evolution.

    3. (a) Every product of evolution evolved from a precursor with SCSI. (b) Whatever created the first bacterium is a product of evolution. (c) Therefore, whatever created the first bacterium evolved from a precursor with SCSI.

    • “(b) The first bacterium contains SCSI.”

      That false premise makes the argument it is in false.

      “(b) Whatever created the first bacterium was intelligent.”

      That’s another false premise which renders its argument false.

      “3. (a) Every product of evolution evolved from a precursor with SCSI. (b) Whatever created the first bacterium is a product of evolution.”

      Both of these premises are false.

  • Eli

    Moshe writes,

    “All known SCSI is the result of intelligent design exihibited by living creatures.”

    What’s your point?

    Moshe also writes,

    “The question we are trying to answer is ‘where does intelligent life come from?'”

    The question we were trying to answer, and failed to answer, was where the first living organism came from. At any rate, all known intelligent life is a product of evolution. So, that’s where intelligent life came from.

  • “… whatever created the first bacterium evolved from a precursor with SCSI.”

    Regardless of anything which may be granted for the sake of discussion, we should not lose sight of the fact that the first life was in no way any sort of “product of SCSI, i.e., intelligence.”

  • Eli

    Because all known intelligence is a product of evolution, both ID and evolution beg the question:

    Evolution is the result of SCSI.
    SCSI is the product of intelligence.
    Intelligence is the product of evolution.

    Neither ID or evolution answers anything with respect to the origin of life.

    • “Evolution is the result of SCSI.”

      Not true.

      “SCSI is the product of intelligence.”

      True.

      “Intelligence is the product of evolution.”

      True.

      • Eli

        The point is that even if you assume for the sake of argument that evolution is the result of SCSI, ID doesn’t explain anything. See for yourself:

        All SCSI is the product of intelligence. The first bacterium contains SCSI. Therefore, the first bacterium is the product of intelligence.

        All intelligence is a product of evolution. Whatever created the first bacterium was intelligent. Therefore, whatever created the first bacterium is a product of evolution.

        Every product of evolution evolved from a precursor with SCSI. Whatever created the first bacterium is a product of evolution. Therefore, whatever created the first bacterium evolved from a precursor with SCSI.

        So, ID just ends up pushing the question back.

        • Claiming that “ID just ends up pushing the question back” entirely misses the point that supernatural ID is utter nonsense.

          What possible reasonable reason could there be for assuming SCSI where SCSI is impossible (i.e., sometime before evolution)?

          • Eli

            That’s why I said, “for the sake of argument”.

        • “Whatever created the first bacterium was intelligent.”

          Not exactly, since the first bacterium preceded evolution, which necessarily preceded the existence of intelligence. Whatever created the first bacterium could not possibly have been intelligent, or even living.

          • Eli

            That’s the point.

            If you assume that the first bacterium was the first living organism, then it could not have been preceded by intelligent life.

            If you assume that all SCSI is preceded by intelligent life, then the first bacterium could not have been the first living organism.

            Both assumptions can’t be right because they lead to contradictory conclusions.

    • Moshe Averick

      Eli,

      Your logic is flawed.

      All known SCSI is the result of intelligent design exihibited by living creatures.
      The question we are trying to answer is “where does intelligent life come from?”

      • ‘The question we are trying to answer is “where does intelligent life come from?”’

        Intelligent life did evolve from earlier, non-intelligent (and yet earlier non-conscious) forms. I don’t think anyone knows all the exact steps.

        The first life, though, did not evolve from an earlier form, but arose by a different natural process the details of which nobody has a clue about.

        (Even proponents of “Intelligent Design, by God!” don’t have — or ever offer — a clue about it. “God did it” is avoidance, rather than having a clue, or even a decent guess.)

  • “The only known source of SCSI is intelligence. That is demonstrated by our everday experience.”

    Not only do we experience intelligence, it is a tautology that the only possible source of intelligent processes such as “specified information” and “specified complexity” (aka “SCSI” in this discussion) is intelligence.

    “Therefore it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that the source of the SCSI in a bacterium is also intelligence.”

    No, that is not at all reasonable, since you are simply assuming the point you wish to conclude, viz., that there was “SCSI in a bacterium” when life began.

    “(unless you have a demonstrable naturalistic explanation, which nobody has.)”

    It makes no difference whether anybody can explain the process by which life began (you certainly cannot, and neither can I) for us to grasp that is was an entirely natural process — since there is no actual/reasonable alternative to nature.

  • “The only known source of SCSI is intelligence. That is demonstrated by our everday experience.”

    Not only do we experience intelligence, it is a tautology that the only possible source of intelligent processes such as “specified information” and “specified complexity” (aka “SCSI” in this discussion) is intelligence.

    “Therefore it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that the source of the SCSI in a bacterium is also intelligence.”

    No, that is not at all reasonable, since you are simply assuming the point you wish to conclude, viz., that there was “SCSI in a bacterium” when life began.

    “(unless you have a demonstrable naturalistic explanation, which nobody has.)”

    It makes no difference whether anybody can explain the process by which life began (you certainly cannot, and neither can I) for us to grasp that is was an entirely natural process — since there is no actual/reasonable alternative to nature.

  • JB

    Any living thing must itself have an evolutionary precursor that is at least as simple as the organism in question. How then do we escape the dilemma of an infinitely regressing series of evolutionary precursors?

    When the question is posed properly three points immediately become clear; three points which bring us very close to the solution to our problem.
    (A) “From what did the first organism evolve?” is a question that applies to non-spontaneously forming organisms.
    (B) “From what did the first oganism evolve ?” has absolutely no bearing at all on the obvious conclusion that all life is the result of evolution. If astronomers discovered alien life, they would conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the result of evolution, even though they could not know “from what the aliens evolved?” To state that a human and a flower are the result of a supernatural processes because we couldn’t answer “from what did the living things evolve” would be absurd. Just as it is obvious that the human, the flower, and the aliens are the product of evolutionary precursors- whether or not I can answer “from what did they evolve?” – so too it is obvious that the bacterium is evolved whether or not I can answer that question.
    (C) The dilemma that emerges from “from what did the first living organism evolve?” does not lead us to conclude that the bacterium is the result of a supernatural process, it tells us one thing only: That there cannot be an infinite regression of evolutionary precursors!

    Consider the simple thought problem: Imagine we are looking at the very first living organism that ever existed in the entire universe. The truth is one of two possibilities: (a) It was evolved or (b) it didn’t. Since the only known cause of life is evolution, the only rational conclusion is that it was designed. There simply are no examples of life that are the result of supernatural processes. Examples using Intelligent Design are irrelevant. Even if we concede the validity of Intelligent Design, for Intelligent Design to proceed there must be pre-existing intelligent life already in place. This would be a begging of the question.

    Since we are speaking about the very first living evolved organism, the evolutionary precurosr is obviously not evolved at all. There is no other living evolved organism in existence. In short, we are dealing with an evolutionary precursor that formed spontaneously; a molecule for which evolutionary cause and effect do not apply. A molecule that formed spontaneously and does not require an evolutionary precursor.

    The narrow-minded mistake of Moshe is that he assumes that life can’t form spontaneously. Once we are open to the possibility of a spontaneously forming self-replicating molecule, all problems disappear. There is no infinite regression, there is no problem of “from what the first organism evolved” and most significant of all, we do not have to take a giant leap of faith and believe that some unknown supernatural process can form bacteria out of nothing.

    • Moshe Averick

      JB,

      The beginning of your argument is simply not true.
      There is no evidence and no justification to say that every living thing must have a simpler evolutionary precursor. The simplest living organism that is known to have existed is a bacterium. There is no evidence that anything simpler ever existed. That is exactly the “conundrum” (As Dr. Eugene Koonin put it) of origin of life researchers. How do you get from non-living chemicals to a bacterium?

      • “How do you get from non-living chemicals to a bacterium?”

        That is the question.

        And “supernatural intelligence” is definitely NOT any kind of answer. Fiction doesn’t create fact.

  • JB

    I concede that evolution cannot proceed without a pre-existing self-replicating molecule.

    Do you concede that intelligent design cannot proceed without pre-existing intelligence?

    • Moshe Averick

      JB,

      I agree but I don’t see the significance. You have stated a truism.

  • JB

    In that case, let’s also be clear about the significance of intelligent design in this discussion.

    Intelligent design only takes place after intelligence has evolved. ID simply pushes the question of the origin of life back a step; in and of itself it does not answer anything and is not relevant to the question of abiogenesis.

    The only known source of life is evolution. That is demonstrated by a mountain of evidence. Therefore it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that the first living is also evolution (unless you have a demonstrable supernatural explanation, which you don’t.)

    • JB

      Sorry, that should read, “the only known source new species is evolution. Therefore it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that the source of the first species was also evolution…”

    • Moshe Averick

      JB,

      We seem to have no common ground with which to continue a discussion. I already explained to you why your logic was flawed about evolution. Evolution cannot proceed without pre-existing molecular machinery. Evolution is simply the explication of a process that takes place once highly complex machinery is in place. How that machinery got there to begin with is a conceptually different question and has nothing at all to do with the description of the process.

      Even Frank Sonleitner of the NCSE understands this point. He writes on the website that the truth of evolution has nothing to do with origin of life. It is certainly conceivable that the original life was created and then evolution continued from there. Again, Evolution and Origin of Life are fundamentally and conceptually different. If we cannot agree on this point then, as I said before, there is no common ground from which to build a discussion and potentially come to some sort of meeting of minds.

      • JB

        I concede that evolution cannot proceed without pre-existing a self-replicating molecule.

        Do you concede that intelligent design cannot proceed without pre-existing intelligence?

    • Moshe Averick

      JB,

      YOu are making statements that simply are not true and have no evidence, logic, or reason to justify them.

      “The only known source of life is evolution.” This simply is not true. Life had to precede evolution. That is not me, that is Eugenie Scott.

      From her book, Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction: “Although some people confuse the origin of life with evolution the two are conceptually separate. Biological evolution is defined as the descent of living things from ancestors from which they differ. Life had to precede evolution!…We know much more about evolution than the origin of life.”

      I repeat, you do not yet seem to have grasped the fundamental and conceptual difference between Evolution and Origin of Life.

      This is Dr. Frank Sonleitner of the NCSE on the NCSE website: “The origin of life and evolution are two separate notions. The fact that there is much to learn about how the first living creatures originated has little to do with the truth or falsity of evolution. Thus an intelligent designer could have made the first forms and then they evolved…”

      • “Life had to precede evolution.”

        Correct.

        And evolution preceded intelligence.

        So life preceded intelligence, not vice versa.

  • JB

    I don’t need to demonstrate that the first living organism emerged from simpler self-replicating molecule, any more than I need to demonstrate that humans evolved from simpler self-replicating things. All living things emerge from simpler self-replicating things. There are no known exceptions. The existence of humans is proof of the simpler self-replicating thing from which it emerged (Synapsida). The existence of chordates is proof of the self-replicating thing from which it emerged (Pkaia). Likewise, the existence of the first living bacterium is proof of the self-replicating molecule from which it emerged.

    Where is the flaw in this logic?

    • Moshe Averick

      JB,

      The flaw in your logic is simply that what you are saying is not true: “All living things emerge from simpler self-replicating things.” That is not true. As I said, for arguments sake I have conceded the truth of Darwinian evolution, therefore: All living things evolved from the first bacterium. Nobody has any clue where the first bacterium came from.

      • “therefore: All [subsequent] living things evolved from the first bacterium. Nobody has any clue where the first bacterium came from.”

        Okay, you’re right about that.

  • JB

    Moshe,

    Below are two arguments. The first argument is an argument for abiogenesis. The second argument is your argument for intelligent design (ID). Does your argument prove ID? If so, does the first argument prove abiogenesis?

    ——-

    There are only two possibilities for the origin of life: (1) a natural, unguided process, or (2) a supernatural process.

    All known life is the result of evolution. There are no known exceptions. Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that the earliest bacterium is also the result of evolution. In this case, the only evolutionary precursor available is a nonliving self-replicating molecule that arose spontaneously (abiogenesis).

    The evidence for the existence of such a molecule is the first bacterium itself. The existence of humans is proof of Synapsida (humans’ evolutionary precursor). The existence of chordates is proof of Pkaia (chordates’ evolutionary precursor). Likewise, the existence of the first living bacterium is proof of the evolutionary precursor from which it evolved, in this case, a nonliving self-replicating molecule that arose spontaneously.

    There is no evidence that a supernatural being ever existed. You are clueless as to how a nonphysical being would go about creating anything. Therefore, since it is impossible that life was created supernaturally, the only reasonable conclusion is a natural, unguided process.

    Why would you come to any other conclusion other than abiogenesis? Only if you a priori rule out the possibilty of a natural, unguided process (i.e. you accept as an article of faith that there is a supernatural solution).

    All this talk about intelligent design is irrelevant, since ID cannot occur until intelligent life has evolved. In other words, intelligent design is not an explanation for the origin of life, it is a RESULT of life.

    —–

    There are only two possibilities for the origin of life: (1) a natural, unguided process, or (2) a supernatural process.

    All known specified complexity and specified information (SCSI) is the product of intelligence. There are no known exceptions. Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that the earliest bacterium, which contains SCSI, is also the product of intelligence. In this case, the only intelligence available is a nonphysical, supernatural intelligence.

    The evidence for the existence of a nonphysical, supernatural intelligence is the bacteria itself. The existence of a suit is proof of the tailor who made it. The existence of a poem is proof of the poet that wrote it. Likewise, the existence of the first living bacterium is proof of its creator, in this case, a nonphysical supernatural creator.

    There is no evidence that a natural, unguided process gave rise to the first bacterium. Scientists are clueless as to how a process could even occur. Therefore, since it is highly unlikely that life arose from a natural, unguided process, it is highly likely that life arose from a supernatural process.

    Why would you come to any other conclusion other than intelligent design? Only if you a priori rule out the possibilty of a supernatural process (i.e. you accept as an article of faith that there is a natural solution).

    All this talk about evolution is irrelevant, since evolution cannot occur until the SCSI of the first bacterium already exists. In other words, evolution is not an explanation for the origin of life, it is a RESULT of life.

    • Moshe Averick

      JB,

      There is a serious flaw in your logic:
      “Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that the earliest bacterium is also the result of evolution”

      The above statement is not a matter of scientific controversy. It is confirmed by Eugenie Scott, Richard Dawkins, Thomas Nagle (all non-believers) and every single origin of life scientist in the world.

      Evolution and Origin of Life have nothing to do with each other. They are fundamentally and conceptually different. Even if we grant that the evolutionary process could have started with a “simple” self replicating molecule there is no evidence that it is possible for the gap between non-living chemicals and even a “simple” self replicating molecule to be forded by an unguided process. Even the attempts to MANUFACTURE a self-replicating molecule by the greatest scientific minds in the world building on previous research by thousands of researchers and with the most advanced laboratory techniques and equipment at their disposal have met with the most limited success. For this very reason many are abandoning the RNA FIRST theory. A fully self replicating genetic molecule is itself a fantastically complex piece of molecular machinery. Dr. Gerald Joyce has written that there is as yet no “realistic” scenario for such an event to occur. I don’t think you fully realize how difficult such a feat is.

      • Moshe Averick

        JB,

        I meant to write “the FOLLOWING statement is not a matter of scientific controversy.”

        • JB

          In other words, although each self-replicating molecule implies the existence of a precursor self-replicating molecule, this argument works if you assume that a self-replicating molecule formed spontaneously. However, there is no evidence that a self-replicating molecule can form spontaneously. Correct?

          • Moshe Averick

            JB,

            No, that is exactly your mistake. The existence of a DNA based self-replicating bacterium does not in any way necessarily imply the existence of a simpler self replicating molecule from which it emerged. That is what you need to demonstrate.

          • JB

            Then why does the existence of a complex bacterium imply the existence of an intelligent designer who created it?

          • Moshe Averick

            JB,

            Before I answer it is crucial that we are on the same page about the significance of Darwinian evolution in this discussion.
            Evolution only takes place after the molecular machinery of the bacterium is in place. Evolution simply pushes the question of the origin of complexity and information back a step; in and of itself it does not answer anything and is not relevant to the question of the existence of a supernatural creator.

            The only known source of SCSI is intelligence. That is demonstrated by our everday experience. Therefore it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that the source of the SCSI in a bacterium is also intelligence. (unless you have a demonstrable naturalistic explanation, which nobody has.)

          • “Then why does the existence of a complex bacterium imply the existence of an intelligent designer who created it?”

            It doesn’t.

      • ‘Even if we grant that the evolutionary process could have started with a “simple” self replicating molecule there is no evidence that it is possible for the gap between non-living chemicals and even a “simple” self replicating molecule to be forded by an unguided process.’

        The problem is figuring out just what that “unguided process” was. There is no problem understanding that the actual process was unguided, since it long preceded the evolution of any intelligence capable of producing actual guidance of anything.

        ‘Even the attempts to MANUFACTURE a self-replicating molecule by the greatest scientific minds in the world building on previous research by thousands of researchers and with the most advanced laboratory techniques and equipment at their disposal have met with the most limited success.’

        Rabbi, you don’t seem to fully appreciate how difficult such a feat is to accomplish. It could still take decades, even centuries before anybody even comes close. Just think how many centuries people went before figuring out how the planets orbit the sun.

    • “Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that the earliest bacterium, which contains SCSI, is also the product of intelligence.”

      There is a serious flaw in that logic: you are assuming the very point you are asserting as your conclusion, viz., that intelligent specification was involved.

      In fact, the earliest form(s) of life could not possibly have “contained SCSI,” since the capabilities for “SCSI” only evolved much later.

    • “In other words, intelligent design is not an explanation for the origin of life, it is a RESULT of life.”

      Okay, I have to agree on that point.

      It does seem obvious when you think about it.

  • “Supernatural intelligence” is not an actual possibility for anything in the world because “supernatural intelligence” does not exist outside of fantasy fiction.

  • And it will still pay to remember that we have to acknowledge that Rabbi Averick’s position has been conclusively refuted.

    His notion of a “supernatural alternative” does not stand. Nature is the source of life; there is no alternative.

  • JB

    To summarize, we started with these statements:

    1a. All known specified complexity and specified information (SCSI) is the result of intelligence. There are no known exceptions

    2a. All known life is the result of evolution. There are no known exceptions.

    You amended the second statement to read: All known life, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE FIRST BACTERIUM, is the result of evolution.

    Then I amended the first statement to read: All known SCSI, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE FIRST BACTERIUM, is the result of intelligence.

    Objections?

    • Yes, the objections have been noted. I’ll repeat them later.

    • “1a. All known specified complexity and specified information (SCSI) is the result of intelligence. There are no known exceptions”

      Correct. There aren’t even any possible exceptions.

      “2a. All known life is the result of evolution. There are no known exceptions.”

      Correct, but that’s only because we don’t know about the first life, which, naturally, would not have been the result of evolution (but rather abiogenesis)

    • “Then I amended the first statement to read: All known SCSI, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE FIRST BACTERIUM, is the result of intelligence.”

      Wrong. With the minor exception regarding breeding and genetic modification, life is NOT based on specified information or specified complexity.

    • Moshe Averick

      JB,

      Sorry I was pre-occupied for a few days.

      The second statement about evolution is confusing the issue because it is irrelevant. Evolution cannot occur until there is some sort of DNA based living organism in existence. If the first organism was the result of intelligence, then the process of evolution itself is the result of intelligence. If the first living organism is the result of an unguided process so too is evolution the result of an unguided process. The only relevant question as far as the existence of a supernatural creator is the origin of the earliest known bacterium some 3.7 billion years ago.
      Therefore:

      A. All known SCSI is the result of intelligence

      B. The question in dispute is the origin of the SCSI of the first living bacterium

      C. The two possibilities for the origin of such is (A) an intelligence that is supernatural or (B)an unguided naturalistic process

      D. Our job is to look for evidence that would indicated which of these possibilities is the best answer.

      E. If our conclusion is that it is highly unlikely that any unguided process could produce the SCSI of the first living bacterium then it is highly likely that the answer is intelligence which in our case can only be a supernatural intelligence.

      • “A. All known SCSI is the result of intelligence”

        That is virtually a tautology: since “specification” is an intelligent process, all “specifications” are the result of intelligence.

        Yes.

        “B. The question in dispute is the origin of the SCSI of the first living bacterium”

        The “first living bacterium” did not have any “specified information” or “specified complexity.” Such specifications are always the result of intelligence — and intelligence came only long after the “first living bacterium.”

        “C. The two possibilities for the origin of such is (A) an intelligence that is supernatural or (B)an unguided naturalistic process”

        Since a “supernatural intelligence” is an impossibility (i.e., “intelligence before there was intelligence!”), then an “unguided natural process” is what actually happened.

        “D. Our job is to look for evidence that would indicated which of these possibilities is the best answer.”

        No, that is not our job. The job needing to be done is to figure out (from evidence, if it can be found, research, etc.) just what that “unguided natural process” was (or could have been). That it was natural is a given, since there is no alternative.

        “E. If our conclusion is that it is highly unlikely that any unguided process could produce the SCSI of the first living bacterium then it is highly likely that the answer is intelligence which in our case can only be a supernatural intelligence.”

        In fact, no matter how unlikely that “unguided process” was, “supernatural intelligence” remains impossible.

        The choice between something impossible, i.e., “supernatural intelligence,” and something unlikely has to be made in favor of the “unlikely” (even the “highly unlikely”). Logically, there’s no alternative.

    • JB

      Moshe,

      No problem.

      It is actually the first statement about SCSI that is irrelevant. Intelligent design cannot occur until there is some sort of intelligence in existence. If the first living organism was the result of evolution, then subsequent intelligent design is also the result of evolution. If the first living organism is the result of a supernatural process, so too is intelligent design the result of a supernatural process. Thus, the only relevant question as far as the existence of a self-replicating non-living molecule is the origin of the earliest known bacterium some 3.7 billion years ago.

      Therefore:

      A. All known life is the result of evolution.

      B. The question in dispute is the origin of the first living bacterium.

      C. The two possibilities for the origin of such is (A) an intelligence that is supernatural or (B) evolution from a self-replicating nonliving molecule.

      D. Our job is to look for evidence that would indicated which of these possibilities is the best answer.

      E. If our conclusion is that it is highly unlikely that a supernatural process could create the first living bacterium, then it is highly likely that the answer is evolution, which in our case is from a self-replicating nonliving molecule.

      • Okay, first we need to remember that “an intelligence that is supernatural” is not a possibility.

        So, perhaps you could argue that prior to the existence of life, there was a sort of pre-biotic evolution going on in which the processes preceding life were changing in the direction of greater and greater complexity. Until — at some point the “gap was crossed,” the pre-biotic produced the biotic, and biological evolution began.

      • Moshe Averick

        JB,

        I’m not sure what the difference is between what you wrote and what I wrote but it still boils down to the same question:

        What is the most likely explanation for the first living bacterium; intelligence or an unguided naturalistic process? The job is then to look for evidence as to the best explanation.

        • “What is the most likely explanation for the first living bacterium; intelligence or an unguided naturalistic process?”

          You keep ignoring the fact that intelligence is not a possibility in this context (that is, before intelligence evolved).

        • Rabbi, you keep saying that “the job is to look for evidence,” but you have never presented an iota of evidence of any kind for any “supernatural intelligence.”

          I think it was JB who wanted to maintain that because the supernatural is the contradictory of the natural, therefore the supernatural is a legitimate logical possibility. But that is precisely what makes the supernatural impossible.

          Moshe, you keep saying over and over that our lack of knowledge of the origin of life is “evidence” for the supernatural. But it’s not.

          That’s not even legitimate scientific speculation; it’s just pure fantasy.

      • JB

        Exactly, and the evidence points to an unguided process.

        All known life is the result of evolution. There are no known exceptions. Therefore the obvious conclusion is that the first living organism is also the result of evolution. In this case, the only evolutionary precursor available is a nonliving self-replicating molecule.

        There is no evidence that any type of nonphysical, supernatural being exists. There is nothing even approaching a plausible scenario of how such a nonphysical being could create something. Why would you come to any other conclusion other than evolution from a nonliving self-replicating molecule?

        Only if you a priori rule out the possibilty, that is to say, you accept as an article of faith that there is a supernatural solution. This is exactly what you do.

        • Even if Rabbi Averick wanted to argue that belief in a natural cause of life is itself an article of faith, at least that is faith in REALITY, since nature actually exists.

          That makes sense, as opposed to faith in the unreality/anti-reality of “the supernatural.”

  • I just realized that we have to step back here and acknowledge that Rabbi Averick’s position has been conclusively refuted. That he hasn’t accept it is quite a different story.

    We need to remember that his “supernatural alternative” does not stand. Nature is the source of life; there is no alternative.

  • Moshe Averick
    February 28, 2012
    11:27 pm

    JB,

    We crossed signals somewhere.
    Let’s be in touch tomorrow.

    —————–

    Which tomorrow was that?

  • Rabbi Averick believes that “… if you a priori rule out the possibility [of the supernatural], that [means], you accept as an article of faith that there is a naturalistic solution. This is exactly what origin of life researchers do.”

    Since there is physical evidence of nature, it makes sense to “have faith” in nature. Since there is no physical evidence of anything supernatural, it makes no sense to “have faith” in anything supernatural.

  • JB

    Let’s start over:

    1a. All known specified complexity and specified information (SCSI) is the result of intelligence. There are no known exceptions

    2a. All known life is the result of evolution. There are no known exceptions.

    Agreed?

    • “1a. All known specified complexity and specified information (SCSI) is the result of intelligence. There are no known exceptions”

      When you put it that way, there are actually no possible exceptions, since to have specification requires a specifier, viz., an intelligent being.

      “2a. All known life is the result of evolution. There are no known exceptions.”

      Isn’t that simply because we don’t yet have a clue about what the “first life” was? Isn’t there a clear case that that life could not have resulted from evolution, because evolution requires prior life to evolve from?

      Doesn’t there have to have been a non-evolutionary, non-biogenic origin for life?

    • Jb,

      2a. All known life, with the exception of the first living DNA-based organism, is the result of evolution, etc.

      • You could be right on that point.

      • JB

        Then I would like to revise (1a) to read: All known SCSI, with the exception of the first living DNA-based organism, is the result of intelligence.

        • You had it right before; now it’s wrong.

        • “All known SCSI, with the exception of the first living DNA-based organism, is the result of intelligence.”

          The vast majority of living things, including the first, are NOT not instances of “SCSI.” The only exceptions are modern “GMOs” where actual specifications do come into play.

          • Maybe I’m wrong about that “only,” since you might include earlier practices of breeding, etc., in the “specifications” category. But still, the vast majority of life, especially the first, are not examples of anything specified by anybody.

  • jp

    Yawn.

    Another “Bacteria share some attributes like complexity with some designed things, so they must be designed” argument.

    And yet if you say to Moshe “The Torah shares an incredible number of attributes with mythological fiction, so it must be mythological fiction” suddenly that form of argument gets chucked under the bus.

    Who’d have thought it, eh?

    • Well, he said modestly, I thought it.

    • JP,

      Go back to sleep, you obviously have no idea what is going on here.

      • jp

        You flatter yourself, Moshe. What’s going on here is what always goes on here, no matter the subject.

  • The real world gives us a substantial foundation on which to build knowledge. The “not-of-this-world” is insubstantial and provides no basis for knowledge of anything.

    We live in the real world, and that’s what we should pay attention to and focus on. The unreal world of “the supernatural” offers nothing to focus on and work with.

  • The real world gives us a substantial foundation on which to build knowledge. The “not-of-this-world” is insubstantial and provide no basis for knowledge of anything.

  • “Why would you come to any other conclusion other than a supernatural intelligence/creator?”

    Because a “supernatural intelligence/creator” is an impossibility. To come to a conclusion that requires something supernatural is an error.

    “Only if you a priori rule out the possibilty, that is to say, you accept as an article of faith that there is a naturalistic solution.

    Nature is clearly real. So even if you stick with nature as an “article of faith,” you still have a solid foundation to work from — something entirely missing if you try to substitute “supernature” for nature and put your faith in some “otherworld” instead of the real world.

  • From Rabbi Averick: “All known specified complexity and specified information is the result of intelligence. There are no known exceptions.”

    It is all the result of human intelligence, which is a naturally-occurring process — and there are no known exceptions. And the positing of any sort of “supernatural intelligence” is not even a possible exception.

    “Therefore the obvious conclusion is that the specified complexity and information of the earliest bacterium (which is the oldest living organism that is known to have existed)- which is of such a high level that it cannot be duplicated by human technology – is also the result of intelligence. In this case, the only intellgence available is a supernatural intelligence.”

    Not only is that conclusion not “the obvious conclusion,” is not even a reasonable interpretation. The is no “supernatural intelligence” available. “Supernatural intelligence” is a fantasy, a nonsensical contradiction of reality (though is makes for some interesting fiction).

  • From Rabbi Averick: “All known specified complexity and specified information is the result of intelligence. There are no known exceptions.”

    It is all the result of human intelligence, which is a naturally-occurring process — and there are no known exceptions. And the positing of any sort of “supernatural intelligence” is not even a possible exception.

    “Therefore the obvious conclusion is that the specified complexity and information of the earliest bacterium (which is the oldest living organism that is known to have existed)- which is of such a high level that it cannot be duplicated by human technology – is also the result of intelligence. In this case, the only intellgence available is a supernatural intelligence.”</b.

    Not only is that conclusion not "the obvious conclusion," is not even a reasonable interpretation. The is no "supernatural intelligence" available. "Supernatural intelligence" is a fantasy, a nonsensical contradiction of reality (though is makes for some interesting fiction).

  • JB

    Summary:

    a) All specified complexity is created. This statement doesn’t explain where the first creator came from. Solution: non-physical creator.

    b) All complex living organisms evolved from simpler organisms. This statement doesn’t explain where the first self replicating nucleic acid molecule came from. Solution: spontaneous self-replicating molecule.

    Moshe, slow down. Are you saying that the series of statements in (a) is evidence of a non-physical creator? It seems like that’s what you’re saying, but I don’t want to make assumptions. A yes or no answer would be appreciated.

    • Moshe Averick

      JB,

      a) All specified complexity is created. This statement doesn’t explain where the first creator came from. Solution: non-physical creator.

      AS I said earlier, this statement as it stands is not evidence of a non-physical creator. It simply sets up the possibility.

      The next step is to examine the evidence and see if it points to either of the two possibilities.

      • JB

        Okay, so what is 1 piece of evidence?

        • moshe averick

          JB,

          Specified complexity and specified information are the result of intelligence. The existence of my suit is proof of the existence of the tailor who made the suit, the existence of the poem “Charge of the Light Brigade” is the proof of the existence of the poet who wrote the poem. The existence of the specified complexity of the bacterium and the encyclopedic amount of specified information it contains is the proof of the intelligence that put it together. In this case a supernatural intelligence.

          Unless you have evidence of some unguided process that could result in the emergence of a bacterium, there simply is no other answer. why would you think differently?

          • “The existence of the specified complexity of the bacterium and the encyclopedic amount of specified information it contains is the proof of the intelligence that put it together. In this case a supernatural intelligence.”

            A significant problem in that line of thinking is that the bacterium in question did not contain any “specified complexity” or “specified information.” You are just making that up out of whole cloth.

            First you assume that God exists and put “specified information” into the first living thing. Then you turn around and claim that the alleged “specified” information” as the proof that God exists. In other words, you take your assumption/belief that God exists as the proof that God exists. That’s unreasonable, illogical, and incorrect.

            “Unless you have evidence of some unguided process that could result in the emergence of a bacterium, there simply is no other answer. why would you think differently?”

            The only possible answer is an “unguided process,” since actual guidance requires actual intelligence, which didn’t evolve until long after the “first bacterium” showed up.

            The fact that life is here is the evidence that it happened. Just not the particular evidence of exactly what happened. But there is no getting around the fact that it happened in this world, not some unreal “otherworld.”

          • JB

            I don’t understand. (a) states that the specified complexity of life leads to the conclusion of a non-physical creator. You just said that (a) is not evidence of a non-physical creator. Now, your evidence for a non-physical creator is that the “specified information [life] contains is proof of … supernatural intelligence”. If by “specified information” you mean “specified complexity”, and by “supernatural intelligence” you mean “non-physical creator”, your evidence is identical to (a) which you just said wasn’t evidence. ???

        • Moshe Averick

          JB,

          It seems to me that statement (a) by itself would not convince anybody. It needs some serious elaboration. YOu need to explain why it makes sense to accept the proposed “solution” as true and why to reject possibility (b).

          Don’t quite see what is bothering you.

          • The notion of a “non-physical creator” does not have the bona fides to rationally convince anyone. It is a notion that can only be taken on blind (religious) faith.

          • JB

            Here’s what’s bothering me. From my point of view, this is a summary of our last few posts:

            Me: Are you saying that the complexity of life is evidence of a supernatural creator?

            You: No.

            Me: What then is your evidence for a supernatural creator?

            You: The complexity of life.

            Me: So you’re saying that the complexity of life is evidence for a supernatural creator?

            You: No.

            You really don’t see what’s so confusing?

          • The point is that “the complexity of life” is NOT evidence for a supernatural creator. Nothing is evidence for a supernatural creator.

            A “supernatural creator” is nothing but an article of blind (religious) faith.

          • Moshe Averick

            JB,

            We crossed signals somewhere.
            Let’s be in touch tomorrow.

    • “All specified complexity is created.”

      More specifically, all “specified complexity” is created by humans, the only species with the conceptual minds capable of producing specifications for things.

      The notion that complexity per se somehow implies the possibility of a “supernatural creator” is simply nonsense.

  • JB

    Summary:

    a) All specified complexity is created. This statement doesn’t explain where the first creator came from.

    b) All complex living organisms evolved from simpler organisms. This statement doesn’t explain where the first self replicating nucleic acid molecule came from.

    The problem in (a) is solved by positing a nonphysical creator who has existed forever and therefore, was not himself created.

    The problem in (b) is solved by positing a self-replicating nucleic acid molecule that arose spontaneously and therefore, did not itself evolve.

    Objections?

    • Moshe Averick

      JB,

      Don’t stop the music now. Keep going

      • JB

        Summary:

        a) All specified complexity is created. This statement doesn’t explain where the first creator came from. Solution: non-physical creator.

        b) All complex living organisms evolved from simpler organisms. This statement doesn’t explain where the first self replicating nucleic acid molecule came from. Solution: spontaneous self-replicating molecule.

        Does “don’t stop the music now, keep going…” mean that you agree with this summary?
        If so, do the series of statements in (a) prove the existence of a non-physical creator?

        • Moshe Averick

          JB,

          What is written in (a) as it stands above does not prove the existence a non-physical creator.

          • JB

            Okay, what’s the next step?

          • Moshe Averick

            JB,

            The guilty party is either A or B. Where does the evidence point?

          • JB

            Do the series of statements in (a) constitute evidence for the existence of a non-physical creator?

          • Moshe Averick

            JB,

            Exhibit A: All known specified complexity and specified information is the result of intelligence. There are no known exceptions. Therefore the obvious conclusion is that the specified complexity and information of the earliest bacterium (which is the oldest living organism that is known to have existed)- which is of such a high level that it cannot be duplicated by human technology – is also the result of intelligence. In this case, the only intellgence available is a supernatural intelligence.

            There is no evidence that any type of primitive “self-replicating molecule” ever existed, there is nothing even approaching a plausible scenario of how it could have emerged naturalistically, there is certainly no empirically demonstrable evidence that such a thing is possible, and it runs completely counter to all our experience and intuition. Why would you come to any other conclusion other than a supernatural intelligence/creator?

            Only if you a priori rule out the possibilty, that is to say, you accept as an article of faith that there is a naturalistic solution. This is exactly what origin of life researchers do. If you think it would be helpful I can give a number of examples where these scientists state this if not explicitly, then implicitly.

  • Moshe Averick stated this point: “A. All specified complexity (including the first living organism) is the result of intelligence.”

    The problem I see with that is that the first living organism could not possibly have been the result of “specified complexity” because there would not yet have been anyone around sufficiently evolved to perform any specifying.

    Intelligence came after the first living organism, not before.

  • “a) All specified complexity is created. This statement doesn’t explain where the first creator came from.”

    Since there never was a first or any “supernatural creator,” part a) makes no sense — unless you changed “creator” to “life.”

    “b) All complex living organisms evolved from simpler organisms. This statement doesn’t explain where the first self replicating nucleic acid molecule came from.”

    Not exactly. Why couldn’t you call that first molecule complex (simpler, but still complex enough), which would make the first sentence of part b) false?

  • “1. All complexity is the product of intelligence.”

    Not true.

    “A. All specified information is the result of intelligence.”

    True.

    JB and Moshe seem to be arguing around and around without getting to the real point, viz., that complexity in nature does not depend on information at all (and certainly not on specified information).

    The concept of “specified information” applies only to things human beings do. Specified information does not magically appear out of thin air (or some supernatural soup of “God’s Will”).

    • Richard

      S.S

      I notice you use absolutes like

      “specified information applies “only” to things human beings do”

      This rules out the possibility of what God does which I would sense is your absolute purpose but not proof of what we cannot do.

      If you allow for the possibility of God by releasing your control over absolute definitions you would see that in the first book of Moses. God is said to not create life out of a soup of dreams but by his commanding power of words therefore out of Himself.

      “Let there be….” He uses words which are then shown alive by producing results.

      Life comes from life, living beings from living beings etc.

      There is no “known” possibility for nothing to produce something. This is what I sense is your argument and I agree. Can absolute unknown definitions ever allow anything as real outside of physical explanations.Off course not. This debate is missing the reality of two absolutes. Spiritual reality versus. Temporal reality. Temporal reality says biological life produces biological life(biogenesis) and so it can be reasoned that spiritual life produces spiritual life.(Genesis) What came first Pasteur or Moses?

  • JB

    Okay, so we have two statements, both of which create logical problems. As you pointed out in the article, intelligent design creates the problem of regressive creators. As you’ve also pointed out, evolution has the problem of regressive simpler organisms. So, would you agree with the following:

    a) All specified complexity is created. This statement explains the origin of life but creates a new problem of regressive creators.

    b) All complex living organisms evolved from simpler organisms. This statement cannot explain the origin of life because of the problem of regressive simpler organisms.

    Do you agree with this summary?

    • moshe averick

      JB,

      I would agree with the first statement but not the second.

      The reason that evolution cannot explain the origin of life is because evolution itself depends on complicated molecular machinery and information in order to enable the evolutionary process to take place. WHere did this machinery and information itself come from?

      • JB

        I think we’re saying the same thing. By “molecular machinery and information” do you mean “self replicating nucleic acid molecules”?

        • moshe averick

          JB,

          Close enough.

          • Just remember that calling it “machinery and information” is strictly metaphorical.

          • JB

            How about this?

            a) All specified complexity is created. This statement doesn’t explain where the first creator came from.

            b) All complex living organisms evolved from simpler organisms. This statement doesn’t explain where the first self replicating nucleic acid molecule came from.

            Do you agree with this summary?

        • Moshe Averick

          JB,

          I would still phrase it slightly differently but Yes, I think we can continue.

    • The first sentence of a) is true, but the second sentence is not true.

  • “Who Created the Creator?” is a nonsense question, sort of like “Which came first, the zero or the goose egg?”

  • Rabbi Averick makes his claim that “My prima facie observation is that every single example of functional complexity and specified information that exists are the result of intelligence.”

    But that is NOT an observation, it is a tautology. All he is really saying is that “every single example of specified information that exists is the result of specification of information.” Except that he is trying to mislead people into believing that “every single example of functional complexity that exists is the result of intelligence,” which is neither tautological nor true.

  • I think we can all agree that there is a very interesting gap between pre-life and post-life. We also can agree that this “non-life/life gap” did get crossed.

    Nobody knows just how it happened, but we all agree (surprise) that it happened through abiogenesis.

    Some scientists think that it was the natural way of things that life could arise through natural processes, and they are willing to patiently research the problem.

    But some religionists object that it couldn’t have been a non-living natural process that produced life: it had to be a non-living supernatural process. They must be trying to scheme up some way to rationalize their blind faith in God. Why can’t some people get comfortable with the fact that God doesn’t exist? Why this obsession with the “supernatural,” when there is zero evidence for it? And it contradicts reality!

    • Richard

      S.S
      Life comes from Life , biogenesis
      There is plenty of evidence for this so it is real
      You have presupposed God is dead and not living because you have ruled out the supernatural as impossible absolutely
      Because your definition of supernatural is the authority of naturalism as the only valid philosophy then natural is all that exists, so therefore God cannot exist
      because of your circular reasoning.
      A suppression of reality

      • “You have presupposed God is dead …”

        No. I was just using Rabbi Averick’s definition of of “God” as totally “other” than human.

        • Richard

          S.S
          Sorry I thought you were making an assertion that God does not exist. I do find it odd that you deduce Rabbi Averick’s God would use a non-living supernatural process? because it was not human? I checked the torah online and God said “Let there be…” and created life with audible commands over different aspects of nature that he had previously made. Commands would be alive if they produced life.

          So life produces life. Biogenesis

  • JB, it is elementary logic that the law of excluded middle does NOT prove either the existence or the possibility of the supernatural.

    • JB

      I’m thinking of the word “possibility” as synonymous with “hypothesis”. One does not need evidence to pose a hypothesis.

      • The concept of “possibility” does require at least some evidence. So does a sound hypothesis.

        The notion of “the supernatural is neither a possibility nor a decent hypothesis. It only works as a “what if” for fiction.

  • JB

    Moshe,

    Re-posting my last post to make some room for comments. Here’s where we left off:

    The VERY FIRST living organism was the result of a natural or supernatural process.

    Some complex things are created by more complex things, and some complex things evolve from simpler things.

    Looking forward to the next step in your argument.

    • Moshe Averick

      JB,

      YOu made a mistake. NO specified complexity and specified information is the result of unguided processes. Evolution is dependant on highly sophisticated, PRE-EXISTING molecular machinery and specified information. All you have told me is the awesome potential that is inherent in the original genetic material. Dr. Lynn Margulis wrote: “To go from bacterium to people is less of a step than to go from a mixture of amino acids to a bacterium.” All of life is nothing more than a variation on a theme. Evolution turns out to be not an explanation of the staggering complexity of life, it is a process which is the RESULT of the staggering complexity of life.

      In other words ALL functional complexity is the product of intelligence. I pointed out to you in my original reply that complexity as a result of evolution is irrelevant. It only refocuses us on the extreme difficulty in postulating a naturalistic origin of life.

      You need an example of functional complexity and specified information from something other than evolution.

      • JB

        Evolution is the process whereby bacteria gave rise to human, correct?

      • JB

        Scratch that. I didn’t say that “specified complexity and specified information resulted from an unguided processes”.

        I said that some complex things (humans) evolved from simpler things (bacteria). How about if I modify the above summary as follows:

        All complexity is the product of intelligence.

        All complex life evolved from simpler life.

        Do you disagree with either of these statements?

        • JB says, “All complexity is the product of intelligence.

          But that is obviously not true. Nature is full of complexity that is not the product of intelligence. Life itself is a prime example.

          Intelligence, as a matter of fact, is quite complex, and it did not exist prior to its own existence (so that it could have been able to miraculously produce itself).

        • Moshe Averick

          JB,

          Slight revision:

          All specified complexity is the result of intelligence

          The evolutionary process is a result of the mechanisms, information, and potential contained in the first living organism.

          • JB

            1. Define “specified” intelligence

            2. You didn’t slightly revise my statement about evolution. You substituted an entirely different statement. Do you disagree with the original statement that all complex life evolved from simpler life, yes or no?

          • “All specified complexity is the result of intelligence”

            Naturally, since specification requires intelligence.

            Not all complexity, though, is specified, or the result of intelligence. A lot of complexity is just there in nature — like life itself.

          • Moshe Averick

            JB,

            A. I never used the term “specified intelligence.”

            B. I did not substitute an entirely different statement. The “evolutionary process” implicitly means the neo-darwinian theory. The reason I added what I added was to ensure that the fact that evolution depends on the pre-existence of highly complex machinery and a huge amount of pre-existing information and instructions, was not lost in our discussion

            Let’s try it again: A. All specified information is the result of intelligence

            B. The Darwinian evolutionary process which in many cases is the emergence of more complex forms of living organisms from less complex forms of living organisms is dependant on the pre-existence of highly sophisticated and complex molecular machinery and huge amounts of pre-existing information and instructions (DNA). Since without this machinery and information evolution cannot take place, it is highly misleading,if not absolutely false, to describe evolution an unguided process.

          • JB

            Sorry, I meant “specified complexity”. It doesn’t matter.

          • JB

            I want to make sure we agree about the first sentence of (B) before getting into the subsequent sentences.

            I do not agree that evolution “in many cases” is the emergence of more complex forms of living organisms from less complex forms of living organisms.

            Evolution IN ALL CASES is the emergence of more complex forms of living organisms from less complex forms of living organisms.

            In other words, ALL complex living organisms evolved from simler organisms.

            Let’s try again:

            1. All complexity is the product of intelligence.

            2. All complex living organisms evolved from simler organisms.

            Please don’t make this more complicated by adding additional statements until we agree on these statements.

          • Moshe Averick

            JB,

            When I said “in many cases” I just meant that evolution can go “sideways” also, meaning variation without any increase in complexity; evolution can go backwards also, sometimes an organism can survive better by losing complexity.

            A. All specified complexity (including the first living organism) is the result of intelligence.

            B. Subsequent to the first living organism, more complex living organisms evolved through a Darwinian process. Therefore it would be true to say “All complex living organisms evolved from similar organisms.”

      • “… ALL functional complexity is the product of intelligence.”

        No, it’s not. Life itself is an example of “functional complexity,” and life could not possibly have been a “product of intelligence” (since intelligence only evolved later).

      • Moshe, you keep ignoring the fact that “specified information” did not exist prior to the evolution of humans. You need a specifier in order to get specifications, and that takes conceptual intelligence — which did not exist prior to the evolution of humans.

        This is not even rocket science, so why does the point seem so hard to grasp?

        • Richard

          S.S
          Your definition of intelligence is man and your authority of this definition is man’s intelligence. This is a circular argument.

      • “NO specified complexity and specified information is the result of unguided processes.”

        Of course not, since specification can only be an intelligently guided process. So, as Moshe points out, NO intelligently guided process is the result of unguided processes.

    • “The VERY FIRST living organism was the result of a natural or supernatural process.”

      No, the very first living organism was the result of natural processes, period, as there is no alternative.

      “Supernatural processes” are a figment of the imagination rather than something actually real.

  • Moshe’s showing his typical ignorance, and projecting it onto the other side. So I’m going to repeat my response to his appalling lack of knowledge and misuse of terms here at the top.

    Glen, either you are unaware or are in denial,

    There’s an alternative to your false dilemma, which is that I’m well aware of the machines in cells, and how they betray their evolutionary derivation.

    Scientists are quite astounded by the machinery of the cell.

    Not especially. Life lives, that’s a given.

    What is probably more interesting about the cells machines is how they co-opted such unlikely structures to perform different tasks. Eukaryotic cilia evolved to cause motion, almost certainly, and they continue to operate within us (and macrocytes are interestingly amaeboid), yet our rods utilize cilia. Not exactly what a designer would do, but evolution simply has to modify what exists.

    There are endless citations that I could bring here but the above should be sufficient.

    They’re quite sufficient to show your absolute bias. Rather than pay attention to what is written about the evolution of cellular machinery, you take the dishonest out-of-context nonsense of the IDiots as your starting point. Let’s be clear-it’s obvious that you have only read “one side,” the misleading junk of IDists. You betray no knowledge of what is written up in journals.

    The question is not if there are incredible examples of molecular machinery and information systems in a bacterium – that is the obvious truth – the question is how they got there.

    First off, don’t confuse the rather greater complement of machines in eukaryotic cells with the lesser machinery of bacterial cells. Of course you don’t know the difference, but I do.

    The second point is that we have the homologies to show how a host of these machines evolved. You keep confusing evolutionary products with what abiogenesis would have to produce. They’re not the same, and you again betray your ignorance of science and reliance upon the disingenuous misuse of information by IDists.

    If you do not recognize the astounding technology at work in a cell then we have no common ground to have a discussion.

    You are either dishonest or demonstrate an appalling lack of understanding in that statement. I never denied the machines of the cell, and the “technology” term is a bit of dishonest IDiot misdirection. “Technology” generally refers to human-made machines, not to the many evolved machines in cells. Did either of your sources call any of it “technology”? Certainly not in the quote. I’m not saying that no one has ever written of “technology” in cells, but that would generally be considered to be broadening the meaning, or metaphor. Usually physis and techne are indeed kept separate, so that we can indeed speak of the “technology” that we produce, vs. the evolved complexity of cells.

    So I’m rather appalled at your misrepresentation both of your sources and your apparent ignorance of the meanings of the words that you are (mis)using.

    You are seemingly both in denial and hopelessly unaware of the evolutionary histories of so many molecular machines (as well as that most of the more impressive ones are in fact absent from bacteria and archaea), and of the meaning of the word “technology.” Nice attempt at projection of your own lapses, but it won’t fly with someone like myself who doesn’t write without knowledge.

    Learn some science for once, crack a book. All that you ever seem to have learned about this is the misleading nonsense of creationists and their quotemines.

    • Moshe Averick

      There is no evidence that the earliest bacteria evolved from anything. There are non-living chemicals and there are bacteria. The entire Origin of Life conundrum is how could that gap be crossed. You are confusing Darwinian evolution with origin of life. The basic genetic code and system of the simplest bacteria is nearly identical to ours. There is really no such thing at all as primitive DNA.

      • Moshe Averick

        All the talk about evolutionary processes before bacteria is pure speculation.

        • Keep saying that. Since you don’t care about evidence or learning beyond the misrepresentations of the IDiots, you insulate yourself quite well from the evidence–even when it’s directly brought to your attention.

          Your great lack of knowledge hardly coincides with what is actually unknown.

          • Moshe Averick

            Glen,

            YOu need to share this inside info with Dr.’s Koonin, Szostak, and Dyson, all who seem to be in the dark.

          • Perhaps you should actually read Szostak’s and Koonin’s papers so that you might know what knowledge they have.

            Quotemines taken from the dishonest fail to make you an expert.

    • Moshe Averick

      Glen,

      By the way, you should also inform Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers, both admitted quite candidly that no one knows how the gap from non-life to life was crossed. They are content with their faith that scientists will eventually find an answer. I wish them luck.

      • Moshe, you just don’t know the difference between crossing the gap from non-life to life and the fact that cellular machinery actually is known to have evolved.

        You’ve read the dishonest maunderings of IDiots who completely confuse the two, so you are equally confused.

  • Here is one of Moshe Averick’s favorite questions: “Can you give me a single example of functional complexity and specified information that is the result of any unguided, non-intelligence directed process?”

    That is a trick question. It means, “Can you give me a single example of functional complexity that is the result of intelligence that is not the result of intelligence?”

    In other words, “specified information” can only be the result of intelligence at work. You cannot have specified information without somebody to specify it.

    And the main point is that there was no “specified information” involved in the origin of life — since it was impossible for anybody to be there to specify it before anybody was alive.

  • Rabbi Averick claims that “The existence of a non-physical creator is a distinct possibility that cannot be ruled out a priori.”

    Believing that is where his whole argument goes off the tracks. In fact, a supernatural creator is not a possibility. God is imaginary, not real.

    But notice also that the rabbi’s claim is one of abiogenesis — since the alleged “designer/creator God” is described as “non-physical” (and totally “other” than we are), and thus not alive. So, since we are all agreed that life arose through a process of abiogenesis, why introduce all that supernaturalistic mumbo jumbo?

  • Rabbi Averick wrote that “The creative process by means of intelligence is certainly within the realm of human experience,” and he’s right. But notice that what we experience is 100% HUMAN creativity.

    The nonsense the rabbi wants us to accept, viz., “supernatural intelligence,” is not only NOT within the realm of human experience, it is not even POSSIBLE.

  • Rabbi Averick quotes Dawkins on the beauties of nature, and the complexity and magnitude of the world around us, and then asks this very odd question:

    “What is Dawkins describing if not the experience of a reality that is indescribably greater than ourselves and that transcends our own being?”

    The rabbi’s question is odd because it is perfectly clear that Dawkins is talking about the real world — not some “transcendent realm” beyond (“greater than”) our real, actual world.

    Moshe’s attitude seems to be that if you think there’s something nice about life, then you cannot really be thinking about real life, but must have in mind some transcendent realm “greater than ourselves” (because real life, somehow, just isn’t that nice).

  • Some people feel that “it is obvious that the bacterium is designed,” meaning that there was design going on before intelligent life evolved.

    Obviously, those people have it quite backwards, since only intelligent living beings are capable of creating designs. The notion that life as such was designed/created before anybody capable of design was alive is rank nonsense. It’s like believing that you can eat your cake before you have it.

  • JB

    How does something that is not composed of physical matter create something that is made of physical matter?

    • No way.

    • Moshe Averick

      Excellent Question, I wish I knew the answer.

      • So when scientists don’t know the answer to how life originated, you say that therefore it could not have happened they way they think — and so had to have happened the way you think. And when you admit not knowing the answer to how life originated, you maintain that it still had to happen the way you think.

        That sounds like a classic case of “heads, you win; tails, you win.” For you, religion trumps science, period.

      • JB

        So, scientists don’t know how life arose naturally, and you don’t know how life arose supernaturally. What’s the difference?

        • Moshe Averick

          JB,

          It would seem that the difference is rather obvious. Because we don’t understand the particular mechanism of a phenomena does not mean it is not true. Nobody has the slightest idea what gravity actually IS. All we know is that there is some type of force that exists and affects us and it can be described mathematically. Again, the “force” of gravity of the moon affects the earth, the tides, etc. Somehow the oceans are connected to the moon, I emphasize again, nobody has the slightest idea what that connection actually is, it is just there.

          There is no escape from the simple fact that life began and there are only two choices. Either a naturalistic process that would defy all human experience and intuition and is totally unknown and about which we are clueless, or a creator that is not part of nature and as I pointed out makes sense out of many of the most important aspects of human nature.

          • JB

            You write that a naturalistic process (1) defies human experience, (2) is not intuitive, (3) is something about which we’re clueless.

            Is the creation of physical matter by something not composed of physical matter:

            1) within the realm of human experience? No.
            2) intuitive? No.
            3) You already said you’re as clueless about this supernatural process as we are about a natural process.

            So, again, what is the difference?

          • “There is no escape from the simple fact that life began…

            Yes, we can agree on that point.

            “… and there are only two choices. Either a naturalistic process that would defy all human experience and intuition and is totally unknown and about which we are clueless,…”

            Okay, that one sounds right.

            “… or a creator that is not part of nature and as I pointed out makes sense out of many of the most important aspects of human nature.”

            Oops — that one doesn’t make any sense.

            Notice how the description about a process that would “defy all human experience and intuition and is totally unknown and about which we are clueless” actually applies to “supernatural processes but NOT to natural processes.

            Further, only natural processes are capable of making any sense whatsoever out of any aspects of human nature. There is no way to explain or understand anything by reference to unknown and unknowable “supernatural processes.”

            Natural processes are inescapably the actuality of the origin of life. There simply is no alternative (since the “supernatural” amounts, in practice, to nothing).

          • moshe averick

            JB,

            The creative process by means of intelligence is certainly within the realm of human experience, in fact we live with it constantly. WE are surrounded by countless examples of functional complexity and specified information that are the sole result of intelligent causation. There is no other known cause of these except intelligence. The notion that highly functionally complex machines and highly complex information systems being the result of non-directed processes runs counter to all human experience and intuition. If we were to encounter a machine on Mars that was sophisticated beyond our wildest technological imagination, we might be baffled and astounded in trying to comprehend the intelligence of the builder and designer, but we would know beyond any reasonable doubt that he existed at some time. We are astounded and amazed at how technologically advanced the simplest bacterium is and to try to comprehend the level of intelligence that could build such a machine might be beyond our comprehension, but that does not mean that he is not there. So as I said, it is certainly within our experience.

            I would disagree with your second point also, I would argue that it is well withing the range of human intuition. The following is a verbatim quote from Richard DAwkins from his debate with John Lennox:
            “I think that when you consider the beauty of the world and you wonder how it came to be what it is, you are naturally overwhelmed with a feeling of awe, a feeling of admiration..and you almost feel a desire to worship something…I feel this…I recognize that other scientists such as Carl Sagan feel this. Einstein felt it, we all of us share a common kind of religious reverence for the beauties of the universe, for the complexity of life, for the sheer magnitude of the cosmos, for the sheer magnitude of geological time…and it’s tempting to translate that feeling of awe and worship into a desire to worship some particular thing, a person, an agent…you want to attribute it to a maker, to a creator.”

            What is Dawkins describing if not the experience of a reality that is indescribably greater than ourselves and that transcends our own being? Again, I point out, that vast majority of mankind shares these types of intuitive feelings and yearnings. The notion of a supernatural creator is quite intuitively present in most of us.

            With number 3 I agree, I don’t know how he does it.

          • If we were to encounter a machine on Mars that was sophisticated beyond our wildest technological imagination, we might be baffled and astounded in trying to comprehend the intelligence of the builder and designer, but we would know beyond any reasonable doubt that he existed at some time.

            Yes, a machine.

            We are astounded and amazed at how technologically advanced the simplest bacterium is

            No, we are not astounded and amazed at any kind of “technology” in a bacterium.

            and to try to comprehend the level of intelligence that could build such a machine might be beyond our comprehension, but that does not mean that he is not there.

            Do you never tire of disanalogies? We recognize in the machine actual hallmarks of design, such as the leaps that intelligent is capable of, rationality, and forethought. That is why we recognize that an intelligence made it.

            We call bacteria “natural” because they are not produced by technology, do not have any apparent purpose for anybody, and are lacking in all of the hallmarks of design.

            In other words, you’re clearly ignoring the fact that if we find a bacterium on Mars,, one that apparently did not stow away on our machines, by no means would we call it a machine, and intellectually honest people wouldn’t pretend that it was designed. Because the known characteristics of design are not evident in a bacterium. In science you need evidence for something, not mindless twaddle and lame “analogies.”

          • JB

            1. Creative beings composed of physical matter is within the realm of human experience. Is a creative being that is not made of physical matter within the realm of human experience?

            2. Are you claiming that intuitiveness is evidence that something is true and nonintuitiveness is evidence that something is false? (yes or no)

            3. Given that you are equally clueless about how life arose supernaturally, will you concede that scientists’ “cluelessness” of how life arose naturally is irrelevant.

        • One important difference is that life could not have arisen “supernaturally” and could only be the result of natural processes.

          Thinking about “the supernatural” is nothing more that a way of avoiding reality, eschewing rational explanations, and shirking understanding. Science, on the other hand, is the method of working to get a grip on all that.

          • Richard

            1. Yes, the real you is not matter
            2. No, evidence is true absolutely unless Absolute truth first exists
            3. Life comes from life

        • Moshe Averick

          JB,

          Let’s try to clarify exactly where we disagree. Can we agree on the following:
          The VERY FIRST living organism in the universe was the result of either (a) a naturalistic cause or (b) a non-physical creator (no other physical creator existed)?

          • JB

            Yes. Now, apply the same reasoning to both possibilities, and show me how the arguments differ.

          • Moshe Averick

            JB,

            Before we go any further lets restate what we both agree on: The existence of a non-physical creator is a distinct possibility that cannot be ruled out a priori. We now are in the role of detectives, we have narrowed the “guilty” parties down to two possibilities. The job becomes to find evidence that will tell us which possibility is more likely to be the truth.

            My prima facie observation is that every single example of functional complexity and specified information that exists are the result of intelligence. I therefore conclude that the bacterium which exhibits a level of functional complexity and specified information beyond anything that can be produced by human technology is also the result of intelligence, in this case the only possible intelligence is a non-physical intelligence. Can you give me a single example of functional complexity and specified information that is the result of any unguided, non-intelligence directed process?

            Two caveats: a.Anything resulting from a Darwinian evolutionary process is irrelevant since they can only occur after the pre-existing functional complexity and specified information of the first living organism are already in place. b. Crystals and snowflakes are also irrelevant. Although they exhibit “order” it is not functional complexity.

            Dr. Leslie Orgel, renowned Origin of Life chemist: “Living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals…fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; mixtures of random polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity.”

            Dr.Michael DEnton: “Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non-biological system such as a crystal or snowlflake there is a chasm as vast and as absolute as it is possible to conceive.”

          • JB

            I agree that some complex things are the product of intelligent creation.

            Do you agree that some complex things (e.g. people)are the product of naturalistic processes (i.e. evolution)?

          • There is no sense in agreeing to your goofy premise that some “IDOL” might possibly have existed. The actuality is that life arose by a natural process. There is no other possibility. The “supernatural” is a item of fantasy fiction, not something actually real.

        • Moshe Averick

          Jb,

          Once the molecular machinery and the genetic information system (DNA) of the bacterium is in place I will concede for arguments sake that all forms of physical organisms can evolve from that point forward.

          • JB

            To summarize:

            The VERY FIRST living organism was the result of either (1) a naturalistic cause or (2) a non-physical creator.

            Some complex things are the product of intelligent creation.

            Some complex things are the product of naturalistic processes.

            We’re both in agreement. What’s the next step in your argument?

          • “The VERY FIRST living organism was the result of either (1) a naturalistic cause or (2) a non-physical creator.”

            But,JB, (2) is not a possibility. What leads you to think that it is?

          • JB
          • All that the “law of excluded middle” tells you is that, since (1) is true, (2) is necessarily false.

            There is no logical way to conclude that (2) (i.e., something supernatural) is in any way possible.

          • Moshe Averick

            JB,

            YOu made a mistake. NO specified complexity and specified information is the result of unguided processes. Evolution is dependant on highly sophisticated, PRE-EXISTING molecular machinery and specified information. All you have told me is the awesome potential that is inherent in the original genetic material. Dr. Lynn Margulis wrote: “To go from bacterium to people is less of a step than to go from a mixture of amino acids to a bacterium.” All of life is nothing more than a variation on a theme. Evolution turns out to be not an explanation of the staggering complexity of life, it is a process which is the RESULT of the staggering complexity of life.

            In other words ALL functional complexity is the product of intelligence. I pointed out to you in my original reply that complexity as a result of evolution is irrelevant. It only refocuses us on the extreme difficulty in postulating a naturalistic origin of life.

          • Moshe Averick

            JB,

            You need an example of functional complexity and specified information from something other than evolution.

  • (A) “Who Designed the Designer?” is a question that applies to physical matter.

    Rabbi Averick wrote that, and it’s a trick question. The assumption that the existence of physical matter as such is the result of “design” is bogus. It ignores the fact that if a “designer” is not a physical being, then said “designer” doesn’t exist outside the realm of fantasy fiction.

  • 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.

  • Why do countless billions of purely physical/material human beings yearn to connect with a non-physical, spiritual realm? Because there is a non-physical, spiritual realm.

    Why have countless humans believed ghosts to exist. Because ghosts do exist.

    Why have countless humans thought that diseases were caused by evil beings or moral depravity? Because diseases are caused by evil beings or moral depravity.

    Why have countless humans believed that witches deserve to be killed? Because witches do deserve to be killed.

    Why have countless humans believed that evil spirits enter and control individuals? Because evil spirits do enter and control individuals.

    Well, I could go on with ridiculous superstitions that many, most, or even all humans believed at one time and blandly assert that this proves the veracity of those superstitions. Trouble is…it doesn’t.

    There really is little mystery as to why people believed that mysterious entities and forces were at work in this world. It’s because there were mysterious, unseen forces at work in this world, and humans knew little about such forces except as they modeled them upon themselves, thus the unseen forces were anthropomorphized into spirits, ghosts, demons, and gods.

    Invisible germs caused illnesses, and, knowing nothing of bacteria and protozoa, humans often envisioned some sort of evil spirit floating around and getting into people (much as germs float around and get into people).

    Invisible (to historical humans) forces caused melted rock to ooze out of volcanoes, and people imagined all sorts of entities at work, from a giant (mostly) sleeping under Aetna, to Satan stoking the fires of hell.

    Winds blew with no obvious cause, so there must be spirits or gods who are causing such animation–for to many in earlier ages, only animated, live beings actually did create motion.

    Given the state of knowledge in the past, these were not such unreasonable conclusions. However, they were not well grounded in anything except ignorance of non-human causes and in anthropocentric reasoning.

    The anthropocentric reasoning behind ID really has no excuse today, either, whatever remains yet unknown of abiogenesis. Ah ha, we have specified information (as non-IDist Orgel called it), so it must be due to something like humans, yet something quite unlike humans as well–with no evolutionary history, no detectable civilization, and no known technologies for making life. It’s just intelligence. That’s it, not characterizable intelligence, rather amorphous intelligence reduced to well below any known type of intelligence.

    I would not fault the ancients for coming to such a conclusion, given the state of science then. Today, we know that such an “identification” of intelligence is completely improper, for neither that sort of cause nor that sort of effect has actually been known to come from actual intelligent beings.

    • Moshe Averick

      The statements I made were after demonstrating the existence of a supernatural creator, not before.

      • The statements I made were after demonstrating the existence of a supernatural creator, not before.

        If only you had…

        • How could he, when he doesn’t have a clue what it is?

      • You never demonstrated the existence of a “supernatural creator.” You have mentioned fairly often that you believe in a “supernatural creator,” but not only have you not demonstrated its existence, you have never even explained what you mean by the term “supernatural creator.”

      • salvage

        >made were after demonstrating the existence of a supernatural

        Wow.

        You really think you did that?

        • The Rabbi doesn’t even know what a “supernatural creator” is, and it is doubtful he “really think[s]” that he ever “demonstrated the existence” of such nothingness.

          He probably just likes to keep up the production of blather and bluster as a show of faith.

    • Moshe Averick

      Glen,

      “Every living cell, even the simplest bacterium, teems with molecular contraptions that would be the envy of any nanotechnologist..it is virtually impossible to imagine how a cell’s machines…could have formed spontaneously from living matter.” (Dr. Jack Szostak and Dr. Alonso Ricard)

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

      Glen, either you are unaware or are in denial, Scientists are quite astounded by the machinery of the cell. There are endless citations that I could bring here but the above should be sufficient. The question is not if there are incredible examples of molecular machinery and information systems in a bacterium – that is the obvious truth – the question is how they got there. If you do not recognize the astounding technology at work in a cell then we have no common ground to have a discussion.

      • Glen, either you are unaware or are in denial,

        There’s an alternative to your false dilemma, which is that I’m well aware of the machines in cells, and how they betray their evolutionary derivation.

        Scientists are quite astounded by the machinery of the cell.

        Not especially. Life lives, that’s a given.

        What is probably more interesting about the cells machines is how they co-opted such unlikely structures to perform different tasks. Eukaryotic cilia evolved to cause motion, almost certainly, and they continue to operate within us (and macrocytes are interestingly amaeboid), yet our rods utilize cilia. Not exactly what a designer would do, but evolution simply has to modify what exists.

        There are endless citations that I could bring here but the above should be sufficient.

        They’re quite sufficient to show your absolute bias. Rather than pay attention to what is written about the evolution of cellular machinery, you take the dishonest out-of-context nonsense of the IDiots as your starting point. Let’s be clear–it’s obvious that you have only read “one side,” the misleading junk of IDists. You betray no knowledge of what is written up in journals.

        The question is not if there are incredible examples of molecular machinery and information systems in a bacterium – that is the obvious truth – the question is how they got there.

        First off, don’t confuse the rather greater complement of machines in eukaryotic cells with the lesser machinery of bacterial cells. Of course you don’t know the difference, but I do.

        The second point is that we have the homologies to show how a host of these machines evolved. You keep confusing evolutionary products with what abiogenesis would have to produce. They’re not the same, and you again betray your ignorance of science and reliance upon the disingenuous misuse of information by IDists.

        If you do not recognize the astounding technology at work in a cell then we have no common ground to have a discussion.

        You are either dishonest or demonstrate an appalling lack of understanding in that statement. I never denied the machines of the cell, and the “technology” term is a bit of dishonest IDiot misdirection. “Technology” generally refers to human-made machines, not to the many evolved machines in cells. Did either of your sources call any of it “technology”? Certainly not in the quote. I’m not saying that no one has ever written of “technology” in cells, but that would generally be considered to be broadening the meaning, or metaphor. Usually physis and techne are indeed kept separate, so that we can indeed speak of the “technology” that we produce, vs. the evolved complexity of cells.

        So I’m rather appalled at your misrepresentation both of your sources and your apparent ignorance of the meanings of the words that you are (mis)using.

        You are seemingly both in denial and hopelessly unaware of the evolutionary histories of so many molecular machines (as well as that most of the more impressive ones are in fact absent from bacteria and archaea), and of the meaning of the word “technology.” Nice attempt at projection of your own lapses, but it won’t fly with someone like myself who doesn’t write without knowledge.

        Learn some science for once, crack a book. All that you ever seem to have learned are the misleading nonsense of creationists and their quotemines.

  • 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 and humility; Averick has faith and bluster.

  • Adam

    By the way, aliens not only explain the origin of life, aliens are the ONLY logical explanation.

    There are only three possibilities. (1) Life arose from a natural, unguided process. (2) Life was created by an invisible, immaterial being. (3) Life was created by aliens from another dimension.

    There is no evidence for the first two possibilities; therefore, logically, life was created by aliens.

    Any rational person can understand this.

    • (2) and (3) are self-contradictory, and impossible.

      (1) is the actual case.

      There is plenty of evidence for natural (and “unguided”) processes, so we don’t have to fret on that score.

      An “immaterial being” is a contradiction in terms, so it could not exist and generate any evidence.

      Life being created by something already alive (those fantasy “aliens”) is also a self-contradictory notion, not a possibility.

    • Moshe Averick

      Adam,

      Are you going to arrange the debate or not?

      • Adam

        I’ll let you choose the time and location. You may contact me privately to arrange payment of my fee and travel expenses.

  • Adam

    Clever trick… “accepting” to debate but then demanding an outrageous fee. I thought a pastrami sandwich was good enough?

    • Adam

      Also, you’re a liar. You have not previously accepted my challenge “at least once”. You have NEVER previously responded to my challenge. Nice try, liar.

      • Are you sure you’re paying attention?

        • Adam

          Are you really sure you’re not autistic?

          • Okay, so you’re not. Looks like we have to live with that.

  • Why is it that for all of recorded human history the overwhelming majority of mankind has been seeking to connect with a supernatural “God” in one form or another?

    Because He’s not there!

    The seeking has taken so long because there is nothing to find; so the seeking could go on forever — unless people finally wake up to the senselessness and futility of “seeking to connect with a supernatural ‘God'” and decide to face reality as the reasonable option.

  • “… representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it… enhances the organism’s chances for survival. Truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost.”

    Truth is a representation of the world which conforms to reality. Such conformance is what makes it survival-enhancing. So not only does truth not “take the hindmost,” truth is the whole point of the exercise.

    Notice that “truth” is only meaningful in regard to humans — since only humans have the volitional capacity to avoid paying attention to reality (or conjuring up “representations of the world” which don’t conform to reality). Other animals do not have the capacity to lie to themselves, or fantasize about the supernatural, or whatever.

  • Nonsense of a high order:

    Well, I asked the ID community reb,Moshe Averick, author of Nonsense of a High Order: The confused and illusory world of the atheist, how do you know that the Torah goes back to the time of Moses? Here is what he says,

    There are many safeguards in Jewish law and practice to preserve the integrity of the Torah scroll. However, the simplest and most obvious evidence of how well the system works, is that after the founding of the State of Israel, Jews from every corner of the world brought their own Torah Scrolls and the ones from Yemen ( whose community was over 2000 years old) matched the ones from Poland. This, despite the fact that there are over 300,000 letters in the Torah.

    There are 5-6 letter differences between the scroll of the Arab-Jewish communities and the eastern European Jewish communities. These are all letters that are silent in the words, and none change the meaning or pronunciation of a word or phrase. Example: Thouht and Thought , foreign and forein, etc.

    Torah scrolls can easily used for up to 100 years, which means that the transmission process really only has to happen 30-40 times. This takes you back over 3000 years to the final writing of the Torah at the end of the 40 years in the desert.

    This is the sort of “thought” that goes into his “arguments for God.” Tripe of the worst sort, that simply assumes that present safeguards go back to a “Mosees” whose existence as the figure portrayed in the Torah simply has no evidence.

    But evidence? What of that? You need no evidence to say God did it.

    • I was going to include the source of that bit of tomfoolery, but forgot, so here it is:

      http://salvomag.com/blog/2011/05/evidence-can-we-trust-traditional-texts-to-be-reliable/#more-196

    • Moshe Averick

      Glen,

      Who did you ask? You certainly did not ask me.
      It sounds like the person who answered you understood your question to be: How do we know the Torah was passed down accurately from the time of Moses if it had to be written and copied by hand? If you are asking how do we know Moses existed and why do we believe in the revelation at Sinai that is an entirely different matter. I don’t even see why you are bringing this up. Origin of Life has nothing to do with belief in a particular religious claim about Diving revelation. You can acknowledge God the Creator of life without believing in any Divine revelation. This was the case with Antony Flew.

      Secondly: Who is the ID community?

      • Why would I ask you anything? You lurch from one bad “argument” to another without ever bothering to learn epistemology or what a meaningful inference is.

        I brought it up because it’s a silly “reason” to trust the Torah, and because you’re obviously tied up in a host of presuppositions that have nothing to do with sound inference. It’s why discussions with you never get anywhere, because you don’t even care that what you’re saying is completely unjustified.

        I don’t care if you want to or do accept the Torah on faith. But your “argument” that it is trustworthy doesn’t get past the 2nd century BCE at best. It tells us nothing about either the origin of the Torah or about its maintenance prior to the time when Jews clearly did become people of the book.

      • Oh, and the colon is there because I quoted from the link. Denyse, I assume O’Leary, who presumably did ask that question. You probably figured that out, but just to be sure…

        This place doesn’t have very good formatting for quotes and the like.

  • Why does the natural world make any sense to begin with?

    Of course it doesn’t. Only people can make sense (and only people can make nonsense).

    Nature just is what it is, regardless of how we feel about it. To take the view that “nature makes sense” is a form of trying to anthropomorphize nature — which can have its metaphorical uses, but ought not be taken literally. Human minds evolved to try to keep up with reality, but we certainly don’t outrank it, and can’t force it to conform to our ideas about it.

  • In the spring of 1922 Conan Doyle visited Houdini in his New York City home, whereupon the magician set out to demonstrate that slate writing—a favorite method among mediums for receiving messages from the dead, who allegedly moved a piece of chalk across a slate—could be done by perfectly prosaic means. Houdini had Conan Doyle hang a slate from anywhere in the room so that it was free to swing in space. He presented the author with four cork balls, asking him to pick one and cut it open to prove that it had not been altered. He then had Conan Doyle pick another ball and dip it into a well of white ink. While it was soaking, Houdini asked his visitor to go down the street in any direction, take out a piece of paper and pencil, write a question or a sentence, put it back in his pocket and return to the house. Conan Doyle complied, scribbling, “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin,” a riddle from the Bible’s book of Daniel, meaning, “It has been counted and counted, weighed and divided.”

    How appropriate, for what happened next defied explanation, at least in Conan Doyle’s mind. Houdini had him scoop up the ink-soaked ball in a spoon and place it against the slate, where it momentarily stuck before slowly rolling across the face, spelling out “M,” “e,” “n,” “e,” and so forth until the entire phrase was completed, at which point the ball dropped to the ground.

    Houdini then explained that he had done the whole thing through simple trickery and implored Conan Doyle to give up his spiritualist beliefs. Alas, he failed: not only did Conan Doyle continue to believe in mediums but he suspected that Houdini knowingly or unknowingly used his own supernatural gifts in the performance of his escape acts.

    Taken from http://blogs.plos.org/retort/2011/03/24/how-did-houdini-trick-conan-doyle/

    Remind you of anyone?

    If you don’t know how something happened, then you know how it happened–Moshe’s functional philosophy

    • Moshe Averick

      Glen,
      Thank you for the story, it proves my point beautifully. Specified information is the result of intelligent design.

      • “Specified information is the result of intelligent design.

        Well, of course it is. Nobody doubts or contests that point, Rabbi.

        Your problem is that all the “specified information” that exists was specified by human minds. That is the only source for “specified information.”

        In nature, absent human intervention, there isn’t any such thing. DNA, for instance, is not a case of “specified information” — merely complexity (at least when humans try to think about it — in nature, per se, it’s just there as more stuff).

      • Oh, nice, Moshe, specified information is the result of human intelligent design–the only species observed to produce such.

        So that rules out your fantasies about God as the cause of it.

        And it shows how lame it is to resort to any sort of supernatural, including the host of magic beings that you rule out purely through bias.

        • Of course specified information under a broad enough definition includes evolutionary information, which has absolutely no evidence of intelligence directing it, either in the beginning or throughout evolution.

          You admit elsewhere that you presuppose God. Why don’t you just cop to it here, rather than pretend that it’s a sound inference from the data? It’s no more a sound inference than are Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

          • ‘Of course specified information under a broad enough definition includes evolutionary information,…’

            That doesn’t make the definition “broad enough,” that simply ignores the meanings of the terms “specified” and “information.”

          • Moshe Averick

            Evolution is irrelevant. Evolution cannot begin without the molecular machinery and genetic code already in place. Evolution simply begs the question.

          • Evolution cannot begin without the molecular machinery and genetic code already in place.

            Because you say so? I know you’ll say it hundreds, if not thousands, of times, no matter that you have no evidence that it is so–and despite the fact that I referred to a paper that showed reason to believe in the evolution of the genetic code. But you just trash actual scientists and repeat baseless ID tripe.

            What actually matters is just what I wrote, that there is “no evidence of intelligence directing it, either in the beginning or throughout evolution.” That is to say, we don’t have evidence of an intelligence existing on the earth or affecting either abiogenesis or evolution in the distant past.

            You have no evidence. You don’t care that you have no evidence, I know, but people who care about real explanations do care.

        • Moshe Averick

          I assume then that the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence is a waste of time, since only human intelligence can produce specified information. What a shame Carl Sagan wasn’t able to consult with you. You could have saved him a lot of wasted time.

          • Oh well, of course, because SETI’s searching for God.

            No, I guess not. Sure, I actually did think of this cheap dodge that you used when I wrote that, however I know better than to try to defend against every cheap shot that IDists use.

            SETI is searching not for humans, but for humanoids, entities like humans. Humans are all that we know, clearly we can imagine that beings like ourselves exist, and search for the marks of such humanoids.

            Relaxing the bounds somewhat to include beings like us is reasonable and even inevitable. Pretending that by doing the same we can identify G-d is the height of absurdity.

          • Oh, and there’s another reason why I didn’t include “humanoids” parenthetically or otherwise as possibilities. That’s because we live on earth, and we have no evidence that ETs have ever visited earth. Until we have such evidence we would have no reason to suppose that intelligences other than our own have reached high levels of technical skill.

            If we had evidence of ETs affecting earth, then we’d have to consider the possibility of their effects where intelligence is concerned. We wait for solid evidence, unlike theists who are intent on forcing any gaps to accept their unidentifiable gods.

          • Sorry, I meant to write something more like this:

            Until we have such evidence we would have no reason to suppose that intelligences other than our own have reached high levels of technical skill and have affected the earth.

  • Richard

    Good point Papa, an early post caught Moshe doing the same in regards to a pricipio error of definition. The debate here seems only randomly to be narrowing
    To definition of terms. Ie speaking the same language
    Is most important for learning. Faith, Hope, Supernatural, Design, Natural, Purpose,Reality, Science, Logic etc….
    Until either side agrees on these basic terms and what they mean
    And can be inferred to mean all communication can not be reconciled
    And judged as either true or false, real or imagined. Add those words to the list. Over all a good message board and discussion I have enjoyed both sides minus
    A couple slanders from both sides.

  • “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

    Precisely. Faith is not only opposite of knowledge, it is the destroyer of learning. ~ Steve Stoddard

    One of the most scientific minds that founded — in one sense — the empiricist modal that science uses today said the following: “A little philosophy inclineth a man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.”

    If, however, the faith issue demands destruction of faith by some odd redefining of it to suit ones immediate needs… then so to may I proffer an example of the destroyer of learning, modern science. In his book, Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design, Dr. Monton points out in comparing Bacon’s thinking process, how one midefines it, and then offers a modern example that shoots oneself in the foot if defining knowledge/science one way:

    …To drive the point home, an analogy might be helpful. With the advent of quantum mechanics, scientists have become comfortable with indeterministic events. For example, when asked why a particular radioactive atom decayed at the exact time that it did, most physicists would say that there’s no reason it decayed at that particular time; it was just an indeterministic event!’ One could imagine an opponent of indeterminism giving an argument that’s analogous to Pennock’s:

    allowing appeal to indeterministic processes in science would make the scientist’s task too easy, because one would always be able to call upon chance for quick theoretical assistance…. Indeed, all empirical investigation beyond the purely descriptive could cease, for scientists would have a ready-made answer for everything.

    It is certainly possible that, for every event that happens, scientists could simply say “that’s the result of an indeterministic chancy process; there’s no further explanation for why the event happened that way.” But this would clearly be doing bad science: just because the option of appealing to indeterminism is there, it doesn’t follow that the option should always be used. The same holds for the option of appealing to supernatural powers.

    As further evidence against Pennock, it’s worth pointing out that prominent scientists in the past have appealed to supernatural powers, without using them as a ready-made answer for everything. Newton is a good example of this—he is a devout theist, in addition to being a great scientist, and he thinks that God sometimes intervenes in the world. Pennock falsely implies that this is not the case:

    God may have underwritten the active principles that govern the world described in [Newton’s] Principia and the Opticks, but He did not interrupt any of the equations or regularities therein. Johnson and other creationists who want to dismiss methodological naturalism would do well to consult Newton’s own rules of reasoning….

    But in fact, Newton does not endorse methodological naturalism. In his Opticks, Newton claims that God sometimes intervenes in the world….

    Read more: http://religiopoliticaltalk.com/quotes-i/#ixzz1mvKmoeCN

    One of the worlds greatest scientists faith expanded his knowledge because of it. Increased his learning. What has killed learning in the past? naturalistic thinking: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34541247/Vestigial-Discover-Magazine-Article-Critiqued

    • “[I]t’s worth pointing out that prominent scientists in the past have appealed to supernatural powers, without using them as a ready-made answer for everything.

      Yes, it is worth noting. But you can’t stop there. It is also worth noting that they gained some knowledge through science, and none through faith.

      At best, they may have gained comfort through faith, if they couldn’t figure out how to do it with knowledge. But there is no sense in concluding that any such faith or comfort miraculously proves the existence of God. All it proves is that some people believe in God. But there’s never been any doubt or dispute about that.

      • Evolution is faith? It — yes it — destroys learning. In fact, according to the sound logic in this article (http://www.proginosko.com/docs/The_Lord_of_Non-Contradiction.pdf), reason itself demands non-naturalistic thinking. These “laws” are presupposed prior to any naturalistic thinking. So, in fact, what supports empiricism properly used is metaphysical thought… again, properly posited and not misdefined [as the philosophical naturalist does often]. Not only has science based in naturalistic thinking cause much death (as the link to my critique of a 2004 Discover magazine article on vestigial organs in the above post), but you can see how naturalism fails to base our experience in reality:

        ============QUOTE
        Let’s consider a basic question: Why does the natural world make any sense to begin with? Albert Einstein once remarked that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. Why should we be able to grasp the beauty, elegance, and complexity of our universe?

        Einstein understood a basic truth about science, namely, that it relies upon certain philosophical assumptions about the natural world. These assumptions include the existence of an external world that is orderly and rational, and the trustworthiness of our minds to grasp that world. Science cannot proceed apart from these assumptions, even though they cannot be independently proven. Oxford professor John C. Lennox asks a penetrating question, “At the heart of all science lies the conviction that the universe is orderly. Without this deep conviction science would not be possible. So we are entitled to ask: Where does the conviction come from?”” Why is the world orderly? And why do our minds comprehend this order?

        Toward the end of The God Delusion, Dawkins admits that since we are the product of natural selection, our senses cannot be fully trusted. After all, according to Darwinian evolution, our senses have been formed to aid survival, not necessarily to deliver true belief. Since a human being has been cobbled together through the blind process of natural selection acting on random mutation, says Dawkins, it’s unlikely that our views of the world are completely true. Outspoken philosopher of neuro-science Patricia Churchland agrees:

        The principle chore of brains is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it… enhances the organism’s chances for survival. Truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost.

        Dawkins is on the right track to suggest that naturalism should lead people to be skeptical about trusting their senses. Dawkins just doesn’t take his skepticism far enough. In Miracles, C. S. Lewis points out that knowledge depends upon the reliability of our mental faculties. If human reasoning is not trustworthy, then no scientific conclusions can be considered true or false. In fact, we couldn’t have any knowledge about the world, period. Our senses must be reliable to acquire knowledge of the world, and our reasoning faculties must be reliable to process the acquired knowledge. But this raises a particularly thorny dilemma for atheism. If the mind has developed through the blind, irrational, and material process of Darwinian evolution, then why should we trust it at all? Why should we believe that the human brain—the outcome of an accidental process—actually puts us in touch with reality? Science cannot be used as an answer to this question, because science itself relies upon these very assumptions.

        Even Charles Darwin was aware of this problem: “The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust the conviction of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” If Darwinian evolution is true, we should distrust the cognitive faculties that make science possible.

        Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2010), 37-38.

        Read more: http://religiopoliticaltalk.com/quotes-i/#ixzz1myeYWlCW
        ==================UNQUOTE

        • “If Darwinian evolution is true, we should distrust the cognitive faculties that make science possible.”

          Of course we shouldn’t. As Kant pointed out, the point is not that the world is known “in itself,” but only that it is known through consistent faculties. The world isn’t really “colored” at all, it’s just how our visual sense is interpreted.

          It’s evolution that suggests that not only do we have a reasonably consistent interface with the world, but that it is a reasonably close approximation, at least in terms of space and quantity. It simply is easier to evolve senses that are fairly representational than those that are convoluted and unlike the “real world.”

          I know Plantinga keeps on with this line, never even getting to the level of Kant’s understanding. He neither recognizes how difficult science actually is for us because our sense of the world is phenomenological and thus in many ways unlike the quantitative world, nor that he himself has no reason like evolution to at least suppose that the world is quantitatively reasonably close to how we sense it to be (if also subjectively skewed). Kant had it right, with God alone there is no reason to think that the world is anything like what we experience.

          • Kant was an arch supernaturalist, and totally wrong about the “phenomenological” character of the world.

            Note that the world is not “like what we experience” — it IS what we experience.

          • Moshe Averick

            Hard core materialists have already given up any real connection with reality. The self is an illusion, along with all our other perceptions. Once the self is declared non-existent, there exists no faculty to discern reality from fantasy. There is no difference between the illusory self, illusory free will, and illusory perceptions of scientific experiments.

          • You may feel that you are an illusion, Moshe, but I’m certainly not. And I don’t even believe that you are.

          • Um, who denies the self? I’ve seen PZ Myers say something to that effect (I don’t know what position he truly holds), but I certainly disagreed with that claim.

            Science is about determining how the self comes to be, among other things.

        • Human sense perception is infallible, and to doubt the senses is not in any way sensible.

          It it total Kantian nonsense to think that, since the senses evolved in reality, they cannot therefore be trusted.

          “If the mind has developed through the blind, irrational, and material process of Darwinian evolution,…”

          It is a gross misunderdstanding to call evolution “blind and irrational.” At best, that is a poor metaphor, but it is absurd to take it literally.

          • Human sense perception is infallible, and to doubt the senses is not in the least bit sensible.

            It is total Kantian nonsense to think that, since the senses evolved in reality, they cannot, therefore, be trusted.

            “If the mind has developed through the blind, irrational, and material process of Darwinian evolution,…”

            It is a gross misunderdstanding to call evolution “blind and irrational.” At best, that is a poor metaphor, but it is absurd to take it literally.

    • A person can be a theist and a scientist, no question. But pointing to Newton and Bacon doesn’t in the least establish that invoking the “supernatural” works in science, because at no time did anyone’s appeal to the supernatural supply a meaningful explanation based on proper observation.

      Newton’s little forays into “supernatural explanation” are considered to be laughable, if forgivable considering the time and state of knowledge.

  • Moshe doesn’t like any thinking about the origin of life that would go anything like this: “Ergo, we are left with only one viable alternative: some unknown naturalistic process.”

    But we have to face two incontrovertible facts: 1) life did originate by a natural process (since no other processes are possible); and 2) nobody currently knows what that process involved.

    In short, life originated via some unknown natural process.

    If you don’t like that fact, maybe you could try emigrating to a different universe. (At least, you could try…) At any rate, you can’t change this one.

  • More from Kant:

    “Our faith is not scientific knowledge, and thank heaven it is not! For God’s wisdom is apparent in the very fact that we do not know that God exists, but should believe that God exists. [If we could] attain . . . scientific knowledge of God’s existence, through our experience or in some other way . . . our morality [of sacrifice] would break down. . . . [Our] hope for reward and fear of punishment [i.e., selfish motives] would take the place of moral [i.e., selfless] motives. Man would be virtuous out of [selfish] impulses.

    • That should end with another set of quote marks. The whole paragraph is a quote.

  • Is Rabbi Averick an admirer of Kant? It could be, since the Rabbi’s style of argumentation is very similar to Kant’s.

    For instance:

    If nature had meant for humans not to believe in God, then nature would not have given men free will, for it is only by means of free will that man can choose to ignore reality and believe in the supernatural instead. So, obviously, nature intended for people to believe in the supernatural.

    Of course, that still doesn’t mean that the supernatural actually exists, but why quibble . . . .

  • “It takes faith to believe that life arose in this universe and diversified into all the known forms by purely natural processes,…”

    No, that doesn’t take any faith at all. In fact, faith would only get in the way of understanding it. Sorry to burst that bubble of faith people like to hide in . . . . but “purely natural processes” are the only ones we’ve got.

    Just try to find an unnatural process. You could look forever and you’d never find one.

    • Adams Bible Studies

      Steve S.: One possibility is the human’s ability to HOPE. which is an unnatural thing to do. As has been expressed a long time ago: hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for it? Animals seem to lack this ability, their expectation is hunting, food and sleep. Its, one day at a time.
      Human’s can plan way into the future, just like the one who designed him. There is a lot more man can do than the animals, you know, without laboring this reply.

      • Hope is a perfectly natural thing. What in the world gave you the notion that it was unnatural? Do you find it some monstrous struggle to have any hope for anything?

    • Paul Robinsoin

      Your statement is an assumption without any factual proof. Just because you cannot see something, does not mean it does not exist. You cannot see gravity, but you can see its effects. You cannot see abiogenesis, an unnatural process and must accept it purely by faith. That faith need be very strong, for 60 years of experiments have proven that even the basic criteria for life cannot be created by methods other than biogenesis. That is true even given vast amounts of time and money and the addition of the brightest minds in the world. Still not even the basic building blocks of life. Yet supposedly they all came together in the same place at the right time to form life. This is so absurd to the rational mind as to be comedic.

      You can know God and see the results. You can look at the marvels of the natural world and by critical thinking, make a number of observations about the creator. Randomness is not one of them.

  • “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    For by it the elders obtained a good report.

    Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11:1-3

    Well said Rabbi.

    what I don’t understand is the constant belittling in this debate of the people who hold the other point of view, as though those who do not agree with one side or the other cannot possibly have any brains at all. It is counterproductive and terribly unscientific to declare that something is or is not absolutely true. Especially when we are so terribly limited in our knowledge of reality. Where is the respect for the each other as people, and the respect for the education and life experience of our opponents? It disturbs me.

    Aside from that, a cursory study of quantum physics should certainly point out that reality is far more than what we, with our limited sensory capacities and our limited instrumentation, can comprehend. We don’t even know what we don’t know about the universe and probably lack even the fundamental questions that we would need to ask to find out much, if not most of that.

    From my studies, the Bible is as true as I have the knowledge and discernment to judge such things. For those protesting the possibility of a supernatural creator outside of time, see the last paragraph-lol. For those with a modicum of modern quantum physics under your belt-ask Bob and Alice.

    From my point of view Moshe Averick is far closer to the truth than those who disagree with him on this page.

    • “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

      Precisely. Faith is not only opposite of knowledge, it is the destroyer of learning.

      • David B (no not THAT one)

        Sorry, but history is full of men of both faith and learning. Galileo was a man of faith and learning. For that matter, no man is without faith. It takes faith to believe that there is no God; atheists are simply in a state of denial. It takes faith to believe that life arose in this universe and diversified into all the known forms by purely natural processes, whatever one believes about God.

        • It doesn’t take faith not to believe in God. It takes faith to believe in God. If you believe in God, you have faith. If you don’t have faith, you don’t believe in God.

          It doesn’t take faith to see that life is part of nature (not any more than it takes faith to understand that if you are not blind or totally in the dark, you’ll see something when you open your eyes.)

          • Sir,

            You have no way to scientifically prove that there is no God anymore than I can scientifically prove that there is one. Therefore, your position takes just as much faith, if not more, than does mine.

            In addition, your constant harping on reality, as though you know the exact parameters of reality and all that term encompasses, is ludicrous. We do not know what we don’t know. There does seem to be a consistent set of perceptions for most people, but we cannot possibly have an accurate idea of what reality is. It is a largely subjective experience that may not be the same even between individuals. We lack the capacity to comprehend reality fully.

            Perhaps you might be persuaded to admit that somewhere, in the substance of what you do not know, God exists. Without that possibility, no real discussion is possible between us.

            I can say, there is a possibility that I am wrong. Then I can go forward from there and examine evidence objectively-or at least as objectively as I may. When you dismiss even the possibility that you may be wrong, you cannot be objective as to any evidence that you find, because you are presupposing that it cannot fit into this or that conclusion. That’s not good science.

          • “You have no way to scientifically prove that there is no God anymore than I can scientifically prove that there is one.”

            That is precisely the reason for being an atheist: there is nothing about God in reality.

            Notice that faith is needed to believe in God. On the other hand, not believing in God is merely the practical consequence of not having faith.

            In other words, it takes no faith not to believe in God — and only blind faith can “support” any belief in any God.

          • “Call Me Mom” protests that there is “no way to scientifically prove that there is … God …”

            On that, we are in agreement. The problem is in thinking that’s irrelevant when one wants to believe in God anyway. That’s not science, that’s religion.

            Science is based on believing things because of the evidence (instead of without or against it).

            Since there is not evidence for God, I don’t believe in God. But notice that the very definition of God as “supernatural” means that evidence for his existence is impossible. Hence, atheism is the reasonable attitude, and theism is nonsense.

      • Paul Robinsoin

        That statement is simply stu pid. It says nothing about faith being opposed to knowledge. True knowledge is enhanced by faith. Its faith plus knowledge, not faith OR knowledge. The founders of most of our scientific disciplines were not only men of knowledge, but men of faith as well, and found no contradiction in that.

        The self appointed pseudo-science elites have arbitrarily defined science on the one hand as ONLY dealing with the natural world. Well enough – by definition, science is what you can see, measure and repeat.

        But none of that applies to evolution. So the study of origins is outside science. There is less faith required to see the glory of God in the handiwork of the universe, than randomness and chance.

        I say the possibility of abiogenesis has been scientifically disproven by thousands of observations and experiments. In fact we have a Law of Biogenesis – there are no exceptions. But you blindly continue to believe in abiogenesis – which means you have faith.

        In your case it IS the opposite of knowledge.

        • “The founders of most of our scientific disciplines were not only men of knowledge, but men of faith as well, and found no contradiction in that.”

          Some of them did overlook (or ignore) that contradiction, but that does not mean that everybody has to ignore it. The fact remains that faith is the rejection of reason. Faith is the antithesis of reason and the enemy of knowledge. Blind faith is essentially good for nothing — and a poor substitute for rationally dealing with life.

    • “… with our limited sensory capacities and our limited instrumentation …”

      But notice what we are limited to: we are limited to reality. Reality is the only thing there is to sense, either directly or through instrumentation. Sensing or measuring the “supernatural” is out of the question.

      • Steve,

        Your understanding of the scientific method and its intended use seems to be faulty. It is not able to prove anything. It is simply a method of defining the likeliest conclusions through observation and then testing them for consistency.

        Science was never intended to become a religion and, sadly, many have made it into one.

        The reason I say that the existence of God can neither be proven, nor disproven by the scientific method is because there is no way to objectively define what constitutes the presence or absence of God, by the scientific method.
        Yet you seem intent on declaring that your hypothesis is true because of that lack. That is hardly a scientific conclusion, nor was it arrived at via the scientific method.

        Just as a bonus I thought you might appreciate this little article: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/explainer/2012/02/cern_neutrino_experiment_how_many_times_have_scientists_proven_einstein_wrong_.html

        • “Science was never intended to become a religion …”

          Certainly not. Science was intended to replace religion, since religion was based on faith, with a way of understanding the world through reason (logic, observation, research, etc.).

          Science was intended to open up the world to real understanding, instead of leaving it closed in the grip of faith any myth. And to a significant extent, things have worked out that way (although religion has not disappeared from the scene quite yet).

  • Daniel Schealler

    Hello again Rabbi.

    For all that I regularly (and strongly) disagree with you on these things – all the same, it’s good to see/read you. How have you been? I hope you’ve been well.

    Okay, onto the subject at hand:

    Any functionally complex and purposefully arranged form of physical matter…

    Purposefully arranged.

    There. Right there. First sentence of your problem description. Petitio principii.

    Using the term ‘purposefully arranged’ presupposes the existence of a purposeful arranger for the phenomena under examination.

    The existence of such a purposeful arranger of life is itself the very matter under contention.

    Even if the rest of your argument was tight this flaw would still be sufficient to reject that argument.

    So while I have a lot of criticism I could level at other parts of your argument, there’s no point. It all becomes an irrelevant digression after this foundational fallacy is revealed.

    If you want to show that life actually is purposefully arranged, you need to give us the means of showing this to be actually true.

    Note that just pointing to something else that we can show to be purposefully arranged (such as brick walls or Morse Code) and insisting on an analogy is insufficient. This just pushes the assumption one step deeper by hiding it as an implicit assumption of the analogy itself. It doesn’t solve anything, it just makes the fatal assumption hard to find.

    If you want to show that life is purposefully arranged, you need to give us some kind of evidence or demonstration that can show this to be the case.

    This would be something along the lines of a blueprint that could be shown to pre-exist life itself, preferably with a mechanism of how the blueprint would be implemented.

    Or even better yet, if we could actually catch the purposeful arrangement itself in the act – examine the methods and techniques of the purposeful arranger itself as they are being executed.

    Or at the other end of the spectrum, at the very least, provide some method of distinguishing complex purposefully arranged matter from plain old complex matter that doesn’t involve a subjective leap of faith based on a faulty analogy that presumes the conclusion. Something that doesn’t rely on subjective flaws in human psychological reasoning such as hyperactive agency detection.

    Give us something else. Something that works.

    Until you can do that, nothing else you write on the subject matters. It doesn’t matter how good the rest of your argument actually is. If even just one of your foundational premises are false or fallacious, that’s still going to be a death blow to even the most elegant and soundly-reasoned of arguments.

    • Cool.

      • Daniel Schealler

        Tah. ^_^

    • Moshe Averick

      Daniel,
      You are mistaken.
      “purposefully arranged” simply means that the particular arrangement of matter accomplishes a specific purpose. Use the term “functionally complex” or “specified information.” It doesn’t really matter. They all describe essentially the same phenomenon. They do not presuppose anything. WE simply conclude, based on our experience and the scientific evidence that the only reasonable cause which explains these effects is intelligent intervention. There are no examples of functional complexity and specified information that are the result of unguided processes. Every single example, without exception, are the result of intelligence. There is no reason to doubt our conclusions. Unless you want to deny the reality of the existence of “functional complexity” and “specificied information” your line of reasoning leads to a dead end. I can conlude the existence of a particular CAUSE by examining the EFFECT in question. I can conclude intelligent life on another planet by finding a rectangular piece of metal buried in the dust of the moon (2001: A Space Odyssey) even though I haven’t the slightest idea who they are, where they came from, and what they look like. I can conclude intelligent extra-terrestrial life based on a particular series of radio signals from another galaxy, even though most likely I will never have the slightest idea who they are or what they look like. The only thing I will know about them is they have consciousness and intelligence. In my opinion, you have “intelligently designed” your argument to accomplish one thing only: To deny that there is a creator of life.

      • There are no examples of functional complexity and specified information that are the result of unguided processes.

        If you consider life to be a case of “functional complexity,” then there’s your example of some resulting from an unguided process.

  • Kevin Bjornson

    The phrase “supernatural designer” is the linguistic equivalent of “other-than natural designer”. However we cannot communicate positive meaning about what “supernatural” means. We can define the term only in the negative. However that does not say what “supernatural” is, merely what it is not.

    Suppose I said that life must have been designed by other-than a concert violinist who graduated from Julliard. Would that help us identify who or what the designer is? No, merely who or what the designer is not.

    Thus, “creationists” are nihilists, tearing down what is not totally understood at this time and which they understand even less than scientists.

    All our means of communication are naturalistic; involving organs such as the brain, vocal cords, tongue, facial expressions, etc. Trying to use these natural means to communicate the supernatural, is like trying to start a fire using a fire extinguisher.

    Whatever is connected with the natural realm, is part of it; and whatever is not connected with the natural world, is not part of it. So if the designer designed the natural world, “he” is part of it and hence naturalistic. If he is not part of the natural realm, then he cannot affect the natural realm.

    • In fact, the notion of the “supernatural” is so unnatural (i.e., unrealistic, senseless, illogical, unreasonable, and unbelievable) that nobody has ever gotten a clear and coherent view or explanation of it. Religion is thus mostly allegory, vagueness, and negation.

      Reality 1, theism 0 — in terms of probability and logical believability.

    • Moshe Averick

      Kevin,

      Ultimately you are correct. We cannot know what God “is”, only that he is completely “other” than what we are. He is not anything that we can conceive of. That is to say, we cannot say what he “is”, that does not mean we cannot talk about what he “did”. He designed and created life.

      • ‘We cannot know what God “is”, only that he is completely “other” than what we are.’

        That means that God is not intelligent, not aware, not alive, not capable of specifying information, and not part of existence.

      • Rabbi, if you think that God “is not anything that we can conceive of,” then why do you claim to conceive of Him as the “creator of life”? How do you manage to conceive of the inconceivable?

  • James Grady

    February 19, 2012
    1:30 pm

    KISS (keep it simple stupid) My reasoning, which works for me, is simple. The odds that life came about by chance are so slim as to seem impossible. But the odds that there exists a supernatural entity which made life are even greater.
    I do not preach or argue my position. I respect the beliefs of others and do not wish to influence anyone.
    I simply do not believe in the supernatural. I simply do not feel a need to know how life came about. Just call me fat, dumb, and happy.

    • moshe averick

      James,

      You make an interesting point, however, I think your logic is flawed. Since there are only two possibilities for the origin of life: a. naturalistic b. sup. creator, if the odds for one are highly improbable, then the odds for the other become highly PROBABLE. That is to say, that if it is highly UNLIKELY that life could have emerged naturally, then it is highly LIKELY that the other possibility is true.

      • The fatal flaw in your “logic,” Moshe, is that the actuality is that life is part of nature — there is no other possibility.

        The odds in favor of the “supernatural” are precisely zero.

        So we have this:

        Probability for “supernatural processes”: 0%

        Probability for natural processes: 100%

        • Steve Stoddard, the statement “life is part of nature” is provably wrong at least speaking about the “intelligent life”.

          The intelligent life includes the free will – something outside the nature by its very definition.

          The intelligent life includes the internal feeling (of pain, of color,…) proper to some living beings, which by its definition cannot be traced down to its – yes non-physical – “nature”.

          The intelligent life includes the huge universe of abstractions and theories such as Mathematics. The Mathematics by its definition is not any part of nature. It extends into fields having nothing to do with nature, albeit it does have parts reflecting the nature (and is used for this purpose very much).

          • You have a bizarre definition of “free will” if you think of it as something “supernatural” or “unreal.”

            We know that volition (aka free will) is perfectly natural — by means of the plain fact that people have it. To declare free will to be unnatural (or non-existent) is wildly unreasonable. (But that’s just another way of saying it’s faithfully religious.)

            Certainly, intelligence is something rather special in the universe — but there is absolutely no way of getting around the fact that it is here. (We wouldn’t be having this discussion if it weren’t.)

          • “We know that volition (aka free will) is perfectly natural — by means of the plain fact that people have it.”

            Aha, whichever people have – it is “natural”=physical=materialistic” – according to you. Yet this is not true.

            People have pain and other feelings (I mean not merely the physical signals in neurons).

            People operate with ideas. Feelings and ideas are not part of nature. At that, ideas exist independently of humans: human’s mind works to discover them. You cannot claim that Mathematics did not exist prior to humans. Yet Mathematics is not a part of nature.

            Free will by definition is something outside the nature, something which cannot be modeled and predicted even in principle (not even by G-d, although it was G-d who granted free will to humans – in view of those who accept the existence of G-d).

          • You have a bizarre definition of “free will” if you think of it as something “supernatural,” “unreal,” or “outside of nature.”

            It doesn’t mean “free of reality”! It simply means that your thoughts are not dictated by God, the government, or anything outside your own control.

        • Jorge

          Hey, Steve, I’ve read all your comments. For the most part these comments reflect 1) irrational thinking and, 2) a lack of reading comprehension.

          Moshe’s article is excellent and well thought out. Try reading it without your prejudices and blinders.

          • Yes, it does seem that he tried to think it out well. The problem is that no matter what, it is impossible to make sense of “the supernatural,” so even an “excellent” article advocating the existence of God is necessarily wrong.

      • Adams Bible Studies

        You make an interesting point, however, I think your logic is flawed. Since there are only two possibilities for the origin of life: a. naturalistic b. sup. creator, if the odds for one are highly improbable, then the odds for the other become highly PROBABLE. That is to say, that if it is highly UNLIKELY that life could have emerged naturally, then it is highly LIKELY that the other possibility is true.

        Sounds good! Moshe. Thanks

        • Not only is it NOT “highly UNLIKELY” that life is natural, it is 100% certain that life is perfectly natural. There is no other possibility.

        • Moshe Averick

          ADAMS B.Studies,

          My pleasure!

        • Adams B.S.,

          There is no possibility of anything other than nature, what is in nature, and what those things do. The “supernatural” is a fantasy, something not actually real. God is other-than-real, i.e., nowhere to be found and unable to do anything.

  • “… we are dealing with a supernatural creator; a creator to whom the natural laws of cause and effect do not apply. A creator who consists of neither matter nor energy and does not exist in time or space …”

    To be specific, you are dealing with an imaginary creature as your “supernatural creator” which does not actually exist in any way, shape, or form.

    • redeemed64

      Psalm 14:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
      The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

  • Enjoyed the article. Your logic in this is flawless. But many will not see the truth of what you say because they do NOT want to be held accountable to that “higher power.” If they acknowledge there is a Creator, then the next logical step is to learn what He wants from us, to find out WHY He created us.

    • Moshe’s logic is far from “flawless.” There are gaping holes in his argument.

      For instance, he argued that “The narrow-minded mistake of these atheist thinkers is that they assumed that the prime reality can only be physical.

      It is not an assumption that reality is physical. That’s direct experience. It is simply an inescapable fact of reality. To see that you can’t get away from it, just try to do something (anything) that does not involve physical reality. Well, to make a short story shorter, you cannot do it.

      You cannot avoid the fact that “prime reality” is absolutely physical.

      The empty-minded mistake of theistic advocates of the “supernatural” is their assumption that there can miraculously be some sort of UNREALITY (a non-physical realm devoid of cause and effect, as well as of life and time and actual intelligence).

      • Also, there is the question of how anybody could possibly be “held accountable” to a “higher power” that is not only invisible, deaf, and dumb, but also cannot physically touch you.

      • “It is not an assumption that reality is physical. That’s direct experience.”

        This is a wrong statement. See my comment above.

        • No, the statement that we directly experience reality is correct. You don’t have to believe it, though, since you do have free will (i.e., the ability to avoid thinking and facing the facts instead of being rational).

          But realistically speaking, there is simply no way to get around the fact that we do exist and are aware of reality. Just try not to be aware of anything, and/or not to exist. Practically speaking, you cannot do it.

        • I had expressed myself inaccurately, sorry. I meant that “the reality as perceived by the human mind is not limited by physical phenomena only.” Ideas, feelings, volition are parts of the reality – as it is reflected in the human mind. They are direct experience of everybody. Yet they do not belong to physical world. (See my comment above).

          • “the reality as perceived by the human mind is not limited by physical phenomena only.”

            On the contrary, you can only perceive physical phenomena. You cannot perceive anything that isn’t there.

            You cannot perceive ideas, since they are abstractions that you conceive using mental processes — based on the five senses of perception, but with the addition of thought.

            If you don’t feel that your ideas — and feelings — are connected to reality, then you are not thinking clearly and well.

          • What do you think ideas are anyhow — some kind of falsehoods miraculously injected into you by God?

            What do you feel that it would take for an idea to be real? Would it have to be like a bug that could crawl into your brain?

          • Feelings and ideas are just different examples not belonging to the nature. Feelings belong to a particular human (his soul if you will). Ideas (and science like Mathematics) are outside the nature, but we do not know to what (to whom) they belong.

          • “… not belonging to the nature.”

            For a human being (though not a rock), having feelings is the most natural thing in the world. To consider yourself as having “unnatural feelings” is simply not a healthy attitude.

            If you feel disconnected from reality, fantasizing about “connecting to God” isn’t going to help.

            Also, “feelings” are not some supernatural phenomena that come down and attack you from on high. They are inextricably tied to your physical being. “Out-of-body feelings” are science fiction — or religious fiction.

          • You misunderstood me. Indeed, the feelings are inextricably tied to our self (soul). Nerve signals are physical, yet the feeling by itself is not. Nobody can really feel (or even measure) you pain. You can suspect that your pain is analogous to that of other human being (or of the high animals). Yet you can never “connect” to their wiring. Your pain may be affected by hypnosis (or by chemicals), but it is exclusively yours (of your soul), being outside the nature (albeit the nerve signals belong to nature). The same with your feeling of color, of musical harmony and so on.

    • James Grady

      KISS (keep it simple stupid) My reasoning, which works for me, is simple. The odds that life came about by chance are so slim as to seem impossible. But the odds that there exists a supernatural entity which made life are even greater.
      I do not preach or argue my position. I respect the beliefs of others and do not wish to influence anyone.
      I simply do not believe in the supernatural. I simply do not feel a need to know how life came about. Just call me fat, dumb, and happy.

      • The missing link in your logic is the fact that the probability of a “supernatural creator” is absolutely zero.

        Also, it is a mistake to equate “nature” with “chance.”

    • Adams Bible Studies

      Christopher Perdue: If a man cannot see that a woman could love him, then he is blinded to that possibility and is unable to move pass that blindness. He may still not want to be beholden to a woman, but it may not be the only reason. This lacking either way all takes place in the mind where the problem of distrust occurs. There is a distrust in anything beyond their senses. Trust in their senses leads them to unbelief in the supernatural, yet ultimately leads to belief in what they cannot prove.

  • Rabbi Averick poses a thought problem: “I pose a simple thought problem: Imagine we are looking at the very first living organism that ever existed in the entire universe. The truth is one of two possibilities: (a) It was created/designed or (b) it was not.”

    Since the context makes “(a)” impossible (because “creation/design” requires a conscious living being), therefore “(b)” is the actuality. That is, there was no supernatural “IDOL” (Moshe’s “Intelligent Designer Of Life”). There still isn’t one, for that matter.

  • ‘Why is it that for all of recorded human history the overwhelming majority of mankind has been seeking to connect with a supernatural “God” in one form or another?’

    Because seeking it is all they can do, since actually making a connection to the unreal, the non-existent, is never going to happen.

    Looking for a “supernatural ‘God'” is a primitive fantasy. That it is still popular shows that mankind is still only at the beginning of progress toward rational civilization. (In fact, it almost seems like a roller-coaster ride, where we came up out of the Dark Ages, but now seem to be sliding back down toward them, instead of continuing upward.)

  • Freeman Dyson talks at length in exclusive videos at Web of Stories http://www.webofstories.com/people/freeman.dyson/1

    He talks about the mystery of life, the possibility of extra-terrestrial life and other topics.

    • Moshe Averick

      James,

      Thanks for the info.

  • Bridget

    You are correct, the existence of a supernatural creator provides a clear and simple explanation for everything that you can’t understand. That doesn’t mean that it’s a correct or true explanation, it just means that it’s simple and easy. If you assume that a supernatural creator explains things that you don’t understand then there’s no incentive to investigate further.

    It wasn’t until recently that the comic background radiation was discovered and studied, it’s something that explains a lot about the birth of the universe. It’s being investigated by people who refuse to answer difficult questions by explaining that God did it. They are willing to explore the whole universe of explanations for why everything exists, you are not doing that, you are coming up with a simple and lazy theory. You are the one who is closed off from inquiry, not scientists.

    • No, Moshe is wrong. Belief in a “supernatural creator” explains nothing; it never could and it never will. Belief in the supernatural is a method of avoiding explanations and understanding. To say, “God did it,” is a form of running away from the problems of understanding things — of undercutting cognition to make room for faith.

    • abb3w

      Actually, it’s only simple in a very colloquial sense. While “God can do anything” says it could be done that way, it does not distinguish why it wasn’t done some other way instead; and the addition of the details of what God did make the explanation’s description much longer, and thus much less simple — particularly in the mathematical sense associated with the rigorous theorem that Occam’s Razor crudely approximates.

      • Bridget

        I see what your’re saying. That’s the problem with using God, you have to come up with a definition of who God is and what his intentions are, there’s a lot to account for. That’s how the churches stay in business.

        • Realisticlly, “Seeking God” is an endless task, since in truth there is no God.

          But in the literary sense (since “God” is a fictional character), “Finding God” couldn’t be much easier: all you have to do is make something up, or accept something made up by somebody else (there are lots of books with such characters).

    • moshe averick

      Bridget,

      Whenever we are trying to solve a mystery, we look for the simplest, clearest and easiest answer. The more we have to twist and turn and strain our credulity, the more unlikely it is that we have found the truth.

      The fact that a supernatural creator is a simple clear answer is what makes it so clear that it is most likely the truth,not the opposite. Why would you say that there is no incentive to investigate further. We have only scratched the surface in our understanding of microbiology. There are endless mysteries to understand. It just means that we acknowledge that there is a higher reality to our existence. It means that not only are there endless levels to explore in our physical existence, there are endless levels to explore in our spiritual existence also. Happy sailing.

      • Lafe

        Ockham’s razor

        • Moshe Averick

          Lafe,

          I would have said that, but I feel it’s an overused phrase, but if I were to apply Ockhams razor to formulate my reply I simply would have written: YES!

      • “The more we have to twist and turn and strain our credulity, the more unlikely it is that we have found the truth.”

        You have a good point there, Moshe.

        But notice: it is no “strain” to see nature; you just have to open your eyes. On the other hand, it is a virtually infinite strain to your credulity to twist and turn your mind to imagine the “supernatural”.

        In fact, the notion of the “supernatural” is so unnatural that nobody has ever gotten a clear and coherent view of it. Religion is thus mostly allegory, vagueness, and negation.

      • “The fact that a supernatural creator is a simple clear answer …”

        For one thing, it is not a clear answer because you don’t have a clue what you are talking about. For example, where is this “creator”? How did he do it? When did he start?

        For another thing, that’s not even an answer, since life is part of nature and you are trying to completely change the subject to something (you cannot say what exactly) “supernatural.”

  • “Since we are speaking about the very first living physical organism, the creator is obviously not physical at all.”

    What that literally means is that there was no “creator of life.”

    The notion of “not being part of the physical universe” means, not to get too picky about it, “not existing, period.”

    The real world is IT. (All of it, and the only place to be.) We all need to get used to that, and deal with it in a reasonable manner.

    Supernaturalism is not reasonable. Faith-based, yes, reasonable, no.

    • Mitch

      Ok but u have to get used to the reality that space, time, and matter had a beginning so space,time, matter is not the cause. It wasn’t a natural (space, time, matter) first cause. It was indeed a supernatural cause whether anyone likes that truth or not…

      • “… space, time, and matter had a beginning …”

        Do you really think so? When do you think it happened, and where?

        • “Creation by Big Bang!” is preposterous, too. It’s just a bit of a variation on “Creation, by God!”

          Not only doesn’t the universe need to be created (since it already exists), but there wouldn’t be anything to create it from (since the ununiverse doesn’t exist — except as yet another mindless resort to the supernatural).

  • The understanding “that some as yet unknown unguided process produced the first living organism,” is correct. Naturally the process had to be “unguided,” since there were not yet any living people to provide guidance.

    The notion that guidance could have been provided by something unliving makes no sense. From some “non-living, non-physical, not-of-this-world” fantasy, all you could expect would be non-guidance.

    • abb3w

      Well, the Second Law of Thermodynamics might be characterized as giving “guidance”, since the natural selection of least action (doi:10.1098/rspa.2008.0178) works equally well in the prevolutionary environment prior to the biotic transition. (Given non-equilibrium subsystems connected by mass-energy flow, the potential for a local increase in order is a mathematical consequence of the second law; just like ice crystals forming on cold glass in a humid room.)

      It’s not exactly what we think of as “intelligent” guidance, however.

      • “Natural laws” are abstractions that humans use to think about and understand reality. But in nature there is only nature. There is not some dichotomy between “things” and “laws,” such that the laws somehow restrain the things from getting off the tracks and going crazy.

        The Second Law doesn’t “guide” reality. It is simply one of our shorthand ways of thinking about how reality works.

  • Adam

    Moshe,

    There are only three possibilities. (1) Life arose from a natural, unguided process. (2) Life was created by an invisible, immaterial being. (3) Life was created by aliens from another dimension.

    There is no evidence for the first two possibilities; therefore, logically, life was created by aliens.

    I once again challenge you to a debate over whether or not aliens from another dimension created life in this universe! As of yet, you’ve been too cowardly to accept. Are you still chicken?

    • You’re wrong about the possibilities. Your numbers (2) and (3) are impossibilities.

      In fact, there is no alternative to natural processes.

      • salvage

        No offence Steven but you’re a touch autistic aren’t you?

        • Wow! I’m blown away. How did you figure that? What gave it away?!

    • moshe averick

      Adam,

      I accept as I told you at least once before. Please make the arrangements for the the forum and to pay my fee and travel expenses. Where would you like to hold the debate? For details, please contact me privately at moe.david@hotmail.com
      Moshe

      PS By the way, you still haven’t answered the question with aliens. You need to explain the origin of first life.

      • I though I saw you accept previously, but I can’t remember which post it was connected with.

        • Let’s see if I can spell it right this time:

          I thought I saw you accept previously, but I can’t remember which post it was connected with.

  • “… a supernatural creator provides a clear and simple explanation …”

    In fact, resorting to “the supernatural” explains precisely nothing. How could it, since “the supernatural” is not-of-this-world? While everything to be explained is all natural, i.e., part of the real world….

    To repeat: nothing “supernatural” can explain anything that actually exists.

    • Brian Westley

      Exactly. It answers everything and nothing. It’s a literally worthless answer.

      • moshe averick

        Brian,

        It does not answer everything. It just answers how life began. There are still endless levels of knowledge for science to explore in trying to understand the incredible complexity and diversity of life. It just means that scientists have to have a little bit of humility and stop acting like arrogant SOB’s in thinking they can understand everything.

        • Talking about the “supernatural” explains exactly nothing about the origin of life.

          I mean, from your supernaturalist point of view, what does that tell you (that you could explain to others) about the cellular, molecular, and atomic changes (etc.) that took place in the origination of life? Your only answer is “nothing happened.” Your claim that it was “a miracle” (i.e., that there was no physical process) is nothing more than a declaration that you don’t want an answer — not only that you don’t have an answer, but that you plain don’t want one.

      • Moshe Averick

        Brian,

        It doesn’t answer “everything”, it just answers how did life begin. The question is not how much value the answer has in your subjective viewpoint, the only thing that matters is if its true or it is not true.

        • It is true that people exist, so, by your definition, it is other-than-true, i.e., not true, that God exists.

    • Mike

      don’t you have anything better to do than argue with people on the internet? You seem like an intelligent person. why don’t you do something useful with your time?

      • Moshe Averick

        Mike,

        Were you talking to me?

  • “Once we are open to the possibility of a supernatural creator, all problems disappear… we do not have to take a giant leap of faith and believe that some unknown naturalistic process can transform non-living chemicals into a bacterium …”

    Belief in the supernatural is a blind leap of faith, there’s no getting around that. On the other hand, no leap of faith of any kind is needed to believe in nature (including known and unknown “naturalistic processes”).

    Nature simply IS — while God simply ISN’T.

    So Rabbi Averick essentially has it backward, claiming that the leap of faith necessary to believe in a “supernatural creator” is somehow (miraculously!) not a leap of faith, while the direct perception of nature somehow (absurdly!) requires a “leap of faith” to believe that nature is really real.

  • salvage

    Do you get paid to repost the same article over and over again?

    Yes Mushe, we get it, you don’t understand a great deal of physics, biology, geology, geography, astronomy and other sciences so you think a magical creature made the universe.

    How many times are you going to reheat this frittata of yours?

    • moshe averick

      Until the truth finally gets through to people.

      • The truth is that there is no “supernatural creator/designer” (your imagined “IDOL”). Perhaps your tortured illogic will help people see the futility of trying to make sense of the supernatural (since it can only be accepted by blind faith in defiance of sense, logic, and reality).

      • salvage

        Yes, that your sky god made the universe in 6 days (and made it look like billions of years… because) then demanded that people start cutting off their foreskins.

        That’s not truth Moshe, that’s myth.

        I know, I know, that’s a totally different made up god then the one you made up that made the universe.

        It’s weird that you need one god to explain another. Does your god creating god have a god as well?

        • Moshe Averick

          Salavage,

          He did not demand that people cut off their foreskins. He made a COVENANT with ONE people, i.e. the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sara, Rivka, Rachel, Leah, that they cut off their foreskins. If you are not Jewish, you need not cut off your foreskin, nor do you have any reason to keep kosher or observe the sabbath, etc.

          • salvage

            Well I stand corrected!

            Demanding the foreskins from ONE tribe of desert savages is perfectly sane and is of course the exact sort of thing a universe creating supreme being would do and the world would have been a right mess if that COVENANT were not made.

            Lunacy, you’re steeping in it.

      • Rabbi, your faith, blather, and bluster are never going to convince anyone of “Creation, by God!”

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