British Geneticist Robert Saunders Leaves a Highly Prejudiced Signature in His Review of “Signature in the Cell”

April 4, 2012 10:45 am 291 comments

Dr. Robert Saunders of the Open University, UK

Saunders refuses to come clean about his own ideological prejudices

From the opening paragraphs of Robert Saunders’ review of Signature in the Cell, which is Dr. Stephen Meyer’s magnum opus on Intelligent Design theory, it was clear to me that Saunders was a man with a cause. His cause is Scientific Materalism, an ideology whose central dogma is that every phenomenon we observe in the universe must have a purely naturalistic explanation which can be attributed to the impersonal and immutable laws of chemistry and physics. I have no problem with ideological agendas as long as said ideologue is open and honest about their beliefs. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Dr. Robert Saunders, an accomplished scientist who is a faculty member at the Open University, UK.

Saunders spends the first several paragraphs of his review explaining to the reader that the Discovery Institute, of which Meyer is a senior fellow, has “an overall agenda in pushing a set of religiously motivated objectives.” A glance at the Discovery.org home page doesn’t leave much to the imagination as to what their objectives are and it’s hard to understand why it is necessary to devote so much space to “exposing” the sinister motives behind Meyer’s book. Dr. Meyer puts forth a well crafted scientific theory in a book that has been endorsed by, among others, Dr. Phillip Skell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Edward Peltzer, of the renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and was designated as “one of the most important books of 2010” by (non-believing) Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at New York University, Dr. Thomas Nagel. It is rather obvious that Dr. Meyer’s work should be judged on its own merits. If in Saunders’ opinion it fails, then why not just expose its failings rather than begin by launching an ad hominem and ideological attack? Saunders himself is clearly not without religious bias; his blog tagline reads “biology and atheism in an overly religious world.”  The answer, of course, is that Saunders – like many atheistic/materialistic scientists – is blind to his own prejudices; he is certain that his antipathy to belief in God and religion is the very proof of his own untainted objectivity in approaching the subject. Spare us, Dr. Saunders.

Dr. Stephen Meyer, author of Signature in the Cell

If commitment to a particular worldview disqualifies an individual from proposing scientific theories what does that say for Richard Dawkins, featured speaker at the recent “Reason Rally” in Washington, D.C., which was billed as a “celebration of secular values…to unify, energize, and embolden secular people nationwide.” Our distinguished geneticist would do well to remember what Stephen J. Gould wrote in an article entitled “In the Mind of the Beholder”:

Our ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem. The stereotype of a fully rational and objective “scientific method” with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots is self-serving mythology.

More to the point are the words of Dr. John Lennox, a religious Christian who is a Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University: “Admitting our biases is the best way towards rational discussion…” In others words Dr. Saunders, let’s all put our biases and prejudices on the table openly and honestly and then make the utmost effort to seek the truth.

Saunders does not seem to understand the core thesis of Signature in the Cell

Even when Saunders finally begins to address the substantive issues contained in the book, he can’t seem to resist attacking Meyer personally instead of offering us a coherent critique:

I think the biggest failing here is that Meyer’s background is insufficient to truly express how biological systems are systems in which “information” can degrade, change, and also expand in and contract in quantity.

Other than this pompous declaration, Saunders offers no elaboration at all on what it is about Meyer’s background that disqualifies him; neither does he offer any of his own insights into how the “information” in biological systems functions. Oddly enough, he follows up this attack on Meyer with a complete non sequitur:

And what is not made clear [by Meyer] is that all the molecular processes that are required for evolutionary change are pretty well characterized and understood.

What Saunders seems to have missed is that Meyer is not talking about “evolutionary change” at all. He is talking about the origin of information in the very first living organism. This is such an egregious error that it casts serious doubt as to whether Saunders understood the essential thesis of the book. Even Dr. Eugenie Scott of the NCSE understands the fundamental and conceptual difference between the process of evolution and origin of life: “Although some people confuse the origin of life with evolution the two are conceptually separate.”  I guess when Dr. Scott said that “some people” confuse the two, she was referring to Robert Saunders.

Saunders misunderstands some of the basic science upon which the argument in Signature in the Cell is based

DNA molecule, the winding outer strands are sugar-phosphates, the inner bridges between the strands are the nucleobases

Saunders  confusion about Meyer’s discussion of the origin of life and his discussion of the importance of biological information on that question, becomes even more apparent in the next paragraph. A brief explanation of how information is stored in the DNA molecule is necessary before we continue. The double-helix structure of DNA is composed of two parallel “backbones” winding one around the other consisting of identical sugar and phosphate molecules. In between the sugar-phosphate backbones are the four nucleobases: (A) Adenine, (T) Thymine, (C) Cytosine, and (G) Guanine. On the inner edges of the backbones one of these four bases are linked to the respective sugar-phosphate molecules by a chemical bond called an “N-glycosidic” bond.

Spanning the gap between the two strands, (A) always bonds with a (T) on the other side and (C) always bonds with (G). Horizontally then, the DNA molecule consists of a phosphate + sugar + N-glycosidic bond + (A) (T) or (C) (G) + N-glycosidic bond + sugar + phosphate. The information used for protein construction, however, resides in the vertical or longitudinal order of the nucleobases. The order in which the hundreds of thousands of nucleobases are arranged vertically code for particular sequences of amino acids which if arranged correctly, will produce functional proteins  that are used by the cell.

Meyer points out a rather astonishing fact – about which there is no scientific controversy – regarding the arrangements of the nucleobases in DNA. There are absolutely no chemical affinities or preferences for which nucleobases bond with any particular phosphate and sugar molecule. The N-glycosidic bond works equally well with (A), (T), (G), or (C). And secondly, there are also no chemical bonds in the vertical axis between the nucleobases. What this means is that there are no forces of physical/chemical attraction and no chemical or physical law that dictates the order of the nucleobases; they can be arranged in a nearly infinite amount of different sequences.

Meyer gives an easy to understand illustration: Imagine a series of magnetic letters on the metal door of a refrigerator. All the letters are attached to the door by the same bond, namely a magnetic attraction. However, while the magnetic attraction is identical, there is nothing at all about the structure of any particular letter, or the magnetic bond, that would determine a preference for the order in which the letters are arranged on the door. If the letter G must always follow L which must always follow C, etc, then all you would get would be an endlessly repeating pattern of C, L, G etc., and no information could be conveyed. In fact, it is this very indeterminate nature of the arrangements of letters  which allows them to convey functional information. Similarly, the arrangement of letters on a printed page has nothing at all to do with the chemical composition of the ink or paper. Meyer shows that the same applies to the arrangement of the letters of the genetic text. What allows the storage of encyclopedic amounts of information in DNA is the very indeterminate nature of the arrangements of the nucleobases, which are the “letters” of the genetic text.

Meyer makes this point in critique of what are called “self-organizational scenarios,” one of the main naturalisitc approaches to explaining the origin of life and the ultimate origin of biological information. These theories attempt precisely to explain the ultimate origin of biological information by refernce to chemical bonding affinities or some physical or chemical law. Meyer demonstrates decisively why these theories cannot work; they fail to explain the basic facts of DNA chemistry and they fail to appreciate the non-redundant, non-repeating nature of functionally specified information. As he explains, laws by definition describe repeating patterns of redundant order. They do not describe aperiodic information-rich complex sequences. Yet, as he notes, the base sequences in functional sections of DNA are not highly repetitive. DNA contains a set of functional biochemical instructions, not an endlessly repeating mantra. A law might generate the latter, but can’t accurately describe or explain the former.

Francis Crick and James Watson, who shared the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA

Francis Crick and James Watson, who shared the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA

Yet Saunders fails to grasp even the most rudimentary aspect of Meyer’s argument. Here is Saunders very strange reaction to Meyer’s discussion of the facts of DNA chemistry:

Well, I’m not so sure I find this an astonishing insight. In the context of present day DNA and RNA synthesis, the phosphate moieties [i.e., the particular structure of the phosphate molecule] are crucial in the formation of linkage between successive nucleotides.

This citation shows that Saunders has either completely missed or completely ignored the point. Meyer is not talking about the particular features of the phosphates that allow them to form linkages with the nucleobases. He is pointing out the fact that the phosphates can link equally well with any of the four nucleobases. The phosphate moieties have nothing at all to do with which nucleobase links at any particular point on the double-helix, and therefore have nothing at all to do with the arrangement of bases and specified information encoded into the DNA molecule. Thus, Meyer’s point stands: The chemical features of the phosphate do not explain the ultimate origin of information in DNA or the origin of life itself.

If Saunders thinks otherwise, that phosphate moieties do explain the ultimate origin of biological information, I challenge him to publish a scientific paper explaining how they do so, since no one in origin-of-life research has yet proposed this novel idea. Prediction: He will not publish this idea since it obviously has no scientific merit.

There is nothing about these magnetic letters that would cause them to be arranged in any particular order on a refrigerator door. Therefore, when we see them arranged into coherent sentences the best, and most obvious, explanation is intelligent intervention.

Saunders attempts to point out the flaws in Meyer’s premises

Saunders writes: “Meyer’s attempts to infer the existence of intelligent design are somewhat naïve. He summarizes his strategy as Inference to the Best Explanation.

He then lists Meyer’s “premises” one by one and explains why he thinks they are flawed:

  • Premise One: Despite a thorough search, no material causes have been discovered that demonstrate the power to produce large amounts of specified information.
  • Saunders reply: (1) There are plenty of chemical and biological mechanisms which can and do increase the quantity of biological information.

This is simply false and Saunders does not mention any mechanisms which create or increase biological information starting from a purely chemical pre-biotic (pre-life) state of affairs. The only thing he could possibly be referring to is the process of Darwinian evolution which, as I pointed out earlier, has nothing to do with what Meyer is talking about. Meyer is talking about the ultimate origin of biological information.

  • Saunders: (2) “Specified Information” is a bogus concept, and one which Meyer never actually defines…This quite clearly illustrates the flaw in Meyer’s reasoning. I don’t believe that linguistic information or computer code are directly analogous to biological information.

It is amazing how transparently self-contradictory this is. In his objection (1) Saunders claims that there are plenty of chemical and biological mechanisms which increase biological information and then in (2) he claims that the concept of “specified biological information” is a non-existent concept! In fact, Meyer spends many pages in the book explaining in detail the nature of “information” and the concept of “specified information.” (Take a look at the index under “specified information.”) It is even more amazing in light of the fact that other Origin of Life researchers understand quite clearly what “specified information” is while Saunders claims to be totally baffled by the concept. Dawkins, in River Out of Eden: “Genes themselves…are living strings of pure digital information…the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like…DNA messages are pure digital code.”  Dr. Paul Davies: “In a living organism we see the power of software, or information processing, refined to an incredible degree…the problem of origin of life reduces to one of understanding how encoded software emerged spontaneously from hardware…how did nature go digital?”  Bill Gates: “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.”  Biophysicist Manfred Eigen: “Our task is to find an algorithm, a natural law that leads to the origin of information.”  Dr. Hubert Yockey: “Genetic code is constructed to confront and solve the problems of communication and recording by the same principles found…in modern communication and computer codes.”  In short, all Origin of Life researchers understand that the simplest living cell is packed with enormous amounts of specified information and science is at present clueless as to how it originated.

Dr. George Wald, Nobel Prize winning biologist. "I do not want to believe in God" (at least he's honest about it!)

  • Saunders: (3) And finally, science will ultimately continue to generate origin of life hypotheses, some completely undreamt of as yet…even if one were to suppose intelligent design…one would need to identify who or what this designer is, and the means by which this intelligent designer undertook this major design effort.

This, by far, is the most ridiculous of all the assertions made by Saunders. He is, in effect, admitting that Science has no explanation for the origin of life and the huge amounts of information necessary for life to exist, but asks us to have faith that Science will yet discover a purely naturalistic answer to the question. Here Saunders makes it clear that he has shut off his mind from even considering the possibility of Intelligent Design, which is, of course, a theory that is proposed to explain the origin of life.  In the nearly 600 pages of  Signature in the Cell, Dr. Meyer rigorously, meticulously, and painstakingly explains why it is – by any reasonable standard – a valid scientific hypotheses.

It is also crucial to point out that Scientists clearly understand that “unknown” intelligence can be detected. It is not necessary at all “to identify who or what  the designer is”  or “the means” by which the designer performed his task in order to identify intelligent causation. If this were not true what would have been  the point to spending millions of dollars on the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Project? These scientists were looking for patterns of radio-signals from distant galaxies that would indicate some form of intelligent causation. If Morse Code messages were detected originating from a galaxy a million light years away, only someone who had completely lost touch with reality would deny that this was proof of intelligent life somewhere else in the universe. If such signals were detected, scientists would not know anything at all about the nature of these intelligent beings. They wouldn’t know who they were,  what they looked like,  how they lived, nor would they necessarily know what means were used to generate the message; in fact, they would not even know if they were physical beings. The only conclusions they could draw would be that they possessed intelligence, consciousness, and creativity.

From all of the above it is clear that the underlying principle which drives Saunders critique is the “leap of faith” dogma which was articulated by Nobel Prize winning biologist George Wald:

When it comes to the origin of life, we have only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God…I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. – Scientific American, August, 1954.

Dr. Saunders, please have the decency to cover your embarrassingly exposed “emperor’s clothing”, your prejudices are showing…but at least you are in good – albeit narrow-minded – company.

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. Rabbi Averick’s next column will not appear until after the Passover Holidays.

291 Comments

  • ___Rabbi Averick makes the misleading claim that: “The chemical features of the phosphate do not explain the ultimate origin of information in DNA …”___

    Rabbi Averick ignores the crucial point that, so far as the origin of life is concerned, there is no INFORMATION whatsoever in DNA (or RNA, or phosphates, or anything).

    Information is something that only humans use (and create). There is no such thing as any sort of “specified pre-biotic information” that somehow (not even miraculously) lead to the origin of life.

  • Steve Stoddard (April 22, 2012 12:01 pm): The supernatural has zero chance of existing.

    [[[Ayla (April 23, 2012 12:11 am): How do you arrive at “zero chance” of something you cannot disprove?]]]

    The subject does not rise to the level where the issue of disproof becomes germane.

    When the subject is “the supernatural,” there is literally nothing to prove (or disprove). A legitimate claim that something is possible (i.e., does not have “zero chance” of existing) must rest on having some relevant evidence to point to. Cognitively speaking, “the supernatural” is a null set — therefore: “zero chance” is the top rank it can achieve. Except in fiction, of course.

  • Okay, Rex, time to get serious.

    Drop the trolling and show some critical thinking skills.

    The odds are way better than vanishingly small that you could actually do it.

    “Think, don’t dodge” could be your new motto (at least in this forum).

  • OK, Steve, you’re definitely a troll. No one could possibly that obtuse. Is there anyone else here who has any critical thinking skills?

  • First of all, how do you get boldface type in the combox? That would be very helpful.

    Alright, two points:

    I’m not advocating for aliens as a cause of life on earth. All I’m saying is that Meyer and other ID proponents are simply arguing for intelligence as the best explanation for the biological information found in DNA. Since intelligence is the ONLY source of information in our experience, the “inference to the best explanation” – a very scientific method for determining causes in the past by the way – points to intelligence as the cause of the info in DNA. More irony: as far as IDs proponents are concerned, people are free to choose what that intelligence might be – God, ETs, humans who have traveled back in time and seeded the earth with life (someone has actually proposed this), etc. It’s the advocates of so-called “free thinking” that don’t allow any alternative to their own narrow views.

    Secondly, with regard to near-zero vs. vanishingly small, you’ve completely missed the point of my question. On April 12, you stated that “the likelihood that another civilization has developed Morse code is vanishingly small”. From which I gather that you don’t believe that an alien civilization could possibly develop Morse code. Yet for you, Steve, a vanishingly small likelihood of life arising from a prebiotic soup is more than adequate to explain itself. Do you see the contradiction?

    Interestingly enough, your phrase “vanishingly small” appears in Dr. Meyer’s book five times. Are you sure you haven’t read the book and you’re not some theist troll baiting us into more discussion? ;)

    • [[[... you stated that “the likelihood that another civilization has developed Morse code is vanishingly small”. From which I gather that you don’t believe that an alien civilization could possibly develop Morse code.]]]

      You gather wrong, Rex. If I thought it was impossible, I would have said so. Instead, I said “vanishingly small.”

      [[[Yet for you, Steve, a vanishingly small likelihood of life arising from a prebiotic soup is more than adequate to explain itself. Do you see the contradiction?]]]

      There is no contradiction. What makes you believe that you see one?

      And I, for one, think it is rather odd to calculate a “vanishingly small likelihood of life” when life actually does exist! Obviously, you cannot argue that life cannot exist because the odds against it are too much.

      Now what about that little addendum: “from a pre-biotic soup”?

      The simple logic is that if life didn’t arise from something “pre-biotic”, then it didn’t arise at all.

      Notice that you also said the following:

      [[[Since intelligence is the ONLY source of information in our experience, the “inference to the best explanation” – a very scientific method for determining causes in the past by the way – points to intelligence as the cause of the info in DNA.]]]

      It is the opposite of the scientific method to claim that the result precedes the cause. You might as well try to argue that the Empire State Building was built from the top down (or that the building points to itself as the cause of the existence of the island of Manhattan) as to try to argue that intelligence (a result of evolution) was the cause of life.

    • [[[as far as IDs proponents are concerned, people are free to choose what that intelligence might be – God, ETs, humans who have traveled back in time and seeded the earth with life (someone has actually proposed this), etc]]]

      Basically, then, “IDs proponents” are dealing in science fiction — not in facts and real science.

  • Steve, less is more

    • Sorry, Rex, I just don’t agree with you that 0.0 is more that 0.1 –you are just not on the right track.

      • “Less is more” is a maxim that means “say more with less words”. I’m certainly not saying that 0.0 is more than 0.1

        I may be dumb but I’m not stupid. ;)

      • Just for the record, when I say near-zero, I’m not thinking of 0.1; I’m talking about a number 10e-164 or

        .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001

        That’s the likelihood of a protein of 150 amino acids assembling itself.

        • Naturally a protein couldn’t assemble itself. It wouldn’t be there to do anything until after it was first assembled.

          That there was some other process than “self-assembly” does not mean that it is therefore somehow magically possible for God to be the designer/assembler.

          The impossible (i.e., the supernatural in this case) is still impossible no matter how unlikely the actual (life in this case) might have been before it actually happened.

  • A “near zero chance” is a real chance. There is no real chance that the supernatural could actually exist.

    • The scientists and mathematicians at MIT don’t share your optimism.

      • Sorry, Rex, I just don’t agree with you that 0.0 is more than 0.1 — you are just not on the right track.

      • I’m not “optimistic” that the supernatural doesn’t exist. The measure of “optimism” only applies to things where there is some doubt about what will happen. There is no doubt that the supernatural is not going to miraculously appear.

  • {{{{{{RexTugwell (April 22, 2012 5:50 am) When you keep saying “Creationist” you repeatedly demonstrate you misunderstand Intelligent Design.}}}}}}

    In fact, Rex, “Creationism” and “Intelligent Design” are exactly the same thing. The same supernaturalism — just with alternate names.

  • Rex commented on his idea that >>>>>>‘Biologists have the keenest sense of the monumental task of trying to explain a cause that is purely materialistic while non-scientists smugly sit back with their blind faith in science “knowing” that the answers will come eventually.’<<<<<<

    It certainly makes sense that good biologists would grasp the difficulties of task of explaining the origin of life. Who better?

    But I doubt that it is even possible to have "blind faith in science" — because science has already amply demonstrated its capabilities. (That is, you'd have to blind yourself to what science is, in order to pretend to have blind faith in it.)

    Remember: it is impossible to get real answers about anything from a supernaturalist premise. The actual facts of nature are the only source of answers about anything and everything we would like to understand about the world.

  • Here’s a question, Rex, that you neglected to address earlier:

    But so what if any particular theories Meyer doesn’t like don’t work?

    This is in no way any form of “science-based argument” in favor of any theory Meyer does like — even any naturalistic ones (if he has any), but most certainly not for any supernaturalistic “theory.”

    • Here’s a question, Steve, that you neglected to address earlier:

      When you say vanishingly small, do you mean near-zero? I ask because it seems people like chance when it’s in their favor but dismiss it when it’s not. There’s a whole chapter in “Signature” on chance and it’s a poor scientific explanation for life.

      Why not read the book? It makes little sense discussing a critique of a book review of a book that’s not been read in the first place.

      • >>>>>>“When you say vanishingly small, do you mean near-zero?”<<<<<>>>>>“… it seems people like chance when it’s in their favor but dismiss it when it’s not.”<<<<<<

        So what? A nearly zero chance is more than a zero chance.

        The supernatural has zero chance of existing. And life DOES exist, regardless of how near zero you claim the chance of that was!

        That explains why everyone can see life all around — and nobody can see anything supernatural. No faith is needed to know life exists. Blind (religious) faith is the only way to get to belief in the supernatural.

        • What would be the purpose of being able to conceive of non-material phenomena in a Darwinian-evolved brain? And, yet, we all do. The physical senses provide information about the physical environment, but why be so confined in your thinking to insist that nothing beyond exists? How do you arrive at “zero chance” of something you cannot disprove?

          • [[["What would be the purpose of being able to conceive of non-material phenomena in a Darwinian-evolved brain?"]]]

            Assuming you mean a brain in an animal which evolved through the process of natural selection, I don’t think it is possible for anyone to literally “conceive of non-material phenomena.”

            The practice of “suspension of disbelief” (for literary-imaginative pursuits) is quite a different process from an actual concept formation process.

            For instance, it makes no sense to believe that you can conceive of a conscious process somehow independent of any actual conscious being (i.e., a real member of a real animal species) — even though people can imagine lots of stories about gods.

            But what if the question were: “Why has the human brain evolved with the capacity to imagine things it has not perceived?” Then the answer would be: “In order to carry out tasks that sustain and improve life. Like, for instance, using fire, inventing the wheel, or going into business selling computers.”

          • [[[The physical senses provide information about the physical environment, but why be so confined in your thinking to insist that nothing beyond exists?]]]

            Thinking, a contrasted to imagining (or playing around with nonsense) is a process that depends on being fact-based. The notion of “thinking devoid of actual content” is a self-contradiction.

            Thinking, that is, is a basic cognitive process — quite distinct from the different (and also very useful) process of story-telling.

      • >>>>>>“When you say vanishingly small, do you mean near-zero?”<<<<<<

        Yes, that is what it means.

        Your turn to answer now, Rex.

  • The book’s website has this description: “In Signature in the Cell, philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer shows how the digital code in DNA points powerfully to a designing intelligence behind the origin of life.

    In other words, the book is “Creationist” nonsense, claiming that it “points powerfully” to the impossible, viz., a supernatural intelligence.

    • Notice that Meyer is not a scientist.

      And the “Discovery Institute” lists “Intelligent Design” (which is manifestly NOT a remotely scientific proposition) on its home page.

    • When you keep saying “Creationist” you repeatedly demonstrate you misunderstand Intelligent Design. You don’t have to agree with it but it’s in your best interest and everyone involved in the discussion to know what the other side really believes.

      Scientists, like Dawkins and Crick, who believe that aliens could explain the origin of life would be considered ID proponents. Meyer is only arguing for intelligence as the best explanation not the default explanation. He’s not saying anything about the identity of that intelligence. If someone wants to believe that ETs are responsible for life on earth, that would be a step in the right direction I think.

      Read the book

      • So your contention is that “Intelligent Design” is not about the ORIGIN OF LIFE, as such, but only about how existing life happened to get to Earth?

        I think you are on a whole different track than Rabbi Averick.

        • Attributing life on earth to aliens will only result in the whole problem of infinite regress. What is then the origin of the aliens? So, origin of life is really about more… how do we get from non-living material (on any planet) to what we can all agree is living? That’s what Meyer is addressing.

          • That’s what I thought Meyer was after. But Rex claims to be in the middle of reading Meyer’s book, and says that’s not what it’s about.

            I tend to think Rex is talking through his hat.

          • Hi, Ayla –

            Would you mind joining the conversation and saving me from being stuck alone with Rex The Troll?

            Cheers,
            Steve

  • Obviously, scientists are not even omniscient, let alone never conflicted or compartmentalized. They can make mistakes. The old rejection of plate tectonics is an interesting example.

    Then there are those like Bohr, who apparently get such an inflated opinion of themselves that they declare some things simply cannot be regarded as real if they themselves haven’t figured out how to explain them.

    I suppose the honest thing for “Creationists” would be hold that God cannot be regarded as real.

  • I’m halfway through Meyer’s Signature in the Cell. All that I’ve read so far is nothing but science, historical science and mathematics. Aditionally, Meyers does an excellent job of refuting current origin of life hypotheses. Ironically enough, the scientists who are actually doing origin of life research know full well the mountainous hurdles to overcome in proving a non-intelligent cause of life; moreso than the armchair atheists who are blissfully ignorant of a true understanding of science, its methods and limitations.

    • >>>>>>“… the scientists who are actually doing origin of life research know full well the mountainous hurdles to overcome in proving a non-intelligent cause of life;<<<<<<

      Science is not tiddlywinks, you know. It has not been that unusual in the history of the world for scientists to tackle some really tough problems.

      “Mountainous hurdles” can be seen as an interesting challenge — rather than as an excuse to give up and become a mystic.

      Science is the study to see what the actual possibilites are. “Creationism,” on the other hand, is the retreat into claims about the impossible, viz., the supernatural.

      A “non-intelligent cause of life” is the only possibility — since intelligence is an attribute of evolved forms of life long post-dating the origin.

    • >>>>>>“Ironically enough,…<<<<<<

      Why do you find it ironic that a scientist might acknowledge that his job isn't easy?

      • I find it ironic because they’re the ones on the front lines so to speak. Biologists have the keenest sense of the monumental task of trying to explain a cause that is purely materialistic while non-scientists smugly sit back with their blind faith in science “knowing” that the answers will come eventually.

        Talking with materialists is like talking to a blind man who denies the existence of light.

  • >>>>>>Niels Bohr (1922 Nobel Prize in Physics): “Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.”<<<<<<

    Only if you decide to be a mystic and believe in supernatural powers can you figure that things "cannot be regarded as real." That is a high degree of subjectivism, and subjectivism is not realistic to any degree.

  • It does look, and not surprisingly, like the theists have no arguments in their favor.

  • I happened to be reading a political tome by Tom Sowell, and came across this passage where the principle applies to the rhetorical fog generated by Averick and Meyer, too.

    Separating words from realities is one of the most important steps toward evaluating government policies … any serious attempt to see government policies for what they are means keeping our eyes fixed on facts, despite the distractions of rhetoric…. seek to penetrate the fog of rhetoric.

    Just as political rhetoric is designed to hide political-economic reality, so the idea behind the fog of religious rhetoric about “Intelligent Design” is to hide basic facts of physical reality.

    So here, we need to penetrate the fog of “ID” (aka “Creation, by God!”).

    Any serious attempt to see so-called “scientific theories of ID” for what they are means keeping our eyes fixed on facts, despite the distractions of rhetoric.

  • >>>>>>The universe is comprised of matter, energy, and the information that gives order to matter and energy, thereby bringing life into being. In the cell, information is carried by DNA, which functions like a software program. The signature in the cell is that of the master programmer of life. http://www.signatureinthecell.com/about-the-book.php <<<<<<

    The description makes it sound like the book (Signature In The Cell) is science fiction.

    The trick in this case is to set up “information” as a constituent of the universe comparable to “matter and energy”, then pretend that the universe is like a computer … where the hardware needs the software to make it work. That creates a need for the “MASTER PROGRAMMER“, viz., “GOD“.

    • The way it really works is that the matter and energy that make up the universe comprise the source material that people use to construct information.

      Information is a product of intelligence. Intelligence is result of evolution. Evolution depends on the existence of life. Life arose naturally from the pre-biotic conditions here on Earth.

      “Creation, by God!” is a story some people made up. The notion of “Intelligent Design, by God!” is religion, not science.

  • >>>>>>Matter exists because of information. The physical laws that govern the behavior of matter are information.<<<<<<

    There is a problem of anthropomorphizing there. Physics is not the same as psychology.

    It is an error to extrapolate from the fact that people need information to sustain their lives, to the belief that atoms and molecules need information in order to exist and interact.

    Atoms are not conscious, so they have no means of processing information (or being away of anything in the first place). Assigning that processing to a "Super Intellect" (aka God) that designed and created the physical universe does not work logically or practically, though it is very popular in fiction.

    Such "super anthropomorphizing" is still a fallacy, even if you imagine God to have a really, really impressive resumé.

    • You are right in your post that we have differing views on the subject of which came first, information or matter. The rather mystical subatomic world of particles and the forces they obey seems to me to be unable to exist without information to control it. Whatever put all this together must not be made of what we call matter. You want to be able to measure this being to prove or disprove it, but it would have to be finite in time and power to be measured, and then it would not be capable of creating the universe we sit here discussing.

      • I agree that nothing finite could have created the universe. That’s why it seems to me that nothing did create the universe.

        For there to be something of non-finite would have to mean that that “something” was not capable of being anything in particular, i.e., that it was nothing at all.

        • For there to be something non-finite, it would have to mean that that “something” was not capable of being anything in particular, i.e., that it was nothing at all.

          So that’s why I think nothing at all created the universe. Such a “Creation” is not in the realm of the possible.

        • This reminds me of a quote from Niels Bohr (1922 Nobel Prize in Physics): “Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” So, what we call matter, might in reality be “nothing at all”, as you say about the force that brought time/matter/energy about. Sort of a chicken/egg analogy.

          • That’s the famous “God plays dice with the Universe” mysticism of the goofy “Copenhagen Interpretation” of quantum physics.

            But while Bohr sank into mysticism, Einstein kept his head: “You believe in the God who plays dice, and I in complete law and order in a world which objectively exists,…” (as Einstein commented to Max Born).

            In reality, what we call matter is something that really exists. You can’t get away from it!

          • That’s the famous “God plays dice with the Universe” mysticism of the goofy “Copenhagen Interpretation” of quantum physics.

            But while Bohr sank into mysticism, Einstein kept his head: “You believe in the God who plays dice, and I in complete law and order in a world which objectively exists,…” (as Einstein commented to Max Born).

            In reality, what we call matter is something that really exists. You can’t get away from it!

            That the universe of “time/matter/energy” was “created by nothing at all” means that it was not “created ex nihilo,” that is, that it was not created period.

            Matter exists, and there is nothing else it could have come from (and nowhere else than here where the matter is).

            The notion of a “supernatural realm” that somehow “cannot be regarded as real” is nonsense of a high order.

      • >>>>>>The rather mystical subatomic world of particles and the forces they obey seems to me to be unable to exist without [supernaturally God-specified] information to control it.<<<<<<

        Notice that by initially declaring the "subatomic world" to be "rather mystical," you are assuming the conclusion you wish to reach.

        Point One: The subatomic world is not in the least bit mystical.

        Point Two: The subatomic world has always gotten along perfectly well without any information at all.

  • 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.

    • “There are no legitimate questions that do not relate to physical matter in some way, i.e., to something that actually exists.”
      But how do you define “exist”? Information exists, and I don’t think you could classify it as any sort of physical matter. It occupies a non-physical realm – independent of matter – the same whether it is written down, traveling through radio waves, or being stored in the mind of the learner.

      • >>>>>>It [information exists and] occupies a non-physical realm – independent of matter – the same whether it is written down, traveling through radio waves, or being stored in the mind of the learner.<<<<<<

        It is not clear what you are trying to get at, Ayla.

        You did not describe a single form of information that was not physically dependent on matter one way or another.

        Of course, information is not matter per se, but it can exist only because there are physical means of processing and storing it.

        • Basically, information exists only because people do. It is intellectual way of dealing with reality.

          The notion that “information existed in the first DNA” is not literally true. It’s an analogy that helps us understand it. What was there were molecules, chemical bonds, etc. That wasn’t “information” any more than the mass of a rock is “information” for the rock about how it should react to gravity.

          The facts about masses, chemicals, molecules, etc., are only the source material that humans use to create information for their own understanding of how the world works.

          • The world of masses, chemical bonds, etc. does not need information in order to work. It just works.

            Information is only an intellectual tool that humans have developed to help us understand the way the world works.

            Rocks and gravity do not have, or need, information. DNA does not have, or need, information. Only humans have, or need, information.

        • I would say it is exactly the other way around. Matter exists because of information. The physical laws that govern the behavior of matter are information.

          • We sure do have opposite ideas about this, Ayla.

            You think information has to exist before there can be anything to have information about.

            I think there first has to be something before we can formulate any information about anything.

            I take the naturalistic view that there were things before life originated and evolved beings able to be conscious of things.

            You take the supernaturalist view that there had to be a pre-existing Consciousness (aka God) before there could have been any things to be conscious of.

            You think I’ve got it backwards, and I think you’ve got it backwards. I’ve got logic (without God), and you’ve got God (without logic).

            Definite opposites.

          • >>>>>>Matter exists because of information. The physical laws that govern the behavior of matter are information.<<<<<<

            So you are reversing Newton? Gravity, instead of being an effect of mass, is actually the reason why mass exists?

            Sort of like laws requiring driver's licenses are the reason cars exist?

  • It is a great overestimation of our senses to believe that the information we receive from them is all the information that exists. The amount and content of information is always limited by the capabilities of any sort of information gathering equipment, and our senses are just that. To assume that the material world is all that exists because that is all our physical senses detect is to fail to allow for a non-physical explanation. When evidence points to a super-intellect as original designer, and our senses cannot detect this being, or force (or whatever designation we give it), it is not that the being cannot then exist, it is rather that our senses are, for whatever reason, not capable of providing us with information at this level. But the mind is able to conceive of non-physical concepts… shoudn’t that indicate that there is at least the possibility of realms beyond the physical?

    • >When evidence points to a super-intellect as original designer,

      Sure, but there is no evidence of that at all unless that super-intellect went to extremes to remove all evidence of its existence and that wouldn’t make much sense because part of its cover up is some pretty sloppy “design”. If it made houses 99% of them would collapse on the owners, hardly a contractor you’d want to work with.

      >But the mind is able to conceive of non-physical concepts… shoudn’t that indicate that there is at least the possibility of realms beyond the physical?

      No, of course not, I can conceive dragons, elves, Zeus and countless other non-physical concepts and all that proves is that I can conceive non-physical concepts.

      You’re indulging in the god of the gaps; what we don’t understand MUST be a god.

    • >>>>>>It is a great overestimation of our senses to believe that the information we receive from them is all the information that exists.<<<<<<

      I certainly agree with that. Our senses give us limited information; it is impossible to perceive everything.

      Everything we know is based on our perceptual starting information, but is certainly not limited to only that specific material.

      >>>>>>But the mind is able to conceive of non-physical concepts… shoudn’t that indicate that there is at least the possibility of realms beyond the physical?<<<<<<

      No, that is no indication of the possibility of the impossible (e.g., "realms beyond the physical universe.")

      It is nonsensical to try to argue from the limitations of our senses to the existence of some unnatural realm. That we cannot perceive all of reality all at once does not mean that there is somehow something "beyond reality."

      Being able to imagine fictional characters and stories — e.g., "Creation, by God!" — does not imply or indicate that all such characters and stories are actually possible or somehow miraculously real.

    • >>>>>>To assume that the material world is all that exists because that is all our physical senses detect is to fail to allow for a non-physical explanation.<<<<<<

      Well, naturally it is "to fail to allow for a non-physical explanation," but that is the correct approach. The notion that we should “allow for a non-physical explanation” for the world is nonsense — plus wishful thinking and blind (i.e., religious) faith.

    • >>>>>>When evidence points to a super-intellect as original designer,…<<<<<<

      … that would be a miraculous day.

      But naturally it's not going to happen.

      No evidence now points to "a super-intellect as original designer" of the universe, or of life. No evidence ever has. And, as a matter of fact, no evidence ever could — since "pre-living" or non-living intelligence is a contradiction.

      • When I read your posts, I see evidence of intelligence. Why? Because of the information contained in them. And so, I deduce that there is an intellect putting forth these concepts, and likewise, if you painted a picture on a smooth rock you found on the ground, I would conclude upon finding it that something creative (intelligent) caused that picture to occur. Intelligence recognizes the existence of other intelligence. This is the evidence I refer to.

        • Naturally, intelligence is capable of recognizing intelligence. Intelligence is also capable of imagining intelligence (and even “information”) where there really isn’t any.

          Confusing the two processes is also possible.

        • And there is nothing like that found in nature so no indication of any sort of intelligence as a designer.

  • >>>>>>If Morse Code messages were detected originating from a galaxy a million light years away, only someone who had completely lost touch with reality would deny that this was proof of intelligent life somewhere else in the universe.<<<<<<

    I think you are vastly overstating the case, Moshe. Don't be so credulous.

    If someone claimed to be detecting Morse code from another galaxy, the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of the claim being a hoax. Or, at least, that the claimant is very confused. The likelihood that another civilization has developed Morse code is vanishingly small.

    • @Steve, you Googled my name; I’m flattered.

      You write, “Doesn’t it just give the game away that Moshe (and/or Meyer) considers the ‘arrangements of the nucleobases’ both totally uncontroversial and yet somehow ‘astonishing’ at the same time?”

      Thanks so much for the above comment. Now I don’t have to waste my time with you anymore since you’ve proven that your reading comprehension is at a grade-school level and big words are too much for you. Maybe you can go upstairs to the kitchen and ask your mom what’s wrong with what you wrote.

      BTW, when you say vanishingly small, do you mean near-zero? Just wondering.

      • Sorry you can’t handle the criticism. Looks like your views could be described as “flee-based,” rather than “science-based.” Intellectually, supernatural “Intelligent Design” has always been a waste of time.

        And do you really believe that FDR’s administration is such ancient history that people have to use Google to find out about it? Are you trying to say that you had never heard of Tugwell, and the naming is a coincidence?

      • I suppose it makes a little sense that a believer in the nutty notion of supernatural “Intelligent Design” might choose a forum-id named after the goofball “Greenbelt Idiot.”

    • At least Morse Code actually exists, where as God is pure fiction.

      I suppose we do have to concede that people who claim to talk to God are definitely mistaken, whereas someone who claims to see signs of life from other galaxies is only probably mistaken.

      But “Morse Code from outer space”!?! Hey, maybe Beethoven didn’t die, but just moved to a different galaxy . . . .

  • Rabbi Averick avers (as in “to assert positively”) that: >>>>>>It is absolutely clear to me that the only reasonable explanation for the origin of the first bacterium is an intelligent creator who is outside of the physical universe.<<<<<<

    But, of course, it can only be "clear" to him as a matter of blind (i.e., religious) faith, since there is no reasonable way to get from this real world we live in to “outside of the physical universe.” That “outside” is “so totally other” as to be nothing but a matter of blind (i.e., religious) faith. There is no “science-based” argument that can get him there. There is no evidence, there is no logic, there is absolutely NOTHING that can get him there. All he has is an imaginary place believed in by blind (i.e., religious) faith.

    Otherwise, zilch.

  • Which book or paper by Hubert P. Yockey did you cite? Dr. Yockey is my father and I edited his work.

    In my opinion, Hubert P. Yockey’s most important contribution to the fields of study of the origin of life and evolution has been to use information theory and coding theory to show why the origin of life is unknowable, just as Darwin predicted in his book, The Origin of Species. This means that all supposed explanations of the origin of life — whether they are proposed by religionists or scientists — are founded on dogma and retained on faith. His goal has been to get scientists to stick to what can be counted and measured and to leave matters of faith to the religious. He trusted the U.S. courts and the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state to keep religion from branding itself as science in order to force people to believe. Regarding Intelligent Design, as he stated in his amicus brief for the Dover Panda trial, the genome takes the place of the supposed Intelligent Designer. Intelligent Design is just re-branded Creationism. Similarly, the facts that there are no gaps in the genome from the origin of life to the present and that we can use DNA to look back in time to study the evolution of a species means that the objection to Darwin’s Laws of Evolution that there are gaps in the morphological evolutionary record are now obsolete and irrelevant. In short, science shows that the origin of life is unknowable and Darwin’s Laws of Evolution well-established.

    Hubert Yockey will be 96 on Sunday, April 15.

    • Dear Ms. Yockey,

      I am answering quickly and will shortly send you the source of the citation. I have no idea what the personal beliefs of Dr. Yockey are or are not, and I make no assertions about his personal beliefs.

      My only point was that to pretend that there is no “specified information” in the DNA of a bacterium or that it cannot be compared to modern information systems – as Dr. Saunders claimed – is simply not true. Whether or not Dr. Yockey believes in Intelligent Design theory is irrelevant to the point I was making. I cited Richard Dawkins also; he explicitly compared the information stored in DNA to that of the machine code of a modern computer. He DEFINITELY does not believe in ID theory and I obviously was not trying to imply that he did.

      I have stated many times that I do not discuss the issue of Darwinian evolution because I simply lack the expertise. Even though my personal opinion is that it is not an adequate explanation for the organized complexity of the living world, for argument’s sake, I freely concede the truth of Darwinian theory.

      In my book “Nonsense of a High Order” and in my articles, I limit myself to discussions of Origin of Life. While you and Dr. Yockey (or Darwin for that matter) may be of the opinion that origin-of-life is an “unknowable” phenomenon, I and many others strongly disagree with you. It is absolutely clear to me that the only reasonable explanation for the origin of the first bacterium is an intelligent creator who is outside of the physical universe. I have explained the reasons for my conclusions at length in my book and in abbreviated form in a number of articles on this website. At one point I was supposed to debate Dr. Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago on this very issue, but as I explained in one of my columns he “chickened out.” I don’t blame him; Scientists are clueless when it comes to understanding the origin of life. I am still prepared to debate all comers on this particular subject.

      However, I would be fascinated to hear how you came to the conclusion that “science shows that the origin of life is unknowable.” That is quite a claim, and I am highly doubtful you can make a reasonable case for the truth of such an assertion.

      Respectfully yours,

      Moshe Averick

      • Rabbi Averick has often stated his point that >>>>>>… to pretend that there is no “specified information” in the DNA of a bacterium or that it cannot be compared to modern information systems … is simply not true.<<<<<<

        The only way the rabbi can imagine that there was "specified information” in the first life form (which he commonly cites as “a bacterium”) is that he assumes that a “supernatural specifier” exists and was “The Creator.”

        There is no realistic way to get to Rabbi Averick’s position on the matter.

        You can make a colorful ANALOGY between DNA and computer code, but it makes no sense to take it literally — especially to try to justify a belief in the SUPERNATURAL (which is simply ridiculous).

      • >>>>>>Scientists are clueless when it comes to understanding the origin of life. I am still prepared to debate all comers on this particular subject.<<<<<<

        The clueless debating the clueless, eh. Sounds like some party.

    • PS, Ms. Yockey,

      Happy Birthday to your father.
      As we Jews are wont to say, “Until 120 years!”

    • Moshe Averick

      Ms. Yockey,

      The citation was from an article entitled: “Origin of Life on Earth and Shannon’s Theory of Communication”
      (Computers & Chemistry, Volume 24, Issue 1, January 2000, p. 105-123)

      Here is the abstract from the Science Direct website, the passage I cited is actually part of the abstract:

      “The genetic information system is segregated, linear and digital. It is astonishing that the technology of information theory and coding theory has been in place in biology for at least 3.850 billion years (Mojzsis, S.J., Kishnamurthy, Arrhenius, G., 1998. Before RNA and after: geological and geochemical constraints on molecular evolution 1–47. In: Gesteland, R.F. (Ed.), The RNA World: The Nature of Modern RNA Suggests a Prebiotic RNA, second ed. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Boca Raton, FL). The genetic code performs a mapping between the sequences of the four nucleotides in mRNA to the sequences of the 20 amino acids in protein. It is highly relevant to the origin of life that the genetic code is constructed to confront and solve the problems of communication and recording by the same principles found both in the genetic information system and in modern computer and communication codes. There is nothing in the physico-chemical world that remotely resembles reactions being determined by a sequence and codes between sequences. The existence of a genome and the genetic code divides living organisms from non-living matter. If the historic process of the origin and evolution of life could be followed, it would prove to be a purely chemical process (Wächtershäuser, G., 1997. The origin of life and its methodological challenge. J. Theor. Biol. 187, 483–694). The question is whether this historic process or any reasonable part of it is available to human experiment and reasoning; there is no requirement that Nature’s laws be plausible or even known to mankind. Bohr (Bohr, N., 1933. Light and life. Nature 308, 421–423, 456–459) argued that life is consistent with but undecidable by human reasoning from physics and chemistry. Perhaps scientists will come closer and closer to the riddle of how life emerged on Earth, but, like Zeno’s Achilles, never achieve a complete solution.”

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleListURL&_method=list&_ArticleListID=1950836977&_sort=r&_st=13&view=c&_acct=C000228598&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=b67ec1006b835e994f4c7ca91b862d06&searchtype=a

      Sincerely, Moshe Averick

  • >>>>>>“… every phenomenon we observe in the universe must have a purely naturalistic explanation …”<<<<<<

    That much, at least, is true. There aren't any "non-natural" phenomena.

  • There are no “science-based arguments” that support theism or supernaturalism in any form. All attempts to make such “arguments” always fall apart in illogic and/or sophistry.

    Practically speaking, there is no such thing as a good argument for “Creation, by God!” or any form of existence for the supernatural, the unnatural, or some “totally other” something not of this world. Theists have faith, and no facts.

    • You’ve obviously not read the above article, so I’ll reproduce a paragraph here for your comment. Notice how scientific and non-creationist it is:

      Meyer points out a rather astonishing fact – about which there is no scientific controversy – regarding the arrangements of the nucleobases in DNA. There are absolutely no chemical affinities or preferences for which nucleobases bond with any particular phosphate and sugar molecule. The N-glycosidic bond works equally well with (A), (T), (G), or (C). And secondly, there are also no chemical bonds in the vertical axis between the nucleobases. What this means is that there are no forces of physical/chemical attraction and no chemical or physical law that dictates the order of the nucleobases; they can be arranged in a nearly infinite amount of different sequences.

      Your thoughts, Steve

      • Rex, you are simply repeating something from Moshe’s article, so that is already covered by what I said earlier about neither Meyer or Averick offering any “science-based arguments” in support of theism or supernaturalism in any form.

        Doesn’t it just give the game away that Moshe (and/or Meyer) considers the “arrangements of the nucleobases” both totally uncontroversial and yet somehow “astonishing” at the same time?

        Now I have no idea whether that Moshe/Meyer description is accurate or not. But so what if it is? It offers exactly ZERO “science-based” support for theism/supernaturalism.

        What in the world do you imagine the scientific connection could be?

        It’s like trying to argue that if you start with an empty table and you put two rocks on it, and then two more, you have a total of four rocks on the table — therefore God exists.

    • and this one too if you would please.

      “Meyer makes this point in critique of what are called “self-organizational scenarios,” one of the main naturalisitc approaches to explaining the origin of life and the ultimate origin of biological information. These theories attempt precisely to explain the ultimate origin of biological information by refernce to chemical bonding affinities or some physical or chemical law. Meyer demonstrates decisively why these theories cannot work; they fail to explain the basic facts of DNA chemistry and they fail to appreciate the non-redundant, non-repeating nature of functionally specified information. As he explains, laws by definition describe repeating patterns of redundant order. They do not describe aperiodic information-rich complex sequences. Yet, as he notes, the base sequences in functional sections of DNA are not highly repetitive. DNA contains a set of functional biochemical instructions, not an endlessly repeating mantra. A law might generate the latter, but can’t accurately describe or explain the former.”

      • That’s yet another repeat, Tugger. (You’re not really the FDR Tugwell are you? You’d not only have to be over 110 years old, you’d have to have arisen from the dead …. well, maybe you know something we don’t.)

        But so what if theories Meyer doesn’t like don’t work? This is in no way any form of “science-based argument” in favor of any theory Meyer does like — even any naturalistic ones (if he has any), but most certainly not for any supernaturalistic “theory.”

      • No thoughts on the matter, Rex.

        I can’t say I’m entirely surprised, but maybe I should just wait a bit longer . . .

      • You quote above that A, C, G, and T are chemically interchangeable. This means that it’s not possible for repeatable patterns of them in DNA to naturally occur – for that they’d need to behave differently chemically.

        Now you think that there are no repeating patterns is evidence for design, and not an inevitable chemical outcome of what you wrote in your previous comment? It’s almost as if you have no idea what you’re writing about.

        • That’s directed at Rex, by the way.

          • Since Rex has the “God Ax” to grind, he tends to try torturing the facts to force them spit out a scenario that just has to be unnatural.

            He does not want to accept the fact that no matter how DNA originated, it was by a 100% natural process. There is no real alternative, but theists prefer fantasy to reality.

          • Moshe has managed to hone such torture into nonsense of a high order.

  • At first I found the atheists in this thread annoying and offensive. Now you’re just amusing and entertaining. I’ve come to the conclusion that atheists have no answers and the brightest among you are at best just trying to convince yourselves of something that you can’t prove but desperately wish were true; or at worst just intellectually bankrupt.

    There has been no real discussion, at least not on the part of those whose god is science, to directly address and refute Dr. Meyer’s or Rabbi Averick’s science-based arguments. All I’ve read are question-begging assertions that are merely assumed and not proved. We’ve seen sincere questions asked, only to be answered with more questions. Even your own champion of atheism, Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion, was an absolute embarrassment to his fellow academicians because of his laughable argumentation.

    Do you think that former atheists Albert Einstein, Anthony Flew (famous atheist convert to theism) and Francis Collins (leader of the Human Genome Project) were imbeciles?

    Steve Stoddard, you’ve contributed 7 of the last 8 posts. We get it. You’re an atheist. No one is listening because you are contributing nothing to the discussion. AW, I now know what that stand for.

    • >>>>>>directly address and refute Dr. Meyer’s or Rabbi Averick’s science-based arguments.<<<<<<

      They don't have "science-based arguments." Their arguments are fundamentally based on supernaturalism, the opposite of science and knowledge-seeking.

      For instance, precisely what do you consider a “science-based argument” for “Creation, by God!”?

      • Meyer’s work is based on science. It’s what can be reasonably INFERRED from that work is what is at issue. ID proponent’s inferences are reasonable because they do not have an a priori materialistic worldview.

        • >>>>>>ID proponent’s inferences are reasonable because they do not have an a priori materialistic worldview.<<<<<<

          Only the contrary, they are not the least bit reasonable because they have an a priori supernaturalistic bias.

          And, since we live in the material world, a naturalistic worldview is what makes sense. (I reject materialism is the sense that “materialists” tend to reject consciousness, i.e., the human spirit — which, don’t forget, is 100% a natural attribute.)

        • The ludicrous notion of supernatural “Intelligent Design”/”Creation, by God!” is NOT “science-based.” Not in the least little bit.

    • >>>>>>I’ve come to the conclusion that atheists have no answers …<<<<<<

      On the question of the origin of life, nobody knows exactly what happened. Theists certainly have no answers. Neither are atheist able to give any step by step account of the matter.

      We do know, however, that life does exist, and that, therefore, it is nature that provides the source material for the actual answers. Only if life were fiction, would there be an excuse to rely on supernaturalist fiction for the “answers.”

    • BTW, are you the same Rex Tugwell who wants to rewrite the Constitution to get rid of the First Amendment?

    • >At first I found the atheists in this thread annoying and offensive. Now you’re just amusing and entertaining.

      Ah the opening refrains of the Internet Cop-Out, it’s an old song in which the performer tries to avoid answering all kinds of points by a blanket ad hominem attack that can be shorten up to “YOU’RE A BUNCH OF STUPID HEADS! ME GO HOME!” only not quite as mature.

      >I’ve come to the conclusion that atheists have no answers

      Ha! Ha! Yes! We haven’t taken your statements and answered them point by point!

      > and the brightest among you are at best just trying to convince yourselves of something that you can’t prove but desperately wish were true; or at worst just intellectually bankrupt.

      Ha! Ha! Yes! It is we who are religious! And evolution has never EVER been proven! All those scientist are also lying to themselves. You are so smart I can’t believe you only have two engineering degrees!

      >There has been no real discussion, at least not on the part of those whose god is science, to directly address and refute Dr. Meyer’s or Rabbi Averick’s science-based arguments.

      Ha! Ha! Yes! Richard Forrest does not exist, his words are not on your screen!

      > (Dawkins) was an absolute embarrassment to his fellow academicians because of his laughable argumentation.

      Ha! Ha! Yes! He can’t even sell hundreds of thousands of books anymore! And he never ever lectures around the world in the most prestigious of settings. He is washed up!

      >Do you think that former atheists Albert Einstein,

      Ha! Ha! Yes! Albert believed in your god! He only said the exact opposite but he was stupid too as he had no engineering degrees.

      >Anthony Flew (famous atheist convert to theism) and Francis Collins (leader of the Human Genome Project) were imbeciles?

      Yes, curiously Flew converted right around the same time his mind began to fall apart, what a coincidence! And Collins knows that Intelligent Design is nonsense and even if he didn’t so what? There are lots of stupid people in the world, some are even smart or think they are.

      But I guess that means you’ll continue to insist the evolution is wrong, that the scientists that prove it daily are crazy liars (that would be millions of them) despite you not knowing a thing about it.

      Blissful aren’t you?

      • salvage, old buddy, instead of merely fisking my comments, how about some original thoughts. I’d like to hear your comments on the problem of evil and the existence of God.

        • >salvage, old buddy, instead of merely fisking my comments, how about some original thoughts.

          So that would be you have no response to my points?

          >I’d like to hear your comments on the problem of evil and the existence of God.

          Sure.

          Evil is bad and gods don’t exist.

          Now can you answer my points or do you think ignoring them is close enough?

      • You’ve mistaken me with groovimus. (S)he’s the one with the engineering degrees. Let’s give credit where credit’s due.

      • >>>>>>“YOU’RE A BUNCH OF STUPID HEADS! ME GO HOME!”<<<<<<

        That does make one think of Rex. Maybe he'll get around to thinking better of it, though.

        • He won’t, he needs his god to be real anything that hints otherwise needs to be aggressively ignored.

          • Bummer.

            Maybe he could join God in that “ultimate sensory deprivation” tank.

          • Only a bummer for us, they’re happy in a way that the sensible will never get to enjoy. Well perhaps when I’m super old my brain will turn to jelly and I’ll decide there is a god and that it loves me and I’m going to live forever with it because dying truly does suck.

    • >>>>>>“You’re an atheist.”<<<<<<

      Yes, I know.

  • >>>Logician (April 6, 2012 1:26 pm): In short, it is irrational to believe that life arose through natural processes.<<<

    Since only processes involving nature exist, how exactly can it be “irrational” to believe that life arose through natural processes?

    There aren’t any other kind of processes, and life really does exist. So, logically speaking, it is irrational to believe in unnatural (i.e., supernatural) processes.

    And it is rational to believe in reality. By what mental twists can you come up with the notion that it is “irrational to believe in reality/nature”?

    • The rational ideas are those which conform to the natural world. Theism, as such, is therefore irrational, since it depends of the fiction of “the supernatural world.”

  • I read an article about belief in God being genetic. But of course it isn’t.

    Even though God is an imaginary character, belief in God come through a profound failure of imagination. That is, people tend to believe because the authorities (parents, etc.) tell them to. They fail to think for themselves.

    • Even though God is an imaginary character, belief in God comes through a profound failure of imagination. That is, people tend to believe because the authorities (parents, etc.) tell them to. They fail to think for themselves. They can’t imagine a life of reason and freedom.

      • Of course, it’s also a failure of courage. The theist wants to avoid facing life with his own thoughts and prefers following commands, instead. The appeal of religion is like the appeal of socialism: follow the commandments (of God and/or the Government).

    • Steve Carlson

      Steve, regarding whether God exists or not, I think the only one you’re trying to convince here is yourself. Whether you believe it or not, God is your father and you are His son and He loves you.

  • While SETI hasn’t found what it’s looking for yet, the practically more difficult SSNI has been succeeding beyond it’s wildest dreams. The Search for Super-Natural Intelligence claims to have found many of them. But one huge problem is that those Intelligences tend to tell their finders to kill off the people who have found different Ones.

    Another strangely interesting aspect of all these theological conflicts resulting from SSNI is that there has been absolutely no evidence of any kind for any of the Supernatural Intelligences they are claiming to have found. How odd is that? They keep trying to put it over as miracles, magic, and “Divine Revelation!

  • >>>>>>When it comes to the origin of life, we have only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God…I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. – Scientific American, August, 1954.<<<<<<

    The point is that those who want to believe in God do so because they don't want to take reality seriously enough to deal with the actual evidence of the world around them.

    Those who don't want to believe in God leave their minds free to deal with nature as it actually is.

    One can only believe in God if one wants to — because there is no reason to believe in God. There’s no logical way of getting to such a belief.

    Nature is in evidence; the supernatural isn’t.

  • Moshe wrote:

    If I were to tell you that I reject scientific evidence for a particular phenomenon because I am only prepared to look for religious or theological explanations it would be laughable. For scientists to reject an explanation because they are only prepared to accept “scientific” explanations (which simply don’t exist, certainly at the present time) it is equally laughable.

    This is the crux of your problems, Moshe. Because your argument is based solely in ideology, you only see this conflict in political terms, with each side holding one position and dismissing the other. But politics, for all its merits, is not a tool for determining truth.

    Scientific explanations are those which can be demonstrated to conform with reality. Religious explanations belong to a different class: mythology, a subset of the broader class: fiction.

    By substituting in the definition of what it means to be scientific, what you wrote above becomes:

    If I were to tell you that I reject evidence that demonstrably conforms to reality for a particular phenomenon because I am only prepared to look for religious or theological explanations it would be laughable. For scientists to reject an explanation because they are only prepared to accept explanations that demonstrably conform to reality (which simply don’t exist, certainly at the present time) it is equally laughable.

    You are stating that because we have no full explanation that can be demonstrated to conform to reality, it is laughable that we do not instead adopt an explanation that can not be demonstrated to conform to reality. If that’s really true, I could argue that it’s laughable that you reject the explanation that the first bacterium was sneezed out by a purple unicorn on Alpha Centauri with such force that the bacteria laden sneeze escaped Alpha Centauri’s gravitational field and landed on earth.

    It’s true that that’s a ridiculous explanation, demonstrably at odds with a vast number of things we know about the universe. The problem for you is that it’s intellectually equivalent to ID.

    I stand by what I said. Any pursuit that does not value truth above all else is inherently dangerous and distorted.

    It’s looking in the mirror time, again, Moshe.

    • I agree that both the “unicorn sneeze” and “Creation, by God!” are ridiculous offerings as explanations of life.

      But I don’t think they are quite equivalent.

      While the unicorn is mythological, all (or at least most) of the components are real. But with God, absolutely nothing is real.

      I would not be surprised if someday somebody might be able to design some unicorn DNA. But God is utterly impossible in any way, shape, or form (a sentiment which Moshe regularly stresses).

  • Salvage said it best: “You know what’s cool about near-zero? It isn’t actually zero …”

    Reminds me of this clip

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX5jNnDMfxA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    • But the probability of the supernatural is zero. Zero, not near-zero. Really zero.

    • Rex do you know that people win lotteries even though the odds of doing so ARE NEAR ZERO?

      Yet they still win!

      NO!

      Yes!

      IMPOSSIBLE!

      You know why?

      Because NEAR ZERO is not ZERO!

      Are you with me? Have you wrapped your brain around such a radical notion? I wish I could put it in a simpler way but I have no background in special needs education so I lack the skill set. Apologies for that.

      In the word of math, which is a way of saying reality, the difference between something and nothing is not slight.

      But of course you want your god to be real so you must ignore or otherwise distort reality as much as you can.

      But yes! Ha! Ha! I am the dumb and dumber one for not knowing that zero isn’t zero!

      But since you’re such a clever fellow why don’t you answer my other points and questions?

      Oh. Right. I’m snarky. You have perfectly valid answers and devestaing rebuttals but alas I hurt your feelings (sniff, sniff) and so you won’t bless me with your wisdom.

      Theists! Like clowns from a car your excuses are just as silly and endless.

    • “In the word [sic] of math, which is a way of saying reality, the difference between something and nothing is not slight.” -Salvage

      When I say near-zero, I’m trying to be honest. Yes I suppose life could happen spontaneously. However, because something COULD happen doesn’t mean it’s rational to believe that it did happen. For example, it’s unreasonable to believe that life arose by undirected processes; especially given the young age of the universe. The numbers are not in your favor, Salvage.

      Yes, the universe is 13.7 billion years old but life on earth is no more than 4 billion. Given the example I used below of a protein with 250 amino acids, the probability of self-assemblage is 1.8e+325 to 1. That’s a 1 followed by 325 zeros. Your example of winning the lottery consists of a probability of 1 followed by only 8 zeros – a very small number indeed. Could we reasonably expect amino acids to line up in just the right order in the last 14 billion years? I don’t think so.

      So how big is 1.8e+325? Well if we multiplied the number of baryons in the known universe (10e+80), times the number of discreet units of time in a second (10e+43), times the age of the universe in seconds (10e+17), we get only 10e+140. So let’s add 10e+100 international units of atheist wishful thinking. That still only gives us 10e+240. So the probability of self-organizing bio-molecules into a single protein is still a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion times more unlikely than all the probabilistic resources in our awesome universe. This has to happen a minimum of 280 times to get the simplest form of life. And once we get our proteins just right, we have to hope that there’s a phospholipid sheet floating nearby to quickly wrap itself around the proteins to protect them from ultraviolet light. And then we have to hope that it can reproduce itself.

      Now that’s blind faith. Admirable but blind.

      • >>>>>>For example, it’s unreasonable to believe that life arose by undirected processes;<<<<<<

        Not only is it not unreasonable to believe that life arose by an undirected process, it is the only reasonable explanation.

        Both the “unicorn sneeze” and “Creation, by God!” stories are unreasonable in the extreme. In fact, since “God” is held to be supernatural,” the very existence of “God” is impossible, as such.

      • > Yes I suppose life could happen spontaneously.

        There you go!

        >However, because something COULD happen doesn’t mean it’s rational to believe that it did happen.

        Absolutely right which is why if you really want to be honest and factual on the subject you need to say you don’t know because you don’t.

        No one does and certainly not a tribe of desert savages from the Bronze Age.

        Science on the other hand has a great many theories and if you were truly interested in answering these fascinating and important questions you would follow them.

        >For example, it’s unreasonable to believe that life arose by undirected processes; especially given the young age of the universe.

        AAAArrrrrrghhhhh! Lucy! You pulled the ball away, what a sucker I am!

        No one is saying it was undirected what we are saying is that it was not directed by a mythological supernatural being. It is directed by natural selection driven by environmental pressures.

        Once again science has much to say on the subject, if you would just do honest research on the subject I have no doubt you would understand.

        >Could we reasonably expect amino acids to line up in just the right order in the last 14 billion years? I don’t think so.

        Ahh you started out so well and now you’ve gone right back to creationist voodoo.

        For the last time something that is unlikely is not impossible furthermore your “math” has so many arbitrary variables (geared towards giving you the answer you crave) that it’s worthless.

        We don’t know the process by which it happened so we can’t calculate the odds can we? Stephen Hawkings last book covers this whole odds business and explains what you’re not understanding. Why don’t you… hell I’ll buy you a copy if you promise to read it.

        >Now that’s blind faith. Admirable but blind.

        Wow, maybe I am giving you too much credit, maybe you can’t read, you still don’t seem to understand WE DON’T KNOW HOW IT HAPPENED. NO ONE KNOWS HOW IT HAPPENED.

        What I have rock solid “faith” in however is that MYTHS AREN’T REAL.

        That god you pray to? Beg for favor, protection and love? Ain’t there! Never was! Never will be! Have you read about your god? The Torah’s description makes it an insane monster! Have you ever studied the history of your religion? Just the straight up where it came from? How it evolved from other older ones? Judaism started off as a pantheon you know. The god you call God was the mountain thunder god who later became a war god than he just sort of took over everyone else’s job.

        Facts! If only you theist would seek them out there would be less of you but then again reality, not for everyone.

  • Moshe Averick (April 6, 2012 3:28 pm): —— Dr. Meyer spends 600 pages describing why ID is a valid scientific hypothesis. If for some odd reason you want to a priori exclude it from “science” …——

    It is you, Moshe, who “a priori exclude it from science” — because you define your God as “not of this world,” “not physical,” “not in time or space,” etc., etc., etc.

    You have defined your beliefs right out of science and reality. Nobody else had to do the job for you — or, for that matter, could have done it any better or more thoroughly.

    Don’t blame scientists (or atheists) for your God/ID problem.

    We simply point it out when you seem to forget it (or conveniently try to ignore it)

  • ——Randy (April 5, 2012 9:09 am): If you define the field of study as naturalism – only what the five senses reveal – then you are correct. There is no alternative to nature because that is how you have defined the field of study.——

    You’re looking at it backwards, Randy. The “field of study” is defined as nature because that’s what is there to be studied. We can and do break nature down into narrower “fields of study,” but there is no larger (wider, broader, more all-encompassing, etc.) “field of study” that is possible, because there is nothing “beyond nature.”

    If you could find something (anything) beyond nature, you could really be on to something. The notion makes (sometimes) interesting science fiction (or fantasy fiction), but in real life it cannot happen.

    ——But you must also admit that you cannot comment on the origin of nature because it is, by your own definition, outside of nature or supernatural.——

    No, it is not “outside of nature or supernatural.” The “origin of nature” simply ISN’T, period. Or WASN’T, if you prefer.

    ——On the other hand, the points that Moshe and others raised previously about the first bacterium with FCSI – it was either created or not. The statistical odds of even one bacterium arising with specified information are nearly impossible. For it to happen over and over and over again as evolutionary theory proposes is impossible.——

    Of course, there was no specified information in “the first bacterium.”

    ——So as a naturalist, you have no basis to comment on origin of life questions.——

    Except that the origin of life was 100% natural. That’s 100% guaranteed.

    —— Thinking outside this field of study, intelligent design seems to be the only viable alternative. Can you think of any other?——

    “Intelligent Design” — in the supernatural sense — is not a viable alternative. It is a non-starter, and a dead-end. Worthless.

    And there is no “other alternative.” There simply is no alternative to nature.

  • Randy:
    Your “assumption of naturalism” by definition presumes the impossibility of ID.

    No, it doesn’t. If the concept of “ID” can be tested empirically, it has validity as science. No ID proponent has ever formulated an hypothesis which can be tested. The claim of ID proponents is that if they can falsify some naturalistic explanations for certain phenomena, the default position is the an “Intelligent Designer” (which is a rather dishonest euphemism for “God”) must have done it. It’s up to the ID proponents to come up with a testable hypothesis.

    The scientific process of posing a theory, creating and running tests, making observations, and ultimately reaching a conclusion cannot be performed on an historical event that has already happened.

    Why on earth not? If you stop and think about it, science can only investigate events which have already happened. Or do you think that science can investigate events which have not yet occurred? Science works under the assumption that unless there is evidence to the contrary, the basic workings of the universe were the same in the past as they are today. We assume that phenomena such as rates of radioactive decay, fluid dynamics, gravity, magnetism and basic logic don’t change according to the arbitrary whim of some supernatural entity.

    You know this to be true.
    Emm…no, I know that to be flatly false.

    Proponents of Naturalism will not contemplate, engage, or even allow discussion of the cause of the time/space continuum being anything beyond a physical being or process that is already part of nature.
    Again, flatly false. Many scientists are religious believers. They believe in God. However, when they use the tools of science to investigate the workings of the universe they believe their God created, they do so under the same assumption of naturalism as any other scientific investigation. That is the nature of science.

    ID proponents point out that logic dictates the viability of a Creator but are not allowed to discuss this line of exploration by the Naturalists.
    Again, flatly false. ID proponents can discus this to their heart’s content. However, if they want to claim that their beliefs are supported by science and should be taught as science in science classes, they need to present them in a form which allows them to be investigated using the tools of science. The fact that they claim on the one hand that their “theory” is science, yet on the other demand that we redefine the fundamental nature of science to accommodate supernatural explanations shows the dishonesty of the movement. Many of the strongest opponents of ID are religious believers, and the reason for their opposition is this deep and systematic dishonesty.

    Imagine a child saying to another: “You can’t play a game unless you play it entirely in my sandbox. In fact, no game exists outside my sandbox.” How will the two children learn to play together?</em
    That's a very poor analogy. A better analogy would be a football game in which one team insisted on playing by the rules of baseball, and demanded that the rules of football be rewritten to allow them to call baseball football.

  • Moshe Averick
    If science is not about discovering truth it is a very dangerous pursuit

    Why on earth should that be the case? I suggest that any knowledge of history shows that it is not the honest doubt which underlies science which is dangerous, but the convictions of those who claim to know the Truth. When different, and mutually exclusive “Truths” collide, the outcome is war, persecution and immense human suffering.

    and anything scientists conclude (that isn’t strictly about the natural world) should be totally ignored.

    Scientists are people, and as entitled to form their conclusions about any subject as anyone else. Science is not a religion, it is a tool of enquiry.

    You have essentially admitted that any area of science (like Origin of Life, Evolution, etc.) that intersects with the issue of the divine or supernatural is highly suspect because these scientists are not interested in discovering the truth.

    How on earth do you get that from what I have written? If we are to investigate the origin of life or the mechanisms of evolution using the tools of science, we do so under the assumption of naturalism which makes science possible. The fact that science works extraordinarily well is justification for persisting in such investigation. It gives us answers we can use to cure disease, develop new technologies, gain an understanding of the natural world and our impact on it, and many other things which enrich our lives. It is because science doesn’t offer “truth” that we carry on with research: science is a tool for finding out what we don’t yet know. In science, if there is a dispute over the interpretation of the evidence, we test those interpretations by acquiring further evidence.

    You may consider that the explanation that the God you believe in made the universe is a Truth superior to the findings of science, but such an explanation leads nowhere. Different people believe in different Gods, and they hold such beliefs to be the Truth. On what basis do you determine which of these mutually exclusive Truths are the real Truth? The most common way is by violence.

    In my book, I bring many examples to show that Origin of Life scientists have abandoned the search for truth all together and are dogmatically committed to finding a naturalistic origin of life whether it exists or not.

    In which case your book demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of science. Of course scientists look for naturalistic explanations: science can’t provide anything other than naturalistic explanations! This is not dogma, it is the nature of science. If you can propose a methodology for scientific investigation other than under the assumption of naturalism, feel free to offer it.

    • Moshe Averick

      Richard,

      I don’t want to waste time repeating myself, but Dr. Meyer spends 600 pages describing why ID is a valid scientific hypothesis. If for some odd reason you want to a priori exclude it from “science” it still doesn’t change the fact that it is by far the best explanation and truth trumps science any day of the week.

      If I were to tell you that I reject scientific evidence for a particular phenomenon because I am only prepared to look for religious or theological explanations it would be laughable. For scientists to reject an explanation because they are only prepared to accept “scientific” explanations (which simply don’t exist, certainly at the present time) it is equally laughable.

      I stand by what I said. Any pursuit that does not value truth above all else is inherently dangerous and distorted.

      • ——Dr. Meyer spends 600 pages describing why ID is a valid scientific hypothesis.——

        He could take 600 billion pages, and he could never make a case for “Supernatural Intelligent Design” as a valid scientific hypothesis.

        It isn’t.

        Zero pages does the job as well as it could be done.

      • ——Moshe Averick (April 6, 2012 3:28 pm): If I were to tell you that I reject scientific evidence for a particular phenomenon because I am only prepared to look for religious or theological explanations it would be laughable.——

        It is laughable, but that is precisely what you do all the time.

        First, you reject scientific evidence by claiming that your God is “so totally other” that He is not really part of the universe (“not physical,” “not in time or space,” etc.). Then you laughably try to claim the contradictory proposition that He is a “valid scientific hypothesis” — or that He could somehow magically qualify as “true.”

      • ——“Any pursuit that does not value truth above all else is inherently dangerous and distorted.”——

        Throughout history, religions, at least, have certainly been examples of such dangerous distortion and refusal to pursue truth.

        The case of the Inquisition and Galileo is probably one of the most famous examples.

        The example of John Scopes and the “Monkey Trial” is also well-known.

        The case of Salman Rushdie is yet another.

        There are unfortunately a great many example of the danger religion poses to the pursuit of knowledge/truth.

        Even politics can pose dangers, as the cases of Lysenkoism and the “Global Warming Catastrophe” scam show us.

        • On the political score, we shouldn’t forget Keynesianism and socialism, either, for their distortions and refusal to pursue truth.

          And back on the religious side, there’s also “Original Sin.”

          Gosh, that’s enough example to make the point. There are too many to catalog them all.

      • Dr. Meyer spends 600 pages describing why ID is a valid scientific hypothesis

        …and yet fails to propose any ID hypothesis which can be tested using the tools of science. He describes no research informed by any ID model,he offers no evidence to support any ID model, and has made no headway whatsoever in publishing any ID “science” in any reputable academic journal. The only publication he achieved was made by circumventing the normal publication processes, and has been withdrawn and disowned by the journal itself. ID proponents are very ready to claim that they are being censored, but bearing in mind that this would demand a global conspiracy involving tens of thousands of scientists all over the world, I suggest that the real reason ID “theory” does not get published as science is that it isn’t science.

        If for some odd reason you want to a priori exclude it from “science” it still doesn’t change the fact that it is by far the best explanation and truth trumps science any day of the week.

        What is odd about excluding from science something which isn’t science? We exclude articles on bookkeeping, the care of cats, how to fix a broken faucet and crystal healing from science for the same reason.

        In what way is ID a good explanation for anything?
        How does the conclusion that “GodIMeanAnIntelligentDesigner did it” open any further avenues of research? What predictions does in make? How can it be tested? What does it tell us about the nature of the universe? What explanatory power does it offer?
        I suggest that it is seriously flawed as theology as well. It (rather dishonestly) refers to God by euphemism, and presents God as an entity which meddles with his creation in an arbitrary way for no apparent reason. What sort of God interferes with his imperfect creation to give some bacterial rotary flagella, but is utterly indifferent to the vast suffering which pervades the natural world?

        As for truth trumping science : who gets to say what is the real truth? How can one determine which of two mutually contradictory truths is true? How many people have been killed by those who believed that their “truth” gave them the right to do so?

        Nobody ever killed anyone else because of honest doubt.

        If I were to tell you that I reject scientific evidence for a particular phenomenon because I am only prepared to look for religious or theological explanations it would be laughable

        Quite so. But if you claim that your explanation is science, and should be taught as science in science classes it would be perfectly correct to reject explanations which are not scientific. This is the crux of the matter: if ID creationists (and I use the term ‘creationist’ advisedly) were not demanding that their religious dogma be taught as science in science classes, this would not be an issue.

        I stand by what I said. Any pursuit that does not value truth above all else is inherently dangerous and distorted.

        Then I suggest that you read the transcripts of the Dover v. Kitzmiller trial, showing how ID proponents are prepared to lie even under oath to promote their agenda.

        I suggest that you consider the dishonesty of a DI fellow dismissing as “unconvincing” the content of dozens of scientific papers without even bothering to read them.

        I suggest that you consider the intellectual bankruptcy of one of the leading lights of the ID movement responding to the judge’s ruling in the trial with a video of the judge to which he had added farting noises.

        I suggest that you consider the inherent dishonesty of wrapping religious dogma in scientific-sounding language to evade US laws against the teaching of religion in schools.

        I suggest that you consider the inherent dishonesty of claiming on the one hand the ID is a scientific theory whilst on the other demanding that we redefine the fundamental nature of science to accommodate supernatural explanations.

        I oppose ID not for any particular religious or scientific reason, but because I have found it to be deeply and systematically dishonest. If you think that truth can come from such a movement, I pity you.

        • >>>>>>In what way is ID a good explanation for anything?<<<<<<

          It's not. No way.

          That is the beauty of it from the religionist standpoint. They want nonsense they can believe through blind faith; they don't want stuff they can know and understand. That's why they believe God is “so totally other” and “unnatural”.

        • >>>>>>As for truth trumping science : who gets to say what is the real truth?<<<<<<

          Anybody who can prove it. That’s what we have evidence and logic for.

          >>>>>>How can one determine which of two mutually contradictory truths is true?<<<<<<

          There is no such thing as "contradictory truths." That would be like claiming that one circle is circular while another circle is a square.

          Don't confuse belief or doctrine with truth.

        • @Steve: “and yet fails to propose any ID hypothesis which can be tested using the tools of science. He describes no research informed by any ID model,he offers no evidence to support any ID model, and has made no headway whatsoever in publishing any ID “science” in any reputable academic journal. ”

          Hey guy when “evolutionary science” tells us that caterpillars at some point in history began the accidental attempts to spin chrysalis’, and kept trying and trying, because of some “random mutation(s)”, we can say with obvious confidence that “evolutionary science” can offer nothing testable OR evidential in support of this obviously dishonest scenario. So go ahead and go at us from this “honesty” angle, we can have a laugh or two at your expense.

          • >Hey guy when “evolutionary science” tells us that caterpillars at some point in history began the accidental attempts to spin chrysalis’,

            Can you please show us the “evolutionary science” that says any such thing?

            Have you read any peer reviewed papers on evolution? Have you listened to any lectures on the subject? Have you watched any documentaries?

            You are denying a theory that you clearly don’t understand, you should probably try to understand it before you declare it wrong.

          • @salvage “Can you please show us the “evolutionary science” that says any such thing?

            Have you read any peer reviewed papers on evolution? Have you listened to any lectures on the subject? Have you watched any documentaries?

            You are denying a theory that you clearly don’t understand, you should probably try to understand it before you declare it wrong.”

            Well now I was educated in the United States. You know, the country where it has been decided that it is crucial for every student to understand “evolution”, otherwise the student and the country are at risk for returning to the dark ages. so how is it that I cannot understand Darwinian evolution, as it is the foundation of modern science, and I was subjected to the oh so important material during my training? Actually I attended Montgomery Bell Academy, Vanderbilt, then UT Austin, with 2 degrees in engineering so how is it that I got through it all, and really don’t understand science. A better question is: Why is it so important to indoctrinate everyone into the wonders of “evolution” when clearly the majority in this country, like me, don;t buy it?

            BTW I googled “the first chrysalis” and found no papers explaining the evolution of the ability to spin a chrysalis. I googled “chrysalis evolution” and found nothing relevant except blogs where it is discussed and no one posted links or good answers, such as here: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=35294.0

            So I am left with the STANDARD Darwinian stochastic fallback: it’s all about the RANDOM mutation. In other words, the first chrysalis formations were accidental. Prove the error here. Prove the Darwinian answer as it is clear to you and all people of science.

          • >Darwinian evolution, as it is the foundation of modern science,

            No, it’s not.

            >2 degrees in engineering

            So, that would be you haven’t bothered to understand the theory you say isn’t true?

            >Why is it so important to indoctrinate everyone into the wonders of “evolution” when clearly the majority in this country, like me, don;t buy it?

            Yeah, so because a lot of people are ignorant that a reason to stay that way? Americans also used to buy Blacks as property, things change, people get smarter, won’t you join us? You do know that the rest of the world does “buy” evolution? Oh, I know, USA! USA! USA!

            >BTW I googled “the first chrysalis”

            So that would be you can’t find “evolutionary science” telling us that caterpillars at some point in history began the accidental attempts to spin chrysalis’?

            > In other words, the first chrysalis formations were accidental.

            No! It was your god! It saw that worms were cold so it taught them how to weave!

            >Prove the error here. Prove the Darwinian answer as it is clear to you and all people of science.

            The “error” is you refuse to learn about evolution but that doesn’t stop you from declaring it wrong. It’s weird that as an engineer with 2 degrees you can’t spot the flaw in your thinking. I hope you don’t build bridges.

            But you are quite right in that we haven’t figured out the mechanics of chrysalis evolution but we have proven evolution beyond any doubts between the fossil record and DNA.

            The details still contain many mysteries, well you go pray to your god, maybe it will tell you in the meantime science will work on finding the actual answer.

  • Notice this important principle:

    No logical argument is ever going to convince a theist that God exists — or doesn’t exist.

    Belief in God is, always has been and always will be, based entirely on BLIND (i.e. religious) FAITH.

    In other words, you have to believe in God to believe in God. Facts, evidence, and logic have nothing to do with it.

    To believe in nature, on the other hand, all you have to do is be aware of the world around you.

  • ——You draw a box around the natural world——

    I don’t draw any box around the natural world. That is what the theists do, then claim that there is a God outside the box.

    In fact, there is no such “unnatural box.”

    There simply is no evidence of any kind that there is any “box around nature” so as to leave some room for God to be out there somewhere else.

    If God isn’t part of nature, there’s nowhere for God to be.

    • THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

      Whenever you think about any problem, you are always considering only a limited set of facts — since human are not omniscient and don’t know all the facts about everything.

      A handy tool to use sometimes is a procedure called “thinking outside the box.” That means trying to look at some facts you had not considered to be relevant at all to your original problem. But it still means to consider FACTS.

      “Thinking outside the box” does NOT mean “thinking outside reality” — since there aren’t any facts to consider “out there.” The supernatural is the realm of fantasy, not fact.

  • ——They have no intellectual problems in believing in a universe with no beginning but can’t seem to attribute the same qualities to a supernatural, superintellect.——

    Since you can’t get something from nothing, something always had to exist.

    Now there certainly is the belief that it is only God that has always existed, while nature has only existed since God created it.

    That’s the supernaturalist view.

    The naturalist view, on the other hand, is that nature has always existed in some physical form or other (including at least some of the time various processes such as fusion, weather and life).

    It makes sense to take the naturalist view because physical things actually do exist. And that includes living beings.

    It makes no sense to take the supernaturalist view because that is pure fantasy.

    In other words, there is a world full of evidence for the naturalist view — and zero evidence of any kind for the supernaturalist view.

    Add to that the fact that the theists always boil their notions of God down to “other-than-real” — i.e., as the contradictory of nature — and we are left with the supernatural as impossible and nature as not only possible, but actual.

  • Think about poor “God,” who is so “totally other as to the “not-of-this-world.” He has no body, no eyes or hands, no senses, no emotions, no perceptions or thoughts, no anything. He’s like the prisoner of the ultimate sensory-deprivation experiment.

  • ——Since science, by its own admission, is limited to the physical universe, it couldn’t disprove the existence of God if it wanted to.——

    That is precisely the point. Science deals with the real world. Science can disprove something if there appears to be some evidence for it, but that evidence turns out to be otherwise.

    Science cannot disprove the existence of God because there is absolutely NO EVIDENCE for anything supernatural. Not even of any kind.

    God is a fictional character — not a reality-based possibility at all.

    Religious faith is the rejection of real world considerations and serious knowledge-seeking.

    • NO EVIDENCE?!

      We’re still waiting for cogent answers to the fine-tuning argument, the anthropic principle, Big Bang cosmology and near-zero probability of self-organizing bio-molecules becoming proteins within the known age of the universe.

      Naturalists/atheists/materialists are practically Christian in what they believe about the universe:
      1. eternal existence of the universe/multiverse (which implies no beginning)
      2. eternal duration
      3. creation of space/time/matter/energy from nothing
      4. ability to design

      They have no intellectual problems in believing in a universe with no beginning but can’t seem to attribute the same qualities to a supernatural, superintellect.

      In my humble opinion, the reason is the following which has been attributed to Chesterton:

      The man who declares “The modern intellect can no longer accept the primitive doctrines of the Resurrection of the Dead, Transubstantiation, and a Trinitarian Godhead typically means ‘I’m sleeping with my neighbor’s wife.’”

      • “We’re still waiting for cogent answers to the fine-tuning argument,”
        And what’s your explanation? “God did it”? Perhaps you can identify in what way such an explanation advances our knowledge of the universe?

        “Big Bang cosmology ”
        by which I presume you refer to a theory of the origin of our current universe which is based on evidence and has been exhaustively tested both at the macro- level through astronomy and the micro- level in particle accelerators.
        Which aspects of the theory do you find unsound?

        • I’m quite comfortable with the current Big Bang theory and what science has learned from it at the macro- and micro-levels. In fact everything we continue to learn about it points to a creator God. The problem is that in explaining what came before the Big Bang, materialists keep coming up with counter theories based more on wishful thinking than on reality. The universe from nothing? Really? Infinite universes? Really?

          Either the universe has existed eternally. From which we can conclude that by this time everything should have run its course and ceased to exist; or it began (from nothing) and God is the best explanation for ex nihilo existence.

          As for God being the best explanation of the fine-tuning argument, I’ll quote the god of scientists himself, Dr. Stephen Hawking, and show how important “numbers” are to him. After providing numerical tidbits about the quantity of planets, stars and gallaxies in the universe, Dr. Hawking says, “So to my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational.”

          If believing in the existence of aliens is perfectly rational to Hawking based on “the numbers alone” then believing in God based on the fine-tuning argument (which deals with numbers that make Carl Sagan’s “billions and billions” look like you can count them on one hand) is even more so.

        • Oh yeah and there’s more evidence for God than there is for aliens.

          • Actually, there is no evidence for either. But God isn’t even a possibility, whereas we can’t be so sure about other life forms in nature.

      • >We’re still waiting for cogent answers to the fine-tuning argument,

        You’ll be waiting a while because that’s not actually an argument for anything and considering we live in a universe that as far as we can tell is 99.999999999(just keep on saying 9 for awhile)% lethal to life if it were one it would not be a good one.

        >the anthropic principle,

        Douglas Adams already answered this one.

        >Big Bang cosmology

        Uh… the “Big Bang” is an argument for your god being real?

        >and near-zero probability of self-organizing bio-molecules becoming proteins within the known age of the universe.

        You know what’s cool about near-zero? It isn’t actually zero and 13,7 billion years isn’t long enough for you?

        >Naturalists/atheists/materialists are practically Christian in what they believe about the universe:

        Ha! Ha! Yes! It is us who are the religious! Why Christian? Are you Jewish? Why not say we’re practically Jewish? Oh, I know, Judaism is the real religion, Christianity is the fake one.

        >1. eternal existence of the universe/multiverse (which implies no beginning)

        Does it?

        >2. eternal duration

        And that’s been proven has it? Can you show us the paper?

        >3. creation of space/time/matter/energy from nothing

        Who says that?

        >4. ability to design

        Where are you getting this stuff?

        >They have no intellectual problems in believing in a universe with no beginning but can’t seem to attribute the same qualities to a supernatural, superintellect.

        Yeah, we’re pretty goofy not believing in the supernatural.

        > ‘I’m sleeping with my neighbor’s wife.’”

        You got me! I don’t think there’s a foreskin demanding god because I want to be bad without consequences! THERE IS NO OTHER POSSIBLE REASON!

        • I guess all I can expect is snark. That’s OK. I’ll be praying for you, Salvage.

          • Yeah, my snark, that’s why you can’t answer any of the questions or points.

            I’m sorry but you believe very silly things and I think people have been far too tolerant to the silly people. It’s time not only to mock theism but mock it with the truth, the best sort of mockery.

            And if you think it’s bad now? You haven’t seen anything yet, next generation is going to make me look like Ray Comfort.

            Did you see this week’s “South Park”? Oh man does it rip Passover a new afikomen.

            And what’s the point of praying? Are you commanding your god to do something? Making a request? If it’s the right thing to do wouldn’t it already be doing it?

            It’s truly bizarre how much mortal interaction your god seems to need, bit needy for an omnipotent universe maker.

            At any rate can you ask your god why he makes atheists and why he seems to make more in places that have higher levels of wealth and education?

            All part of the plan no doubt.

        • I count 11 non-answers

          • Yes, you keep telling yourself that.

            Your gods aren’t real, just like all the others, Intelligent Design is snake oil wrapped in nostrum and if my snark is too much for your delicate sensibilities than please answer Richard Forrest’s questions. He makes the same points I do, better expresses and without any mocking.

            I used to be like him but I discovered that it doesn’t matter how you present arguments to your kind, you will always find some excuse not to answer so I might as well have fun with it.

            You want your gods to be real and you’re not going to let reality stand in the way of that delusion.

        • The count remains 11

          • Can you read?

            >and near-zero probability of self-organizing bio-molecules becoming proteins within the known age of the universe.

            You know what’s cool about near-zero? It isn’t actually zero and 13,7 billion years isn’t long enough for you?

            See that’s an answer, you say “near” zero which is not zero and you seem to think that 13.7 billion years isn’t long enough.

            And no snark!

            You don’t want to answer because you can’t without disturbing your delusions so you won’t.

            It’s okay, I understand, gods make life easier, reality takes a certain strength of character to accept.

      • RexTugwell (April 5, 2012 12:39 pm) NO EVIDENCE?!——

        Zilch.

        How in the world could there possibly be any evidence for the “NOT-OF-THIS-WORLD”?!

        • Steve stop being so snarky! He would answer the question with a perfectly reasonable answer if only you would be nice about it.

    • Rex,

      Thanks so much. I apologize that I can’t respond more due to the holiday preparations.

    • To All:

      There are many people who posted very interesting points on both sides of the argument. I apologize to my limited participation due to the very time-consuming preparations for Passover.

      Moshe

  • Rabbi Averick,
    I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your work on this topic. This is all the more so since I am fully aware (and can see from your site) that any public advocate for the existence of God–in particular those that advocate rational arguments for God’s existence–will have to deal with atheistic idealogues using fallacious arguments, ad hominems, and outright falsity to dispute you at virtually every turn.

    Most of the comments you have to deal with are really more properly called “spam” than anything else. The logic of the Argument from Design is simple and straightforward. But because the logic is airtight most people don’t choose to contend with that (excepting a few Hume enthusiasts), and so have to focus on tangential or irrelevant issues, i.e.:

    (1) Darwinian evolution (historically interesting as a springboard for widespread atheism, but irrelevant when we investigate the origin of life, including the origin of biologic information)

    (2) Quibbling about definitions (“I disagree with Meyer’s definition of functional specified information”–only a mentally challenged person can fail to see how the DNA code can be properly called a code, with all the information bearing significance entailed therein).

    (3) Circular reasoning: (e.g. “Your arguments for God’s existence make no sense because there is no God).

    (4) Appeals to ridicule: (e.g. “You believe in God? LOL!”) I include in this the use of hot button or in-vogue descriptions that atheists use in their rhetoric. You know, “flying spaghetti monster” nonsense.

    (5) Conflating science with truth (regardless of whether or not the argument from design can be strictly classified as “science,” shouldn’t a thinking individual be more concerned about whether or not it’s logical and true? When all else fails, you’ll hear atheistic scientists simply stating “it’s not science.” Who the hell cares?)

    I could go on–there are many more specious arguments used by atheists–and I do think they are worth cataloging, but you of course get the point. The value in what you do is that you make transparent the falsity of atheistic claims. They should be exposed for what they often are: deeply flawed people, who lack intellectual integrity in a crucial area of human endeavor.

    Ridiculous comments from internet trolls are one thing, but it is particularly distressing to see prominent scientists and academicians spout outright falsehoods with dogmatic authority. Many of us, myself included, want to believe that academicians and public intellectuals are scrupulously honest, and have intellectual integrity. But sadly this is by no means always the case. Even more tragic is that people will state outright falsities about the single most important issue a human being will have to decide on: the existence of God.

    Thank you again for your work!

    • Adorable.

      “Your arguments for God’s existence make no sense because there is no God”

      No, it’s

      “Your arguments for your god’s existence make no sense because there are no such things as gods”

      Disagree? Shall I list all the thousands of gods mankind has worshipped over the centuries? How many of them would you say are real? None I’d wager until we got to yours, then suddenly the facts that dismiss Zeus as being true are no longer operable.

      Gods are silly things spawned from myth and superstition, yours is no exception.

      • Salvage, apparently you are not intelligent enough to understand that the Argument from Design applies to no particular religious system.

        One can even use the argument to postulate an extraterrestrial creator of the genetic code found in all organisms. However such a hypothesis carries with it the problem of an infinite regress of finite creators.

        Since your problem is an apparent lack of intelligence, you have my sympathies. That, however, does not make up for the fact that you add nothing to the discussion.

        • > understand that the Argument from Design applies to no particular religious system.

          Oh even cuter! Here’s how it works:

          Phase 1: The universe MUST have been created by a super intelligent all powerful being of some sort because… it’s complex and stuff works. THERE IS NO OTHER POSSIBLE EXPLANATION!!

          Phase 2: I happen to know of this book where just such a creature is described! And it claims to have made the universe! THIS MUST MEAN…

          Phase 3: MY GOD IS REAL!!!!!

          It does my black atheist heart real gladness that theism is reduced to disguising their god or transforming it into this nebulous New Age sort of Force that defies all measurement and yet is still real to try and slip it back into reality. The desperation in the face of science is rank.

          >Since your problem is an apparent lack of intelligence,

          Ha! Ha! Yes! I am dumb because I don’t believe in Bronze Age myths! It’s a miracle I can tie my shoes!

      • I still don’t see where materialists adequately propose a mechanism by which the idea of a “god” originates WITHOUT revelation of the concept. In a materialist universe, why should anyone conceive that there could be a SUPERNATURAL cause to anything, without there being a onetime a revelation of the supernatural? While they might “fear” phenomena on land, sea, or air, there is no reason to postulate some “being” was behind it. Unless there is a being behind things and has made itself known. Then a devolution pantheism or panenthism is possible. And why should “gods” require life sacrifices, almost universally?

        The example I like to use is this – when there is thunder, my dog or cat may be afraid and hide, but they don’t build an alter and sacrifice small animal to the thunder. If primitive man truly was, wouldn’t he have acted more ike my dog or cat or a chimp or ape? Why ONLY man?

        • Because when humans can’t think of an answer to something we lie or at the very least make stuff up to pass the time.

          The Clovis arrowhead was discovered by two primitive tribes, one in North America one in France, great minds think alike.

          Ideas that work are kept and religion certainly works very well at unifying societies and maintaining control.

          The real question is why are no two religions the same? Why can gods only travel in the minds of their believers?

          One of the first spikes in atheism was when the Natives of the New World were found to have never heard of you the European god. They couldn’t understand how that was possible, their god was everywhere!

          Myths are common to humanity, gods come from myths.

    • Mike,

      thanks so much for your support. If you have friends who might appreciate the articles send me their emails. I think the one point that you mentioned that illustrates the modern “worship” of science and it’s transformation into a “god” (with a small “g”) is the oft repeated claim that ID is not SCIENCE or that the claim of a creator is not SCIENCE. Somehow the charge that it is not SCIENCE is supposed to stop a charging rhinocerous in its tracks. As Dr. Meyer points out in the book, this claim takes the serious activity of pursuing the truth and relegates it to a trivial argument about the definiton of science. As you said, who really cares if its science or not, the question is only if it’s true. Anyways, to paraphrase Winston Churchill (he was talking about economists), “If you laid all the philosophers of science in the world with their different definitions of science end to end, they still wouldn’t reach a conclusion.”

    • ——The logic of the Argument from Design is simple and straightforward [and] airtight——

      How exactly?

      Where’s the logic of it?

  • Since science, by its own admission, is limited to the physical universe, it couldn’t disprove the existence of God if it wanted to. Meyer puts forward a scholarly work and his thesis is distorted, his credentials are questioned and there’s a lot of talk about science here but his arguments are not directly addressed.

    The too-smart-by-half atheists do nothing but move the goal posts when it comes to scientific evidence pointing to a creator God. Atheists, when painted into a corner, are guilty of the intellectual silliness with which they try to paint theists.

    When scientists were brought kicking and screaming into accepting the Big Bang theory, they offered us the bouncing universe instead. When that didn’t work out and it was proved that space and time had a beginning, we were offered psuedo-science by Hawking of the universe creating itself from nothing. Then there’s the totally unverifiable hypothesis of a multiverse.

    And on the origins of life, even Dawkins and Crick are reduced to explaining life as coming from aliens!

    Happy Passover, Rabbi Averick!!

    • ——… move the goal posts when it comes to scientific evidence pointing to a creator God.——

      Not only are there no “goal posts,” when it comes to “scientific evidence pointing to a creator God,” there is not even a playing field. There is no such evidence.

      I would be happy, though, to hear what you believe to be that sort of evidence. Put your cards on the table (no bluffing).

    • >are guilty of the intellectual silliness with which they try to paint theists.

      You believe in a god that demands you slice the foreskin off new born babies because.

      We don’t paint you anything, it’s your beliefs that do the job, we just point it out.

  • Steve:
    “Simpler or not, the entire process was certainly 100% natural. There is no possible alternative. The “supernatural”? That’s nothing.”

    Previously you criticized someone for not thinking outside the box. You reveal an obvious bias for naturalism rather than exploring all possibilities as a good scientist would do.

    That is the weakness of mainstream scientific inquiry. You draw a box around the natural world and attempt to explain the natural world through physical processes. This is not, in itself, a bad thing. But when you attempt to apply only naturalistic inquiry to the origin of life and the natural world, you apply faulty reasoning. The origin of the natural world must, by definition, involve the supernatural since the natural did not exist. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous at best.

    • ” obvious bias for naturalism rather than exploring all possibilities as a good scientist would do”

      So, enlighten us: how can one undertake a scientific investigation other than under the assumption of naturalism?

      How can one test a “theory” which includes the possibility of supernatural intervention? If we adopt the “explanation” that a possibly supernatural “intelligent designer” has interfered with biological evolution (or any other aspect of the workings of the universe for that matter), possibly using supernatural means, what potential observation or measurement could falsify this? What constraints does it set on possible outcomes? How can we test it?

      • Richard:
        Good question – it depends on how you define “science.”

        If you define your field of study as naturalism, then, by definition, you cannot test a theory of origin of the natural world. I believe that is the crux of the conflict between ID and Naturalism proponents.

        People who only believe in the natural world (like Steve) put on blinders to the supernatural. It cannot exist in their narrow way of thinking. Yet the naturalists continue to comment on and attempt to explain the supernatural (i.e. – origin of nature) from naturalistic processes. It is disingenuous at best, absurd at its core.

        On the other hand, the metaphysical view of ID cannot be tested by the scientific process either since it is an historic event not a repeatable process. Therefore other types of theories must be undertaken. The outcome of the sudden appearance of intelligent design has the obvious implication of an intelligent designer with the power to create. The effect must have a cause – but the cause must be outside of nature since we have exhausted the possibilities of naturalism to explain what we clearly see in nature.

        • “Good question – it depends on how you define “science.””
          Well, science as defined by scientists is based on methodological naturalism.

          Perhaps you can explain how one can undertake a scientific study other than under the assumption of naturalism?

          “If you define your field of study as naturalism, then, by definition, you cannot test a theory of origin of the natural world. ”

          Why on earth not? Is the natural world something we can’t observe and measure?

          “I believe that is the crux of the conflict between ID and Naturalism proponents.”

          I don’t. ID proponents are claiming on the one hand that they have a scientific alternative to “Darwinism”, yet on the other hand demanding that we redefine science to accommodate the supernatural so that their “theory” can be considered scientific. The crux of the matter is that ID is little more than “scientific” creationism repacked in a transparently dishonest attempt to sneak creationism into science classes. That what the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial showed very clearly.

          “On the other hand, the metaphysical view of ID cannot be tested by the scientific process either since it is an historic event not a repeatable process”
          What rot! It cannot be tested because it sets no constraints on possible outcomes. There is no potential observation or measurement which could *not* be explained by ID “theory”. Pink unicorns could appear in the sky above Times Square dancing a quadrille, and it could be explained by supernatural intervention. A dog giving birth to a cat could be “explained” by ID. We test “historic” events all the time using the tools of science. In fact, all science can do is to test historic events – unless you can think of a way of testing something which hasn’t happened yet. It does so under the assumption of naturalism not because all scientists are atheists – clearly this is not the case – but because that is the assumption which makes science possible.

          “since we have exhausted the possibilities of naturalism to explain what we clearly see in nature”

          Again, what rot! We have perfectly good naturalistic explanation for the biological systems which are held up by ID proponents as evidence for “design”. One of the principal arguments used by IDers, “irreducible complexity” was predicted on the basis of evolutionary theory 80 years ago, a fact quietly ignored by ID “theorists”. Even if we had no naturalistic explanation, that would not be a reason to reject science in favour of untestable and fruitless “explanations”.

          It’s absurd to suggest that we should reject science if we don’t have a scientific answer. Science is a tool for finding out how the universe works, and a very successful one. We use it because of what we don’t yet know!

        • And why not answer this question:

          How can one undertake a scientific investigation other than under the assumption of naturalism?

          For some reason ID proponents never seem able to answer this. Why do you suppose that is?

          • “What rot!” indeed. Please let us engage in civil discourse. If you are so secure in your knowledge, there is no need to disparage others to make your point.

            “How can one undertake a scientific investigation other than under the assumption of naturalism?”

            Your “assumption of naturalism” by definition presumes the impossibility of ID. Your thinking seems to be:

            1) Intelligent Design requires something outside of nature to create nature.
            2) Nature is all that exists.
            3) Therefore, ID is an impossibility.

            So the question itself is illogical and cannot be answered.

            The scientific process of posing a theory, creating and running tests, making observations, and ultimately reaching a conclusion cannot be performed on an historical event that has already happened. You know this to be true. All that can be tested in the present is the result or outcome of an historical event.

            Hence the conflict between proponents of ID and Naturalism is rooted in the inability to fully study the origin of the natural world. Proponents of Naturalism will not contemplate, engage, or even allow discussion of the cause of the time/space continuum being anything beyond a physical being or process that is already part of nature. ID proponents point out that logic dictates the viability of a Creator but are not allowed to discuss this line of exploration by the Naturalists.

            Imagine a child saying to another: “You can’t play a game unless you play it entirely in my sandbox. In fact, no game exists outside my sandbox.” How will the two children learn to play together?

          • ——The scientific process of posing a theory, creating and running tests, making observations, and ultimately reaching a conclusion cannot be performed on an historical event that has already happened.——

            Well, at least it cannot be applied to events that never happened, such as “Creation, by God!”

            Fiction is a different category from physics and biology.

          • ——1) Intelligent Design requires something outside of nature to create nature.
            2) Nature is all that exists.
            3) Therefore, ID is an impossibility.
            ——

            That is correct.

        • ——If you define your field of study as naturalism, then, by definition, you cannot test a theory of origin of the natural world.——

          True enough. But it is not reasonable to figure there has to be some unnatural “origin of the natural world.” Looking for such an “origin” is a religious indulgence, not a logical thought process.

          Also, if you define your field of study as supernaturalism, then, by definition, you cannot test a theory of origin of God.

          If you are looking for such “origins,” faith is your only retreat. But why be so unreasonable as to look for them?

      • Moshe Averick

        Richard Forrest,

        I will write more, but in a sense it’s rather simple. The point to any type of investigation is to find the truth. Instead of making a committment to a “scientific” investigation make a committment to finding the truth whether it turns out to be “scientific” or not. Science is a servant of truth, not the opposite.

        • “The point to any type of investigation is to find the truth.”

          Not in science it ain’t.

          The point of a scientific investigation is to provide a provisional explanation for phenomena we can observe and measure. All scientific investigations are subject to revision or rejection if that is what the evidence demands.

          There is some irony in the fact that by rejection the notion of “truth”, science has advanced our knowledge of the universe vastly more in the past century than in the previous hundred millennia of human existence. You don’t get to “truth” by demanding that we change the fundamental assumption which makes science possible to accommodate untestable assertions.

          You still haven’t answered my question: How can one undertake a scientific investigation other than under the assumption of naturalism?

          • Richard,
            If science is not about discovering truth it is a very dangerous pursuit and anything scientists conclude (that isn’t strictly about the natural world) should be totally ignored. You have essentially admitted that any area of science (like Origin of Life, Evolution, etc.) that intersects with the issue of the divine or supernatural is highly suspect because these scientists are not interested in discovering the truth. I actually agree with you 100%. In my book, I bring many examples to show that Origin of Life scientists have abandoned the search for truth all together and are dogmatically committed to finding a naturalistic origin of life whether it exists or not.

          • Moshe,

            You are imagining truth as “that which fits your fantasies,” rather than accepting that truth can only be that which corresponds to reality.

            Truth applies to what we think about the world, and reality is what actually exists.

        • ——The point to any type of investigation is to find the truth.——

          Correct.

          Nature is the only source we have for finding and establishing the truth of any and every proposition.

          Going for the supernatural is a leap away from truth — a leap of faith.

          • Your assertion that “nature is the only source we have for finding and establishing the truth of any and every proposition”is itself not true and evidences a bias against other sources of information.

            A gun is found lying near a dead man. The gun has one clear fingerprint on it, that is not that of the dead man. The man was shot with a bullet matching the characteristics of the gun. The time of death is ascertained by accepted means. The person whose fingerprint matches that on the gun is found. He asserts he did not shoot the man. Who shot the dead man?

            I can assert that the fingerprinted man shot the gun, but I cannot prove it absent additional corroborating evidence, which may or may not be “physical”. “Nature” cannot provide the truth, only evidence. We face the same problem with origins – we have facts and observations, but insufficient evidence to determine “truth”. How facts and evidence are assembled and judged are influenced by our biases and limited by them. alternatives are not conclusive but may be eliminated if inconsistent. I can create all sorts of scenarios to get the plaintiff to the victim, but they are only speculations in the absence of hard evidence that the sequence occurred as postulated. When it comes to the biochemistry of evolution, we are unable to test any hypothesis of chemical evolution when we do not -and cannot know – the starting state of the world. We have departed science – as you yourself have defined it. Science can go no further than macro-evolution – what we have actually observed active in nature- according to your own definition.

          • >>>>>>… evidences a bias against other sources of information.<<<<<<

            If there were some other sources of information, that would be jolly. Your problem in that regard is that there aren't any other sources of information beyond things and processes that exist, have existed, or will exist.

            You cannot produce any unnatural, non-physically-based, sources of information.

            I mean, you can try to if you feel like it, but you will fail. There is no way to get around reality to someplace else.

    • ——You draw a box around the natural world——

      I don’t draw any box around the natural world. That is what the theists do, then claim that there is a God outside the box.

      The problem is that there is no evidence of any kind that there is any “box around nature” so as to leave some room for God to be out there somewhere else.

    • ——The origin of the natural world must, by definition, involve the supernatural since the natural did not exist.——

      In your dreams, but not in reality.

      Obviously, something has always existed — and since nature is what exists . . . . well, that’s what it is.

    • ——You reveal an obvious bias for naturalism rather than exploring all possibilities …——

      If you can point out some real unnatural possibilities, they could be explored. But you don’t have any — since “unnatural possibilities” is a contradiction in terms.

  • Moshe writes, “for the life of me, I don’t understand how you can claim that [all FCSI is the product of physical intelligence]“.

    Well Moshe, a child’s Hotwheels car and this sentence are both the result of physical intelligence. I would assert that you cannot give me any example of FCSI that is not the result of physical intelligent intervention.

    So, the argument still stands:

    1. All FCSI is the result of a physical, intelligent designer.
    2. The first bacterium contains FCSI.
    3. The first bacterium is the result of a physical, intelligent designer.

    So a nonphysical intelligence as you’ve described couldn’t have designed the first bacterium.

  • Averick claims that Saunders critique is unsound because he is “an ideology whose central dogma is that every phenomenon we observe in the universe must have a purely naturalistic explanation which can be attributed to the impersonal and immutable laws of chemistry and physics”.

    Well, no, it’s not an ideology: it’s called methodological naturalism, and is the assumption which makes science possible. Science advances because hypotheses set constraints on possible outcomes. This is what allows them to be tested, and it is by testing hypotheses that theories develop. If Averick (or any other ID supporter) can describe how one can engage in scientific investigation other than under the assumption of naturalism, feel free to propose a methodology. Looking at the description of a biological system and saying “Wow! Isn’t it complex! It must be designed!” is not science.

    ID demands that if some features of biology cannot be explained by evolutionary theory, we should adopt the explanation that an undefined and possibly supernatural “intelligent designer”, using undefined but possibly supernatural processes is responsible. This is scientifically illiterate, firstly because falsifying one theory does not automatically mean that any other theory is verified, and secondly because there is no potential observation or measurement which could not be “explained” by ID. A “theory” which sets no constraints on possible outcomes and cannot therefore be tested is not science.

    Some ID fellows have a perfectly reasonable track record of scientific research and publication. They must know that their “theory” has no validity as science, yet continue to allow it to be promoted as a scientific alternative to “Darwinism” – a term which they use in such a flexible way that it can refer not just to biological evolution, but to methodological naturalism as well. I suggest that this is dishonest.

    As for the utterly spurious arguments on “information”: we understand the ways in which mutation can add to and change the genome, and that this provides the variation on which selection can act to drive the process of evolution. We have observed it in action in the natural world and replicated it in the laboratory. There is no reasonable doubt that this is the underlying mechanism of evolution, and that it can produce novel functions. Calling it “information” and claiming that according to some “law” of information theory it cannot produce “new information” is nothing more than empty obfuscation, especially when the originators of those “laws” have explained that ID proponents are using them in an inappropriate and incompetent way. It’s an attempt to define a process which exists in the natural world in such a way that it’s existence can be denied, and using sciency-sounding words to give the impression that it is a scientific argument. It isn’t. It’s deliberate deception.

  • Kevin Bjornson

    When evaluating the potential usefulness of an article purporting to be about science, the professional credentials of the designer of the article is a valid area to explore. Both the author of the book and the author of this article, lack the professional knowledge and experience to participate in discussion of the topic.

    My understanding of the Rabbi’s critique, is that different processes allegedly occur when life arises from non-life, compared to processes of evolution which occur after an organism has arisen from non-life.

    However this pre-supposes that reality can be neatly divided into two realms, the living and the non-living. However all things exist on a continuum, there is no pure life or non-life.
    Everything has potential to be part of a living organism, and every organism has the potential to die.

    Even in a living organism, there is death; skin cells die, hair falls off, waste products are eliminated. Conversely, death is not absolute, and does not consist in passing from life to non-life. Because from death of an organism, comes life for many organisms. The life-force simply changes form as it passes through time/space.

    Even if I agreed to the theory that a supernatural force could direct the creation of the first living organisms, still I could not talk about it.
    Because any discussion would necessarily be natural communication. The means of human communication are determined by human nature.
    Man possesses no supernatural means of communication and no supernatural nature.

    We must concede that natural processes drive everything that occurs, simply because we lack the means to define “supernatural” except as “other than natural”. There is no positive definition possible of the term “supernatural”, because if it were so defined it would be natural. Hence I have no idea what is meant by a supernatural designer and the rabbi has no means of communicating what he means here.

    For instance, suppose that someone told you, there is a magical food that defies that laws of nature,
    and can work miracles on those who consume it, including eternal life. Naturally, I would ask, where is such food, and what is it? Suppose that the reply is, “Nobody can point to the food, it’s not really food we just call it that by analogy, and what it is, is not-beans.”

    So by this definition, I don’t where the food is, if it really is food, and whether food or not, exactly what type of food or non-food it is.
    I just know, it’s not beans; yet that is not a positive definition.

    • You make the very good point that “There is no positive definition possible of the term “supernatural”, because if it were so defined it would be natural.” If there is a SUPRANATURAL designer (say, God) who is capable of creating and assembling the universe as we experience it, then he is “supernatural” in regards to limitations of the natural laws under which our universe functions, but is entirely “natural” in his ability to manipulate his creation – just as any of us are able to manipulate those things that WE create. Relative to our creation, we may appear “supernatural” because we can force interactions that may not occur spontaneously without our involvement. But we are not “supernatural” in that we and our creation exist together. God’s actions APPEAR to US as supernatural, because he can accomplish things outside our (current) ability. If he exists at all though, then his existence and ability to influence his creation is entirely natural. Our natural environment tells us nothing about the system under which the creator operates, other than he is able to operate over a wider range of alternatives than is available to us in this creation.

    • Kevin,

      Regarding the expertise of Dr. Meyer you are simply wrong. Not only does he have the expertise and credentials to rigorously explore what constitutes a valid scientific theory, he has an excellent grasp of the science involved in origin of life research. Please Kevin, that is a complete red herring.

  • Salvage wrote, “and who designed the intelligent designer?”

    Well,all physical intelligence contains FCSI. Therefore, the physical intelligence that produced the first bacterium contained FCSI.

    So…

    1. The physical intelligence that produced the first bacterium contained FCSI.

    2. All FCSI is the product of physical intelligence.

    3. Therefore, the physical intelligence that produced the first bacterium was the product of physical intelligence.

    • And what made that physical intelligence?

      Times infinity.

      When your answer is infinity it means you don’t have an answer.

      There are no such things are gods, you can call them whatever you like, they’re still not there.

      • @salvage, Meyer talks about exactly this argument in chapter 17 of Signature in the Cell. There are several reasons why the argument fails. One is that materialism is subject to the same problem of infinite regress. What caused the first cell? What caused the first collection of RNA ribozymes capable of replicating? What caused the Big Bang? And what caused that? Times infinity.

        By saying there are no such things as gods, you have not solved the infinite regress; you have made it worse. At least the concept of a God (an eternal, self-existing entity) offers a logical solution to the regress. But since Einstean, LeMaitre, and Hubble, few scientists believe in an eternal, self-existing universe. That leaves materialists without an answer.

        • Lars, you write that God offers a logical solution to the regress. What are your criteria for what constitutes a “logical solution”?

        • >One is that materialism is subject to the same problem of infinite regress.

          No it is not and you demonstrate this by saying:

          What caused the first cell? What caused the first collection of RNA ribozymes capable of replicating? What caused the Big Bang? And what caused that? Times infinity.

          See? Those are different things, one state changing to another until you get to the “big bang” then anyone honest (like science) says “We don’t know” so the answer is not infinity at all, it’s X. We have no data to work with so no answer is possible.

          The “Intelligent design” malarkey on the other hand is a snake eating itself. Not a very clever beast and most certainly a pointless if not self-defeating meal.

          In fact it’s just more theism trying to look smart and modern, selectively picking out bits of science that suits and either ignoring or shouting down the bits that don’t.

          At the end of it all you want the answer to be your god, one that shares your political and cultural beliefs to blunt the edge of the terror of living on the crust of a spec of matter whipping through the cosmos.

          That’s what you want the answer to be so that’s what the answer must be and you will contort like a yoga pretzel to make it so.

          10,000 years ago you would be insisting that the sun was a god, what else could it be??!? You’d demand, it moves, gives life, clearly a god!

          Of course now we know that the sun is a common star, a chain reaction of matter and gravity with no design and certainly not some praise demanding deity.

          And when science cracks the big bang or the how the first cell came together or any other mystery, well you’ll just pick up the goal posts, drag them to the next unknown and declare that! That is proof of your god.

          Times infinity.

      • Salvage: Every effect has a cause. But not every cause is an effect with a prior cause.

        • And you know this how?

          And that means there are such things as gods?

          • Well, I learned that in logic class – didn’t you? Every effect has a cause. But there is the possibility of a uncaused or “first” cause.

            From our finite, human perspective, this means that the “first cause” would be rightly referred to as God.

            Now – some have argued the infinite regression. What if the cause of the creation of the universe is not itself a “first cause”? Who created God?

            Frankly that is an interesting but, simultaneously, irrelevant question. Since all of us would have been created by God, then we would all be accountable to God first – not some prior regression. And we would have no way of understanding, exploring, much less verifying a prior cause to our God.

            So the question to explore then is has God revealed Himself (using the proper English reference) to humanity and what has He revealed?

          • >But there is the possibility of a uncaused or “first” cause.

            Once again, you know this how?

            >From our finite, human perspective, this means that the “first cause” would be rightly referred to as God

            Once again, you know this how?

            >Frankly that is an interesting but, simultaneously, irrelevant question

            How convenient to your cause that you find that question so.

            >So the question to explore then is has God revealed Himself (using the proper English reference) to humanity and what has He revealed?

            I can answer that; there are no such things as gods, the one you think is real is from a mix of Neolithic, Bronze Age mythology.

            So no it hasn’t “revealed” itself to anyone because it’s no more real than Zeus or The Rainbow Serpent.

            Why do you call your god “He”? Does it have a penis? Upper-body strength? The human male combinations of chromosomes? An inability to ask for directions when lost?

  • That’s a point I never hear the materialists address: the combinatorial problem of protein chains and the almost infinitely high probability of even the simplest, functional protein chains forming by mere chance. This is what Dr. Meyer is implying by stating that the bases are not governed by any physical or chemical laws. A 250 amino acid protein sequence requires a combinatorial factor of 20e+250 (that’s 1.8e+325) There are not enough probabalistic resources in the universe to achieve this combination by chance.

    • How do you know?

    • Even if “life by chance” is improbable, “Creation, by God!” is still impossible.

      The odds are 100% in favor of nature. The “supernatural” has nothing on nature.

      • “Even if “life by chance” is improbable, Creation, by God is still Impossible.” Are you serious, or are you just being Intellectually lazy on purpose? Life by chance is mathematically impossible, so what happened? Did Richard Dawkins just will it to be? Oh yea, that would mean a semi-intelligent creator. My bad.

        • How do you know that life by chance is mathematically imossible?

        • >Life by chance is mathematically impossible,

          Can you explain how you came to this startling conclusion?

        • ——Life by chance is mathematically impossible, so what happened?——

          “Creation, by God!” is physically impossible. So whatever happened, God had nothing to do with it.

          Since nature can neither be created nor destroyed, it looks like you need to improve your math skills.

          Or consider that “God vs. Chance” is a false dichotomy.

      • Steve: Wouldn’t you have to know everything to know with 100% certainty? To state such absolutes without any rationale does not advance your point of view.

        • Because nothing unreal exists.

          Gods are clearly unreal.

        • ——Wouldn’t you have to know everything to know with 100% certainty?——

          No, you only have to know something.

          You cannot argue that since humans are not omniscient, they therefore have no way of dealing with reality or knowing anything at all.

          Even if you were claiming omniscience for yourself, you couldn’t argue that way because such a claim is obviously false.

    • Rex,

      YOu are correct and most protein chains are much longer than 250 amino acids.

    • “That’s a point I never hear the materialists address: the combinatorial problem of protein chains and the almost infinitely high probability of even the simplest, functional protein chains forming by mere chance.”

      So perhaps you can tell us which scientist has ever proposed that “functional protein chains” (whatever that means) formed by “mere chance”?

      Do you think that if an acid reacts with an alkali to form a salt it is by “pure chance”?

      I suggest that you look up the meaning of the term “Straw Man Argument”.

  • Very well constructed piece. However, I wish that ID supporters would understand the search strategy of SETI better, in order to use the program as an example of an information search. The writer says: “what would have been the point to spending millions of dollars on the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Project? These scientists were looking for patterns of radio-signals from distant galaxies that would indicate some form of intelligent causation. If Morse Code messages were detected originating from a galaxy a million light years away,…this (would be) proof of intelligent life somewhere else in the universe.”

    SETI at its most basic level is a search for extremely narrowband RF (radio frequency) energy. In itself this does not define a pattern search. Natural RF energy emissions from various stellar objects are invariably wideband stochastic processes. I would think that the SETI principals have had much planning and contingencies on what patterns to look for given any discovery of a narrowband energy source. However, in the last 20 years, modern coding techniques have made extensive use of random processes to achieve the near-perfect maximum packing of information into a communication channel of given band. These coding techniques (e.g. turbo codes, trellis codes) appear so close to random processes, that without knowledge of the coding technique, a search for a pattern in them would be impossible. So an advanced civilization incorporating a maximum information transmission approaching the Shannon limit, would be emitting a narrowband signal immune to any pattern detection strategy. In short, SETI is not a pattern search, but a search for likely RF communication channels.

    • Interesting… good to know.

    • Groovimus,

      I must admit I don’t quite understand what you wrote, but I appreciate the information. However, am I incorrect in saying that it is beside the point? If there is no way of detecting intelligently caused patterns then it seems the entire project was a colossal waste of time. Also if they did detect coherent messages in Morse code from a distant galaxy, would anyone doubt the conclusions?

      • You are “incorrect in saying that it is beside the point”.

        What Groovimus said was that SETI works by detecting for narrow band emissions, and that the *contents* of modern communications are typically so highly compressed as to be indistinguishable from random. I.e. SETI can only realistically search for the form, not the content.

        Morse Code is a very archaic, unsophisticated, uncompressed form of communication, of the type highly unlikely to be employed by a civilisation capable of building transmitters capable of being detected at such a distance.

        • By way of an example:

          1) Take a passage of text, encode it into Morse Code. The resulting file will be considerably larger than text file of the same passage, but (a hex[adecimal] dump of) it will be easily recognisable, even probably by the naked eye, as non-random.

          2) Take a (standard ASCI-encoded) text file of the passage and likewise look at a hex dump of it. The naked eye is unlikely to distinguish it as non-random, but there’s a good chance that any sophisticated statistical test of randomness will identify it as non-random.

          3) Take a compressed zip-file of either the Morse or the ASCI encode and hex-dump it. Even a sophisticated statistical test of randomness is highly unlikely to identify it as non-random.

          This should make it obvious (i) why no highly-technological civilisation would use Morse or something similar & (ii) why there is little point in testing for non-randomness of contents.

  • Only NATURE has the answers. The supernatural is nothing compared to nature.

  • ——In short, all Origin of Life researchers understand that the simplest living cell is packed with enormous amounts of specified information …——

    ——Dawkins, in River Out of Eden: “Genes themselves…are living strings of pure digital information…the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like…DNA messages are pure digital code.”——

    It looks like what we’re dealing with here is an equivocation between specific information and specified information.

    Consider a helium atom, for instance. It has two protons, two neutrons, and two electrons. Certainly that can be considered as the “specific information” needed to identify a helium atom. But it is nonsense to consider that information to be therefore “specified” by some intelligence which “designed” the atom.

    Likewise, the components of DNA are specific — and more complex — but cannot any more reasonably be construed as “specified” or “designed”.

  • Rabbi Averick explains this as his belief: ——Saunders … is, in effect, admitting that Science has no explanation for the origin of life and the huge amounts of information necessary for life to exist, but asks us to have faith that Science will yet discover a purely naturalistic answer to the question. Here Saunders makes it clear that he has shut off his mind from even considering the possibility of Intelligent Design, which is, of course, a theory that is proposed to explain the origin of life.——

    It is correct that only a “purely naturalistic answer” will actually work.

    “Creation, by God!” (aka “Intelligent Design”) is neither a possibility nor a theory; it is nothing more than an assertion of blind faith in the non-existent (the unnatural, the not-of-this-world, etc.).

    • This is silly. It couldn’t happen by chance, so you will just ignore that fact and push on believing that something that has no chance mathematically is better than looking for something that doesn’t fit your convenient box of Dawkins double-speak. I choose to consider all options, no matter where it points. Talk about blind faith…

  • ——Similarly, the arrangement of letters on a printed page has nothing at all to do with the chemical composition of the ink or paper.——

    That is not a bad point.

    ——The chemical features of the phosphate do not explain the ultimate origin of information in DNA or the origin of life itself.——

    That is also not a bad point. But notice that it is not a good analogy to the preceding point.

    Humans not only volitionally arrange letters in a book, but humans also freely invented letters in the first place. But nobody invented the chemicals involved in the origin of life, and nobody arranged them, either.

    Nobody was there when that happened. (That could be thought of as another way of saying, “God was there when that happened,” with “God = Nobody.” As Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg has put it, God is “so totally and completely other than we are.” We exist, God doesn’t.)

    • Do you even read what you write. “But nobody invented chemicals.. Nobody was there when that happened.” You’re speculating that God or whatever wasn’t there based on your ‘blind faith’ and refusing to think outside the box. Neither you or I were there and there is no evidence that an intelligence wasn’t there. But in the great church of Darwin, any thoughts to the contrary are anathema and can’t be tolerated. So much for free thinkers. Let’s not consider all possibilities, because that would be bad science. The evidence must conform to Darwin and any evidence to the contrary, is not evidence at all and shall be ignored in favor of nature. Does that sound like science? It sounds increasingly like dogma and it’s getting worse.

      • ——Let’s not consider all possibilities,…——

        I don’t agree. Actual possibilities are well worth considering.

        ——The evidence must conform to Darwin …——

        Baloney!

        The evidence must conform to reality (since we can perceive that) — or else it isn’t evidence of anything.

        ——… not evidence at all and shall be ignored in favor of nature.——

        What are you talking about? Nature is the only source of evidence, so how could it be possible to “ignore evidence and favor nature INSTEAD”?!

        People do ignore evidence in order to believe in God. But nobody ignores evidence in order to believe in evidence, i.e., reality (aka physical nature, the real world, etc.).

      • ——… speculating that God or whatever wasn’t there …——

        It is not speculation that God wasn’t there. It is just simple recognition of the fact that fictional characters don’t ever show up anyplace as real elements of the environment or milieu. God wasn’t there any more than Elmer Gantry or Atticus Finch were.

  • ——His cause is Scientific Materalism, an ideology whose central dogma is that every phenomenon we observe in the universe must have a purely naturalistic explanation which can be attributed to the impersonal and immutable laws of chemistry and physics.——

    Well, such “Scientific Materialism” is preposterous. The notion that the U.S. has precisely 50 states in the year 2012 solely due to the immutable laws of chemistry and physics is almost too goofy to comment on. Almost.

    But the big point is that “Theism vs. Determinism” is a grossly false dichotomy.

    If you stick to the real world, you can see that humans do have free will, and God doesn’t exist.

  • Great article, Moshe.

    Unfortunately, the valid syllogism below demonstrates that intelligent design doesn’t support the existence of a nonphysical creator as posited by the Judeo-Christian tradition. Still interesting, though.

    1. All functional complexity and specified information (FCSI) is the result of physical, intelligent designers.
    2. The first bacterium contains FCSI.
    3. The first bacterium is the result of a physical, intelligent designer.

    • Eli’s argument is an example of a poor, but valid argument. It is proposition (1) that renders this as a poor argument. Eli has a lot of work to do to establish (1) before it would be acceptable. He would need to look at what it is about ‘physical, intelligent designers’ that enables them to produce FCSI. The physical brain, itself appears, thus far, to have nothing by way of a central processor that controls conceptual thought. It is a decent neural network, but even a neural network needs an operating system. So is there a mind that interfaces with the physical brain? That has not yet been resolved, and a mind is hardly physical, is it? So it may well be the case that proposition is false. Perhaps (1′) is more accurate …. ‘All FCSI is the result of immaterial, intelligent minds.

    • I have an additional worry as well. The conclusion requires that a physical designer precede the first bacterium. But the general view is that physical designers are descended from the first bacterium. So Eli’s argument leaves us with a circular conundrum. Somewhere, somehow, we must obtain the very first bacterium so that physical designers can eventually evolve into existence.

      • Logician,

        You make a good point which I raised in an earlier article. The very first bacterium/living organism that appeared in the universe was either created or not. There are no other possibilities. If it was created, the creator cannot possibly be physical, there are no other physical beings in the universe. Thus, the first bacterium was either the result of a naturalistic process or was created by a non-physical creator.

        • ——Thus, the first bacterium was either the result of a naturalistic process or was created by a non-physical creator.——

          And since “a non-physical creator” is an impossibility, it had to be “a naturalistic process.” There is no alternative to nature. The “supernatural” is NOTHING.

          Anyone who seriously wanted to argue in favor of the “supernatural,” would have to be able to demonstrate what it is, rather than falling back on evasions like the claim that it is just “so totally other.”

          • Steve:
            If you define the field of study as naturalism – only what the five senses reveal – then you are correct. There is no alternative to nature because that is how you have defined the field of study.

            But you must also admit that you cannot comment on the origin of nature because it is, by your own definition, outside of nature or supernatural.

            On the other hand, the points that Moshe and others raised previously about the first bacterium with FCSI – it was either created or not. The statistical odds of even one bacterium arising with specified information are nearly impossible. For it to happen over and over and over again as evolutionary theory proposes is impossible.

            So as a naturalist, you have no basis to comment on origin of life questions. Thinking outside this field of study, intelligent design seems to be the only viable alternative. Can you think of any other?

          • Randy, “as a result of a naturalistic process” is not the same as “by chance”. Human beings are the result of a naturalistic process. The chance of 7 billion of us just popping into existence by chance alignment of atoms is effectively zero. But here we are. All that shows is that it’s not random, not that it’s magic.

    • 3. The first bacterium is the result of a physical, intelligent designer.

      And who made that “intelligent designer”?

    • ——2. The first bacterium contains FCSI.——

      That premise is false.

      Therefore, your conclusion (3. The first bacterium is the result of a physical, intelligent designer.) is false.

      The premise is false because organisms capable of specifying information did not exist until after a long stretch of evolution following from the first form(s) of life.

      • Whoa! Where did you get that from? There has been considerable work done on the minimal genome. There is unanimous agreement that the minimal genome would have required some protein-coding genes, the uncertainty is exactly how many. Current work suggests around 280 protein coding genes or more. Even one gene has an impossibly high amount of FCSI to generate by natural processes. Forget about 280 genes.

        • ——There is unanimous agreement that the minimal genome would have required some protein-coding genes,…——

          The fact that certain arrangements of molecules result is specific effects or consequences does NOT imply some “teleological principle” at work. In this sense “protein-coding” is an analogy to software coding, but not at all the same thing, or similarly purposeful activity.

          Results do not necessarily prove design.

        • “Even one gene has an impossibly high amount of FCSI to generate by natural processes…”

          How do you know?

          • “God Knows” could be their substitute for an answer.

          • How do I know? Read the last comment posted by ‘Censored’ in the Comments section of Saunders’ review, http://robertsaunders.org.uk/wordpress/2012/03/13/no-signature-in-the-cell/ There is a way to actually test this. It is nice to see ID theorists doing the science even if the Darwinists are not. There are a lot of papers that Stoddard needs to read before asserting that protein coding is only an analogy to software. The growing consensus is that it IS software. It is patently obvious that genetic information is digital, encoded in 2-bit machine language. For an introduction, read Gerstein et al: What is a gene, post-ENCODE? History and updated definition. Genome Res 2007, 17:669-681 and Abel & Trevors: Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information. Theoretical Biology and Medical Modeling 2005, 2:Open access at http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

          • From that post:

            “it raises the question of whether there is a known mechanism that will produce anything more than trivial levels of functional information.”

            There isn’t a known mechanism. So?

          • Yes, you’ve somehow come up with some very large odds. Nay, enormous odds! Okay. How do you know when odds are so high that the chances of the event are “impossible”?

          • You know that the odds are too poor when you cross the universal plausibility metric. See Abel DL: The Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) & Principle (UPP). Theor Biol Med Model 2009, 6:27. The odds of generating even one average protein-coding sequence are well past the plausibility metric. In short, it is irrational to believe that life arose through natural processes. Emphasis on irrational.

          • ——… before asserting that protein coding is only an analogy to software. The growing consensus is that it IS software.——

            Clearly it ISN’T actually software, since software is created by human programmers. Around the time of the origin of life, there were not even any conscious organisms, let alone human ones.

            Analogies can be very useful, but you can’t take them literally.

          • UPM? Seriously? I mean seriously. How stupid are you people?

            The paper contains NO DATA AT ALL— no experiments, measurements, or observations. The whole thing is one long windy argument from assertion peppered with novel acronyms.

            Not to mention the “Department of ProtoBioCybernetics and ProtoBioSemiotics, Origin of Life Science Foundation, Inc.” Sounds quite impressive! The address of the institute is a house in a residential neighborhood of a Maryland suburb.

            You people are retarded.

    • ——1. All functional complexity and specified information (FCSI) is the result of physical, intelligent designers.——

      That premise contains some fallacious elements, but is also correct on the important point that intelligence only exists in living (necessarily physical) beings.

      But the formulation that “specified information is the result of intelligent designers” is simply tautological. It only means that “intelligent use of information (i.e., specifying it) is the result of intelligent use of information.”

      And as for “functional complexity” being necessarily the result of intelligence — well, that is obviously false, since intelligence only evolved long after life was already going strong.

      • Steve: I am curious – what is your rationale for this statement?

        “intelligence only exists in living (necessarily physical) beings”

        Why must a living being necessarily be physical? How do you know this with such certainty?

        Thanks,
        Randy :-)

        • ——Why must a living being necessarily be physical? How do you know this with such certainty?——

          It comes down to experience and logic.

          Life is a process of self-generating, self-sustaining action. You can’t have action without something to perform it.

          Non-acting life, i.e., non-physical life, is a contradictory notion (a fantasy in practice).

          • You only look at nature. How can you have comment on, much less experience with, non-corporeal beings?

            Non-physical life does not necessarily have to be non-acting life as you arbitrarily defined – that is not logical.

            So experience and logic do not provide any certainty as you suggest…

          • ——You only look at nature.——

            That’s what there is to look at.

            Try as hard as you wish to look at a “non-corporeal being” and you’ll never see anything. In that regard, there’s nothing to see.

            Nature is here. The supernatural isn’t anywhere. So long as you want to look at something, there’s no alternative to nature.

            All the blind (i.e., religious) faith in the world will not bring God into existence (other than as the famous fictional character).

      • Steve: I am also curious about this statement…

        “intelligence only evolved long after life was already going strong.”

        Again, what is your rationale for this? How do you know this with certainty?

        • Well, I do have to admit that I haven’t directly experience evolution, but we do have sciences (e.g., biology) that study that kind of stuff, and have so far figured out at least that much.

        • Randy,

          that is the speculative hypotheses of origin of life scientists. They understand quite clearly that even the “simplest” bacterium could not pop out fully formed from some pre-biotic environment. That is too preposterous for anyone to believe. Therefore, it MUST be that there was something simpler if you are COMMITTED to a naturalistic explanation.

          • Simpler or not, the entire process was certainly 100% natural. There is no possible alternative.

            The “supernatural”? That’s nothing.

          • “they understand quite clearly that even the “simplest” bacterium could not pop out fully formed from some pre-biotic environment. ”

            Quite so. That’s why no scientist working in the field of abiogenesis has ever proposed such a ludicrous hypothesis. That’s why they are looking for precursors of modern biological systems – in RNA and prions, for example – as simple replicating systems from which the more complex ones can evolve. They are doing so by investigating the evidence, formulating hypotheses and testing them by acquiring further evidence.

            It’s called “science”. It’s a tool for investigation which works rather well.

            How do you explain the origin of life, and how do you propose to test your explanation?

          • Anyone who wants an EXPLANATION necessarily has to commit to accepting the real world, i.e., nature, as the be-all and end-all for it — the only source material there is.

            If you are seriously COMMITTED to seeking an actual explanation, rather than submitting to a religious doctrine, then nature is where you need to look — since there isn’t anywhere else to look.

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