A Belated Reply to Dr. P.Z. Myers

August 19, 2012 1:21 am 170 comments

Dr. P.Z. Myers of the University of Minnesota-Morris

In May of 2011 I wrote an article critiquing a lecture given by outspoken atheist advocate P.Z. Myers at the Atheist International Alliance (2009) in Burbank, California. Dr. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota-Morris, had attacked Intelligent Design (ID) theory by claiming that there are many “complex” structures that appear naturally. That is to say, that despite the “complexity” of the simplest living bacterial cells, there is no need to invoke an intelligent designer because “very complicated” phenomena occur through natural, undirected processes. Myers put it this way: “We biologists will freely admit that things are really complicated inside the cell…Don’t we have to resort to a Creator? We say, of course not. There’s lots of things that are very complicated [and aren’t the result of an intelligent creator.]”

As evidence to support his assertion, Myers used the example of a large pile of driftwood that had accumulated solely due to natural forces on Rialto Beach in upper Washington State: “You find these walls of driftwood…very complicated walls. It has been constructed, who did it? We know the answer, natural forces did it. We don’t need a designer to build this kind of wall. This is complex, you simply can’t deny it. If I turn the projector off would you be able to draw it? No.”

My critique revolved around the obvious flaw in his argument. While it may be true that the pile of driftwood is “complicated” in the sense that there is no simple mathematical algorithm that could describe its structure, the same could be said about a pile of garbage in a garbage dump. However, no matter how “complicated” no one would be foolish enough to mistake it for anything other than what it is: a random collection of garbage. The critical difference between piles of junk and a bacterium is not their “complexity,” but rather their functional complexity. Piles of junk don’t do anything, they perform no discernible function. “Functionality” is the difference between the complexity of an M1A1-Abrams battle tank and the complexity of a pile of scrap metal. “Functionality” is the difference between the complexity of a log cabin on a bluff overlooking Rialto Beach and the complexity of the pile of driftwood on the beach below. In both of these cases it is the functional complexity of the former that makes them instantly recognizable as being the result of intelligent design, while the lack of functional complexity is what makes the latter instantly recognizable as being the result of random, undirected forces. It is the astounding level of functional complexity of the simplest bacterial cell and its genetic code that lies at the heart of ID theory.

An M1A1-Abrams Battle Tank - Not just "complex" but "functionally complex."

On 5/29/11, Dr. Myers responded to my article with a post on his Pharyngula blog entitled, “I am lectured in logic by a man who believes in invisible magic men in the sky.” (I actually don’t, but I am very clear about the existence of God) Although I did read it at the time, it recently dawned on me that I never responded to his blog-post, hence the title of the article. The gist of Myer’s response is that I misrepresented or misunderstood his point:

“Nowhere in that talk do I claim that a pile of driftwood is analogous to a cell. I think there’s a rather huge difference between a cell and a pile of debris…I was making a different point.”

Up until this point in his response we are in total agreement; a pile of driftwood is clearly not analogous to a living cell and the cell has nothing in common with piles of debris. The next thing that appears in his post is a reproduction of the famous Nike “Swoosh” logo. He goes on to explain that the Swoosh is “very, very, simple” and is “most definitely designed.” So far, so good. It is from here on that things get very confusing:

“Is it clearer now? We have complicated things that are not designed, and we have simple things that are designed. We also have complicated things that are designed, and simple things that are not. The message you should take away from these examples is that complexity and design are independent properties of an object. One does not imply the other. You cannot determine whether something was designed by looking at whether it is complicated or not.” [emphasis in original]

The Nike "Swoosh"

What is so confusing here is that there never was a disagreement about the existence of “simple” things that are intelligently designed; there are endless examples besides the Swoosh that illustrate such a principle. There never was a disagreement regarding the existence of “complicated” things – like piles of driftwood or garbage – that are not designed, but are the result of natural, unguided forces. There are endless examples of those also. The only point of contention; I repeat, the only point of contention is whether or not functionally complex structures – like the battle tank, log cabin, or living cell – can arise through natural, unguided forces, or is their very existence the undeniable evidence of the intelligent, creative force which was the cause of their formation? In fact, Dr. Myers addresses this point:

“Also familiar, I’m afraid, is the usual indignant waffling [by ID theorists] about it being specified complexity…I have never seen it [i.e., specified complexity] operationally defined.”

I am at a complete loss as to why the concept of “specified” or “functional” complexity is so puzzling for Myers. It’s the difference between the driftwood and the cabin; it’s the difference between a pile of scrap metal and a tank; it’s the difference between a batch of sludgy chemical goo and a living bacterium. What is so difficult about that to understand? What is even more perplexing is that in the original Atheist International Alliance lecture, Myers himself explains the obvious difference between a structure which is “functionally unspecified” and one which is “functionally very specific.” At 12:30 minutes into his lecture a picture of an expertly built brick wall appears on the screen of his Power-Point presentation. Myers elaborates:

“On the other hand we are familiar with this kind of wall. So this is also a wall, it’s one that we can recognize that has a specific purpose, that was built by human agents, and I’d have to say that of these two wall, which one is simpler? The human built one…When we look at natural walls [driftwood] what we discover is natural things…are functionally unspecified, there’s nothing that says that a pile of driftwood is a wall…Artificial walls [the brick wall] are built with intent, they are functionally very specificand relatively simple.” [emphasis mine]

Soldier, this may be a "complicated" pile of scrap metal but it's not an Abrams tank

I couldn’t have said it better myself. The brick wall, due to its specific purpose, or being “functionally very specific” is instantly recognizable as being the result of intelligent design. (This is true even if we accept Myers’ characterization of the wall as being “relatively simple.” It is certainly functionally complex enough to be recognized as being the result of intelligent, creative causation.) On the other hand, the “functionally unspecified” nature of the pile of driftwood (no matter how “complicated” it is), makes it instantly recognizable as being the result of random, undirected forces. Only one question remains: Is the simplest living bacterium “functionally very specific” in the way that Myers described the brick wall or is it “functionally unspecified” like the pile of driftwood? The answer, of course, is obvious.

I’m sorry to have to lecture you in logic Dr. Myers, but your response is as logically incoherent as your original presentation. In order to effectively refute the thesis of my article you would need to give examples of functionally specified or functionally complex structures – like your brick wall – that are the result of unguided processes. You fail to provide even one such example and for a very good reason; there are no such examples.

I do applaud the fact that you understand the issue well enough not to have invoked crystals and snowflakes. We both agree they are non-sequiturs. As Australian microbiologist and geneticist, Dr. Michael Denton, has put it: “Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non-biological system such as a crystal or a snowflake there is a chasm as vast and as absolute as it is possible to imagine.” We also both understand that examples from Darwinian Evolution – accepting its truth for argument’s sake – are irrelevant. Darwinian Evolution and natural selection cannot occur until a fully functioning, DNA-based living cell is in place. Once the fantastically functionally-complex molecular machinery of life is operating, fantastic things can potentially happen. But then, of course, the notion that fantastic machinery can do fantastic things was never in dispute.

How was the enormous gap between non-living, non-organic chemicals and the simplest living bacterium crossed? It is this baffling enigma that you must address in any intellectually honest confrontation with ID Theory and it is this very enigma that you failed to address in both your original lecture and in your response to my article. If I have not yet convinced you of the profoundly flawed nature of your position, I would challenge you (and anyone else for that matter), to debate the issue in a public forum. I’m certain the student body at the University of Minnesota-Morris would enthusiastically support such an event.

University of Minnesota-Morris Campus

In order to ensure that we maintain focus on the truly essential issues and not get lost in confusing sidebars, I offer the following protocol (which is open to revision, based on discussions between the parties):

Agreed that:

The topic under discussion is not the truth, accuracy, or interpretation of the creation story in the first chapters of Genesis. For the purposes of this debate we will accept the standard scientific model that the universe came into being roughly 14 billion years ago in what is commonly called “The Big Bang.” How this “Big Bang” happened or who or what caused it is not a topic under discussion in this debate.

  1. For the purposes of this debate we will accept the standard scientific model that the Earth formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago.
  2. For the purposes of this debate we will accept the standard scientific model that the earliest known life began no later than 3.7 billion years ago. The earliest known living organisms are some form of bacteria.
  3. While it is possible that there was life earlier than 3.7 billion years ago there is no conclusive scientific evidence one way or the other. Due to the effect of heat on early rock formations it may never be scientifically possible to ascertain how long ago life began on Earth.
  4. At the present time there is no conclusive evidence to support any particular scientific theory which would explain how the gap between non-organic chemicals on the early Earth and the first living bacterium was crossed.
  5. The fact that at present there is no plausible scientific theory to provide a naturalistic explanation of how life emerged from non-life does not, in and of itself, mean that it did not happen and does not preclude the possibility that such a theory will be discovered in the future. Almost all origin-of-life researchers believe that one day such a theory will be discovered.
  6. The fact that such a scientific theory does not exist, does not in and of itself lead to the conclusion that life was created by some sort of intelligent creator.
  7. Even if, for argument’s sake, we would agree that the origin-of-life required an intelligent creator outside of the physical universe, that would not in any way imply the truth or falsehood of any claim of divine revelation. Such a claim would require separate evidence and would also require an entirely different discussion.
  8. The only topic which is being debated is the following: What is the most reasonable explanation for the origin of life on Earth: An intelligent creator or an unguided, naturalistic process?

If you (or anyone else) are game Dr. Myers, you can either contact me via my website at mosheaverick.com or in any other manner which you deem appropriate.

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. If you wish to be informed when new articles appear, send an email to moe.david@hotmail.com with the email address and the word “Subscribe” in the subject line.

170 Comments

  • mikrotik.net.pl

    Very nice article. I definitely love this website.
    Keep it up!

  • Rabbi Averick claims: “It is the astounding level of functional complexity of the simplest bacterial cell and its genetic code that lies at the heart of ID theory.

    But he is wrong about that. The “heart of ID theory” is blind faith in the fantasy of a “Supernatural God.” The “functional complexity” of life has absolutely no logical connection to “Creation, by God!”

  • Rabbi Averick claims: “It is the astounding level of functional complexity of the simplest bacterial cell and its genetic code that lies at the heart of ID theory.

    But he’s wrong about that. The “heart of ID theory” is blind faith in the fantasy of a “Supernatural God.” The “functional complexity” of life has absolutely no logical connection to “Creation, by God!”

  • [][]“… and DNA is the most efficient information storage medium ever conceived.”[][]

    Realistically speaking, DNA is NOT an “information storage medium,” since “information” is a human-created perspective on the world. DNA was neither created by humans nor is it used for “information storage” by anyone.

  • Averick,
    your stance is uncomplicated, you refuse to believe that the origins of life will ever be explained through naturalistic processes. I/We get it, you’re a bore and a charlatan like all the bores are charlatans that have preceded you. But upon your eventual death, your legacy (among the paltry few that remember) will be that of another stick in the regressive mud, one who has wagered against science and progress yet produced nothing, explained less and in the worst case, encouraged others to live similarly. Dr. Szostak will be remembered for helping explain how primitive cells may have self-assembled (as well as predicting and finding key genetic components for which he won the Nobel Prize), Dr. Joyce will fondly enter the text books for re-calibrating our understanding of self-replicating chemical systems and advancing the OOL field etc etc etc… Whether or not origins are explained in our lifetimes, their achievements (based on curiosity and the merits of the scientific process) have and will continue to reverberate through our species.

    It is testament to our democracy that retrogrades like yourself have a platform to spew superstition (and profit from it) but ultimately, your intellectual and moral bankruptcy is your legacy. And the more your message is spread (that of an unwavering resistance to knowledge and human achievement), the larger your imprint of evil and corruption will be. All bad men believe themselves to be good (and as sure as you are that life will never be explained, I’m sure you’re no different). As a believer, you have one responsibility to the world, and that is simply to shut up and contain the limits of your ignorance to your own genetic pool (this being the most benign form of belief). But your continued participation in this field does nothing but expose and propagate the ugliest aspects of our shared biological heritage (fear, ignorance and repression). I’m happy that no respected member of the origin field has yet sunk so low as to debate you and legitimize you aggressions against science and I’m ashamed and embarrassed that I’ve wasted my own time writing this. You represent the worst that humanity offers.

    • [][]“… our shared biological heritage (fear, ignorance and repression).”[][]

      Sharing that twisted religious delusion about life is not something to be proud of. Being realistic would be a far better idea.

  • – Rabbi Averick wrote in his article that he is ‘at a complete loss as to why the concept of “specified” or “functional” complexity is so puzzling for Myers. It’s the difference between the driftwood and the cabin; it’s the difference between a pile of scrap metal and a tank; it’s the difference between a batch of sludgy chemical goo and a living bacterium.

    The trick here is the confusion of equating “specified” with “functional.” He wants to erase the common sense distinction between man-made thing and naturally-occurring things (i.e., things not intelligently created). That is, he wants to distort reality to make room for God.

    The function of a cabin, for instance, is specified by the cabin-maker. But the function of an ear, on the other hand, is not specified by anybody. People invented cabins and tanks; nobody invented ears or eyes (or bacteria).

  • If you took Maverick’s advise and read the book, you’d find that it has been reviewed by many competent PhDs in the sciences. That’s probably not good enough for you though. Questioning the qualifications of someone is a lot easier than actually engaging the arguments. Typical of those who have no answers.

  • [][][]
    Moshe Averick
    August 20, 2012
    12:40 pm
    Nobel Prize winner George Wald: “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility…”
    [][][]

    Not only is there no “third possibility,” that “second possibility” isn’t really a possibility at all. A “supernatural creative act of God” is pure fantasy — not any real possibility.

    In fact, there is no real alternative to life as a 100% natural process, through and through.

  • Thank you for another insightful article, Moshe. You are so close to the truth. Please accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior so that you may join him in everlasting life!

    • Probing for the truth

      Sorry Phil. The eternal aliens from another dimension created life. It is from them you must ask forgiveness. Simple logic – there is no evidence that life arose any other way.

  • Vocal cord paralysis

    The recurrent laryngeal nerve innvervates the vocal cords. The nerve originates in the brain, but instead of traveling directly to the vocal cords, first descends into the chest and loops back upwards. This nerve takes the same course in most mammals, including giraffes where the detour amounts to several feet of redundant nerve. Doesn’t seem like intelligent design to me.

    • … and DNA is the most efficient information storage medium ever conceived. Sounds like intelligent design to me. BTW, just for the sake of argument, poor design is still design.

      Let’s hear your take on why the mammalian retina is an example of such poor engineering.

      • [][]“… DNA is the most efficient information storage medium ever conceived.”[][]

        Actually, DNA is a naturally occurring phenomenon that nobody ever conceived of in the first place. The capability for conception came a lot later than DNA in the history of the world.

        • Edit:

          [][]“… DNA is the most efficient information storage medium ever conceived.”[][]

          Actually, DNA is a naturally occurring material that nobody ever conceived of in the first place. There wasn’t anybody around when it originated. The capability generating concepts came a lot later than DNA in the history of the world.

      • “… and DNA is the most efficient information storage medium.”

        And…?

        “poor design is still design”

        this is why ID is unfalsifiable, i.e. not science.

        • Soooo Young Earth Creationism is falsifiable so that makes it science. Right?

          Falsifiability is an arbitrary standard in science and doesn’t work for all sciences anyway.

          • All cars have wheels, but everything with wheels is not a car. Falsifiability is necessary but not sufficient for an hypothesis to be scientific. Reread that sentence until you understand it.

            Falsifiability is not an “arbitrary standard”. An unfalsifiable hypothesis cannot be tested by empirical experimentation. Testing an hypothesis with empirical experimentation is what Science is.

        • Forget that “unfalsifiable” nonsense. “ID” is not science because it is about the supernatural, i.e., something literally impossible.

      • [][]“… and DNA is the most efficient information storage medium ever conceived.”[][]

        Realistically speaking, DNA is NOT an “information storage medium,” since “information” is a human-created perspective on the world. DNA was neither created by humans or used for “information storage” by anyone.

  • Notice how the last 6 posts are all similar and occur around the same time? I think Klinghoffer is right about the Tyranny of the Unemployed. Those whom Lenin referred to as “useful” got their marching orders and dutifully made hit-and-run posts. Pathetic.

    • Since the posts of our atheist friends are so inane, this has left me time to view the responses from the above-mentioned 6 posters. It seems our half dozen posters are in fact just one with a lot of email accounts since the responses occur also at the same time. Could it be that the psychiatrist is trying to give the impression that there are more atheists out there than there really are? But we already knew that.

  • There are only 2 possibilities. Schizophrenia is a product of biology or supernatural agency. Doctors don’t know what causes schizophrenia. Therefore, the cause of schizophrenia is supernatural.

    Moshe, as an expert on the supernatural, can you recommend a treatment regimen for my patients with schizophrenia?

    Thank you.

    • Moshe Averick

      Psycho,

      First of all, most psychiatrists I’ve met are a little bit crazy, so I’m not sure if I should engage in dialogue with you or not, but against my better judgement I’ll continue.

      Before I can answer your question I need a precise definition of schizophrenia.

      Is it a functionally complex collection of matter? (like a tank or brick wall)

      Is is a non-functionally complex collection of matter?
      (Like a pile of garbage or scrap metal)

      Or is it something else? Once you tell me what it IS – as opposed to describing to me behavior that you have arbitrarily labeled with the word “schizophrenia” – I can answer your question.

      • Well most rabbis I meet are smug d-bags. Now that we’ve dispensed with the pleasantries, schizophrenia is a word that describes a constellation of behaviors and thinking patterns. What causes these behaviors and disordered thinking? There is no known biological cause; therefore, the cause is supernatural. Same goes for depression, bipolar disorder… many maladies in fact. The question is why God is using mental disorders to punish people. Again, treatment ideas?

    • Psychiatrist, I’m not sure your premise is a valid dichotomy, but let us say it is, for the sake of the argument. It does not logically follow that, because doctors don’t know what causes schizophrenia that, therefore, it must have a supernatural cause. The biological workings of a human being are very complex and our science still has a lot to learn in this area. We may well discover a biological cause for schizophrenia down the road. It is logically impossible for nature to bring itself into existence due to the circular fallacy, but it is not logically impossible a) for there to be a natural cause for schizophrenia and b) scientists not to have yet discovered that cause.

      • How do you know nature hasn’t always existed like, you know, God?

        • Moshe Averick

          AW,

          Modern physics/cosmology it seems finally caught up with the Torah’s version of the origin of Time, space, matter , and energy, that is to say, all came from nothing. “Yesh m’ayin”- something from nothing has always been the way classical Jewish theologians have described creation.
          Although the big bang theory does not include the cause of the big bang, that seems to be beyond scientific investigation, we all agree that nature has not always existed. Why would you doubt that at this point?

          • So you care what (you think) Science has to say when cherry picked facts (appear) to support your desired conclusions?

            I am using nature as a syonym for matter and energy. The Big Bang Theory does not purport that matter and energy originated with the Big Bang. The laws of thermodynamics state that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

            So back to my original question, how do you know that matter and energy have not existed forever.

          • [][]“… we all agree that nature has not always existed.”[][]

            That “we all” is merely wishful thinking (or, I supppose it could be deliberate misrepresentation– it is certainly not true.

            And the fact that “science” is turning more religious nowadays, doesn’t show that religion was right all along, it just shows that the intellectual rigor of Western Civilization is not keeping up like it should be.

          • [][]‘… the Torah’s version of the origin of Time, space, matter , and energy, that is to say, all came from nothing. “Yesh m’ayin”- something from nothing has always been the way classical Jewish theologians have described creation.’[][]

            Nothing comes from nothing. “Something from nothing” is pure fantasy, strictly fiction. And there certainly is quite some tradition for such fiction.

        • God doesn’t exist at all. Never has. Never will.

          Nature does exist.

  • Moshe,

    How did God create the first bacterium?

  • Curious George

    Moshe,

    Can you explain the transcriptional and translational mechanisms of the first bacterium?

    Thanks,
    Curious

  • Ruptured appendix

    Moshe – what would an undesigned universe look like?

    • Moshe Averick

      Ruptured,

      It would look like the comments I get from some of the people on this site.

      • Ruptured appendix

        And you wonder why people won’t debate you.

        • “what would an undesigned universe look like”

          That question has already been asked and answered untold times by many people. It would be either a universe full of black holes or a universe that was so dispersed as to not have any stars. Either way there would be no life. Next question.

          • Ruptured appendix

            So God is required for stars to form. Why?

          • Since the universe was not designed, it looks exactly like a “undesigned universe.”

            There are not, of course, any “designed universes” — since there is only one (and we’ve got it).

          • Ruptured appendix

            So why is God a prerequisite star formation?

          • Because the gravitational constant in the universe is so finely tuned to allow for the formation of stars and galaxies. So finely tuned in fact that if the value of the gravitational force were to vary by as little as one part in 10E-50, there would be no stars and no life. Discount the fine-tuning argument if you like but then all you’re left with is wishful thinking and a sense of being really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really lucky.

          • Fine tuning would be a great argument for the existence of God if it weren’t exactly what we’d expect to see if God didn’t exist. A God who is deliberately fine tuning nature to create life does not need an enormously vast and old Universe, the majority of which is filled with lethal space.

          • The universe, Rex, is not “finely tuned.” It simply is what it is, utterly absent unnatural intervention.

          • “A God who is deliberately fine tuning nature to create life does not need an enormously vast and old Universe, the majority of which is filled with lethal space.”

            That’s a very unscientific and very theological statement to make, AW. Well done.

            Apparently you’re what Richard Dawkins would call a “bright”. I would be considered a “dull”. That being so, help me out here. Since according to you falsifiability is necessary for any scientific hypothesis to be valid, you surely reject the multiverse hypothesis wholeheartedly since there is absolutely no way to test/falsify that.

            That being the case this is the only universe that there is. The only one. And yet, Stephen Hawking’s colleague, Roger Penrose estimated the probability of the initial entropy of our universe to be one in … wait for it … 10E(10E123). Being a “bright” you know the improbability of our one and only universe having the entropy, laws and constants friendly to life.

            Fine-tuning – true
            Wishful thinking – false

          • Since “fine tuning” requires somebody to do the tuning, the universe as such cannot be “finely tuned” since nobody exists outside of (or prior to) the universe.

            A “Supernatural Tuner/Creator/Designer” is a traditional religious fantasy. The existence of God is wishful thinking with a long history of blind wishing.

          • The Earth’s total mass is 5.9736×10^24 kg while the estimated total biomass on Earth is around 7×10^13 kg. This means that the percentage of life on Earth is 1.17182269 × 10^-9. That is .00000000117%. The Earth, let alone the universe, is hardly fine tuned for life.

            Why the physical constants of the universe are what they are is a legitimate question. I don’t know the answer. God magicked it is about as helpful as any other dead end theistic explanation of phenomona.

  • All functional complexity is intelligently designed.
    All intelligent beings are functionally complex.
    Therefore, all intelligent beings are intelligently designed.

    How do you teach your logic students to interpret a regressive syllogism?

    • Moshe Averick

      AW,

      On what basis did you conclude that “all functional complexity is intelligently designed”?

      • On the same basis that you concluded that “all functional complexity is intelligently designed”. All human experience confirms that intelligent beings are functionally complex. Sound familiar?

        On a previous thread you asked me to give “a single example of functional complexity that [was] not intelligently designed?” Well… can you give a single example of an intelligent being that is not functionally complex?

        • [][]“all functional complexity is intelligently designed”[][]

          That is clearly not true, since intelligence itself is “functionally complex” and could not have designed itself.

  • Probing for the truth

    There are only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution. The other is a creative act by a super intelligent race of aliens from another dimension.

    Scientists are completely baffled as to how life could have arisen spontaneously; therefore, the obvious, reasonable conclusion is alien creation.

    • Moshe Averick

      Probing,

      I think I know you under a different name, but anyways…You are theoretically correct, it is certainly possible that there is a finite regress of intelligent designers, there just cannot be an infinite regress, there must be a first designer who is not caused or designed, ie a supernatural designer.

      • [][]“… there just cannot be an infinite regress, there must be a first designer who is not caused or designed, ie a supernatural designer.”[][]

        Not exactly, Moshe.

        First of all, your “IDOL” is logically contradictory. There could not have been an “Intelligent Designer Of LIFE,” since intelligence per se is an attribute of some LIVING entities.

        And secondly, the supernatural is unreal and impossible in any case.

      • [][]“… there just cannot be an infinite regress, there must be a first designer who is not caused or designed, ie a supernatural designer.”[][]

        Not exactly, Moshe.

        First of all, your “IDOL” is logically contradictory. There could not have been an “Intelligent Designer Of LIFE,” since intelligence per se is an attribute of some LIVING entities.

        And secondly, the supernatural is unreal and impossible in any case.

      • Probing for the truth

        The aliens are the first designer. They have existed forever in another dimension.

  • [][][]
    RexTugwell
    August 20, 2012
    11:47 am
    “It’s difficult to watch our atheist friends deny there is specified complexity in the cell …”
    [][][]

    I’ll bet it is, Rex. When the atheists are correct, and all you have on your side is blind (i.e., religious) faith, you cannot find yourself in an intellectually comfortable position.

    But not to worry: you have your faith, and you don’t need any damned intellectual grounding. (All you have to say is, “To hell with that!” and you should descend into a fine religious comfort zone.)

  • It will never cease to amaze me that such transparently obvious points have to be made to these people. Unqualified complexity has never been the issue; it is *qualified* complexity — functional, integrated, specified complexity — that unguided natural processes cannot account for.

    The truth is that my amazement is short lived. Almost immediately I remember that these people are *willingly* ignorant, denying what is obvious to a three-year-old so as to retain their own pseudo-scientific, religious beliefs. That about sums it up.

    • “It will never cease to amaze me that such transparently obvious points have to be made to these people. Unqualified complexity has never been the issue; it is *qualified* complexity — functional, integrated, specified complexity — that unguided natural processes cannot account for.”

      In other words: ‘I can’t present any *evidence* for design or even define what functional, integrated, specified complexity is, so I will just declare it is *obvious* and walk away’.

      It must be comforting to live in a place where you can “win” an argument by simply declaring that you have.

  • You guys are making this too complicated. It doesn’t matter whether you call it “Creator,” “Designer,” “Specifier,” or whatever — so long as you are trying to talk about something supernatural, you have put yourselves outside the bounds of reality.

    “Intelligent Design Of Life” proponents are not talking about the real world.

    The “point of contention” comes down to either being realistic or else insisting on an indulgence in blind faith to believe in “Creation, by God!”

    • Steve, you might want to think about reality a bit more carefully. For example, from an article in New Scientist, 11 Jan., 2012 (see http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21328474.400-why-physicists-cant-avoid-a-creation-event.html ), it seems that nature had a beginning (whether ‘nature’ includes just this universe as a one-off event, or whether it is a multiverse). So, Steve, what is your natural explanation for the origin of nature? Of course, you cannot assume the existence of natural processes to explain how natural processes would come into existence, for that would be a circular fallacy. So you might want to consider this argument carefully …
      1. The origin of nature is either natural or not-natural (i.e., supernatural)
      2. The origin of nature cannot be natural (to avoid the circular fallacy)
      Therefore, the origin of nature is supernatural.

      If you don’t like the conclusion of the above argument, there is only one way out …. show that either (1) or (2) is false. Good luck with that.

      To define ‘reality’ as including only nature (space-time, matter and energy) is to fail to think deeply about the problem of the origin of physical reality … and it seems from the New Scientist article that there was an origin.

      • Nature not only doesn’t need an origin, it couldn’t possibly have one — since you can’t get something from nothing.

        • A classic example of non-thinking. Although I personally regard ‘blonde jokes’ as being in very poor taste, the kind of ‘thinking’ that they usually portray is precisely what goodold_lucifer appears to be afflicted with.

      • [][]“1. The origin of nature is either natural or not-natural (i.e., supernatural)”[][]

        Since the supernatural is impossible, i.e., only nature is possible (and actual), then it only makes sense to see that nature could not have had an origin. You cannot miraculously get something from nothing.

      • [][]“2. The origin of nature cannot be natural (to avoid the circular (fallacy)”[][]

        Logically/realistically, nature cannot be regarded as needing an “origin.” The “circularity” does make the notion of “the origin of nature” simply fantastic.

      • [][]“To define ‘reality’ as including only nature (space-time, matter and energy) is to fail to think deeply about the problem of the origin of physical reality …”[][]

        There is nothing there to think about — since there could not possibly have been an “origin of physical reality.”

        We cannot get something from nothing, and that’s a deeply as it is possible to think about the issue. The supernatural is not possible, but blind faith in the supernatural is very possible (even somewhat popular).

  • PZ Meyers would greatly benefit from a paper published by Durston et al in the Journal of Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2217542/ ). The paper presents a method of measuring functional complexity that makes a very clear distinction between the ground state of a natural system (within which complex driftwood piles occur quite easily) and the functional state of a particular system (say, an Abrams tank, or a functional intrinsically disordered protein).

  • You guys are making this too complicated. It doesn’t matter whether you call it “Creator,” “Designer,” “Specifier,” or whatever — so long as you are trying to talk about something supernatural, you have put yourselves outside the bounds of reality.

    “Intelligent Design Of Life” proponents are not talking about the real world.

    The “point of contention” comes down to either being realistic or else insisting on an indulgence in blind faith to believe in “Creation, by God!”

  • Moshe Averick

    Mihai,

    I find it amazing that you and John have grabbed onto this example of the sun as an example of functional complexity that arises through an unguided process. The thermonuclear reactions in the sun are neither improbable nor functional. They are no more improbable nor functional that lava exploding out of a volvcano. The uncontrolled, undirected releasing of enormous amounts of energy in stars is exactly what distinguishes it from a highly controlled, highly directed release of energy at a nuclear power plant.

    I don’t understand how it is possible to confuse the two. Why don’t you write PZ Myers or Jerry Coyne or Dawkins and ask him if your example of the sun has any place in this discussion. I would be very interested to hear their answer.

    I also don’t understand how you can ignore endless statements like the following by distinguished (non-believing) microbiologist Eugene Koonin from his 2011 book The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution: “The origin of life is one of the hardest problems in all of science…Origin of life has evolved into a lively interdisciplinary field, but other scientists often view it with skepticism and even derision. This attitude is understandable and, in a sense, perhaps justified, given the “dirty” rarely mentioned secret: Despite many interesting results to its credit, when judged by the straightforward criterion of reaching (or even approaching) the ultimate goal, the origin of life field is a failure – we still do not have even a plausible coherent model, let alone a validated scenario, for the emergence of life on Earth. Certainly this is due not to a lack of experimental and theoretical effort, but to the extraordinary intrinsic difficulty and complexity of the problem. A succession of exceedingly unlikely steps is essential for the origin of life, from the synthesis and accumulation of nucleotides to the origin of translation, through the multiplication of probabilities, these make the final outcome seem almost like a miracle.”

    The above citation is from 2011, here is what Nobel Laureate chemist Harold C. Urey wrote in 1962 – “All of us who study the origin of life find that the more we look into it, the more we feel it is too complex to have evolved anywhere. We all believe as an article of faith that life evolved from dead matter on this planet. It is just that its complexity is so great, it is hard for us to imagine that it did.”

    In 50 years nothing has changed, in fact the problem is even greater now than it was in 1962 because science has discovered that life is even more complex than we thought it was in 1962, by quantum leaps.

    Doesn’t the fact that a Nobel Prize winning scientist uses the phrase “article of faith” with no shame at all give you pause for thought?

    • “I also don’t understand how you can ignore endless statements like the following by distinguished (non-believing) microbiologist Eugene Koonin from his 2011 book The Logic of Chance”

      Quote mining now? The very next paragraph:

      “Not everything is bleak: Major props for the origin of life have been discovered. Certain environments that exist even now, such as networks of inorganic compartments at hydrothermal vents, were likely present 4 billion years ago as well and could be suitable hatcheries for all the earliest steps of the evolution of life, from the synthesis and concentration of monomers to the origin of translation. The RNA World hypothesis that the impressive body of data on the catalytic activities of ribozymes strongly, if not necessarily directly, supports is an attractive—and apparently the only conceivable—way out of the paradoxes associated with the origin of translation.”

      You can find the book on the intertubes here:

      http://sunsetridgemsbiology.wikispaces.com/file/view/0132542498Chance.pdf

      • Excerpt sez: “…likely present 4 billion years ago as well and could be suitable hatcheries for all the earliest steps of the evolution of life.”

        Most male members of the human species cannot remember (without handwritten notes) which tie they wore or what they had for lunch 21 days ago. And yet modern science is replete with assertions and conjectures about what the earth was like billions of years ago. I call such projections ridiculous foolishness. How can anyone alive today be absolutely certain that the dimension we call t-i-m-e is the same now as it was FOUR BILLION YEARS AGO! Four billion!!! How long has the quantity known as a b-i-l-l-i-o-n existed in human language? Billions and trillions sound like inventions driven by more vanity than intellect. When it comes to infinity, who’s counting?

      • Moshe Averick

        John,

        Not quote mining at all. The first paragraph is a true description of the state of Origin of lIfe research. The second paragraph simply means he has not thrown in the towel and scientists continue to pursue purely speculative theories.

        Hydrothermal Vent theories are pure speculation.
        RNA World theories have reached a dead end.
        The primeval soup theory has been almost entirely abandoned.
        The new trend is to look to outer space.
        Unfortunately, most of these researchers have not accepted that they are dealing with an “historical event” which nobody was around to witness. Nobody was there to see how life began. It was either created or it was not. Scientists dognmatically refuse to admit that they are not searching to discover HOW life began through a naturalistic process, they are investigating IF life began through a naturalistic process or IF it is PLAUSIBLE to consider a naturalistic origin of life.

        AT this point, most researchers have taken a leap of faith and dogmatically assert that there MUST be a naturalistic process that could result in life and we will eventually find it. That’s not science, it is FAITH.

        • [][]“Nobody was there to see how life began.”[][]

          Quite right. Naturally, nobody was there to design and create it, either.

          Before there was life, there simply wasn’t anybody — not even of any kind. Not even God, since fiction hadn’t been invented, yet.

        • [][]“AT this point, most researchers have taken a leap of faith and dogmatically assert that there MUST be a naturalistic process that could result in life and we will eventually find it. That’s not science, it is FAITH.”[][]

          Yes, of course, it is not science, yet, since the material to be scientific about still hasn’t been discovered. But it is not religious (i.e., blind) faith. It is better described as “confidence” than faith (just because of the usual religious connotations of faith).

          And note that it is not “faith in nature” to be nature. It is “faith in man” to continue to be able to learn about what happened in nature — instead of having to descend into the abyss of blind (i.e., religious) faith in the supernatural.

          It’s really scientific self-confidence and realism, as opposed to religious retreat into blind faith and the dogma of supernaturalism.

        • Can you define “Science” and “Faith”. These words you like to throw around in all caps.

        • Not quote mining at all. The first paragraph is a true description of the state of Origin of lIfe research. The second paragraph simply means he has not thrown in the towel and scientists continue to pursue purely speculative theories.

          Of course it is quote mining. Even if you, with your *vast* scientific knowledge, have decided that Koonin should give up, you quoted the first paragraph as if Koonin *has* given up. You misrepresented Koonin’s opinion of the problem and that is dishonest. And the Wald quote mine is even worse.

          AT this point, most researchers have taken a leap of faith and dogmatically assert that there MUST be a naturalistic process that could result in life and we will eventually find it. That’s not science, it is FAITH.

          Scientists keep looking for natural explanations because that is all they can test. And think how much science has acomplished with that heuristic. Has religion come close to increasing human knowledge as much as science? Why are you communicating with people all over the world by typing on a computer rather than by using supernatural means? It’s not “faith” to keep using a method that *works*.

      • Gotta love the atheistic accusations of “quote mining.”

        “Not everything is bleak” is hardly something for atheists to rally around. The insistence on arriving at a purely atheistic account of the origin of life, is pursued as a doctrine of faith, per the Urey quote above. There is nothing remotely approaching credible evidence for the “RNA world” hypothesis.

    • Back to the Oklo reactors, the fact is that nuclear chain reactions simply are never observed to occur “naturally” at all, humans are always required to intervene. That’s how the Oklo reactors are analogous to ID claims about intelligence and functional complexity, not because the Oklo reactors were functionally complex.

      Rabbi Averick writes: “…All human experience confirms that functional complexity is the result of intelligent agency.” I could just as rightly write, “All human experience confirms that nuclear chain reactions are the result of intelligent agency,” by ignoring the evidence of the Oklo reactors, as Averick ignores the evidence that no intelligence intervened in the origin of life. The latter evidence is both positive and negative, the negative being no evidence for disembodied unevolved intelligences around the early earth, and the evidence that life has just been left to evolve on its own without reason intervening. What a ridiculous claim it really is that some super intelligence made single cells “for some purpose” (I’ll grant that it’s just possible that aliens were doing experiments thusly, but that’s not the ID claim) and then just left them, while claiming that this is simple reasoning from what we see intelligence doing today.

      Of course the reason that the Oklo reactors could occur then and not now is not the same as those for why life could putatively have arisen billions of years ago and not now. The decay of U235 (much faster than that of U238) is why “natural reactors” can no longer appear on earth, while oxygen and heterotrophs are among the reasons why life wouldn’t be expected to arise de novo today. The useful point of the Oklo reactors is that you can’t just look around at what happens today to say what could or could not occur in the past.

      Nothing is very akin to life, although languages do indicate how evolution creates extreme functional complexity where a single designer could not. The language of the Tasaday was realized to be a “natural language” because it was related to other languages and not relatively simple like Esperanto is (although even it relied upon copying natural languages in order to be as useful as it is). Evolution is what actually causes complexity, not design, because, although languages do result from design to a degree, they also reflect that limitations and particulars of the ancestral language(s).

      None of this matters to the apologist, however, who doesn’t actually care about what the limits of known intelligence are. “God can do anything,” so God can create life, never mind the fact that in our experience life is the prerequisite of intelligence, and not vice versa.

      Glen Davidson

      • Evolution is what actually causes complexity, not design,

        To clarify, I should have written something more like, “Evolution is what actually causes the greater functional complexity, not design”

        I wouldn’t want to suggest that design can’t produce complex functional objects.

        Glen Davidson

      • Moshe Averick

        Glen,

        I’m sorry, I lost the thread. WHat are the Oklo reactors?

      • Moshe Averick

        Glen,

        Isn’t what goes on in the sun a series of thermonuclear explosions? I think it’s a pretty safe bet that humans did not create the sun.
        Don’t quite get your point.

        • Isn’t what goes on in the sun a series of thermonuclear explosions?

          No, on the main sequence (in short, at the stage it’s in) it is quite steady state, with hydrogen fusing into helium at a relatively low rate per liter per minute, or whatever units you like. Over billions of years the rate has slowly increased and will continue to slowly increase output, until it is out of the main sequence and its output will dramatically increase before going out.

          Stars don’t have thermonuclear explosions, except probably for novae (accumulated hydrogen explodes on the surface) and certain supernovae, commonly supernovae 1a. In the latter the entire star blows up in a huge thermonuclear explosion (carbon and oxygen fusing to make silicon, iron, and a host of other elements), which is how a number of useful elements (for life, tools, etc.) like iron, silicon, carbon, and oxygen are thrown into space where they might make stars with a very little bit making planets like earth. Our sun will not release any meaningful amounts of the carbon and oxygen it produces, because those will simply be trapped in a white, and eventually black, dwarf.

          Oklo reactors are simply collections of uranium that underwent significant fission events moderated by light water, in Africa (mostly destroyed by mining at this time). They were discovered because U235 was lower in those deposits than most everywhere else, although variations in U235/U238 ratios elsewhere suggest that a number of other “natural reactors” have also existed. John Pieret mentioned them and linked to, what? Wikipedia, I think.

          Just that, I think. Trying to work back through the points would be way too much trouble, it would seem.

          Glen Davidson

          Glen Davidson

  • It’s difficult to watch our atheist friends deny there is specified complexity in the cell or hope against all hope that omnipotent and omniscient Science will one day discover a natural pathway from molecules to life. Sad really.

    To deny specified complexity in the cell or that intelligence is the best explanation for the information found in DNA and irreducibly complex systems in biology, displays prodigious wishful thinking or a profound ignorance of the hurdles involved to make the jump from inanimate material to life.

    I’m always amused when I consistently watch materialists make the leap up to step number 10,000 on Dawkins’ Mount Improbable; happily explaining natural selection’s awesome creative power and ignoring the first 9,999 steps that lead to the first cell. You’re like a bunch of midgets helped up to that unlikely step but deny having been hoisted up in the first place.

    Stop telling IDists how dumb we are and start showing us how smart you are. For instance, explain something like the homochirality of amino acids and sugars found in the cell.

    • Your blind faith, Rex, that there is magically some sort of “specified complexity” in the first living things is, quite natural, not rationally supportable.

      • Edit:

        Your blind faith, Rex, that there is magically some sort of “specified complexity” in the first living things is, quite naturally, not rationally supportable.

        Nobody even has a clue about what the first living things were, so your pretense at knowing anything about them is hardly credible.

    • [][]“To deny specified complexity in the cell or that intelligence is the best explanation for the information found in DNA and irreducibly complex systems in biology, displays prodigious wishful thinking or a profound ignorance of the hurdles involved to make the jump from inanimate material to life.”[][]

      Actually, it is fairly simple logic, tied to some basic empiricism. Intelligence is something that came along only after many years of evolution. There is no reasonable way to believe that intelligence somehow miraculously came prior to life. To believe in such miracles requires blind (i.e., religious) faith. So it makes no sense.

  • Averick:

    The only topic which is being debated is the following: What is the most reasonable explanation for the origin of life on Earth: An intelligent creator or an unguided, naturalistic process?

    Why is the former to be considered at all? Given a magic man in the beginning, one without the limitations or concerns of humans, why wouldn’t it be better? But how can the magic man be a given? The mere fact that Moshe presupposes a creator (something he fails to bring up here) is no reason anyone at all ever should do so.

    Myers:

    “Also familiar, I’m afraid, is the usual indignant waffling [by ID theorists] about it being specified complexity…I have never seen it [i.e., specified complexity] operationally defined.”

    This, I’m afraid, is a tiresome dodge. Specified complexity is a reasonable enough claim for life. Myers is right where he points out that IDists conflate specified complexity with design, however it’s not that difficult to see the difference between functional specified complexity and what we might call “incidental complexity” (incidental to function, that is).

    Averick:

    This is true even if we accept Myers’ characterization of the wall as being “relatively simple.” It is certainly functionally complex enough to be recognized as being the result of intelligent, creative causation.

    No, sorry, complexity has nothing to do with it. Rationality does, however, and rationality is eminently visible in most human productions, and is oddly absent from evolution, from life. The leaps of thought, the revolutionary changes sometimes produced by humans, are absent from life, which is slavishly derivative in a way that known intelligence is not.

    Averick:

    Dr. Michael Denton, has put it: “Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non-biological system such as a crystal or a snowflake there is a chasm as vast and as absolute as it is possible to imagine.”

    Yes, and it isn’t much like intelligently made items either. Thus the analogy is inept and useless.

    Averick:

    We also both understand that examples from Darwinian Evolution – accepting its truth for argument’s sake – are irrelevant. Darwinian Evolution and natural selection cannot occur until a fully functioning, DNA-based living cell is in place.

    That isn’t even close to true. Myers wouldn’t in the least agree that natural selection cannot occur until a DNA-based living cell exists. That’s Moshe’s strawman, which by no means is he capable of showing would have to be the first evolving life. That he repeats such claims indicates an unwillingness to engage forthrightly with these matters.

    Myers brings up “Darwinian” evolution, not at all supposing that it is irrelevant: “I think there’s a rather huge difference between a cell and a pile of debris; one replicates and is therefore subject to iterative natural selection, and the other doesn’t.” No, informed people don’t honestly ignore the importance of evolution to all known cells and their complexity.

    Averick:

    How was the enormous gap between non-living, non-organic chemicals and the simplest living bacterium crossed? It is this baffling enigma that you must address in any intellectually honest confrontation with ID Theory

    What does “ID theory” have to do with it? It isn’t something that has either a meaningful cause or obvious effect, it is only a poor analogy between life and machines, the two of which are really very different, with life being absent of both demonstrable rationality in its production and of any evident purpose for anything at all.

    ID has no theory, as it cannot match up known causes to known effects. There are no apparent intelligent effects in life, and no known intelligence existed on earth billions of years ago.

    Myers:

    The message you should take away from these examples is that complexity and design are independent properties of an object. One does not imply the other.

    That’s true, but it’s hard to see what the driftwood wall has to do with it, since its complexity is incidental to any “function” for which it may be employed. The functionality of cellular complexity is very different, which is why it is studied as the separate discipline of biology. The only real analogy with life happens to be genetic algorithms, which find odd solutions that rationality does not, much as life does–but which also cannot make the conceptual leaps not infrequently evident in actually intelligently designed objects.

    The real point is that life does evolve, and ID had more or less proven meaningless prior to the triumph of evolutionary theory. Design explains nothing of why anything in biology exists, while the peculiarities of limited inherited information adapted strangely (if over time usually well) to new problems. Vertebrate wings are merely adaptations of the forelimbs that the organisms inherited, rather as if skids had been modified into wings by humans. But humans don’t design in such a crabbed and slavishly derivative style, so that bird wings were more or less adapted by the Wright brothers (it’s a complex story, including empirical data from a wind tunnel, but bird wings played a prominent role in the Chinese invention of the airfoil and in the flier’s flight control system), something that intelligence readily does–and that evolution cannot do unless horizontal gene transfer occurs.

    Life fits the predictions of evolution, not of design. The origin of life remains in question, as one might expect of contingencies existing billions of years ago, but invoking a cause not at all known to exist, nor any that can be shown via actual data to be rational or intelligent, is not at all reasonable when epistemological considerations are properly used.

    Glen Davidson

    • Hi, Glen … welcome to the asylum.

      “I think there’s a rather huge difference between a cell and a pile of debris; one replicates and is therefore subject to iterative natural selection, and the other doesn’t.”

      Which was the point of Hume and Kant when they refuted Paley even before he wrote of the watchmaker. But the good Rabbi will discard anything and everything … even the greatest philosophers … in his desperate attempt to convince himself that he is God’s special pet.

      • Moshe Averick

        JOhn,

        I again call your attention to the simple fact that Origin of Life scientists never invoke Hume. The reason is that they recognize – as Hume could not – that DNA is a digitally encoded information storage, retrieval, and translation system. The proteins that are involved in the self-replication process are machines in every sense of the word. I say this sincerely, you are behind the times.

        I also want to add clarification to your example of “natural” nuclear fission. There are two critical factors in recognizing intelligent causation: a. High improbability b. functionality.

        The pile of driftwood is a highly improbable arrangment of matter, however it has no functionality.It is “non-functional” complexity.
        The thermonuclear explosions on the sun are not highly improbable at all. There are hundreds of billions of stars all over the universe doing the same thing. I also don’t see how you can say that these stars have any functionality. What specified purpose do they serve? In that sense they are neither improbable nor functional. They do not fit the definition of functional complexity. An Abrams tank, a log cabin, and a bacterial cell are all highly improbably arrangements of matter that serve a specific function, hence “functional complexity.”

        • “I again call your attention to the simple fact that Origin of Life scientists never invoke Hume. The reason is that they recognize – as Hume could not – that DNA is a digitally encoded information storage, retrieval, and translation system.”

          “Origin of Life scientists”? Are those the same as “the atheistic writers” you mentioned before? Letting your bias show much?

          Scientists rarely invoke philosophers in their work but dismissing philosophers because of that is sheer ignorance. Most “Origin of Life scientists” don’t bother to discuss the difference between the self-sustaining chemical processes of “life” and a brick wall because it is (except to people so desperate that they’ll make up any excuse to support their pre-existing beliefs) rather obvious … even to philosophers who didn’t know about DNA.

          “There are two critical factors in recognizing intelligent causation: a. High improbability b. functionality.”

          What is the “probability” of DNA forming under the circumstances existing on Earth in the first billion or so years of its existence? Not your or anyone else’s *approximation* (which just expresses their level of incredulity) and not just a probability of DNA coming together randomly out of chemicals not undergoing the reactions that would have been occurring on the early Earth. Give me the *real* probability … the kind that can be given of your drawing the Jack of Spades in a card game. You can’t … for reasons anyone remotely familiar with probabilities can easily see. Your talk of “probabilities” is just you blowing smoke out of your nether regions.

          “The thermonuclear explosions on the sun are not highly improbable at all. There are hundreds of billions of stars all over the universe doing the same thing.”

          Try to get this through you head and stop making yourself look like an ignoramus … the sun and every other star is a fusion reactor … it is not “simply a series of thermonuclear explosions.” Be that as it may, as I said before, the fact that one natural phenomenon is more common than another is no evidence that the second is not “natural.” That’s the crucial thing you rely on and have failed to demonstrate … that life is *not* natural.

          “I also don’t see how you can say that these stars have any functionality.”

          Well, you haven’t defined “functionality” yet, so it’s easy for you to say you see it one place and not another. The “function” of stars is to create elements above hydrogen and helium, to provide energy to the rest of the universe and to sustain its nuclear fusion. The “function” of a cell is to sustain its chemical reactions and to reproduce so those reactions can continue. When and if you can make a *rational* distinction between those “functions”, without handwaving, as you are doing here, then we may have something to talk about. Otherwise you are simply affirming the consequent.

          • Moshe Averick

            John,

            I would appreciate it if you would not make this disagreement personal. If you disagree, try to avoid the personal venom. You have my attention and I try to honestly engage serious commenters.

            Those scientists who engage in this debate DO invoke philosphical arguments; the one they always use is “Who designed the designer?” They never invoke Hume because his arguments are not relevent to this debate. The construction of the machinery of life is not beyond our experience. Where Hume is correct is where everyone agrees anyways. Functional complexity of life in and of itself does not demonstrate the existence of a supernatural creator, it demonstrates the existence of an intelligent designer.

            It is a combination of intelligent design and the philosophical necessity of an “uncaused designer” that leads to the conclusion of a supernatural creator. This is what convinced atheistic philosopher Antony Flew to become a believer. He did not embrace any particular claim of divine revelation; that of course is not in any way a necessary implication of a supernatural creator. It is a completely separate discussion.

            “Most “Origin of Life scientists” don’t bother to discuss the difference between the self-sustaining chemical processes of “life” and a brick wall because it is (except to people so desperate that they’ll make up any excuse to support their pre-existing beliefs) rather obvious … even to philosophers who didn’t know about DNA.”

            You seem to be unaware that even Richard Dawkins compares the two. He describes DNA as “uncannily computer-like” and as “pure digital code.” Dr. Jack Szostak (non-believer) writes that the molecular machinery in a bacterium would “make any nanotechnologist jealous.”
            They describe it this way because it is the simple truth.

            In fact all of them compare the molecular machinery and informations systems in a cell to a “brick wall.” They just explain that the machinery of the cell is complex beyond our imagination.

          • [][]“It is a combination of intelligent design and the philosophical necessity of an “uncaused designer” that leads to the conclusion of a supernatural creator.”[][]

            All three elements of that thought are false.

            “Intelligence Design Of Life” (the so-called “IDOL” theory) is a self-contradictory notion. The “philosophic necessity of an ‘uncaused designer’” is pure bunkum. And “a supernatural creator” is pure fantasy.

        • I again call your attention to the simple fact that Origin of Life scientists never invoke Hume.

          They don’t have to, they know the bankruptcy of the presuppositions that people like Paley utilized.

          they recognize – as Hume could not – that DNA is a digitally encoded information storage, retrieval, and translation system. The proteins that are involved in the self-replication process are machines in every sense of the word.

          How does this relate at all to Hume’s argument? I’m not one who thinks that an eighteenth-century philosopher is the last word on these matters, of course, but clearly it’s rather important that life reproduces as it does instead of being produced by top-down manufacturing. DNA helps to explain that.

          What does it mean to say that life’s machines are “machines in every sense of the word?” We decided to call them machines, due to mechanical activity by them, and they are not all that similar to small machines that we make, at least as yet.

          There are two critical factors in recognizing intelligent causation: a. High improbability b. functionality.

          No, that is what apologists claim in order to conflate life with actual design. We know what intelligence does, it works rationally and with purpose, neither of which characterizes life outside of the imaginations of apologists.

          Doesn’t it ever bother you that you have to make up even more fictions to save your original fiction? The fact is that one of the usual means of determining whether or not something was designed is by showing that it isn’t “natural” in the older sense of that term, that is, it isn’t life or the result of “instinctual” life. Dembski and others simply throw that honest appraisal out and claim that life is “designed” by pretending that functionality indicates design. No, clearly life functions, or it wouldn’t be life, and you’ve answered nothing by your semantic posturing.

          I also don’t see how you can say that these stars have any functionality. What specified purpose do they serve?

          What specified purpose does a muskrat serve? What specified purpose does a presuppositionalist Rabbi serve? What specified purpose does a tick, a flea, or Plasmodium falciparum serve? And many theists would have no problem ascribing a godly purpose to the sun, as there is basically nothing more functional for life than the sun.

          The sun certainly has seemed purposeful to humans since ancient times, while much of life has no purpose that humans can understand–and no life has any evident purpose beyond those that it assumes.

          • “I would appreciate it if you would not make this disagreement personal.”

            I said *you* were making yourself *look* like an ignoramus by your description of how stars work.

            Ignoramous: an extremely ignorant person.

            Someone who thinks stars are “simply a series of thermonuclear explosions” is displaying extreme ignorance of stellar mechanics.

            Howerver, I will try to take your tender sensibilities into consideration.

            “Those scientists who engage in this debate DO invoke philosphical arguments; the one they always use is “Who designed the designer?””

            So were back to talking about “the atheistic writers” instead of “the Origin of Life Scientists”? Well, does God have a. High improbability and b. functionality? If so, isn’t it right to ask who designed him/her/it? Whenever *you* invoke those things, we know who you are claiming designed them. Isn’t it fair to ask who gave God those attributes?

            “It is a combination of intelligent design and the philosophical necessity of an “uncaused designer” that leads to the conclusion of a supernatural creator.”

            Needless to say, not everyone thinks there is a philosophical necessity of an “uncaused designer.” But, of course, you first have to demonstrate that there is an “intelligent designer” to even get to that point. In case you haven’t noticed it, you haven’t.

            “You seem to be unaware that even Richard Dawkins compares the two. He describes DNA as “uncannily computer-like” and as “pure digital code.” Dr. Jack Szostak (non-believer) writes that the molecular machinery in a bacterium would “make any nanotechnologist jealous.””

            No one has said the analogy is not tempting … but that’s all it is: an *analogy* and it was the *analogy* that Kant and Hume punctured in ways that are just as relevant today as they were in the 18th century.

            “They just explain that the machinery of the cell is complex beyond our imagination.”

            And stripped of all the handwaving about some undefined “functionality” and fake “probabilities,” that is what your argument boils down to … ‘ooh, that looks complex, therefore it must be designed.’ That was the very argument PZ was (effectively!) making fun of.

          • [][]“DNA is a digitally encoded information storage, retrieval, and translation system.”[][]

            That description of DNA is an analogy: taking it literally is an anti-cognitive error.

            There is no actual information in DNA, since DNA is neither consciously constructed nor consciously used. DNA is no more an “information storage system” than a mountain is.

        • [][]“An Abrams tank, a log cabin, and a bacterial cell are all highly improbably arrangements of matter that serve a specific function,…”[][]

          That’s not quite true, Rabbi.

          While the tank and the cabin do serve specified purposes, the notion of a “specified” function for things not man-made is simply fantastic.

      • Hi John,

        Hume’s point, although I know it primarily secondhand, is good. Kant, however, was a “design proponent” who argued not unlike Paley, although he kept it within the realm of “practical reason.”

        Paley argued against Hume (not by name, though), saying that if the watch were found to be self-replicating that would make it even more remarkable. True, but it sort of takes it out of the realm of known design, and it would be incredibly unlike life still (as we suppose will be the predicted self-replicating future robots, at least at first).

        That’s always it, though, the claim is that life is just like what humans design, but so much more like what a God would make. Because, um, texts say so, you know, since the ancients knew what humans do and tried to work from there to beings that could create a cosmos and life. Somehow Rabbis, priests, and other preachers tend to suppose that because the fiction of gods like us but so unlike us was once created by humans to satisfy desires for knowing, humans could be created by said fiction.

        Glen Davidson

    • Moshe Averick

      Glen,

      Don’t have time right now to respond to everything you wrote, but one crucial point: “That isn’t even close to true. Myers wouldn’t in the least agree that natural selection cannot occur until a DNA-based living cell exists. That’s Moshe’s strawman, which by no means is he capable of showing would have to be the first evolving life. That he repeats such claims indicates an unwillingness to engage forthrightly with these matters.”

      You’re correct in the sense that Origin of Life researchers claim that once you have a “simple” self-replicating molecule it has the ability to evolve. Researchers have – through highly rigorous and highly controlled, that is to say “intelligently designed” processes – manufactured RNA strands that can in the most primitive sense be said to self-replicate; however, there is no one in their wildest imagniation that claims that they can describe a naturalistic process that would result in true self-replicating RNA strands that could evolve in any meaningful way. Even so called simple self-replicating molecules are highly improbable and there is no evidence that they ever existed, in fact, all evidence indicates that they never did, or as Leslie Orgel and Gerald Joyce wrote: It would be a “miracle.”

      The notion of “simple” self-replicating molecules existing on the early earth is pure speculation. The late, Dr. Robert SHapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at NYU and a world renowned expert in Origin of Life research blasted Richard Dawkins scenario of the emergence of self-replicating molecules in The God Delusion; he said that Dawkins “absolutely blew it..he’s not a chemist” He called Dawkins’ idea “his schoolboy howler.”

      I discuss this issue at length in my book. I suggest you read it.

      • so called simple self-replicating molecules are highly improbable and there is no evidence that they ever existed,

        What a coincidence, that sort of response covers all of your claims about life and its origins.

        The difference is that we don’t claim that there is evidence that they existed. Science looks for such evidence, while no one can look for the inscrutable God that makes things just like we do, except radically differently, for unknowable purposes and via unknowable means.

        It would be a “miracle.”

        Why would that be a mark against it in your view? Seems like miracles are all that you “have.”

        You’re correct in the sense that Origin of Life researchers claim that once you have a “simple” self-replicating molecule it has the ability to evolve.

        I’m correct in noting that you mischaracterize what Myers agrees to. And a self-replicating molecule is hardly the extent of the possibilities, which include “metabolism first” scenarios.

        The notion of “simple” self-replicating molecules existing on the early earth is pure speculation.

        That is why it isn’t dogma, unlike your “intelligence” that makes nothing like known intelligences do. Also, it isn’t “pure speculation” like your God is, it’s one possibility that actual science considers, a hypothesis. Real discovery depends upon hypothetical thinking.

        he said that Dawkins “absolutely blew it..he’s not a chemist”

        I guess that might explain why you blow it repeatedly.

        Glen Davidson

      • [][]“The notion of “simple” self-replicating molecules existing on the early earth is pure speculation.”[][]

        At least is not a blind faith call for an actual miracle, i.e., something beyond reality (supernatural instead of real).

        Since life really does exist, it has to be 100% natural; there is no other alternative. The supernatural is not a possibility.

    • Moshe Averick

      Glen,

      The reason why the former must be considered is because all human experience confirms that functional complexity is the result of intelligent agency.

      Nobel Prize winner George Wald: “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution [it is important to note how he distinguishes the conceptual difference between origin of life and evolution]; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility…a supernatural creative act of God. I will not accept that philosphically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible; spontaneous generation arising to evolution.”

      • The reason why the former must be considered is because all human experience confirms that functional complexity is the result of intelligent agency.

        No it doesn’t. Life was functioning well before any intelligence can be shown to exist. And while anthropocentric humans often invoked unknown life as the cause of life, they didn’t always (forms being one alternative), plus many didn’t trouble to ascribe life to intelligent processes, rather to reproduction or to other (largely) unintelligent life processes.

        George Wald is simply wrong, which is why the fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam is inappropriate. I am well aware of the fact that, despite that fallacy, we are often beholden to experts in many matters, however it is really not appropriate to use Wald as some expert on the range of possibilities out there once we leave the realm of empiricism, as you have.

        Functional complexity is the result of reproduction, which is also the cause of intelligence and its fucntionally complex creations. That is our experience. Leaving out the cause of intelligence, imperfect reproduction winnowed by natural selection and other processes, is the glaring error of ID.

        Glen Davidson

      • The reason why the former must be considered is because all human experience confirms that functional complexity is the result of intelligent agency.

        A more “objective” way (if we ignore the fact that intelligence is the result of reproduction and evolution) to write this would be:

        The reason why the former must be considered is because all human experience confirms that functional complexity is the result of human agency. Because that is the extent of intelligent agency that we’ve seen heretofore.

        That it’s ridiculous to claim that humans created humans means that IDists retreat to generalities that ignore empiricism. Sure, it was just some God hovering over the water (whatever, don’t care which myth is preferred), why not?

        Well, because no such intelligence not resulting from sexual reproduction and evolution is known to exist.

        Glen Davidson

        • The issue is not simply that human intelligence is all we know of. It seems possible that other forms of intelligent life could evolve, or might be discovered, somewhere, some time.

          But “supernatural intelligence” is something utterly impossible. So there is no good reason to consider it.

        • “That it’s ridiculous to claim that humans created humans means that IDists retreat to generalities that ignore empiricism … Well, because no such intelligence not resulting from sexual reproduction and evolution is known to exist.”

          Glen, the alternate hypothesis (that of the atheist) is far more deficient: functional complexity arising spontaneously, without the agency of an intelligent designer is not known to exist, and it’s absurd to tout this alternate possibility as somehow being more “empiric” than the inference to an intelligent designer, which is at least rooted in the universal observations surrounding human intelligent design.

          It’s also disingenuous to adopt the assumption that the ability to make the design inference must be restricted to human beings alone. No one really believes this, including you. No one adopts the assumption, for instance, that it would be IMPOSSIBLE to detect signs of alien intelligence in the universe, based on the mere fact that our experience with intelligent design is limited to human beings.

          It’s only when atheists face the question of intelligent design do they suddenly retreat to positing all sorts of absurd assumptions that they do not actually subscribe to in other areas of their life.

          Wi

      • [][]“all human experience confirms that functional complexity is the result of intelligent agency.”[][]

        Humans are the only intelligent agency in human experience with the capability of specifying designs and implementing them.

        Nature, of course, does have “functional complexity.” But nature, as such, doesn’t do “design” or “specification.” In reality, only humans do that.

      • “Nobel Prize winner George Wald …”

        Quote mining again?

        http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part1-4.html#quote57

        You do realize that quote mining is dishonest and labels the person doing it as so, don’t you?

    • [][]“The only topic which is being debated is the following: What is the most reasonable explanation for the origin of life on Earth: An intelligent creator or an unguided, naturalistic process?”[][]

      An “unguided, natural process” is the ONLY possible explanation for the origin of life. It could not have been anything else, or otherwise.

      The notion of an “intelligent creator of life” is pure self-contradictory fantasy. That is certainly not a reasonable explanation.

      Only nature exists in the real, non-fiction world. A “supernatural creator” does not exist, not really. Not outside the world of fiction.

  • [][]” What is the most reasonable explanation for the origin of life on Earth: An intelligent creator or an unguided, naturalistic process?”[][]

    An “unguided, natural process” is the ONLY reasonable explanation for the origin of life — since intelligence did not exist prior to the evolution of man.

    The notion of a “Supernatural Intelligence” is pure fantasy — NOT any sort of reasonable idea, theory, or explanation of anything.

    The notion that you can misrepresent the complexity of life as “specified complexity,” and then deduce the existence of God from that, is a pipe-dream.

  • Dear Rabbi Averick:

    The Mpemba phenomenon is when warm water freezes before cold water, which based upon mathematical models is impossible, and it turns out that those models are just wrong. The real-world phenomenon exists.

    I deeply doubt that if scientists have been unable to fully explain the cooling of a warm glass of water, that they would be able to explain all natural phenomena. However, this does not mean that I interpret the Mpemba effect as evidence of God or an Intelligent Designer.

    For me, it means that we still have more to learn. Maybe it is sufficient for you to stop, but if we all had your attitude we would get nowhere. Since the dawn of time, there have been those who championed the divine in response to the unknown. I just recently read about Mormons who objected to going to the moon, because, according to them, God gave us the Earth and nothing else.

    I’m sorry that science’s inability to answer the complexity question is interpreted by you as evidence for the divine, especially in light of the massive amount of fossil evidence that confirms evolutionary theory.

    I can only hope that in a hundred years, ID proponents will go the way of Vitalists that said a chemical code for life was impossible (DNA), or young-earth proponents like Rabbi Hillel II.

    • Or maybe in 100 years, ID or its successor will be like the Copernican revolution, scorned until it proved out.

    • David,

      Your fundamental misunderstanding here is that you thought Dr. Myers and I were talking about evolutionary theory; we are not. We were discussing Origin of Life, a conceptually and fundamentally different branch of science. In his talk at the atheist convention he was not presenting an argument defending evolutionary theory, he was attempting to somehow get past the origin of life conundrum. He understands as well as I do, that evolution is completely irrlevent to the essential question about the existence of a creator.

      • David,

        Your fundamental misunderstanding here is that you thought Dr. Myers and I were talking about evolutionary theory; we are not. We were discussing Origin of Life

        No, Myers is indeed discussing evolutionary theory, at least in part:

        Nowhere in that talk do I claim that a pile of driftwood is analogous to a cell. I think there’s a rather huge difference between a cell and a pile of debris; one replicates and is therefore subject to iterative natural selection, and the other doesn’t.

        He specifically invokes natural selection. No one has any right to suppose that today’s cells were anything like “first life” (whatever that is), and Averick’s insistence that it was only indicates his lack of regard for proper dialog about these matters.

        Glen Davidson

        • Moshe Averick

          Glen,

          Don’t you realize you have presupposed what we are arguing about in the first place. You have made the totally unfounded assumption that there were early cells or “first life.”
          No evidence exists that there ever were such things. This is the entire baffling mystery that stymies origin of life researchers.

          • You have made the totally unfounded assumption that there were early cells or “first life.”

            No, I’ve explained to you the evidence for precursors to present-day life, and you either ignored said evidence or simply denied it. I’m not going to repeat it here, suffice to say that all of life has evidence of extensive evolution both prior to and after the domains largely separated from each other, with many proteins in humans profitably studied in bacteria and in archaea.

            You argue incoherently, claiming that “Darwinian evolution” isn’t what you’re discussing, which you (claim to )allow for argument’s sake to have occurred, then denying the clear evidence of a great deal of evolution leading to today’s prokaryotes. Either you allow that evolution occurred, and that bacteria and archaea are hardly the first life that existed, or you’ll never make any sense.

            Glen Davidson

          • If there was no “first life,” then life was never created, period. Life is 100% natural, no matter what, of course, since there is no alternative to nature.

  • Well, I don’t know how much patience I have to hang around here so let me explore your “logic” before I go:

    If A

    [There is something]

    and B

    [That has something I call "functional complexity," which I can't define but assert is "obvious"]

    Therefore, C

    [There is an Intelligent Designer God]

    In the US you are free to your belief and I’ll defend that right … but if you assert that is *logic*, then I’m equally free to point and laugh.

    • John,

      Dr. Myers could not give one example of functional complexity nor specified information even on simple levels that are the result of unguided processes; a bacterium and its genetic code are hopeless.

      You are entitled to your leap of faith that life could arise naturalistically, the simple fact is that scientists are stymied and will never find the answer.

      • “Dr. Myers could not give one example of functional complexity nor specified information even on simple levels that are the result of unguided processes; a bacterium and its genetic code are hopeless. ”

        I’ve given you two examples … there are many more. Your dependence on the example of “life” is what is hopeless.

        “You are entitled to your leap of faith that life could arise naturalistically, the simple fact is that scientists are stymied and will never find the answer.”

        We will never find an answer? Like ‘if man was meant to fly, God would have given him wings’ (ascribed, probably apocryphally, to Orville’s and Wilbur’s father)? Or ‘man will never get to the moon’ (ascribed to various Morman leaders)? Or … well, you get the idea … I have no “faith” that science will answer questions that know-nothings like you say will never be answered (based only on faith, not logic or reasoning) … I have the *experience* of the human race answering those questions time and time again!

      • [][]“You are entitled to your leap of faith that life could arise naturalistically,…”[][]

        And logically, you are NOT entitled to your leap of faith that life could arise unnaturally/supernaturally. There is no actual (or reasonable) alternative to nature.

  • “The only topic which is being debated is the following: What is the most reasonable explanation for the origin of life on Earth: An intelligent creator or an unguided, naturalistic process?”

    Baroom debates between uninformed fellow drinkers may be entertaining but not enlightening. I would be happy to debate the Torah with the Rabbi over drinks despite my utter illiteracy in ancient Hebrew. Soemhow, I think that debate would be a waste of time to observers.

    It would seem that a knowlegable participant in the scietific basis for orgin of life would have a certain minimum (Ph.D level) understanding of chemistry, physics and, in particular, organic chemistry.

    This in no way denigates the Rabbi’s intelligence or analytical abilitues. Just as I think there is a minimum level of expertise to debate Torah (Hebrew fluency, Ph.D level knowledge of ANE history and Advanced studies training in Jewish Theology) there si a similar requiremtn for discussign sciecne.

    The Rabbi shows no indication that he can handle the mathematics, physics and chemistry beyond high school level and is therefore unable, without further education, to meaningfully particapte in such a debate.

    Will the Rabbi next debate brain surgery techniques with a neurosurgeon?

    • No special knowledge of chemistry is necessary in order to understand that nature DOES exist and the supernatural DOESN’T. That is a straightforward observation that everyone is capable of making.

    • Joe,

      The only reason you write this is because you have no understanding at all of the Origin of Life issue.
      Read my book, you may learn something.

      • “Buy my book” is not a demonstration of scientific expertise sufficient for a meaningful professional debate.

  • @Bryan Westley
    What do the writer’s “qualifications” have to do with the questions he has posed?
    These are valid questions to a scientific debate. I feel your intent is to discredit the author the moment you discover that his “qualifications” do not meet your expectations.
    Just simply address the the points that the author brought up instead of trying to censure valid inquiry.

    Thanks.

    • Brian Westley

      “What do the writer’s “qualifications” have to do with the questions he has posed?”

      He hasn’t just raised the questions, he has proposed that he himself debate it; his qualifications are pertinent.

      “These are valid questions to a scientific debate. I feel your intent is to discredit the author the moment you discover that his “qualifications” do not meet your expectations.”

      Having read some of his earlier writings, I don’t consider Averick to be qualified to debate much of anything. He uses logical fallacies, which have no place in a debate. And I don’t see what qualifications he has to debate the origin of life.

      “Just simply address the the points that the author brought up instead of trying to censure valid inquiry.”

      Asking about qualifications isn’t censure of anything.

    • Les,

      I could not have said it better myself.

  • Is a nuclear reactor something you would declare has “obvious” “specified” or “functional” complexity? Then please explain this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_nuclear_fission_reactor

    You really shouldn’t attempt to lecture anyone on “logic” when the central “premise” of your argument is that you can just recognize intelligent design when you see it.

    By the way, Kant and Hume both demolished the watchmaker analogy well before Paley ever published it.

    • Very good, now please answer the question the Rabbi asked:

      “The only point of contention; I repeat, the only point of contention is whether or not functionally complex structures – like the battle tank, log cabin, or living cell – can arise through natural, unguided forces, or is their very existence the undeniable evidence of the intelligent, creative force which was the cause of their formation?”

      And:

      “In order to effectively refute the thesis of my article you would need to give examples of functionally specified or functionally complex structures – like your brick wall – that are the result of unguided processes. You fail to provide even one such example and for a very good reason; there are no such examples.”

      These are the questions. Let’s stay focused here.

      Thanks.

      • So, neclear reactors producing energy aren’t “functionally complex structures”? By what *metric* do you or the Rabbi make that distinction as compared to a cell? *That* was PZ’s point. Don’t just handwave … tell us *how* we can tell a nuclear reactor such as at Oklo or, for that matter, the self-sustaining fusion reactor we call “the Sun” that takes “simpler” atoms with fewer elemental particles and turns them into “higer” elements and, without which “function,” life on Earth (at least as we know it) would be impossible.

        • Opps, that last sentence should have continued “tell us *how* we can tell a nuclear reactor such as at Oklo or, for that matter, the self-sustaining fusion reactor we call “the Sun” that takes “simpler” atoms with fewer elemental particles and turns them into “higer” elements and, without which “function,” life on Earth (at least as we know it) would be impossible, compared to the self-sustaining chemical reactions that we call a “living” cell?”

        • John,

          The nuclear reactions that go on in the sun and other stars are “natural” phenomena. They will occur any time the right natural forces are in play and in fact they are occuring all over the universe. Life does not. If life from non-life was as natural as stars, life would be coming into existence everywhere. It is not. there is a good reason why it is not. You cannot simply throw chemicals together and get life any more than you can throw ink at a piece of paper and get words.

          • “The nuclear reactions that go on in the sun and other stars are “natural” phenomena. They will occur any time the right natural forces are in play and in fact they are occuring all over the universe. Life does not.”

            So you *assert* … but you present no evidence for that assertion. Stars are, certainly, more common than life but that does not mean that one is “natural” and the other is not. Hydrogen is the most abundant element. Oxygen is, relatively, rare. That doesn’t mean water (hydrogen and oxygen) is spooky supernatural.

            Tell me, if life is found elsewhere in the universe, will you consider that a “proof” that God does not exist? If not, then your *assertion* that life doesn’t exist elsewhere can’t be a proof *for* God … unless you are giving up on that pesky “logic” thingie. When you *show* that life is not a “natural phenomenon,” instead of just *asserting* it, maybe people not ignorant of the arguments and the science will start taking you and the rest of the IDers seriously.

          • Mihai-Robert Soran

            @Moshe Averik,
            You claim that life is unique for the piece of solid matter in Universe called Earth.
            And you claim that life does not occur any time the right natural forces are in play and does not occur all over the universe.
            It is both ridiculous and sad. I don’t remember many cases of such MAverick incompetence paired with empty arrogance.

            The sun is a star. Stars constitute a very small part of the organized matter in the universe.
            less than 5% of the total mass of the observable universe is made up of baryonic matter (atoms), the rest being made up of dark matter and dark energy, and it is also estimated that less than 10% of baryonic matter consists of stars.
            In other words, stars aren’t more than 0.5% of the universal mass. You of course are totally unable to define what you consider “the right forces” for the creation of stars, and you can’t at all demonstrate that “the right forces” always lead to the birth of a star. And we know, based on observation plus models that they don’t.

            We can observe stars because they are so large structures. 99.9999999999999% of the stars we see or observe today could possibly not exist any more since years, thousands of years, millions or billions of years.
            WE HAVE NO certitude that the stars (and the form and content of universe we think we live in NOW) still exist when we see them. The sun itself could explode or implode in this very moment, and we’ll “experience” it first in more than 8 minutes.
            Now to life: Life is one form of small structures, not observable at cosmic dimensions, except it’s in our “neighborhood” and has reached a state of intelligence capable of inventing and using artificial technologies, e.g. for transmission of some kind of signals capable to cross interstellar space.
            You have no proof at all, not even by means of your creationist ideology, that there is no life somewhere else where “the right forces” met or that life is not common on all cosmic structures that possess those right forces.

            I’ll stop here, I already spent to much time on poor but villain maverick logic and aggressivity.

            In other words I’ll leave you with your Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Maverick Rabbi

          • @Mihai-Robert Soran

            “The sun itself could explode or implode in this very moment, and we’ll “experience” it first in more than 8 minutes.”

            Up to that point, you sounded like you might know what you were talking about. Our sun is a very stable star that surely will not explode or implode any time soon. If fact, ask any astronomer and he’ll tell you that the sun will continue to shine for another 5 billion years. Sheesh!

      • [][]“In order to effectively refute the thesis of my article you would need to give examples of functionally specified or functionally complex structures – like your brick wall – that are the result of unguided processes.”[][]

        LIFE is a prime example of something “functionally complex” that resulted from “unguided processes” in nature.

        Note, also, that life is NOT an example of something “functionally specified” — since specification is a capability that did not exist prior to the evolution of man (a natural, unguided process).

      • [][]“… the only point of contention is whether or not functionally complex structures – like the battle tank, log cabin, or living cell – can arise through natural, unguided forces,…”[][]

        Life, as such, originated “through natural, unguided forces” (since there weren’t any other kind before the evolution of man). The tank and the cabin are man-made.

        • laaniyas.dayti@gmail.com

          “Life, as such, originated “through natural, unguided forces” (since there weren’t any other kind before the evolution of man). ”

          I see.
          Now, please, from where commeth these ‘natural forces’?
          What makes any force ‘natural’?
          Basic principle of physics: Energy (forces included) is conserved. It comes in this for and alter to another.

          Again: What force is the origin of ‘natural forces’?

    • John,

      The sun itself is simply a series of thermonuclear explosions. It is not a “nuclear reactor.”

      Hume is irrelevent in the 21st century. Hume -through no fault of his own – had no understanding of genetics and how living organisms self replicate. There is a very good reason why no self-respecting non-believing origin of life researcher ever brings up Hume. Those researchers who have an intimate understanding of the staggering sophistication of the simplest living organisms know that the esoteric philosophical arguments of Hume don’t cut it anymore (assuming that they ever did). They understand very well that they must rely on Science finding a naturalistic pathway for life to come from non-life. If not, there is no other choice but a creator.

      • “The sun itself is simply a series of thermonuclear explosions. It is not a “nuclear reactor.”

        Thanks for letting us know that you are even more ignorant of science than I could have ever imagined. Please get a high school book on astronomy and read it.

        “Hume is irrelevent in the 21st century.”

        I have no words to describe such ignorance. I can only wonder how you would react if someone said that Mosheh ben Maimon and his “esoteric philosophical arguments” had nothing of relevance to say about the 21st century world. At heart, sir, you are deeply anti-intellectual.

        “Those researchers who have an intimate understanding of the staggering sophistication of the simplest living organisms know that the esoteric philosophical arguments of Hume don’t cut it anymore (assuming that they ever did).”

        Ah, so “science” means more to you than philosophy and and logic? But you dismiss science when when it doesn’t agree with your theology? I have no reason to discuss this issue with an obvious idealogue anymore (not that I won’t come back to see and comment on what next intellectual pretzel you’ll twist yourself into).

        • “Thanks for letting us know that you are even more ignorant of science than I could have ever imagined. Please get a high school book on astronomy and read it.”

          What exactly do you find so objectionable about that statement? Explain yourself.

          • The sun is not “simply a series of thermonuclear explosions.” It is a continuous fusion reaction. Chemical and nuclear “explosions” occur when you *briefly* constrain those reactions, which then are forceably released when the constraints are broken. While the sun’s core is highly constrained by its gravity, the core has never been released and won’t be until our sun becomes a red giant (the process of which might be compared to *an* explosion). The Rabbi’s statement betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of stars.

  • Brian Westley

    What are your qualifications?

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  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

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  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

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  • Israel Music Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Ok, fans, question time. What do: Guns ‘n’ Roses shred-meister guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (aka Ronald Jay Blumenthal), “Hard Rock Hotel”, “Las Vegas” and Israel’s ”Hatikva” (The Hope) national anthem… all have in common? I know, you’re probably thinking, “Hmm, ‘One of these things is not like the other,’ would fit in here,” right? Um, no, turns out. Caught backstage by blogger Darren Garnick at the swanky Vegas gig in early June, Thal, acoustic guitar in hand, fretted out a sweetly melodic [...]

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