As Atheistic/Materialistic Science Lay Dying…..

November 15, 2012 4:25 pm 161 comments

"Unreal and fantastic" - bacteria form electrical networks on the ocean floor

The headline of a Nature article that appeared on 10/24/12 reads as follows: “Filamentous bacteria transport electrons over centimeter distances.” In layman’s terms it means that living bacteria at the bottom of the ocean act as a network of electrical cables complete with insulation that transmit electricity over a distance of one centimeter. If these “marvelous microbes” were the size of human beings the signals would be transmitted for 12 miles. Several years ago researchers had detected electrical currents on the ocean floor but until now had no idea of their source. Science Daily reports that “they make up kind of live electric cable that no one had ever imagined existed.” One researcher described it as “unreal and fantastic.”

A single teaspoon of mud contains at least a half mile of these living cables. The electrical currents generated by these bacteria seem to play an important role in the nutrient cycles of sea life.

Of course when asked to explain how bacteria developed sophisticated electrical transmission capabilities complete with insulated sheathing and formed complex electrical grids, atheist/materialist scientists will wave their magic wands and tell us of that the “old black magic” called Darwinian Evolution is responsible. We can imagine Father Charles up in heaven (in a manner of speaking of course) gazing down blissfully at his disciples as they invoke his name to explain everything and anything:

How did bacteria develop the capacity to form sophisticated networks of insulated electrical cables and transmission? – the young student asks his Professor
• Why Evolution of course, my son – answers the wise Professor.
• How did a mindless, directionless evolutionary process accomplish this?
• We don’t know my son, but we’ll figure it out sooner or later.
• Wise Professor, didn’t you teach me that these “electric” bacteria evolved by natural selection which is driven by random mutations in the DNA of simpler bacteria over millions of years?
• Yes, my son, I see you have learned well.
• And where did the first bacteria come from, Wise Professor?
• We speculate that they evolved from “simple” self-replicating molecules, but since researchers are baffled as to how self-replicating molecules could form from raw inorganic chemicals on the ancient earth, and since there is no evidence that these self-replicating molecules actually ever existed, it remains a mystery, my son.
• Wise Professor, is it possible that the reason why no one can figure out how life – and the enormous amounts of specified information and the fantastic genetic information storage and translation systems that are present in all life – began through a naturalistic, unguided process is because life is the product of design? After all, even our beloved High Priest of atheism, Richard Dawkins, admits that living things, including the simplest bacteria are “complicated things that give the appearance of design.” Similarly, the Wyss Institute at Harvard University writes on its “About Us” page : “The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering uses Nature’s design principles to develop bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world.”
• My son, you must remove these doubts from your mind. If you keep asking these foolish questions you will ruin your academic career!
• What should I do, Wise Professor?
• Let us pray together to Father Charles for guidance.
• Thank you so much Professor, you truly are wise!

John Thomas Scopes, of "Scopes Monkey Trial" fame

When the Supreme Court of Tennessee reviewed the guilty verdict of the famous Scopes “Monkey Trial” (1925), Justice Chambliss noted the following statement by Dr. E.N. Reinke, Professor of Biology at Vanderbilt University, which was repeatedly referred to in the briefs of counsel for the defense:

“The theory of evolution is altogether essential to the teaching of biology…To deny the teacher of biology the use of [evolution] would make his teaching as chaotic as an attempt to teach…physics without assuming the existence of the ether.”

In hindsight, Dr. Reinke’s remarks are nothing short of comical. The theory of the luminiferous ether was abandoned by science long ago and even today physicists and historians of science get slightly red-faced when the subject comes up.

Cracks and fissures are rapidly appearing in the great Darwinian Wall. The recent shattering of the mythical “Junk DNA” concept, University of Chicago microbiologist, James Shapiro’s Evolution: A View from the 21st Century (Shapiro has a screeching-chalk effect on his zealously atheistic U. of C. colleague, Dr. Jerry Coyne), and in a startling development, the publication of Professor Thomas Nagel’s, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. Nagel, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at NYU, is among the premier intellectuals in the United States. His is a voice that cannot be ignored.

Professor Thomas Nagel, one of the leading intellectuals in the United States

Nagel writes:

“For a long time I have found the materialist account of how we and our fellow organisms come to exist hard to believe, including the standard version of how the evolutionary process works. The more details we learn about the chemical basis of life and the intricacy of the genetic code, the more unbelievable the standard historical account becomes…It seems to me that…the current orthodoxy about the cosmic order is the product of governing assumptions that are unsupported and that it flies in the face of common sense.”

Much to the chagrin of materialistic scientists, particularly fire-breathing preachers of science-based atheism like Dr’s P.Z. Myers and Jerry Coyne, Nagel does not come to the table with a religious agenda. He is very honest about why he is not prepared to embrace Intelligent Design Theory: “My preference for an immanent natural explanation is congruent with my atheism.” He candidly describes this as an “ungrounded intellectual preference.” Ungrounded, indeed.

Make no mistake about it. As fell the theory of the luminiferous ether, so too will fall Darwinian Evolution – the backbone of the modern atheist/materialist worldview – and it will fall hard.
I, for one, will not be sad. It’s time for Charles Darwin to finally rest in peace.

161 Comments

  • ** Rabbi Averick has a complaint: Of course when asked to explain how bacteria developed sophisticated electrical transmission capabilities complete with insulated sheathing and formed complex electrical grids, atheist/materialist scientists will wave their magic wands and tell us of that the “old black magic” called Darwinian Evolution is responsible.” **

    That is quite a case of projection: he is accusing science of being religion, i.e., making an appeal to magic.

    But magic is what religion faithfully relies on. Science depends on facts and logic.

    • One should wonder how much effort it takes for these “Creationists” to ignore and invert the whole history of mankind and believe that science invokes magic, while religion is the road to knowledge. It cannot be easy to be so fanatically, fantastically wrong.

      • Don’t forget the point that since you can’t explain things by magic, science has necessarily got to be “atheistic.” And since the world is material, science must be energetically “materialistic.”

    • Which is apparently why Prof. Nagel questions evolution.

      • Questions of fact are productive.

        Questions of faith are a waste of everybody’s time.

        Magical thinking (e.g., religious faith, or “scientific” orthodoxy) never makes sense.

      • Science is the pursuit of knowledge. That’s why questions are productive.

        Religion is the evasion of knowledge — the pursuit of blind belief rather than questions and answers.

  • Rabbi Averick keeps says that the supernatural is possible, and I respond that it isn’t possible. Rabbi Averick has his “IDOL” theory, viz., the “Intelligent Designer Of Life” which I don’t accept because it is self-contradictory (just like every “Great Notion” of the “Divine”).

    It is an important point is that I have a sound reason for my position, while Rabbi Averick has no good reason for his. He and I agree that God is not-of-this-world, but he doesn’t let that stop him as he indulges in a magical fantasy trip beyond matter and time — whereas I stick with what can be known in the real world.

    Oddly enough, the infamous Tugwell declares that logically sticking to reality has got to be a bluff. Perhaps he feels that reality is not substantial enough to stick to — or that the human mind cannot be taken seriously.

    At any rate, Rex, Morris, and the rabbi wish to believe in miraculous contradictions, and I’m pointing out that they are being illogical on that score (viz., being theists).

    One can only be a theist in contradiction to experience in the real world (since nothing about God has to do with the real world). Since the supernatural is the unreal, it is contradictory to claim that God really exists (which is necessarily impossible).

  • \\’//
    RexTugwell
    November 30, 2012
    9:00 am
    “You’re bluffing …”
    //,\\

    I presume you mean that I’m bluffing when I say I see no evidence of the existence of “the supernatural,” including a “Miraculously Intelligent Designer of Life.”

    But, of course, there really is no such evidence. Nobody in the whole history of the world has ever found or presented any such evidence — not even Rabbi Averick (or you and Morris, etc.).

    The Great Notion that God is not-of-this-world is technically the admission by theists that there is no evidence for God — and no sensible reason for believing in the supernatural (e.g., Moshe’s “IDOL” and “Creation, by God!”)

  • \\|//
    Moshe Morris
    November 30, 2012
    7:27 am

    “For my part, I think you ….Ignore the clear and obvious ‘design’ (or whatever you want to call it) found in nature [i.e., elements that clearly requires some sort of intelligent agent to bring about their existence] …”
    //|\\

    Since there is nothing, no element of any kind, in nature “that clearly requires some sort of intelligent agent to bring about their existence,” what do you possibly have in mind that you feel people are ignoring? You talk and talk and talk and never offer any evidence or logical inferences. (Your claim that “the ear is designed” is arbitrary and has no basis in reality.)

    }}}“… a proper definition of design …”{{{

    One part the definition has to have is the concept of intelligence — and intelligence is an attribute of certain living beings, basically humans in this context. That means that there could have been no designers before there were humans.

    Designers are real people; God is a fictional character. (You have no argument and no facts to the contrary — you have only some fantasies of pure blind (i.e., religious) faith. But you seem rather unsatisfied with that.

  • To Glen:

    Here is my final response in this exchange – please feel free to have the last word.

    I think that you basically have one question to which you are not willing to entertain any answers. I think you do what is common in these types of discussions – you assume that you know what you are talking about and that the other side doesn’t. At the same time, you dismiss any counter-arguments, evidence or ideas that the other side has to offer.

    For my part, I think you have

    * Side-stepped the issue of the importance of offering a proper definition of design while simultaneously arguing that ears and the like aren’t designed

    * Have not understood the significance of looking at the system of evolution as a whole

    * Ignore the clear and obvious ‘design’ (or whatever you want to call it) found in nature [i.e., elements that clearly requires some sort of intelligent agent to bring about their existence]

    * Ignore clear and obvious evidence that the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution (random mutations plus natural selection) do not and cannot account for the design we see in the natural world nor the systems and activities witnessed in the cell

    In short, I think your responses show why the theory of evolution is as much (if not more) ideology than real science. Note, I’m not talking about whether or not there was an evolutionary process, but rather about the theory of how evolution took place. There is an ideological attachment to the NDT version – in part because it is a challenge to the notion of a Divine Creator [regardless of what Darwin wrote in the first edition].

    This ideological bent shows clearly in the tactics and means taken to defend this version of evolution and discuss issues relating to G-d and evolution. The responses are rhetorical, political, condescending, dismissive and the like. The tone is charged, angry and incredulous. The simple truth is that if the argument was as sound as proponents of evolution claimed it to be they wouldn’t need this rhetoric. What’s more, modern scientific discoveries are showing that many of their assertions and claims were just plain wrong – but that is to be expected when a position is ideological and/or emotional. See, for instance,

    * http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-a-shapiro/bob-dylan-encode-and-evol_b_1873935.html

    * http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-a-shapiro/further-thoughts-on-the-e_b_1893984.html

    I think we have both made the points we wanted to make. At the end of the day, I think current scientific thinking clearly puts the Design argument back where it was in the time of Paley and pre-Hume with the exception that the argument is much stronger and easier to make today. At the same time, I don’t think the NDT ever really was a challenge to the argument from design – they merely changed the focus of design from the creatures themselves to the system.

    I will, though, add two more points. First, when it comes to superior designs – it is nature that is the clear winner. That’s why there is a whole field call biomimicry, because we understand that we have a great deal to learn from nature about design – not the other way around. Nature simply does it better.

    Secondly, in terms of aging and breaking down – let’s compare any mic to the human ear. Let’s have the mic work 24 hours a day, 7 days a weak, 365 days a year in billions of people all over the world in a wide range of climates and temperatures and see which breaks down first and which one lasts longer. My money is on the human ear.

    Be well,

    Moshe

    • you assume that you know what you are talking about and that the other side doesn’t.

      Yes, I’ve studied it with an open mind, and you quite clearly have not. Knowing that you know something when you do is hardly anything to be ashamed of.

      At the same time, you dismiss any counter-arguments, evidence or ideas that the other side has to offer.

      See, there’s the problem. I refer to evidence, you simply don’t. Really, pointing me to videos that chronicle the marvels of life means nothing without any sound analysis. You reject analysis and ignore telling evidence, like the evolution of mammalian ear bones from jaw bones.

      * Side-stepped the issue of the importance of offering a proper definition of design while simultaneously arguing that ears and the like aren’t designed

      You, who do anything but deal with the actual evidence of ear evolution, call the kettle black. It’s typical of creationist projection.

      * Have not understood the significance of looking at the system of evolution as a whole

      No, while I was writing that fruit bat wings are simply an example, were throwing as many objections against just that example, while ignoring the fact that there are literally billions of features of life like that, although most are less obvious.

      * Ignore the clear and obvious ‘design’ (or whatever you want to call it) found in nature [i.e., elements that clearly requires some sort of intelligent agent to bring about their existence

      Something for which you haven’t brought one legitimate piece of evidence, with mere assertion and incredulity. While we bring evidence of derivation, in the patterns dictated by known evolution mechanisms, you simply demand that we accept your unchanging faith that what appears evolved just must have been designed.

      * Ignore clear and obvious evidence that the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution (random mutations plus natural selection) do not and cannot account for the design we see in the natural world nor the systems and activities witnessed in the cell

      What evidence was that? Oh yes, your assertions that it must be so. Learn what evidence really is, if you will.

      In short, I think your responses show why the theory of evolution is as much (if not more) ideology than real science.

      Because I point to real evidence, while you prattle on about how design is just obvious? Little backward there.

      There is an ideological attachment to the NDT version

      There is a scientific attachment to matching cause with effect. When you, and people who argue more cogently than you do (if not much), continually fail to produce any evidence of teleology in life, yet demand that we accept that evolution is teleological, it’s clear that IDists lack the scientific desire to find real causes for real, non-intelligent adaptations rampant in life.

      in part because it is a challenge to the notion of a Divine Creator

      Is it at all odd that this is a common belief among creationists, despite it having as little evidence as design has ever had? One thinks not.

      The responses are rhetorical, political, condescending, dismissive and the like. The tone is charged, angry and incredulous.

      For one who not only fails to produce evidence for your beliefs, but also to consider in good faith anything that I have written, while making scurrilous charges regarding our motives, this is a bit on the hypocritical side. But certainly in line with your evidence-free attacks thus far.

      What’s more, modern scientific discoveries are showing that many of their assertions and claims were just plain wrong – but that is to be expected when a position is ideological and/or emotional. See, for instance,

      It’s not only clear how emotional your attacks upon the side that actually discussed evidence are, it’s also clear that you have only really studied one side of the issue, clinging to the words of people like Shapiro who make endless attacks on evolutionary mechanisms without evidence for any meaningful (that is, evidence-based) alternative (familiar?), while failing to even consider the evidence I gave for non-teleological evolution.

      I think we have both made the points we wanted to make.

      There’s no equality here. I made points, you made unsupported assertions.

      At the end of the day, I think current scientific thinking clearly puts the Design argument back where it was in the time of Paley and pre-Hume with the exception that the argument is much stronger and easier to make today.

      And yet you couldn’t produce any evidence for design, only assert that it xists over and over again. Actions vs. words, you know.

      At the same time, I don’t think the NDT ever really was a challenge to the argument from design – they merely changed the focus of design from the creatures themselves to the system.

      Why would it “challenge” the argument from design? Design had largely failed even prior to scientific evolutionary theory, because life simply deviates too often from any real design strategy. You need to learn what science is about, which is finding real causes for real effects. Evolutionary theory finds causes for the extremely derivative nature of life, and unless and until anyone produces genuine evidence for design in life, that is the only legitimate response to the evidence. But you’re not concerned about evidence, really, except as it relates to your religion, while I only wish to be informed by evidence and by legitimate inference therefrom.

      First, when it comes to superior designs – it is nature that is the clear winner. That’s why there is a whole field call biomimicry,

      Again the inadequate reasoning. There is biomimicry because evolution works (genetic algorithms work), and life has had millions of years to fine-tune composites, eyes, ears, etc. If you actually knew what biomimicry is about, rather than swallowing the hype from IDists, engineers almost never want to exactly reproduce what nature has done, because nature is rather limited in materials and processes. They want to utilize engineering materials and the finely honed composite structure of, say, the abalone shell, because there is nothing about the materials used by the abalone shell that indicates an intelligent choice, it’s just that evolution has had a long time to make the most of those materials.

      Intelligence makes use of what’s good, intelligence from the human, evolutionary elegance from biology.

      because we understand that we have a great deal to learn from nature about design – not the other way around.

      Nature does not learn from us, true. Think about why that is.

      Nature simply does it better.

      We have materials like carbon nanotubes that are rather better for many purposes than any biological material. Flying (not soaring) bats can’t evolve to be as big as birds, due to their less efficient flight structures, but birds also can’t continuously fly (rather than soar) for more than a short time at sizes larger than roughly that of swans. Their power is inadequate, biology’s power has never reached the level of engineered power. We fly planes that can carry tanks around the world. We still have much to learn from biochemistry, but organic chemistry routinely produces chemistry that biology has never evolved to do, owing to the limitations of evolution.

      We eclipse nature in many ways, although in a few hundred years of modern science our abilities, quite unsurprisingly, still lag the products of billions of years of evolution in a number of other ways. Recognizing as much is reasonable, while your IDist propaganda merely skews and misportrays what the reality is.

      Let’s have the mic work 24 hours a day, 7 days a weak, 365 days a year in billions of people all over the world in a wide range of climates and temperatures and see which breaks down first and which one lasts longer. My money is on the human ear.

      Likely enough. So what? Microphones aren’t made to last a human lifetime due to economics, and it’s also obvious that life has–indeed, has to have–ways of repairing damage. It’s really almost appalling how often biology has to fix things that break down, but it can and does deal with things that really do not operate for any long period. The ear being one of them. Without repair, the ear would work for a far shorter time than most human acoustic instruments, but with repair it works for decades. Would we expect evolution to produce sensory organs that didn’t?

      Without instruments that deal with far more intensities and ranges than our relatively paltry organs, however, science would hardly progress very far.

      Oh yes, once again I have to bring in any real perspective on the matter, while you merely repeated religious/political propaganda. You project well, while failing ever to learn much.

      Glen Davidson

      • Flying (not soaring) bats can’t evolve to be as big as birds,

        Obviously I meant that continuously flying bats can’t be as big as the largest continuously flying birds, like swans. All bats are larger than the smallest (humming)bird.

        Glen Davidson

    • }}}“… a challenge to the notion of a Divine Creator …”{{{

      That is logically equivalent to a challenge to “the notion of a Divine Square Circle.”

      But notice that nobody is challenging the fact that you clearly have a Great Notion about a “Divine Creator.” The only challenge is to the belief that such a thing could be real any more than a square circle could be real.

      And having no evidence or logic for such divine notions is simply the way life is.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Averick
    November 25, 2012
    9:46 am
    You keep missing the salient point. Evolution is not an UNGUIDED naturalistic process.
    //|\\

    In the first place, evolution is a natural process. (Not “naturalistic,” whatever that is supposed to mean.)

    In the second place, even to whatever extent people now have the technology to “guide” evolution in some small way, for the vast majority of the history of evolution there was no “guidance” whatsoever. Certainly not any “unnatural guidance”, i.e., “supernatural intervention, design, creation, etc.”

    Your fanciful approach is not realistic.

  • Suppose someone wanted to ask, “Why doesn’t God exist?” A good answer would be: for the same reason square circles don’t exist, viz., contradictions are not literally possible.

    • \\|//
      RexTugwell
      November 29, 2012
      6:37 am
      “Refresh my memory …”
      //|\\

      … about how square circles can’t exist? Sorry, Rex, can’t do it. You need to take some responsibility here.

      • ||\/||
        RexTugwell
        November 28, 2012
        1:49 pm
        “… it’s hilarious. Incessantly saying over and over and over and over and over again that the supernatural is impossible,…”
        ||/\||

        I’m just trying to keep up with Rabbi Averick. He keeps incessantly saying over and over and over and over and over again that the supernatural is possible.

        And the main point is that I have a sound reason for my position, but he has no good reason for his. He and I agree that God is not-of-this-world, but he doesn’t let that stop him as he indulges in a magical fantasy trip — whereas I stick with what can be known in the real world.

        You and the rabbi wish to believe in miraculous contradictions, and I’m pointing out that you are being illogical on that score (viz., being theists).

        God is only a fictional character, not some real being. Of course, it is a fine thing to have favorite fictional characters you really, really like. You like God; I like James Bond and John Galt. You just like to kid yourself that your guy really exists!

      • “I have a sound reason for my position”

        That’s what I’ve been asking you to tell us but I’m not holding out much hope of hearing. You’re bluffing but you’re welcome to prove me wrong. The only thing creative about you, Steve, is the metacharacters you put around qoutes.

        • It seems to be sufficing for you to keep your eyes closed. There are some things you need to take care of yourself. If it is not theistic, you refuse to acknowledge it. (You apparently believe that if God wanted to make a square circle, He could do it — so therefore He exists!)

    • Sorry, Rex, can’t do it.

      Yes, I know. You’ve already proven that.

  • To Glen:

    To Glen:

    RE THE HUMAN EAR
    You say that you want a scientific argument that the ear was designed. Can you please give me a sense of you think such a scientific argument would look like? Would it be a mathematical argument (like Dembski, even if not his particular argument), would it be an inference to the best explanation (like Meyer)? Also, what about the human ear looks and/or functions different than microphones, tape recorders, computers and other clearly designed objects? Why isn’t it sufficient to note that it looks, functions and acts just as much like a machine as any machine that we have ever seen with the exception being that it is a far more intricate, sophisticated and complicated design?

    RE A DEFINITION OF DESIGN
    Later on YOU say that whether or not something is intelligently designed is based on whether or not it is intelligently done. Well, the ear was clearly intelligently done – so according that definition it was clearly designed. Secondly, ‘intelligently done’ seems a rather broad and vague definition. If something was intelligently
    done, but could have been more intelligently done – was it designed or not designed?

    Either way, I think your definition is wrong – I think what determines whether or not something was designed by an intelligent agent is determined by those PROPERTIES which are unique to objects designed by intelligent agents and biological organisms are overflowing with those properties.

    Similarly, I originally stated that “I need to know what you mean by design – you have not clearly defined your terms” and you responded with: “What humans do, especially when making technology. Not really problematic. I have, of course, referred to rationality being involved, something that isn’t evident in wild-type life.”

    You may think that this is a clear definition, but I personally do not think it is either a) clear nor b) a definition. What humans do when making technology is not a definition. It just tells us where to look to find a definition. You need to identify and articulate what exactly it is that humans do when they make technology that relates to what you mean by design. Is it the forethought, the detailed plans, the technical mastery involved? What factor or factors, action or actions are your referring to. And what do you mean by ‘rationality being involved’?

    RE G-D
    Now, when I asked: “how do you know that a system like the neo-Darwinian evolutionary process doesn’t need to be set up as a whole by some intelligent agent?” you responded: “What if it did? Darwin quite pointedly suggested that it was set up by a Creator in the first version of the Origin of Species. It makes no difference…By the way, I’m arguing for science, not against God (I do argue against God when I see Rabbi Averick yet again making lame “arguments for God,” but that’s still much more in the service of proper epistemology, as I care little about atheism”.

    You claim that ‘it makes no difference’, but this is exactly the issue that we are talking about here. Rabbi Averick has been writing a series of articles stating that the nature of the cell clearly indicates that there is a Creator and undermines atheism. The ID movement is a movement dedicated solely to the idea that certain features and aspects of the created world indicate clearly that some sort of intelligent agent is involved in the creation of biological life.

    Discussing G-d means discussing more than just science. You are right that one has to properly understand and represent the science, but that is simply so that we can have the necessary information we need to intelligently discuss whether or not the natural world indicates there is a Creator.

    You further add: “Besides that, we’re talking about known mechanisms in evolutionary theory, not about speculative unperceived beings.”

    Except that it has been argued by Richard Dawkins and others that it is the mechanism of evolution which indicates that there is not a G-d. It is what allows him (in his own words) to be ‘an intellectually fulfilled athesist’. Furthermore, the mechanism can be analyzed, studied and thought about just like biological creatures.

    One can wonder what it takes to create such a mechanism and ask what it’s nature implies about it’s ultimate origins.

    Also, G-d is not a speculative being. G-d wasn’t proposed as some sort of theoretical entity to help explain away unsolved questions about the origins and workings of the universe.

    Similarly, you wrote that “e don’t, of course, have any free rein to posit a Creator setting it up without evidence of same…”

    However, I am not positing a Creator. Awareness of G-d does not come from DNA, molecular machines, design in nature, etc. Awareness of G-d is something that predates all of us, has been passed down to us and which we can gain by personally taking the time and effort to gain that awareness. What the design in nature can do is a) help to deepen and confirm that awareness and b) grant sufficient reason or inspiration to others to take the time and effort to gain such awareness.

    See here for more: http://morethinking.com/2011/g-d-is-not-a-theory/

    RE TELEOLOGY
    In terms of teleology, you wrote: “The fact is that we have mechanisms that apparently work without teleology, and nothing that suggests that evolution occurs via teleology.”

    To which I disagree. Yes, according to the NDT, the individual organisms are not involved in a process that has any end-goal in sight. They are trying to survive and those random mutations in and of themselves are not teleological. In that sense, there is no forward-looking, purpose or goal oriented action occurring. But that’s simply because you are limiting your gaze to the individual creature, their particular mutations and their particular, local goal and/or need to survive.

    But one has to also look at the system as a whole and asks whether or not the system as a whole exhibits teleology and the answer is yes, it does. There is a lot of foundations that are needed for evolution to work. You have to have a habitable planet (one which is the right distance from the right type of sun at the right tilt of axis, etc). You need cells which are able to create and form all the various forms of life that exist. And you need that life to live together in a sophisticated, inter-dependent ecosystem – one which (along with the environment an animal lives in) will be able to create natural selection. All of this is needed in order to take advantage of the random mutations in order to express the various different forms of life which cells and biological life-forms can potentially express.

    In other words, you need:

    a) a means of actualizing the potential inherent in the original cell(s)
    b) to create the potential in the first place
    c) a place for that potential to live and be expressed

    In short, the purpose or goal of the system is to express the vast potential inherenet within the cell. Thus the system as a whole exhibits teleology, even though the localized actions of any individual creature don’t.

    Note, this all relates to the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. Teleology is even more evident as it becomes clear that random mutations are not capable of producing the new biological structures needed for evolution to move forward and that other mechanisms besides natural selection are at play in evolution – for instance, see:

    * http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-a-shapiro/does-natural-selection-evolution_b_1769524.html.

    * http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-a-shapiro/cell-mergers-evolution-life_b_1807742.html

    * http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-a-shapiro/ [for a full list of his articles on this topic at Huff Post]

    Be well,

    Moshe

    • You say that you want a scientific argument that the ear was designed. Can you please give me a sense of you think such a scientific argument would look like?

      It would involve known aspects of design, such as rationality and forethought. Really, determining that something is designed by humans is rarely difficult, IDists just “make it that way” in order to confuse the issue.

      Would it be a mathematical argument (like Dembski, even if not his particular argument),

      Of course it wouldn’t be a god of the gaps mathematical argument like Dembski’s. His mathematics would determine a pyrite cube to be designed, except that he knows that, so he has the caveat about how if we know that it is produced “naturally” then that doesn’t count. It doesn’t count for life, either, as we have the evidence for evolution, and he has no evidence for design, not counting his mathematical flim-flam–and I certainly wouldn’t count it.

      would it be an inference to the best explanation (like Meyer)?

      It could be an inference to the best explanation, but Meyer definitely isn’t doing it right. Life is in many ways very undesignlike, because it has all of the hallmarks of evolution, and he doesn’t come close to explaining that fact.

      Also, what about the human ear looks and/or functions different than microphones, tape recorders, computers and other clearly designed objects?

      For one thing, it’s made up of cells that came from a reproductive event. For another, I already pointed out that the human (mammalian, in general) ear has two bones in it that descend from jawbones. Find me a microphone, smart phone, or anything else we make that has anything like that.

      Why isn’t it sufficient to note that it looks, functions and acts just as much like a machine as any machine that we have ever seen with the exception being that it is a far more intricate, sophisticated and complicated design?

      Because it’s limited by being derivative of materials and information coming from earlier organisms. Anyway, we certainly have machines that greatly improve on the ear in terms of picking up very soft sounds, as well as covering hugely more frequencies. The ear may be the more complex, but, like many other biological organs, technology outperforms it in many ways.

      What would anyone expect, though? The constraints of evolution exclude often exceedingly good materials and processes, which is why we now depend so heavily upon instruments to investigate the world.

      Later on YOU say that whether or not something is intelligently designed is based on whether or not it is intelligently done. Well, the ear was clearly intelligently done

      Certainly not. Why would anyone take jaw bones and make ear bones out of them? Why would anyone intelligently design the ear to be so limited in range, prone to aging, and without the sensitivities of modern instruments? But it’s good enough for evolution.

      Secondly, ‘intelligently done’ seems a rather broad and vague definition.

      It isn’t even a definition. Of course it’s broad and vague, because design or “intelligently done” covers a large range of possibilities. I don’t play the definition game, that’s where my philosophical schooling does come in. There is no way that we can “define design” in a manner that would tell a naive person how to distinguish design from careless acts, scribbles, or a host of other human actions. Words are underdetermined, and what one person might call design another might call so much useless activity.

      I did want to keep from writing something like that which really should be obvious, but whatever. Technology and life are readily distinguished in virtually all cases, and, except for people trying to avoid the reasonable conclusion from that, it doesn’t really cause much problem.

      I think what determines whether or not something was designed by an intelligent agent is determined by those PROPERTIES which are unique to objects designed by intelligent agents and biological organisms are overflowing with those properties.

      Really. So where are the engineering materials, the rational leaps of configuration that genuine intelligence sometimes produces, and the ascertainable purpose in life? We’re missing nearly all of the hallmarks of design in life, depending on what people include (function might have been included by intellectually honest people prior to Darwin, but I see no excuse for that today), and while there is much exquisitely happening in life, human ingenuity has far surpassed biology in many respects, and only in a few hundred years of modern science (why would anything design life for billions of years?).

      Similarly, I originally stated that “I need to know what you mean by design – you have not clearly defined your terms” and you responded with: “What humans do, especially when making technology. Not really problematic. I have, of course, referred to rationality being involved, something that isn’t evident in wild-type life.”

      You may think that this is a clear definition, but I personally do not think it is either a) clear nor b) a definition.

      I don’t either. It was a basically meaningless, and quite tendentious (you should know what design is when you’re claiming it to exist in life), question and I gave the sort of answer that was still about as good as it could be. There is no clear definition of design–which is still no excuse for you to utterly ignore the fact that usual marks, such as rationality, of design are completely missing from (at least not demonstrable in) life. Use a broad enough definition for “design,” and just about anything with regularities can be considered “design,” from snowflakes to the ear. But I wouldn’t generally use that broad a definition at all. And I don’t even care if it’s “design,” for if you found non-design aspects caused by intelligence, that would be as good as design for many purposes.

      You need to identify and articulate what exactly it is that humans do when they make technology that relates to what you mean by design.

      No, I do not have to do such an impossible task, and it’s naive, unless it is rude, of you to demand such nonsense.

      You claim that ‘it makes no difference’, but this is exactly the issue that we are talking about here.

      No, there are various things occurring, including the creation of worthless claims of evidence for God, and ignorant trashing of evolution.

      I can deal with any aspect, but since the incoherence of your and Rabbi Averick’s claims is what threatens not only science but even rational discourse, I chose to deal more with evolution, with its rational inferences against the incoherent and unsound “design” claims.

      Rabbi Averick has been writing a series of articles stating that the nature of the cell clearly indicates that there is a Creator and undermines atheism.

      He’s been attacking so-called “materialistic science,” which just happens to be the science of Galileo and Newton (Newton sometimes deviated from that, and clearly failed when he did so), as well as of Darwin. In other words, the ability of us to determine things justly and reasonably is being attacked through all of these lame attacks on evolution. I care about that, and not (much anyhow) whether or not someone believes in God.

      The ID movement is a movement dedicated solely to the idea that certain features and aspects of the created world indicate clearly that some sort of intelligent agent is involved in the creation of biological life.

      No it isn’t, it uses “cosmological ID” without much concern. Also, ID doesn’t find design, it merely tries to redefine complexity as design, a completely baseless proposition. However, if cosmological ID legitimately worked for theism, evolution by no means could undermine God claims. Obviously God could have created the universe and let life arise and evolve without intervention, were that to happen.

      …it has been argued by Richard Dawkins and others that it is the mechanism of evolution which indicates that there is not a G-d.

      Dawkins’ incorrect statements are not my responsibility.

      Also, G-d is not a speculative being. G-d wasn’t proposed as some sort of theoretical entity to help explain away unsolved questions about the origins and workings of the universe.

      True, God isn’t any being at all, or even a reasonable inference from anything. Like I say, though, that’s not my concern here, although the bad thinking behind theistic claims of “knowing that there’s a God” has been a target often enough. Like I wrote previously, though, it’s the misuse and attacks upon good thinking that are my real concern even then.

      Awareness of G-d is something that predates all of us,

      Such a claim requires an immense amount of justification. Good luck with that.

      What the design in nature can do is a) help to deepen and confirm that awareness and b) grant sufficient reason or inspiration to others to take the time and effort to gain such awareness.

      So is it depth to realize that God designed P. falciparum to afflict humans with malaria? Is it sufficient reason that God couldn’t, say, give us radio communication, which was relatively easy for humans to do once we developed the scientific method? ‘Guess what, God didn’t even give mammalian ear bones to birds, and had to take over jawbones in order to do make ears (just like evolution–what are the odds?) that seriously lack the range of human instruments, so that should convince you of God’s existence, if you have any doubt.’

      But one has to also look at the system as a whole and asks whether or not the system as a whole exhibits teleology and the answer is yes, it does.

      The issue is whether or not evolution exhibits evidence of being teleological. No evidence really suggests that it does, although Nagel uses his considerable ignorance of biology to say otherwise.

      Teleology is even more evident as it becomes clear that random mutations are not capable of producing the new biological structures needed for evolution to move forward and that other mechanisms besides natural selection are at play in evolution – for instance, see:

      Teleology of the gaps. You can’t demonstrate purpose in life, so you use an “authority” who assumes as much as you do sans evidence. That’s all that creationism really offers, people quoting other people who have no science to offer to us, and various other calumnies against epistemology.

      Glen Davidson

      • Take notice, you senseless ones among the people;

        you fools, when will you become wise?

        Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?

        Does he who formed the eye not see?

        Does he who disciplines nations not punish?

        Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?

        The Lord knows all human plans;

        he knows that they are futile.

        Psalm 94:8-11

    • \\|//
      Moshe Morris
      November 29, 2012
      11:18 am
      “I think what determines whether or not something was designed by an intelligent agent is determined by those PROPERTIES which are unique to objects designed by intelligent agents and biological organisms are overflowing with those properties.”
      //|\\

      Now you are talking through your hat, Morris. Biological organisms, as such, have absolutely NO “design properties.” (We could make a sort of exception in the case of “GMO” stuff, but that is not the point in this context.)

      The origin of biological organisms could NOT have been designed, because only a small subset of biological organisms are capable of design. You are still trying to put the cart before the horse, to invert cause and effect.

      You seem to feel that the nature of the world is dependent upon your fantasies of mystical magic. It doesn’t work that way.

    • \\“Also, God is not a speculative being.”//

      Yes, God is only a mythological character (not useful for actually explaining anything whatsoever). Religion and science fiction cannot stand in for science.

    • \\“Rabbi Averick has been writing a series of articles stating that the nature of the cell clearly indicates that there is a Creator and undermines atheism.”//

      And, of course, Rabbi Averick is dead wrong about that. There is no indication whatsoever of any supernatural “Creator” anywhere in the world.

      \\“The ID movement is a movement dedicated solely to the idea that certain features and aspects of the created world indicate clearly that some sort of intelligent agent is involved in the creation of biological life.”//

      There is not a single “feature and aspect” of the world that indicates that “some sort of intelligent agent is involved in the creation of biological life.” The notion of “insentient intelligence” is simply absurd.

    • //|\\“Awareness of God is something that predates all of us,…”\\|//

      There have been mystics for thousands of years — but there has never been any “awareness of God” as anything other than a fictional character. Mythology has been around for a long time; God has never been anything actual.

    • A fairly concise critique of Shapiro’s lack of, really, most anything, let alone a meaningful alternative set of causes for the effects that we see in life:

      http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/james-shapiro-goes-after-natural-selection-again-twice-on-huffpo/

      Glen Davidson

      • If you want to take Coyne seriously, that’s fine. I’ve already seen his article and take it for what I take most of Coyne’s writings – 1 part science, 2 parts attitude and 3 parts insult. He is an emotional, insulting and at times crude writer and I imagine that impacts on his ability to rationally analyze the theory of evolution.

        Now, Coyne may be right that Shapiro can’t account for various stages in the evolutionary process, but that doesn’t mean that we can gloss over the problems of natural selection. It’s not that natural selection wins by default.

        If natural selection can’t deal with the problems that scientists like Shapiro raise then so the worse for natural selection, regardless of whether or not Shapiro has a better answer.

        Be well,

        Moshe

  • {}{}
    Moshe Averick
    November 25, 2012
    9:46 am
    “Evolution cannot take place without the pre-existence of encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded specified information,…”{}{}

    Rabbi Averick seems quite enamored of this article of faith that “evolution cannot take place without guidance from God!” But observe that that view is sheer fantasy. Not only is there absolutely no shred of evidence for it, but such “supernatural specification” is downright impossible.

    The rabbi is trying to put the cart before the horse, so to speak. The ability to specify information depends on conscious intention, i.e., being alive, but he feels that things should work backwards (that actual causal relationships should be adamantly ignored).

    The “Creationists” don’t have a clue about how how their beloved “Creation, by God!” could have happened because it could not have happened. They might as well be declaring that “evolution cannot take place without square circles!” (since it is a contradiction to declare an effect as its own cause).

    Digital encoding, information specification, and encyclopedic collections, etc., are all products of human thought and action. The belief that any of that could have (must have) existed before humans, indeed life itself, existed is (not to put too fine a point on it) preposterous. It’s religious doctrine — pure blind faith.

  • To Glen:

    First things first – you asked for ‘actual evidence of design’. Let’s start with the human ear. Here are a couple of videos showing how the human ear works:

    * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeTriGTENoc

    * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JE8WduJKV4

    I think the human ear was clearly designed. In fact, I think it is actually obvious just by

    looking at it that it was designed and I don’t think it require any sort of philosophical or logical argument or

    justification. But if you want a philosophical argument, here is my first piece in that

    regard: http://morethinking.com/2011/the-highly-functional-animal-kingdom.

    Secondly – re your complaints that I’m putting words into your mouth, such as your

    statement that “I clearly allowed that the articulated wings of bats may allow for better

    maneuverability for the insectivorous bats that need to be maneuverable. It will not do to

    remake my argument to be what you want it to be.”

    You seem to have forgotten that you wrote the following: “Well then, why don’t fruit bats

    have the more efficient distance flight of birds, when they don’t have to maneuver like

    insectivores do? No bat flies anywhere nearly so far as many birds do, one reason being

    their less-efficient wings. Why aren’t similarities in proclaimed “design” fitting similar

    needs, rather than rigid taxonomic categories in the case of bats and birds?”

    What’s more, in your latest response you also wrote: “However, for fruit bats there’s no

    reason not to simply adopt better wings, and no designer ever did so.”

    Now, perhaps I’m misunderstanding you – but it seems to me you are saying that fruit bats

    could have better (i.e., more efficient) wings. Do you not claim that they could have been

    better designed if they had had more efficient wings? Because it sure sounds that way.

    If so, then the question is – what is your point about the less-efficient wings of fruit-

    bats.

    It sounds like to me that you are saying that an intelligent designer would not give

    a fruit bat a less-efficient wing. If that is not what you are saying, then please take

    the time to clearly explain why you think this fact is significant and important. It’s

    your job to clearly articulate your position – it’s my job to respond to what I think you

    are saying. I’m perfectly happy to respond to the point you want to make – just make it in

    a way that both of us can understand.

    Now, assuming that this is your point, I think it is simply illogical and false. Whether

    or not something was designed by an intelligent agent is not determined by whether or not a

    better version of the object in question is possible. It’s based on what we understand is

    required to create sophisticated, highly functional entities like fruit bats. I haven’t

    studied the fruit bat wing, but I imagine it’s a marvel of design – even if you can imagine

    ways to improve upon that design.

    Furthermore, I’m not even sure your premise is right. That is to say, I’m not sure that

    you are correct that a fruit bat with a more efficient wing would be an improved fruit bat.

    There are many factors that go into making a creature – and an ‘improvement’ here may be

    detrimental somewhere else. I for one would first want to see if anyone has done some

    serious studies on the fruit bats wings and note all the benefits of its particular design

    as well as how its particular wings fit into the particular nature of the fruit bat.

    Nonetheless, for the sake of argument – I’m accepting your assertion for now and will

    discuss the philosophical questions that you raise based on that point.

    Now, when you state that: “Non-teleological evolution has limitations that design does

    not” my first question is how do you know that such a thing as non-teological evolution is

    even possible. And let me explain what I mean, how do you know that a system like the neo-

    Darwinian evolutionary process doesn’t need to be set up as a whole by some intelligent

    agent?

    Asserting that you can have design without a designer does not mean that such a thing is

    possible. Such a claim needs to be demonstrated. That is to say – the issue isn’t whether

    or not you can argue that a neo-Darwninian process actually occurred. The issue is whether

    or not you can show that a neo-Darwinian process is an unguided system. If I create a

    computer program that uses a random variable to create different types of shapes then the

    system required a designer and I am the designer of those shapes even though I didn’t draw

    each and every shape myself.

    In short, you need to explain to me how the system of evolution as a whole [original

    reproducing cell, habitable planet, etc.] can come into existence without at SOME POINT OR

    OTHER a Grand Designer/Creator setting it all in motion.

    Secondly, I need to know what you mean by design – you have not clearly defined your terms.

    You juxtapose non-teleological evolution versus design. What do you imagine design to be.

    Similarly, how exactly do you understand and define non-teleological evolution?

    And in particular, please let me know what you think the philosophical significance of the

    limitations of evolution is in relation to this converasation.

    Now, you asked me why we can’t see as well as eagle or hear as well as a dog. In

    particular, you wrote: “And why not? Supposedly we’re the true goal of “creation,” yet

    we’re stuck with poorer sight (not counting the mental processing that we do, vs. an eagle)

    and lungs than birds, and poorer hearing than dogs. We have what seems to be expected from

    evolution, not what a God might have given us.”

    Wanting to know why not is a legitimate question. But there is another equally legitimate

    question – why yes? Those are the questions you need to ask when goals and purposes are

    involved. And the only way to answer either of those questions is to have some sort of

    insight into what are the goals of creation.

    Now, to honestly get some sort of insight into that question requires taking the time to

    understand the Torah’s perspective on what the purpose of creation is. For now, though,

    I’ll offer a brief answer.

    Limitations create the option for personal and spiritual growth. It enables us to define

    who we are and what we are about based on how we deal with and respond to our inherent

    limitations. If life was easy and simple and doing good was easy, obvious and immediately

    rewarded whereas evil was hard, obvious and immediately punished then we would never have

    the option to define who we are as human beings.

    You wrote: “We have what seems to be expected from evolution, not what a God might have

    given us.”

    This statement is indicative of one of the reasons why I find the theory of evolution so

    unimpressive. It is a theory that can account for everything. As David Berlinski once

    noted (if memory serves), if bees lit up and fire flies stung the proponents of evolution

    would also say that is what they expected. Likewise, if eagles had poorer eyes and men had

    better sight then the proponents would again say that is what they expect from evolution.

    You wrote: “You fail utterly to explain why any deity might have followed the limitations

    of evolution, rather than those of design.”

    Let’s see if I understand you correctly (if I don’t then please clearly articulate what you

    are trying to say). Are you claiming that I can’t argue that ultimately speaking the

    natural world was clearly designed if I can’t explain why G-d would follow the limits of

    evolution? Why not? Why do I have to get into the mind of the Creator to recognize that

    there clearly was a Creator?

    Instead, let’s take a good look at what it takes to make a ‘less effective’ fruit bat wing

    and then determine whether or not it was designed. Let’s leave the mind of the Creator to

    the Creator and take a good, hard look at fruit bats and their wings and ask whether or not

    this creature looks like it was designed or not. And by good hard look, I mean something

    akin to the videos I showed you about the human ear. Let’s see what it really takes to

    make a fruit bat and then answer the question.

    A final note – at the very end of your comment you made a point which I think is clarifying

    for me what you are trying to say. You wrote: “I discussed what a designer might do–how

    would I ever know what God might do? And you attacked your strawman of “optimality,” rather

    than to deal with what is expected of design vs. what’s expected of evolution.”

    Let me see if I can phrase this properly – if a designer was going to design a fruit bat –

    how would he or she do it? In other words, if we were going to start from the beginning –

    get out a blank piece of paper – and design a fruit-bat what would we come up with. We

    would come up with something different than what we have. No designer would design the

    fruit bat that we actually have.

    Is that what you are trying to say? If not, then you need to please more clearly

    articulate the dichotomy you are trying to set up between what is expected of design and

    what is expected of evolution. Some examples might help.

    With that said, I’ll add that the question might be different – namely, if a designer was

    going to create an entire world full of diverse biological organisms, what would he or she

    do. And might the end result look different than if that same designer was to focus on

    each individual creature independently? Might the designer opt for a system rather than

    individual design? And might that not change the nature of the design of each individual

    creature?

    Be well,

    Moshe

    • Wow, another roadblock. (I’ll have to check to see if anything is in there.)

    • [][]
      Moshe Morris
      November 28, 2012
      5:44 pm
      I think the human ear was clearly designed. In fact, I think it is actually obvious just by looking at it that it was designed and I don’t think it requires any sort of philosophical or logical argument or justification.
      [][]

      In other words, you have faith that “the human ear was clearly designed,” but you have absolutely no reason to think that it was designed in any way. You have 100% blind faith, and zero knowledge about such “design.”

      Just to be clear about it. You believe, in spite of evidence and logic, that miraculous supernatural design magically happened.

    • |||In short, you need to explain to me how the system of evolution as a whole [original reproducing cell, habitable planet, etc.] can come into existence without at SOME POINT OR OTHER a Grand Designer/Creator setting it all in motion.|||

      The explanation is that you cannot put the cart before the horse — that the result of a process cannot have set the process in motion. That is, there cannot be any designers of any kind BEFORE there was life (and a “habitable planet,” etc.).

      Causality doesn’t work backwards.

      The only possible sequence was: life originated, intelligence subsequently evolved, and then there was specification and design in the world. Not the other way around.

      Of course, your story is that you are talking about a special, miraculous and magical sort of “Design” that is not real, not natural, not conscious. And that’s some story — but it is only a story. It is NOT non-fiction; it’s religious doctrine, blind faith, illogic, nonsense, etc.

    • I think the human ear was clearly designed. In fact, I think it is actually obvious just by

      looking at it that it was designed and I don’t think it require any sort of philosophical or logical argument or

      justification.

      Well, it does. And I don’t want a philosophical argument, I want a scientific one. Your incredulity is neither.

      You seem to have forgotten that you wrote the following: “Well then, why don’t fruit bats

      have the more efficient distance flight of birds, when they don’t have to maneuver like

      insectivores do? No bat flies anywhere nearly so far as many birds do, one reason being

      their less-efficient wings. Why aren’t similarities in proclaimed “design” fitting similar

      needs, rather than rigid taxonomic categories in the case of bats and birds?”

      I know the difference between writing “bat” as a general term, and “fruit bat” as a more specific term. Try to figure it out.

      Whether

      or not something was designed by an intelligent agent is not determined by whether or not a

      better version of the object in question is possible. It’s based on what we understand is

      required to create sophisticated, highly functional entities like fruit bats

      It’s based upon whether or not it is intelligently done. Intelligence matches need to design, rather than following evolutionarily-caused taxonomic categories. Your constant disregard of what is at stake is not encouraging.

      Furthermore, I’m not even sure your premise is right. That is to say, I’m not sure that

      you are correct that a fruit bat with a more efficient wing would be an improved fruit bat.

      There are many factors that go into making a creature – and an ‘improvement’ here may be

      detrimental somewhere else. I for one would first want to see if anyone has done some

      serious studies on the fruit bats wings and note all the benefits of its particular design

      as well as how its particular wings fit into the particular nature of the fruit bat.

      So you just sort of meander on, not dealing with anything definite, just disliking evolution. The fact is that you aren’t even interested in dealing with the issues, just in objecting to what you take as a threat to your religion.

      There’s nothing obviously wrong with putting a sort of “bird wing” on a bat, and I even wrote parenthetically at one point, “taking bird wings and placing them on a bat (along with the appropriate changes),” as I’m not unaware of the importance of context. You can object 20 times without paying attention to what I write?

      Now, when you state that: “Non-teleological evolution has limitations that design does

      not” my first question is how do you know that such a thing as non-teological evolution is

      even possible. And let me explain what I mean, how do you know that a system like the neo-

      Darwinian evolutionary process doesn’t need to be set up as a whole by some intelligent

      agent?

      What if it did? Darwin quite pointedly suggested that it was set up by a Creator in the first version of the Origin of Species. It makes no difference. It sure would be helpful if you understood what the science is. By the way, I’m arguing for science, not against God (I do argue against God when I see Rabbi Averick yet again making lame “arguments for God,” but that’s still much more in the service of proper epistemology, as I care little about atheism).

      Besides that, we’re talking about known mechanisms in evolutionary theory, not about speculative unperceived beings.

      Asserting that you can have design without a designer does not mean that such a thing is

      possible.

      Which might matter, if I said anything that inane. Quit trying to put words in my mouth.

      The issue is whether

      or not you can show that a neo-Darwinian process is an unguided system.

      You’re really that unaware of science? The fact is that we have mechanisms that apparently work without teleology, and nothing that suggests that evolution occurs via teleology. It’s you who need to show that evolution is guided, if that is what you claim. Evolutionary theory takes into account the lack of design of organisms, and notes the apparent causes of same. That is all that honest science can do, without further evidence.

      In short, you need to explain to me how the system of evolution as a whole [original

      reproducing cell, habitable planet, etc.] can come into existence without at SOME POINT OR

      OTHER a Grand Designer/Creator setting it all in motion.

      Why would I need to explain any such thing? Could be, it wouldn’t obviously change a thing about evolutionary processes as they’re occurring today, and apparently as they occurred in the past. We don’t, of course, have any free rein to posit a Creator setting it up without evidence of same, however.

      Secondly, I need to know what you mean by design – you have not clearly defined your terms.

      What humans do, especially when making technology. Not really problematic. I have, of course, referred to rationality being involved, something that isn’t evident in wild-type life. Do pay attention, finally.

      And in particular, please let me know what you think the philosophical significance of the

      limitations of evolution is in relation to this converasation.

      What philosophical significance? I’m not writing about philosophy, although it’s not a foreign subject to me, I’m writing about science. The limitations of evolution tell us what to look for in evolved organisms, for they are rather different from the limits of known intelligence/intelligent design. Real science tries to differentiate between effects of various processes, ID does quite the opposite, it tries to claim that evolved structures are in fact designed, despite the lack of crucial elements of design in organisms.

      Now, to honestly get some sort of insight into that question requires taking the time to

      understand the Torah’s perspective on what the purpose of creation is.

      Why the Torah? Why not Metamorphoses, Enuma Elish, the Raelian’s writings, or Hindu creation accounts?

      You wrote: “We have what seems to be expected from evolution, not what a God might have

      given us.”

      This statement is indicative of one of the reasons why I find the theory of evolution so

      unimpressive. It is a theory that can account for everything.

      You’re obviously unaware of what evolutionary theory is about, in fact. It can account for “mix and match” evolution of prokaryotes, in fact, while it would be considered virtually impossible for most eukaryotes, simply because lateral transfers of DNA have been found to be common among the former, rare among most of the latter.

      If vertebrates did not exhibit the patters of derivation seen in nested hierarchies, evolutionary theory would at best be very strained, but probably simply overthrown.

      As David Berlinski once

      noted (if memory serves), if bees lit up and fire flies stung the proponents of evolution

      would also say that is what they expected.

      So some person largely ignorant of biology like Berlinski makes a particularly ignorant “note,” and you repeat it as if it were significant. Fallacy of appeal to authority, especially given that Berlinski’s no authority on biology at all.

      As it happens, no one claims that fireflies were “expected” from evolutionary theory, they just are fairly well explained by same. “Design” explains nothing, not even the most basic taxonomic patterns.

      Likewise, if eagles had poorer eyes and men had

      better sight then the proponents would again say that is what they expect from evolution.

      That’s a false claim, of course. Eagles need very keen vision, especially for movement, because they hunt from a high level. Humans, not so much.

      You make claims, you don’t back them up.

      Let’s see if I understand you correctly (if I don’t then please clearly articulate what you

      are trying to say). Are you claiming that I can’t argue that ultimately speaking the

      natural world was clearly designed if I can’t explain why G-d would follow the limits of

      evolution? Why not? Why do I have to get into the mind of the Creator to recognize that

      there clearly was a Creator?

      Oh, the “ultimate” dodge. Obviously there might be reason to say that there’s an “ultimate Creator” behind the world if you had evidence thereof, even when life reveals no evidence of design. I’m not arguing “ultimates” at all, I’m arguing about what evidence shows. And if you’re claiming design of life you need evidence for that design, not countless excuses for why “design” mirrors the patterns predicted by evolution. We don’t know of anything that designs by evolution, save our rather comparatively meager results from artificial selection.

      Let’s leave the mind of the Creator to

      the Creator and take a good, hard look at fruit bats and their wings and ask whether or not

      this creature looks like it was designed or not. And by good hard look, I mean something

      akin to the videos I showed you about the human ear.

      That isn’t close to being a hard look, it’s what the religious look at in order to say, “Ooh, that must have been designed.” A hard look is considering how two of the three earbones (malleus and incus) evolved from jaw bones. Transitional fossils reveal part of that transition.

      Let me see if I can phrase this properly – if a designer was going to design a fruit bat –

      how would he or she do it? In other words, if we were going to start from the beginning –

      get out a blank piece of paper – and design a fruit-bat what would we come up with. We

      would come up with something different than what we have. No designer would design the

      fruit bat that we actually have.

      What is an example meant to do? Exemplify. The point is not fruit bat wings alone by any means, it’s how we don’t see anything (or hardly anything–viruses may move useful genetic material across separate lines) reused across taxonomic lines in most eukaryotes, simply because the mechanisms for doing so don’t exist. No designer known to humans follows such limitations, hence there is no excuse for supposing that life is designed.

      Glen Davidson

  • {}{}”But true knowledge works the other way around – true knowledge is discovered and received.“{}{}

    And knowledge necessarily pertains to existence. Thus there is no actual “knowledge of God,” since God does not actually exist. God is a fictional character, so there are stories about God, but no facts, evidence, knowledge, etc.

    Of course, since people do tell stories about God(s), we do have knowledge of such people and such stories. Still fantasy is not fact, so there is no literal “knowledge of God” any more than there is “knowledge of a square circle.”

  • Rabbi Averick likes to complain about “fire-breathing preachers of science-based atheism,” which is something that doesn’t actually exist. I guess you could call it a straw man, or a diversion.

    Not only does atheism pre-date science, but science only deals with studying things which exist. So God, being a fictional character, doesn’t get covered by science.

    Neither theism nor atheism can be “science-based.”

  • To Glen Davidson:

    Hello Glen,

    You wrote:
    OK, why does it sound clever to you? Because forelegs aren’t much like wings, so you’d have to adapt and modify them enormously to make them act like wings? While, say, taking bird wings and placing them on a bat (along with the appropriate changes) would be straightforward and not so “clever”?

    My response:
    Building upon and/or re-purposing pre-existing forms seems as legitimate a way of designing something as any other method. But your point seems to be that some of the building upon seems to be done in an inefficient and/or sub-optimal way [please correct me if that is not the point you are trying to make].

    Your example is the bat wing. Now, one problem we are going to have here is that I don’t really buy the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. I see it as part philosophy, part mythology and part science. As such, I don’t really know how well founded (scientifically speaking) your point about how the bats wing came into being is. Also, last I heard bats just popped into the fossil record (wings, echolocation and all) and there evolution isn’t known [although here is a presentation from the authors of a Nature magazine cover story that claims to finally have the answer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh9Xt2B9FHs. I must admit, I haven't watched the entire presentation yet. What I did watch did not give me much hope that the 'mystery' had been solved].

    For arguments sake, though, I’ll assume that bats evolved by adapting forelegs rather than birds wings and I’ll work within my understanding of the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution [even though I'm not a fan of the theory - I'm much more interested in what Professor James A Shapiro has to say about the subject].

    So returning to your point – you argue that as far as the wings are concerned using birds wings would be better. But the neo-darwinian theory of evolution doesn’t allow for mixing and matching parts. It involves modifying the entire previous creature. As such, if the evolutionary line for bats doesn’t come from birds, but rather from mammals or some other non-bird-winged creature, then birds wings simply aren’t an option.

    There is more than one way to be clever. A process which has each part develop in the most efficient manner possible is one means of cleverness. A process which uses (perhaps) a less efficient road, but leads to a much wider and more diverse world of biological organisms is a different means of cleverness [of course, at the end of the day, we may find that the path to these wondrous world of diversity was also optimally efficient - but that's another story].

    At the end of the day, the neo-Darwinian process has to be evaluated as a whole. You can’t just isolate it’s seemingly weakest parts and look at them in isoloation.

    You wrote:
    Obviously I’m getting at the ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ nature of apologetics, where if apparent modifications make “design sense” it only shows how God is a great designer, while if the apparent modifications don’t make “design sense,” God is just so very much more clever. Wouldn’t it also be clever of God to make wings out of ribs, lymph vessels, or out of bony tails, by that account? Indeed, modify tails into wings, and voila, you have even a greater miracle–especially since tails wouldn’t work evolutionarily. Oddly, though, it’s clever of God to do what evolution would have to have done with the small dinosaur for it to evolve wings, modify the forelimbs into wings. God can’t lose in the apologist’s view, for any “good design strategy” is great evidence for design, and “poor design strategy” just shows how clever God is.

    My response:
    I think it’s best if you respond to things I actually write and say, rather than things you imagine I am saying or would say.

    You wrote:
    Still, why not modify a pre-existing form? Well, one problem is the lack of specificity of such a statement, for one question would be, if God weren’t going to design anew from first principles, why not modify a pre-existing bird wing for a bat, rather than using something as unwinglike as a mammalian forelimb to make bat wings?

    My response:
    See my response above – evolution works via evolutionary lines, not by mixing and matching parts.

    You wrote:
    Why won’t bats ever have the efficient flight of birds? Because their flight began with hairy or furry legs, not with feathered bird wings. Feathers make great wings, hair or fur won’t sculpt a comparable airfoil, it’s just not something that mammalian insulation can do.

    My response:
    And I’ll never see as well as an eagle or hear as well as a dog. Where is it written that bats have to have efficient flight like birds and that if they don’t they aren’t designed or well designed? According to Wikipedia “Bats represent about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide, with about 1,240 bat species divided into two suborders” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat]. Seems like they are doing pretty well for an animal lacking the efficient flight of a bird.

    You wrote:
    Still, bats fly well enough, their articulated wings allowing maneuvers that bird wings with their fused bones won’t, so let’s just suppose, for sake of argument, that insectivorous bats are better off with their wings than with bird wings and that feathers wouldn’t help their wings (neither of which is obviously true, as far as I know, but possible). Well then, why don’t fruit bats have the more efficient distance flight of birds, when they don’t have to maneuver like insectivores do? No bat flies anywhere nearly so far as many birds do, one reason being their less-efficient wings. Why aren’t similarities in proclaimed “design” fitting similar needs, rather than rigid taxonomic categories in the case of bats and birds?

    My response:
    Your question is a different one concerning design – it’s not whether or not a bat looks designed, but that it doesn’t look optimally designed. That you can imagine building a better bat. I, for one, imagine that you are probably right. I imagine that each and every animal could be ‘improved’ in some way – they could run faster, see better, be stronger, more resilient, more efficient, etc. I imagine that there is room to improve most creatures in the world. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it seems to me self-evidently true.

    My question is why is that evidence that something isn’t designed? Of course, you may be asking a different question – namely why would G-d design a less than ‘optimum’ creature. My sense is that you think this contradicts the notion of G-d being ‘perfect’. After all, if G-d is perfect then wouldn’t he create a perfect bat?

    The problem with this line of thinking (if this is, indeed, what you have in mind) is that it involves some sort of Greek philosophical notion of perfection which is being misapplied to G-d (just like the Greeks misapplied their notion of perfection to the stars with their insistence that the heavenly bodies travel in circles or spheres because those shapes were ‘perfect’).

    In Jewish thought (or at least those strands of thought that I have seen on this issue) what we mean when we say that G-d is perfect is that he does not contain any of the limitations that we are aware of. I.e., he does not lack strength, knowledge, or any other type of lack that we can imagine. It doesn’t mean, though, that when G-d creates something it has to represent our imagined ideal of the ‘perfect form’ of that creature or object. To understand why a particular creature would be created in a particular way one first and foremost has to understand the purpose for creating that creature in particular or creatures in general.

    Your assumption is that a more efficient wing is a better wing and thus would lead to a better bat. Let’s assume you are right. So what? Who says that G-d’s goal is to create a better or ‘perfect’ bat? Who says the goal is that each creature be an object of perfection as opposed to a wonder to behold in and of itself while simultaneously functioning as a small part within a wider (and equally wondrous) ecological system [one which seems to require limitations on the parts of each of its members].

    Life seems to be set with limits as well as capabilities. In fact, I would argue that the idea of a well-functioning, but not ‘perfect’ creature is much more in line with the Jewish view of G-d’s goal for creation than the type of optimum creature that you are suggesting (a view that was expressed long before the theory of evolution). But that is a different topic for a different time.

    I would also add that I personally find bats fascinating and this personal fascination is undoubtedly (in my mind) one aspect (of many) of G-d’s purpose in creating such creatures. One way to look at the natural world is as G-d’s art studio, with all of His master-pieces on display. And as is often times true in the world of art, the beauty, fascination and interest lies not in their functional perfection, but in their aesthetic qualities. Aesthetically speaking, bats are fascinating – and part of their fascination lies in the quirkiness of how they fly [at least for me].

    You wrote:
    Another reason not to start with terrestrial forelimbs is the poor flyer, if it was a flyer at all (and not merely a glider), that Archaeopteryx was. Of course today’s birds have wonderful feathers and wings, no matter how they started, the point is that transitionals have to put up with the inefficiencies of incompletely evolved parts that originally functioned for something quite differently. Inscrutable God, oooh that’s clever, whatever, can be invoked, but no, it tells us no reason for “designing” just as evolution would have to have done it. Even now, rigid bird wings have to fuse from bones that originally were articulated, a developmental pathway that has the potential for causing defects, and which has no design purpose in any case.

    My response:
    I think it’s best if you give me a particular example of a particular transitional creature that we can discuss.

    I originally wrote:
    Of course, one has to demonstrate that that is indeed what happened

    You responded:
    That’s what such evidence shows. Without the ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ of apologists, no, it makes no sense to ape evolution in design. Evolution had no ability to design like the Wright brothers did, copy bird wings but with huge leaps also involved (entirely different materials, for instance), God wouldn’t be stuck with slowly shaping dinosaur forelimbs into exquisite bird wings, and God wouldn’t be limited to mammalian materials for fruit bat wings.

    My response:
    Not sure which evidence you are referring to. My problem with the theory of evolution (particularly the neo-Darwinian version) is that it relies on tremendous leaps logical inferences from limited evidence. There are some impressive bits – like the Pax6 gene – but more often than not I find it too anecdotal and not at all in the traditional of what I consider the serious sciences.

    In terms of fitting evolution into design – it’s not difficult at all. For starters, look at the end product – simply brilliant. Finding those elements that seem ‘less than optimal’ or those processes which you consider clumsy is like looking for what you consider to be an off-color in one of the numerous masterpieces found in the worlds greatest museums. You can argue the point, maybe even convince us that a different color or stroke of the brush would have produced an even better master-piece, but the end product stands as what it is – brilliant and a wonder to behold.

    But why not test out how easy it is to create an evolutionary system and how much design such a system requires. Why not just commission some of the greatest scientific, mathematical and computer minds to write a computer model of evolution – one where the program creates something akin to the entirety of the biological world that we witness starting from a single cell [future versions of the program can start from simple 'inorganic' materials and show us how easy it is to create that first cell]. I imagine the creatures in our created world would be much less optimum and the processes much more clumsy than anything we can find in the real world. I also imagine that building such a program is far beyond our collective genius and knowledge at the present time.

    But, more importantly, I imagine that we would find that creating such a model would require a tremendous amount of design and that the SYSTEM AS A WHOLE would be far from unguided.

    Of course, your response is that we are talking about G-d – and as you claim ‘G-d wouldn’t be stuck with slowly shaping dinosaur forelimbs…’ nor would He “be limited to mammalian materials for fruit bat wings”. Again, I think you are confusing process for purpose and means for goals. Any attempt to discuss G-d’s creation of the world without an attempt to understand the purpose of that creation is not a serious conversation. You first need to have some understanding of the Divine purpose of a bat or life in general before you can comment on what type of life G-d would create or how He would create it.

    I remember Dawkins commenting that G-d would never create a particular fish because it looked to weird (or something like that). At the time all I could think of was Picaso – after all, who would ever create a painting like this: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c3/Dora_Maar_Au_Chat.jpg. And I’m sure I could find much stranger and more abstract examples than that.

    Basically, what you question amounts to is having a preconceived notion of what Divine Creation would look like and then using that notion to critique G-d. This is the same mistake that the Greeks made with astronomy and that many philosophers have made time and again throughout history – they impose their preconceived notions onto reality. But true knowledge works the other way around – true knowledge is discovered and received. That is as true for understanding G-d and His Torah as it is for understanding the natural world [see here: http://ohr.edu/judaism/articles/talmud.htm

    I originally wrote:
    and, furthermore, show the means by which it happened.

    You responded:
    Yes, that’s done, too. Bird genomes are simply modifications of reptilian genomes, that are modifications of amphibian genomes, likewise modifications of fish genomes, etc. Positive selection can be shown, negative selection, largely neutral selection, etc. If the claim is that everything has to be shown, well, no one claims that every step of the Masoretic text’s development has to be shown to know that it and many texts from the Dead Sea are related by a common ancestor, with human modifications (many of which will necessarily never be fully understood) occurring here and there. You only have to match known causes with known effects, and you at least have tentative explanations, while great unknown causes for known effects are not explanations in any reasonable sense at all.

    My response:

    Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I don’t think that modern evolutionary scientists have demonstrated nearly as much as they claim. I also think that they have shown themselves at times to be largely unable to deal with real mathematical or scientific challenges when presented. Of course, they beg to differ – but their differing often times (although not always) strike me of the type of protests made by ideological movements or adherents to a dieing paradigm during a paradigm shift.

    I go into more detail into some of these issues on my site – which you can access here: http://morethinking.com/evolution/

    Be well,

    Moshe

    • So returning to your point – you argue that as far as the wings are concerned using birds wings would be better.

      No, I did not write that, I clearly allowed that the articulated wings of bats may allow for better maneuverability for the insectivorous bats that need to be maneuverable. It will not do to remake my argument to be what you want it to be.

      I think it’s best if you respond to things I actually write and say, rather than things you imagine I am saying or would say.

      That would be good for you to do, certainly, rather than making it as though I wrote what I did not. And no, I’m not going to ignore the way in which apologists make everything out to be “God’s plan” regardless of what design is about. You were not addressing what I wrote about reasonable design, you were shifting it to how it was supposed to be “clever” to do it from a beginning that clearly does not make design sense.

      At the end of the day, the neo-Darwinian process has to be evaluated as a whole. You can’t just isolate it’s seemingly weakest parts and look at them in isoloation.

      Again, yes, it behooves you to consider the entirety of evolution, not just the parts. I only mentioned bird wings as an example, while I could clearly bring up the less efficient lungs of mammals, vs. those of dinosaurs and birds, and a host of other evolutionary features. As you don’t really handle even wings in a scientific manner, and repeatedly rewrite my argument into something that is foreign to what I did write, clearly there’s little reason to throw even more at you now.

      You wrote:
      Still, why not modify a pre-existing form? Well, one problem is the lack of specificity of such a statement, for one question would be, if God weren’t going to design anew from first principles, why not modify a pre-existing bird wing for a bat, rather than using something as unwinglike as a mammalian forelimb to make bat wings?

      My response:
      See my response above – evolution works via evolutionary lines, not by mixing and matching parts.

      Yes, that’s clearly my point. Non-teleological evolution has limitations that design does not, and rather than deal with that fact you simply repeat my point as if that were relevant. It’s not.

      You wrote:
      Why won’t bats ever have the efficient flight of birds? Because their flight began with hairy or furry legs, not with feathered bird wings. Feathers make great wings, hair or fur won’t sculpt a comparable airfoil, it’s just not something that mammalian insulation can do.

      My response:
      And I’ll never see as well as an eagle or hear as well as a dog.

      And why not? Supposedly we’re the true goal of “creation,” yet we’re stuck with poorer sight (not counting the mental processing that we do, vs. an eagle) and lungs than birds, and poorer hearing than dogs. We have what seems to be expected from evolution, not what a God might have given us.

      Where is it written that bats have to have efficient flight like birds and that if they don’t they aren’t designed or well designed?

      You, if anyone, since I didn’t write that, even though you repeatedly assert that I wrote something to that effect. However, for fruit bats there’s no reason not to simply adopt better wings, and no designer ever did so. And, if you want us to believe in design, you need to provide actual evidence of design, not come up with endless excuses for why supposed “design” happens to be what is expected of non-teleological evolution.

      According to Wikipedia “Bats represent about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide, with about 1,240 bat species divided into two suborders” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat]. Seems like they are doing pretty well for an animal lacking the efficient flight of a bird.

      Number of species isn’t evidence for success, in fact, or orchids might be considered among the most successful plants. Bats do all right, nevertheless, for they have a nocturnal niche that fits one of the usual mammalian strengths, hearing–and I didn’t write that insectivorous bats lack the wings best for them. Most bats are insectivores. You fail utterly to explain why any deity might have followed the limitations of evolution, rather than those of design.

      Your question is a different one concerning design – it’s not whether or not a bat looks designed, but that it doesn’t look optimally designed.

      No, again you just assume what you want. Why would I even discuss bird wings if I were discussing optimality? I hardly think that bird wings are optimal, for a larger “design” question would be, why are vertebrates stuck with bones made of hydroxyapatite, rather than a really good (composite” material like carbon nanotubes (along with some sort of cement)? Living bone is reasonably strong, thanks to its being an apatite-protein composite, but there’s nothing optimal about apatite, its components simply being rather common on earth and in organisms. I was discussing what an intelligent designer, such as we know, might do, not what a perfect being would do, since almost everything in life is suboptimal.

      Your assumption is that a more efficient wing is a better wing and thus would lead to a better bat.

      Obviously not, or I wouldn’t have written what you quoted, but seem not to have read: Still, bats fly well enough, their articulated wings allowing maneuvers that bird wings with their fused bones won’t, so let’s just suppose, for sake of argument, that insectivorous bats are better off with their wings than with bird wings and that feathers wouldn’t help their wings (neither of which is obviously true, as far as I know, but possible).

      So you just go on and on about what you imagine my position to be, when what I wrote shows your assumption to be wrong.

      Who says that G-d’s goal is to create a better or ‘perfect’ bat? Who says the goal is that each creature be an object of perfection as opposed to a wonder to behold in and of itself while simultaneously functioning as a small part within a wider (and equally wondrous) ecological system [one which seems to require limitations on the parts of each of its members].

      Way to miss the point. The fruit bat’s wing is simply one example of life being evolutionarily limited–not exhibiting the relatively lack of those limitations in a designing intelligence.

      You wrote:
      Another reason not to start with terrestrial forelimbs is the poor flyer, if it was a flyer at all (and not merely a glider), that Archaeopteryx was. Of course today’s birds have wonderful feathers and wings, no matter how they started, the point is that transitionals have to put up with the inefficiencies of incompletely evolved parts that originally functioned for something quite differently. Inscrutable God, oooh that’s clever, whatever, can be invoked, but no, it tells us no reason for “designing” just as evolution would have to have done it. Even now, rigid bird wings have to fuse from bones that originally were articulated, a developmental pathway that has the potential for causing defects, and which has no design purpose in any case.

      My response:
      I think it’s best if you give me a particular example of a particular transitional creature that we can discuss.

      You mean like Archaeopteryx, the particular example of a transitional creature that I mentioned?

      Basically, what you question amounts to is having a preconceived notion of what Divine Creation would look like and then using that notion to critique G-d.

      No, that is what you assumed that I did, even though I did not. I discussed what a designer might do–how would I ever know what God might do? And you attacked your strawman of “optimality,” rather than to deal with what is expected of design vs. what’s expected of evolution.

      Well, this is really enough. Your “response” reveals what you want to discuss, while not at all addressing the key fact that life has the evidence of evolution, not of design. That you don’t actually consider what that fact means is more than a little obvious as you fight what you imagine your opponents believe, not what’s at issue.

      Glen Davidson

    • Theists impose their preconceived notions onto reality. “But true knowledge works the other way around – true knowledge is discovered and received.

      And knowledge necessarily pertains to existence. Thus there is no actual “knowledge of God,” since God does not actually exist. God is a fictional character, so there are stories about God, but no facts, evidence, knowledge, etc.

    • Moshe Morris wrote:
      “Your example is the bat wing. Now, one problem we are going to have here is that I don’t really buy the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. I see it as part philosophy, part mythology and part science. As such, I don’t really know how well founded (scientifically speaking) your point about how the bats wing came into being is.”

      You’re right, your ignorance here is going to be a impediment to rational discussion. But it’s your problem, not Glen’s. Nice of you to be upfront about being the cause of the problem, though.

    • Quite a roadblock you threw up there, Morris.

  • [][]
    Moshe Averick
    November 23, 2012
    5:09 pm
    There is a $1,000,000 Origin of Life prize that is being offered for a “highly plausible” pathway from non-life to life that is unclaimed. I confidently predict it will never be claimed.
    [][]

    Do you also “confidently predict” that the Google Lunar X Prize will also never be claimed?

  • To algemeiner.com:

    Like Ayla, I also am noticing that my latest comments are not getting posted. In fact, I have submitted the same response twice over the last two days to a comment by JP and it has not yet shown up.

    Also, you may want to do a Google search for a solution to the “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.” problem [I too am getting that comment often, even after my first attempt of the day to log a comment].

    Here is the Google search I did which brings up some seemingly relevant responses: https://www.google.com/search?q=%22You+are+posting+comments+too+quickly.+Slow+down.%22&oq=%22You+are+posting+comments+too+quickly.+Slow+down.%22&aqs=chrome.0.57.1388&sugexp=chrome,mod=6&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

  • Moshe writes:

    “Evolution is not an UNGUIDED naturalistic process. Evolution cannot take place without the pre-existence of encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded specified information, a highly sophisticated information storage, retrieval, and translation system and a fantastically complex life support system and self-replication system.”

    Are you saying that Evolution is indirectly a GUIDED process, because DNA, etc. was designed?

    Or are you saying that Evolution is driven by deliberate changes to species’ DNA by a supernatural being, rather than random mutations and environmental pressures?

  • Moshe-

    Neither your previous answer, nor the article to which you referred me, answer the principle shortcoming of your argument.

    Intelligent design is not a GUIDED, supernatural process. ID cannot take place without the pre-existence of a creator. Where did the creator come from? You seem to be putting the cart before the horse.

    • To Sivani:

      I’ll quote you from the Rambam on this question:

      Halacha 1
      The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Primary Being who brought into being all existence. All the beings of the heavens, the earth, and what is between them came into existence only from the truth of His being.

      Halacha 2
      If one would imagine that He does not exist, no other being could possibly exist.

      Halacha 3
      If one would imagine that none of the entities aside from Him exist, He alone would continue to exist, and the nullification of their [existence] would not nullify His existence, because all the [other] entities require Him and He, blessed be He, does not require them nor any one of them. Therefore, the truth of His [being] does not resemble the truth of any of their [beings].

      As such, the question ‘where did the Creator come from’ is not a real question.

      You may find the first three articles in this series helpful in this regard: http://www.torah.org/learning/basics/nutshell/

      • **“The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Primary Being who brought into being all existence.”**

        By that logic, God (aka “the Primary Being” does not exist. And that does fit with the facts on the ground.

  • Curious why a comment I posted last night never posted, and when I submitted it, a response appeared saying I am posting too often, when that one comment was the only one I’ve tried to send in quite some time. And yet, Steve Stoddard posts relentlessly.

    • They seem to be trying a new system. Posts have stopped showing up when they are made. And that “slow down” message keeps coming up no matter how long it has been since you last posted. (I’ve posted 3 or 4 versions of some messages, trying to get something to show up. Eventually, they all showed up!)

      The “awaiting moderation” message seems to be making a welcome comeback, however.

      I do post a lot though, regardless. I keep trying to get the “Creationists” to try to deal with the actual issues. It mostly turns out to be an object lesson in how they can’t handle the actual issues — and avoid trying.

      • ” I keep trying to get the “Creationists” to try to deal with the actual issues. It mostly turns out to be an object lesson in how they can’t handle the actual issues — and avoid trying.”

        That’s funny, Steve. In fact it’s hilarious. Incessantly saying over and over and over and over and over again that the supernatural is impossible, “not even of any kind” without explaining WHY is doing what you accuse the ID proponents of. Posters on both sides here I think agree that what you contribute adds nothing but pollution to the discussion.

        Saying that the supernatural is impossible because the supernatural is impossible is not the thought-stopper you think it is.

        • Do you believe that circles can be square, Rex?

          And how did you manage to miss all the times I explained why “the supernatural” is impossible?

          Naturally, if you have faith that contradictions are possible, then you could easily believe in “the supernatural” and “square circles.” So you would need to check your premises.

          Observe further, that the purpose of logic is to making thinking not only possible, but actually productive. The idea is not to for knowledge to be a “thought-stopper,” but rather a thought-enabler.

          • “And how did you manage to miss all the times I explained why “the supernatural” is impossible?”

            Hmm. Refresh my memory because I don’t believe you ever have explained it. Your reply is a non-answer. I’m still looking for the “why”. Feel free to use logic in your explanation. I referred to Aquinas’ argument from contingency. What’s your philosophical rationale? Wishful thinking doesn’t count.

          • It is true that wishful thinking doesn’t count. And wishful thinking about the possibility of miraculous contradictions is the only source for belief in God. If you drop wishful thinking, there is nothing left regarding God.

            There is no argument that can logically get you from something (this world) to nothing (the supernatural). Not any “argument from contingency,” “argument from hope,” or “argument from charity,” etc., etc.

            You might say that God is the “Primary Nothing” (or the “Ultimate Empty Suit”).

          • Even your “argument from obfuscation” doesn’t do the trick.

          • Non-answer
            Question begging
            Affirming the consequent
            Illogical…

            …no surprise

            I remain quite philosophically confident of my theism.
            Thanks Steve

          • You are welcome, Rex. I never doubted your resolve.

          • Or your strong faith in evasion.

        • Stopping thought is the function of religious faith. Note how Moshe relies on unreasonable arguments.

  • {[]}
    Moshe Averick
    November 25, 2012
    9:38 am
    There are 2 possible beginnings for the very first living organism that existed in the universe:
    A. An unguided naturalistic process B. A creator before whom there was no other creator (not existing in time)

    {[]}

    Life could only have begun naturally. That’s the only possibility.

    Nothing can depend on “the supernatural” for its existence — since “the supernatural” simply doesn’t exist. It’s impossible.

  • {}{}
    JP
    November 20, 2012
    11:58 pm

    *rolls eyes*
    {}{}

    It rather an eye-rolling experience to see how hard the Moshes work to avoid the subject. (Not to mention Rex.)

  • Observe that we have a superabundance of evidence for natural processes. They are all around us all the time. And we have zero evidence for unnatural processes; there aren’t any anywhere.

    Nature exists — and that’s it. There isn’t anything else, there is no alternative to appeal or retreat to.

    So what mental process is involved in claiming that supernatural “Creation, by God!” is a possibility? A rejection of reality (in favor of fantasies about some sort of supernatural “IDOL” God)?

  • {}{}
    Moshe Averick
    November 23, 2012
    5:09 pm

    When you write that “we have very good evidence that life did evolve functional complexity without intelligence being involved,” you are simply making it up.
    {}{}

    In fact, not only is he not “making it up,” he is stating an obvious and inescapable point, viz., that life (and therefore intelligence) did not exist before life existed.

  • Moshe-

    After reading your articles I have two questions.

    First, your argument for ID is based on the assertion that all functional complexity is made by intelligent beings. But isn’t that the very point of contention? Doesn’t that make your logic circular?

    Second, even if one accepts that assertion, where did the first intelligence come from?

    • Sivani,

      That assertion is confirmed by the sum total of all human experience, there are zero examples of functional complexity and specified information above very minimal levels that are not the result of intelligence. For obvious reasons the atheist/materialist claims that the one exception in the entire experience of mankind is life itself. Therefore it is not a point of contention, it is an empirically established fact, you are free to argue against it, but the burden of proof is on you.

      Regarding the second point: Please read my article on the website entitled: Who Created the Creator, Who Designed the Designer?

      • Not only are you circularly assuming the conclusion that you desire, we have very good evidence that life did evolve functional complexity without intelligence being involved.

        You have zero evidence of design of bird wings, while all vertebrate wings are modifications of ancestral forelimbs, as required solely by evolution, not a reasonable way to design anything.

        Furthermore, prokaryote microevolution and eukaryotic microevolution show evidence of the known evolutionary mechanisms working, with the former having much lateral transmission of genes, the latter having little in most lineages. Oh yes, prokaryotic macroevolution and eukaryotic macroevolution reveal exactly the same lateral transmissions in prokaryotes, little or none (within the last half billion years, anyhow) in most eukaryotic lineages.

        Again, as expected from evolution, not at all expected from design.

        The only things in nature that truly appear designed (Dawkins is just plain wrong, apparently biased in this regard) are things such as crystals, which appear as though they are rationally designed. However, we know that they are not, and even most anti-science people acknowledge that they are not. Life doesn’t appear designed, and has generally been viewed by humans as quite separate from machines (forget the equivocations about “molecular machines” favored in ID propaganda), to the Greeks being physis, while human design is techne.

        What IDists want to do is to change the rules so that anything that necessarily takes a long time to produce functional complexity, as evolution does (and why should design, anyway?), cannot be determined to have occurred without intelligence. It has everything to do with religion, nothing to do with science. Only crystals even look like they might have been designed, life simply appears evolved.

        Glen Davidson

        • Glen,

          As prominent Origin of Life researcher Dr. Eugene Koonin (confirmed by Thomas Nagel) wrote in his 2011 book, the “rarely mentioned dirty secret” of Origin of Life research is that it has been a complete failure.

          There is a $1,000,000 Origin of Life prize that is being offered for a “highly plausible” pathway from non-life to life that is unclaimed. I confidently predict it will never be claimed. If you have any compelling evidence that life came from non-life through an unguided naturalistic process, I urge you to share it with Koonin, Nobel Prize winner Christian DeDuve, Jack Szostak, Gerald Joyce, Richard Dawkins, Freeman Dyson, Jerry Coyne, etc. all of whom have admitted that they do not know how life began. Nobel Prize Winner Jacque Monod felt that the mystery and enigma of origin of life was so profound that it would never be solved.

          When you write that “we have very good evidence that life did evolve functional complexity without intelligence being involved,” you are simply making it up.

          • If you have any compelling evidence that life came from non-life through an unguided naturalistic process, I urge you to share it with Koonin,…

            Nice attempt to change the subject, which is that you have no evidence for your claims that life was designed. I didn’t claim to know how life originated, and you know it.

            When you write that “we have very good evidence that life did evolve functional complexity without intelligence being involved,” you are simply making it up.

            Unlike what you have done here, I wouldn’t stoop so low, and clearly referred to evidence that evolution has happened. Your mere attacks and untrue claims certainly haven’t countered the evidence that I mentioned, and are merely attempts to ignore what the evidence shows.

            Glen Davidson

          • Life actually exists. Nobody is “making it up.” God, on the other hand, does not exist, but is a fictional, i.e., made up, character.

            Of course, nobody at this point knows how life did originate. But we do know — with 100% certainty — that it is a natural pre-life, i.e., “unguided,” process that needs to be found to explain it.

            The notion that life was somehow miraculously guided into existence is a self-contradictory misapprehension (since providing guidance is a function of consciousness, i.e., a sentient process).

          • [][]“If you have any compelling evidence that life came from non-life through an unguided naturalistic process,…”[][]

            Life did originate from non-life through a natural unguided process. That much is absolutely certain. But it is an open question as to precisely what that process was in particular.

            It is impossible that anything in nature could have had an unnatural origin. All stories of the supernatural are entirely fiction. It is not possible for there to be anything unnatural, period. If you have evidence of anything unnatural, you need to present it — and prove that it is miraculous (rather than misunderstood — or fake).

            Of course, you need to understand that it is impossible to prove the supernatural by means of the natural — and everything available, everything there is (or was, or will be), is natural. There is no alternative to nature.

          • Moshe, how many time do you think you need to repeat the “nobody knows how life started therefore I know how life started” argument before it becomes plausible?

          • Is he going for an infinite repetition — because nothing finite will work for him?

          • Moshe,

            Would you have confidently predicted in 1968 that man would never land on the Moon because it hadn’t been done at that time?

        • You wrote:

          “You have zero evidence of design of bird wings, while all vertebrate wings are modifications of ancestral forelimbs, as required solely by evolution, not a reasonable way to design anything.”

          I have one simple question – why is a modification of an ancestral forelimb ‘not a reasonable way to design anything’? What’s unreasonable about it – if it works then it sounds pretty reasonable to me.

          Of course, one has to demonstrate that that is indeed what happened and, furthermore, show the means by which it happened. But simply as an idea, I don’t know why modifying a pre-existing form is less ‘reasonable’ than designing something form scratch or some other ‘reasonable’ method.

          In fact, it sounds fairly clever to me.

          Be well,

          Moshe

          • I don’t know why modifying a pre-existing form is less ‘reasonable’ than designing something form scratch or some other ‘reasonable’ method.

            In fact, it sounds fairly clever to me.

            OK, why does it sound clever to you? Because forelegs aren’t much like wings, so you’d have to adapt and modify them enormously to make them act like wings? While, say, taking bird wings and placing them on a bat (along with the appropriate changes) would be straightforward and not so “clever”?

            Obviously I’m getting at the ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ nature of apologetics, where if apparent modifications make “design sense” it only shows how God is a great designer, while if the apparent modifications don’t make “design sense,” God is just so very much more clever. Wouldn’t it also be clever of God to make wings out of ribs, lymph vessels, or out of bony tails, by that account? Indeed, modify tails into wings, and voila, you have even a greater miracle–especially since tails wouldn’t work evolutionarily. Oddly, though, it’s clever of God to do what evolution would have to have done with the small dinosaur for it to evolve wings, modify the forelimbs into wings. God can’t lose in the apologist’s view, for any “good design strategy” is great evidence for design, and “poor design strategy” just shows how clever God is.

            Still, why not modify a pre-existing form? Well, one problem is the lack of specificity of such a statement, for one question would be, if God weren’t going to design anew from first principles, why not modify a pre-existing bird wing for a bat, rather than using something as unwinglike as a mammalian forelimb to make bat wings?

            Why won’t bats ever have the efficient flight of birds? Because their flight began with hairy or furry legs, not with feathered bird wings. Feathers make great wings, hair or fur won’t sculpt a comparable airfoil, it’s just not something that mammalian insulation can do.

            Still, bats fly well enough, their articulated wings allowing maneuvers that bird wings with their fused bones won’t, so let’s just suppose, for sake of argument, that insectivorous bats are better off with their wings than with bird wings and that feathers wouldn’t help their wings (neither of which is obviously true, as far as I know, but possible). Well then, why don’t fruit bats have the more efficient distance flight of birds, when they don’t have to maneuver like insectivores do? No bat flies anywhere nearly so far as many birds do, one reason being their less-efficient wings. Why aren’t similarities in proclaimed “design” fitting similar needs, rather than rigid taxonomic categories in the case of bats and birds?

            Another reason not to start with terrestrial forelimbs is the poor flyer, if it was a flyer at all (and not merely a glider), that Archaeopteryx was. Of course today’s birds have wonderful feathers and wings, no matter how they started, the point is that transitionals have to put up with the inefficiencies of incompletely evolved parts that originally functioned for something quite differently. Inscrutable God, oooh that’s clever, whatever, can be invoked, but no, it tells us no reason for “designing” just as evolution would have to have done it. Even now, rigid bird wings have to fuse from bones that originally were articulated, a developmental pathway that has the potential for causing defects, and which has no design purpose in any case.

            Of course, one has to demonstrate that that is indeed what happened

            That’s what such evidence shows. Without the ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ of apologists, no, it makes no sense to ape evolution in design. Evolution had no ability to design like the Wright brothers did, copy bird wings but with huge leaps also involved (entirely different materials, for instance), God wouldn’t be stuck with slowly shaping dinosaur forelimbs into exquisite bird wings, and God wouldn’t be limited to mammalian materials for fruit bat wings.

            and, furthermore, show the means by which it happened.

            Yes, that’s done, too. Bird genomes are simply modifications of reptilian genomes, that are modifications of amphibian genomes, likewise modifications of fish genomes, etc. Positive selection can be shown, negative selection, largely neutral selection, etc. If the claim is that everything has to be shown, well, no one claims that every step of the Masoretic text’s development has to be shown to know that it and many texts from the Dead Sea are related by a common ancestor, with human modifications (many of which will necessarily never be fully understood) occurring here and there. You only have to match known causes with known effects, and you at least have tentative explanations, while great unknown causes for known effects are not explanations in any reasonable sense at all.

            Glen Davidson

        • Glen,

          I have written many times that I am prepared, for arguments sake, to concede the truth of Darwinian evolution. My point is that evolution has no relevance to the question of the existence of a Creator of life. Evolution, as Thomas Nagel has so cogently pointed out, simply pushes the question back one step.
          “you have explained the functional complexity of life in terms of something that is as functionally complex as what you originally set out to explain in the first place.”

          • I have written many times that I am prepared, for arguments sake, to concede the truth of Darwinian evolution.

            Shifting the goalposts. You were arguing straight against “Darwin” in most of your post, not about the origin of life. I point out the evidence, you promptly ignore it and incorrectly claim that I just made up the claims that I supported.

            And you most certainly do not concede the truth of Darwinian evolution for arguments’ sake or any other reason, as you won’t acknowledge the very real evidence that there was considerable evolution prior to the “first bacterium,” and constantly pretend that a complete bacterial cell is what needs to be explained for “first life.”

            My point is that evolution has no relevance to the question of the existence of a Creator of life.

            Neither does the lack of a scientific explanation have any relevance to the existence of a Creator.

            Evolution, as Thomas Nagel has so cogently pointed out, simply pushes the question back one step.

            Yes, and he can make up a meaningless “cause” as readily as you can insist that it has to be G-d. You don’t credit his “teleological nature,” or whatever nonsense he’s pushing, and he doesn’t see any reason to credit your nonsense.

            The issue is evidence. We don’t mind saying that we don’t have the evidence to say how life arose, you won’t admit the same. Of course we’re not looking to fictional causes for the origin of life, because there’s no legitimacy in “explaining” the unknown by another unknown, such as ancient pieties of whatever culture.

            Glen Davidson

          • [][]“My point is that evolution has no relevance to the question of the existence of a Creator of life.”[][]

            Naturally not.

            But then your question is invalid anyhow. The existence of an Intelligent Creator of Life is a logical contradiction — and a physical impossibility.

            And your standard response that it “didn’t happen physically,” i.e., that it was a miracle, doesn’t solve the problem. That just shows how you are eschewing making sense and facing reality.

      • [][]“[T]here are zero examples of functional complexity and specified information above very minimal levels that are not the result of intelligence.”[][]

        Of course there aren’t, since only intelligence can specify information. There is no such thing as unspecified specified information.

        But so what??

        And naturally, the origin of life did NOT involve any specified information (since there was nobody around to specify any).

        It’s not rocket science — or religion!

      • Moshe wrote, “Kind of circular logic. Your first premise is a leap of faith not a fact. YOur first premise is exactly what the point of contention is.”

        The assertion that all living things evolved from simpler self-replicating things through an unguided process is confirmed by evidence across multiple scientific disciplines. There are zero examples of functional complexity that are not the result of evolution. For obvious reasons, you claim that the one exception is the first bacterium. Therefore, it is not a point of contention, it is an empirically established fact, you are free to argue against it, but the burden of proof is on you.

        • Eitan,

          You keep missing the salient point. Evolution is not an UNGUIDED naturalistic process. Evolution cannot take place without the pre-existence of encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded specified information, a highly sophisticated information storage, retrieval, and translation system and a fantastically complex life support system and self-replication system. Where did all that equipment come from? Since Evolution depends on the existence of this machinery, it cannot be explained by evolution. This is the dilemma that baffles Origin of Life scientists and it is why Thomas Nagel has called into question the standard scientific explanations.

          You seem to keep putting the cart before the horse. Specified information and functional complexity do not emerge from an evolutionary process…Specified information and functional complexity are necessary for evolution to take place.

          • {}{}“Evolution cannot take place without the pre-existence of encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded specified information,…”{}{}

            In other words, your belief is that “evolution cannot take place without guidance from God!” That view is sheer fantasy. Not only is there absolutely no shred of evidence for it, but such “supernatural specification” is downright impossible.

            You don’t have a clue about how it could have happened because it could not have happened. You might as well declare that “evolution cannot take place without square circles!”

      • After reading that article, your answer to #2 can be summarized as follows:

        “The assertion that all functional complexity is intelligently designed leads to an infinite regress. The only solution to this philosophical problem is a nonphysical Creator.”

        If this is inaccurate I’m sure you will correct me.

        • A “nonphysical Creator” is not a solution any more than adding zero to a number could change its value.

          While there are some cases of “functional complexity” that are intelligently designed, i.e., are man-made, there is no possibility that ALL cases of “functional complexity” are designed.

          It is a contradiction to claim that life was “intelligently designed” (since life has to exist prior to there being any possibility of design).

      • [][]“That assertion [that all functional complexity is made by intelligent beings] is confirmed by the sum total of all human experience,…”[][]

        No, it is not, Moshe, not even close.

        Man-made things that are “functionally complex” are, of course, made by intelligent beings. But there is a whole world of things out there that are “functionally complex” which are part of nature and were never made by anybody.

        Your fantasy that reality depends on God is quite beyond the sum total of all human experience.

      • He must be going for an infinite number — because nothing less will get the job done.

    • []“your argument for ID is based on the assertion that all functional complexity is made by intelligent beings.”[]

      That is known as the fallacy of assuming the conclusion one is pretending to argue for.

      []“where did the first intelligence come from?”[]

      No one has yet figured out how life, and later intelligence, originated. While it is certain that it happened through natural, unguided processes, no one has yet identified exactly what those processes were and how it all worked.

      The religious approach of claiming that something unnatural miraculously happened is a cognitive dead-end (or non-starter).

    • Sivani,

      There are in fact 2 solutions: All agree that since at one point in time there was no life and at a later point there was life there must be a “Beginning” to the process. There are 2 possible beginnings for the very first living organism that existed in the universe:
      A. An unguided naturalistic process B. A creator before whom there was no other creator (not existing in time)

      • The only possible origin of life is an “unguided” natural process.

        A process of supernatural “Creation, by God!” is not a possibility. It’s mythology, not a real possibility.

        People who are interested in understanding the origin of life are going to have to look for natural processes, not miracles and magic. It is analogous, for instance, to how people who were interested in landing on the moon looked for NATURAL processes to use in getting the job done; they did not look for miraculous, supernatural means to make it happen.

      • A NATURAL process (necessarily UNGUIDED, since life and consciousness did not yet exist) is the ONLY possibility for the origin of life. There is no possible alternative.

        Where in the world does this nonsense about a supernatural “creator before whom there was no other creator” come from? (Hint: God is a fictional character.)

      • Whew! I guess I need to keep trying until I can get something to show up here.

        The fact of the matter is that “the very first living organism” was perfectly natural — and did not depend on anything unnatural. Especially since there isn’t anything unnatural, aka “supernatural.”

      • Hello Rabbi Averick,

        I would like to offer a third possibility – a guided naturalistic process.

        I don’t see any reason to intellectually preclude the possibility of some day discovering a naturalistic process for the origin of life. However, the nature of life as we understand it indicates that that process itself would require a Designer.

        In other words, the ultimate source is clearly a Designer – but that doesn’t preclude the possibility that someday science will have something significant to say about the origin of life – just that they won’t be able to get in the last word.

        Be well,

        Moshe

        • Moshe,
          It seems to me by positing a “guided” naturalistic process you have just pushed the same question back one step.

          It seems to me that there is as much chance of the first life being the product of a naturalistic process as there is of a mud hut being constructed by a naturalistic process, that is to say it is so remote as to be implausible and beyond rational consideration.

          • Mud happens naturally. Building shelters is also perfectly natural.

            On the other hand, designing the origin of design, like lifting yourself with your own bootstraps (or drawing square circles), is not a possibility.

            And claiming that your “IDOL” has miraculous powers is an empty conceit.

          • Hello Rabbi Averick,

            Of course it pushes the question back further – that’s what the word guided implies.

            Whether or not it is scientifically feasible today or in the future is not my issue – I’ll let those who practice and fund scientific research decide if this is a worthwhile avenue to pursue. But it is a theoretical possibility – one that seems more likely to me than an unguided naturalistic process.

            Furthermore, we have an example of a naturalistic process which creates something far more sophisticated than mud huts – namely the very cells that you have been discussing.

            Proteins, organs and biological organisms all come to be via a naturalistic process which is remarkable to behold and which indicates that there is a Designer. Why would it be any more surprising to discover that there is a naturalistic process equally (if not more) remarkable that brought to existence the first living cell.

            Be well,

            Moshe

          • Be sensible, Morris. There is absolutely nothing at all in the world that indicates the existence of God.

            Nothing.

            After all, where could you possibly look to see something unnatural?

        • {}{}“… the nature of life as we understand it indicates that that process itself would require a Designer.{}{}

          Not exactly. A better way to formulate the case is thus: Design requires conscious intention, which requires a living brain, so, therefore, life as such could not possibly have been designed.

          Since design depends on life, life cannot have been designed.

          To posit a “non-living designer” is like believing in fairy tales about “non-circular circles.”

        • [][]“… the ultimate source is clearly a Designer …”[][]

          In your dreams.

          In reality, a supernatural “IDOL” is impossible.

          That, by the way, is why you have ZERO evidence for your “Creator/Designer,” and have no clue about how “Creation, by God!” could possibly have happened. Your alleged arguments a void for vagueness.

    • Hello Savani,

      I take a slightly different approach than the ID movement (particularly Stephen Meyers) or Rabbi Averick. I think that when one sees something like DNA they are witnessing something that indicates that you should take G-d seriously. I.e., it is either a confirmation of that which one already knows or believes (i.e., G-d) or else a compelling reason to take the time and effort needed to seriously explore that knowledge or belief.

      I discuss these points more in depth in the following two articles:

      http://morethinking.com/2011/g-d-is-not-a-theory/

      http://morethinking.com/2011/g-d-is-not-a-mathematical-equation/

      Be well,

      Moshe

    • Hello Savani,

      I take a slightly different approach than the ID movement (particularly Stephen Meyers) or Rabbi Averick. I think that when one sees something like DNA they are witnessing something that indicates that you should take G-d seriously.

      I.e., when one witnesses something like DNA in the natural world, one sees something that either confirms that which one already knows or believes (i.e., G-d) or else finds a compelling reason to take the time and effort needed to seriously explore that knowledge or belief.

      I discuss these points more in depth in the following two articles:

      http://morethinking.com/2011/g-d-is-not-a-theory/

      http://morethinking.com/2011/g-d-is-not-a-mathematical-equation/

      Be well,

      Moshe

  • I didn’t say that Evolution proves an unguided Origin of Life. That is just the FIRST part of my irrefutable argument. Now that you’ve agreed that bacteria evolved from simpler self-replicating things, we can address your question of where the first self-replicating thing came from. The answer is obvious. There cannot be an infinite regress of self-replicating things. The answer to this philosophical problem is that a simple self-replicating molecule formed spontaneously. Do you have a question about the SECOND part of my irrefutable argument?

    So, to again summarize the ENTIRE irrefutable argument so that nobody gets confused:

    1. All living things evolved from simpler self-replicating things through an unguided process.

    2. The first bacterium was obviously a living thing.
    3. Therefore, the first bacterium obviously evolved from simpler self-replicating things through an unguided process.

    We may then conclude that a simple self replicating molecule formed spontaneously because it solves the philosophical problem of the infinite regress.

    • [][]“1. All living things evolved from simpler self-replicating things through an unguided process.
”[][]

      That isn’t quite true, is it? What about thoroughbred horses and hybrid grapes, for example?

    • Hello Eitan,

      I started reading your comment, but stopped after this line: “That is just the FIRST part of my irrefutable argument.”

      Claiming that you have an ‘irrefutable argument’ is the type of over-the-top claims which indicates that you probably have less to say than you realize. Albert Einstein once said that “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong [http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins100017.html#QHCv9yJD3Epo7u90.99]

      I highly doubt that your argument is as well argued and demonstrated as Einstein’s equations are nor will they have as profound an effect on the course of thought that his equations had.

      And yet, he recognized the potential limitation of what he had done. There could come a time, he conceded, that a single experiment would show that in some way or other he was wrong.

      It was that type of humility that enabled Einstein to become the genius that he became.

      I don’t doubt that you care about this issue and have thought about it – but if you want depth of understanding or simply to be taken seriously you first need to exhibit some recognition that your understanding may not be as profound or accurate as you claim it to be.

      All the best,

      Moshe

  • For what it’s worth, I do think that there are difficulties in evolutionary theory. But that does not mean that we have to have recourse to a belief in God or Fairies as an explanation for how things are, or became how they are.

    In such difficulties we need to turn to Science and the scientific method to aid us in our search for the Truth.

    Why? Not because it is an “ungrounded intellectual preference”, but because it is the way that we have so far succeeded in uncovering and explaining many of the mysteries of the Universe.

    • Hello PhilP,

      I would like to comment on two points that you made – one that I agree with, one that I disagree with – both of which were made in the same sentence. You wrote:

      “But that does not mean that we have to have recourse to a belief in God or Fairies as an explanation for how things are, or became how they are.”

      You are right, one does not turn to G-d to explain the unexplained (or, better yet, the not yet explained). In other words, one doesn’t say – well, I don’t understand that – it must be G-d.

      On the other hand, there are elements of the natural world which inherently suggest a Creator. One can rightly point out those aspects of the natural world and note that fact. I speak more about this in the following article: http://morethinking.com/2011/getting-a-better-understanding-of-the-g-d-of-the-gaps/

      Now, for the part of your statement that I disagree with – namely the ‘a belief in God or Fairies’ part of your sentence. Fairies are a mythological creature. G-d is not.

      In fact, the reason why most of us today do not believe in fairies and other mythological creatures or pagan gods and idols is because the Torah stated 3,000+ years ago that there is a singular G-d who created the heavens of the earth.

      Modern atheism often attempts to reduce G-d to the level of ancient mythological ideas and beliefs – probably because it’s easier to reject G-d if we can ‘lower’ Him to some easily rejectable idea or concept.

      More on this another time.

      Be well,

      Moshe

      • {}“… there are elements of the natural world which inherently suggest a Creator.”{}

        There is nothing in the world to “inherently suggest,” or even hint at, the existence of a supernatural God. Nothing at all.

        You seem to be trying to claim that there actually IS evidence for the supernatural, but you fail to provide any sensible support for such a claim. (Of course, trying to prove that God exists is like trying to prove that circles are square.) Contradictions don’t work.

  • To JP:

    You originally stated that the idea of a G-d independent of space and time creating material lifeforms exhibited some sort of ‘cognitive dissonance’ [I'll ignore the fact that you used the term cognitive dissonance incorrectly and assume that you meant that it's a logically incoherent or contradictory statement or idea].

    I then proceeded to demonstrate that modern physics at least corroborates if not outright agrees with the idea that an immaterial entity independent of space and time created the physical/material universe. I did so with sources which help explain the physics and concepts involved.

    If you think that I failed to demonstrate that such an idea is possible or reasonable then please articulate and point why you think that way. I welcome the discussion.

    What you did instead, though, is what most modern atheists do when confronted with evidence for a Creator or evidence that their own ideas lack intellectual backing or substance – you a) changed the subject and b) resorted to ridicule.

    You changed the subject when you wrote the following: “You think that gravity and the strong and weak nuclear forces exist independent of the material world?”

    To start with, if you had taken the time to carefully read what I wrote, you’ll note that I did NOT state that gravity and the strong and weak nuclear forces exist independent of the material world. What I actually wrote is the following (note the part that is now in capital letters):

    “Now, combine that with the Big Bang and the idea that some thing or entity independent of our universe brought into existence space, time and matter/energy (AS WELL AS THE LAWS OF NATURE GOVERNING THAT MATTER/ENERGY) is not only a perfectly reasonable idea, but seems to be the most logical explanation of what we currently know about the physical universe.”

    Now, it may be that Stephen Hawkins and other modern physicists hold that (at least some of) the laws of physics exist independent of space and time – so I’ll hold off final judgement on that issue for now – but either way, I certainly didn’t make that statement.

    More importantly, though, that point has nothing to do with your original point which I directly addressed – which is whether or not an immaterial G-d independent of space and time could bring a material world into being. Everything we know about modern physics indicates that yes, that idea is totally reasonable and possible. Modern Physics confirms what the Chumash stated over 3,000 years ago – now that is an interesting point.

    In terms of your ridicule – you’ll have to ask yourself why you need to resort to ridicule. All I’ll say is that you’ll have to decide how seriously to take the question of whether or not there really is a G-d. Ridicule is an easy way to ignore otherwise important and serious questions and issues – and that has much more to do with cognitive dissonance (the real meaning) than anything I wrote or said.

    • [][]“[Could] an immaterial God independent of space and time … bring a material world into being. Everything we know about modern physics indicates that yes, that idea is totally reasonable and possible.”[][]

      In fact, there is nothing we know about physics that gives even a hint of plausibility to the mystical notion of “an immaterial God.” Nothing at all. Your claim to the contrary is without substance or logic. You are making an arbitrary claim that contradicts reality.

      You’ll have to ask yourself why you need to avoid reality to advocate your unnatural ideas.

      It makes no sense to claim that “functional, specified complexity” indicates a “non-physical source” for anything. Such “complexity” is always the result of human intelligence. Humans are material beings, and there is no other source for specifications of any kind.

    • Let’s just get this out of the way:

      “Cognitive dissonance is the term used in modern psychology to describe the feeling of discomfort when holding two or more conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

      “People tend to seek consistency in their beliefs and perceptions. So what happens when one of our beliefs conflicts with another previously held belief? The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs.”
      http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/f/dissonance.htm

      What I wrote:
      “So G-d is independent of space and time, but created material lifeforms?

      Does the cognitive dissonance of holding that position ever bother you?”

      You believe that the existence of material lifeforms is dependent on G-d, who is independent of the material world that those lifeforms are part of. My question stands. I think it’s amusing that you accused me of changing the subject and being evasive as a way of changing the subject and being evasive yourself. I feel that your sense of self-awareness may be as weak as your knowledge about the definition of cognitive dissonance.

      In your posts you repeatedly equivocate between the idea of being immaterial, and of being independent of the material world, which allows you to make a (flawed) analogy between forces like gravity (immaterial) and G-d (independent of materiality).

      Also, it should be noted that forces like gravity or nuclear forces do to govern the behaviour of the universe as you claim. Those terms are descriptive, not prescriptive. They are simply aspects of the nature of matter/space/time that are consistent enough in their behaviour for us to accurately model. It’s not a nitpick: you’re smuggling in the assumption of agency where it is not justified, and then using that unsupported assumption to prop up your conclusion.

      As for ridicule, I’d hazard that the appropriate use of ridicule is in response to the ridiculous. The fact that you claim G-d is both independent of spacetime and also has agency that affects spacetime is ridiculous. The fact that you that G-d is a reasonable explanation for natural phenomena while ignoring the question I put to you on how you gathered evidence for this being that is supposedly independent of spacetime is also ridiculous. Hence the (very mild) ridicule.

      If you want to provide some meat for your argument beyond simply making arguments from personal incredulity and ignorance, and start to deal in evidence of the mechanism by which G-d intervenes in the natural world while remaining independent of it (and the fact that you can imagine such a situation is not evidence for G-d any more than the fact my kids can imagine Harry Potter is evidence for Hogwarts), then I might start taking you seriously.

      • []“… start to deal in evidence of the mechanism by which G-d intervenes in the natural world …”[]

        There is no such mechanism any more than there are square circles. The “not-of-this-world” stuff of religion is just that: nothing, nowhere, impossible.

    • {}{}“I then proceeded to demonstrate that modern physics at least corroborates if not outright agrees with the idea that an immaterial entity independent of space and time created the physical/material universe.”{}{}

      You asserted that belief, but you failed to demonstrate any actual corroboration.

      There are no physical facts that support the notion of “an immaterial entity independent of space and time.” Your God is pure fantasy, “supported” only by blind (i.e., religious) faith. You cannot point to a single fact in the actual world that “indicates” anything unnatural.

      You seem to be making the mistake of thinking that if a physicist believes in God, then God must therefore exist. In fact, it doesn’t work out that way.

  • Insofar as science is the pursuit of knowledge, it has to be materialistic because material objects are what make up the world in which we live and are able to gain knowledge (of entities, their actions, relationships, etc.).

    Insofar as we are dealing with knowledge and not fiction, science is necessarily atheistic simply because the supernatural is fiction, not reality.

    If religion manages to kill science, it will be a dark day.

    • Insofar as science is the pursuit of knowledge, it has to be materialistic because material objects are what make up the world in which we live and are able to gain knowledge (of entities, their actions, relationships, etc.).

      Steve, once again you’ve (no doubt unintentionally) swerved into the truth. Because the sciences are limited only to the material world, scientists – as scientists – should keep their mouths shut about whether or not G-d exists and stop making metaphysical, a priori pronouncements that there is no G-d. Leave that question to the philosophers and theologians.

      Your idiotic statements about the impossibility of the supernatural are based on what? No doubt you have some preternatural insight that has escaped the greatest minds for centuries that you have yet to share. In fact, because there is something rather than nothing, it is impossible for G-d not to exist. I’m referring of course to Aquinas’ argument from contingency.

      • []“… scientists – as scientists – should keep their mouths shut about whether or not G-d exists and …. Leave that question to the philosophers and theologians.”[]

        Insofar as philosophers are interested in the pursuit of knowledge, their approach has to be materialistic because material objects are what make up the world in which we live and of which are able to gain knowledge (of entities, their actions, relationships, etc.).

        Theologians, on the other hand, are not interested in pursuing knowledge, but rather in rationalizing about their fantasies of the supernatural.

      • Aquinas, while a giant of his time, is a midget of ours. His arguments would fail any undergraduate course in formal logic – they are embarrassingly unsound.

        Take his Argument from Degree. That because we understand greatness, there must be a possessor of maximal greatness (and maximal everything else), whom we call God. It’s not actually an argument, it’s just an assertion, and one that is patently false and self-contradictory. It ignores the possibility that there may be more than one possessor of maximal greatness. It ignores the possibility that maximal greatness may be possessed by humans (perhaps the maximal possible greatness isn’t actually particularly large). It ignores the possibility that the possessors of maximal quantities of other attributes are not possessors of maximal greatness.

        Every college graduate (and almost every high school graduate) in 2012 is better educated than Aquinas.

        You’d think, if theists held all the answers, that in the 800 years since Aquinas, they would have come up with a way of building up evidence for the God of Aquinas, of fortifying his almost comically weak arguments against criticism.

        But still, 800 years later, he’s the best they’ve got to trot out on blog comments, hoping desperately that people will be too wowed by his venerable name to read his actual arguments, and decide for themselves whether they withstand even casual scrutiny.

        Remember, Aquinas lived in an age where the greatest intellectual response to the Black Plague was prayer. History records that that level of intellectual rigour was found somewhat wanting.

    • Oh yeah and religion is the greatest advocate of science since science is knowledge of G-d’s creation. The Galileo affair is basically the only thing atheists can hang their hat on in trying to prove religion’s hostility toward science. Even with Galileo, the anti-religion version is not what actually happened.

      • []“… religion is the greatest advocate of science …”[]

        In fact, religion advocates religious faith — precisely the opposite of science.

      • {}[]“… prove religion’s hostility toward science.”[]{}

        The “Intelligent Design” movement shows the hostility of religion to science. The attempts to have “Creationism” taught in schools to offset “Evolution” is a prime example of religion’s hostility to science.

        If a religionist were sincere and honest in believing that “science is knowledge of God’s creation,” then he would avoid “Creationism/Intelligent Design” like the plague (since it is illogical, anti-empirical, etc.).

      • Steve Stoddard

        Well, I tried to reply ….

  • What is the premise on which you base the conclusion that the functional complexity of bacteria proves they are the product of intelligence?

  • Is God functionally complex?

    • As many before you have made, you make the same mistake of wanting to apply concepts of the *material* domain to an Entity (God) that is *spiritual*. As long as people remain in that erroneous mindset, they’ll never *get it*.

      • Design and creation of functional complexity is a property of *material* beings, which ID proponents want to apply to *spiritual* beings.

        Are ID proponents also making a mistake due to an erroneous mindset?

        • You are correct, there is difficulty in trying to ‘demonstrate’ the spiritual from the physical. With that said, the heart of the argument is that there are certain features or properties of physical entities which inherently imply or indicate a non-physical source.

          Functional, specified complexity is one such example. Other examples are the fine-tuned nature of the physical laws of the universe and the fact that the Big Bang theory seems to indicate that space, time (and perhaps even energy and the laws of physics themselves) came into existence from absolute nothing.

          There are other elements of reality which indicate a Divine Creator – such as the experience of prayer, the belief in an absolute moral code (such as murder is wrong), the wisdom and influence of the Torah and more.

          Combined, all of these elements lead one to the spiritual from the physical.

          In short, DNA and the functional complexity of the cell are just one piece in a multi-faceted puzzle which creates a picture of the Divine.

          I attempt to deal with these types of issues in a more systematic manner on my site Morethinking (www.morethinking.com).

          • [][]“{T]here are certain features or properties of physical entities which inherently imply or indicate a non-physical source.”[][]

            That is untrue. There is nothing indicating a “non-physical source” for anything in the world. Nothing at all.

            [][]“Functional, specified complexity is one such example.”[][]

            It makes no sense to claim that “functional, specified complexity” indicates a “non-physical source” for anything whatsoever. Such “complexity” is always the result of human intelligence. There is no other source for specifications of any kind.

            [][]” Other examples are the fine-tuned nature of the physical laws of the universe and the fact that the Big Bang theory seems to indicate that space, time (and perhaps even energy and the laws of physics themselves) came into existence from absolute nothing.”[][]

            The simple fact is that the laws of nature are NOT “fine-tuned.” Such “fine-tuning” is a completely fantastic notion. I.e., it has no grounding in reality.

            And the “Big Bang theory” most certainly does NOT indicate that anything “came into existence from absolutely nothing.” Such “creation ex nihilo” is utterly preposterous. There is simply nothing anywhere in reality that indicates any such thing.

            [][]“There are other elements of reality which indicate a Divine Creator – such as the experience of prayer, the belief in an absolute moral code (such as murder is wrong), the wisdom and influence of the Torah and more.”[][]

            No, wishing doesn’t make it so.

          • {}{}“In short, DNA and the functional complexity of the cell are just one piece in a multi-faceted puzzle which creates a picture of the Divine.”{}{}

            The Divine” is a pipe-dream, a fantasy. There is, naturally, no such thing in actual reality.

            There is no puzzle about it: “the Divine” is simply imaginary. The physical world is the real world; it doesn’t lead somewhere else.

          • {}“Combined, all of these elements lead one to the spiritual from the physical.”{}

            Practically speaking, no one needs to be led from “the physical to the spiritual,” since, as humans, we are already there as soon as we start noticing things and thinking about them. That is, “spirituality” is achieved by making conscious connections based on experience. (Being a mindless ideologue like Obama does not make one “spiritual.”)

    • No, the traditional Jewish view of G-d is that He is immaterial, existing beyond (i.e., independent of) space and time. Whats more, He is considered to be an absolute singular entity – that is the idea behind the concept of G-d being One. One – meaning no parts. One, meaning none other. One, meaning a unified whole. And so on.

      • steve stoddard

        That’s another way of saying that God is simply a fictional character, not anything real.

      • So G-d is independent of space and time, but created material lifeforms?

        Does the cognitive dissonance of holding that position ever bother you?

        • “Cognitive dissonance” is the whole point of religion. If someone valued cognitive integrity, he would not be religious in the first place.

        • No – here’s why.

          The material world is not quite as material as you may think. Einstein’s famous equation (E = mc2) teaches us that energy and matter are interchangeable. I.e., matter can be transformed into energy (thus the power of a nuclear bomb) and similarly energy can be transformed into matter.

          However, because of the c2 part of the equation transforming energy into matter requires a tremendous amount of energy. The Big Bang provided that amount of energy and from this all the mass and matter that exists in our universe came into existence.

          [some sources:
          http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/970724a.html

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6cbaMj883c

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs-yWMuBNr4
          ]

          The interesting thing is, energy is not material. Neither are the fundamental forces which give form and function to our universe (such as gravity and the strong and weak nuclear forces). They also seem to be immaterial.

          Now, combine that with the Big Bang and the idea that some thing or entity independent of our universe brought into existence space, time and matter/energy (as well as the laws of nature governing that matter/energy) is not only a perfectly reasonable idea, but seems to be the most logical explanation of what we currently know about the physical universe.

          In fact, I believe the multiverse also takes such a position – they posit some sort of energy field from which our universe was created. The point is, though, that this energy field exists INDEPENDENTLY of our universe. It is within this independent quantum energy field (or whatever you call it) that our physical universe came into being.

          But as Gerald Schroeder points out – this idea merely posits the existence of an infinite, eternal, all-powerful force or power independent of our universe which created our universe (see first section of his articleon the subject: http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/Stephen_Hawking__God.html).

          In short, there is nothing illogical or contradictory of a non-material force or entity independent of or beyond our physical universe
          being responsible for the creation of our universe.

          • The notion of “a non-material force or entity independent of or beyond our physical universe” is completely fantastic — cognitively empty and meaningless.

            There is literally nothing to such a notion; it has no referent in reality. Nobody pushing such a notion has the slightest clue what they are talking about (which is why they never offer any evidence or specifics).

          • {[]}
            Moshe November 20, 2012 5:34 pm
            The material world is not quite as material as you may think.{[]}

            If you feel that the keyboard on which you typed those words was not really there, and that you didn’t physically type anything, do you go so far as to believe that you are not really there (and don’t really have anything to say)?

          • You think that gravity and the strong and weak nuclear forces exist independent of the material world?

            That’s an interesting viewpoint.

            But do go on (and on, and on) some more about how I was previously unaware of the existence of energy, oh wise one.

            *rolls eyes*

            And when you’re done, you can explain how you collected your evidence of a super-being independent of the material universe. That should be amusing. Hopefully it’s more convincing that my kids telling me that they have evidence that Santa exists because there are presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

  • I’m not sure why you keep writing the same article over and over again. I’ve already proven that the first bacterium evolved from simpler self-replicating things through an unguided process:

    1. All living things evolved from simpler self-replicating things through an unguided process.

    2. The first bacterium was obviously a living thing.
    3. Therefore, the first bacterium obviously evolved from simpler self-replicating things through an unguided process.

    We may then conclude that a simple self replicating molecule formed spontaneously because it solves the philosophical problem of the infinite regress.

    My argument for a natural, unguided origin of life has never been refuted. You’re welcome to try:

    Name me one example of a living thing that did not evolve from simpler self-replicating things through an unguided process.

    You previously offered the first living bacterium as your example. If you still wish to use that example, then prove it! Prove that the first living bacterium came into existence through some other means.

    • Eitan,

      Kind of circular logic. Your first premise is a leap of faith not a fact. YOur first premise is exactly what the point of contention is.

      • The point of contention is the origin of the first bacteria. I’ve proven it is an unguided process.

        My first premise is a fact. Humans, bees, snails, caterpillars, strawberries… it is a fact that these and all other living things evolved from simpler, self-replicating things.

        Name one example of a living thing that did not evolve from simpler self-replicating things through an unguided process.

        Go ahead… NAME ONE EXAMPLE…

        You can’t. That’s why my argument has never been refuted.

        • Eitan,

          Evolution is all based on the pre-existence of highly complex machinery. all it tell us is that fantastic machinery can accomplish fantastic things, nobody disagrees with that. Where did the machinery come from in the first place? You don’t seem to get the question. This is what Eugenie Scott meant when she said that some people confuse Evolution with Origin of Life. They are two fundamentally different topics.

        • {}“The point of contention is the origin of the first bacteria.”{}

          How much room for contention is there, when in fact no one has any clue how it happened? Nobody has any particular explanations to contend over. (Supernatural “Creation, by God!” is not in contention as an explanation.)

      • Kind of circular logic.

        I see that you noticed that in this case.

        Why not in many other instances?

        Glen Davidson

      • That life originated by an “unguided process” is necessarily true, since life had to exist first, before “guided processes” could be possible.

        The notion of “unnatural guidance” is simply nonsensical fantasy.

    • I haven’t personally seen your proof for the origin of the first bacterium, but I have seen leading molecular biologists state that not only does no such proof exist, but that we are far away from even considering how it is possible for such a bacteria to come into existence via a naturalistic process (let alone an ‘unguided’ one).

      As such, if you do have such a proof, why publish it here in the comments. Go to Nature or Cell Magazine or some similar peer reviewed scientific journal and publish it there.

      In the meantime, let’s make two observations about proofs and unguided processes. In terms of proofs – I personally require the same type of proof that we have in other areas of science (such as physics, chemistry, cellular biology, etc.). That is – mathematical equations, computer models, exact predictions, etc.

      I don’t take DNA seriously because a scientist said it’s true. I take it seriously because scientists can demonstrate that it’s true (for instance, by taking the DNA of one creature and splicing into a different creature and thereby fundamentally modifying that second creature).

      The problem with the neo-darwinian theory of evolution is that it seems to lack this standard of proof that made the scientific method so successful and set it apart from philosophy. There is no clear demonstration of the type found in other areas of science.

      NOTE – I’m being rather specific here – I’m not talking about whether or not some sort of evolutionary process took place, but rather about the METHOD of random mutations plus natural selection. That’s because the evidence that has been brought to show that there is some sort of common descent is far more impressive than the evidence brought to bear for the method of random mutations plus natural selection.

      Secondly, in terms of ‘unguided processes’. That too has to be demonstrated. The existence of a random variable does not in and of itself indicate that the process as a whole is unguided – as Dawkins himself demonstrates (and even admits) in his Me Thinks It is a Weasel example.

      In short, if you want to seriously argue that the first cell came about through an unguided, naturalistic process then it is upon you to provide clear evidence that such is the case. And not just any sort of evidence – but the same type of evidence that is required in other areas of science and which leads those areas to be so successful.

      • [][]“In short, if you want to seriously argue that the first cell came about through an unguided, naturalistic process then it is upon you to provide clear evidence that such is the case.”[][]

        All processes are necessarily natural. 100% of the evidence shows that (and nothing indicates any other possibility).

        And the origin of life was necessarily “unguided” because the conscious capabilities necessary for guidance are properties of living things (so could not have come before life existed).

        In reality, there is no alternative to nature. “The supernatural” is not a possibility.

        All the evidence is in favor of nature. There isn’t any evidence of anything else.

      • **“Secondly, in terms of ‘unguided processes’. That too has to be demonstrated.”**

        Sometimes.

        If there are people around, and you are not sure if somebody did something or not, then you need to figure it out.

        But not in the case of the origin of life, since a “guided process” under that condition would be impossible.

  • Notice the obvious contradiction of the “IDOL” theory’s claim that life must have been designed by a living (i.e., conscious) being.

    The alleged defense that the “Intelligent Designer” was magical (i.e., miraculous/supernatural) is nonsense.

  • Wow, a biologist get physics wrong. And here I thought that biologists were the go-to experts on physics.

    Apparently, because a non-expert on physics got physics wrong, non-experts on biology, like Rabbi Averick and William Dembski, get biology right. Uh-huh, even the analogy fails badly.

    Anecdotes spell the end of evolutionary science. Unless, of course, they actually example the end of rational thought among the anti-science faction.

    Which is more likely?

    Glen Davidson

  • The “black magic” of theism has been cognitively dead from the day it started. Theists would rather run away from reality than seriously try to understand it through sensible explanations and facing facts.

    Nothing in life can be explained by unnatural processes.

  • Mihai-Robert Soran

    Moshe Averick, I’m willing to enter a 100,000 USD bet with you, that in a direct public debate you’ll hand me over your 100,000 USD. With a jury made of a Rabbi, a scientist and a philosopher.
    I’m waiting either for your acceptance of a debate in the first half of 2013 or for you retracting your claim that Darwin is dead and you’re alive without having been part of the evolution.
    The debate will be made out of strictly logical, experimentally validated triggers.
    Regards, RMS

    • Mihai,

      More than happy to debate you on the Origin of Life, anywhere anytime. I don’t have that much money handy but perhaps you can convince some rich atheist to put it up as prize money, winner take all. Looking forward to hearing from you.
      Moshe

      PS – I said Darwin is DYING, not dead.

  • [][]“As fell the theory of the luminiferous ether, so too will fall Darwinian Evolution – the backbone of the modern atheist/materialist worldview …”[][]

    Even if “luminiferous ether” and “Darwinian Evolution” are not exactly correct theories, an “atheist worldview” is the only reasonable approach — since theism is 100% nonsense fiction.

    There is no possibility that a “Creator God” actually exists. It’s pure, i.e., blind, faith.

  • It is 100% guaranteed that the supernatural is not a possible explanation for anything that exists. It doesn’t matter how many ideas turn out to be bogus: the notion of “Creation, by God!” can never make any sense as an explanation for anything.

    • Steve, is this what you mean when you say you’ve debunked Maverick’s position in logical terms? Maybe in your fantasy world when you’re not fighting evil warlords or saving the planet from an asteroid. You know what really annoys me about what you say, Steve? What’s with the comma in “Creation, by God!”? Stop it!!! :0

      • Since God is fiction, no references to God can explain anything that actually exists (or ever has existed, or ever will). It is not “rocket science,” as they say, to make such a straight-forward point.

        Fiction is neither fact nor magic.

  • That’s Nagel, not Nagle.

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