The Myth of the Almighty Scientist: “Genesis and Genes” by Yoram Bogacz (REVIEW)

December 7, 2012 2:05 pm 231 comments

As "Genesis and Genes" clearly illustrates, Scientists are subject to the same human failings as the rest of humanity

Genesis and Genes, by Yoram Bogacz (Feldheim Publishers, 2012)

There is at least one thing that intelligent theists and atheistic/materialist scientists agree on: “leaps of faith” are extremely dangerous. A “leap of faith” means believing something – not because it is reasonable or backed up by compelling evidence – but because you would like it to be true, because it satisfies your emotional, spiritual, or philosophical agenda.  Non-believers, be they scientists or philosophers, wield this principle as a blunt instrument when they attack religion and believers. Sometimes these attacks may be justified and sometimes not. What they fail to do, however, is to apply this same standard to themselves.

Secularists have perpetuated a myth of  the “Almighty Scientist” who has transcended all human failings and temptations, who is computer-like in his mathematical thinking and objective analysis of not only scientific issues, but even in the philosophical implications of scientific “truths.” In other words, for many non-believers Science has become the religion that eclipses all other systems of belief; the Scientist has become the new holy man whose words and declarations must be accepted without question. If you think I am exaggerating, read the books and essays by some of the current crop of secular prophets: Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, P.Z. Myers, et al. In his book Genesis and Genes (Feldheim Publishers, 2012) Yoram Bogacz, a chemical engineer and Jewish educator who resides in South Africa, masterfully lays out for the reader a history of science that shatters this myth and establishes realistic paradigms for the rational truth-seeker to investigate and evaluate controversial issues involving science and religion; in particular, cosmology and biological evolution.

Rabbi Aharon Feldman on "Genesis and Genes": "Fascinating reading...I highly recommend it"

For orthodox Jews it is important to note the strong approbation given by Rabbi Aharon Feldman, Dean of the Ner Israel Rabbinical Seminary in Baltimore:  “an excellent book defining the assumptions of science in formulating their theories…fascinating reading…I highly recommend it.” There is also an introduction by Rabbi Dr. David Gottlieb – former Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and senior lecturer at Ohr Sameach Yeshiva in Jerusalem – “Genesis and Genes will go a long way to counteract the obsequiousness to scientific authority. Through the meticulous documentation of numerous case studies, the author introduces the lay reader to a more realistic framework for evaluation of scientific results…Genesis and Genes wisely refrains from the wholesale rejection of science. Only caution is urged…the [author’s] argument is not that the theory of evolution is refuted, but rather that…the available evidence justifies profound skepticism.”

While the author presents an excellent review of the very real problems with the current theory of Darwinian Evolution, (along with relevant traditional Jewish sources on the subject), I think the most important part of the book is contained in the first 158 pages where Mr. Bogacz lucidly illustrates the long history of blunders and unjustified assumptions that scientists have made in their attempts to understand the natural world. All human foibles including arrogance, wishful thinking, narrow-mindedness, blind obedience to “standard teachings,” pure stubbornness, and even political affiliations have contributed to some of the serious errors that scientists have made over the centuries. Some notable examples:

  • Dr. Robin Warren, an Australian pathologist, was scoffed at when he suggested that some stomach ulcers were caused, not by stress as was the “standard teaching,” but rather by bacteria residing in the intestines. His collaborator on this project, Dr. Barry Marshall, was told by a chief gastroenterologist at one of Australia’s major hospitals that Dr. Warren was “the crackpot downstairs trying to prove that bacteria cause gastritis.”  In February 1983, their paper was rejected by the Gastroenterological Society of Australia. By 1984 their work had demonstrated that most peptic ulcers were caused by bacteria that somehow managed to survive the acidity of the human stomach. Millions of sufferers who were once given palliatives for a chronic condition could now be cured with antibiotics. Warren and Marshall were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2005.

Dr. Robin Warren (left) and Dr. Barry Marshall were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2005 for discovering that peptic ulcers were caused by bacteria

  • America’s first Nobel Laureate in Physics (1907), Albert Michelson, declared the following in an 1894 speech given at the University of Chicago: “The most important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplemented in consequences of new discoveries is exceedingly remote…Our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.” How ironic in light of the fact that Michelson’s own experiments helped disprove the long held theory of the luminiferous ether. Little did he know that a young physicist working in a patent office in Switzerland (by the name of Albert Einstein) was about to revolutionize our entire understanding of the physical world with his theory of relativity.
  • When renowned physicist, Max Planck, was a twenty year old graduate student, one of his professors, Phillip von Jolly, advised him against becoming a physicist. He told him that after the discovery of the two laws of thermodynamics, all that was left to do was to tie up loose ends. This was how the physics community saw things as the 20th century approached. Just a few years later Planck formulated the theory of the quantum, which helped usher in revolutionary developments associated with quantum mechanics and relativity.
  • In the late 18th century, astronomer Sir Frederick William Herschel rocked the world of astronomy by announcing the discovery of a 7th planet that came to be known as Uranus. Since antiquity, it was assumed that there were only six planets (Earth, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn), those which are visible to the naked eye. A Scientific American article stated that “The idea that our solar  system harbored a whole other world…captivated astronomers…[They found] that the planet had actually been seen 20 times prior to 1781, including as early as 1690, but misidentified as a star.” Herschel’s predecessors could literally not see what they saw because they had been conditioned to believe there were only five other planets besides Earth. It had never been challenged or questioned. It took an amateur astronomer like Herschel to break through the established “known” facts and think outside the box.

Sir Frederick William Herschel, British astronomer who discovered Uranus

  • Cosmologists make absolutist declarations about the size and age of the universe while at the same time hypothesizing that somewhere in the neighborhood of 95% (!) of our universe consists of dark matter and dark energy regarding whose nature we are absolutely clueless. In fact the names “dark matter and energy” are simply another way of saying “we have no idea what it is.” The reason why physicists hypothesize the existence of dark matter and energy is because certain observed phenomena make no sense in light of the visible and measurable amount of matter and energy in the universe. (Isn’t a little bit of humility in order here?)

The list goes on and on, but I will add one heart-rending example that Bogacz does not include in his book. Dr. Phillip Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865) was a Hungarian physician who was appointed as chief resident of the First Obstetrics Clinic of the Vienna General Hospital in 1846. At the time an alarming number of women giving birth ended up dying from what was called “puerperal fever.”  Strangely enough, the mortality rates were significantly lower among women who gave birth outside of the hospital. This was one of the clues that eventually led Semmelweis to discover the cure for the disease. He wrote that the number of women dying in his clinic “made life so miserable that life seemed worthless.” What turned out to be the “cure” for puerperal fever is absolutely shocking and mind boggling to those unfamiliar with the story.

Semmelweis discovered that that the occurrence of the disease could be effectively reduced to zero if Doctors would simply wash their hands with a chlorine/lime solution when they went from dissecting cadavers to delivering babies. Remember, this was well before Louis Pasteur and the development of germ theory. These findings ran against the conventional scientific wisdom that diseases spread in the form of “bad air,” also known as miasmas. His groundbreaking idea that cleanliness was crucial in preventing the spread of disease ran contrary to established medical/scientific understanding.

One would have thought that the results themselves – the startling reduction in the mortality rate when his protocols were followed – would have taken the medical profession by storm. What Semmelweis could not have foreseen and what he did not count on was the arrogance and stubbornness of the medical/scientific community when faced with a paradigm shift. Not only were his findings rejected but he was ridiculed and ostracized by the members of his own profession. According to the Wikipedia entry, “some doctors were offended by the suggestion that they should wash their hands, feeling their social status as gentlemen was inconsistent with the idea that their hands could be unclean…Semmelweis was outraged by the indifference of the medical profession and began writing open and increasingly angry letters to prominent European obstetricians, at times denouncing them as irresponsible murderers.” He eventually was dismissed from his position and tragically died in an insane asylum. He was not fully vindicated until well after his death. This story should be an object lesson for those who find themselves enthralled with Scientists.

Statue of Dr. Semmelweis; Scorned in his lifetime, he is now known as the "savior of mothers"

For those who would respond that in modern times such a thing could never happen, I remind you of the case of Dr. Warren, who was mentioned above. In a TIME interview in 2005 he recalled the scorn that was heaped on him for daring to challenge the conventional scientific wisdom by suggesting that bacteria caused peptic ulcers; “it was pretty savage.” He was even denied access to tissue samples with which to conduct his research.

Professor Dan Shechtman, of the Technion Institute in Israel, was also ridiculed by the entire scientific community for his discoveries regarding the nature of quasicrystals which ran contrary to the “accepted” scientific paradigms. In his own words: “For a long time it was me against world. I was a subject of ridicule…the leader of the opposition…was the two-time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, one of the most famous scientists in the world…for years, until his last day, he fought against  quasi-periodicity in crystals.” Pauling once said, “There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.” At one point the head of Shechtman’s research group told him to “go back and read the textbook” and asked him to leave for “bringing disgrace” on the team. In 2011, Shechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research.  Even today, the medical/scientific community suppresses the knowledge of serious medical risks associated with abortions – among them, significantly increased risks of breast cancer and miscarriages in future pregnancies – for purely political reasons. So much for the unquestioned objectivity and integrity of Scientists.

The reason I emphasize the importance of the opening four chapters of Bogacz’s book is that before one can approach and intelligently evaluate controversial subjects such as cosmology and evolution – subjects which have profound implications in our understanding of who and what we are as human beings – it is crucial to also understand that Science is expounded by Scientists who are fallible human beings – at times, very human and very fallible – just like the rest of us. Bogacz has compellingly argued that a healthy and robust skepticism is in order.

In Genesis and Genes, Yoram Bogacz has meticulously and painstakingly marshaled the evidence and has pleaded his case with the skill of a virtuoso barrister. This book is an invaluable contribution towards fostering a true understanding of the relationship between God, Science, Religion, and Torah; it is accessible to all and while directed primarily at the Jewish community, any rational truth-seeker will find it a fascinating and enlightening read.

In closing, Bogacz cites Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner, one of the most influential Talmudic thinkers of the 20th century: “We have known three revolutionaries: Darwin introduced materialism into nature; Marx injected materialism into history; and Freud brought materialism into the very soul of man.” He then adds his own commentary on Rabbi Hutner’s remarks: “Rabbi Hutner did not concoct a cocktail of materialistic reductionism and vague references to esoteric kabbalistic sources and call it theistic evolution. He just flatly rejected the compatibility of the Torah with this odious ideology. There is no need to genuflect before the masters of materialism.”  To which I add: Amen, Mr. Bogacz, Amen!

Yoram Bogacz, the author of Genesis and Genes can be contacted through his website: TorahExplorer.com. “Genesis and Genes” can be purchsed here.

Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi, a regular columnist for the Algemeiner Journal, and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. It is available on Amazon.com and Kindle. Rabbi Averick can be reached via his website. If you wish to be informed when new articles appear, send an email to moe.david@hotmail.com with the email address and the word “Subscribe” in the subject line.

231 Comments

  • It is wonderful that Bogacz is speaking out about this issue, but his implication that Jews who support Darwinism are “goyish” is a cheap shot considering that almost all the Creation scientists he cites in his book are believing Christians! Ingratitude is a terrible vice; and contrariwise saying something bashem omro brings Ge’ula, so this urgently needs to be rectified.

    It is time for the Jewish community to recognize and thank the many Christians who have labored arduously to expose the pernicious errors of Darwinism and to uphold bible based Creationism!

  • Steve:

    Steve:

    Evidence for God based on reasoning? Nothing easier. Reason this. It takes years of purposeful thinking and design to make simple molecules which are biologically active. In fact, anything which contains complexity and information ALWAYS has intelligence as its origin. Now consider the motor protein in a cell. it walks on microtubule roads carrying a sac of proteins to be ejected from the cell (good YouTube video on this). Even today, our best and brightest scientists are unable to engineer anything remotely close to mimic this wonderfully complex design. Yet, frustratingly, you would ask me to believe (yes believe) that it happened spontaneously? Connect the dots. God exists and He is clearly better at it than we are.

    • []“Yet, frustratingly, you would ask me to believe (yes believe) that it happened spontaneously?”[]

      No, I’m not asking you to “believe” anything.

      I am simply pointing out that there are no dots you can reasonably connect to get to God. The supernatural is a matter of pure blind faith. Evidence for God is totally absent. There is no reason or logic to belief in God.

      Your “Reason this” scenario consists of nothing more than making an assumption that only God can cause or explain life. You are pretending to prove the point simply by assuming that it is true.

      But the notion that “life is complex and therefore unnatural” is not a reasonable position to take.

      [][]“In fact, anything which contains complexity and information ALWAYS has intelligence as its origin.”[][]

      True enough, but the big problem is that you are merely assuming that “complexity” cannot exist apart from “information.” That is not a valid assumption. (It is a religious article of faith.)

    • “Almighty God” is an even bigger myth than “almighty scientist.” At least scientists actually exist (whereas all Gods are fictional characters).

  • When did solar panels start to become popular? Like when did you start to see solar panels on houses and solar garden lights?

  • []
    {}[]“… fostering a true understanding of the relationship between God, Science, Religion, and Torah;”[]{}
    []

    The relationship is that, while Science deals with facts, “God, Religion, and Torah” are all dealing in fiction.

    It is fact (on the Science side) vs. fantasy (on the “God, Religion, and Torah” side). The relationship is not that difficult to understand. (It is certainly not rocket science . . .)

  • Theists and atheists are human, which means: fallible.

    On the specific issue of theism, theists choose to believe in something impossible, viz., the supernatural, while atheists don’t make that particular choice.

    In this regard, the theists are wrong, and the atheists aren’t. “Fallibility” is not synonymous with “mistaken.”

  • []{}[]A “leap of faith” means believing something – not because it is reasonable or backed up by compelling evidence – but because you would like it to be true, because it satisfies your emotional, spiritual, or philosophical agenda.[]{}[]

    Theism is the ultimate leap of faith, in the sense that it is totally unreasonable — with no evidence whatsoever to support it.

  • Theists have perpetuated a myth of the “Almighty God” who has transcended all human failings, temptations, and natural limitations.

  • \|/
    EJ
    January 18, 2013
    2:50 pm

    “Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one.”

    Albert Einstein

    /|\

    Einstein was a smart guy, but he is dead wrong on this point.

    Claiming that “reality is an illusion” is logically equivalent to claiming that “circles are square.”

    The whole point of the concept “illusion” is to distinguish the illusory from the real — so that claiming that nothing is real also means that nothing is illusory. And that is certainly wrong on both counts.

  • While Marx and Freud were dead wrong, Darwin was on the right track.

    Isn’t it rather dishonest to lump Darwin in with Marx, since they are actually on opposite sides regarding logic, observation, and science?

  • Almighty God is the big myth here.

    • Did you even read the article?

      Since your mind is obviously closed and locked shut, I realize that it isn’t necessary to actually read something before you roll out your standard repertoire of ridicule. However, it might have been interesting as it was essentially talking about you.

      Sometimes I think the Rabbi writes his column with you in mind, Steve. It almost seems af if he is trying to show you the error of your ways.

      One could think that he finds some redeeming value in you. Perhaps you should consider that before your next attack.

      • If by “redeeming value,” you mean some sort of belief in the supernatural, you’re dreaming. Of course, on that score, God is a dream, too.

        Blind (i.e., religious) faith gives believers a lot of room to dream. That’s one reason why there are so many different Gods, and ghosts, etc.

      • []{}[]“… your mind is obviously closed and locked shut,…”[]{}[]

        Not exactly.

        Though I am not a advocate of the notion of an “open mind,” i.e., one where things just fall in or out, neither am I an advocate of a “closed mind,” i.e., one where nothing can get in or out.

        If you know anything about the issue, I am a advocate of reason, rather than faith. Basically, that means I favor having an active/thinking mind, rather than a faithful/illogical one.

      • [][][]“… the error of your ways.“[][][]

        For me to be in error on this issue, there would have to be some evidence for the supernatural, and there isn’t any.

        Since the supernatural is not possible (being in contradiction to reality), I cannot be in error by not believing in God.

  • Hi Moshe Averick,

    It seems as if you partially agree with me, but don’t fully realise the implications.

    - Based on the *observable* world, you are forced to agree that there are certain things that seem to run contrary to the assertion that there exists a cosmic benevolence.
    - Therefore you retreat into the world of the unknown and acknowledge it is impossible to know whether the universe is *fundamentally* good or bad.

    Now comes the important conclusion: due to the absence of knowledge about the true state of the entire universe, it is impossible to *ultimately* know anything about it (duh). Therefore when it comes to questions we cannot answer with natural explanations, we cannot claim to *ultimately* know anything about them as well! In other words, the only rational answer that accurately encapsulates the full spectrum of possibilities is an indifferent and totally blank “I don’t know”.

    Think about this very hard, because once you realise the only intellectually honest answer to (currently) unanswerable questions is a blank “I don’t know”, then you should realise the proposition of a *specifically* ‘good’ “I don’t know” (God (as per Maimonides)) cannot be brought into existence by any such problem and therefore lacks any objective basis.

    • [][]“Therefore when it comes to questions we cannot answer with natural explanations,…”[][]

      It pays to keep in mind that natural explanations are the only possible explanations in 100% of the cases where legitimate questions come up in real life. The “supernatural” is fiction, and explains nothing.

      • Why does it “pay” to keep that in mind, Steve? Is it even true? How could you even possibly know? Do you know everything? And who are you to express the audacity to decide for other people which questions in life are legimate and which are not?

        • It “pays” in the practical sense of helping to understand real life. Of course, for believers in the supernatural, who prefer fantasy to reality, such understanding might be considered a “cost” rather than a benefit. You have free will, so you have to choose.

          The fact remains, regardless of emotional/religious indulgences, that the notion of “the supernatural” explains precisely nothing in real life.

        • [][]“And who are you to express the audacity to decide for other people which questions in life are legimate and which are not?”[][]

          You need to pay attention to what’s going on. I am not deciding for other people — I am deciding for myself. It is up to others to decide for themselves — not to blame their problems or doubts on others.

  • //’\\
    Moshe Averick
    January 6, 2013
    11:14 pm
    “Neither of us is aware of the full depth and scope of reality.”
    \\,//

    I wonder, Rabbi Averick, what in the world you could mean by that declaration.

    If you are acknowledging that omniscience is not possible, then you have a valid point. But if you are trying to make the claim that “God works in mysterious ways,” then you don’t have a valid point.

  • Indeed, the Myth of the Almighty God doesn’t really rise to the level of inviting skepticism, since it is an utterly empty myth in the first place.

    There is no content to theistic fantasies, when you think about it.

    • If it “doesn’t even rise to the level of inviting skepticism“, then why do you find it necessary to carpet and cluster bomb the Rabbi’s column with your endless repetition.

      For a subject with no content, it certainly seems to keep you busy in your attempt at rebuttal.

  • This kind of helps put things in perspective:

    []{}[]“… in our understanding of who and what we are as human beings – it is crucial to also understand that …. that a healthy and robust skepticism is in order.”[]{}[]

    You can say that again!

    The road to understanding life is the road of reason — the application of logic to observation (the opposite of religious, i.e., blind, faith).

    In other words, if one wants to live in this world, then religion (the otherworldly approach) deserves very robust skepticism (leading to rejection).

    Practically speaking, religion is the root of altruism, which is the paving on the road to tyranny — so it is not healthy to accept it.

  • \\’//
    Moshe Averick
    January 4, 2013
    12:31 pm
    “I do think there is a very coherent line of reasoning that leads to the conclusion that there is a transcendent Creator of life.”
    //,\\

    No such thing as a “coherent line of reasoning” for the existence of the supernatural is possible — any more than a “coherent line of reasoning” that supports belief in square circles is a possibility.

    Reality cannot be contradicted or “transcended” — since there is simply nowhere else to be or go(in spite of all the fantastic theology in the world).

    Rabbi Averick has never presented anything like a “coherent line of reasoning that leads to the conclusion that there is a transcendent Creator of life.” Repeated claims to have done so have never been supported by any substantial attempt to do so — which is not surprising since it is impossible to do so.

    • Honest science acknowledges that our physical universe is merely a part of a much larger reality, of which we understand very little.

      Even though we are capable of interacting with the energy patterns we encounter, (we “perceive reality”) our perceptions are still limited by the interface with which we communicate. In other words, a little humility might be in order.

      I wonder that you don’t seem to have problem making such broad judgments based on limited information and a static perspective. Didn’t you ever entertain the idea that maybe life is more complicated?

      Simply because we cannot go and be in a certain place, does not rule out the possibility that it exists.

      • [][]“Honest science acknowledges that our physical universe is merely a part of a much larger reality, of which we understand very little.“[][]

        Incorrect.

        It is actually religion (with the modifier “dishonest” being redundant) which claims that “our physical universe is merely a part of a much larger reality, of which we understand very little.”.

        Honest science simply sticks to reality, and makes no call to “the supernatural.”

        • I would say that being part of a larger reality is exactly how quantum physics describes our physical universe.

          BTW, you confuse the belief in God and religion. They are not the same thing.

          “Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one.”

          Albert Einstein

          • [][]“I would say that being part of a larger reality is exactly how quantum physics describes our physical universe.”[][]

            If that were what “quantum physics” tried to claim, then “quantum physics” would certainly be wrong — at least on that point.

            The notion of “larger reality vs. smaller reality” might make in interesting literary device, or psychological tool, but in strictly scientific terms, it makes no sense. Planets and pebbles, that is, are simply (or equally) real, regardless of size differences.

          • BTW, stories about God are religious fiction. It’s an error to confuse fiction with fact.

            Religion does actually exist; God doesn’t.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Averick
    January 6, 2013
    11:14 pm
    “In order to make some sort of definitive statement about reality we are going to need some other information or evidence.”
    //|\\

    Do you mean “information or evidence” that is NOT about reality? What in the world could that be?

    But while we are on the subject, note how it is impossible to make any definitive statement about God, since there is no information or evidence about God in reality.

  • I have one thing to say here, Steve Stoddard=TROLL

  • \\|//
    Moshe Averick
    January 4, 2013
    12:31 pm
    “I do think there is a very coherent line of reasoning that leads to the conclusion that there is a transcendent Creator of life.”
    //|\\

    No one has ever discovered a “coherent line of reasoning” for the existence of the supernatural — just as no one has ever discovered a “coherent line of reasoning” that supports belief in square circles.

    Reality cannot be contradicted or “transcended” — since there is simply nowhere else to be (in spite of all the fantasizing in the world).

    For instance, Rabbi Averick, you have never presented anything like a “coherent line of reasoning that leads to the conclusion that there is a transcendent Creator of life.” You repeatedly claim to have done so, without ever having done so.

  • Hi Moshe,

    Ok, so from what I gather, you seem to agree with me on two important points:
    - There is no *exact* coherent line of reasoning that leads us to the conclusion that God exists.
    - You can’t explain how God could have created a world with evil in it.
    ___

    The absence of an *exact* argument, to me, is the mark of irrationality. It indicates a belief based not on logic but on a general *feeling* caused by a series of experiences and vague forms of evidence that support a stance in an intangible (i.e. impossible to verify) manner. The problem with this type of reasoning is (as pointed out in the first sentence of the above article) that it’s *subjective*. That is, my overall feelings could be radically different to someone else. There is no way to analytically and precisely assess the logic and see if it really makes any sense.
    ___

    In the words of Epicurus:
    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

    I hope you see from this that it is impossible, with any form of intellectual honesty, to use a ‘benevolent unknown’ (God) as an explanation for any observed phenomenon (as it directly contradicts reality). The only logical and consistent answer is a ‘callously indifferent’ unknown: a blank, uncolored “I don’t know”.
    ___

    Please tell me exactly how something can objectively exist beyond the material. I have asked this question to many religious people time and again and have failed to get any logical response. As I see it, the material world is synonymous with reality. That is, something independent of our emotions and preconceived biases. There *is* indeed something ‘beyond’ reality but those are our emotions which are subjective and idiosyncratic. Imagining that there is some objective component beyond reality is like drawing a square with five sides. It is, *a priori*, irrational.
    ___

    To me it seems very clear that whenever we have a society that is entirely *based* on scripture and not on observation of the *environment*, it spirals downhill back to the primitive state similar to when the scriptures were written (What great scientific advancements have been made by Saudi Arabia?). The scriptures become the new ‘reality’ and everything is expressed in terms of them. The environment only becomes a distraction and distorter of ‘true knowledge’. By the simple principle of GIGO, no matter how clever the ‘interpreters’ are, they are bound to make faulty conclusions.

    Societies who move away from scripture and make some observations progress much further (think the Renaissance compared to the Middle ages, the Arab Middle Ages compared to any time after). It’s interesting you cite Neil Tyson because he agrees fully with my statement that religion dampens scientific progress (even in the case of Newton) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Weu7Rh6dYrM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQucyuKsrOE).

    Then you get secular societies where people see their environment as the only source of reliable information. These people create astounding technologies to free themselves from the tyranny of nature (there aren’t too many devoutly religious great engineers). To make something radically new (and practical), it is extremely difficult to devote effort to learning scripture and obeying it. Without exception, the most secular parts of the world are the most developed and sophisticated (You might ask “What about Israel?” well, Haifa and Tel-Aviv are the least religious parts of Israel and also the most progressive and sophisticated) Fundamentally, religion is based on *restoring* the supposed former glory of the past, secularism is about *moving* toward the future and dispelling the ignorance of the past.
    ___

    You’re right, scientists *do* conspire against creationism. However it’s not just creationism, but irrationality in general. In the scientific community, a creationist is viewed like someone who thinks HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. Yes, there are a handful of fringe contrarian scientists who indeed think HIV doesn’t lead to AIDS (including at least one Nobel Prize Winner (Kary Mullis)!). However this is in no way representative of any type of consensus or even emerging consensus among scientists. Their claims have been refuted repeatedly and no-one can possibly take them seriously anymore.

    Absolutely, conclusions in science are not only directly observed. The observations are the *facts* and the most plausible interpretation of them is the *theory*. What I meant was a body of knowledge *based* on observation of our *environment* (and not scripture) is the only way to reveal reality in the *most* accurate manner.
    ___

    When you say “just-so stories” I assume you are taking on the typical anti-evolutionist position of ‘missing the wood for the trees’. You only look at what *isn’t* there no what *is*. As a start, please read the whole Wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_for_evolution and come and tell me the long list of *independent* forms of *directly observable* evidence just-so happen to all point in the same direction of common descent being true. Sure, you can come up with hypothetical excuses for each of them but then *you* are the one who requires just-so stories. Common descent is the only *consistent* theory, thus proposed, to logically explain the large body of evidence. (It reminds me of the cartoon ‘Creationist Wheel of Fortune’ http://imgfave.com/view/2371542.)

    • Moshe Averick

      Jason,
      I am not able to read carefully through everything you’ve written right now, but I will at least respond briefly now. I disagree with your first two points. I do think there is a very coherent line of reasoning that leads to the conclusion that there is a transcendent Creator of life. There are also clear reasons why God’s creation allows for people to commit evil deeds. I don’t claim to be able to explain the justice in everything that happens. Will write more as I am able to read through your post.

      • [][]” I disagree with your first two points. I do think there is a very coherent line of reasoning that leads to the conclusion that there is a transcendent Creator of life.”[][]

        You are certainly wrong about that. It is impossible to have a “coherent line of reasoning that” a contradiction (e.g., “the supernatural”) miraculously exists.

      • > I do think there is a very coherent line of reasoning that leads to the conclusion that there is a transcendent Creator of life.

        Really? VERY coherent? Not just a little coherent? I didn’t realize there were degrees of coherence. I’d love to hear it.

        • Go to a bar and start drinking shots. Continue to do so until you lose consciousness. While doing so, record yourself reading out loud.

          Keep drinking and keep reading. Play the recording back when you are sober, and you will hear the different degrees of coherency.

      • You stated in your previous post: “Belief in G-d is not rooted in an argument…”
        The Dictionary defines argument as: “a coherent series of statements leading from a premise to a conclusion” (Merriam-Webster). I don’t understand. Have you now changed your mind?

        “I don’t claim to be able to explain the justice in everything that happens.”
        This is *exactly* my point! It shows that you, at least subconsciously, admit a benevolent God can’t possibly be *fully* reconciled with reality. Since God is a hypothetical proposition (i.e. he is not (in any way) a well-tested and repeatedly *directly* observed phenomenon), any attempt in saying “God is doing something we don’t understand.” is nothing more than circular reasoning. That is you are using the conclusion (God) to back-up the conclusion!

        • Moshe Averick

          “a benevolent God cannot be reconciled with reality” (I never said that belief in God is not rooted in any argument, perhaps you are confusing me with someone else. I never even mentioned the issue of God’s justice. I have only talked about the existence of God the Creator of life.)

          I did not say that. Your statement implies that you are privy to the full depth of reality and you have determined that there is imperfect justice. Neither of us is aware of the full depth and scope of reality. All things being equal just because the world does not operate the way you would like it to operate does not in any way mean that it is not just, and by the same token just because I would like it to be just does not mean that it is.

          I said that I do not claim to be able to explain the justice in everything that happens with my own knowledge and understanding. You, on the other hand cannot claim to know that things are unjust based on your limited knowledge and understanding.

          In order to make some sort of definitive statement about reality we are going to need some other information or evidence.

          • [][]“I do not claim to be able to explain the justice in everything that happens with my own knowledge and understanding.”[][]

            I agree. Some things that happen are just, and some are not. Nobody can possibly have the knowledge to know everything about all the cases on each side of that divide.

            Omniscience is not an option.

          • Nobody can ever know the “full depth and scope” of anything “definitively”.

            What we can do is use observations (i.e. Science) and logic to make tentative, educated guesses about reality. Seeing as how you are extremely unlikely to contract polio, this approach has worked fairly well.

            Science and logic also tell us that the earth is not 6,500 years old, greenhouse gas emissions are causing the earth to warm, and the universe is indifferent to human suffering.

            If you have evidence to the contrary, please present it. Otherwise, rational people don’t care what you have to say.

          • [][]“… greenhouse gas emissions are causing the earth to warm,…”[][]

            Now there’s a good example of an article of blind faith that doesn’t even mention God.

          • Oh, whoops, sorry! Moshe *Morris* had posted so frequently, I never gave any consideration that you had come back :P

        • [][]“… a benevolent God can’t possibly be *fully* reconciled with reality.”</b.[][]

          Neither can a "malevolent God."

          In fact, no God of any kind can be "reconciled with reality," since nothing supernatural is a possibility in any way.

        • [][]“… a benevolent God can’t possibly be *fully* reconciled with reality.”[][]

          Neither can a “malevolent God.”

          In fact, no God of any kind can be “reconciled with reality,” since nothing supernatural is a possibility in any way.

      • [][]“There are also clear reasons why God’s creation allows for people to commit evil deeds.”[][]

        The actual number of such “clear reasons” is still zero, the same as it’s always been.

    • [][]“Imagining that there is some objective component beyond reality is like drawing a square with five sides.”[][]

      Like a “five-sided square,” “the supernatural” is an impossibility — an attempt to imagine the existence of a contradiction.

      That’s why “the supernatural” is entirely a matter of blind religious faith — decidedly opposed to observation and logic.

      God is a fictional character, no more literally real than a non-square square.

    • [][]“Please tell me exactly how something can objectively exist beyond the material.”[][]

      Strictly speaking, nothing can.

      The material world is the universe, i.e., everything that exists. Note that thoughts and emotions, for instance, are processing aspects of material entities — not “something immaterial beyond reality.”

      There is simply no way for the contradictory of nature, viz., “the supernatural,” to exist as some “miracle of the beyond.” God is a fictional character — i.e., something that exists only in the imagination (like Captain Kirk).

  • Hi Moshe,

    Ok, so from what I gather, you seem to agree with me on two important points:
    - There is no *exact* coherent line of reasoning that leads us to the conclusion that God exists.
    - You don’t know why God has created a world with evil in it.
    ___

    The absence of an *exact* argument, to me, is the mark of irrationality. It indicates a belief based not on logic but on a general *feeling* caused by a series of experiences and vague forms of evidence that support a stance in an intangible (i.e. impossible to verify) manner. The problem with this type of reasoning is (as pointed out in the first sentence of the above article) that it’s *subjective*. That is, my overall feelings could be radically different to someone else. There is no way to analytically and precisely assess the logic and see if it really makes any sense.
    ___

    In the words of Epicurus:
    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

    I hope you see from this that it is impossible, with any form of intellectual honesty, to use a ‘benevolent unknown’ (God) as an explanation for any observed phenomenon (as it directly contradicts reality). The only logical and consistent answer is a ‘callously indifferent’ unknown: a blank, uncolored “I don’t know”.
    ___

    Please tell me exactly how something can objectively exist beyond the material. I have asked this question to many religious people time and again and have failed to get any logical response. As I see it, the material world is synonymous with reality. That is, something independent of our emotions and preconceived biases. There *is* indeed something ‘beyond’ reality but those are our emotions which are subjective and idiosyncratic. Imagining that there is some objective component beyond reality is like drawing a square with five sides. It is, *a priori*, irrational.
    ___

    To me it seems very clear that whenever we have a society that is entirely *based* on scripture and not on observation of the *environment*, it spirals downhill back to the primitive state similar to when the scriptures were written (What great scientific advancements have been made by Saudi Arabia?). The scriptures become the new ‘reality’ and everything is expressed in terms of them. The environment only becomes a distraction and distorter of ‘true knowledge’. By the simple principle of GIGO, no matter how clever the ‘interpreters’ are, they are bound to make faulty conclusions.

    Societies who move away from scripture and make some observations progress much further (think the Renaissance compared to the Middle ages, the Arab Middle Ages compared to any time after). It’s interesting you cite Neil Tyson because he agrees fully with my statement that religion dampens scientific progress (even in the case of Newton) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Weu7Rh6dYrM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQucyuKsrOE).

    Then you get secular societies where people see their environment as the only source of reliable information. These people create astounding technologies to free themselves from the tyranny of nature (there aren’t too many devoutly religious great engineers). To make something radically new (and practical), it is extremely difficult to devote effort to learning scripture and obeying it. Without exception, the most secular parts of the world are the most developed and sophisticated (You might ask “What about Israel?” well, Haifa and Tel-Aviv are the least religious parts of Israel and also the most progressive and sophisticated) Fundamentally, religion is based on *restoring* the supposed former glory of the past, secularism is about *moving* toward the future and dispelling the ignorance of the past.
    ___

    You’re right, scientists *do* conspire against creationism. However it’s not just creationism, but irrationality in general. In the scientific community, a creationist is viewed like someone who thinks HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. Yes, there are a handful of fringe contrarian scientists who indeed think HIV doesn’t lead to AIDS (including at least one Nobel Prize Winner (Kary Mullis)!). However this is in no way representative of any type of consensus or even emerging consensus among scientists. Their claims have been refuted repeatedly and no-one can possibly take them seriously anymore.

    Absolutely, conclusions in science are not only directly observed. The observations are the *facts* and the most plausible interpretation of them is the *theory*. What I meant was a body of knowledge *based* on observation of our *environment* (and not scripture) is the only way to reveal reality in the *most* accurate manner.
    ___

    When you say “just-so stories” I assume you are taking on the typical anti-evolutionist position of ‘missing the wood for the trees’. You only look at what *isn’t* there no what *is*. As a start, please read the whole Wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_for_evolution and come and tell me the long list of *independent* forms of *directly observable* evidence just-so happen to all point in the same direction of common descent being true. Sure, you can come up with hypothetical excuses for each of them but then *you* are the one who requires just-so stories. Common descent is the only *consistent* theory, thus proposed, to logically explain the large body of evidence. (It reminds me of the cartoon ‘Creationist Wheel of Fortune’ http://imgfave.com/view/2371542.)

  • ***
    \\|//
    Moshe Morris
    December 30, 2012
    12:58 pm
    “In fact, Einstein and Hoyle were WRONG because they didn’t want science to go in a directon that implied a creation.”
    //|\\
    ***

    You fail to grasp the plain fact that science cannot go in a direction that implies a supernatural creation!

    Since the supernatural is impossible, there are no grounds for taking science in that direction. No RATIONAL grounds. Science could be pushed in that direction only by those who wished to destroy science (by the “Obamas of science” as it were).

  • \\|//
    Moshe Morris
    December 30, 2012
    12:58 pm
    “The idea that religion dampened motivation just doesn’t hold up to historical reality.”
    //|\\

    “Dampened” is surely not the right word, since burning at the stake was of one of the favorite religious methods of trying to kill science.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Morris
    December 30, 2012
    12:58 pm
    “Belief in God is not rooted in an argument. It is rooted in experience, in dedication and committment, in received and learned wisdom, etc.”
    //|\\

    It is impossible to experience the supernatural, and the rest of that simply refers to the choice to believe in fantasy over reality.

    There are no facts, there is no logic, there is only blind (i.e., religious) faith in which believe in God is rooted.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Morris
    December 24, 2012
    8:42 am
    “… at some point one has to deal with the question of the ULTIMATE FOUNDATION…. At some stage in the process you need a guiding intelligence.”
    //|\\

    You feel that the universe could not exist if God hadn’t created it.

    And you don’t appear to feel any wonder about the “ULTIMATE FOUNDATION” of God, the “guiding intelligence” behind the coming into existence of God.

    In other words, you are not willing to accept reality as the foundation of your existence: you wish for a supernatural God instead. As a practitioner of religious (i.e., blind) faith, you opt for fantasy over reality. And that’s the end of your story.

  • To AW,

    This is going to be my last response in this series of exchanges. Please feel free to have the last word.

    I looked at the article you sent on the Argument for Design. A few thoughts:

    I don’t take the it’s either evolution or G-d position. Stating that ‘evolution did it’ just pushes the question back further. How did the evolutionary process get started? In order to have evolution you need to have a self-replicating cell (which require atoms and their particular properties), a habitable planet, etc.

    I also don’t think that the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution has been well established scientifically, but that’s a separate issue for a different day.

    Either way, at some point one has to deal with the question of the ULTIMATE FOUNDATION. Stating that it’s not designed because it was done by a natural process just pushes the issue back. Does that natural process looked designed or no. It’s like arguing that an air-plane wing wasn’t designed because it was made by a robot and a computer program.

    At some stage in the process you need a guiding intelligence.

    Either way, I think we have hashed this out enough. I wish you well.

    All the best,

    Moshe

    • [][]“At some stage in the process you need a guiding intelligence.”[][]

      For airplanes, of course you do. But the the universe, it’s not a possibility. The notion of a non-existent intelligence is not a substantial proposal.

    • I don’t why it’s so hard to understand that to questions like “What ultimately started the universe?” there aren’t just two options, namely, a known naturalistic one and a supernatural one. There is also a third, the unknown. This is certainly an unsatisfying answer (for the incurious) but I believe it to be the only intellectually honest one (for the time being).

      If you appeal to “good design”, you would have to then explain all the evil in the world. If you then say “God is a mystery and we don’t fully understand Him” then why don’t we save a step and say the universe is a mystery and we don’t fully understand it?

      As I have explained before, God amounts to nothing more than “I don’t know” with *subjective* emotions like “intelligence” and “purpose” attached to it. Therefore the only objective answer is “I don’t know” and the concept of God has no *objective* basis.

      • There certainly is no objective basis for any notion of a supernatural God. But neither is there any objective basis for questions such as “What started the universe?”

        Neither the “supernatural” nor the “pre-natural” are actual possibilities. Those are simply notions that contradict the actuality of nature.

      • To Jason,

        ‘I don’t know’ just ignores all the historical experience and influence of the Torah, the Jewish people and the billions of people who have believed in G-d.

        It ignores the question of why G-d and the Torah captured the hearts and minds of billions of people from vastly different backgrounds and not some pagan idea or religion.

        It ignores the all-too interesting fact of the Jewish people returning to Eretz Yisroel after thousands of years. It ignores the fact that the whole world seems obsessed with a small piece of real-estate called Jerusalem – which has no strategic, economic or political value.

        It also ignores what seems like the most common-sense, straight-forward understanding of what modern science is discovering or that the various predictions or explanations of atheistic philosophers and scientists just didn’t hold up (such as the universe being eternal, life starting randomly, etc).

        In short, the world does not look like or suggest ‘I don’t know’. As such, it is not an intellectual answer at all. An intellectual answer is to take a long, serious look at what the Torah, life, history, experience, science, our moral conscious and more have to say to us.

        In terms of evil – the ‘mystery’ of evil is not that it exists. If you have read the Torah you’ll notice that there’s a lot of not so great things going on there – we can start with Cain murdering Able, mass floods, brutal Egyptian slavery, throwing babies into the Nile and more. As far as the Torah is concerned, there is no contradiction between great suffering and the existence of G-d.

        That does not mean, though, that there is not a question concerning evil – just that it’s a different one. The issue of evil is how to square it with G-d’s love and caring for us.

        And even that is more nuanced than it sounds.

        If every thing in life was easy and good always got rewarded and bad always punished, then there would be no opportunity for us to define who we are as human beings. No conflicts of interest where we would have to decide between what is right and what we want, between what is easy and what is meaningful, etc.

        Evil and the challenges of life afford us the opportunity to make those difficult decisions, to grow and mature, respond and take responsibility.

        Jewish history is filled with hardship (to say the least). Part of what defines the Jewish people is that we have stuck to our ideals even when it has been extremely hard.

        It’s that defining of who we essentially our that creates our core essence and the positives and negatives associated with that core essence.

        The ‘mystery’ of evil is why couldn’t G-d have created a world where we could define ourselves without having to deal with or have the existence of evil.

        Be well,

        Moshe

        P.S. I also disagree with an earlier assertion you made that invoking G-d removes curiosity or dampens scientific interest or research. Go study the history of science from Galileo until today and you’ll see religious passion and belief as one of (if not the) main motivators for interest in and progress in science. If you want a particularly good place to start – take a look at Newton. Almost all of modern science owes it’s roots to Newton for whom science and all else that he did in life revolved around his extremely passionate belief in G-d.

        • Once again you make a long rant which ignores the fact that you have no evidence, zero, for the possibility of God. Your choice of fantasy over reality is still the beginning and the end of your story.

        • Hi Moshe,

          Now I know very well I will never convince you in such a short space, but hopefully you will see religion doesn’t stand on such a strong foundation as you might first think.

          It seems then your belief in the existence of God hasn’t got that much to do with the Cosmological Argument or the Argument from Design but is instead rooted in the Argument from Tradition.

          Think of how, throughout history, the Jews have been deemed as an undesirable nation *deserving* hatred and persecution by the majority of people. Do you think this accusation is justified by virtue of its historical, religious and popular appeal?

          No theologian thus far has been able to fully define God. The only *tangible* aspects of God are the emotional feelings brought to people when they believe in Him (i.e. purpose, love etc). Therefore the belief in ‘God’ actually *amounts* to the belief that the universe (along with its contents) has an objective emotional meaning to it. Therefore the question of if the universe conspires for our welfare is usually what is actually brought into question when we discuss God’s existence. That is, the Problem of Evil directly addresses God’s existence.

          You can’t honestly say *all* evil things are actually merely ‘blessings in disguise’. No-one can say Hitler was actually a respectable person because he taught us all valuable lessons. Obviously you will say there were *some* good ramifications from the Holocaust, which I agree with. However the point is: the Holocaust *as a whole* was undeniably an *undesirable* event. Why didn’t God, metaphorically speaking, bomb the Auschwitz railway lines? Was the immense pain and suffering the only way that God could have taught us a lesson?

          I admit, religion doesn’t *remove* scientific motivation. However, in *most cases*, I believe it does indeed dampen it. The Renaissance, prompted by Galileo, was founded *in spite* of the teachings of the Church, not because of it. The concept of basing new knowledge purely on observation, and not on revelation and tradition, is a concept mostly foreign to religion, but fundamental to science.

          Empiricism (the basis of the scientific method) was originally formalized by Epicurus (Apikoros?) and was only advanced much later by Galileo when he rebelled *against* the received wisdom of religious doctrine and found, from observation, that the Earth does indeed go around the sun, contrary to some interpretations of the Bible (I have seen some religious people who, to this day, insist he was wrong!).

          Do you think great revolutionaries like Galileo and Darwin would have come up with their theories if they already knew what the answer was (i.e. what the received wisdom of religion already told them)? There is ‘the eternal Torah’ but no ‘eternal science’ (the above article attacks a bit of a ‘straw-man’ as ‘trial and improvement’ is, in fact, the *very essence* of science (it is not a weakness but instead what makes it so successful in predicting reality)).

          Yes you’re right, in history, most scientists were theists. However, were *most* of them scientists *because* of God or was it because they were naturally curious and never had any other option (i.e. they were indoctrinated or would be deemed heretics)? Most scientists, in today’s pluralistic society, have chosen atheism/agnosticism and have made great discoveries based on the idea that saying “God is did it” will not suffice.

          Furthermore, Newton, along with many other scientists, also had a very strong reverence for alchemy. However this doesn’t mean this was the primary motivation for their discoveries and we should therefore continue to condone it.

          Unfortunately, religious dogma covertly persisted in science even until very recently and has thus opposed progress. Einstein, like many other scientists before him, believed the entire universe is comprehensible as it is governed by fundamental structure and order. However Statistical Thermodynamics and Quantum Mechanics tell us otherwise. As a result, Einstein was vehemently opposed to the uncertainty principle (a position we now know to be completely false). It implies there are some things that, beyond reasonable doubt, *cannot* be known. The best we can do when asked to simultaneously find the position and momentum of a specific particle is to shrug our shoulders and concede defeat. I believe the same could easily be true for the ultimate beginning of the universe.

          The funny thing is that God doesn’t even answer the question as it begs the question of *ultimately* “Why did God *want* to do it?” (Maimonides couldn’t give a satisfactory answer (Guide 2:25)) We have only turned a natural question into an emotional one (which because of the objective existence of evil is an irrational proposition).

          tl;dr “I don’t know (at least for the time being)” is the only objective answer since it is not entrenched in human emotional bias and received wisdom.

          “Science reveals where religion conceals. Where religion purports to explain, it actually resorts to tautology. To assert that “God did it” is no more than an admission of ignorance dressed deceitfully as an explanation…” – Peter Atkins

          • Hello Jason,

            Belief in G-d is not rooted in an argument. It is rooted in experience, in dedication and committment, in received and learned wisdom, etc.

            In terms of G-d and the Holocaust. Hitler was evil. The holocaust was evil. What happened to the Jewish people was evil. When Cain murdered Abel it was evil. When the Egyptians threw Jewish babies into the Nile river that was evil. There is no end to examples of real, tangible, observable cases of evil. Why can’t G-d create a world with evil in it? Is it technically not possible? I don’t think so. I see no technical reason why G-d couldn’t create a world with evil in it. The reason evil presents a theological problem is because it seems to violate our understanding of G-d’s nature, as I explained previously.

            The idea that religion dampened motivation just doesn’t hold up to historical reality. Also, from what I understand the case of Galileo is much more complicated than how you present it. There was a lot of internal politics and non-scientific issues involved. Either way, it’s immaterial. Religion doesn’t equal the Catholic Church at the time of Galileo and the Catholic Church at the time of Galileo doesn’t equal religion.

            Also, the ‘received’ wisdom had as much if not more to do with Aristotle and Ptolemy than the Bible. It was the Greeks who determined that the sphere was the perfect shape and therefore the heavens must be in spherical form. I believe it was the Catholics who took that idea and melded it into religion and made it a truth. And even then, the history of the Catholic Church’s relationship to the idea of a heliocentric world is more complicated (at least from some of what I have read – haven’t thorouhgly studied it yet).

            In terms of your question of whether or not religion was a motivating factor for science – the answer is a clear and obvious yes for many – certainly for Newton (but many, many others). Newton’s main, over-powering goal was to show the greatness and power of G-d (this includes his motivation in science and alchemy). He also was a secrete heretic in his time. He rejected the idea of the Trinity and thought that the Catholic Church had created a grave sin in introducing the concept. He thought it was a perversion of the second commandment of not having foreign gods (all this he wrote down, but decided not to publicize in his life time for various reasons). He spent tremendous amounts of time pouring over the Bible, particularly Shlomo’s temple and the third temple as described in Yehezkial. He learned the Guide for the Perplexed, Gemara’s, Abarbanel, Sefer HaHinuch, and more.

            Here is a BBC documentary on him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2DWBjyVfNU

            He is hardly someone who is ‘just curious’.

            And in terms of his importance to science – here is Neil Tyson’s opinion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=danYFxGnFxQ
            Others see Newton in the same light.

            In terms of the basis of the scientific method – it’s not just about observation. That’s one aspect of it. There is also indcutive reasoning, the belief in a logical, orderly world, forming hypothesis, taking in all the evidence, etc. In fact, the comparison has been made between how we studied Torah to how scientists study nature – for instance:

            * http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0021_0_21063.html
            * http://ohr.edu/judaism/articles/talmud.htm

            Also, even in the last centuries many of the most important discoveries or theories have come from people who believed in G-d. Max Plank, George Mendel, George Lemaitre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lema%C3%AEtre). In fact, Einstein and Hoyle were WRONG because they didn’t want science to go in a directon that implied a creation. And it may be that today many physicsists are making the exact same mistake, although only time will tell.

            Furthermore, I would argue that materialistic philosphy todat is holding back certain aspects of scientific progress – particularly in various modern evolutionary bioligists attitude towards the the Modern Synthesis (aka neo-Darwinian Theory of evolution) with it’s just so stories and their refusal to admit the limitations of its theory even in light of modern discoveries in science in the likes of genetics and the cell.

            Be well,

            Moshe

          • Religion is the enemy of science because science cannot (and so will not) study God. There is nothing substantial to study in that regard.

          • [][]“In terms of the basis of the scientific method – it’s not just about observation. That’s one aspect of it. There is also indcutive reasoning, the belief in a logical, orderly world, forming hypothesis, taking in all the evidence, etc.”[][]

            None of that comes from religion, or is logically compatible with religious (i.e., blind) faith.

            Religion pre-dates science and is, at best, a sort of proto-science — which should have faded away once science came on the scene, if people were sensible about progress.

    • As long as we agree that the “guiding intelligence” behind God is the people who image Him — and that the “ULTIMATE FOUNDATION” of it all is physical reality . . . . we’ll be on target.

    • Agreed. There will always be unanswered questions.

      When you have evidence that a “guiding intelligence” is the answer to any question, I’d love to hear it.

  • [[edited]]

    Notice that the universe exists, period. It could not possibly have been caused because the “cause” could not have existed if nothing existed.

    Since we have something now, there was never nothing.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Morris
    December 20, 2012
    10:37 am
    “At some point, our universe and/or any possible processes that caused our universe simply did not exist.”
    //|\\

    That’s a wild and crazy story, and it is certainly not true.

    Such a story falls into the category of wishful thinking, magical thinking, blind (i.e., religious) faith — that sort of thing.

    There is nothing serious or cognitive about such stories of nothingness.

    Nothing amounts to simply nothing. Nothing comes from nothing. If we didn’t have matter and energy, we would have nothing — and never possibly could have anything.

    Fortunately, reality really does exist. (God, not so much.)

  • ______
    Moshe Morris
    December 20, 2012
    10:37 am
    “… at some point there was nothing.”
    _____

    Not in the real world. That “some point” is only in your imagination. That’s the only place you can find God.

  • > I am not trying to ‘prove’ G-d, I am trying to show that there are serious reasons for taking the idea of a Divine Creator seriously and that that fact warrants people spending serious time, effort and thought to honestly explore the issue.

    I’m not asking you to “prove God”. I asking for evidence for your idea. I require evidence to take your idea seriously. That’s the difference between being reasonable and gullible.

    > In terms of the syllogism – science and reason doesn’t simply work by syllogisms – there is also abductive and inductive reasoning which is essential to the scientific process. If anything, my points probably fit much more into one of those two methods of reasoning than a deductive argument.

    Your arguments don’t fit into any form reasoning. You can challenge that notiong by actually presenting a reasoned argument of any kind, but after this many requests, I’m not holding my breath.

    > I’ve sent you links for further exploration – both the series on my site and a book on the subject. It’s up to you whether or not you want to take the time to explore those links.

    And here are some links for you:

    Why your Universe had to have had a beginning argument is nonsense:

    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,11160.0.html

    Why ID is nonsense:

    http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Argument_from_design

    Why the fine-tuning argument is nonsense:

    http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Fine_tuning_argument

    Why information theory is nonsense:

    http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Information_Theory_Argument

    You see. The arguments you’ve brought out are so tired, that the site ironchariots.org is actually a catalogue of these arguments and corresponding rebuttals.

    I’m sure you’ll take the time to learn and understand the above arguments and deal with reality.

    Be well,
    AW

    • [][]“I’m sure you’ll take the time to learn and understand the above arguments and deal with reality.”[][]

      People who are committed to religious doctrine, like Morris and Maverick, made such a commitment precisely in order to avoid dealing with reality. Reality is not what they’re interested in; dealing with it is not their cup of tea.

      You are wise to not hold your breath waiting for them to understand things.

    • Hello AW,

      I will check out your links and when possible respond. In terms of evidence, I’ve provided it – it’s taken a whole number of comments back and forth for you to finally provide links which (you claim) relate to that evidence.

      Good Shabbas,

      Moshe

      • [][]“In terms of evidence, I’ve provided it …”[][]

        Only in your dreams. In real life, you have provided no evidence whatsoever to support your “great notion” of the supernatural.

        Of course, it is not merely that you have neglected to present any evidence, but that you have none to present. It is false to claim that there is evidence for the supernatural, and you are, as they say, simply blowing smoke and blindly pushing religious doctrine.

      • > In terms of evidence, I’ve provided it

        I’m not sure what you think evidence is, but asserting that something is “self evident” over and over again is not it.

        > it’s taken a whole number of comments back and forth for you to finally provide links which (you claim) relate to that evidence.

        The links don’t address your non-evidence, they address why your “arguments” are a combination of logical fallacies and unsupported assertions, as I’ve been doing.

        However, you make a good point. I could have simply posted one response to you which read “Google any of Moshe’s buzz words for a score of rebuttals”. That certainly would’ve been more efficient. The problem is that if a person is so intellectually lazy that “God did it” is a satisfying answer, I feel I have to spoon feed the information. Thank you for the advice, though.

  • []{}[]
    Moshe Morris
    December 20, 2012
    4:46 pm
    “In other words, all the various models seem to require a reality beyond our universe or multi-verse to bring our universe or multi-verse into existence.”[][][]

    Your problem, then, is that “all the various models” you allow for are necessarily wrong (in that they “require a reality beyond reality”). You need a better idea.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Morris
    December 20, 2012
    10:37 am
    “At some point, our universe and/or any possible processes that caused our universe simply did not exist.”
    //|\\

    That’s a wild story, but it is certainly not true.

    Such a story falls into the category of wishful thinking, magical thinking, blind (i.e., religious) faith — that sort of thing.

    There is nothing serious or cognitive about such stories of nothingness.

  • **
    **
    Moshe Morris
    December 20, 2012
    10:37 am
    “In terms of my points about DNA …. understand that evidence.”
    **
    **

    The evidence is that DNA is biological-chemical material, i.e., 100% natural, with certain potentialities for real interactions with other stuff.

    There is no evidence of any sort for the religious notion that “DNA is a code!”

    You have never presented any such evidence. Nobody ever has.

    Note that metaphors, analogies, speculations, etc., are not evidence, period.

  • > In other words, there is an absolute beginning ‘before’ (or better yet beyond) which the universe does not exist. Or, to put it in the words of Stephen Hawking, the above article would indicate that there was a ‘a point of creation’.

    I’ll say this one last time. It is not a scientific fact that at one time there was nothing – no mass, no energy, nothing – and the next moment there was something.

    The Big Bang Theory does not state that something came from nothing.

    The article that you referenced does not state that something came from nothing.

    Your other points about DNA, etc. make assertions about facts without evidence. But in the case of the origin of the Universe, you’re making up the fact and then drawing a conclusion.

    • [][]“It is not a scientific fact that at one time there was nothing – no mass, no energy, nothing – and the next moment there was something.”[][]

      It is not a scientific fact because it is not possible.

      One might as well postulate that “circles are square” as to postulate that “the universe had a beginning.”

      Both notions are contradictory beliefs about states of affairs that are not actually possible.

      A beginning always has to do with a process, a time, and a place. Processes, times, and places are all parts of the universe. You can’t have a beginning without the universe; you can’t get something from nothing. In this context, “God” is just another name for “nothing.”

    • You can say it over and over again, but you are clearly not reading or understanding what I have said. The Big Bang states that our universe started at time = 0 with a singularity (well, we don’t really know what happened in the first 10 to the negative 43 seconds, but for now we’ll ignore that fact).

      Now, the question is, where did that ‘hot spot’ of energy at time = 0 come from? Perhaps it came from a Big Crunch in a cyclic universe of Big Bangs and Big Crunches? Or maybe it comes from a bubble of vacuum energy. Or perhaps there is a reality beyond our physical reality that is responsible for its creation. All of these options are considered by physicists (as I have already shown with direct quotes in previous comments or links).

      The point of the article I quoted does say that at some point there was nothing. At some point, our universe and/or any possible processes that caused our universe simply did not exist. That is what an absolute beginning means – that is what it means that it can’t infinitely extend to the past. That’s what Stephen Hawkings is willing to relate to and what you are not willing to relate to.

      In terms of my points about DNA – sorry, but the points I made about DNA are points made in the scientific literature and that I have learned from studying the issue and talking with experts in the field. The evidence is all there – you just have to decide whether or not you are going to take the time to learn and understand that evidence.

      Be well,

      Moshe

      • > Now, the question is, where did that ‘hot spot’ of energy at time = 0 come from? Perhaps it came from a Big Crunch in a cyclic universe of Big Bangs and Big Crunches? Or maybe it comes from a bubble of vacuum energy. Or perhaps there is a reality beyond our physical reality that is responsible for its creation.

        Yes. All of those are possibilities. When the latter possibility becomes established scientific fact, then you’ll have evidence for your conclusion. Until then, you don’t.

        > In terms of my points about DNA – sorry, but the points I made about DNA are points made in the scientific literature and that I have learned from studying the issue and talking with experts in the field. The evidence is all there – you just have to decide whether or not you are going to take the time to learn and understand that evidence.

        Feel free to actually present some evidence. Instead of just claiming over and over “the evidence is all there”. I can’t “take the time to learn and understand” evidence you haven’t presented. A syllogism would also be nice.

        Also still waiting for that observation one could make that would suggest the Universe/life wasn’t designed.

        • Well, as I’ve noted a few times already – all three options seem to require a reality beyond our physical universe that is responsible for either a) the creation of our big bang, b) the creation of the first cycle in the big crunch, c) the creation of the multiverse, etc.

          In other words, all the various models seem to require a reality beyond our universe or multi-verse to bring our universe or multi-verse into existence.

          I also never suggested the Big Bang as evidence – I just noted that science now allows for the possibility of an absolute beginning – something that they fought against – and that is a noteworthy fact. If you want a perfect proof you’ll never find it. If you want reasons to explore further – the universe is full of them.

          That’s a point I’ve made numerous time – I am not trying to ‘prove’ G-d, I am trying to show that there are serious reasons for taking the idea of a Divine Creator seriously and that that fact warrants people spending serious time, effort and thought to honestly explore the issue.

          In terms of evidence for DNA as a literal code – I’ve sent you links for further exploration – both the series on my site and a book on the subject. It’s up to you whether or not you want to take the time to explore those links.

          In terms of the syllogism – science and reason doesn’t simply work by syllogisms – there is also abductive and inductive reasoning which is essential to the scientific process. If anything, my points probably fit much more into one of those two methods of reasoning than a deductive argument.

          Either way, I think we’ve basically hashed this out as thoroughly as we can. I would check out the book by Hubert Yockey if you are interested in understanding how DNA is a code. Here’s the link again: http://www.amazon.com/Information-Theory-Evolution-Origin-Life/dp/0521169585

          In the meantime, be well.

          All the best,

          Moshe

          • [][]“In terms of evidence for DNA as a literal code …”[][]

            There is no such evidence. You are just blowing smoke. You’ve got nothing.

          • [][]“… there are serious reasons for taking the idea of a Divine Creator seriously …”[][]

            No, there are absolutely no serious reasons for taking the supernatural seriously. However did you get such a curious notion?

      • [][]“The evidence is all there”[][]

        All the evidence is for the natural world. There is no evidence for any miraculous unnatural world of “reality beyond our physical reality.” There is absolutely no evidence of any kind for any miraculous unnatural “reality beyond our physical reality.”

        That is why you have never presented any such evidence. You have no evidence, Moshe, but only blind faith in crazy stories about some vengeful, almighty ghost.

  • > I find your question of why the absolute beginning of the universe implies that some entity (I didn’t specify what type of entity) outside the universe brought the universe into existence a bit ridiculous. If you don’t exist then you can’t bring yourself into existence.

    What do you mean by “come into existence”? Do you mean that one moment there is nothing, and then the next moment there is something? Because as I’ve repeatedly explained, that’s not what the Big Bang described. One moment, all the energy in the Universe was compressed into a singularity (hardly “nothing”), and the next moment exploded, ultimately coalescing into our known Universe. I’m still waiting for a “plain, old, simple” sound syllogism which demonstrates how the above description of the Big Bang concludes the existence of God.

    > It’s easy to endlessly ask ‘why’ – at some point, though, you just have to deal with the evidence and not avoid it through endless questioning.

    That’s what I’m asking you to do. Demonstrate logically how the stated facts constitute evidence for your stated conclusion.

    > Please let me know how you imagine the following came into existence and/or obtain it’s particular properties:

    I don’t know. And I’m not going to “imagine” an answer and pretend it’s true just because I don’t know.

    By the way, where are the syllogisms I asked for?

    And what is an observation one could make that would lead to the conclusion that the Universe/life wasn’t designed?

    • Hello AW,

      The singularity describes the first moments of our universe (or, at the very least, the universe at 10 to the negative 43 seconds). It doesn’t address whether or not the universe is eternal.

      There are versions of the Big Bang theory that posit an eternal universe like Eternal Inflation. However, it was recently shown that those models can only be infinite in the FUTURE, not in the PAST.

      I linked to an article discussing this in a previous comment – here it is again: http://www.scribd.com/doc/77980709/Why-Physicists-Can-t-Avoid-a-Creation-Event

      Here is also another article discussing this: http://www.technologyreview.com/view/427722/mathematics-of-eternity-prove-the-universe-must-have-had-a-beginning/

      In other words, there is an absolute beginning ‘before’ (or better yet beyond) which the universe does not exist. Or, to put it in the words of Stephen Hawking, the above article would indicate that there was a ‘a point of creation’.

      In terms of the syllogism – I linked in a previous comment to a syllogism on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy site. You can read the back and forth about it if you are interested. It’s like many such philosophical syllogisms I know – a never ending back and forth about whether or not the syllogism holds.

      Either way, it’s immaterial – as I have shown before, there are physicists who hold and/or speculate that the simplest model of the Big Bang theory implies that before the Big Bang there was no matter, energy, time or space and that now there are indications other versions of the Big Bang theory also require an absolute beginning.

      Be well,

      Moshe

      • \\|//
        Moshe Morris
        December 19, 2012
        12:46 pm
        “Either way, it’s immaterial – as I have shown before, there are physicists who hold and/or speculate that the simplest model of the Big Bang theory implies that before the Big Bang there was no matter, energy, time or space and that now there are indications other versions of the Big Bang theory also require an absolute beginning.”
        //|\\

        So you believe in “an immaterial world” regardless of the absence of evidence for it. Nobody is disputing that you have such blind faith.

        Further, no one is disputing the fact that there are people who believe in “an absolute beginning to the universe” — even though such a beginning is utterly impossible.

        The only quibble is that believing in “Creation, by God!” makes no sense. That is, there is no good reason to believe it.

      • Moshe, your side in these issues has basically been torn to shreds, but I’m sure you have enough faith not to notice.

    • [][]“… at some point, though, you just have to deal with the evidence and not avoid it through endless questioning.”[][]

      Avoiding the evidence by resorting to religious doctrine and faith doesn’t work either. And that’s how Moshe is nevertheless trying to avoid it.

    • > It’s easy to endlessly ask ‘why’ – at some point, though, you just have to deal with the evidence and not avoid it through endless questioning.

      I’ll make this as simple for you as possible.

      You have presented facts and made assertions.

      BUT YOU HAVE NOT PRESENTED ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE THAT YOUR ASSERTIONS ARE TRUE.

      As such, there is no evidence for me to “deal with”. If you continue to endlessly make assertions, then I will “endlessly” ask for evidence for those assertions. When you actually present some evidence, then I will “deal with” that evidence.

      • When you are dealing with religious doctrine, such as the supernatural creation of the universe and life, then you cannot reasonably expect evidence.

        There is no alternative to nature. There is no “outside” or “beyond” nature explanation for anything.

  • {}[]{}
    Moshe Morris
    December 18, 2012
    6:35 pm
    “Please let me know how you imagine the following came into existence and/or obtain it’s particular properties:

    * Biological information and the Genetic Code”
    {}[]{}

    Since “the genetic code” is a metaphor to aid human understanding, therefore “biological information and the Genetic Code” came into existence when humans decided to use that metaphorical scheme.

    In terms of the origin of life (i.e., before there were humans), there is no such stuff as “biological information and the Genetic Code.”

    Once again, you are trying to induce magical thinking, and that cannot lead to understanding.

  • {}[]{}
    Moshe Morris
    December 18, 2012
    6:35 pm
    “Please let me know how you imagine the following came into existence and/or obtain it’s particular properties:…

    * The fine-tuning of the physical constants of the laws of nature”
    {}[]{}

    Since the “laws of nature” are NOT “fine-tuned,” it makes no difference what anybody might or might not imagine about the “miracle of fine-tuning the universe.”

    Looks like you like to indulge in “magical question asking!”

  • {}[]{}
    Moshe Morris
    December 18, 2012
    6:35 pm
    “Please let me know how you imagine the following came into existence and/or obtain it’s particular properties:

    * The universe as a whole”
    {}[]{}

    Since you are asking for some indulgence in magical thinking, you are going to be disappointed.

    Remember: there was never a time when the universe didn’t exist.

    Since, “the universe as a whole” never “didn’t exist,” then naturally, it never “came into existence.”

  • [][]
    Moshe Morris
    December 16, 2012
    5:42 pm
    A more detailed response tomorrow (bli neder).
    [][]

    And it’s always today . . . . (not to mention that the responses you do manage to come up with are about an imaginary world, not the real world).

  • The notion of “DNA as a code” is like a metaphor gone wild. And the notion of a “supernatural intelligence” is contradiction wrapped in imagination.

  • How did this become the “Moshe Morris blog”? Why isn’t Rabbi Averick on the job? Does he realize he’s out of his world?

  • Moshe -

    > It is the absolute beginning of the universe that implies that there was some entity outside of our universe that brought our universe into existence.

    Why?

    > Some of these fine-tunings seem to be set at the very foundation of the universe.

    So?

    > But the creation of the code itself requires intelligent agency.

    How do you know?

    • Code necessarily required human intelligence to make and use. There is no mystery about this fact.

      Naturally, that’s why DNA is NOT a code — there were no humans around when it originated.

    • Notice also the inherent contradiction in the notion of something which is not part of existence (i.e., the universe) nevertheless miraculously “existing” (i.e., existing nowhere).

      • Notice also the inherent contradiction in the notion of something which is not part of existence (i.e., of the universe) nevertheless miraculously “existing” otherwise(i.e., existing nowhere).

    • Hi there,

      I find your question of why the absolute beginning of the universe implies that some entity (I didn’t specify what type of entity) outside the universe brought the universe into existence a bit ridiculous. If you don’t exist then you can’t bring yourself into existence.

      As such, if you can offer a rational explanation as to why you think it’s a real question then I will attempt to respond to it. Until then, I think the answer is self-evident and therefore am not going to respond. It’s easy to endlessly ask ‘why’ – at some point, though, you just have to deal with the evidence and not avoid it through endless questioning.

      In that spirit, therefore, I’m going to ask you some questions. Please let me know how you imagine the following came into existence and/or obtain it’s particular properties:

      * The universe as a whole
      * The laws of nature
      * The mathematical precision of the laws of nature
      * The fine-tuning of the physical constants of the laws of nature
      * The various and numerous factors needed to make Earth an inhabitable planet
      * The origin of life
      * Biological information and the Genetic Code
      * Cellular Communication
      * Biological machines
      * The Cambrian Explosion
      * Human consciousness

      Be well,

      Moshe

      • [][]“If you don’t exist then you can’t bring yourself into existence.”[][]

        God is a fictional character; He cannot literally exist, but only literarily. And He didn’t write the book: people came up with the notion of God, out of their imaginations.

      • [][]“* Cellular Communication”[][]

        There is a difference between “communication” and “interaction.” Cells interact, but they do not communicate.

        Communication is a far more specialized form of interaction than cells (or rocks, for that matter) are capable of.

      • [][]“* Human consciousness[][]

        If you don’t think yours is perfectly natural, you should send it back. It’s not functioning correctly.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Morris
    December 16, 2012
    5:42 pm
    “It is our scientific knowledge that has taught us that the universe looks fine-tuned.”
    //|\\

    Again, that is blatant nonsense. There is utterly, literally nothing in “scientific knowledge that has taught us that the universe looks fine-tuned.”

    Nothing at all.

    That notion of a “fine-tuned universe” makes no sense at all; it’s a pipe-dream. Whom are you trying to kid? And why?

  • \\|//
    Moshe Morris
    December 16, 2012
    5:42 pm
    “DNA AS A SYMBOLIC CODE …. a literal code …
    //|\\

    Now, since DNA is not a code (not even of any kind), the question arises as to why you guys persist in making the false claim that it is a code. So that is a good question: why do you say “DNA is a code” when it isn’t (and couldn’t possibly be one)?

    You might as well be claiming that “a rock is a typewriter.” (Perhaps there are a couple of possibilities: 1) you don’t know what a code is; 2) you are trying to be deceive somebody.)

    Nevertheless, the transparent falsehood that “DNA is a code” is very strange.

  • To AW,

    I will see if I can provide a more detailed response tomorrow (I didn’t have much time today). In the meantime, here are some sources that may answer your question:

    BIG BANG
    * http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cosmological-argument/#5

    * http://www.scribd.com/doc/77980709/Why-Physicists-Can-t-Avoid-a-Creation-Event [Note Hawkins line: "A point of creation would be a place wherescience broke down. One would have to appeal to religion and the hand of God," Hawking told themeeting, at the University of Cambridge, in a pre-recorded speech."

    The key point is that a singularity doesn't remove the idea that there was an absolute beginning. The question is where did the singularity (and/or the extremely brief events that led up to it) come from? It is the absolute beginning of the universe that implies that there was some entity outside of our universe that brought our universe into existence.

    FINE TUNING
    * http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleological-arguments/#CosFinTun

    * http://www.iep.utm.edu/design/#SH2c

    In terms of an argument from ignorance. There are four problems here:

    1) One, we are arguing from knowledge. It is our scientific knowledge that has taught us that the universe looks fine-tuned

    2) Some of these fine-tunings seem to be set at the very foundation of the universe (including the bang of the big bang)

    3) No one knows the nature of future scientific discoveries - science may come up with a scientific explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe, but what reason do we have to think that that explanation won't also look fine-tuned or designed in some way [just like many current discoveries do]?

    DNA AS A SYMBOLIC CODE
    * http://www.amazon.com/Information-Theory-Evolution-Origin-Life/dp/0521169585

    I don’t think you understand how I’m using the word symbolic code. I think it would help if you took some time to learn about information theory and codes like ASCII codes and the similarities between information theory and DNA. DNA is a literal code – but it’s important to understand what a code is to understand what that statement means. When you talk about chemical bonds, you are confusing the medium through which the code exists and whether or not there is a code. One can use electricity, radio waves, grooves, chemical bonds and much more to create a code. But the creation of the code itself requires intelligent agency. Before I can explain why that is, though, it’s important to understand how DNA is a code.

    Same goes for cellular communication – you need to take a step back and ask how such a system can come into existence. What are the various options, etc. What does it take to get cells to communicate with one another?

    A more detailed resopnse tomorrow (bli neder).

    Be well,

    Moshe

    • \\|//
      Moshe Morris
      December 16, 2012
      5:42 pm
      “Same goes for cellular communication – you need to take a step back and ask how such a system can come into existence.”
      //|\\

      Then you need to take a step back and read about Dr. Martin Cooper’s work at Motorola circa 1973.

    • > The key point is that a singularity doesn’t remove the idea that there was an absolute beginning. The question is where did the singularity (and/or the extremely brief events that led up to it) come from?

      That is the question. I don’t know the answer. If your answer is “God did it”, then what is your evidence that your explanation is true?

      > In terms of an argument from ignorance. There are four problems here:
      1) One, we are arguing from knowledge. It is our scientific knowledge that has taught us that the universe looks fine-tuned

      No. Your argument is based on the fact that you don’t know, i.e. are ignorant of, why the physical constants of the Universe are what they are.

      > 2) Some of these fine-tunings seem to be set at the very foundation of the universe (including the bang of the big bang)

      So? How does this fact logically lead to the existence of an immaterial Creator? Please construct your answer in the form of a sound syllogism.

      > One can use electricity, radio waves, grooves, chemical bonds and much more to create a code. But the creation of the code itself requires intelligent agency.

      Okay. Well, what evidence do you have that a “code” which consisting of molecules that is “interpreted” via chemical reactions requires intelligent agency?

      > Same goes for cellular communication – you need to take a step back and ask how such a system can come into existence. What are the various options, etc. What does it take to get cells to communicate with one another?

      I don’t know how it can come into existence. Do you? Oh yeah… God did it. What is your evidence that God did it?

      • Nothing leads logically to the notion of a supernatural Creator. Why is this so difficult to understand? (Believing in God is one thing, but claiming to “understand God” — or see evidence for God — is just nonsense.)

  • To Jason,

    The Rambam did say that we cannot know G-d’s essence (all we can know is what G-d is not). He also said that we can (and need to) know that G-d exists. I.e., there is a difference between knowing THAT G-d exists and knowing the ESSENCE of G-d.

    Good Shabbas,

    Moshe

    • God is a fictional character. That is the essence of how He exists. God is fantastic, not real.

      []“… all we can know is what G-d is not …”[]

      God is literally not anything. He is only imaginary.

      Imagine that.

    • Hi Moshe,

      I partially agree! Maimonides obviously was a theist. However his conception of God implies an atheistic world-view since God’s essence causes Him to *amount* to, from an objective perspective, nothing more than “I don’t know” (as explained earlier). The unknown absolutely does objectively exist. However, I can’t see any logical means by which one can *objectively* attach anything to this unknown (purpose, commandments etc.) (for reasons I have explained earlier).

      As a result, one can’t thrust ones specific ‘blend’ of the unknown onto others and expect them to accept it. I believe the unknown is genuinely only just that: one can know *nothing* about it.

      No matter how much we learn, there will always be things which we can’t explain, but putting it all in a black-box called ‘God’ doesn’t solve the problem, it only helps people ignore it. This only diminishes our understanding of the universe and stifles our innate desire to ask questions.

      To really hit my point home, think hard about the number times the word “God” is mentioned in a scientific journal as apposed to “I don’t know”. Only once we stop romanticizing and dressing-up the unknown, can we ever learn something new. The universe, along with its mysteries, in its sheer raw beauty is grand enough as it is. There is no need ‘jazz it up’ with the cheap perfume of human sentimentality.

      • To Jason,

        I will read this and bli neder reply tomorrow – just didn’t have time today.

        Be well,

        Moshe

      • In summary: God (or any other supernatural entity) can never act as an explanation by virtue of its completely incomprehensible nature. Therefore God can never be necessitated into existence by an argument from *personal* incredulity. Only intellectually comprehensible naturalistic phenomena that yield an objective non-emotional understanding can.

        • []“Only intellectually comprehensible naturalistic phenomena …”[]

          I am curious about why you refer to “naturalistic phenomena” rather that “natural“.

          Also, I wonder if “intellectually comprehensible” and “natural” are the same set.

  • Scientists are real, at least, though they are certainly not “almighty.”

    The myth of the “Almighty God,” on the other hand, has no reality component to it at all.

  • \\|//

    Moshe Averick
    December 13, 2012
    4:34 pm
    “The chemcial bonds that operate in DNA… The perfect analogy is magnetic letters on a refrigerator.”
    //|\\

    That analogy doesn’t work.

    The existence of refrigerators is a result of human intelligence. The existence of chemicals is not.

    You are obviously trying to use the analogy to get from the fact of worldly intelligence to some miraculous otherworldly intelligence (i.e., from the natural to the supernatural), but the analogy clearly doesn’t have the substance for that leap of faith.

    It is an apparently clever, but logically empty, analogy. Not quite “the perfect analogy.”

  • Rabbi Averick –

    I’m not surprised that you haven’t responded to my posts, since my argument for a natural origin of life / refutation of ID is irrefutable. Still, I would appreciate an acknowledgment from you that ID has been refuted. That would be the polite thing to do.

    Much thanks,
    Eitan

    • Eitan,

      I’m curious about two points.

      1) Why do you think your argument is “irrefutable,” especially with that bogus first premise?

      2) Why do you feel that “ID” can be refuted, especially since it offers nothing of substance to argue against? How do you refute blind faith in the unreal?

  • > The Big Bang is not ‘settled’. You are just ignoring the implications.

    Okay. What are the logical implications of the Big Bang? How does the fact that all the energy in the Universe was at one time compressed into a singularity and exploded imply the existence of an intelligent being, not composed of matter, who created the Universe? Feel free to use “plain old, simple rational reasoning”. I want to see a sound syllogism that ends with the following conclusion:

    “therefore, the fact that all the energy in the Universe was at one time compressed into a singularity and exploded implies the existence of an intelligent being, not composed of matter, who created the Universe”.

    > The fine-tunings of the universe … are about the fact that a vast variety of physical constants need to be set just right in order to have a universe with conscious life. How did that happen?

    Do you know what an argument from ignorance? Do you not understand that the absence of an explanation does not mean that whatever explanation we make up is then valid? I don’t know why an electron weighs what it does. Do you have any evidence your God made it that way? How about a sound syllogism that ends with the conclusion:

    “therefore, the fact that physical constants exist implies the existence of an intelligent being, not composed of matter, who created the Universe”.

    > In terms of DNA. The message is the sequence of amino acids. The sequence of nucleotides contains that message in coded form. The mRNA transmits the message. The Ribosome along with tRNA translates or implements the message. And the Aminoacyl tRNA synthetase creates the symbolic coded relationship between the codons and the amino acids.

    It’s not a “symbolic coded relationship”. It’s an actual, real relationship based on chemistry. The “message” is a series of chemical bonds. The mRNA “transmits” the message by forming chemical bonds. The message is “translated” by the formation of chemical bonds. The final “message” is a protein which then executes it function via chemical bonds. So, how does that fact that molecules undergo chemical reactions in living things imply the existence of God? Again, let’s see a sound syllogism which ends with the conclusion:

    “therefore, the fact that molecules in living things undergo chemical reactions implies the existence of an intelligent being, not composed of matter, who created the Universe “.

    > In terms of cellular communication. Cells send messages to other cells – in which case one cell is sending the message and the other is receiving it.

    Again, the “message” is a molecule, which the recipient cell “receives” when that molecule binds to a receptor on it’s surface. The recipient cell then “responds” based on the series of chemical reactions are then triggered.
    Again, let’s see a sound syllogism which ends with the conclusion:

    “therefore, the fact that molecules in living things undergo chemical reactions implies the existence of an intelligent being, not composed of matter, who created the Universe “.

    > The idea that a universe that looks designed from beginning to end implies a Creator is also self-evident.

    Again, what observation could one make to conclude that the Universe doesn’t “look designed”?

  • ***
    Moshe Morris
    December 13, 2012
    9:44 am

    “At the end of the day – the evidence is all over. One has to deal with it not deny it.”
    ***

    You have offered no evidence to be denied.

    You can claim all day, every day, that you have evidence for a supernatural God, but in fact you have no evidence of any kind. You have nothing but assertions of blind faith. You have no evidence — which is why you never present any.

    Your notion that “DNA is a communication SYSTEM” is preposterous. That is certainly not evidence of any sort. Etc.

  • This whole debate is centered around the problem of the unknown. You could use God as a solution but this is only logical sleight-of-hand. Fact is, no-one has the slightest clue as what God actually is (from Maimonides). So in reality this thing called ‘God’ (or anything supernatural for that matter) is nothing more than a synonym for “I don’t know”. The unknown is present wherever you look, but saying this ‘unknown’ requires you to cut your child’s penis and forbids women from testifying in court is completely unreasonable. I believe it is best to admit temporary ignorance and say “Someday we may know the answers.” instead of using the permanent unknown of God that only stifles human curiosity and provides no satisfying answers (as Eitan and Steve correctly pointed out).

    tl;dl God is more of an excuse for not knowing than an answer itself.

    • Jason,

      I strongly disagree. First of all you have conflated the ideas of “God the Creator” with “God who spoke at Mount Sinai.” They are two separate notions that must be investigated separately, so your comments about commandments in the Torah are irrlelevant.

      God is not a synonym for “I don’t know” God is a synonym for “the intelligent creator of life.”

      • **
        Moshe Averick
        December 13, 2012
        4:38 pm
        God is not a synonym for “I don’t know” God is a synonym for “the intelligent creator of life.”
        **

        The phrase “the intelligent creator of life” is as sensible as the phrase “the square circle.” That is: self-contradictory — nothing in real life.

      • Moshe,
        These two concepts appear to be different but in fact arise from the same source. I assume you use God as an explanation for questions like “Why do so many people believe the same story?” (argument from tradition) and for questions like “Where did the complexity in the universe come from” (argument from design). In both cases God is being used to explain a phenomenon that is not well understood.

        To further explain my point in previous post:
        Let’s say you were a teacher grading tests and you came across my paper that stated at the top: “‘A’ is the ultimate answer to everything” and then saw that for every question I proceeded to use ‘A’ as the answer. Do you honestly think I deserve full credit? Why not?

        Hopefully you realize ‘A’ is merely a variable that doesn’t connect to anything of meaning and would be the same thing as if I just wrote “I don’t know”. In a similar way ‘God’ (or any other supernatural entity) doesn’t connect to anything that we can comprehend and therefore doesn’t supply us with any explanatory power (imagine if I wrote “Because God said so” to one of the questions in a physics test).

        You can, of course, attach ‘emotions’, ‘intellect’ and ‘purpose’ to this variable to make it give you *emotional* meaning but the important point is no *intellectual* meaning (understanding) is gained and therefore, in an intellectual, sense it amounts to “I don’t know”.

    • Hi Jason,

      I disagree with your position that So in reality this thing called ‘God’ (or anything supernatural for that matter) is nothing more than a synonym for “I don’t know”.

      I think “a supernatural God” is a synonym for “I don’t want to know; I prefer blind faith.”

  • \|/

    Moshe Averick
    December 11, 2012
    3:38 pm
    “The evidence is already there.”
    /|\

    No, Moshe, there is no evidence there. You are asserting an empty platitude of blind faith.

    You have no evidence for God, your “IDOL,” none whatsoever. You cannot produce any evidence; you cannot explain a single thing about God. You’re blowing smoke.

    What’s the point?

  • ||\/||
    Moshe Morris
    December 12, 2012
    4:55 am
    “… the same factors of the natural world that present a challenge to a materialistic philosophy simultaneously point or indicate the need for some sort of guiding intellectual force or agency.”
    ||/\||

    There is nothing in the world that “points to or indicates” the need or the possibility of a supernatural “guiding intellectual force or agency.” The notion of God is totally unrealistic (and counterproductive regarding understanding the world).

    There are indeed no “factors of the natural world” that point anywhere but the natural world. Nothing points to God, i.e., to “not-of-this-world.” Nothing at all.

    Nothing points to anywhere other than the natural world because there isn’t anywhere else. You may certainly imagine some “otherworldly realm” — you may even imagine having been there, or at least having some mystical knowledge of it — but it’s not really there, not even anywhere.

    Fantasy doesn’t trump reality. The real world is real, the supernatural world isn’t.

  • Moshe writes – “If someone could demonstrate clearly that life could come from non-life through a naturalistic process that would falsify ID.”

    Then I guess ID is falsified. I’ve not only shown that life CAN come from non-life, but that it DID!

    FIRST PART OF THE ARGUMENT:

    1. All living things evolved from simpler self-replicating things.
    2. The first bacterium was obviously a living thing.
    3. Therefore, the first bacterium obviously evolved from simpler self-replicating things.

    The assertion that all living things evolved from simpler
    self-replicating things 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.

    SECOND PART OF THE ARGUMENT:

    The question then becomes, where did the first self-replicating molecule come from? Logically, there cannot be an infinite regress of self-replicating molecules. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is
    that a self replicating molecule formed spontaneously through a natural, unguided process, because this conclusion solves the philosophical problem of the infinite regress.

    How did it happen? How could anyone possibly know? What is important is not that we understand how he it happened, but that it DID hapen. It is terribly difficult for religious people, especially you, to accept that there is no God who made you the center of the Universe. This type of arrogant attitude is exactly what has held back human progress throughout the centuries.

    • []“Therefore, the only logical conclusion is
      that a self replicating molecule formed spontaneously through a natural, unguided process, because this conclusion solves the philosophical problem of the infinite regress.”
      []

      I disagree.

      The only possibility for the origin of life is a natural, unguided process because nature is what exists. The supernatural is impossible (and so there is no “philosophical problem of the infinite regress”).

  • **
    ***
    Moshe Morris
    December 11, 2012
    4:04 pm
    “… the history and influence that God has had …”
    ***
    **

    Notice that God has had no history or influence, since history and influence are of this world and God isn’t.

    The “history and influence” you have in mind is strictly human: stories about God, wars about God, etc. God is only a fictional character and no more literal “history and influence” than Godzilla.

  • Re: The Big Bang

    You’re right. IF there was evidence that the energy that exploded in the Big Bang came from nothing, then that COULD be used to formulate an argument for the existence of God. But there ISN’T. I’m glad that’s settled.

    > In terms of the fine-tunings of the universe. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘evidence that your statement is true’. [followed by inane rambling]

    WHY does the fact that there are physical constants in the natural world imply a Creator? Just asserting that over and over without justification is not sufficient.

    > In DNA they use molecules to symbolically relate a four-numbered system (A, C, G and T).

    Who is “they”? If DNA is information, what is the message? Who is conveying the message? Who is interpreting the message? How is the message being interpreted?

    By the way, I’m a doctor. I know how DNA works. Your fumbling non-answers to these questions illustrate my point.

    > In terms of cellular communication. Communication systems need to be set up. There needs to be agreement within the system about what the signals mean and how to respond to them.

    Again, who is sending the “message”? Who is receiving the “message”? How is the message being “interpreted”?

    > Now let me leave you with a question. Do you agree that the there are many different, varied and seemingly independent facets of nature seem to point to the need for an intelligent Creator or Designer.

    Not sure. If you could explain how any of the things you’ve mentioned over and over again actually “point to the need for an intelligent Creator” that would help.

    • The Big Bang is not ‘settled’. You are just ignoring the implications.

      The fine-tunings of the universe are not about physical constraints. They are about the fact that a vast variety of physical constants need to be set just right in order to have a universe with conscious life (often times with very little latitude for error). If they weren’t set properly, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Yet, they are set properly.

      How did that happen? It begs an answer – and it does not seem that the laws of nature can provide that answer. Furthermore, chance doesn’t seem like a reasonable option unless you posit an infinite number of universes (aka the multi-verse).

      If the laws of nature and chance aren’t good solutions, then what is? Why not call it for what it looks like – like they were purposely set up to enable life? That’s what Fred Hoyle (and others) did: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Hoyle#Origin_of_nucleosynthesis

      To quote Hoyle: “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.”

      And remember, Hoyle was an atheist. And yet, he thought that was “a common sense interpretation of the facts”. At some point, you just have to call it like it seems.

      In terms of DNA. The message is the sequence of amino acids. The sequence of nucleotides contains that message in coded form. The mRNA transmits the message. The Ribosome along with tRNA translates or implements the message. And the Aminoacyl tRNA synthetase creates the symbolic coded relationship between the codons and the amino acids.

      I’m glad you know how DNA works. It is now time to understand what kind of system it is and what it’s philosophical implications are.

      In terms of cellular communication. Cells send messages to other cells – in which case one cell is sending the message and the other is receiving it. The message could be to activate a particular enzyme or to produce a new protein. It is a communication SYSTEM. The cells aren’t consciously sending signals.

      In terms of pointing to a creator – it’s all there. Certain aspects of reality imply or indicate a designer. It’s just plain old, simple rational reasoning. The idea that a beginning of the universe implies a Creator is self-evident. The idea that a universe that looks designed from beginning to end implies a Creator is also self-evident. The idea that coded information and communication systems in the cell implies a Creator is once again self-evident. And I didn’t even mention before the mathematically exact laws of nature, the Cambrian Explosion, mathematical patterns found in nature, etc.

      The evidence is there. Denying it or denying what it implies is simply not an intellectually honest approach to the issue. Those who take the intellectually honest approach attempt to give non-Divine answers. That’s what Stephen Hawking did when using the Quantum fluctuations and the multi-verse to argue that the universe can come into existence without G-d.

      At the end of the day – the evidence is all over. One has to deal with it not deny it.

      Be well,

      Moshe Morris

      • To Moshe Morris:

        You have said that []“The fine-tunings of the universe are not about physical constraints. They are about the fact that a vast variety of physical constants need to be set just right in order to have a universe with conscious life (often times with very little latitude for error).”[]

        Since you start out with the premise that “fine-tunings” by God are necessary for the existence of life, it is interesting that you hold the same belief as your conclusion.

        Of course, that is not sound reasoning, or unsurprising. You are engaging in a fallacy of anthropomorphizing (mistaking the universe for a product of conscious intention). You seem to feel that, just as the White House wouldn’t have got built if Americans hadn’t founded the country, life needed to be set up by God.

        It’s a fantastic story, but there is no reason (facts and logic) to believe in the supernatural. You keep claiming that you have evidence, but you never present any.

  • Even though we don’t understand quite HOW the natural process through which life originated did it, we do know that a 100% natural process DID do it. There is simply no possible alternative. So we know where to look: reality.

    “The Supernatural” is out of the question.

  • //|\\
    Moshe Averick
    December 11, 2012
    3:41 pm
    “What is important is not that we understand how he did it, but that he DID do it.”
    \\|//

    Since your claim is that God isn’t real (“not-of-this-world,” “beyond space and time,” “not-matter, not energy,” etc.), there is no way to understand that He “DID do” anything whatsoever.

    You don’t have a clue and you’re just talking through your hat.

  • I wrote – “How does a creator who does not consist of matter or energy do things in our universe, let alone create bacteria?”

    Moshe responded – “How could anyone possibly answer that question [? What is important is not that we understand how he did it, but that he DID do it”

    ———————————————————

    So, let me get this straight. You’ve written article upon article going on and on about how scientists have blind faith that life arose naturally. They believe this even though they have “no idea how it could have happened”. Scientists are “baffled”. Scientists have “no plausible explanation how it could have happened”.

    And yet, you have no idea how life arose supernaturally. You just know that it did.

    Got it.

    • But of course, Rabbi Averick does NOT know it. He just believes it in spite of its being impossible.

      The Moshes are totally baffled by the origin of life — but are religiously indifferent to the nature of actual knowledge of the world.

    • Hello Sivani,

      You make a good point, but let me point out a significant difference.

      When Rabbi Averick notes that scientists don’t know how it could have happened, he is pointing out he limitations of a scientific, materialistic philosophy. The idea or claim that all of reality can be explained vis-a-vis materialistic processes seems to NOT hold up as we get a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of the life and the universe.

      What’s more, the same factors of the natural world that present a challenge to a materialistic philosophy simultaneously point or indicate the need for some sort of guiding intellectual force or agency.

      Now, you want to know how an immaterial G-d who is independent of our universe can simultaneously be involved with and interact with our world. I believe that Professor Kenneth Miller in his book Finding Darwin’s G-d (which I have not yet read) argued that quantum physics provides an in (so to speak) for G-d acting within the confines of our natural world.

      Furthermore, if G-d is able to create time, space, matter, energy and the laws of physics then obviously He would be able to manipulate them as to His needs when He wanted. If I can code a program from scratch then certainly I can manipulate the code when need be.

      Be well,

      Moshe Morris

      • []“If I can code a program from scratch then certainly I can manipulate the code when need be.”[]

        Since you cannot do it “from scratch,” your analogy doesn’t get you anywhere.

        You cannot “code a program” without a computer. And you can’t build a computer without material from nature. You can’t get something from nothing.

      • []“The idea or claim that all of reality can be explained vis-a-vis materialistic processes seems to NOT hold up as we get a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of the life and the universe.”[]

        That “NOT hold up” notion is a mystics’ dream; it is certainly not true that reality doesn’t hold up under investigation.

        Look at the history of knowledge. Every explanation has been accomplished through reason. Nothing has ever been explained by religion/theism/supernaturalism.

        As the old saying goes: there’s no mysticism in knowledge.

      • {}{}“Now, you want to know how an immaterial G-d who is independent of our universe can simultaneously be involved with and interact with our world.”{}{}

        God interacts with the world in exactly the same way that circles are square: no way.

        Note that “immaterial” means “immaterial,” not “material.”

      • Yeah, science really limits itself by sticking to facts.

        Religion, freed from such restraints, can easily come up with fictional explanations. How cool is that!

  • ###
    Moshe Averick
    December 11, 2012
    9:09 am
    “In my opinion, the fact that cosmologists (thinking of Lawrence Krauss in particular) so confidently make proclamations about the size and age of the universe while admitting that 95% is unknown to them is almost laughable.
    ###

    That is an idiotic notion, of course.

    But your confident proclamations about your “IDOL” and how 100% of Him is unknowable in this world is what is really laughable.

    [That really was to quick, since I left out a useful character . . . .]

  • ###
    Moshe Averick
    December 11, 2012
    9:09 am
    “In my opinion, the fact that cosmologists (thinking of Lawrence Krauss in particular) so confidently make proclamations about the size and age of the universe while admitting that 95% is unknown to them is almost laughable.
    ###

    That is an idiotic notion, of course.

    But your confident proclamations about your “IDOL</b" and how 100% of Him is unknowable in this world is what is really laughable.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Averick
    December 11, 2012
    3:44 pm
    “There are two solutions to the origin of life (that is to say it’s functional complexity and the huge amounts of specified information necessary for life to exist). One is a naturalistic process and the other is a supernatural creator.”
    //|\\

    I disagree strongly.

    A natural process is the only possibility for the origin of life. “Supernatural Processes” are not possibilities for anything at all.

    Note also that it is bogus to claim that “specified information is necessary for life to exist.” That is just a variation on the old claim that “supernatural creation by God is necessary for life to exist” — and that is a claim for something which is simply impossible.

    You wish to assume that God exists because you like the “great notion” of God. But wishing can’t make it so. All you have are stories about mythological characters. You have no “science of Creation,” or even the barest hint or clue about anything supernatural; the supernatural is fiction, not fact.

  • __
    Moshe Morris
    December 11, 2012
    9:11 am
    “Do you agree that the there are many different, varied and seemingly independent facets of nature seem to point to the need for an intelligent Creator or Designer[?]“
    —-

    There is nothing in experience or the discoveries of science that suggests, indicates, implies, or relates to a supernatural God in any way, shape, or form. You try to get around that problem by claiming that God doesn’t exist in any way, shape, or form — but only in some non-form, non-shape, non-way not-of-this-world, i.e., miraculously “beyond space and time.”

    Yet you persist in claim that you can still see evidence for Him — as if your religious faith gives you magical powers to observe that which isn’t there.

    You make some very long posts to claim essentially nothing more than that you have faith in God, but no reason to believe He exists.

  • To AW:

    I agree, there is a “difference between the Big Bang Theory and speculation as to what happened before the Big Bang”. I have specifically noted that difference before in previous comments as well as the article I linked to yesterday, but you are right that I have not made that distinction clear in each and every comment that I have made about the Big Bang theory. Either way, your point is accurate.

    With that said, that does notmean that the Big Bang theory doesn’t have any philosophical and/or theological implications – as I note in this article: http://morethinking.com/2012/richard-jastrow-on-the-big-bang/

    There was a reason why Einstein, Hoyle and others resisted the idea of the Big Bang theory. They didn’t like the philosophical and theological implications of the universe having a beginning (including, perhaps, a begging to energy – see yesterdays link). Now, though, that the theory is well accepted we can’t just ignore those implications. We have to deal with them if we want to be intellectual honest (see the article I just linked to above).

    In terms of the fine-tunings of the universe. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘evidence that your statement is true’. I am not offering G-d as a hypothesis to explain natural phenomenon. That is what a scientist does when attempting to form scientific theories. I’m not offering G-d as a scientific theory. G-d was not ‘discovered’ vis-a-vis the scientific method and He won’t be ‘disproven’ vis-a-vis the method either.

    There is more to life than the scientific method and there is more than one path to truth and understanding. I didn’t find and marry my wife by doing a double-blind experiment to determine who would be the best, most loyal, loving and caring wife and mother. It’s simply not a method that will work to get married and build a healthy, happy relationship and home.

    So too with G-d – one doesn’t come to know or reject G-d vis-a-vis the scientific method. As such, I’m not trying to provide evidence in the way that a scientist would provide evidence for a scientific theory (although I do think that Behe and Meyer’s have a point about methods of reasoning about observable physical phenomenon). I am simply noting that if someone wants to see corroborating ‘evidence’ for the claims made in the Torah and by people who believe in the Torah, modern science offers plenty of examples. It’s a reason to look further and take the claims seriously.

    Or, put otherwise. If one can point to the age of the universe and say – see science contradicts the Torah. Than one can also point to the Big Bang theory and say see science corroborates the Torah.

    I think there is a lot more corroborating evidence than people realize and that the evidence needs to be looked at as a unified whole, not one piece at a time. It’s easy to offer a speculative explanation for the Big Bang or the fine-tunings of the universe. But that position starts to become unreasonable if one consistently offers speculative theories, incredulity, and the like for each and every facet of reality that points to a transcendental guiding intellect.

    In terms of DNA, what can I say. Everything I know about, have studied and discussed with professors in the field about information theory, codes and DNA tells me that you are wrong. It is true that it is a molecule – but a molecule and a coded symbol are not opposites or contradictory entities. In computers, we use electricity, magnetism, radio waves and more to symbolically relate ones and zeroes in a sophisticated coded system. In DNA they use molecules to symbolically relate a four-numbered system (A, C, G and T). I discuss this with examples in this article: http://morethinking.com/2012/how-easy-is-it-to-type-the-letter-a/

    I also recommend going through my series on DNA where I discuss what DNA is, how it works and why it’s a code: http://morethinking.com/series/dna/

    I’m happy to explain why I think DNA implies the existence of a Creator, but it’s hard to do so until we agree what DNA is and how it works.

    In terms of cellular communication. Communication systems need to be set up. There needs to be agreement within the system about what the signals mean and how to respond to them. Without that agreement (as well as the technical implementation of the system as a whole) the system won’t work. So it needs to both technically and intellectually set up.

    Now let me leave you with a question. Do you agree that the there are many different, varied and seemingly independent facets of nature seem to point to the need for an intelligent Creator or Designer. If so, do you think it is unreasonable to consider that the reason that might be is because there actually is a Creator?

    Be well,

    Moshe

    • Moshe, it’s all very well that you can point to God as the origin of the universe’s complexity. One could easily say the giant-alien-wizard created all the information in the universe. But there’s a problem. Not only does it not ultimately solve the problem but it actually only compounds it (you now have to explain away an even bigger problem (i.e. the creator)). Solutions /like/ Darwin’s (ones devoid of a complex creator) are the only ones truly capable of solving problems of complexity.

      • Jason,
        I disagree quite strongly. There are two solutions to the origin of life (that is to say it’s functional complexity and the huge amounts of specified information necessary for life to exist). One is a naturalistic process and the other is a supernatural creator. This is obvious to anyone who carefully considers the problem. George Wald, Robert Shapiro, Paul Davies, Christian DeDuve all acknowledge this.

        • It is not possible for the existence of life to require prior “specified information,” since life is first necessary before there can be a conscious person to specify anything as information about anything to anyone.

          You are putting the religious cart before the reality of the horse.

        • You’ve said this innumerable times. What’s your point? Also, why is the giant alien wizard not a third option?

        • Moshe, my response is long but please give it all very careful consideration:

          I hope you understand my reference to the giant-alien-wizard was obviously tongue-in-cheek. My intention was to show the fact that any body of evidence can result in infinitely many hypothetical explanations (the alien-wizard being one of them).

          You should realize that God is but another hypothetical explanation for whatever problem you choose (complexity, mass revelation, tradition, world-wide belief, “How I survived the plane-crash” …). Therefore I think I am justified to substitute God with one of the infinitely many ‘interpretations’ (the alien) to expose the inability of God explaining anything.

          To clearly demonstrate my point: If I wrote a test and at the top of the test I wrote: “A is the answer to everything” and I proceeded to use A to answer every question, do you honestly think I deserve full credit? Why should God be any different? Why should God have the monopoly on explaining what we don’t fully comprehend (complexity, mass revelation, tradition, world-wide belief, “how I survived the plane-crash” …)?

          By the very fact that God is completely incomprehensible (you cannot tell me what he actually /is/ (from Maimonides)), it directly implies that using Him as an explanation /infinitely/ /reduces/ our understanding of that question (no explanatory advantage is gained).

      • To Jason,

        Once the giant-alien-wizard has the history and influence that G-d has had we can consider taking him seriously. We’ll start with a 3,000 plus year old tradition and the most influential work the world has ever known.

        Until then, he’s a made up entity designed to reduce G-d to a concept that is easy to deny or reject. One has to deal with G-d as G-d really is, not reduce Him to a concept that He is not.

        Same goes for the ‘who created G-d concept’. The Jewish concept of G-d is one of absolutely simplicity and oneness as noted by the Rambam, the Ramchal and others and as captured in the central tenet of Judaism – Hear O’ Israel, Hashem is Our G-d, Hashem is One.

        G-d is not considered complex – to claim so is to ignore what we have been saying for 3,000 plus years. Again, it’s an attempt to redefine G-d in a way that makes G-d easy to reject, which is not an intellectually honest approach to the question.

        Finally, evolution only gets started after you have a Big Bang, fine-tunings of the universe, an inhabitable planet and a living cell. It has nothing to say about the origin of any of those elements and cannot provide a solution for them. And, of course, that cell has to be built in such a way that it can evolve.

        Be well,

        Moshe

        • [][]“One has to deal with God as God really is, not reduce Him to a concept that He is not.”[][]

          And God is a fictional character. Nothing more and nothing less.

          What is the best way to deal with that? Ignore it? How is that supposed to work?

        • [][]“Finally, evolution only gets started after you have a Big Bang, fine-tunings of the universe, an inhabitable planet and a living cell.”[][]

          Well, that is a fantastic claim, since there is no basis in reality for the notion of some “Big Bang Creation” or any “fine-tunings of the universe.”

          You might be close on the parts about “an inhabitable planet and a living cell,” though.

    • []” Do you agree that the there are many different, varied and seemingly independent facets of nature seem to point to the need for an intelligent Creator or Designer.”[???][]

      Naturally not.

      There is anything in experience or the discoveries of science that suggests, indicates, implies, or relates to a supernatural God in any way, shape, or form. You try to get around that problem by claim that God doesn’t exist in any way, shape, or form — but only in some non-form, non-shape, non-way not-of-this-world, i.e., “beyond space and time.”

      Yet you persist in claim that you can still see evidence for him — as if your religious faith give you magical powers to observe that which isn’t there.

    • []” Do you agree that the there are many different, varied and seemingly independent facets of nature seem to point to the need for an intelligent Creator or Designer.”[???][]

      Naturally not.

      There is anything in experience or the discoveries of science that suggests, indicates, implies, or relates to a supernatural God in any way, shape, or form. You try to get around that problem by claiming that God doesn’t exist in any way, shape, or form — but only in some non-form, non-shape, non-way not-of-this-world, i.e., “beyond space and time.”

      Yet you persist in claim that you can still see evidence for him — as if your religious faith gives you magical powers to observe that which isn’t there.

    • []“There was a reason why Einstein, Hoyle and others resisted the idea of the Big Bang theory. They didn’t like the philosophical and theological implications of the universe having a beginning …”[]

      Since the universe could not have had a beginning, there is no reason to “like” the notion that it did have a beginning.

      If you prefer nonsense to logic, then you could “like” the “great notion” of “Creation, by God!” Otherwise, it has no attraction.

  • Moshe, all of your example of science that got overturned have something in common – the new theories that superseded the old were all scientific too. That’s how science works.

    Theories are overturned by evidence, not rhetoric or argument. So all you need to do to overturn naturalistic theories of life if to provide actual evidence of supernatural intervention in life. Not argument from current ignorance – but actual evidence. A shiny medal and a pile of cash awaits you in Stockholm. Good luck with that.

    • JP,

      The evidence is already there. The “signature” is in the cell as someone put it. It’s just that scientists are too stubborn to let go of the old paradigms, I think Thomas Nagel’s book will prove to be a big wake up call for many.

      • There is no such evidence as you believe in.

        There is no “signature in the cell.” That is a made up story.

      • Tell me more about this “signature” Moshe.

        The chemicals in DNA combine in ways utterly in accordance with the laws of chemistry. How then do you propose that there is evidence of supernatural intervention in their arrangement? How would one test for this? How would such a theory be falsifiable? I’m sure you have good answers to these questions, and I hope that if your answers to my questions help you on your way to a Nobel Prize, that you will think kindly of my tiny contribution!

        • JP,

          If what you are saying is that there are chemical bonds that hold DNA together then I would certainly agree with you. However if you are saying that the arrangement of specific nucleotides which form the coding for construction of functionally complex proteins are chemically necessary then you have made a fundamental error.

          The chemcial bonds that operate in DNA allow ANY and ALL arrangments of nucleotides and NONE are favored over any other. There is absolutely no chemcial inevitability or necessity for any particular arrangement to occur over any other.

          The perfect analogy is magnetic letters on a refrigerator. The force that keeps the letters attached to the refrigator operates under the known and understood laws of physics; magnetic bonds. However there is nothing about the magnetic force that will inevitably cause any particular arrangement in the order of letters over any other. That is the reason why when we see the letters arranged in an order that conveys a specific message we know immediately that it was the result of intelligent causation.

          The same applies to the arrangement of the nucleotides in the DNA molecule. The chemical bonds that bind them together are the same for all, directly analogous to the magnetic forces that hold the letters on the fridge. However, for these molecular letters to be arranged in a specific order that results in the formation of functionally complex proteins is clearly the result of intelligent causation. Remember we are talking about DNA in the simplest and oldest known living organisms, bacteria. There is no known organism that can be alive with a lower level of functional complexity and specified information than mycoplasma. (yes, a few genes can be knocked out and the organism can still survive, but that is not relevant to the point I am making)

          This is the signature that I was referring to.

  • *
    \\|//
    Moshe Morris
    December 10, 2012
    8:19 am
    “One claim was that there was a Creator God… One can look at the discoveries of modern science and see justification for that claim.”
    //|\\
    *

    Not exactly. One can look at anything and fantasize that there is justification for a claim that a supernatural God does exist. But there are no actual facts in the world, even including the “discoveries of modern science,” to back up such a claim.

    The claim that “there was a Creator God” surely does exist. It simply has no empirical, rational basis in reality. It is simply religion, nothing else.

  • >If someone could demonstrate clearly that life could come from non-life through a naturalistic process that would falsify ID.

    So, an observation proving that life arose naturally would falsify ID. Or in other words, an observation showing that life wasn’t designed would show that life wasn’t designed.

    Let’s try this again…

    Can you give a SPCIFIC EXAMPLE of an observation/data/experimental results that could disprove intelligent design?

    • []“So, an observation proving that life arose naturally would falsify ID.”[]

      Of course not. Since there is nothing to falsify, the IDer/Creationists can simply claim that anything you observed was Designed and Created by God!

      []“Or in other words, an observation showing that life wasn’t designed would show that life wasn’t designed.”[]

      Naturally not. No one can observe that which did not happen. Logically, since it is impossible for life to have been designed (since design capabilities post-date the origin of life), one cannot observe the non-happening. Only that which actually happens is observable.

  • To MM

    > I think if you look over my comments from past articles you’ll note that I equivocate about energy and the laws of nature before the Big Bang.

    Physicists don’t know what there was, if anything, before the Big Bang. Physicists don’t know what it means to talk about “before” the Big Bang. These questions are not part of the Big Bang Theory, which has actual strong evidence. So, again, to claim that the Big Bang Theory states that all energy came into existence during the Big Bang is false. Again, I’d appreciate an acknowledgement from you that you understand the difference between the Big Bang Theory and speculation as to what happened before the Big Bang.

    > Short answer: Fine-tuned parameters imply or suggest the need for some sort of fine-tuner. I’m stating that ultimately speaking they imply the need for an intelligent agent.

    Yes, I understand that you are stating that. Would you care to explain what evidence you have that your statement is true?

    > Wikipedia definition: “Information, in its most restricted technical sense, is a sequence of symbols that can be interpreted as a message.”

    DNA is not a symbol. It’s a molecule. So, by the definition you quoted, DNA is not information. Also, DNA is not “interpreted”. It undergoes chemical reactions. So, how do chemicals undergoing chemical reactions imply the existence of a Creator?

    > CELLULAR COMMUNICATION

    I know what cellular communication is. How does this imply a creator?

    > DISPROVING THE HYPOTHESIS THAT LIFE WAS DESIGNED BY AN INTELLIGENT CREATOR

    I’m not asking Michael Behe or youtube. I’m asking you.

    > I’m also not trying to ‘prove’ G-d. I’m just noting that numerous and seemingly unrelated facets of the world indicate that there is a G-d and pointing out that people should take those facets seriously and consider that they mean what they appear to mean – namely that there is a G-d.

    Exactly. Your saying that the above is evidence for God. You haven’t shown that.

    • {*}“DNA is not a symbol. It’s a molecule.”{*}

      Good point.

      It’s a weird case of anthropomorphizing to cast DNA in the role of information.

    • [[]]” I’m just noting that numerous and seemingly unrelated facets of the world indicate that there is a G-d …”[[]]

      You should point out that he is not “noting” that there are “indications of God,” he is simply imagining that there are any such “indications” (which there certainly are not).

  • > I think if you look over my comments from past articles you’ll note that I equivocate about energy and the laws of nature before the Big Bang.

    Physicists don’t know what there was, if anything, before the Big Bang. Physicists don’t know what it means to talk about “before” the Big Bang. These questions are not part of the Big Bang Theory, which has actual strong evidence. So, again, to claim that the Big Bang Theory states that all energy came into existence during the Big Bang is false. Again, I’d appreciate an acknowledgement from you that you understand the difference between the Big Bang Theory and speculation as to what happened before the Big Bang.

    > Short answer: Fine-tuned parameters imply or suggest the need for some sort of fine-tuner. I’m stating that ultimately speaking they imply the need for an intelligent agent.

    Yes, I understand that you are stating that. Would you care to explain what evidence you have that your statement is true?

    > Wikipedia definition: “Information, in its most restricted technical sense, is a sequence of symbols that can be interpreted as a message.”

    DNA is not a symbol. It’s a molecule. So, by the definition you quoted, DNA is not information. Also, DNA is not “interpreted”. It undergoes chemical reactions. So, how do chemicals undergoing chemical reactions imply the existence of a Creator?

    > CELLULAR COMMUNICATION

    I know what cellular communication is. How does this imply a creator?

    > DISPROVING THE HYPOTHESIS THAT LIFE WAS DESIGNED BY AN INTELLIGENT CREATOR

    I’m not asking Michael Behe or youtube. I’m asking you.

    > I’m also not trying to ‘prove’ G-d. I’m just noting that numerous and seemingly unrelated facets of the world indicate that there is a G-d and pointing out that people should take those facets seriously and consider that they mean what they appear to mean – namely that there is a G-d.

    Exactly. Your saying that the above is evidence for God. You haven’t shown that.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Averick
    December 10, 2012
    10:13 am
    “There are only two possibilities for the origin of the first living organism in the universe. 1. A naturalistic process 2. A creator not subject to the laws of cause and effect within time, space, matter, or energy. In other words a designer/creator who consists of neither matter or energy, and exists in neither time or space.”
    //|\\

    A natural process is the only real possibility. (Are you trying to distract attention by saying “naturalistic” — as if there were something unnatural about nature?)

    The notion of a “creator not subject to the laws of cause and effect” means nothing more than “a non-existent creator.” The notion of “the supernatural” is simply fantastic: there is no basis in reality for it.

    Notice that there is evidence for natural processes in the world, and no evidence for anything that “exists in neither space or time.” So your dichotomy is between facts and faith, the natural and the supernatural, the real and the unreal, the possible and the impossible.

  • To AW:

    ENERGY AND THE BIG BANG
    I think if you look over my comments from past articles you’ll note that I equivocate about energy and the laws of nature before the Big Bang. That equivocation comes from statements of other physicists – as I start to note in this article about what happened before the Big Bang – see here: http://morethinking.com/2012/what-happened-before-the-big-bang/

    FINE TUNINGS OF THE UNIVERSE
    Short answer: Fine-tuned parameters imply or suggest the need for some sort of fine-tuner.

    Long answer – see here: http://morethinking.com/2011/is-the-fine-tuned-universe-evidence-of-a-divine-creator/

    In terms of ‘G-d did it’. I’m not talking about HOW the laws of nature became fine-tuned. I’m stating that ultimately speaking they imply the need for an intelligent agent. See here for more on that idea: http://morethinking.com/2012/information-means-something/

    DEFINITION OF INFORMATION
    Wikipedia definition: “Information, in its most restricted technical sense, is a sequence of symbols that can be interpreted as a message.” [source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information

    HOW DO BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS CONTAIN INFORMATION
    Short answer: The sequence of nucleotides in DNA is a sequence of chemical symbols used to dictate the proper ordering of Amino Acids in order to form proteins. The information needed is the proper ordering of the Amino Acids. That information is encoded in the sequence of nucleotides.

    Long answer – see my series on DNA: http://morethinking.com/series/dna/

    WHY BIOLOGICAL INFORMATION IMPLIES THE EXISTENCE OF AN INTELLIGENT AGENT
    Short answer: Information is by its nature an intellectual entity. Information is about relaying messages and/or creating symbolic relationships between different parts of a system.

    Long answer – see here: http://morethinking.com/2012/how-easy-is-it-to-type-the-letter-a/

    WHAT IS CELLULAR COMMUNICATION
    Short answer – from Wikipedia: “Cellular communication is an umbrella term used in biology and more indepth in biophysics and biochemistry to identify different types of communication methods between living cells.” [source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellular_communication_(biology)

    Long answer – see here: http://morethinking.com/2011/i-know-that-gene-is-in-here-somewhere/

    IN TERMS OF DISPROVING THE HYPOTHESIS THAT LIFE WAS DESIGNED BY AN INTELLIGENT CREATOR
    I don’t hold that G-d is a hypothesis posited to explain physical phenomenon (see here for more: http://morethinking.com/2011/g-d-is-not-a-theory/).

    I’m not even sure where I hold on the question of whether or not intelligent design is a science. I think I lean most towards Professor James Shapiro’s third way position. With that said, if you want a more limited example on how one can falsify intelligent design, Michael Behe talks about that here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8jXXJN4o_A

    I’m also not trying to ‘prove’ G-d. I’m just noting that numerous and seemingly unrelated facets of the world indicate that there is a G-d and pointing out that people should take those facets seriously and consider that they mean what they appear to mean – namely that there is a G-d.

    Be well,

    Moshe

    • [][]“… numerous and seemingly unrelated facets of the world indicate that there is a God …”[][]

      The number of facts of the world which indicate that there is a God: zero.

      You’ve got faith and stories, but no facts. There is not a single fact that you can come up with that supports your “great notion of God.”

    • {}{}“I’m not talking about HOW the laws of nature became fine-tuned. I’m stating that ultimately speaking they imply the need for an intelligent agent.”{}{}

      The laws of nature are not “fine-tuned,” and they certainly do not “imply the need for an intelligent agent.”

      You “great notion of God” falls apart and amounts to nothing.

    • **“… dictate the proper ordering of Amino Acids …”**

      Can’t have democracy for amino acids, eh, it’s got to be a dictatorship?

      Sounds like you are anthropomorphizing nature on the basis of political theory.

  • Marvin,

    ID does not deal with conflicting claims of Divine Revelation. However, once it is clear that God wilfully created life, it does change the way we will approach an investigation into whether or not this God revealed some sort of specific message to mankind.

    But it is clearly a separate question.

    • The notion of a “message to mankind” from beyond reality is quite fantastic.

      But at least it is clear that God could not have “willfully created life” (since cause and effect cannot be reversed or avoided).

  • If people want to understand how to live in this world — and they should — then reason, logic, and science give them the tools they need. Religion gives them nothing.

    Faith in the supernatural gives people as much chance of understand the world as a rock has, viz., none whatsoever. Science, on the other hand, offers possibilities.

  • @MM

    > The question is whether or not we can find ‘evidence’ for such a Creator in the natural world.

    Okay. Let’s look at your evidence…

    > The Big Bang theory

    Let’s just get this out of the way. You keep saying that The Big Bang Theory states that all energy came into existence at the moment of the Big Bang. The Theory does not state that. It states that all the energy in the Universe was compressed into a singularity. I’d like you to confirm that you now understand this and won’t repeat this falsehood in the future.

    > the fine-tunings of the universe

    Why the physical constants of the Universe are what they are is an interesting question. I don’t know the answer. You apparently do — God did it. Do you have any evidence for your explanation?

    > biological information and codes

    (1) Define information. (2) Explain how biological systems contain information. (3) Explain how (1) and (2) in any way support the existence of an invisible wizard.

    > cellular communication

    Huh?

    > the sophisticated design in nature

    What observation could one make to disprove the hypothesis that life was designed by an intelligent creator?

    • []“(1) Define information. (2) Explain how biological systems contain information.”[]

      Information is knowledge gained by experience, instruction, study, investigation, etc., and put into communicable form (words, pictures, etc.).

      In other words, information is a product of human conscious processing of facts about the world.

      Thus, while there are facts in the nature of rocks and trees, for instance, there is no information in either inanimate or animate objects, per se.

      The notion that life was created or operates by using information is nonsense because information did not exist before people created it.

      Biological systems don’t contain “information” any more than rocks do.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Morris
    December 9, 2012
    6:26 am
    “The God of the Bible as understood by the Jewish tradition is beyond space and time. He is the foundation of all existence, but does not Himself require a foundation.”
    //|\\

    In practical terms, that means that God doesn’t exist, and that the great notion of God has no basis in reality. God is simply a fantasy, not a possibility.

    That which is “beyond space and time with no foundation” is: nothing. That’s a good explanation.

  • The article misses a key point. Yes, scientists are human and are fallible, but the process leads to the correction of the errors that scientists make. That process is the insistence on the production of repeatable evidence, and this is a very powerful tool for understanding the nature of the world in which we live.

    • Moshe Averick

      David,

      It certainly corrects SOME of the errors. We don’t know about the ones that haven’t been corrected. My main point of course is that the scientific world is working very hard to suppress the problems with evolutionary theory and certainly the staggering problems with Origin of Life research.

      • Problems are real. Not so the supernatural.

        Science does not find all the answers. But appeals to God cannot explain anything.

        Science has only facts. Religion has only fantasies.

      • So your evidence that scientists are “suppressing” the problems with Origin of Life research are dozens of quotes by scientists detailing their skepticism of current Origin of Life hypotheses?

        What is your evidence that scientists are “suppressing” problems with the Theory of Evolution?

        • AW,

          If someone could demonstrate clearly that life could come from non-life through a naturalistic process that would falsify ID.

          regarding evolution: I would start here:
          http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/7ece8/

          • You are wrong on at least two counts there, Rabbi Averick.

            For one thing, so long as you assume that miracles are possible, the fact that life could appear via a “naturalistic process” in no way means that it did happen that way. You could simply claim that God built in the capacity for life to “restart naturalistically” if it ever got wiped out, but that the original start had to be miraculous.

            For another thing, the “ID” notion actually offers nothing to be falsified. There is no actual theory about a supernatural origin of life; it is nothing but a vague story.

            It needs to be asked: “What exactly is there to be ‘falsified’ about ‘ID’”? What is the process that is being referred to?

    • To David:

      I agree, that is one of the strengths of the scientific process and method.

      But when there is a fierce public debate about issues relating to science (i.e., evolution, origin of life, etc) and one witnesses many of the same human weaknesses that have previously plagued science at play then one can wonder whether or not those same processes of correction are being vigorously fought against right now.

      Be well,

      Moshe

  • Marvin Schwartz

    Anybody who has studied the history, philosophy and sociology of science is aware of these types interesting moments in the development of the scientific enterprise. In fact, this does not condemn science, because theories change and what was not believed becomes part of the scientific corpus. Anybody who has studied the development of science knows this and in fact there are numerous studies like this to draw on. This is the nature of both science and reality. Pointing at science and the problems that are inherent in the enterprise are not proof that religious beliefs are correct. It seems to me that the religious enterprise should concern itself more about Hillel’s precept to the non-believer: “Don’t do unto others what you would not want them to do to you. All the rest is commentary.”

    • Hello Marvin,

      I don’t think that Rabbi Averick was arguing that ‘religious beliefs are correct’ because there are problems at times with how scientists conduct science. I think he is just noting that one needs to take scientists and what they say in perspective.

      Perhaps another example will do. Einstein was undoubtedly one of the greatest scientists the world has ever known. And yet, he made a number of mistakes. He had his cosmological constant, his initial firm rejection of the idea of the Big Bang theory and his opposition to quantum physics.

      Does that undermine his accomplishments? Of course not! But if Einstein can be wrong or make mistakes, then what about other scientists? Can it be that Stephen Meyer has more to say than others give him credit for and that the fierce opposition that he and others in the ID face is not because of the value of what they have to say, but because it rattles the established paradigm that we have held for a while now?

      And note, I’m not sure that I agree with Meyer’s et al that Intelligent Design is a SCIENTIFIC theory, although I do think it has philosophical value and may have implications for how one approaches science).

      The question, therefore, is whether or not the criticism of them has more in common with the examples listed in this article then with sound scientific and logical criticism.

      Be well,

      Moshe

      • Morris wonders if “religious belief [in supernatural 'Intelligent Design'] rattles the established paradigm that we have held for a while now?

        So that raises the question: why the pretense that religion was not established long before science was ever dreamed of — as if religion were the new way of looking at things?

  • \\“… dark matter and dark energy regarding whose nature we are absolutely clueless.”//

    Sounds exactly like an appeal to a supernatural God (regarding Whose nature we are, of course, absolutely clueless).

    Whether done by people who call themselves “scientists” or “theologians,” such an appeal to the unknowable is senseless and not in the least bit a practical part of life.

  • Moshe -

    I’ve already proven that the first bacterium evolved from simpler self-replicating things through an unguided process. I’ll try and make it as simple for you to understand as possible.

    FIRST PART OF THE ARGUMENT:

    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.

    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.

    SECOND PART OF THE ARGUMENT:

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

    I’m eager to hear a serious challenge to this irrefutable argument, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • Come on. Your “irrefutable argument” is nonsense.

      Certainly, there were no “guided processes” before there was life, but your faithful assumption of “evolution from simpler stuff” is not based on any evidence or logic.

  • [][]“A “leap of faith” means believing something – not because it is reasonable or backed up by compelling evidence – but because you would like it to be true,…”[][]

    “Leap of faith” describes religion in a nutshell. And that is why religion is not something good to have in your life. Living by reason and evidence — the opposite of religion — is the way to go.

  • Reminds me of a quote from the above-mentioned Max Planck: “Science advances one funeral at a time.”

    …and let’s not forget Thomas Nagel’s admission which goes a long way in explaining the thought processes of some atheists here – “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

    • The universe fundamentally is what it is regardless of what anybody wishes it were. Believing in the supernatural, and wishing it were there (somewhere) will not make it possible. Disbelieving in the supernatural (even strongly wishing it could not be) will not make it possible, either. Nothing can make the supernatural possible, not even wishing.

      Reality is not fantastic, but simply actual. There is no way around it.

  • []“There is no need to genuflect before the masters of materialism.”[]

    Not only is there no need, it would indeed be crazy to do so. Genuflecting and truth-seeking are just not compatible.

    That’s why religion (not to mention political power) is not compatible with science. Bowing and obedience to Gods and bureaucrats is not the best policy.

  • Moshe-

    Neither your previous replies, nor your article entitled “Who created the creator?”, answer the principle shortcoming of your argument for intelligent design.

    Intelligent design is not a GUIDED 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.

    • [][]“Intelligent design is not a GUIDED process.”[][]

      Oh yes, it is.

      And in the context of this thread, the salient point is that it is a 100% absolutely NATURAL process. There is nothing supernatural about it (as there is nothing supernatural about anything).

      Design does not happen without somebody actually doing it (i.e., guiding the process). It does not happen spontaneously or miraculously.

    • Sivani,

      Why do you think this is a question? The G-d of the Bible as understood by the Jewish tradition is beyond space and time. He is the foundation of all existence, but does not Himself require a foundation. The question is whether or not we can find ‘evidence’ for such a Creator in the natural world.

      The Big Bang theory, the fine-tunings of the universe, biological information and codes, cellular communication, the sophisticated design in nature – all of these things combined indicate that some sort of Creator/Designer is needed and thus forms a sort of confirmation for that which we read in the Torah.

      Be well,

      Moshe

      • {}{}“The Big Bang theory, the fine-tunings of the universe, biological information and codes, cellular communication, the sophisticated design in nature –”{}{}

        All of those things are fantastic notions that have no grounding in the real world. Those are all in the same category as stuff like the “geocentric theory of the universe,” the “luminiferous ether,” “bad air,” “dark matter,” “collapsing wave functions,” etc., etc.

        Not any of that stuff in any way constitutes evidence for any sort of “supernatural Creator/Designer” (any more that it constitutes evidence for square circles).

      • Marvin Schwartz

        Moshe, So, is the ID designer a Jewish designer, a Christian designer or an Islamic designer, because when I research ID I find at least these three. And all three invariably refer to their own sacred texts and their own interpretations of them. Is the designer still active for instance in increasing CO2 emissions or is that a design flaw or is there a human component to it? How do we know when the ID designer is involved or human or other causes are implicated? Is there a manual for this other than the traditional texts, Torah, Talmud et al? There are scientists who believe in the notion of an intelligent universe, but they don’t rely on texts which in the end require the suspension of reason and the acceptance of blind faith. Pointing at a text that was written 2 or 3 millenia ago does not count as proof. Be well, Marvin

        • Hello Marvin,

          I’m just making a simple point. The Torah and Jewish tradition has made certain claims about reality. One can look at the modern world and see indications of the truth of some of those claims.

          One claim was that there was a Creator G-d. The Christian and Islamic world came to accept that claim also. One can look at the discoveries of modern science and see justification for that claim.

          The question then becomes what does one make of that fact. Does one note the similarities? Does one note that for thousands of years philosophers and scientists such as Aristotle and Einstein resisted or denies this idea of a Creator G-d and that today it seems that modern discoveries of science support or at the very least corroborate the idea?

          If someone is looking for a scientific reason to INVESTIGATE belief in a Divine Creator, then the modern world provides plenty of it. You shouldn’t suspend your reason or blindly believe anything. You should approach G-d with all of your faculties and questions in tact. The question, though, is whether or not you make the approach, not how you make the approach.

          In the end, I would argue that blindness cuts both ways. To look at modern science and not wonder whether or not there is a G-d seems to me also to be an act of suspension of reason and blind faithlessness.

          Be well,

          Moshe

          • Marvin Schwartz

            Dear Moshe, Does it matter to Torah, if man desended from organisms that came out of a primordial ooze? Can you believe that a creator could create as complex a universe as we have and situated a fairly intelligent being in that universe, but not have been able to write a manual that was clear, concise, unambiguous, and so utterly convincing as to never give cause to question the veracity of the manual and with no need for interpretation? You may want to believe that the Torah is such a document. Personally, I enjoy reading Torah, but I recognize that, and I hope he will forgive me for using his name and that I am using what he says correctly, as Rav Kook would have said, Torah is not science and science is not Torah.

            Evolution and cosmology are problems only if one is worried that somehow it damages the stories in the Torah. Here are some quasi-scientific statements posed by IDers that do do damage to the Torah. An Iranian cleric says that the cause of earthquakes in Iran is due to women behaving promiscuously. Pat Robertson claimed that the earthquake in Haiti happened because Haitians made a pact with Satan. Not to be outdone, a New York Rabbi claimed that a Washington DC earthquake was the result of permitting gay marriage. Maybe we can have a special term for these types of statements, but they do not qualify as scientific. Unfortunately, these statements which form the basis of witch hunts are the natural outcome of confusing science and theology. Believe in the wonderment of creation by all means. Believe in an intelligent designer and understand those stories in the ancient texts as the literal inerrant word of an Intelligent Designer (who might not be able to write so well). Note that all creatures sing the designer’s praises. Be a model of modesty, morality and humility. But don’t confuse this with doing science and don’t try to make the ancient texts into scientific texts. We will all be a lot happier. Peace, Marvin

          • []“If someone is looking for a scientific reason to INVESTIGATE belief in a Divine Creator, then the modern world provides plenty of it.”[]

            You can believe that only if zero scientific reason is enough for you. And consistent theists, naturally, will accept nothing more than zero — since that is the only way to leave room for blind (i.e., religious) faith.

        • Marvin,

          Hard to understand your reply. I stated very clearly that the issue of Origin of Life and claims of Divine Revelation are two separate questions that need to be investigated separately. It is patently obvious, as far as I’m concerned, that life was created. It is absurd to claim that the most sophisticated and efficient digital information storage, translation, and processing system known to man (DNA and it’s accompanying molecular hardware)was the result of an unguided process. One gram of DNA can store roughly 100 billion DVD’s worth of information. We are talking here about the simplest living organisms that are known and that are ever known to have existed.

          The fact that materialistic scientists do a desperate dance to avoid the obvious conclusion about the origin of life is the clearest indication why it was so necessary to write the article. In my opinion, the fact that cosmologists (thinking of Lawrence Krauss in particular) so confidently make proclamations about the size and age of the universe while admitting that 95% is unknown to them is almost laughable. If I was a general launching a major attack and I had no idea at all where 95% of the enemy army was, I may have no choice but to proceed, but I would be humble enough to know that whatever plan I have is at the very best, some sort of semi-educated guess (and even that would be stretching it a bit).

          You are correct Marvin, science is not Torah and torah is not science, but that is nothing more than a truism. I honestly do not see how that is relevant to our discussion.

          As far as the clarity of Torah; while it may be true that parts of Torah are difficult to understand, I don’t think that it’s essential truth is difficult to understand. However,at no point in this or any other article have I addressed that point, I’m just putting it on the record. It would be nice to understand everything, but we don’t live in our universe, we live in God’s universe. It runs according to his plan and purpose, not ours.
          Why would we expect to understand everything. Does a donkey understand everything a human being does? Why should we think we can fully understand the Divine?

          • {}{}“It is patently obvious, as far as I’m concerned, that life was created. It is absurd to claim that the most sophisticated and efficient digital information storage, translation, and processing system known to man (DNA and it’s accompanying molecular hardware)was the result of an unguided process.”{}{}

            What is actually absurd here, Rabbi Averick, is your fantastic assertion that DNA is some sort of “digital information storage, translation, and processing system.” It is nothing of the kind.

            You are making up one crazy story to attempt to justify another crazy story. It’s like an avoidance of reality in favor of blind (i.e., religious) faith.

            That’s fine to do if you really wish to live like that — but it is nonsense to claim that your fantasies are somehow miraculously an accurate description of reality.

    • Sivani,

      There are only two possibilities for the origin of the first living organism in the universe. 1. A naturalistic process 2. A creator not subject to the laws of cause and effect within time, space, matter, or energy. In other words a designer/creator who consists of neither matter or energy, and exists in neither time or space. There is no such thing as “pre-existence” or “pre” anything except in time. There is no such thing as “before” the big bang because time itself begins with the big bang. There is no “pre” existence of the God, he is not in time. This is no before and there is no after.

      • []“There are only two possibilities for the origin of the first living organism in the universe. 1. A naturalistic process 2. A creator not subject to the laws of cause and effect within time, space, matter, or energy. In other words a designer/creator who consists of neither matter or energy, and exists in neither time or space.”[]

        A natural process is the only real possibility.

        The notion of a “creator not subject to the laws of cause and effect” means nothing more than “a non-existent creator.”

        Notice that there is some evidence for natural processes in the world, and no evidence for anything that “exists in neither space or time.” So your dichotomy is between facts and faith, the natural and the supernatural, the real and the unreal, the possible and the impossible.

      • How does a creator who does not consist of matter or energy do things in our universe, let alone create bacteria?

        • []“How does a creator who does not consist of matter or energy do things in our universe,…”[]

          No way. No how.

        • You’re not going to get an answer to this, Sivani, as I’m sure you know.

        • Sivani,

          How could anyone possibly answer that question? What is important is not that we understand how he did it, but that he DID do it. It is terribly difficult for people, especially scientists, to accept that there are limits to human understanding, this type of arrogant attitude is exactly what caused the problems in all the examples that I wrote about in the article.

          • The “especially arrogant attitude” around here is in your claim that you know that “he DID do it” when you don’t have a clue — and there is no possible way for you to know anything about it.

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