Atheistic Science is Rapidly Sinking in the Quicksand

January 28, 2013 10:05 am 573 comments

Dr. George Church, of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University

Dr. George Church, a pioneering molecular geneticist at Harvard/MIT, informed us in a Sciencexpress article in August of 2012, that the digital-information storage capacity of DNA is “very dense.” How dense? One gram of DNA can store 455 exabytes of information. For those readers like myself whose eyes glaze over as soon as computer nerds start talking about bytes and RAM’s I will put it in simple layman’s terms. One gram of DNA – the weight of two Tylenol – can store the same amount of digitally encoded information as a hundred billion DVD’s. Yes, you read correctly, I said a hundred billion DVD’s. Every single piece of information that exists on the Earth today; from every single library, from every single data base, from every single computer, could be stored in one beaker of DNA. This is the same DNA/Genetic Information/Self-Replication System that exists in humans and in bacteria (which are the simplest living organisms that exist today and have ever been known to exist). In short, our DNA-based genetic code, the universal system for all life on our planet, is the most efficient and sophisticated digital information storage, retrieval, and translation system known to man.

Dr. William Thorpe, a zoologist, wrote the following in 1974, an era when computer-science students at the University of Illinois (like myself) were still typing out IBM punch-cards that had to be fed into huge main-frame computers, when cell phones, I-Phones, and I-Pads were science-fiction like dreams to the average person: “The most elementary type of cell constitutes a mechanism unimaginably more complex than any machine yet thought up, let alone constructed, by man.” The only thing that has changed since then is that the wonder and awe elicited by the astounding molecular machinery contained in the simplest living things has increased exponentially. Thorpe’s feelings are echoed by molecular biologist, Richard Strohman, who wrote in 2004: “Molecular biologists and cell biologists are revealing to us a complexity of life that we never dreamt was there. We’re seeing connections and interconnections and complexity that are mind-boggling. It’s stupendous. It’s transcalculational. It means that the whole science is going to have to change.”

"The Emergence of Life On Earth" by Dr. Iris Fry

Where did the dazzling DNA-based genetic system and its accompanying molecular machinery come from? In other words, how did life begin? Dr. Iris Fry, a prominent (non-believing) philosopher of science who teaches at the Technion Institute in Haifa and Tel-Aviv University explains to us that Origin of Life researchers have adopted two approaches to answering this profoundly challenging question. It is important to note that she describes both, not as scientific positions (because scientists have no real clue as to how life arose), but as philosophical positions. From an article entitled, “Are the Different Hypotheses on the Emergence of Life as Different as they Seem?”:

“This paper calls attention to a philosophical presupposition, coined here “the continuity thesis” which underlies and unites the different, often conflicting, hypotheses in the origin of life field. This presupposition, a necessary condition for any scientific investigation of the origin of life problem, has two components. First it contends that there is no unbridgeable gap between organic matter and life. Second, it regards the emergence of life as a highly probable process.”

Dr. Fry makes it very clear that this “philosophical presupposition” is not based on evidence and is non-falsifiable:

“The various principles of continuity might indeed push forward the experimental investigation of the emergence of life; as such they do represent the heuristic [educational] advantage of the continuity thesis. However, the decision to adopt the continuity thesis is a philosophical one…and this decision does not depend on the success of a specific experimental program, nor can it be revoked on the basis of its failure.”

Translation: Unless one assumes a priori, the existence of an – as yet unknown – set of coherent, ordered physical laws and processes that inevitably lead from non-life to life, there really isn’t any point to a scientific investigation of the origin of life. In that sense, the “continuity thesis” pushes forward experimental investigation of the matter. However, the decision to adopt such a position is not based on any experimental evidence or a particular experimental program, and that failure of any particular experiment or avenue of investigation will not invalidate this decision. In short, it is a position that is based on a decision, not evidence, and cannot be falsified by experimentation. What do we generally call a decision that is (a) not based on evidence, (b) is adopted because it advances an agenda (in this case justifying scientific investigation of the origin of life), and (c) cannot be falsified through experimentation? It is self-apparent that Dr. Fry has mistakenly and unjustifiably dignified this position by describing it as philosophical. In fact, such a position is nothing more than an article of faith, as so clearly stated by Nobel Laureate, Dr. Harold Urey: “All of us who study the origin of life find that the more we look into it, the more we feel it is too complex to have evolved anywhere. We all believe as an article of faith that life evolved from dead matter on this planet. It is just that its complexity is so great, it is hard for us to imagine that it did.”

Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Jacque Monod. "Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game."

She then goes on to describe the “rival” hypothesis, espoused by – among others – Nobel Prize winners Francis Crick and Jacque Monod, and biologist Ernst Mayr:

“In addition I identify the rivals of the [continuity] “thesis” within the scientific community – “the almost miracle camp.”…This camp regards the emergence of life as involving highly improbable events…The basic philosophical assumption underlying the “almost miracle” notion becomes apparent, once we learn that for Crick, the emergence of life was “a happy accident.”

Upon careful examination, however, it becomes clear that Dr. Fry has also seriously erred by describing the “almost miracle” camp as a philosophical position. Please bear with me as I elaborate. Dr. Jacque Monod, “one of the most pronounced representatives of this position” claims that the origin of life is not so much a “problem” as a “veritable enigma.” As Dr. Monod explains in his classic work, Chance and Necessity, there are no chemical or physical laws that determine any particular order of amino acids to build the first proteins (all amino acids can link together equally well) and similarly there are no chemical or physical laws that would determine the sequences of nucleotides that code for these proteins in DNA. The only option left for him is chance. He acknowledges that the random probability of such a system coming into being is “virtually zero.” Luckily for us, he writes, “Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game.” Monod himself admitted how distasteful to him as a scientist was his “casino” conclusion, for he acknowledged that “science can neither say nor do anything about a unique occurrence. It can only consider events which form a class whose a priori probability, however faint, is definite.” Renowned philosopher of science, Karl Popper, agrees with Monod that life could only emerge from inanimate matter by an extremely improbable combination of chance circumstances and admits that the origin of life becomes “an impenetrable barrier to science.”

DNA, the most sophisticated digital-information storage system known to man. One gram can store as much information as a hundred billion DVD's!

In the same vein, Ernst Mayr asserts that “a full realization of the near impossibility of an origin of life brings home the point how improbable this event was.” Finally Francis Crick, who together with James Watson was awarded a Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA in 1953, writes in his book Life Itself that an honest man armed with all the knowledge and evidence available to us now could only state “in some sense the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to been satisfied get it going.”

Dr. Robert Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at NYU. He predicted that the origin of life problem would be solved by 2011.

In other words, Mayr, Crick, Popper, and Monod do not describe the origin of life as being “almost a miracle” based on philosophical considerations. Their conclusions are reasoned, logical, scientific statements based on examination of the available evidence. In short, one of the positions taken by Origin of Life researchers as described by Dr. Fry – that life inevitably must emerge from non-life under the right conditions – is an article of faith. The other position, that the emergence of life is “almost a miracle” is a reasoned conclusion based on evidence. The proponents of the “almost miracle” camp implicitly showcase their narrow mindedness by not considering the obvious alternative to a lucky break in the “Monte Carlo casino” game: Intelligent Design. If the probability of life emerging randomly is “virtually zero” as Monod puts it, then it is virtually certain that it did not emerge by chance; it is virtually certain that it emerged through Intelligent Intervention. Of course, if an individual is emotionally or psychologically disturbed by that obvious conclusion, they are free join the “article of faith” camp. Although such a position is anti-scientific, the Constitution of the United States of America protects the rights of an individual to believe any article of faith he or she desires, and I am prepared to vigorously defend their right to do so.

One of the prominent, outspoken members of the anti-scientific “article of faith” camp for the origin of life, is evolutionary biologist, Dr. Jerry Coyne, of the University of Chicago. In a 1/14/13 post on his popular Why Evolution is True blog, Dr. Coyne writes: “How the unique properties of life originated from inert matter is still one of the great unsolved problems of biology…Perhaps we’ll never know precisely how life began, for it happened in the distant past and involved chemical reactions that could not fossilize.” Hmmm, if it is such a great mystery, how does Dr. Coyne know that it involved chemical reactions that could not fossilize? As I said, he is a card-carrying member of the “article of faith” camp. Coyne continues: “But I have confidence [that] life originated naturally and not through God’s fiat [and] that we will show this was possible within 50 years or so by demonstrating the evolution of life-like systems in the laboratory under primitive earth conditions.” Coyne clearly mischaracterizes his position on the subject by writing that he has confidence that life originated naturally – by his own admission, origin of life is an unsolved mystery and there is no evidence to support his contention – rather,  he has faith that life originated naturally. It is also worth noting that on an earlier blog post dated 3/7/11, Coyne wrote that, “Nope, we don’t yet understand how life originated on Earth… and we may never understand how life originated on Earth, because the traces of early life have vanished…I’m pretty confident that within, say, 50 years we’ll be able to create life in a laboratory under the conditions of primitive Earth.”

Dr. Jerry Coyne, evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago; 48 years...and counting!

That was nearly two years ago Dr. Coyne; that is to say we are now at 48 years and counting. Dr. Robert Shapiro (1935-2011), Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at NYU, was gutsier about his predictions. He wrote in 2006, that the origin of life problem would be solved scientifically within 5 years! It really does seem that atheistic science is sinking in the quicksand. I grew up on the south side of Chicago, only a few minutes away from the Hyde Park neighborhood where the University of Chicago is situated. From my current residence in West Rogers Park I can be in Hyde Park within a half-hour. Dr. Coyne, when you feel you are in it up to your neck, I’m always nearby to throw you a rope.

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.

573 Comments

  • Since theism is nonsense of a high order (fantasizing about a “higher power”), it is a peculiar sort of projection to accuse atheism of being nonsense.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Averick
    April 18, 2013
    10:17 am
    “There is no law of Chemistry that would tell you that UUU should code for a particular amino acid. It is purely arbitrary. Just as there is no reason why ‘D-O-G’ should represent a dog and not a cat.”
    //|\\

    Rabbi Averick, you still have not grasped the essential nature of language and code.

    Languages and codes are things people make up for conceptual purposes (thinking, communicating, producing, etc.). The “genetic code” is NOT something anyone made up for any purposes whatsoever. The laws of chemistry, DNA, etc., existed perfectly naturally, i.e., non-arbitrarily, long, long before consciousness evolved to be able to create languages and codes (and even think up arbitrary thoughts).

    “Sodium combined with Chlorine will by the laws of chemistry bond to form Sodium Chloride. Based on the laws of chemistry it is totally predictable.”

    DNA works on the same basis of natural (i.e., non-arbitrary) processes. Certainly, at this point in time, we have a better understanding of the apparently simpler processes like sodium chloride bonding, but that doesn’t mean that we need to attribute everything we haven’t yet figured out to “The Will of God.”

    In fact, attributing anything to “Creation, by God!” is an utterly fantastic notion. It makes no sense whatsoever. Supernaturalism is a doctrine that is anti-cognitive, anti-understanding, anti-reality.

    Your religious belief in your “IDOL” is grounded on nothing but blind faith — it is completely arbitrary; that is, it has no basis in reality.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Averick
    April 14, 2013
    2:17 am
    There is no reason why the symbol “chair” stands for something we sit on. It could have been any word. In other languages it is an entirely different word. That is the meaning of a CODE. There is also no chemical necessity for the nucleotides to line up in a particular order on the DNA molecule. A,G,T, or C can bind at any particular point along the DNA molecule in the same way that a word processor can type any letter at any point on the screen.
    //|\\

    That analogy represents a misapprehension of chemistry and of language (including code).

    The word (or “code” as you call it) “chair” does not cause or create the actual thing we sit on. The word(/code) is simply our way of referring to the existent, our way of talking about it (not some way of magically creating it).

    In the same way, when we talk about nucleotides and amino acids, the “CODE” refers to or describes what we see. The “CODE” does not create or cause the chemical bonds involved any more than saying “chair” makes a chair appear.

    The old story about God saying, “Let there be light!” — thereby creating light — is fabulous mythology. That is not how the world actually works.

    • Paul Sternberg

      Your analogy to Code is faulty. The real analogy of Chair Code to DNA is a set of CNC instructions to a wood shaping machine that cuts out a repeatable set of chair components and another set of code that assembles the components into the object “chair”.

      There is no DNA that says “Steve Stoddard”. There is DNA that has coded the assembling and maintenance of an individual’s body, known as “Steve Stoddard”. You are not just your DNA – you are more than just your molecules.

      If you are determinist materialist, than you are wasting your time arguing anything. Your chemical composition and reactions to stimuli make you think what you think. Our chemical composition and reactions to stimuli make us think what we think. NONE of it affects reality AT ALL. We breathe, we eat, we die, nothing matters.

      I prefer a life of meaning and significance over mere recycling of atoms and molecules.

      • Steve Stoddard

        Paul,

        One big problem with your analysis is that it was only after humans evolved that “wood shaping machines” were invented. It is an erroneous analogy to claim that when a tree grows in nature that nature is acting as a “wood shaping machine (directed by God).”

        []“I prefer a life of meaning and significance …”[]

        You cannot have such a life, not in reality, if you see yourself as nothing more than “a Creature of God” who must live by obedience to His Commands and Supernatural Whims. Meaning in life comes from rational, independent judgment — not obedience to commands from your “betters.”

      • Steve Stoddard

        [][]“If you are determinist materialist, than you are wasting your time arguing anything.”[][]

        If you are a determinist, then you cannot argue anything, period. If you are a determinist, then there is no time that is yours to waste. Indeed, if you are a determinist, you have nothing: no time, no thoughts, no actual human life.

        If you are a determinist, you are also dead wrong — since in fact, humans have free will!

  • |/
    Moshe Averick
    January 29, 2013
    1:39 am
    “The probability of life emerging through an unguided process is virtually zero. Intelligent design is not ancient mythology, it is simply the obvious truth.”
    /|\

    The notion of an “Intelligent Designer Of Life” (the “Averick IDOL” in this case) is “the obvious truth” in the same sense that the notion that “a circle is square” is “the obvious truth.” That is, it is a contradictory notion that cannot possibly be true.

    The falsity of theism is blindingly obvious, but the thing about people of faith is that they BELIEVE, sometimes they even STRONGLY BELIEVE, in the supernatural. So much so that the impossibility of the supernatural doesn’t matter to them. (Religious people can claim allegiance to the truth in the same sense that Obama can claim allegiance to the Constitution: they don’t actually mean it in the normal sense of the term, and are not being exactly honest about it.)

    The probability that life emerged through an unguided process, rather than through supernatural intervention is: 1 — that is, it’s a certainty, an absolute certainty, an astonishing, mind-boggling certainty.

    • Fascinating.

      Although atheism is a major priority on the socialist agenda because removing God from society allows the ascendance of value relativism, you still speak of allegiance to the truth.

      Even more amazing, you demonstrate a fanatical brand of militant atheism, yet you portray yourself as a fundamental constitutionalist. Are you really so naive, Steve?

      • Steve Stoddard

        Note that religion is not compatible with constitutionally-limited government based on protecting individual rights — because “The Word of God” is not based on individual rights.

        Rights are real; God is fiction.

    • Paul Sternberg

      Steve,

      Glad to see that you can so confidently place yourself in the “article of faith” camp.

      When will you recognize that your “article of faith” does not necessarily trump the theists “article of faith”? What gives you the certainty of your position, given the known facts, when an act of God is no less probable an explanation than your faith that life is the result of an event of astronomically low probability?

      You use a claim that cannot be scientifically tested to assert that God is “scientifically” impossible. You assert from ignorance a claim of perfect knowledge. Nice try, but its logically inconsistent.

      • Steve Stoddard

        Reality is not an “article of faith.” And non-reality, e.g., a Supernatural God, is not a literal possibility.

        God is a fictional character, while reality is the non-fiction part of life.

        [][]“… an act of God is no less probable an explanation than your faith that life is the result of an event of astronomically low probability?”[][]

        Since an “act of God” has zero probablilty, that is significantly less than “astronomically low probability.”

        And remember: life is not fiction, while God is fiction.

        • Rights are no more real under atheism than God, Steve. On pop culture atheism, “rights” are subjective decisions we make about how we interact as a society, and those decisions are fleeting.

          On a more studied atheism, especially materialism, rights aren’t even that. There is no subjective decisions made under materialism. There are only chemical reactions based on mathematics and the laws of physics.

          The oddity (and ultimate absurdity) about the materialistic view is that no atheist can live this worldview. Atheists, like everyone else, still act as if they have a will, as if their particular notions of “rights” and “morals” are objective (even while they claim they are subjective).

          The simple observable fact is that within the human experience, we know certain morals to be right, and certain rights to be inalienable. That the laws of physics could ultimately suit in DNA, much less globs of organic material with the intelligence to pretend as if they have a will and believe in rights and morals, makes materialism such an absurd position to take that it is laughable. And it’s more laughable to watch every single atheist live lives that defy their own worldviews’ claims. They cannot help it.

          • []“Rights are no more real under atheism than God”[]

            Certainly the notion of “The Rights of God” is not sensible. Rights belong to people, not God.

            Man is the rational animal, thus, the correct principle is THE RIGHTS OF MAN. It’s all about human nature — God has nothing to do with it.

            The denial of free will, whether by materialists or spiritualists, is indeed a completely absurd position to take. The sensible approach is to keep it real.

          • []“There are only chemical reactions based on mathematics and the laws of physics.”[]

            No such “chemical reactions” exist. You’ve got the relationship backwards. The laws of physics (and math) are based on reality, not vice-versa.

  • Rabbi Averick writes: ‘Translation: Unless one assumes a priori, the existence of an – as yet unknown – set of coherent, ordered physical laws and processes that inevitably lead from non-life to life, there really isn’t any point to a scientific investigation of the origin of life. In that sense, the “continuity thesis” pushes forward experimental investigation of the matter. However, the decision to adopt such a position is not based on any experimental evidence or a particular experimental program, and that failure of any particular experiment or avenue of investigation will not invalidate this decision.’

    He goes wrong on the notion that it has to be an a priori assumption that things happen naturally in the physical world we observe.

    Obviously, it is not an “a priori assumption” in the least to believe in nature: it is based entirely and absolutely on experience.

    It is belief in the supernatural that is an a priori assumption — an article of faith not based on any experience (and indeed totally contrary to experience).

    • My experience, Steve, tells me that God created nature.

      • That’s only your imagination, Justin, not actual perceptual experience.

        You may say that you “experience your imagination,” but that is introspection, not extrospection. In other words, God is fiction, not fact. God is something you can only imagine, not anything you can perceive.

      • [][]“God created nature.”[][]

        That could not have happened. Absent nature, there would be nothing to work with to enable anyone to create anything. You can’t get something from nothing.

        And note that God does not come from nothing: He comes from the imagination (i.e., God is a fictional character).

        Nature, not to put too fine a point on it, is not fictional. It is the real deal.

  • []__[]“Coyne clearly mischaracterizes his position on the subject by writing that he has confidence that life originated naturally – by his own admission, origin of life is an unsolved mystery and there is no evidence to support his contention – rather, he has faith that life originated naturally.”[]__[]

    Since “life originated naturally” is the only possibility — that is, life did originate naturally — it does not take “faith” to understand the fact.

    Rabbi Averick seems to believe that “unsolved mystery” means “act of God.” That’s nonsense.

    Nobody has figured out the specifics of the origin of life. That does not mean that the origin therefore has to be unnatural. In fact, it cannot possibly have been unnatural. There is no alternative to nature.

    Since life does exist, it had to happen in the framework of nature. There is nowhere else it could have happened.

  • Just saw this article

    … and shocked by the ignorance:

    “There is no chemical or physical property which determines this relationship – no three nucleotides inherently represent a particular codon.”

    Seriously? Each codon only certain mRNA which in turn only bind certain amino acids. That’s called chemistry.

    • Moshe Averick

      Dear Just Saw this Article,

      I am obviously aware that particular codons code for particular amino acids. My point (and Monod’s point) is that There is no CHEMICAL NECESSITY for any particular combination of three nucleotides to correspond to any particular amino acid. It is a CODE. Just like there is no necessary reason why the symbol “B” has to stand for a particular sound. It could just as well have been “K” that stands for that sound. There is no reason why the symbol “chair” stands for something we sit on. It could have been any word. In other languages it is an entirely different word. That is the meaning of a CODE. There is also no chemical necessity for the nucleotides to line up in a particular order on the DNA molecule. A,G,T, or C can bind at any particular point along the DNA molecule in the same way that a word processor can type any letter at any point on the screen.

      It is a LANGUAGE. Just like a COMPUTER LANGUAGE.

      • It is not a “CODE.” It is not a “LANGUAGE.”

        You are trying to anthropomorphize DNA, but there is no sense in doing so (other than in the literary sense of “poetic license” to accommodate some fictional story of a being with supernatural powers).

        Notice that there is nothing in the world to support the notion that DNA was programmed like a computer. Indeed, the fact that the existence and operation of DNA long predated the existence of intelligence, and therefore language (including code), makes the notion of “DNA as CODE” outlandish.

        Now as I understand it, your standard retort on this point is that the “intelligence” involved in the “CODE in DNA” scheme was not any kind of intelligence as we know it. Rather you feel that it was a “SUPERNATURAL INTELLIGENCE” — the likes of which we have no possible comprehension of.

        In other words, your stand is that you have blind faith that God coded DNA like is was a computer.

        But RELIGIOUS FAITH is not an argument, and you have no sound argument in favor of your “CODE in DNA” beliefs.

        Your claim that “life just couldn’t be natural” simply ignores reality. That’s the way religion operates.

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

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

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

        Life is the real stuff. God is simply fiction.

      • Could it be religion that feels as if it is “sinking in the quicksand”? Why else would theists feel the need to fob off “intelligent design” as a scientific theory (instead of sticking strictly to theology)?

        The blind faith of “intelligent design theory” too obviously concedes the real world to science. Why not try to keep religion fully mysterious and incomprehensible?

      • Just saw this article

        UUU “codes” for phenylalanine because UUU binds phenylalanine based on the rules of chemistry or “CHEMICAL NECESSITY” as you put it.

        • Moshe Averick

          Dear Just Saw This article,

          You still have not grasped the essential nature of the universal genetic code. You still don’t realize what baffled Monod and continues to baffle microbiologists and origin of life researchers. Sodium combined with Chlorine will by the laws of chemistry bond to form Sodium Chloride. Based on the laws of chemistry it is totally predictable.

          There is no law of Chemistry that would tell you that UUU should code for a particular amino acid. It is purely arbitrary. Just as there is no reason why “D-O-G” should represent a dog and not a cat. UGU could also represent phenylalanine without violating any chemical or physical laws. By the same token there is absolutely no chemical law that will tell you how the nucleotides can line up on the DNA molecule. They are completely and totally interchangeable. Just like letters are totally interchangeable in a word processing program. Again, that is why it is called a CODE.

          • []
            {}
            Moshe Averick
            April 18, 2013
            10:17 am
            There is no law of Chemistry that would tell you that UUU should code for a particular amino acid. It is purely arbitrary. Just as there is no reason why “D-O-G” should represent a dog and not a cat.
            {}
            []

            Rabbi Averick, you still have not grasped the essential nature of language and code.

            Languages and codes are things people make up for conceptual purposes (thinking, communicating, producing, etc.). The “genetic code” is NOT something anyone made up for any purposes whatsoever. The laws of chemistry, DNA, etc., existed perfectly naturally, i.e., non-arbitrarily, long, long before consciousness evolved to be able to create languages and codes.

          • [][]“By the same token there is absolutely no chemical law that will tell you how the nucleotides can line up on the DNA molecule. They are completely and totally interchangeable.”[][]

            You wish.

            The reality is clearly different from what your unnaturalist beliefs demand.

            [][]“Just like letters are totally interchangeable in a word processing program. Again, that is why it is called a CODE.”[][]

            The “genetic code” is clearly NOT a code like ASCII. Not the same thing at all.

            Think “analogy” — and don’t take it literally . . . .

          • Just saw this article

            I see. So God made tRNA. Do you have any evidence to back up this assertion?

            Alternatively, you can google “evolution of tRNA” for a number of peer reviewed papers.

          • I might be wrong about that. It might be a metaphor, rather than an analogy.

          • The more I think about it, the notion of “code in DNA” is a metaphor. It is clearly not literally true.

        • Since life originated long before intelligence evolved, whatever happened way back then was necessarily necessary. There was nobody around to choose how it would go.

          There was no choice involved — no alternative options were on the table.

      • [[]]“It is a LANGUAGE. Just like a COMPUTER LANGUAGE.”[[]]

        The “genetic code” is not a language in that sense. It does not function as symbols to stand for existents; it does not function to communicate information; it was not created by anyone (since it preceded all consciousness).

      • Just saw this article

        UUU “codes” for phenylalanine because those nucleotides bind to the mRNA, which binds to the tRNA, which binds to phenylalanine. I’m not sure what you think “CHEMICAL NECESSITY” means. Nucleotides “NECESSARILY” form “CHEMICAL” bonds with specific amino acids.

        • The faithful “IDOL” believers hold to the doctrine that “Life is Unnatural,” that it simply could not have happened naturally. Strangely, they believe that only God could happen naturally — i.e., absent outside intervention!

    • Physics and chemistry work quite naturally. So does biology. And everything else, too. There is no getting around nature. We’ve got to live with it.

    • What does that have to do with the article?

    • []“… shocked by the ignorance.”[]

      I think it is more philosophic disagreement than scientific ignorance.

      The “IDOL” belief is based on blind faith in God, not on observation, experimentation. and reasoning.

      The scientific approach is that nature is self-sufficient and exists independently of “will” of any sort. On the other hand, the religious approach goes by the belief that life cannot exist naturally, but is dependent on some outside, unnatural assistance.

      “Intelligent Design” is the ultimate in “assisted living” theory.

      So finding the natural explanation for life — or lightning, or anything — is felt to be impossible, a fool’s errand. A mysterious God did it — end of story.

  • Since science is necessarily atheistic, if “atheistic science”, i.e., actual science, were dying, then civilization would be dying.

  • “So your story, Rex, is that cells can translate code in their heads?! Or maybe with paper and pencil?

    Maybe you believe that cells are just little “computers by God” (instead of by HP) that do decoding by some magical electro-chemical process.

    But why, pray tell, would God need a computer (even a really tiny one)?

    If you believe that DNA was intelligently designed, then you are kidding yourself about how DNA actually functions in the world.”

    Stoddard, you’re an imbecile. We’re all agreed on that point but please do us the favor of reassuring us that you have no offspring and that your genes are not passed onto another unfortunate generation.

  • The believers in supernatural “Intelligent Design” are wishing for the natural expression of human intelligence to sink out of sight, to disappear like the dinosaurs — to be replaced by the warm fuzzies of religion. They seem to harbor a Marxist-like belief that science contains the seeds of its own destruction.

  • [][][]
    EJ
    April 2, 2013
    2:54 pm
    “It is precisely because humans did not create DNA, which makes it such a convincing example of intelligent design.”
    [][][]

    In other words, the fact that DNA was not intelligently designed is what convinces you that it was intelligently designed! Fantastic logic.

  • Kobe B
    March 13, 2013
    12:34 pm

    Just entered this website and noticed this article- interesting. Thought I’d read the comments. BIZARRE. I’ve truly never seen anything like it. There seems to be a guy in a severe OCD state. I didn’t count exactly, but he seems to have posted over THREE HUNDRED COMMENTS. Shouldn’t there be some sort of monitor stopping this type of irrational behavior? The normal rules of behavior are that there is a certain amount of back and forth, and at a reasonable point, someone dominating the soapbox, after making his point (let’s say up to 3 or 4 repetitions), then comes down to give a chance for others to make theirs. Go on any other website and see if you can find such a thing. It’s pushing the limits when someone hits 20-25 comments, but I’d be shocked if you could find a reputable site where they allowed 50. But 300+? That’s the kind of thing that ruins websites, and I’d suggest to the Journal that they step in and have a little talk with the fellow about normal adult behavior.

    • Very imaginative work, EJ.

    • Notice the interesting contrast, EJ.

      I keep repeating questions for the purpose of showing you don’t have the answers. You keep repeating Kobe to show that you also have no imagination and no class. Your blind faith in an unnatural world must be quite a comfort to you.

      I wish you would come up with something interesting to respond to — this is getting very dull.

      • Then go away.

        • Your wish is not my command. But you may pretend I have gone away — by ignoring all my future posts. How difficult could that be?

          • If one were to base ones reaction on the intellectual quality of your posts then they would be easy to ignore.

            Unfortunately, your obsessive smother tactics and your attempts to dominate Rabbi Averick’s column far exceed the bounds of any normal discourse.

            Such behaviour actually constitutes a form of stalking. Ignoring a stalker only encourages them to pursue their agenda with even greater fervour.

            You are living proof that it this is true, but the Rabbi must have his reasons for allowing it.

    • If ad hominem were valid argumentation, you’d have it made. Maybe you can pray for a change.

  • [[|]]
    EJ
    March 23, 2013
    7:02 am
    “Red doesn’t inherently mean stop – it is an intellectually agreed upon system. Similarly, no three nucleotides inherently represent a particular codon (which codes for a particular amino acid) – rather it has all the ear marks of a symbolic coded relationship like we find in ASCII code, stop lights and numerous other places.”
    [[|]]

    This is a misunderstanding regarding DNA. There is no “symbolic coded relationship like we find in ASCII code” in DNA. DNA was not created by people (as ASCII code was). DNA is naturally occurring stuff that cannot possibly have any “symbolic coded relationship” to anything — since it existed long before any intelligence (and therefore symbols) came to exist.

    There is no “intellectually agreed upon system” in DNA because when DNA originated there was nobody around to agree — or disagree — about anything.

    How can you ignore such a basic problem with your “code in DNA” beliefs?

  • So, in the story of “code in DNA,” what part plays the “Enigma” role, and what part plays “Ultra”?

  • I am curious about the slow moderation on this blog. Surely it is not due massive numbers of comments that are getting rejected ….

    • Perhaps it has escaped your attention Steve, but this article was first posted in January. We are now in April. There is nobody else here but you and I.

      Normal people obviously have better things to do than monitor your obsession.

      Still, since you raised the issue, how about speeding things up by limiting the allowed number of posts per person?

      • Science has more staying power than you are giving it credit for. It is not going to disappear in three months.

        On the other hand, no symbolic code is going to show up in DNA just because people believe in God.

  • \\|//
    EJ
    April 2, 2013
    2:54 pm
    “Is that really your argument?”
    //|\\

    Just pointing out some relevant facts.

    You’ve got to have life before you can have code, not vice versa. (This “Dead God” nonsense is really unbelievable.)

    • The Living God of Isreal, God is not dead. On the contrary, true to His Name, He is very much alive.

      You exist because He desired it and He has a purpose for you. If you would open your heart and give Him the chance to do so, He would reveal Himself to you.

      Look at it as an experiment. The only condition is that you are open, honest and unbiased in your search.

      • The problem, naturally, is the logical impossibility of God being already alive before He created life. So you cannot reasonably believe that God is alive if you believe that God created life.

        You have put yourself into a hole that can only be handled by blind faith, and faith is not a reasonable argument for anything (not even for some miraculous “supernatural version” of life).

        So the question is: why do you keep saying things, when blind faith is more suitable for use in silent solitude? (You could even imagine sending yourself coded messages nobody else could understand.)

        []“… reveal Himself … in your search.”

        What exactly do you propose should be the object of this search? That’s a problem with God: there’s nothing in particular to look for.

      • []“The Living God of Isreal,…”[]

        Clever name. You could call it the “Is Real By Nomination Argument” for the existence of God.

        • “Oh, ye infidel philosophers, teach me how to find joy in sorrow, strength in weakness, and light in darkest days; how to bear buffeting and scorn; how to welcome death, and to pass through it into the sphere of life, and this not for me only, but for the whole world that groans and travails in pain; and till you can do this, speak not to me of a better revelation than the Bible”.
          Henry Ward Beecher

          • There might not be a “better revelation than the Bible,” but revelation is merely a matter of blind faith — it has no cognitive function or component. “Revelation” is useless for understanding (and argumentation).

  • []“DNA uses four different chemicals to code for the proper sequence of amino acids to build functional proteins. It’s similar (although more advanced) than the binary system used in computers to store, process and transmit information.”[]

    DNA is not like a computer system. Computers were intelligently designed — DNA wasn’t.

  • [{}]
    EJ
    March 23, 2013
    7:02 am
    “… the coded system of DNA.”
    [{}]

    This is a misnomer. DNA is NOT a “coded system.” For one thing, there was nobody around to create any code, since humans had not yet evolved when DNA originated. For another thing, there was nobody around to decode any messages or follow any instructions.

    The notion of “code in DNA” is quite a misconception.

    • Is that really your argument?

      Of course humans didn’t program DNA. That is the whole point, Steve.

      Is it merely coincidence that DNA, digital data and human language all follow the same rules?

      Is it simply happenstance that DNA comprises an overarching framework of logic which allows one form of data to be transformed into another and back again, all without losing specific meanings?

      All the while processing mind boggling amounts of information, at incredible speed, on the molecular level?

      It is precisely because humans did not create DNA, which makes it such a convincing example of intelligent design.

      That which you so desperately deny, inescapably indicates that this logical framework, which is not a human-created concept but a set of precepts which existed prior to, and now exists independently of, both humans and DNA, is the result of programming. In other words, intelligent design.

      Your line of reasoning, if one can call it that, is absurd. Nevertheless, I suppose when one feels compelled to defend from such an extremely weak position, turning the argument on its head does have a certain appeal as the last defence of the desperate.

      By way of an answer, please feel free to now post 20 separate repetitions of the same old phrases you always use over and over. Funny stuff!

      Kobe B is watching you, Steve.

      • [][]“It is precisely because humans did not create DNA, which makes it such a convincing example of intelligent design.”[][]

        In other words, the fact that DNA was not intelligently designed is what convinces you that it was intelligently designed! Fantastic logic.

      • [[]]“… not a human-created concept …. In other words, intelligent design.”[[]]

        So your belief is that there is some sort of unreal Supernatural Being that is miraculously intelligent — and for some strange reason created life as we know it (out of nothing).

        That notion is clearly absurd — but there is some tradition of believing it precisely because it is absurd. Believing in “Creation, by God!” is an exercise in blind faith. Trying to turn science upside down by claiming that it supports belief in a Supernatural “IDOL” is never, no matter how often you repeat the same old fluff, going to work.

      • {{}}”Kobe B is watching you, Steve.”{{}}

        He may be pretending to watch, but he is clearly not paying attention. It might be interesting if he did ….

      • [{}]“Is it merely coincidence that DNA, digital data and human language all follow the same rules?”[{}]

        Not exactly.

        It is not a “coincidence” because that is not the way it happens in real life.

        • DNA and human language don’t follow the same rules — and Google wasn’t around to help God create either DNA or language, or any rules of any sort about anything.

          You “IDOL” believers are such a hoot.

      • []“… now post 20 …”[]

        You may have to settle for half a dozen — even though you don’t have a reasonable response to any of them.

      • Hey Stoddard

        01011001011011110111010100100000011010000110000101110110011001010010000001100111011011110111010000100000011101000110111100100000011000100110010100100000011011110110111001100101001000000110111101100110001000000111010001101000011001010010000001100100011101010110110101100010011001010111001101110100001000000111010001110010011011110110110001101100011100110010000001101111011011100010000001110100011010000110010100100000010010010110111001110100011001010111001001101110011001010111010000101110

        Sorry but that’s what you are.

        • Whom are you trying to kid, Rex?

        • Face it, Rex, the notion that cells could have googled code converters is one of your dumbest yet. Time to stop kidding yourself.

          010100100110010101100001011011000110110001111001
          00100001

        • Code converters!?! That’s cheating.
          You’ve just proven to us all that you can’t translate binary without the help of a computer and therefore you don’t understand even the basics of cellular DNA translation into proteins.

          You argue from ignorance and it’s obvious in your vapid comments.

          • So your story, Rex, is that cells can translate code in their heads?! Or maybe with paper and pencil?

            Maybe you believe that cells are just little “computers by God” (instead of by HP) that do decoding by some magical electro-chemical process.

            But why, pray tell, would God need a computer (even a really tiny one)?

            If you believe that DNA was intelligently designed, then you are kidding yourself about how DNA actually functions in the world.

      • Try this for readability:

        0101100101101111011101010010000001101000
        0110000101110110011001010010000001100111
        0110111101110100001000000111010001101111
        0010000001100010011001010010000001101111
        0110111001100101001000000110111101100110
        0010000001110100011010000110010100100000
        0110010001110101011011010110001001100101
        0111001101110100001000000111010001110010
        0110111101101100011011000111001100100000
        0110111101101110001000000111010001101000
        0110010100100000010010010110111001110100
        0110010101110010011011100110010101110100
        00101110

        BTW if you do translate it, you’ll have used the same decoding method of the binary that is used by the cell in gene expression.

        • In your unnatural worldview, why do those cells need to use code, anyhow? Who is the enemy they are trying to deceive?

        • The habit of calling somebody a “troll” when you cannot handle the argument is lame, almost as lame as calling things “supernatural” when you cannot reasonably explain them — as if you were operating on blind faith and nothing else.

  • {[]}
    EJ
    March 23, 2013
    7:02 am
    “Hydrogen, Oxygen and other elements, on the other hand, are not coded systems.”
    {[]}

    DNA is in precisely the same boat. DNA is not a coded system.

    Water and DNA are naturally occurring substances which existed before intelligence ever did. Check the natural history.

  • [[]]
    EJ
    March 23, 2013
    7:02 am
    “Red doesn’t inherently mean stop – it is an intellectually agreed upon system. Similarly, no three nucleotides inherently represent a particular codon (which codes for a particular amino acid) – rather it has all the ear marks of a symbolic coded relationship like we find in ASCII code, stop lights and numerous other places.”
    [[]]

    This is a misunderstanding regarding DNA. There is no “symbolic coded relationship like we find in ASCII code” in DNA. DNA was not created by people (as ASCII code was). DNA is naturally occurring stuff that cannot possibly have any “symbolic coded relationship” to anything — since it existed long before any intelligence (and therefore symbols) came to exist.

    There is no “intellectually agreed upon system” in DNA because when DNA originated there was nobody around to agree — or disagree — about anything.

    How can you ignore such a basic problem with your “code in DNA” beliefs?

  • ><
    EJ
    March 10, 2013
    11:08 am
    “In the course of following the Rabbi’s columns, I have read enough specific argumentation on DNA …”
    ><

    Can you specify the particular columns that you have in mind? You have been rather vague, so far, and Rabbi Averick has not ever made a sound case for there being literal code in DNA.

    • Can you say “OCD state”?

    • You mean something like this discourse which was directed directly to you, Steve?

      It’s simple Steve – DNA uses four different chemicals to code for the proper sequence of amino acids to build functional proteins. It’s similar (although more advanced) than the binary system used in computers to store, process and transmit information.
      There are two main features of DNA that need to be noted. One is codons – this is the symbolic relationship created between a sequence of three nucleotides (the four chemicals I mentioned above) and an amino acid (or a stop or start sequence).
      There is no chemical or physical property which determines this relationship – it is similar to how red means stop and green means go. Red doesn’t inherently mean stop – it is an intellectually agreed upon system. Similarly, no three nucleotides inherently represent a particular codon (which codes for a particular amino acid) – rather it has all the ear marks of a symbolic coded relationship like we find in ASCII code, stop lights and numerous other places.
      Furthermore, there is the actual sequence of the nucleotides which determine the order of the amino acids (which determine the particular protein to be used). This is similar to the sequence of ones and zeros on a hard drive which save a document or file on a computer.
      It’s the proper sequence that creates the necessary information for the system to work – just like it is the proper sequence of ones and zeros which determines whether or not my document is saved and retrievable or not.
      Hydrogen, Oxygen and other elements, on the other hand, are not coded system. They are created by a rather incredible system known as the atom – and the particular element is determined by the number of protons in the nucleus, but while quite ingenious it is not a coded system.
      To put it all together – elements like hydrogen and oxygen (as well as carbon and nitrogen) are atoms which are used to form molecules. Molecules are then able to do a variety of functions.
      For instance, one type of molecule is an amino acid. String together the right amino acids in the right order and you have a functional protein. The wrong amino acids or the right ones in the wrong order and you don’t have a functional protein.
      No functional proteins – no life.
      Another type of molecule is a nucleotide. Nucleotides are used in a coded system to direct the sequencing of amino acids.
      So, in short – you have atoms which form molecules. And molecules which are used in more complicated systems – including (but not limited to) the coded system of DNA.
      In terms of ‘pre-existing natural elements’. All the elements that you refer to – all those atoms, are not thought to have existed at the very beginning (i.e., according to modern science).
      Atoms are organized structures consisting of elements (such as protons and electrons) and forces (such as the electromagnetic force). Originally, though, at the moment of the Big Bang, there was only energy – enough energy to briefly create the basic building blocks of atoms.
      So at the moment of the Big Bang, all there was was energy – no natural elements, not even atoms. In fact, not even the elements or atoms and not even the sub-atomic particles that make up those elements.

      • {{}}
        “Furthermore, there is the actual sequence of the nucleotides which determine the order of the amino acids (which determine the particular protein to be used). This is similar to the sequence of ones and zeros on a hard drive which save a document or file on a computer.
        It’s the proper sequence that creates the necessary information for the system to work – just like it is the proper sequence of ones and zeros which determines whether or not my document is saved and retrievable or not.”

        {{}}

        You have made a rough analogy between “protein” and “document,” but it is erroneous to take it literally.

        Documents are created by people. Proteins — back in the day (i.e., before people evolved) were not created by anybody. Documents don’t “just happen.” Proteins did “just happen.”

        Life is not a hard drive.

    • Either you are living in a serious state of cognitive dissonance and denial, or else you are simply a liar.

      Regardless of the cause for your non-factual assertions and selective memory, the result is still the same.

      You have no credibility, Steve.

      • That probably rates as a compliment, coming from you (with your unnatural beliefs). If “God’s Word” is your standard of “credibility,” then I certainly don’t cut any mustard in that realm.

  • Complex does not mean “unnatural.”

    Complexity does not equate to “information.”

    • Kobe B wrote:
      Just entered this website and noticed this article- interesting. Thought I’d read the comments. BIZARRE. I’ve truly never seen anything like it. There seems to be a guy in a severe OCD state. I didn’t count exactly, but he seems to have posted over THREE HUNDRED COMMENTS. Shouldn’t there be some sort of monitor stopping this type of irrational behavior? The normal rules of behavior are that there is a certain amount of back and forth, and at a reasonable point, someone dominating the soapbox, after making his point (let’s say up to 3 or 4 repetitions), then comes down to give a chance for others to make theirs. Go on any other website and see if you can find such a thing. It’s pushing the limits when someone hits 20-25 comments, but I’d be shocked if you could find a reputable site where they allowed 50. But 300+? That’s the kind of thing that ruins websites, and I’d suggest to the Journal that they step in and have a little talk with the fellow about normal adult behavior.

  • A couple of points to remember in case the Rabbi comes back to his “IDOL” theory.

    The “genetic code” of DNA does not contain messages or convey information. To put the point in such a way as to highlight the ambiguity: there is no code in the genetic code.

    The “supernatural” is essentially unreal, non-existent, pure fantasy. “Creation, by God!” doesn’t explain the origin of life — it doesn’t explain anything. It it simply a way of saying: “I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.”

    • Nature is real, and the supernatural is fanciful. There is no way to come up with a sound argument to the contrary on either point. Try it and see.

      • Nobody has ever made a case that there is literal code in the “genetic code.” It is an arbitrary religious postulate that life requires the prior existence of information.

        • Even though a monk may have taken the first steps toward understanding genetics, it wasn’t the Pope who discovered genetic code, Steve.

          In case this has missed your attention, it was brilliant biochemists such as Nierenberg, Watson and Crick who saw the need to apply terms such as codons and genetic code.

          Is this really so difficult to grasp?

    • Paul Sternberg

      Its been said many times, but you argue from unsubstantiated premises. You DEFINE “supernatural” out of existence as a cause, on the assumptions that definition = reality. At the same time, and as stated in Rabbi Averick’s article, you embrace as cause a statistically improbable event – a miracle – because you define it as the ONLY possibility.

      God, by definition and revelation, is capable of performing miracles.

      If scientists have an aversion to God because of miracles, why have they embraced a system of belief that is dependent on a miracle?

      If Occam’s razor states that the simplest of two explanations is the most likely, then I will choose the miracle of Intelligent Design – which IS capable of explaining the complexity of life – over the materialist miracle that leaves in its wake an unending string of “miracles” necessary to accomplish what we see and experience in life.

      • [][]“God, by definition and revelation, is capable of performing miracles.”[][]

        That’s the story.

        But it is only a story, since miracles, by definition, are not anything that happens in reality.

        Defining God as not part of nature is accurate, since God is a fictional character. “Creation, by God!” is not “statistically improbable” (or even “probable”) but literally impossible.

        The miracle of “something from nothing” is fantasy, not reality. Offering nothing but a choice of miracles is unrealistic.

  • []
    David Bump
    March 14, 2013
    12:04 am
    “To then say that there couldn’t possibly be anything supernatural is clearly anti-knowledge.”
    []

    Since the notion of “the supernatural” is anti-knowledge/anti-reality as such, then it is clearly “pro-knowledge” to point out that there couldn’t possibly be anything supernatural in the first place.

  • []-[]
    EJ
    March 10, 2013
    9:56 am
    The tolerances of the physical properties that permit the appearance of life are very small.
    []-[]

    The correct way to approach this issue is to look at the facts — rather than lazily imagine supernatural “tolerances.”

    The notion that the universe was designed to carry out certain functions within specific tolerances is pure religious mumbo-jumbo. There is nothing reasonable about such a notion. That is, there are no empirical or logical components to such a notion.

    You are imagining the unrealistic idea of a supernatural designer — and then trying to interpret the universe as if that imaginary designer were real.

    • Since when did you start looking at the “facts”, Steve?

      You obviously wouldn’t know a fact if it hit you in the head, much less acknowledge it, unless it verified your narrow minded, radical atheistic belief system.

  • Just entered this website and noticed this article- interesting. Thought I’d read the comments. BIZARRE. I’ve truly never seen anything like it. There seems to be a guy in a severe OCD state. I didn’t count exactly, but he seems to have posted over THREE HUNDRED COMMENTS. Shouldn’t there be some sort of monitor stopping this type of irrational behavior? The normal rules of behavior are that there is a certain amount of back and forth, and at a reasonable point, someone dominating the soapbox, after making his point (let’s say up to 3 or 4 repetitions), then comes down to give a chance for others to make theirs. Go on any other website and see if you can find such a thing. It’s pushing the limits when someone hits 20-25 comments, but I’d be shocked if you could find a reputable site where they allowed 50. But 300+? That’s the kind of thing that ruins websites, and I’d suggest to the Journal that they step in and have a little talk with the fellow about normal adult behavior.

  • Consider this pronouncement by Rabbi Averick from the article:

    In other words, Mayr, Crick, Popper, and Monod do not describe the origin of life as being “almost a miracle” based on philosophical considerations. Their conclusions are reasoned, logical, scientific statements based on examination of the available evidence.

    It is false to say that reasoned “examination of the available evidence” logically leads to the conclusion that life is “almost a miracle.” In fact, there is not a shred of evidence that anything in all the world is a miracle — not even almost.

    Belief in miracles to any degree is merely a matter of blind (i.e., religious) faith — the opposite of a reasoned, logical conclusion.

    The supernatural is not a possibility — not ever, not for anything. It’s just not there.

    • You misunderstand, Mr. Stoddard, for “almost a miracle” is not Rabbi Averick’s invention, but Francis Crick’s. The Rabbi was merely pointing out the contrast between the conclusion of some researchers that the origin of life was extremely unlikely and those who feel that it was so likely as to be inevitable.

      You seem to be missing the whole point of the article — all the research, logic, mathematical calculations of probability, and examination of the evidence of conditions on earth and physical processes assumed to be homologous throughout the universe indicate that natural forces do not even begin to assemble anything approaching the dynamic organized complexity of a wind-up toy, let alone a living thing, under any conditions apart from pre-existing life. It is only blind faith that makes people believe that life arose spontaneously, and it’s about time someone started pointing that out.

      Likewise, “The supernatural is not a possibility — not ever, not for anything. It’s just not there.” is also merely a statement of faith, especially in this age when we recognize that ordinary light is both wave and particle, physics has backed up things Einstein found too spooky for comfort, astrophysicists acknowledge the universe had a beginning, Black Holes have an event horizon, most of the universe is now believed to be made of forms of “Dark” energy and matter we know nothing about except without them, observations of the universe don’t make sense — and some argue that our universe is merely part of an indefinitely large, possibly eternal super-universe. To then say that there couldn’t possibly be anything supernatural is clearly anti-knowledge.

      • It is not blind faith to accept that there are some things we understand, and some things we don’t.

        The blind (i.e., religious) faith comes in when you declare that you don’t understand something because it is a miracle!

        It is not blind faith to understand that life is natural — and we don’t know everything about it. Blind faith arises when you declare that “life is not natural!”

      • []“To then say that there couldn’t possibly be anything supernatural is clearly anti-knowledge.”[]

        My position is that science is pro-knowledge, and it is religion/supernaturalism that is anti-knowledge.

        Watson has it right (as quoted by another poster): ‘In 2003, Watson spoke at Youngstown State University and was asked by one student, “So you don’t believe in God?” The scientist answered, “Oh no, absolutely not. The biggest advantage to believing in God is you don’t have to understand anything, no physics, no biology. I wanted to understand.”’

      • []“… natural forces do not even begin to assemble anything approaching the dynamic organized complexity of a wind-up toy, let alone a living thing,…”[]

        It is a rather basic observation of the world around us that natural forces resulted in the existence of life — and that subsequently, humans assembled wind-up toys.

        Humans and the rest of nature have been observed. The “supernatural” has never been observed — and never will be, since it is only fiction.

        • Paul Sternberg

          The supernatural has never been observed?

          from 1 Corinthians 15:

          3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

          Paul’s inclusion of the phrase “according to the scriptures” means that Jesus death and resurrection fulfilled prophecy recorded at least 500 years prior to the event and saved in the Jewish writings. He personally lists himself and others known to his readers as witnesses.

          and from John 11:

          17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.. .

          38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

          “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

          40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

          41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

          43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

          Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
          The Plot to Kill Jesus

          45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.”

          These things happened historically and within the lifetimes of those who witnessed the events. They are better attested historically than any other event of the time period or before. You can make the claim now that these things did not happen, but at the time the witnesses recorded and told the stories, you could not refute their witness. You can say that the stories were fabricated, but I could just as well say that you are the expression of someone else’s imagination – after all, who is Steve Stoddard and does he actually exist? I can only rely on witnesses who will say that you are who you are.

          • []“The supernatural has never been observed?”[]

            Correct: never.

            Claiming that something is “supernatural” is simply another way of claiming it to be “unobservable” — in the sense of imaginary.

      • []“The Rabbi was merely pointing out the contrast between the conclusion of some researchers that the origin of life was extremely unlikely and those who feel that it was so likely as to be inevitable.”[]

        While that contrast is interesting, the huge fact the Rabbi ignores is that no matter how likely or unlikely anybody figures life to have been at any time, life is still 100% natural in any case. A supernatural origin for life is an impossibility.

        Life is necessarily a natural occurrence. There is no actual, reasonable, logical alternative. The supernatural is pure fantasy.

  • Regarding the physical/chemical/biological composition of DNA, there are two possibilities:

    1) There is no code in DNA. Chemical composition is not the same thing as code.

    2) If there is a structure that may reasonably be called “code,” then it arose entirely in the absence of intention-consciousness-life. (In other words, it is not code in the sense of a message in need of decoding or understanding.)

    • The notion of a non-living, supernatural Coder/Creator of life is nonsense of a high order. There is nothing in reality like that.

      • Francis Crick and James Watson are the co-discoverers of the thread-like DNA molecule. Crick described himself as agnostic, with a “strong inclination towards atheism”. In 2003, Watson spoke at Youngstown State University and was asked by one student, “So you don’t believe in God?” The scientist answered, “Oh no, absolutely not. The biggest advantage to believing in God is you don’t have to understand anything, no physics, no biology. I wanted to understand.”

        Yet thousands of years ago the psalmist wrote: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139: 13;16). The phrase “you knit me together” anticipates that we are literally knitted or woven together at the molecular level.

        • Crick wanted to understand. The psalmist wanted to fantasize. Now the “creationists,” e.g., Rabbi Avervick with his “IDOL, wish to continue the psalmist tradition of fantasy in place of understanding.

          The only logical theory for how life could have been “knitted together” is to postulate an unliving Supernatural Knitter. In other words, you would have to believe in something impossible — you would have to substitute blind faith for understanding.

          God is fiction. Life is real.

        • In 2003, Watson spoke at Youngstown State University and was asked by one student, “So you don’t believe in God?” The scientist answered, “Oh no, absolutely not. The biggest advantage to believing in God is you don’t have to understand anything, no physics, no biology. I wanted to understand.”

          Okay, that was Watson, not Crick, who made the quoted statement.

          Would Crick agree? At any rate, Watson has the right idea.

  • [][]
    EJ
    March 10, 2013
    9:56 am
    “The tolerances of the physical properties that permit the appearance of life are very small.”
    [][]

    You need to look at the facts — not imagine supernatural “tolerances.”

    The notion that the universe was designed to carry out certain functions within specific tolerances is pure religious mumbo-jumbo. There is nothing reasonable about such a notion. That is, there are no empirical or logical components to such a notion.

    You are imagining the unrealistic idea of a supernatural designer — and then trying to interpret the universe as it that imaginary designer were real.

  • [][]
    EJ
    March 9, 2013
    3:32 pm
    … the tolerance of the scientific community for just-so stories”…. Lewontin himself explains when he say, “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door”.
    [][]

    If you have a real door, you can open it as wide as you like, for a long as you want, and you will never get a “Divine Foot” to come through — since there aren’t actually any such feet.

    You could pass a law forcing everyone to “allow a Divine Foot in the door,” and still no Divine Foot would show up. “Divine” is fiction.

  • [][]
    EJ
    March 10, 2013
    9:56 am
    “… since [the universe] could have [been] different perhaps the fact that it is as it is significant.”
    [][]

    I think the “crazy arrogance” applies to the belief that before life arose “the universe could have been different.”

    There is no evidence that it could have been different. There is no logic in the belief that it could have been different. The belief that it could have been different is simply pure fantasy, an article of blind faith.

    Your starting assumption is that since God The Miracle Worker created the universe, He could have done it any way He felt like (either the way it is, or some different way). That assumption is baseless; it is cognitively empty.

    The simple logical error you are making is that you are anthropomorphizing the universe. You are trying to assign volition where there isn’t any volition.

    Imagination can be a lot of fun, but in real life there is absolutely no alternative to the universe. The universe is “the universe as it is” — it couldn’t possibly be any different (because there were no choices involved in how it works).

  • EJ, I hope you’re learning a valuable lesson. Trying to reason with Stoddard is like trying to explain why 1 + 1 = 2 to a 2 year-old; it’s simple to you and me but the child just can’t comprehend even the basics. Instead of offering sound reason – which he says he has but there’s no evidence of it – Steve is reduced to repeating himself and replying to his own comments. He no doubt thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room. Pathetic really; even tragic yet entertaining to a degree.

    • You should put your money where your mouth is, Rex, and make an attempt at explaining why you think that science proves the supernatural, i.e., why you feel that science must be a self-contradictory institution.

      How do you explain the religious notion that 1+1=3? To a 2 year-old, or a 40 year-old?

      How can you believe the groundless notion that there is actual code, like Morse Code (or even like Latin), in DNA?

    • Rex, you and EJ (just to mention two), make yoeman’s work out of trying to be nasty to dissenters from the “IDOL” worship around here, but you can’t argue your way out of a wet paper bag.

      All you’ve got is blind faith, and that doesn’t do the job (though you may never notice the failure).

    • Are you paying any attention, Rex, or are you just blindly typing?

      How is “1+1=2″ supposed to be related to “God Created The Universe”?

  • [{}]
    Moshe Averick
    August 25, 2011
    10:17 am
    “… it is clear to me that the eminently reasonable conclusion, beyond reasonable doubt is that life is the result of a an intelligent Creator who is necessarily outside of the physical universe.

    “For a comprehensive treatment of the science and the philosophy behind this, please see my book.”
    [{}]

    There is an example of Rabbi Averick staking his claim to a distortion of science — making the absurd declaration that it is reasonable to believe in the fantasy of “an intelligent Creator who is necessarily outside of the physical universe.”

    • Rabbi Averick wrote: “In other words, these scientists have made it incontrovertibly clear that all the steps that are necessary for the emergence of life require the conscious and direct involvement of an active, guiding, and highly intelligent force.”

      That is a grotesque misrepresentation and misdirection regarding science. There is absolutely no science whatsoever which shows that life requires a supernatural creator. Rabbi Averick is engaging in pure fantasy.

      • Speaking of past articles:

        ><
        EJ
        March 10, 2013
        11:08 am
        “In the course of following the Rabbi’s columns, I have read enough specific argumentation on DNA …”
        ><

        Can you specify the particular columns that you have in mind? You have been rather vague, so far.

  • []
    EJ
    March 9, 2013
    1:03 pm
    “How often will Stoddard repeat himself?”
    []

    Don’t hold your breath waiting to find out. You might get some kind of “being smothered” feeling.

    I wouldn’t even hold my breath waiting for Rabbi Averick to stop repeating his “IDOL” theory.

  • [[]]
    EJ
    March 9, 2013
    12:19 pm
    “As far as shutting up and believing goes,…”
    [[]]

    Sounds like you must still be feeling smothered. You should get out and get some fresh air. (Maybe go look for a comet.)

  • [[]]
    EJ
    March 9, 2013
    3:35 pm
    Using terminology such as the “known facts” …
    [[]]

    The world is full of facts. Some of them we know — most of them we don’t know.

    Everything we do actually know (and can possibly know, for that matter) pertains to some aspect of nature. There is nothing to know about “the supernatural,” except that it is purely imaginary (and that you can imagine it to be anything you feel like).

  • [[]]
    EJ
    March 5, 2013
    11:20 am
    “So you are implying that you are in favour of religious freedom?”
    [[]]

    Do you understand what religious freedom means, EJ?

    Do you feel that it means being free to either agree with you or else shut up?

    • On the one hand you say things like, “humanity should leave religion behind. Religion is not a reasonable approach to life” while ridiculing the Rabbi for his beliefs.

      You attack him relentlessly for pointing out the inadequacy of the position of those who would use science to attack religious people and their beliefs.

      Based on your actions, how else would you expect one to understand your definition of “religious freedom”?

      • Well, EJ, I don’t agree with you on the “IDOL” theory — and I’m not going to shut up, either.

        Freedom of religion means freedom from interference, suppression or punitive action by the government—and that’s basically it. It means that the government cannot establish or dictate any religion — and includes the freedom not to agree, not to listen and not to support one’s own antagonists.

        It entails the freedom to advocate one’s views and to bear the possible consequences, including disagreement with others, opposition, unpopularity and lack of support.

        That the “IDOL” theory doesn’t have much support is not a problem from religious freedom perspective.

      • {{}}On the one hand you say things like, “humanity should leave religion behind. Religion is not a reasonable approach to life” …{{}}

        Correct. And on the other hand, I point out that science does not support religion, that there is no scientific connection to be made between nature and “the supernatural”. As part of that thread, I point out the illogic of believing that “there is code in DNA” — since before there was DNA, there was nobody around to code (or decode) anything.


      • EJ
        March 10, 2013
        10:57 am
        “You attack [Rabbi Averick] relentlessly for pointing out the inadequacy of the position of those who would use science to attack religious people and their beliefs.”

        You have really missed the boat, EJ.

        I am not disagreeing with Rabbi Averick on the issue of “those who would use science to attack religious people and their beliefs.” That is not the job of science.

        What I disagree with Rabbi Averick about (and I’m sorry you missed it) is his assertion that science supports belief in his “IDOL.”

        Since science studies nature, it cannot touch “the supernatural” at all, not one way or the other.

      • I like Craig Biddle’s attitude: “There is a God and He is the Geeks.” (I saw this on Facebook, but I don’t know how to link to it.)

  • [[]]
    EJ
    March 7, 2013
    4:14 pm
    “You have an opinion.”
    [[]]

    You shouldn’t let it bother you. You, too, can have an opinion. Many people do.

    In fact, it would be interesting to hear some argumentation from you if you disagree with my opinions on the subjects of “the supernatural,” “code in DNA,” etc. We know that you don’t like my having an opinion differing from yours, but we don’t hear you offering arguments in support of your positions.

    You keep ranting, and I keep repeating my attempts to get you to engage in a discussion. You keep avoiding argumentation, and just keep on ranting rather incoherently. You are not taking advantage of the opportunity this forum presents. (You are more like Rex on that score; at least Rabbi Averick tends to keep silent when he doesn’t have the arguments to counter criticism of his articles.)

    You can claim “there’s code in DNA!” until the cows come home, but that will never make it so. Fantasy doesn’t trump reality.

    • Just another example of how you either live in sublime denial or are simply a liar.

      In the course of following the Rabbi’s columns, I have read enough specific argumentation on DNA (sadly wasted) directed to you personally to fill several pages in a word document.

      You have no credibility, Steve.

      • {}“In the course of following the Rabbi’s columns, I have read enough specific argumentation on DNA …”{}

        Some specific examples, please.

        Maybe I missed something. Or . . . .

      • ___
        EJ
        March 10, 2013
        11:08 am
        “You have no credibility, Steve.”
        ^^^

        Darn, a theist doesn’t believe in me. Life can really throw you a hard curve once in a while.

      • Googling “Averick DNA” doesn’t get much, but I did find this related idea:

        “[Scientists] argue for design because we know from experience that systems possessing these features invariably arise from intelligent causes…. So, the discovery of information in the DNA molecule provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a role in the origin of DNA,…” (from Stephen C. Meyer)

        Notice the faulty logic of claiming to INFER “intelligent causation” in spite of claiming to already know that it is INVARIABLY the case.

        The big problem, of course, is the claim that there is information in DNA. There isn’t.

        “Stuff” is not invariably “coded information.” There is a significant distinction to be made.

  • [[|]]
    Moshe Averick
    January 29, 2013
    1:07 am
    “… it is not ignorance which leads us to conclude that a bacterium is the result of intelligent causation. We know exactly what is the cause of functional complexity and specified information: Intelligence.”
    [[|]]

    It is blind faith (rather than ignorance) which lead someone to conclude that life is the result of intelligent causation.

    Rabbi Averick has made an illogical connection between “life” and “specified information.” There was no specified information involved in the origin of life because intelligence did not develop until AFTER life arose.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

    First there was life, THEN there was intelligence. Not the other way around. Rabbi Averick has it backwards.

    Perhaps the point of the “IDOL” believers could be made thusly: “Therefore it is willful ignorance, under the cover of blind faith, which leads us to conclude that a bacterium is the result of intelligent causation.

    • Some follow up:

      The notion of an “Intelligent Designer Of Life” does not fit any know facts. Indeed, the proposition is a contradictory of known facts.

      • Assuming that were you indeed willing to consider the facts, one must still ask the question as to what facts you could possibly be referring to.

        For example, do you mean the specific complexity of the minute machinery which is revealed at the most elemental levels of life? That would seem to be a rather compelling argument for intelligent design, as you well know.

        Or do you mean the fact that militant atheism is more than happy to misrepresent and misdirect science in order to further its agenda?

        Even in your righteous anger, it surely hasn’t escaped your attention that demonstrating the fallacy of that position is precisely what Rabbi Averick’s articles are all about.

        Doing that job quite well, one might add, if the level of your obvious irritation is any indication of their effectiveness.

        The question that actually needs to be asked here is, “Why is someone who is so obviously comfortable hiding behind a smoke screen of scientific pretensions, pretending to be uncomfortable with alledged contradictions”?

        As Richard Lewontin admits, “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for just-so stories”.

        Why is that? Lewontin himself explains when he say, “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door”.

        That you choose to disagree with Rabbi Averick is your prerogative, but just-so stories and simplistic naturalism doesn’t justify your incessant and repetitious droning.

        • Some follow up:

          Using terminology such as the “known facts” implies you are possession of them. Based upon the sample of your thoughts posted here (of which there is no small amount) one would not be judged hasty in questioning that assumption.

          • []
            EJ
            March 9, 2013
            3:32 pm
            “Assuming that were you indeed willing to consider the facts,..”
            []

            That is the correct assumption. Facts count in cognition, fantasies don’t.

            That is, nature is the subject of science. The “supernatural” doesn’t make the grade.

        • {{}}
          EJ
          March 9, 2013
          3:32 pm
          “… the specific complexity of the minute machinery which is revealed at the most elemental levels of life … would seem to be a rather compelling argument for intelligent design,…”
          {{}}

          While it might seem to you to be a “compelling argument for intelligent design,” it is really no such thing. You might as well argue that it is a “rather compelling argument for square circles.”

          COMPLEXITY of any sort is NOT a compelling argument for the existence of some supernatural intelligence. There is no way to get from anything found in nature to “the supernatural.” Nature gets you nature, period.

          The argument that “the complexity of intelligence shows that intelligence was intelligently designed” is self-contradictory. Your claim is that “there was intelligence before there was intelligence!”

        • []Lewontin himself explains when he say, “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door”.[]

          If there were a “Divine Foot,” it would certainly be able to get in the door. The problem, naturally, is that Divine Beings are fictional — so real doors have no relevance to them.

          You can open as many doors as you wish, as wide open as you wish, and you will never be able to let any “Divine Foot in the door” because there aren’t any such feet.

          You may open your door to the “Divine,” but there is nothing there.

          You can imagine God coming through your door, but it is not going to happen in real life. Try it.

        • [[]]As Richard Lewontin admits, “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for just-so stories”.[[]]

          The fact that some scientists don’t do science very well sometimes — or that some are even religious into the bargain — is no reason to refuse to take the side of science. Trying to replace science with faith is a serious dead end.

        • []“… simplistic naturalism …”[]

          Nature is not as simple as your faith requires. Wishing won’t make it so.

        • []“Or do you mean the fact that militant atheism is more than happy to misrepresent and misdirect science in order to further its agenda?”[]

          Whether it is the “Discovery Institute” or the “Atheist Institute” that is misrepresenting science, it is a terrible thing to do in any case.

          The notion that anything in science supports a belief in “Supernatural Design” is a gross distortion. Life has to be natural; there simply isn’t any alternative.

    • The only conceptual category that an “Intelligent Designer Of Life” could fit would be: the supernatural. And the supernatural is utterly fantastic. There is nothing the slightest bit real about it; it is really far out fiction.

    • How often will Stoddard repeat himself? The world must surely be standing with baited breath awaiting the answer to this world shaking question. No? Oh well…

      When you speak of result, you speak of cause, and you can’t explain where a bacterium came from with any more certainty than the Rabbi. Less, actually, since your faith is far blinder.

      Furthermore you can’t explain why it should be there at all. You have no pre-eminent alternative to provide us, only your pretensions and your obsessive militant atheism. That is ok, but it doesn’t prove the Rabbi wrong.

      • {{}}
        EJ
        March 9, 2013
        1:03 pm
        “… you can’t explain where a bacterium came from …”
        {{}}

        No, I certainly cannot. So what?

        Why do you imagine that to be a problem? (Especially a problem in need of a religious cure???)

      • [[]]“… atheism …. doesn’t prove the Rabbi wrong.[[]]

        Of course it doesn’t. Rabbi Averick’s self-contradictory “IDOL” theory is what proves him wrong. Contradictions are funny that way.

      • []
        EJ
        March 9, 2013
        1:03 pm
        “… you can’t explain where a bacterium came from …. Furthermore you can’t explain why it should be there at all.”
        []

        Nope, can’t explain it.

        But on what basis do you feel that the question of “why it should be there at all” is a valid inquiry? Why do you think there has to be a reason?

        Why should there be rocks?

  • [[]]
    EJ
    February 21, 2013
    2:19 pm
    “… effectively smothering any opposition in a blizzard of narrow mindedness, suffices to complete the analogy.”
    [[]]

    Nobody is smothering you, EJ. If you feel smothered, you are doing it to yourself.

    And having a mind that works on the straight and narrow is not the vice you imagine it to be.

  • [[]]
    EJ
    February 23, 2013
    2:13 pm
    “… he doesn’t agree with your world view, but at some point such empty contention gets old.”
    [[]]

    Are you sure you are on the right page, EJ?

    It is contentions in favor of the supernatural that are empty — since the supernatural is not anything real.

    On the other hand, contentions that reality makes a difference are substantial (i.e., non-empty) — since reality actually exists.

    You seem to be seeing things backwards.

    • I suppose that is one of the effects of your preference for being faithful rather than listening to reason. It’s a good object lesson.

      • Rabbi Averick articles are very much based upon reason, but that doesn’t stop you from harassing him.

        On the other hand, picking and choosing what you accept as reason, and then lashing out at all that is different, is anything but reasonable.

        Putting a wall around reality by limiting its definition may be an easy way to deal with existential questions, but your world view is still based upon your personal beliefs.

        You have your theories, but they only go so far, and then they stop. Beyond that you are only left with your faith and your beliefs. You can deny it, but it doesn’t change the construction of the human condition.

        Stop attacking the Rabbi simply because he represents an alternative that doesn’t appeal to you.

        • [][]
          EJ
          March 5, 2013
          11:44 am
          “Rabbi Averick articles are very much based upon reason,…”
          [[]]

          No, they are not. They are based on faith in the supernatural — quite the opposite of being based on reason.

          Have you been reading them?

          Rabbi Averick’s “IDOL” theory is based on a fundamental contradiction (viz., that intelligence can exist without life) — not upon reason.

          • You are repeating yourself again, Steve.

            You have an opinion. Good for you, but are you so insecure with your belief system that you feel need to post the same thoughts and over and over and over and over and over and over?

            Isn’t it enough to raise your objections and offer your counter points? Why do you need to dominate the discussion and obliterate any opposing point of view from surfacing under the barrage of your multiple posting techniques and endless repetition?

            If it is as clear as you say it is, then why do you need all the theatrics?

            Who are you trying so hard to convince, us or yourself?

          • [[]]“You are repeating yourself again,…”[[]]

            I certainly do repeat myself. Rabbi Averick repeats himself extensively. I don’t mind it, but since you seem to be bothered by it, perhaps you need to avoid this site (as well, probably, as all other sites with dealing with specific topics).

            Have you ever, by the way, been to a church where they repeatedly talk about God? Or have you avoided that?

        • []
          EJ
          March 5, 2013
          11:44 am
          “Putting a wall around reality by limiting its definition …”
          []

          You cannot effect reality (or “put a wall around reality”) by means of how you define your terms.

          Definitions do not determine reality. When you limit definitions, what you are doing is determining the accuracy (or lack thereof) of your definitions

          Also note that the notion of a “wall around reality” is basically absurd — since such a wall would have to be outside reality (“above and beyond,”
          supernatural,” or whatever), i.e., unreal.

        • [[]]“You have your theories, but they only go so far,…”[[]]

          That’s the way it is with theories — if you want to be reasonable about them. There are lots of different things in the world, and you need different theories about those different things — if you are going to be reasonable about trying to understand them. Trying to make a theory go “too far” (i.e., more than a limited “only so far” as the subject will bear) is a recipe for confusion and ignorance.

        • “… an alternative …”

          EJ, your attitude toward disagreement seems to be: “Shut up and believe!” Sounds like a project to run an inquisition actually appeals to you.

          • If nothing else comes out of our discussions, I suppose I should at least be flattered to note that I have helped you your intellectual horizon, not to mention improve your vocabulary.

            As far as shutting up and believing goes, Steve, it is just another example of how you constantly project your own motives and characteristics upon others.

          • Interestingly, EJ, you are here accusing me of your crime against the discussion. “Shut up and believe” is your attitude, not mine. Your imagination has left the bounds are reality yet again.

          • “bounds of reality”

  • [[]]
    EJ
    February 17, 2013
    1:09 pm
    “Darwinist explanations aren’t adequate to explain the origins of life. The more we know about the complexity of existence, the more weight the argument for a Creator gains.”
    [][]

    The supernaturalist “argument for a Creator” has zero weight, and no amount of “complexity” can give it any more than zero weight.

    It does not matter at all how adequate or inadequate “Darwinist explanations” are. “Creation, by God!” (aka the “Averick IDOL” theory) cannot possibly explain anything, not even a little bit.

    Going “beyond space and time” means going nowhere. You’ve got nothing, and you’re sticking to it. That takes blind (i.e., religious) faith.

  • Check out Rabbi Averick’s mix-up:

    In short, one of the positions taken by Origin of Life researchers as described by Dr. Fry – that life inevitably must emerge from non-life under the right conditions – is an article of faith. The other position, that the emergence of life is “almost a miracle” is a reasoned conclusion based on evidence.

    This is a good example of how Rabbi Averick has got faith and reason exactly backwards. He describes the view based on religious faith, viz., the miracle view, incorrectly as based on reason — while he incorrectly describes the reasonable view, viz., that life is necessarily natural, as an article of faith.

    It is that basic distortion that underlies the fantastic self-contradictory notion of the “Intelligent Designer Of Life.”

  • [[]]
    EJ
    February 23, 2013
    1:08 pm
    “I really don’t mean to be insulting,…”
    [[]]

    I’m sure that if you really meant to be, you would try harder.

    But this is supposed to be a discussion forum. Trying to insult people is a huge waste of time. Why would you bother? That’s not how faith is supposed to work in your religion, is it?

    • If narrow mindedness and intolerence qualifies someone as an expert on religion, then I suppose no one would know how religion is supposed to work better than you.

      • While I am “narrow minded” on some issues, and “intolerant” of several things, I am no expert on religion.

        But one does not need an expert in religion to be in favor of religious freedom — and common sense.

        • So you are implying that you are in favour of religious freedom?

          That sounds rather disingenuous coming from someone who demonstrates so much contempt for those whose religious beliefs differ from your own.

          • Do you understand what “religious freedom” means, EJ?

            It means you can believe any damn thing you please, and I don’t have to agree with you, and you don’t have to agree with me. We are each and every one of us free to believe what we judge best (and not what somebody else decrees to be gospel). It means you are free to have contempt for nature, and long for the supernatural instead — and nobody can stop you from believing that way.

            If you really believe that not wanting to be religious means opposing religious freedom, then you are living in a very strange fantasy world.

  • Creationism has sunk in the quicksand of faith and fantasy.

  • []
    EJ
    February 22, 2013
    2:04 pm
    “… Rex is right on …”
    []

    Right on what in particular? Can you be specific?

    • Why do you even bother to link to such drivel?

      Does it actually represent your idea of an adequate answer to the question of why the universe possesses such a fined tuned relationship between the myriad of parameters that make our existence possible? “To have a universe is the easiest thing in the world” Really?

      You could have quoted Wilczek and said that “the universe just is”. At least it would have been an honest attempt at explaining your belief system, but that would be to admit that “in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” is an equally valid proposition.

      As Berlinski said, “No matter the extent to which we need the laws and parameters of the physical world to be as they are, that by itself cannot explain the fact that they are as they are.”

      • [[]]“… the question of why the universe possesses such a fined tuned relationship between the myriad of parameters …”[[]]

        Since the universe is not “fine tuned” in any way, shape, or form, then (reasonably speaking) there is no such question.

        You are trying to come up with a science fiction/fantasy premise — and God would fit that mold.

        • [[]]‘You could have quoted Wilczek and said that “the universe just is”.’[[]]

          I’m not familiar enough with Wilczek to quote him — but he is clearly correct on that point.

          The universe actually IS and there’s just no alternative to it.

          The fantasy that the universe is inadequate and needs to be “fine tuned” to suit your preferences is just really, really far out.

      • [[]]As Berlinski said, “No matter the extent to which we need the laws and parameters of the physical world to be as they are, that by itself cannot explain the fact that they are as they are.”[[]]

        The crazy arrogance of claiming that the universe must be explained in terms of your needs is quite a phenomenon. What’s the explanation of that?

        • Happy to explain it for you Steve.

          The tolerances of the physical properties that permit the appearance of life are very small. We need them to be as they are or else we, and the universe as we know it, would not exist.

          This observation has lead physicists (not the Vatican) to note that the universe appears to have been fine tuned in order to permit the appearance of living things.

          The 64 thousand dollar question is why is that so? After all, if the Universe is not contingent, then it wouldn’t have to be so.

          If the why of it all doesn’t interest you, then so be it, but it isn’t arrogant to observe that since it could have different perhaps the fact that it is as it is significant.

          Berlinski’s quote underscores the fact that simply because we profit from this condition is not an adequate explanation of cause.

          • [][]“… the universe appears to have been fine tuned in order to permit the appearance of living things.”[][]

            Not exactly.

            For one thing, the universe does not actually appear to be fine-tuned. Such “fine-tuning” is a myth, or a misapprehension. It is more like a tall tale, or a fairy story than an empirical and logical conclusion.

            The universe is what it is — take it or leave it. There is no possible alternative universe (or “otherly-tuned” universe). There is reality. Period.

            Not only is the universe not fine-tuned, it doesn’t even have any reasonable appearance of being so.

            No such fine-tuning has ever been observed. No “differently-tuned” universe has ever been observed. That’s all just imaginary.

          • []“After all, if the Universe is not contingent, then it wouldn’t have to be so.”[]

            The universe is so, and it’s not “contingent.”

  • Consider this pronouncement by Rabbi Averick from the article:

    In other words, Mayr, Crick, Popper, and Monod do not describe the origin of life as being “almost a miracle” based on philosophical considerations. Their conclusions are reasoned, logical, scientific statements based on examination of the available evidence.

    This is a good example of the Rabbi talking through his hat and making an incorrect and unreasonable declaration.

    It is false to say that reasoned “examination of the available evidence” logically leads to the conclusion that life is “almost a miracle.” In fact, there is not a shred of evidence that anything at all in the world is a miracle — not even almost.

    Belief in miracles to any degree is merely a matter of blind (i.e., religious) faith — the opposite of reasoned, logical conclusions.

    • Since you are claiming by extension that Mayr’s, Crick’s, Popper’s and Monroe’s statements are not logical or based upon scientific examination of the evidence, perhaps you can explain to us how such prominent scientists can afford such a lack of clarity, Steve.

      It might seem easy to attack the Rabbi from the anonymity of the comment page simply because he doesn’t agree with your world view, but at some point such empty contention gets old.

      • While the Rabbi’s contention about a “God beyond space and time” is empty (and old), it is still not a miracle (not even “almost”).

        Life is not a miracle, or “almost a miracle.” Nothing in the world is actually unnatural (i.e., miraculous). It is not reasonable to believe in miracles, not even almost. Reality does have some standing.

  • [[]]
    EJ
    February 21, 2013
    2:19 pm
    “… fighting against a perceived threat posed by proponents of intelligent design.”
    [[]]

    What do you imagine that strange “perceived threat” seems to be to anybody? What do you feel that it looks like to other people who are not “proponents of intelligent design”?

    And if you believe that LIFE needed to be designed, how do you imagine that such a functionally complex thing as INTELLIGENCE somehow escaped the need to be designed?

    How do you think “non-conscious design” can work, anyhow?

  • Question for EJ:

    What is an “inquisition”?

  • <a href="http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/01/28/atheistic-science-is-rapidly-sinking-in-the-quicksand/#comment-1121969")What's your explanation for the alleged unnaturalness of it, Rex?

  • ***
    EJ
    February 17, 2013
    1:09 pm
    “Darwinist explanations aren’t adequate to explain the origins of life.”
    ***

    I don’t think you will find anyone anywhere who will disagree with you on that point, EJ.

    Religious explanations are even less adequate. Nobody, in fact, knows how to explain “the origins of life.” Haven’t been there, haven’t done that.

    • So why are you even here?

      As someone who admits that they don’t know what they are talking about, your obvious need to dominate the conversation seems somewhat misplaced.

      • What’s an “inquisition,” EJ? And why in the world, God bless your little heart, do you feel “dominated” just because I disagree with you and ask you simple questions?

      • Ah, I notice that you gave some thoughts on “what is an inquisition” below. So you should know there is nothing like that going on — yet you seem to have missed out on that bit of information.

      • [][]
        EJ
        February 21, 2013
        2:40 pm
        “So why are you even here?”
        [][]

        Since you do not know any more than I do about the origin of life (and possibly less), have you asked yourself why you are even here?

        Or do you imagine a “perceived threat” from those who fail to believe in your God? Is that the deal?

        • Please don’t pretend to be so naive, Steve. Of course, that’s the deal.

          When people like you make repeated comments referring to the need to put an end to religion and to people who believe in God, it is more than a perceived threat. It is direct and personal.

          Beside the fact that your attacks upon Rabbi Averick are annoying, they are an insult to anyone with a margin of intelligence, going far beyond the bounds of mere discussion.

          While squabbling with you may be beneath the Rabbi’s dignity, I find it hard to allow such drivel to pass by without comment.

          • To the extent that Rabbi Averick keeps pushing his nonsensical “IDOL” theory, it is not so much that defending his thesis is “beneath the Rabbi’s dignity,” as that it is above his pay grade (or beyond his expertise).

            Since he is coming “from beyond space and time,” logically sound argumentation is not part of the deal. Blind faith is all he’s got, and that’s not a solid foundation for an intellectual stand. (So the Rabbi’s strategy, seemingly wise from his point of view, is to eschew any attempt at making such a stand.)

            While I find Rabbi Averick quite interesting (and Morris and Tuggers, too, somewhat, among others), I must admit that your paranoid drivel, EJ, is getting a bit tiresome.

            It is not wise to take differences in beliefs as personal threats. You need to step back, calm down, and try to think this out.

          • [[]]
            EJ
            February 23, 2013
            1:23 pm
            “… the need to put an end to religion and to people who believe in God,…”
            [[]]

            Religions have traditionally practiced killing people who “believe in God” — when it is not the same God the killers pray to. That is one good reason why humanity should leave religion behind. Religion is not a reasonable approach to life.

          • So why are you even here, EJ, pretending to be interested in discussion?

  • []
    [][]“This presupposition, a necessary condition for any scientific investigation of the origin of life problem, has two components. First it contends that there is no unbridgeable gap between organic matter and life. Second, it regards the emergence of life as a highly probable process.”[][]
    []

    There is a good deal of nonsense involved in that quotation.

    In the first place, the “emergence of life” is an absolutely certain process. It happened. There is no getting around it — and there is no alternative to the fact that it really happened.

    Clearly, a theist could say he believes that when God contemplated creating life, He could have decided not to do it. But naturally that is pure fantasy. God is a fictional character not a causal factor in reality.

    Secondly, the notion of an “unbridgeable gap between organic matter and life” is more pure fantasy. It is not an idea derived from facts, evidence, observation, and logic.

  • \\|//
    EJ
    January 31, 2013
    2:59 pm
    “It is also clear that life can’t happen without information,…”
    //|\\

    Not only is that not “clear,” it is not even close to being true.

    Life came way before anybody ever gave the first thought to information.

    • Simplistic, narrow minded and absurd. The assertion that you can have life without information is laughable, even for you.

      • [][]“The assertion that you can have life without information is laughable,…”[][]

        It is true that as humans our lives depend on information: we need to be aware of what’s going on in the world around us, and figure out how to deal with it.

        But notice that historically — biologically-speaking — life came first, and then information was developed subsequently. Look at it logically: people created information, not vice-versa. If there were no people in existence, information would not exist; it wouldn’t even be a gleam in anyone’s eye. If there were no people, there would be no eyes, ears, minds, etc., to create or process information.

        • I really don’t mean to be insulting, but at some point there is really no other way to respond the nonsense that you spit out here other than to call it out for the stupidity that it is.

          Do you have your degree in Historical Biology?

          How can you claim that people who believe in God are living in denial and then make such ridiculous claims, complete with such delusional logic as a pseudo-foundation?

    • It is extremely interesting to see that you understand and acknowledge that intelligence is a precursor to information.

      Unprepared to acknowledge the implications of that truth, you hide behind denial, unable to admit that information is a precursor to life. However, that doesn’t make it any less true.

      • Your theory amounts to the argument that “since intelligence is the precursor of information, therefore information is the precursor of intelligence.”

        How do you imagine that makes any sense?

        (The retort that you believe in “supernatural intelligence” merely puts you outside the real world.)

  • \\|//
    EJ
    February 17, 2013
    1:09 pm
    “… carrying out your inquisition against religion …”
    //|\\

    How do you come up with such bizarre notions, EJ?

    • I read your posts.

      • Yes, I assumed you read my posts. My question is about how you can come up with such a bizarre misinterpretation of them?

        Do you know what an “inquisition” is?

        • Yes, Steve, I know what an inquisition is.

          An inquisition is a fight against perceived error and heresy. In other words, shouting down and eliminating anyone who believes differently.

          Applied to our current example, it reflects the status quo held by an elite academia, upholding a radical atheist agenda, fighting against a perceived threat posed by proponents of intelligent design.

          An inquisition is often marked by the use torture of against those whose views are opposed until they recant their position.

          In this case, a massive bombardment of repetitious and simplistic platitudes, effectively smothering any opposition in a blizzard of narrow mindedness, suffices to complete the analogy.

          • Nobody is smothering you, EJ. If you feel smothered, you are doing it to yourself.

            And clearly there is no inquisition going on around here. Not by either side. (On your side, there is hostility and ignorance, but that is not inquisitorial; and on my side there is only a lack of belief in the supernatural — which is very far from being inquisitorial.)

          • []
            []
            EJ
            February 21, 2013
            2:19 pm
            “An inquisition is a fight against perceived error and heresy. In other words, shouting down and eliminating anyone who believes differently.”
            []
            []

            Clearly you misspoke when you accused me of carrying on an inquisition.

            I have not “eliminated” anybody. I have not “shouted down” anyone. And I have not accused you of being a “heretic.”

            I simply disagree with you on the issue of the possibility of “Creation, by God!” I don’t buy Rabbi Averick’s “IDOL” theory.

          • []
            *
            []
            EJ
            February 21, 2013
            2:19 pm
            “An inquisition is often marked by the use torture of against those whose views are opposed until they recant their position.”
            []
            *
            []

            Perhaps you really do feel tortured, EJ, but you are way out-of-line to accuse me as being guilty of it.

  • We are not hearing enough from the Rex-EJ fantasy land gallery. Can’t you guys come up with some thoughts in support of your unnatural worldview?

    And Rabbi Averick stays very quiet on the issues of supernaturalism vs. reality. Claiming that God is a mystery from beyond space and time is an evasion, not an argument. And there still aren’t any codes in DNA or lightning.

    • You flatter me by comparing me with Rex, but it is undeserved.

      Rex has a better mind and a far better grasp of these concepts than I ever will. Obviously, a far better grasp of the concepts than you, for that matter.

      Rabbi Averick’s perceived silence can probably be explained by the fact that his time is too valuable to waste it arguing with trolls.

  • Just as there is no Morse Code in lightning, there is no code in DNA.

  • As a matter of basic logic, why isn’t religion good enough for the “Intelligent Design” crowd? Why do they feel they need science to support their belief in God? What is supposed to be wrong with regular, old-time religion?

  • Do the people who believe that life did not arise naturally have any coherent explanation for how they believe it happened unnaturally?

    Clearly, the answer is: no, they don’t. They don’t even try. They feel that blind faith justifies believing in “Creation, by God!” without having any good reason to believe it.

    • Perhaps you didn’t read the article, Steve. Granted carrying out your inquisition against religion probably doesn’t leave you much time, so here is a synopsis:

      Darwinist explanations aren’t adequate to explain the origins of life. The more we know about the complexity of existence, the more weight the argument for a Creator gains.

      • You missed the point. The supernaturalist “argument for a Creator” has zero weight, and no amount of “complexity” can give it any more than zero weight.

        It does not matter at all how adequate or inadequate “Darwinist explanations” are. “Creation, by God!” cannot possibly explain anything, not even a little bit.

        Going “beyond space and time” means going nowhere. You’ve got nothing, and you’re sticking to it.

  • I’d love to hear a non-Stoddard explanation (i.e. something resembling consciousness) for how the exosome came about naturally.

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/02/even_the_cells_1068921.html

    • To provide a contrast, what is your explanation of “how the exosome came about unnaturally”?

      Indeed, we could settle for a coherent explanation of how anything in particular you wish to choose came about unnaturally.

      But you don’t have any such explanation for anything whatsoever, do you? Now why is that?

    • [][]“The failure of neo-Darwinism is only negative evidence for intelligent design, but the functional complexity in the exosome is positive evidence. We know from uniform experience that only intelligence is capable of ordering disparate parts into complexes that work to accomplish a task essential to a system. When even the cell’s shredder shows these qualities, the most logical inference for the whole is design.”[][]

      One thing you need to understand is that the “functional complexity” of anything that actually exists in nature is NOT, repeat NOT, evidence for anything supernatural, e.g. an intelligent designer from beyond space and time.

      Another point is this: there is nothing in reality which can possibly constitute “negative evidence” for anything supernatural (such as, for instance, an “Intelligent Designer” beyond space and time).

      Indeed, “design” is the least logical inference for anything we know of that existed before the evolution of humans.

    • From where did people get the idea that either believing in or pretending to infer anything supernatural is logical in any reasonable way whatsoever?

    • If you succeed in sinking science, what do you think will be able to hold the world together? Religion? Which religion? How? You think a return to the Dark Ages will really be viable?

  • As a matter of basic logic, you cannot have code without somebody to code it. Since DNA came on the scene long before anybody capable of creating code existed, it should be clear that DNA IS NOT CODE.

    The Creationist response to this logic, viz., that “DNA is a SUPERNATURAL CODE” not produced by any actual coder, does not stand to reason.

    • As a matter of basic logic, you cannot have code without somebody to code it.

      Our resident blind squirrel has stumbled onto another acorn.

      • Name-calling is a lame way to evade the problem, Rex. Confronting the problem with logical explanations would be an interesting thing for you to try instead.

      • If you succeed in sinking science, what do you think will be able to hold the world together? Religion? Which religion do you have in mind? How could it possibly work? Do you have faith that a return to the Dark Ages will really be viable?

  • Now this is interesting. I just came across this quote from the Pope (Regensburg Lecture): “The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature.

    It reminds me of “Bernstein’s Wager”: If God wanted us to believe and act on faith, He wouldn’t have given us the capability of reasoning.

  • [][]The other position, that the emergence of life is “almost a miracle” is a reasoned conclusion based on evidence.[][]

    There is no reasoned way to reach any conclusion based on evidence that something (anything) is “almost a miracle.”

    Miracles are fantastic, not real, so there is no evidence of any kind pointing to any such thing, not even almost.

    And notice also that even regarding stuff that really happens, there is no reasoned way to reach conclusions such as “she is almost pregnant” or “he is almost human.”

  • []{}[]If the probability of life emerging randomly is “virtually zero” as Monod puts it, then it is virtually certain that it did not emerge by chance; it is virtually certain that it emerged through Intelligent Intervention.[]{}[]

    In sensible (as contrasted to faith-based) terms, asserting that the cause of life is “Intelligent Intervention” makes as much sense as asserting that circles are square. Just as circles are not square, so intelligence is not insentient or unalive.

    Also, there is no chance that life emerged by chance — since “chance,” like “information,” is a human perspective on thing.

  • I was just watching Dinesh D’Souza in a debate where he was agreeing with the “Intelligent Design” theory. He did a good job.

  • The quote beginning the next post should be: “Meyer is the first to bring the relevant data together into a powerful demonstration of the intelligence that stands outside nature and directs the path life has taken.

    “The universe is comprised of matter, energy, and the information that gives order to matter and energy, thereby bringing life into being. In the cell, information is carried by DNA, which functions like a software program. The signature in the cell is that of the master programmer of life.”

  • The website for Signature in the Cell claims: “… Dr. Meyer is the first to bring the relevant data together into a powerful demonstration of the c and directs the path life has taken.

    “The universe is comprised of matter, energy, and the information that gives order to matter and energy, thereby bringing life into being. In the cell, information is carried by DNA, which functions like a software program. The signature in the cell is that of the master programmer of life.”

    Here is another instance of the bogus claim that “information” is some how a component of the universe equally as independent of human existence as matter and energy.

    That view drops the context that information is actually an invention of human beings (and so cannot pre-date them).

    It is another aspect of the understanding that intelligence evolved from life, not the reverse.

    Matter and energy came before life, and life came before information. This is not a scientific revelation; it is simple common sense.

    The notion of some “intelligence that stands outside nature” is pure fantasy fiction; it is not in the least bit scientifically reasonable or cognitively valid.

  • In Signature in the Cell, Meyer writes: “In contrast, the theory of intelligent design holds that there are tell-tale features of living systems and the universe that are best explained by an intelligent cause — that is, by the conscious choice of a rational agent — rather than by an undirected process.”

    The really big problem with Meyer’s idea is that the notion of a “non-living consciousness” makes no more sense than the notion of a square circle.

    He is imaging some combination of contradictory elements and trying to pass it off as an insight into the real world.

  • Unless one assumes a priori, the existence of an – as yet unknown – incoherent, supernatural “intelligence,” not ordered by physical laws and processes, but “beyond space and time, that miraculously led from non-life to life, there really is a substantial point to a scientific investigation of the origin of life.

    • So you understand the details how life began?

      Obviously you do not, therefore, your assertions are only so much hot air, since your arguments are based upon uncertainty, which is exactly what you ridicule the Rabbi for in the formulation of his position. The difference being that he is honest enough to acknowledge that he holds a belief, whereas you attempt to hide behind unmerited scientific pretensions.

      You assert “knowledge” which you do not have and make statements of belief as if they were universal fact.

      You misrepresent the available conclusions, and would seem to be either deluded in your understanding or so blinded by your prejudices that you are unable to recognize the unfair and false tactics with which you attack the Rabbi’s ideas.

      Before your begin repeating your mantra that nature is natural, reality is real, square circle, etc., why don’t you just write your own column, Steve?

      Aside from the obvious drawbacks that no one would publish it or even bother to read it, let alone waste their time commenting, your own platform might help you formulate a few original, or at least new, ideas.

      But the goal isn’t really to convince with logic or ideas, is it?

      • [][]“So you understand the details how life began?”[][]

        No, I don’t. Nobody does.

        Nobody knows all the details of quantum physics. Yet we still have matter. Nobody knows all the details of the workings and origin of life. Yet we still have life.

        Notice that detailed human knowledge is not necessary for the existence of reality. Existence exists.

        [][]“But the goal isn’t really to convince with logic or ideas, is it?”[][]

        Not you. To the extent that you believe in the supernatural, you have abandoned logic and given up on ideas. Thus, the likelihood of convincing you with “logic or ideas” is slim, at best. Why would you believe otherwise?

        I do think, however, that there is a value in setting the record straight, in case there are people out there who haven’t given up by embracing supernaturalism. (Another slim chance, you say? Well, hope springs eternal.)

      • []{}[]“… you are unable to recognize the unfair and false tactics with which you attack the Rabbi’s ideas.”[]{}[]

        What is “unfair and false” about pointing out that there is no code in DNA?

        What is “unfair and false” about pointing out that God is a fictional character?

        What is “unfair and false” about pointing out that circles aren’t square — and that nature doesn’t operate by either miracle or chance?

        What is “unfair and false” about thinking that logic and ideas are cognitively important — and that religious faith is the rejection of such cognitive importance?

        • Granted, I could have chosen descriptive terms which were less emotional and more objective, but that is the point.

          The endless repetition of your over the top bombardment of the Rabbi’s column elicits an emotional response precisely because it is unfair and false.

          Unfair, because it is based upon unproven prepositions, which you present as if they were facts.

          Unfair, because it refuses to acknowledge even the simplest truths when they might pose a perceived disadvantage.

          Unfair, because it is based upon arrogant pretensions, which are more often than not fully open to debate by the very scientific community which it claims as the basis of its authority.

          Pretensions which are also negated by the very nature of the question and by the experiential knowledge that we as senescent beings assemble, both as a species and as individuals.

          False because it claims to be interested in honest discourse, but repeatedly employs techniques which seem to be nothing more than an attempt to smother any ideas it does not agree with.

          False because while claiming the moral high ground of the search for truth, its agenda would seem to be nothing more than an endeavour to censor an unpleasant voice.

          • Well, EJ, it looks for all the world like you have me confused with somebody else. None of those charges of “unfair” or “false” can reasonably be thought to apply to me.

            You could try to make your case, of course, but you really don’t seem to be reading the same posts I’m writing. Maybe you are operating on the basis of some sort of “emotional response” to something other than the content of the discussion going on here.

            For instance, what do you think is “the very nature of the question” under consideration?

            “Smother,” “censor,” “pretensions,” “moral high ground”? What are you talking about? (Giving you the benefit of the doubt by asking.)

          • []“… refuses to acknowledge even the simplest truths when they might pose a perceived disadvantage.”[]

            That raises the question: What “simplest truths” are you talking about?

          • []*[]“… your over the top bombardment …”[]*[]

            Why do you feel that my criticisms are “over the top”? After all, I’m not the one trying to go “beyond space and time.”

            How would you characterize an “under the top” criticism of supernaturalism?

      • []*[]“… your arguments are based upon uncertainty, which is exactly what you ridicule the Rabbi for …”[]*[]

        I was under the impression that Rabbi Averick was fully certain that God does not exist in the physical world around us, but rather in some unknowable world “beyond space and time.” Are you saying that you believe the Rabbi is not certain in his beliefs on this point? What do you think his doubts are?

        I figured that Rabbi Averick was certain that there was “code in DNA.” Isn’t he?

        Really, EJ, are you reading the same blog we are?

        • As if you didn’t know what I was talking about, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt.

          Carpet bombing the Rabbi’s column with repetitive and unsubstantiated assertions which exceed the limits of respectful counter comment, out of proportion to the questions they allegedly raise, thereby hijacking the conversation, is a very effective manner of smothering the discussion.

          In effect, you are shouting down your opponent, albeit after the fact, which a method of censorship.

          Haven’t done a word count, but your comments clearly take up more space than the articles they purport to discus.

          Moral high ground and pretensions are terms which well apply when one forwards a religious agenda, atheism, all the while denying that it is a religion, and then ridicules ones opponents for being religious, as if that in itself were a fault.

          Falsely claiming a scientific authority which one does not posses is pretentious.

          • You are obviously obliviously off in your own little world, EJ, waving your arms and imagining that might get you some attention. Looks like it worked.

            And, for another thing, there is nothing remotely akin to censorship going on around here.

            More: believing in God is religious; not believing in the supernatural is not religious.

            And while there is a lot of repetition on this forum, there is no “hijacking” or “smothering.” Pay attention.

      • Also, EJ, you seem to be under the misapprehension that disagreement equals ridicule. I don’t buy that nonsense.

  • Those of you who are so sure of how life began, viz., by a supernatural act of creation, would do well to think about the issue instead of relying on blind faith. If you think about it, the supernatural is not a possibility. How in the world could it be? Just try to think about the details of how that would have had to work. You’ll only draw a blank.

  • Those of you who are so sure of how life began – putting your faith in chance or necessity or both – would do well to re-read this

    http://www.algemeiner.com/2012/09/27/speculation-faith-and-unproven-assumptions-the-history-of-origin-of-life-research-in-scientists-own-words/

    If you were read Stephen Meyers’ Signature in the Cell, you’d start to understand the lack of optimism among OOL researchers and why chance and/or necessity don’t work.

    • “Chance” doesn’t work, and “The Supernatural” is impossible, so NATURE, which is where we all started out, is what we have left to work with after playing with those dead-end notions of chance and God.

      If you wish to avoid nature, and try to go beyond space and time, fiction is the path you follow.

    • [][]After reading all the above, perhaps it is reasonable to consider that the reason the emergence of life seems “almost like a miracle,” is because it is a miracle.[][]

      No, it is never reasonable to consider something a miracle. Not under any possible conditions. Miracles are religious fantasies, not actual possibilities.

      To consider something a miracle is not merely a confession of ignorance, but of lazy, senseless ignorance (e.g., the blind faith of religion).

    • [][]There are only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility…[][]

      Not only is there no third possibility, that “second possibility” is utterly fantastic, rather than an actual possibility. “A supernatural creative act” is in no reasonable sense a possibility; it is only wild imagination. There is literally (as contrasted to literarily) no alternative to natural processes in the origin of life.

      No evidence for the Averick “IDOL” has ever been offered, or ever could be. All Rabbi Averick ever offers are pompous faith-based declarations ignoring all logical considerations (and criticisms). “Creation, by God!” is a hopeless position to try to defend.

    • In fact, there is only one possible beginning for life: a natural series of causes and effects.

      The notion of a “designer/creator/intelligence that is not subject to the physical limitations of time, space, matter, or energy…” is sheer fantasy. In real life, that is not a possibility. Religion does not trump reality. Religion tends to avoid reality.

      You may certainly believe in God if you feel the need to do it. If it makes you feel better about your life to imagine that God created it, then go for it (and accept the responsibility for your blind faith). But it remains as always a cognitive error to think that “the supernatural” is a literal possibility. Since you are actually alive, you can’t get there from here. Not cognitively, that is — but in fiction, faith can move mountains.

    • Since Meyer assumes that life is unnatural, it is not too surprising that he can conclude that he cannot understand life by studying nature.

  • []
    {}
    Moshe Averick
    February 6, 2013
    1:43 am
    “Many of the most prominent origin of life researchers have made probability calculations and the numbers are so big that it makes a chance assembly of life completely hopeless.”
    {}
    []

    Clearly, life did not arise by chance. And since the supernatural is impossible, the only option is that life arose strictly according to the laws of nature.

    There is nowhere else to look to try to figure it out.

    • Notice the total failure of theists to ever find any trace of the supernatural world. The search for the supernatural is a total failure. They simply rely on blind faith to keep believing in it.

  • \\|//
    Eitan
    February 6, 2013
    7:15 pm
    “1. You never proved that all functional complexity and specified information is the product of intelligent design. That is exactly what the argument is all about.”
    //|\\

    As Daniel (at least) had pointed out: “specified information” is exactly the same thing as design. So by using that formulation, Rabbi Averick is sneaking his conclusion in as an assumption. Petitio, as they say.

    So that means Rabbi Averick could never offer the proof you are asking for — not in a trillion years, not ever. It is impossible to use a conclusion to prove itself. The Rabbi has no argument.

    To repeat the point: you cannot have specified information without first having intelligence — and there is NO SPECIFIED INFORMATION in DNA. (DNA is not like HTML.)

  • So you’re just going to keep spouting the same tired argument for Intelligent Design, I guess.

    Unfortunately, the argument fails for obvious reasons which I guess you’re not even going to try and address (not that you could successfully):

    1. You never proved that all functional complexity and specified information is the product of intelligent design. That is exactly what the argument is all about.

    2. You haven’t addressed the fact that intelligent design cannot take place without an intelligent designer already in place. Everyone agrees that intelligence can do fantastic things. The question is: Where did this intelligence come from in the first place. It seems to me that you are confusing the two questions. There are no examples of life that are the result of guided processes.

    3. You are completely clueless as to how life could have arisen through intelligent intervention. The religious have had thousands of years to come up with an explanation of how an immaterial being creates stuff. But you still have nothing.

    Meanwhile, my argument remains irrefutable.

    FIRST PART OF MY IRREFUTABLE ARGUMENT FOR A NATURAL, UNGUIDED ORIGIN OF LIFE:

    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 life that are not the result of evolution. When we discover a lizard in the jungle, nowadays we understand that it evolved from simpler self-replicating things. Bacteria are alive. Bacteria obviously evolved from simpler self-replicating things. We do not even consider any other answer unless we are prepared to take a leap of faith that there is an immaterial being that could produce them. The very heavy burden of proof is on you to prove that such a notion is plausible.

    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 happen.

    THIRD PART OF THE ARGUMENT:

    There are two (and only two) possibilities for the origin of the first cell: Chance or Intelligent Intervention. According to multiple expert statisticians, the probability of Intelligent Intervention is ZERO. That means that the alternative is statistically CERTAIN.

    • [][]“There are two (and only two) possibilities for the origin of the first cell: Chance or Intelligent Intervention.”[][]

      There is one (and only one) possibility for the origin of life — neither of those is it. Life did not arise from “Intelligent Design” nor from “Chance.” Life arose from NATURE.

      Nature, of course, does not equate to “Chance.”

      • Glad to see that you have finally seen the light, Steve. Of course, nature doesn’t equate to chance. That only leaves intelligent design. Congratulations.

        • The problem with your idea is that nothing supernatural can possibly exist. Thus, “intelligent design” is off the table.

          There is no alternative to nature. Nothing else works.

        • It is not hard to see the light. The light is right there in nature, and you simply need to open your eyes.

          Trying to find it “beyond space and time” is a recipe for failure.

    • [][]“Unfortunately, the argument fails for obvious reasons which I guess you’re not even going to try and address (not that you could successfully)”[][]

      Rabbi Averick does not argue about his “argument,” he only reiterates it, in bits and pieces (padded with quotations galore).

      He evidently thinks he can prove that God exists precisely because there is not a shred of evidence for the existence of God that anyone can actually encounter in real life. That way, all he has to deal with is blind faith in the Great Hidden Creator From The Back Of Beyond!

      • Notice how, in the confused and illusory world of the theist, “beyond space and time” is supposed to be somehow “more real” that the here and now.

      • It isn’t about proving the existence of God, Steve. God doesn’t need the Rabbi to make His presence known.

        What the Rabbi does is to expose false assertions and myths of radical atheism hiding behind scientific pretensions.

        All this time and millions of words later, and you still don’t get it?

        • It’s not about “proving the existence of God,” of course, because it is not possible that God exists. You cannot prove the existence of the non-existent, not even ontologically.

          Rabbi Averick is simply pushing his “IDOL” notion, and that has nothing at all to do with any scientific theories at all (either correct or incorrect).

          The notion that God embedded code in DNA is sheer nonsense having nothing to do with science.

          Sinking science will not get God for you.

        • []“What the Rabbi does is to expose false assertions and myths of radical atheism …”[]

          What is the difference between not believing in God radically and not believing in God plainly and simply?

          []“… hiding behind scientific pretensions.”[]

          Sounds like the “Discovery Institute” and that whole brand of theism . . .

    • []{}[]“There are zero examples of life that are not the result of evolution.”[]{}[]

      That’s only because no one has found any trace of the first living thing (or things) which obviously could not have evolved. You are making one of those “arguments from ignorance,” and it doesn’t make sense.

    • AW

      Using David Berlinski’s line of reasoning, you seem to be somewhat confused about what exactly constitutes irrefutable (among other things).

      Even Emile Zuckerkandl writes that “The general foundations for the evolution of “higher” from “lower” organisms seems to have largely eluded analysis”.

      While Mr. Zuckerkandl still displays the optimism of the born-again-evolutionist, he cannot afford the arrogance and exaggeration which you seem to flaunt with an apparent lack of concern over trivialities such as accountability.

      Not surprising, since Mr. Zuckerkandl is a respected scientist, and unlike those of us commenting here, he is accountable for his words. No doubt he is aware that something “that has thus far eluded analysis” can hardly be contributed to a “force” that has never been demonstrated.

      As such, your statement “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 life that are not the result of evolution.” is absurd.

      Life as a result of evolution has not been proven. Claims to the contrary do not change that. Such claims are nothing more than an example of you bearing witness to your religion. Your leap of faith.

      You and your fellows inquisitors, which seem to spend so much time hounding the Rabbi, are all simply apostles in the radical service of that religion, which you conveniently claim is no religion.

      Doctrine for the indoctrinated.

      • []“There are zero examples of life that are not the result of evolution.”[]

        Even if that were true at the moment, it would only be due to the fact that the other examples haven’t been found, yet.

        Logically, there had to be at least one first form of life which no more could have evolved from and earlier form than it could have been created by something supernatural.

      • > As such, your statement “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 life that are not the result of evolution.” is absurd.

        Can you give one example – ONE EXAMPLE – of a living thing that did not evolve from simpler self-replicating things?

        • It makes no difference, either way. Life is natural, period. There is no way it could be anything else.

          Those who disagree should be asked to give an example of unnatural life — because we all know they can’t do it.

        • In the Devil’s Delusion, David Berlinski quotes Eugene Koonin, of the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Institutes of Health, from his 2007 paper,” The Biological Big Bang Model for the Major Transitions in Evolution”.

          Eugene Koonin :
          “Major transitions in biological evolution show the same pattern of sudden emergence of diverse forms at a new level of complexity.”

          “The relationships between major groups within an emergent new class of biological entities are hard to decipher and do not seem to fit the tree pattern that, following Darwin’s original proposal, remains the dominant description of biological evolution.”

          Facts falling outside of the margins of Darwin’s theory include, “the origin of complex RNA molecules and protein folds; major groups of viruses; archaea and bacteria, and the principal lineages within each of these prokaryotic domains; eukaryotic supergroups; and animal phyla.”

          As Berlinski points out, that is pretty much everything, but it doesn’t end there.

          Eugene Koonin :
          “In each of these pivotal nexuses in life’s history, the principal types seem to appear rapidly and fully equipped with the signature features of the respective new level of biological organization. No intermediate grades or intermediate forms between different types are detectable.”

          Koonin is certainly not alone in his assessment. The biological record does not support your assertion that all life evolved from simpler, self replicating things.

          By extension, the demand that I provide an example of life that did not evolve from simpler self replicating things only underlines the incoherence of your position.

          Nevertheless, I will answer. You, Eitan, are a perfect example of life which did not evolve from simpler self replicating things.

          • An interesting point is that you cannot provide a single of example of any form of life (or anything else) that was created by supernatural intervention.

      • “Can you give one example – ONE EXAMPLE – of a living thing that did not evolve from simpler self-replicating things?”

        Helloooo?? McFlyyyy?? We’re talking about Origin of Life NOT evolution. Many people believe in both the ID of the OOL and macroevolution. They’re not mutually exclusive. Virtually everyone accepts microevolution as a fact.

        Origin of life…Microevolution…Macroevolution

        Learn the difference!!

  • [][]The other position, that the emergence of life is “almost a miracle” is a reasoned conclusion based on evidence.[][]

    Nonsense.

    There is no reasoned way to reach any conclusion that something (anything) is “almost a miracle” based on evidence.

    Miracles are fantastic, not real, so there is no evidence of any kind pointing to them, not even almost.

  • 8th grade science teacher

    AW – you’re trying too hard.

    It’s all here:

    http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=747_Junkyard_argument

    Rex, learn something. You’re embarrassing yourself.

    • Moshe Averick

      8th grade,
      You’re in trouble if you’re relying on Wikipedia. The tornado in a junkyard has nothing at all to do with evolution; Sir Fred Hoyle was talking about Origin of Life when he used the junkyard metaphor in his book, The Intelligent Universe. The arguments against Dembski there are childish. Many of the most prominent origin of life researchers have made probability calculations and the numbers are so big that it makes a chance assembly of life completely hopeless. That is why Jacque Monod says that we simply got lucky that our number came up in the Monte Carlo game and that is why most origin of life researchers have latched onto the philosophical presupposition that Dr. Fry talked about. I can see why you only teach 8th graders.

      • Since the probability for the existence of God is zero, and you still believe God created Life, you must feel really, really lucky! The Great Casino Beyond Space and Time came through for you . . . .

      • []” Many of the most prominent origin of life researchers have made probability calculations and the numbers are so big that it makes a chance assembly of life completely hopeless.”[]

        Clearly, life did not arise by chance. And since the supernatural is impossible, the only option is that life arose strictly according to the laws of nature.

        There is nowhere else to look to try to figure it out.

    • That apparently is his God-given task in this world. Perhaps he is looking for a reward beyond space and time.

    • That apparently is Rex’s God-given task in this world. Perhaps he is looking for a reward beyond space and time.

    • 8th grade nonteacher. Go back to school. The counter argument blurs OOL with evolution. A common mistake. The last paragraph is the old bullseye around the arrow trick. Mostly just wishful thinking and speculation. In fact, the whole ironchariots website is lame.

      • Since the probability for the existence of God is zero, why are you so keen on probabilities? Don’t you want to believe?

      • Have you calculated the probability that you or Rabbi Averick could refute any point I have made against supernaturalism (even if you guys tried)? It certainly looks impossible on the evidence.

      • Perhaps you guys have a feeling that, with your special connections beyond space and time, the normal odds and logic do not apply to you. You do tend to act as if such mundane concerns are beneath you. What’s logic, when you can believe in miracles instead?

        • How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?” (Proverbs 1:22)

          • The fools will likely keep hating knowledge so long as there are holy scriptures to comfort them instead. It has been that way for quite some time, and may not change for a while.

  • > Now you’re spouting some incoherent nonsense about “the probabilities of these proteins forming by chance are irrelevant to the probability of the earliest cell forming by chance.”

    I’ll try this one last time.

    1. Did the first cell contain ribosomes? Yes or no.

    2. Did the first cell contain RNA polymerase? Yes or no.

    3. Did the first cell contain proteins larger than 80 amino acids? Yes or no.

    4. Did the first cell contain proteins with functional folds? Yes or no.

    To understand and answer these questions requires functional literacy and an 8th grade understanding of biology. If this to you looks like “incoherent nonsense”, then one of those must be lacking.

    • Out of curiosity, what are the answers to those questions? And what difference is it supposed to make about the origin of life?

    • And what is supposed to be the relevance of calculating the probabilities of the first cell forming by chance? What does “chance” have to do with it?

      Are you assuming the false alternative of “the supernatural vs. chance” and ignoring nature and causality??

  • Science is not sinking, and there are even those of us who don’t want to see it sink. Let religion do the sinking — at least, it should stay out of the way.

  • Rabbi Averick is up to his neck in theistic mumbo-jumbo, without a line to tie himself to reality and pull himself back.

    He’s stuck out there, floundering, without the possibility of proof or realistic support for his beliefs.

    Reality: 1; theism: 0.

  • ||[]||
    Moshe Averick
    February 2, 2013
    9:30 pm
    “The burden of proof is on the one claiming [life] can result from unguided processes.”
    ||[]||

    You’ve got it utterly backwards, Rabbi Averick.

    Life necessarily had to arise through natural “unguided” processes — since guidance is a conscious process dependent on the existence of life (not vice versa).

    The reason why you wish to shift the “burden of proof” onto atheists is because you have made an extraordinarily outlandish claim for which your proof is literally nowhere to be found. You cannot bear the burden of proof for your “IDOL” because it is impossible; there’s no such thing.

    • If one wanted to make some sort of case for “the appearance of design in DNA,” the honest approach would demand an acknowledgment that it can’t be actual design because the conscious capability for designing is subsequent to the origin of DNA, not prior. And you cannot reverse cause and effect.

      The dishonest (in this case, religious) approach would fail to acknowledge the actual absence of design, claim that some design is really there, and that, of course, there couldn’t have been a living designer — so it had to be an “unliving designer from beyond space and time, an all-powerful God!”

      As Daniel has pointed out to us, that shows the religious approach as merely assuming the conclusion wished for (instead of reasonably concluding it).

      • Once again, these premises, so often repeated in opposition to Rabbi Averick, are based upon assumptions that express personal beliefs and a world view, but nothing more.

        While that is our God given right, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, it is a poor position from which to criticize others for doing likewise.

        Pretensions, especially those based upon religious beliefs, i.e. atheism, do not provide any special credibility or authority which would discount that which Rabbi Averick is saying, they simply present a belief, as you have done in abundance, and continue to do.

        Furthermore, it is beyond disingenuous when one pretends that such pretensions are science based, when they are actually the product of bias and prejudice.

        When on the one hand one employs a belief system to explain the basic questions of existence, but on the other hand criticizes others for doing the same, such pretensions quickly become absurd and even obscene.

  • [||]
    EJ
    February 3, 2013
    2:13 pm
    Because a “scientist” that already “knows” the answers before he or she has even fully formulated all the questions is by definition incapable of arriving at an unbiased conclusion.
    [||]

    And a “scientist” who imagines he might find something supernatural somewhere is throwing out science in favor or religion.

    To whatever extent a person believes that the natural world is not adequate to explain itself, that person is not acting as a scientist.

    Knowing that the answer to each and every scientific question will necessarily be something natural is not a claim to knowing the answers in advance.

    The question “Is it real or is it supernatural?” is not a legitimate question as there is no alternative to reality.

  • “these calculations have all been done by many different origin of life researchers”

    Well, given your track record of misrepresenting (aka lying about) OOL researchers’ views, I’m not just going to take your word for it.

    I CHALLENGE YOU TO CITE A PEER REVIEWED ARTICLE THAT PRESENTS THESE CALCULATIONS AND CONCLUDES THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR LIFE TO FORM THROUGH AN UNGUIDED PROCESS.

    • Is the Journal of Molecular Biology good enough for you, AW?

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022283604007624

      Although I doubt you’ll accept its conclusions. You’re probably still trying to figure out why your little card trick didn’t accomplish what you intended it to do.

      • Card tricks, religious scriptures, etc., all such hocus-pocus often accomplishes what it is intended to do: fooling people.

      • Oh, and I forgot to mention your trick of shooting first, then drawing your bullseye later to give the false impression that you shot straight.

        • I know exactly how you feel

          • Another bullseye for Rex!

          • You don’t know that the earliest cells contained RNA polymerase, ribosome, proteins larger than 80 amino acids, or proteins with functional folds. Therefore, the probabilities of these proteins forming by chance are irrelevant to the probability of the earliest cell forming by chance. What part of this do you not understand?

            Even if you knew the probability of the first cell forming by chance in one try(which you don’t), you still don’t know the number of “tries”. So, you can’t calculate the probability that a functional fold EVER formed by chance. What part of this do you not understand?

          • You asked for a peer-reviewed article and I gave you one (which you ignored). Now you’re spouting some incoherent nonsense about “the probabilities of these proteins forming by chance are irrelevant to the probability of the earliest cell forming by chance.”

            …and you’re asking me what part I don’t understand?!

          • When I wrote, “…or proteins with functional folds…” that was a reference to the article you cited.

            I asked for an article that:
            1) Calculates the probability of the first cell forming by chance in one try.
            2) Calculates the number of “tries”.

            The article you cited does neither of those. The article you cited calculates the probability of a functional protein fold forming by chance.

            How is the probability of a functional protein fold forming by chance relevant to the probability of the first cell forming by chance?

          • You don’t seem to understand, Rex, the part about nature having all the possibilities there are, while the supernatural is impossible.

          • When I wrote, “…or proteins with functional folds…” that was a reference to the article you cited.

            I asked for an article that:

            1) Calculates the probability of the first cell forming by chance in one try.
            2) Calculates the number of “tries”.
            The article you cited does neither of those. The article you cited calculates the probability of a functional protein fold forming by chance.

            How is the probability of a functional protein fold forming by chance relevant to the probability of the first cell forming by chance?

          • Rabbi Averick wants to sink science in a swamp of theism. What are the probabilities for what would happen then?

    • Of course life arose through an “unguided process” — because nobody was around to guide anything before anybody was alive.

      No life = no guidance — it’s not rocket science.

      God, of course, couldn’t have done it, since God is a fictional character. I mean, “not-of-this-world”/”beyond-space-and-time”/”unliving consciousness” — give me a break.

      Although, I guess it is rather interesting that even in Rabbi Averick’s vision life had to come from non-life.

    • [{}]“… PRESENTS THESE CALCULATIONS AND CONCLUDES THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR LIFE TO FORM THROUGH AN UNGUIDED PROCESS.”[{}]

      It is impossible to make any valid calculation that “IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR LIFE TO FORM THROUGH AN UNGUIDED PROCESS,” since a natural “unguided process” is the only possibility for the origin of life.

      Any “calculations” to the contrary would have to be faked, based on blind (i.e., religious) faith in the unnatural.

  • **
    Moshe Averick
    January 31, 2013
    12:33 pm
    “… the front page of the newspaper could never come from a random generation of letters.”
    **

    That’s true, but it is irrelevant to the origin of life. There wasn’t anybody trying to use life to convey any information to anybody.

    Notice, also, the false alternative that if life did not originate through conscious intention, then the only alternative is “random chance.”

  • “However, if I make a bet with you for a million dollars that by pure chance a particular combination comes up and that is the one that appears on the first try, you would get very suspicious.”

    I don’t know why you think any reaction had to occur “the first try”.

    Probability of multiple “tries” = 1 – (1 – probability of one try)^(# of “tries”)

    The probability of flipping heads at least once in 8 coin flips = 1 – (1 – 0.5)^8 = 99.6%

    For the origin of life, you don’t know the probability of one try, because you don’t know the structure of the first cell. Besides, nobody is suggesting the first cell just coalesced fully formed from individual atoms. That is a straw man you keep repeating ad nauseum.

    “If out of 26 to the ten thousandth power number of possibilities I get the one combination that wins me a million dollars you understand immediately that the game was fixed.”

    Not if you had 26 ^ 10,000 tickets. For the origin of life, you don’t know the number of “tries” or “tickets” or “coin flips”. I don’t know either, but with trillions of molecules undergoing trillions of reactions over billions of years, it was probably a lot.

    • Moshe Averick

      AW,

      these calculations have all been done by many different origin of life researchers, Harold Morowitz, Robert shapiro, Sir Fred Hoyle, G.C. Smith, Hubert Yockey, Even allowing for the most unrealistic conditions, the maximum amount of trials available doesn’t come near any realistic probability of even RNA chains forming on earth, let alone a functioning bacteria. that is why OOL researchers have abandoned chance as a possibility. Life could only come about if natural laws make life ALMOST A CERTAINTY under the right conditions. This is exactly what Dr. Fry was saying in the article, and it is this position which is presupposed with no evidence at all, hence, a leap of faith.

      • [{}}"Life could only come about if natural laws make life ALMOST A CERTAINTY under the right conditions."[{}]

        In fact, we know from experience, that natural laws make life an ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY. There’s no getting around it — and it certainly doesn’t take any “leap of faith” to see what is in the world around you. It just takes opening your eyes. Instead of closing your mind with faith. Get real.

      • While we don’t know the exact details and conditions of how life originated, we do know that there were exact details and conditions, or else it wouldn’t have happened. And we know that those details and conditions were all 100% natural — otherwise they could not have existed.

        Remember: the supernatural is fantasy; there is no alternative to nature.

        You wish to claim that it takes a “leap of faith” to believe that reality is really real. But there is actually no question about it — you are simply blinding yourself with theistic fantasies.

  • **
    Eitan
    February 2, 2013
    2:07 pm
    “There are two (and only two) possibilities for the origin of the first cell: Chance or Intelligent Intervention.”
    **

    Sorry, Charlie (as the saying goes), but neither of those “only possibilities” is actually possible in the real world. Religious fantasies don’t count as real world possibilities.

  • **
    Moshe Averick
    February 2, 2013
    9:30 pm
    “Functional complexity and specified information are realities.”
    **

    True.

    **
    “It is simply a fact that functional complexity and specified information beyond certain levels are identified by human beings as being the result of intelligent intervention.”
    **

    Not true.

    Or course, “specified information” is necessarily “the result of intelligent intervention,” since it could not exist without a human to specify it.

    But “functional complexity” is not always identified as “the result of intelligent intervention,” because sometime it isn’t. The existence of life is a great example of “functional complexity” that could not possibly have been the result of “intelligent intervention,” i.e., living/conscious action.

  • Well Moshe, you have again failed to understand, let alone refute, any part of my argument. I have learned from this exchange, however, that parts of my argument need clarification… so that the argument will be easier for you to understand. I’m trying to make it very, very easy for you to understand because I know that 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. But at some point you need to grow up.

    FIRST PART OF MY IRREFUTABLE ARGUMENT FOR A NATURAL, UNGUIDED ORIGIN OF LIFE:

    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 life that are not the result of evolution. When we discover a lizard in the jungle, nowadays we understand that it evolved from simpler self-replicating things. Bacteria are alive. Bacteria obviously evolved from simpler self-replicating things. We do not even consider any other answer unless we are prepared to take a leap of faith that there is an immaterial being that could produce them. The very heavy burden of proof is on you to prove that such a notion is plausible.

    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 happen.

    THIRD PART OF THE ARGUMENT:

    There are two (and only two) possibilities for the origin of the first cell: Chance or Intelligent Intervention. According to multiple expert statisticians, the probability of Intelligent Intervention is ZERO. That means that the alternative is statistically CERTAIN.

    Meanwhile, your argument for Intelligent Design fails for the following reasons:

    1. You never proved that all functional complexity and specified information is the product of intelligent design. That is exactly what the argument is all about.

    2. You haven’t addressed the fact that intelligent design cannot take place without an intelligent designer already in place. Everyone agrees that intelligence can do fantastic things. The question is: Where did this intelligence come from in the first place. It seems to me that you are confusing the two questions. There are no examples of life that are the result of guided processes.

    3. You are completely clueless as to how life could have arisen through intelligent intervention. The religious have had thousands of years to come up with an explanation of how an immaterial being creates stuff. But you still have nothing.

    • [][]“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.”[][]

      If there cannot be an “infinite regress of self-replicating molecules,” why isn’t it equally impossible for there to be an “infinite regress of unguided processes”? And if you need a first “unguided process,” isn’t the only possibility that it was caused by a “guided process”?

    • [|*]“1. All living things evolved from simpler self-replicating things.”[*|]

      I suppose it could have happened that way, but you have no way of knowing that at this point in time. For all you know, there may have been threads in evolution where simpler things evolved from more complicated ones (and they may even have died out).

      You are treating your beloved premise 1 as an article of faith — just as much as Rabbi Averick believes in the article of faith that life could only have come from non-life in the form of God.

      Of course, it is important to note that your premise at least has some plausibility, and may even be true — while Rabbi Avericks “IDOL” premise is altogether impossible.

  • \|/
    Moshe Averick
    January 31, 2013
    12:33 pm
    “… the front page of the Boston Globe contains arrangements of letters…. Only an infinitesimally small number of those [possible] combinations convey meaningful information in the English language. That is why the specified information on the front page can only be from intelligent design. It is for the exact same reason that only intelligence could arrange the coding on the double helix of the DNA.”
    /|\

    While the front page of a newspapers contains specified information (we’ll skip over the question of whether or not it is honestly specified), there is NO specified information “on the double helix of the DNA.”

    This point is easy to see when you consider that it takes people to specify the information in the newspaper — and there was nobody around to specify anything before there was DNA.

    Now, you might wish to object, “Well, of course there was somebody: GOD!” But that is just nonsensical fantasizing. There is no such thing as “God.” Magical thinking and protestations of blind faith cannot make God real.

  • Fortunately for the world, the religious dream of “Science Rapidly Sinking” is not coming true.

    (Unfortunately, the altruist dream of “Government Rapidly Growing” is putting some real stress on science, as well as prosperous life in general.)

    • “Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.” -William Penn

      “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed…” -The Declaration of Independence

      Don’t complain about about losing your freedom too loud, Steve. After all, it is a manifestation of pushing God out of your society. Which means you’re getting what you asked for.

  • Daniel Schealler

    Rabbi

    I’m starting a new comment and sub-thread here because I want to draw attention to a particular problem with your analogies. This is more important to me than either of our other two threads – feel free to ignore them in favor of this one.

    Your argument in favour of ID boils down to an analogy. You take something that we can agree is very probably designed, such as a mud hut or an electromagnetic signal. You then take something that we do not agree is very probably designed, such as DNA.

    For any example where you and I agree that a given thing was designed, there will be at least three things we can conclude about that thing:

    1) It has a superficial appearance of design.
    2) We have direct evidence of the kinds of actors that can design such a thing.
    3) We have direct evidence of how these actors can implement their design – mechanisms and processes

    When you suggest something such as the genetic code was also designed, we can only conclude point 1. Points 2 and 3 are always missing.

    You think that the absence of 2 and 3 indicate an intelligent designer. I say that this is an argument from ignorance.

    You try to get around this by assuming that the two items are analogous – but this just assumes the very thing you are trying to prove.

    In order for you to make the analogy stick, you have to show 2 and 3. Show me the designer, and explain to me the mechanisms that designer used to implement that design.

    If you cannot do this, the analogy you are attempting to force must be fallacious, because you are smuggling in your conclusion as an assumption.

    If you can show 2 and 3 then the need to force an analogy in the first place evaporates. The analogy becomes superfluous.

    So you really cannot support your argument at all by trying to make an analogy between something we agree is designed and something we do not agree is designed.

    For the analogy to work, you must first convince me it is designed. If you can do that, there’s no need to make the analogy. If you cannot, your analogy remains fallacious.

    Insofar as your position relies on these kinds of analogies to appear convincing, your position will remain fatally flawed in this way.

    You need to either supply the kind of evidence that would make your argument irrelevant, or change your argument to something better.

    Your current argument is not as intelligently designed as you think it is.

    Looking forward to your response.

    • Daniel Schealler

      For anyone interested (looking at you Steve) I put together a more formal version of this particular objection to the class of arguments that the Rabbi is making.

      You can grab read-only copies at the links below:
      On Inferring Complexity and Design
      Concluding Design from Specified Complexity is Fallacious

    • [|]“When you suggest something such as the genetic code was also designed, we can only conclude point 1. [It has a superficial appearance of design] …”[|]

      I think you give Rabbi Averick and the other “IDOL” believers too much slack by conceding their fantasy that “DNA looks designed.”

      In fact, DNA has no appearance of design, and they only claim it does because they wish to believe in “Creation, by God!”

      Certainly, the making of the analogy between genetic processing and computer processing is common practice, and even helps in explaining it to some people. But there is no sensible way to take the analogy literally.

      While the claim that “DNA looks designed” is a superficial claim, there is not really any “superficial appearance” of design. DNA is way to complex for a superficial observer to even be aware of its existence.

      At any rate, you could just as well claim that the Grand Canyon appears to be designed — if you wished to believe that God Created The Grand Canyon.

      Then, of course, there is the vital logical point that DNA could not have been designed — because design depends on DNA, and you cannot reverse cause and effect. “Intelligent Design Of Life

      [||]“Concluding Design from Specified Complexity is Fallacious”[||]

      No, it is not fallacious at all. It is a perfectly necessary conclusion: “specified” complexity means “designed” complexity. You cannot have specified complexity (or specified anything) without somebody doing the specifying/designing.

      Functional complexity, on the other hand, does not necessarily involve design and specification (in the sense that consciousness, as such, operates in quite a complex manner).

      • Okay, Daniel, now I get it! It is fallacious to pretend to conclude a premise from itself.

        Rabbi Averick pretends to make an inference from “specified” to “designed,” but he can’t do it because they are the same thing!

        And while “specified” or “designed” are words that can be correctly used to modify a description of a watch or a mud hut, they cannot be correctly applied to DNA.

        So, Rabbit Averick is making a false claim about DNA — and pretending that proves his false claim is true!!

        Good work, pinning him down on that.

      • “Intelligent Design Of Life” is a self-contradictory notion (no more possible than a square circle).

    • [][]“… the analogy you are attempting to force must be fallacious, because you are smuggling in your conclusion as an assumption.”[][]

      That’s one of the errors in Averick’s “IDOL” story. He can’t refute that analysis.

    • Moshe Averick

      This is from Alexander Gofen:

      To: Daniel Schealler

      1) It has a superficial appearance of design.
      2) We have direct evidence of the kinds of actors that can design such a thing.
      3) We have direct evidence of how these actors can implement their design – mechanisms and processes

      When you suggest something such as the genetic code was also designed, we can only conclude point 1. Points 2 and 3 are always missing.

      Your skepticism based on lacking items 2,3, is legitimate because yes, we do not often confront a phenomenon in which item (1) is apparent, but we have no idea about (2,3). Yet such phenomena had been already confronted prior to the discovery of (1) in the living cell. Here are a few examples – all in ancient history.

      1) Egyptian pyramids. There were guesses about (2) but not about (3) – until the very late speculations.

      2) Huge stone arrangements and signs in deserts of Peru. Both (2,3) are unknown.

      3) Huge stone idols at a small island of Pacific, Stonehenge in UK – only guesses about (2,3).

      Conclusion: the lack of knowledge about (2,3) is not a reason to discard (1).

      • There is no “appearance of design” in cells. Whom do you think you are kidding?

        • Cells have no appearance of design? Please get real. Merely repeating your mantra of denial doesn’t eliminate the obvious.

          Have you tried putting your fingers in your ears and chanting, ” I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you”?

          Granted, it isn’t as sophisticated as pretending such outrageous assertions are valid, but it still amounts to the same thing.

    • Moshe Averick

      DAniel,

      It is not an analogy. Functional complexity and specified information are realities. It is simply a fact that functional complexity and specified information beyond certain levels are identified by human beings as being the result of intelligent intervention.

      If SETI scientists detected intelligible coded messages from a galaxy a million light years away, if we find cave drawings in France, a mud hut in the jungle, we conclude that all of them are the result of intelligence. What they all have in common is functional complexity and specified information. This has been confirmed by the entirety of human experience. We understand that digital information processing systems are the result of intelligence. They do not happen by themselves.

      If someone were to conduct an investigation into how mud huts, coded messages from outer space, or a smiley face in the sand with the words “good morning DAniel Schaeller” resulted from naturalistic unguided processes, we would predict that investigation to result in complete failure. If someone were to conduct an investigation into how sophisticated digital information processing systems resulted from unguided naturalistic processes we would predict utter failure, because the notion is ridiculous. In fact the results of Origin of LIfe research have turned out exactly as predicted by ID theory; they have completely failed. In the words of Dr. Paul DAvies: “WE haven’t a clue.” As Dr. Eugene Koonin put it: “the dirty secret of Origin of Life research is that is has completely failed.”

      Your attempt to differentiate between a mud hut and a sophisticated digital information processing system is arbitrary. Both display functional complexity and specified information. The burden of proof is on the one claiming they can result from unguided processes.

      • Both “a mud hut and a sophisticated digital information processing system” are products of intelligence.

        One of your big errors, Rabbi Averick, is the silly conceit that DNA is “a sophisticated digital information processing system.” It isn’t.

        If you wish to claim that it is, then the burden of proof is on you to show how it got that way. You only refuse to offer a proof for that notion because there is no possible proof.

        You claim is that you don’t need proof because you have a strong feeling that “God did it!” That’s not reasonable.

      • [][]“In fact the results of Origin of LIfe research have turned out exactly as predicted by ID theory; they have completely failed.”[][]

        You really have a way of twisting all the sense out of things. That’s history, not a prediction!

        You could notice, on that score, that the search for God has turned out exactly as predicted by atheism: people have completely failed to find the slightest trace of God.

        • Wrong again, Steve. You may well claim that you have failed to find the slightest trace of God. That would be at least be a position that one could respect.

          On the other hand, millions of people have not only found traces of Him, they have an experiential relationship with God.

          In that respect, your propensity for empty overstatement and exaggeration leaves you without any credibility.

          Useful idiots like Hitchens, Dawkins and Stoddard may whine, complain and threaten, but that does not change the fact that God is real, and that He shows Himself to those who seek Him.

      • [][]In the words of Dr. Paul DAvies: “WE haven’t a clue.” As Dr. Eugene Koonin put it: “the dirty secret of Origin of Life research is that is has completely failed.”[][]

        And as Rabbi Averick says about the theists’ knowledge of God, “We haven’t got a clue. The secret of religion is that it has completely failed to find any actual evidence of any actual God.”

  • The original Copernican Revolution, which made sense, was the switch from geocentrism to heliocentrism.

    Then Kant came along and claimed to make a similar revolution, which didn’t make any sense, switching from the view that the mind perceives realty to the view that the mind creates reality.

    Rabbi Averick has his version of the Kantian mistake: trying to turn the world inside out by claiming that it is unreasonable to believe in nature and reasonable to believe in the supernatural (when precisely the opposite is true).

  • ||
    Moshe Averick
    January 30, 2013
    12:16 pm
    “There are two (and only two) possibilities for the origin of the first cell and it’s genetic code and digital information/processing/self-replicating system. Chance or Intelligent Intervention.”
    ||

    Actually, there is only one possibility — and it isn’t either of those you postulate.

    The only possibility: natural processes. Of course.

  • The odds of being struck and killed by lightning are 775,000:1 (aka “virtually zero”). But there are about 310 million people in the US.

    So… 310,000,000 / 775,000 = about 40 people killed by lightning each year in the US.

    Can you show me a similar calculation for the number of self-replicating molecules capable of evolving into DNA? I know the answer is zero, but can you please humor me? Please start with the calculation for 1 year. Can you also do a calculation for 4.5 billion years (the age of the Earth)?

    Thanks.

    • That would be an incredible waste of time.

      And note, too, that the odds of being struck by lightning are NOT “virtually zero.”

    • AW, another good question. The best way IMHO in answering the probability question is to simply consider what it takes to form one functional protein of modest size; say 150 amino acids. That’s about the size of one of the four hemoglobin monomers that carry oxygen in our blood. To get a protein of even this small size by random, undirected processes is not just a matter of stringing nucleotides together. They have to be connected in a very specific sequence (specified complexity) to allow the amino acids to assume the right folds. At each site, there are 20 possible amino acids to choose from. The probability of getting the right sequence for hemoglobin is 20 raised to the 150th power (20e150 or 10e195).

      That’s not all. The chemical bonds between each nucleotide in DNA must be a peptide bond. A non-peptide bond won’t do. In addition to that tall order, each amino acid has to be a left-handed molecule. Right-handed molecules are not suited for life. Dr. Douglas Axe has calculated that of all possible amino acid sequences for this length, the ratio of functional proteins to non-functioning junk is on the order of 1 in 10e74. Factor in the added probability of peptide bonds and left-handed amino acids only (10e90 since 2e150 = 10e45 x 2) and you’re facing a probability of 1 chance in 10e164 that hemoglobin will self-assemble. In other words, 1 followed by 164 zeros! That’s virtually zero. One in 775,000 is a very large likelihood indeed compared to it. Let’s not forget that the simplest cell requires at least 250 different proteins to function and replicate.

      So 10e164 is 100 trillion times greater than the universal probability (10e150) bound which is the likelihood that a given event could occur by chance in nature. Remember, there are only about 10e80 atoms in the universe. This is why OOL researchers are having so much difficulty in explaining how life began and why I believe in Intelligent Design. How that helps.

      • What was the structure of the earliest form of life? From your post, I assume it did not contain proteins with fewer than 150 amino acids. Can you confirm this?

      • It is more likely that you believe life to be naturally impossible, Rex, because you believe in “Intelligent Design,” not the other way around (as you are trying to claim).

        That’s because the probabilities are irrelevant in that context. No probabilities of any kind can logically support belief in the supernatural.

      • The probability that life arose through a natural process is: 1. That is, it is 100% certain that life arose through a natural process, since “supernatural processes” are impossible.

        The probability that life arose through intelligent intervention from “beyond space and time” is: 0. It couldn’t have happened that way, and it didn’t.

        That you can conjure up a “virtually zero probability” for some combination of events is utterly irrelevant to the fact that life is perfectly natural — because “unnatural” means “unreal.”

      • RNA polymerase – the protein necessary for gene transcription – is 3,000 amino acids long. Why don’t you do the math on that one and see if even 500 trillion years is enough time for unguided self-assembly. And I suppose the ribisome would have to self-assemble simultaneously. Once you learn the structure of the ribisome, start crunching those numbers.

      • **ribosome

    • AW,
      You have failed to understand what Jacque Monod and all microbiologists and geneticists understand about the coding in DNA. It is obvious that DNA works WITHIN the laws of chemistry. That has nothing to do with the point that was being made. There is no chemical law that describes or determines the order of the nucleotides on the double helix. Any nucleotide can link equally well with any other nucleotide. I am not talking about the horizontal linkage between A-T and G-C. I am referring to the linkages on the vertical axis. There is absolutely no chemical or physical law or reason why they should line up in any particular order, yet that is precisely what codes for the production of proteins in the cell. There is no chemical or physical law or linkage why a particular three letter sequence of nucleotides (codon) should correspond to a particular amino acid that is carried by a particular molecule of transfer DNA. It is all arbitrary, that is what makes it a code, and that is why every microbiologist in the world calls it a code. It is this very indeterminate nature of the nucleotides that allow it to store the encyclopedic amount of information that it does.

      It is exactly the same reason why the front page of the Boston Globe contains arrangements of letters that convey large amounts of information.If there was some law that forced letters to line up in only a certain order, it would be impossible to convey information. All you would have would be the same series of letters repeating over and over again in meaningless gibberish. In fact, Any letter can follow any other letter. Any series of letters can follow any other series of letters. It is this very fact that allows us to us letters to specify information and why it is so clear that the front page of the newspaper could never come from a random generation of letters. In a paragraph containing 1000 letters there are 26 to the thousandth power of possible combinations.(10 to the 80th power is roughly the number of atoms in the universe.)Only an infinitesimally small number of those combinations convey meaningful information in the English language. That is why the specified information on the front page can only be from intelligent design. It is for the exact same reason that only intelligence could arrange the coding on the double helix of the DNA. Nothing that happens in the publishing of a newspaper violates the laws of physics or chemistry, of course they operate withing those laws. That has nothing to do with the point. All music operates withing the laws of physics. The writing of music on a piece of paper must conform to the laws of chemistry. However, the specific arrangements of notes to compose a Mozart symphony will never happen without the intelligence of the composer.

      • “There is no chemical or physical law or linkage why a particular three letter sequence of nucleotides (codon) should correspond to a particular amino acid.”

        You clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

        T-T-T (three thiouracil nucleotides) “codes” for phenylalanine because a specific mRNA binds T-T-T. This mRNA binds to a tRNA which in turn binds phenylalanine. G-A-T forms different chemical bonds, so it “codes” for a different amino acid (aspartic acid).

        “that is why every microbiologist in the world calls it a code.”

        Microbiologists use anthropomorphic metaphors to make biochemistry easier to understand. Although it’s clearly not working very well for you.

      • [][]“There is absolutely no chemical or physical law or reason why …”[][]

        You are simply assuming that, so that you can appear to have a justification for claiming that it happened by means of supernatural “Creation, by God!”

        Your assumption is obviously wrong, no matter how fanatically attached to it you feel.

        You could equally well have claimed, before Harvey, et. al., that there was no physical or chemical reason why we should bleed — it was just supernatural intervention that made it happen.

    • Moshe Averick

      AW,
      The odds you mention about lightning are nowhere near “virtually zero”. if the odds are 775,000: 1 and you have a population of 310,000,000, then it is virtually certain that people will be killed by lightning. when you read the calculations by Origin of Life researchers, you are talking about numbers like 10 to the thousandth power, 10 to the 40 thousandth power, etc. Dr. G.C. Smith calculated the odds of the primed nucleotides being generated by random. With even a very conservative estimate he came up with 10 to the 109th power. Since 10 to 80th power is the number of atoms in the universe you begin to understand what these researchers mean when they say “virtually zero”. there is only a window of maximum 500 million years or so (according to the standard scientific model) to go from raw inorganic chemicals to a fully functioning bacterium with a fully functioning DNA-based genetic code, the same system that operates in all life on our planet. Smith’s odds are only for the formation of nucleotides themselves. When you factor in everything else that must happen also, the whole notion becomes so absurd that the only way for anyone to take it seriously is a leap of faith.

      • Okay. So we have this equation:

        500,000,000 * X / 10^109 = odds of life forming naturally.

        500,000,000 = number of years for this to happen
        10^109 = odds of the primed nucleotides being generated by random.
        X = number of times a random permutation of atoms is generated per year.

        In order to know the odds of life forming naturally, you need to know X. If X = 10^200, then life was certain to form.

        What is X?

        • “have a population of 310,000,000, then it is virtually certain that people will be killed by lightning.”

          Exactly. The odds of something happening once (1/750,000 in the lightning example)is not the only part of the equation that determines how likely it is to occur. Also important is how many opportunities there are for the event to occur (310 mil in the lightning example).

          In the above equation, X is analogous to the population of the US in the lightning example. The odds of nucleotides being randomly generated is 10^109. But how many combinations of random atoms are being generated over the course of 500 million years? What is X?

          • Moshe Averick

            AW,

            Please forgive me but you have misunderstood the argument about probabilities. Let us talk about randomly generating 10,000 letters in the English language.

            The probability of any particular combination coming up is 26 to the ten thousandth power. But of course if I go ahead and generate the numbers, SOME COMBINATION has to come up. That is statistically insignificant. However, if I make a bet with you for a million dollars that by pure chance a particular combination comes up and that is the one that appears on the first try, you would get very suspicious. That is because the number has a specific significance and meaning(i.e. specified information). If out of 26 to the ten thousandth power number of possibilities I get the one combination that wins me a million dollars you understand immediately that the game was fixed.

            That is why we all recognize that the 10,000 letters that appear on the front page of a newspaper were not randomly generated even though the combination itself is just as likely as any other from a random generation of letters. The issue is that out of 26 to the ten thousandth power of possibilities only a miniscule number of combinations convey anything meaningful. That is why we recognize that specified information cannot be generated randomly or through unguided processes. If you think about it carefully your will realize that there are zero exceptions to this rule.

          • []“That is why we recognize that specified information cannot be generated randomly or through unguided processes. If you think about it carefully your will realize that there are zero exceptions to this rule.”[]

            That is true, Rabbi.

            Your error does not lie in that premise, so you are using it to divert the issue. Your error lies in believing that DNA contains “specified information!” In other words, you are arguing that “God Did It!” based on your assumption that “God Did It!”

            Your “IDOL” argument goes nowhere because you are not even trying to make a rational argument. All you have is your leap of faith that “God Did It!,” and you cannot get beyond it.

        • 10^200 is beyond the universal probability bound. Get real! Why don’t we make it 10^200,000,000. Then we can expect the Flying Spaghetti Monster any minute now.

          Are you even following the argument?

          • Nothing with an improbability rate higher than 10^143 can possibly happen, eh? Fine.

            Take a deck of cards and deal out ten hands of five cards each. Regardless of what cards you deal out or how the deck is shuffled, the probability of you dealing out the hands you did is always the same (and it’s exactly the same as the order the cards would land in if you just threw the deck up in the air, or the order they would be in if you shuffled the deck and set it on the table)… and the odds happen to be approximately 1 in 8.06581752 × 10^67. Reshuffle the deck and deal out a second set of hands. Reshuffle the deck and deal out a third. The cumulative odds of dealing out the 150 cards in a row you have dealt out are 1 in 5.24741215 × 10^203.

            I can explain how to determine these odds if you like, because it’s not a difficult equation (though it is very time consuming if you don’t have a computer to crunch the numbers for you).

            So, I call bull$#!+ on that argument. You can’t achieve anything more improbable than 1×10^143 in the history of the Universe? I can do it in less than ten minutes flat.

          • HA! AW, I bet you went totally organsmic when you pushed the Submit Comment button on your last reply. Unfortunately, you misunderstand your own argument. Fear not though; you’re not alone. Stoddard and Eitan are just as clueless.

            You don’t have to explain the math to me. It’s simply multiplying the factorials of 52 for each hand dealt. The problem with your argument is that the hands dealt were merely Shannon information. There was no preconceived target pattern. You simply reduced the probability of that particular combination of cards. The order of cards resulting from your first three attempts were not specified. Now here’s the rub: Go ahead, reshuffle those cards and deal them out three more times. If you get the same combination of cards as you did the first three times, then you’ve reached beyond the universal probability bound. Good luck!

            It’s like winning the lottery. Winning the first time is no big deal because there was no specified target number. However, winning a second or third time reveals a pattern that would make the Gambling Commission want to take a closer look. Another way to look at this is to imagine throwing those cards up in the air and noting the resulting pattern on the floor. (Shannon information) Now gather up the cards and do the same thing. If you get the exact same pattern as before (specified information) then you’ve proved me wrong.

          • Upon further reflection, your example is what can be described as drawing a bullseye around an arrow after it’s be shot into a wall.

            Shoot the arrow, draw the bullseye, claim you’re Robin Hood. To really be Robin Hood, you have to shoot a second arrow and hope it splits the first.

          • What you and the Rabbi are doing, Rex, is noticing that scientists have so far failed to discover the specifics of the origin of life, then you are drawing a bullseye around that fact and claiming that your belief in “Creation, by God!” is proved by your bullseye.

            But you would have to do the impossible, and demonstrate how “God Did It” if you really wanted to be taken seriously. Naturally, you can’t do it.

      • [][]“… the whole notion becomes so absurd that the only way for anyone to take it [i.e., nature,] seriously is a leap of faith.”[][]

        I know you don’t like criticism, Rabbi Averick, but I must disagree with you on this point.

        It is belief in the supernatural which takes a leap of faith. It does not take any leap of faith to believe in nature.

        This is because nature is all around us, while the supernatural is nowhere to be found.

        • For someone who “doesn’t like criticism”, Rabbi Averick certainly gives his critics free reign.

          As he is clearly capable of refuting the relentless attacks from the seemingly obsessed fringe of the anti-God fanatics that appear to be stalking him, one might think that he actually enjoys the debate.

          • []“As he is clearly capable of refuting …”[]

            What evidence leads you to that conclusion? Can you point out any instance where he has accomplished a refutation? Try it, and see where you get.

          • In my experience, Rabbi Averick avoids criticism like the plague. He won’t touch it — is that what you call “refuting” it?

            Of course, it will be easier for you to retain your faith that “he is clearly capable of refuting” so long as he doesn’t try to put it into practice. Faith is belief in things unseen.

          • How did the later comment get moderated before these earlier ones? Just curious about how it works.

      • []The odds you mention about lightning are nowhere near “virtually zero”.[]

        On that point you are correct, Rabbi. (Just so as not to be relentlessly negative.)

        • Actually, faith is “the substance of things hoped for” and the “evidence of things not seen”. (Heb.11:1)

          • So his “clear capability of refuting” can only be hoped for as long as it remains unseen.

            Trying to bring it into the light of day would make it go poof.

  • \\|//
    Moshe Averick
    January 30, 2013
    12:40 pm
    “DNA is based on CODED information.”
    //|\\

    No, it is not.

    The ability to CODE did not arise until long after the origin of DNA.

    Before there was DNA, there was nobody around to CODE anything.

    • Daniel Schealler

      Good point.

      I should stop using the phrase ‘genetic code’ altogether in these conversations.

      It’s a bit like ‘water wants to flow downhill’ or ‘selfish gene’ – useful shorthand that can introduce incorrect connotations when only understood in a shallow way.

      I’ll keep that in mind in future.

  • I don’t think the quicksand of religion is actually going to sink science. Science has reality on its side. Religion has nothing (with plenty of blind faith in that nothingness, but how that’s supposed to work is a mystery).

  • The Natural science always begins with examining the object of study, whether it is well isolated from things non-natural such as human factors (free will or physical presence of humans). Artefacts proper only to an intelligent designer are also among the non-natural factors indeed. They too must be excluded from the field of natural science study. And that is exactly what typically happens.

    Say, a geologist studies a deep cut in the ground for minerals, but suddenly he finds an amphora. Did he try to explain it out as a non-aided natural process of formation of amphora from dirt? No. He just realizes that he dug out an artefact of another scientific field: the field which does deal with certain human factors. That field is called archeology.

    Similarly, if that geologist dig out an ancient manuscript in an unknown language, he would tend to explain it out as an unaided anything even much less. Indeed, he would forward it to scientist in ancient languages and linguists. Their branch of science is different from the natural science, because they study something explicitly non-natural, something which is explicitly a product of intelligence.

    In both cases we see a standard situation of RE-CLASSIFICATION of the studied phenomenon from the field of natural science, followed by REDIRECTING it into another more appropriate field of science which deals with non-natural phenomena.

    And this is exactly the case with the live cell molecular biology. At the beginning, this field belonged to the natural science searching for unaided mechanism of life emergence and functioning. The recent discoveries however demonstrated such a functional and structural complexity, which is proper only to products of intelligence no less than a manuscript in the example above.

    Given such evidence, all that the honest scientists must do is to reclassify the field from the purely natural science into a something wider. Just go wherever the evidence and good judgement lead you – unless you are not a commissar or fraud. (Speaking about fraud).

  • /|\
    Moshe Averick
    January 29, 2013
    1:17 am
    “They are obviously the products of intelligent design, we do not even consider any other answer unless we are prepared to take a leap of faith that there is an unguided process that could produce them.”
    \|/

    Rabbi Averick wishes to pretend that it takes a “leap of faith” to believe in nature, while the existence of a supernatural God is “obvious” and requires no faith. He feels that it is science that is based on faith, while religion is not based on faith. He has a very odd outlook. He’s also very wrong.

  • /|\
    Moshe Averick
    January 29, 2013
    1:07 am
    “When we assess probabilities we are not calculating the odds of life existing, it clearly exists already. We are calculating the probabilities that it could come from non-life through a random process. As Monod says, that probability is virtually zero.”
    \|/

    Rabbi Averick is making an invalid assumption that “an unguided process” means “a random process.”

    Apparently he rejects the idea of “the laws of nature,” and will accept nothing beyond “The Laws Of God!” In his mind, the miraculous takes the place of nature, fiction replaces fact.

  • I’ve tried to rebut every variation of Rabbi Averick’s alleged case for his “IDOL” theory. Are there any I’ve missed?

    At any rate, Rabbi Averick’s case is in a shambles, and he has no way to defend it (which is probably why he doesn’t even make an attempt).

    The attempts by religion to transform science into a theistic enterprise are significant, and deserve serious consideration.

  • What is the difference between atheistic and non-atheistic science?

    • It’s the difference between a Sir Isaac Newton (theist) and a Sir Arthur Eddington (atheist). It has nothing to do the quality of the science. The difference lies in the worldview of the scientist and how that advances or hinders the progress of science.

      • How does atheism hinder science, and how does theism advance science? Maybe provide an example?

        Or you can use mine. The cause of schizophrenia is unknown. Working under the assumption that the cause is natural, atheistic scientists study the chemical differences between normal and schizophrenic brains.

        How would a thesitic scientist approach the question differently?

      • How does atheism hinder science, and how does theism advance science? Maybe provide an example?

        Good question. Well for starters, the insistence for the past half century that non-coding DNA was junk. Nothing more than the byproduct of random mutations or retroviruses. Who knows what we would know by now about the genome if it weren’t for the deniers of design.

        More examples tomorrow.

        • []“Who knows what we would know by now about the genome if it weren’t for the deniers of design.”[]

          Since the genome wasn’t designed, how do you see your question as being sensible or relevant?

          • Because a “scientist” that already “knows” the answers before he or she has even fully formulated all the questions is by definition incapable of arriving at an unbiased conclusion.

            As is so aptly demonstrated by the myriad of comments posted in screaming opposition to anything the Rabbi writes, a closed mind can’t be objective.

            Put another way, there is none so blind as he that will not see.

          • It’s true that Rabbi Averick is not being objective, but nobody has to scream to make such a simple and obvious point. Being non-objective is the whole point of religious faith.

        • How did atheism hinder this conclusion? I thought the previous evidence suggested that most of DNA was junk, but new evidence suggests that only about 20% of DNA may be junk.

          How would theistic science have gotten us to this conclusion faster?

      • **
        **
        RexTugwell
        January 29, 2013
        4:24 pm
        “It’s the difference between a Sir Isaac Newton (theist) and a Sir Arthur Eddington (atheist). It has nothing to do the quality of the science. The difference lies in the worldview of the scientist and how that advances or hinders the progress of science.”
        **
        **

        You’re rather confused, Rex. You can’t have it both ways. Is it “nothing to do,” or is it “advances or hinders”? You need to make a choice.

    • There is no such thing as “non-atheistic science,” i.e., science based on supernaturalism. If science refuses to deal with nature, it isn’t science any more.

    • Atheist science, properly so-called, without the inevitable admixture of the quantum paradigm, inevitable to day for scientific advances, yet which they affect to despise in their blindness, since it is full of mysteries, is thus a parasitic leech on the true empirical science of today.

      They are not ashamed to earn their living by these mysteries, while their abjectly risible scientism in broader contexts, drives them to scoff at the scientific rigour of the very guardians of scientific rigour, in the teeth of their deranged fantasies.

      Too long-winded, but it covers the nub of the matter. There are so many aspects of modern physics that involve entities and their unambiguously exogenous provenance beyond space-time, one can only marvel at how anyone with an IQ above 5, could manage to totally ignore their implications. MYSTERIES reaching back to the primordial Singularity.

      • It is even a matter of empirically-proven fact that mind is prior to matter (has been for nearly 100 years!!!), so mind simply could not be an emanation from matter.

        • [][]“… a matter of empirically-proven fact that mind is prior to matter …”[][]

          Now there is a good example of something that never happened, but which could be believed as a matter of blind (i.e., religious) faith.

      • [][]“There are so many aspects of modern physics that involve entities and their unambiguously exogenous provenance beyond space-time,…”[][]

        What a bunch of nonsense.

    • Moshe Averick

      AW,
      Atheistic science is an approach to science with the underlying principle that nothing exists outside of the physical universe. Everything is the product of purely physical causes.

  • Rally for Reasons! That’s a good one. They’re not far short of a century behind the times. The implications of quantum mechanics seems to have bypassed their ‘Reason’.

    I don’t know if you follow it, but Uncommon Descent is a brilliant thread exposing their madness.

    • []“The implications of quantum mechanics seems to have bypassed their ‘Reason’.”[]

      Well, Becke, not only can’t you get your subjects and predicates to agree, but, it seems, you don’t get the implications of quantum mechanics.

  • Will do, Moshe. Thank you.

    You know, G K Chesterton put the matter very succinctly:

    “It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.” – G K

  • \|/
    Moshe Averick
    January 29, 2013
    1:39 am
    “The probability of life emerging through an unguided process is virtually zero. Intelligent design is not ancient mythology, it is simply the obvious truth.”
    /|\

    The notion of an “Intelligent Designer Of Life” is “the obvious truth” in the same sense that the notion that “a circle is square” is “the obvious truth.” That is, it is a contradictory notion that cannot possibly be true.

    The falsity of the ancient mythology of theism is obvious, but not fully appreciated by all.

  • \|/
    Moshe Averick
    January 29, 2013
    1:39 am
    “I have no problem if scientists want to investigate IF there is a naturalistic origin of life,…”
    /|\

    There is no legitimate question to investigate there. There is no possible alternative to a natural origin of life. The only question for science to investigate concerning the origin of life is HOW the natural process actually worked.

    Rabbi Averick’s “IDOL is pure fantasy. “Creation, by God!” is fiction, not science.

  • The probability that life could have been created by God is zero.

    God is “not-of-this-world” in a real sense: God is simply a fictional character.

    “Creation, by God!” is not a possibility because “the supernatural” is impossible in any way, shape, or form.

    Blind faith in the supernatural (and there is an abundant supply of such faith) does not turn fantasy into fact.

  • \|/
    Moshe Averick
    January 29, 2013
    1:17 am
    “DNA … display[s] astounding levels of functional complexity and specified information.”
    /|\

    Not exactly.

    In fact, there is not a shred of “specified information” in DNA regarding the origin of life (or the evolution of humans).

    (Scientists may be able to put information into DNA now, but the existence of DNA long, long predates that possibility.)

    The notion that God specified information for the “DNA system” to work with is pure fantasy — wishful magical thinking (which is really not as close as it sounds to actual thinking — it’s just blind faith).

    The idea of the “genetic code” is an analogy. There is not literally any code or information there.

  • \|/
    RexTugwell
    January 28, 2013
    4:44 pm
    “Sometimes I envy the faith of the atheist who refuses to see that the emperor has no clothes.”
    /|\

    It doesn’t take any faith at all to see that “the emperor has no clothes,” i.e., that God does not exist. Atheism is actually the refusal to take God on faith.

  • I used to believe that life evolved by chance – until I realised I didn’t have that much faith ! Here’s why.

    Something is said to be “statistically impossible” if the chance of it happening is 10^50, which is a 1 followed by 50 zeroes. Now using High School maths, it works out that the chance of randomly getting a certain DNA sequence becomes impossible at just 85 DNA letters (ie, 4^85).

    As the simplest known organisms has about half a million DNA letters, even an “impossible” 85-letter sequence won’t get you very far!

    • The probability of an event is the probability of the event occuring once x the number of opportunities for the event to occur.

      What is the probability that the first self-replicating molecule formed spontaneously once?

      How many opportunities were there for that molecule to form?

    • [][]“I used to believe that life evolved by chance – until I realised I didn’t have that much faith !”[][]

      It does take a lot of faith to believe that “life evolved by chance!” And it takes even more faith to believe that “life evolved due to supernatural intervention!”

      But why limit yourself to that false alternative, neither part of which makes any sense?

  • Daniel Schealler

    This is a very good delivery of a god-of-the-gaps argument.

    The scientists aren’t sinking on quicksand. But in fairness, neither is the Rabbi. He’s tap-dancing rapidly enough to stay afloat.

    Non-Newtonian fluids can be a bugger that way.

    • Daniel,

      See my reply below to mark wallace. god of the gaps is a canard used to avoid confronting the very real enigma in understanding the origin of life. When we discover a mud hut in the jungle, our perception of functional complexity is overwhelming and we do not even consider any answer other than intelligent design. Even with readily available mud, stones, straw, and leaves no one in their right mind would think that the mud hut emerged through some unguided process. The genetic code, the DNA information processing system, and the molecular machinery present in the simplest bacterium display astounding levels of functional complexity and specified information. They are obviously the products of intelligent design, we do not even consider any other answer unless we are prepared to take a leap of faith that there is an unguided process that could produce them. Dr. Fry says that same thing in so many words. At the very least the very heavy burden of proof is on the atheist to prove that such a notion is plausible.

      • \|/
        Moshe Averick
        January 29, 2013
        1:17 am
        “DNA … display[s] astounding levels of functional complexity and specified information.”
        /|\

        Not exactly.

        In fact, there is not a shred of “specified information” in DNA regarding the origin of life (or the evolution of humans).

        (Scientists may be able to put information into DNA now, but the existence of DNA long, long predates that possibility.)

        The notion that God specified information for the “DNA system” to work with is pure fantasy — wishful magical thinking (which is really not as close as it sounds to actual thinking — it’s just blind faith).

      • You never proved that all functional complexity and specified information is the product of intelligent design. That is exactly what the argument is all about.

        • Eitan,
          Let’s look at it from the perspective of Nobel Prize winner Dr. Jacque Monod. There are two (and only two) possibilities for the origin of the first cell and it’s genetic code and digital information/processing/self-replicating system. Chance or Intelligent Intervention. According to Monod the probability of a random assmembly of the obove mechanisms is “virtually zero.” That means that the alternative is statistically “virtually certain.”

          • “Intelligent intervention” by a Supernatural Being (e.g., the “Averick IDOL“) has a probability of absolutely ZERO. That is effectively infinitely less than a “probability of virtually zero.”

            The fact is that natural processes are the only kind that exist — and “unnatural processes” are merely imaginary.

          • I agree. There are only two possibilities: Chance and a Creator. The probability of the creator is ZERO. Therefore, the alternative (Chance) is 100% certain to have happened.

        • That’s because not all “functional complexity” is a product of consciousness. Consciousness itself is a good example of “functional complexity” that could not have been a result of consciousness.

      • [][]“Even with readily available mud, stones, straw, and leaves no one in their right mind would think that the mud hut emerged through some unguided process. The genetic code, the DNA information processing system, and the molecular machinery present in the simplest bacterium display astounding levels of functional complexity and specified information. They are obviously the products of intelligent design, we do not even consider any other answer unless we are prepared to take a leap of faith that there is an unguided process that could produce them.”[][]

        Rabbi Averick has cleverly twisted this analysis to be backwards rather than straightforward.

        In fact, it is belief in God (aka supernatural “Intelligent Design”) that is based on a leap of faith. Believing in nature does not take any leap of faith.

        Rabbi Averick is arguing, in essence, that “black is white, and white is black — and circles are square.”

        Mud huts are obviously products of human design. DNA is obviously not a product of intelligent design (since intelligence depends on the existence of DNA, not vice versa).

      • Daniel Schealler

        I’ve responded below under your response to Mark.

        The difference is that we can observe a type of intelligent designer (human) that produces mud huts, and we can observe the mechanism and processes that are used in the construction of mud huts, and we can ask those intelligent designers why they are doing things in the way they are doing that reveals that they have an intentful plan to acquire shelter from the elements.

        So if we stumble upon a structure in the wilderness that looks very much like a mud hut, we can bring all that observable evidence with us in the act of observation. That evidence provides support to the notion that the structure we are observing is probably a mud hut, just like the other mud huts we are already familiar with, and probably constructed for the same reasons.

        Contrast this to the genetic code: We cannot observe any kind of intelligent designer that can produce genetic code. If such a designer exists, we do not know what their mechanism of implementing their design would look like. We cannot ask an unobservable designer for their reason for the design or their design documents.

        The assertion that mud hut was designed is supported by observable evidence.

        The assertion that the genetic code as designed is not supported by observable evidence.

        The assertion that ‘it looks designed’ is not evidence.

        If it were true that the two scenarios were analogous? If it were the case that we had no observable evidence about the construction and purpose of mud huts? Then it would be unjustified to conclude that a mud hut that we stumble upon in the wilderness was designed. Intuitive? Yes. Correct? In this specific example our intuition would turn out to be correct by coincidence.

        But justified?

        No. Such a conclusion is not justified in the absence of the kinds of tacit knowledge we bring with us as part of our analysis – tacit knowledge that must be backed up by observable evidence.

        Intelligent design has no such evidence. It is trying to trade on intuition and credulity.

        That you can only seem to support intelligent design by making broken analogies between claims of design without supporting evidence (the genetic code is intelligently designed) and claims of design with supporting evidence (mud huts are intelligently designed) is very telling.

        If you had direct evidence that genetic code was designed, there would be no need for fallacious analogies such as this.

        If you do not have direct evidence that genetic code is designed, then the attempt at analogy between that and a situation where we do have such evidence is by definition a fallacious analogy.

        You’ve got nothing.

        • Daniel,
          Nobody has ever seen any type of alien life. Yet if certain types of radio signals were detected coming from a distant galaxy that indicated “Intelligence” this would be considered evidence of the existence of intelligent alien life. This would be true despite the fact that nobody has ever seen them, talked to them, or in fact knows anything at all about them except for the fact that they must be conscious and capable of intelligent creative activity. The intelligent message itself is the evidence for their existence. The functional complexity and specified information contained
          in the simplest living cell is itself the evidence for the existence of its intelligent creator. If we are unable to discern and identify intelligent causation the whole SETI project is a complete waste of time.

          • [][]“The functional complexity and specified information contained
            in the simplest living cell is itself the evidence for the existence of its intelligent creator.”
            [][]

            Not exactly.

            In the first place, there is no “specified information” in living cells.

            In the second place, the “functional complexity” of cells is simply evidence that such “functional complexity” is perfectly natural — NOT that it is miraculously and magically somehow “supernatural.”

            In fact, there is no alternative to nature (i.e., no “second option” for the existence of things).

          • The difference is that we can observe a type of intelligent designer (human) that produces radiowaves, and we can observe the mechanism and processes that are used in the transmission of radiowaves, and we can ask those intelligent designers why they are doing things in the way they are doing that reveals that they have an intentful plan to send a message via radiowaves.

            Again, we cannot observe any kind of intelligent designer that can produce genetic code. If such a designer exists, we do not know what their mechanism of implementing their design would look like. We cannot ask an unobservable designer for their reason for the design or their design documents.

            So… radiowaves are analogous to mud huts. DNA is not analogous to either.

          • []“If we are unable to discern and identify intelligent causation the whole SETI project is a complete waste of time.”[]

            We certainly are capable of discerning intelligent causation in nature. And we are not capable of discerning something that doesn’t exist, e.g, “intelligent causation from SUPER-NATURE.”

            Still, the whole “SETI” deal does seem like rather a boondoggle.

          • Daniel Schealler

            “Nobody has ever seen any type of alien life.”

            True.

            However: We have seen life. And we have seen that the universe is huge and old and repeatedly surprising.

            It is not unreasonable to suppose that, given that life arose on earth, it may also have arisen elsewhere… And furthermore, that if it did arise elsewhere, it could very well have capabilities similar to our own.

            This is not certain, by any stretch of the imagination. However, based on observed evidence, it remains a plausible possibility.

            Where’s your direct observed evidence that makes an intelligent designer as plausible or more plausible than alien life? All you’ve offered so far are broken analogies.

            “Yet if certain types of radio signals were detected coming from a distant galaxy that indicated “Intelligence” this would be considered evidence of the existence of intelligent alien life.”

            Not necessarily.

            The electromagnetic signals could turn out to be a new kind of non-life phenomenon.

            You’re oversimplifying to suggest that it would be a simple “if/then” scenario.

            Remember my example of pulsars: At first, the regular repeating signal from pulsars was thought to be artificial as it was too regular, and at the time no natural process was known that could create such signals.

            Eventually the same kind of signal was recorded from multiple areas.

            This led to the conclusion of a hot, dense object rotating very quickly and streaming out pulses of electromagnetic radiation, which we were reading as if it were a regular on/off signal from our location.

            Pulse -> pulsar.

            Again: Just because something looks designed, this doesn’t mean that it was designed.

            “The intelligent message itself is the evidence for their existence.”

            No.

            The intelligent message in combination with other evidence such as the existence of life on earth and the size and age of the universe is what could (maybe) add up to plausible evidence for intelligent alien life.

            If we didn’t know about living organisms, the size or age of the universe, or the mechanisms by which living organisms can produce and receive electromagnetic signals, then such a signal would not be evidence of alien life.

            In the absence of supporting observed evidence of life and its capabilities, such a signal would be a curios mystery. It would be unjustified to jump from ‘curious mystery’ to ‘intelligently designed’ without the addition of supporting evidence.

            I think you are failing to acknowledge the relevance of the supporting evidence for the existence of alien life because it is so ubiquitous and obvious that it can be assumed tacitly.

            ——

            [digression]

            For the record, personally I think that SETI is a flawed concept because light is too slow. The milky way is 120,000 light-years across. If we (generously) assume that human transmissions have been strong enough to get into space for 200 years, this means that our own transmissions have only had time to travel for one-sixth of a percent of the length of the galaxy. And that’s assuming those early transmissions remain strong enough to detect. So likely even if we did find a signal from space that was generated by alien life, it would be something along the lines of broken and sporadic Morse code that could plausibly have been generated by an unknown natural process. If we assume humanity is a reasonable yardstick, then it would take a hundred years before any such transmission would actually become complex and interesting enough that we could begin to justify the position that the origin of the signal was alien life.

            But that’s just me, of course. I’m not an expert.

        • [][]“If you had direct evidence that genetic code was designed,…”[][]

          I think it is a key point that there is no possibility for such evidence to exist — in the same sense that evidence for square circles is non-existent.

          Life depends on the “genetic code,” consciousness depends on life, intelligence depends on consciousness, and design depends on intelligence. Cause and effect cannot be reversed (such that intelligence miraculously comes before life).

          It is not merely that Rabbi Averick hasn’t found the evidence for his “IDOL” process, it’s that the process he puts his faith in is literally impossible. The notion of “the supernatural” is a contradiction of nature as such.

        • [][]“Contrast this to the genetic code: We cannot observe any kind of intelligent designer that can produce genetic code. If such a designer exists, we do not know what their mechanism of implementing their design would look like.”[][]

          Such a contradictory, supernatural designer cannot possibly exist.

          It is not that there is something there we just don’t know anything about: it’s that there is nothing there. The supernatural is impossible, no matter what any theist believes or claims.

      • Moshe,

        Again, you haven’t addressed the fact that intelligent design cannot take place without an intelligent designer already in place. Everyone agrees that intelligence can do fantastic things. The question is: Where did this intelligence come from in the first place. It seems to me that you are confusing the two questions.

    • Our God of the Gaps makes a whole lot more sense than your God of Random Mutations!

      What a Good Shepherd, always there with his crook, when they stray in the mountain mists, to stop them falling through the gaps and ravines.

  • Let me amend that ‘dumb s*b’ to, ‘fathomlessly irrational personage’.

  • Go to the top of the class, Tim Minchin!

  • [][]“It really does seem that atheistic science is sinking in the quicksand.”[][]

    The notion of “theistic science” is a contradiction in terms; it is not something which is literally possible. Science has to be atheistic, or else it wouldn’t be science (but rather religion instead).

    Science is the pursuit of knowledge, which requires sticking to reality. Theism is pure fantasy. The two cannot be mixed without undercutting science. (Theism is dead already — cognitively speaking — it’s never been otherwise.)

  • Sometimes I envy the faith of the atheist who refuses to see that the emperor has no clothes. It’s either faith or an almost pathological state of denial. Those who believe in even the remotest possibility of life being create in the lab much less its origin being understood apart from an intelligent designer fail to understand the insurmountable hurdles that need to be overcome naturally:

    - homochirality of amino acids and sugars in the cell
    - the combinatorial sequencing problem of genes
    - “evolution” of the eukaryotic nucleus
    - gene expression that relies on RNA polymerase coded in DNA and DNA that codes for RNA polymerase. Classic chicken and egg problem
    - irreducible complexity of cellular systems like ATP synthase

    Note bene: in the unlikely event that life is created in the lab, it will be life that is intelligently designed, no?

    • [][]Those who believe in even the remotest possibility of … [life's] origin being understood apart from an intelligent designer fail to understand the insurmountable hurdles that need to be overcome …”[][]

      Given that there is no possibility of the origin of life have been an unnaturally designed process, i.e., that it could only have happened naturally — and without any design whatsoever — then there is no other way to understand it other than “apart from an intelligent designer.”

      You can ignore logic, Rex, but you cannot escape it.

      Design requires intelligence, which depends on life. So life could not have been designed — since there was no intelligence before there was life.

      • Given that there is no possibility of the origin of life to have been an unnaturally designed process, i.e., that that life could only have happened naturally — and without any design whatsoever — then there is no other way to understand it other than “apart from an intelligent designer.”

        You can ignore logic, Rex, but you cannot escape it.

        Design requires intelligence, which depends on life. So life could not have been designed — since there was no intelligence before there was life.

    • “the insurmountable hurdles that need to be overcome naturally”

      How do you know these hurdles are insurmountable?

    • Ok, I probably should have preceded “insurmountable” with “apparently”. Nevertheless, even after 60 years of OOL research, we’re really no closer to a naturalistic explanation of the OOL. Just look at the varied and contradictory theories that are proposed. By all means, let’s research the OOL. The more we learn about biochemistry and the requirements of cellular life, the more we realize how apparently insurmoutable those hurdles are.

      I’m more inclined to believe in a purely naturalistic cause for Mt. Rushmore than I am in a naturalistic explanation for the first cell. However, the OOL researchers who “just know that there’s no G-d” are as foolish as the geologist looking at wind, rain and erosion as the cause of the faces on Rushmore.

      • [][]“Nevertheless, even after 60 years of OOL research, we’re really no closer to a naturalistic explanation of the OOL.”[][]

        Well, there is the point that after thousands of years of belief in God, there is still zero evidence for the existence of God. Are you going to claim that belief in God is therefore unjustified because the lack of a supernaturalistic explanation means that no such explanation is possible?

      • [][]“The more we learn about biochemistry and the requirements of cellular life, the more we realize how apparently insurmoutable those hurdles are.”[][]

        You can kid yourself about how “apparently insurmountable” those “hurdles” are, but you cannot escape the fact that they actually were surmounted, i.e., that life actually does exist (while the supernatural remains impossible).

      • “Nevertheless, even after 60 years of OOL research, we’re really no closer to a naturalistic explanation of the OOL.”

        Therefore… what? What’s your point?

  • Moshe writes, “Where did the dazzling DNA-based genetic system and its accompanying molecular machinery come from? In other words, how did life begin?”

    Why do you keep asking the same question over and over again? I’ve already answered you with the irrefutable proof below.

    I know that 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. But at some point you need to grow up.

    FIRST PART OF MY IRREFUTABLE ARGUMENT FOR A NATURAL, UNGUIDED ORIGIN OF LIFE:

    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 life 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 happen.

    • Eitan,
      To beat a dead horse: You never proved that all living things evolved from simpler living things. That is exactly what the argument is all about

      • [][]“You never proved that all living things evolved from simpler living things.”[][]

        That could not possibly be proved because it couldn’t possibly be true. The notion makes no sense.

        But note, Rabbi Averick, that he never claimed to have proved any such thing.

      • Okay.

        Prove that all functional complexity and specified information is the product of intelligence.

        • “Specified information” is necessarily a product of intelligence because somebody has to specify it.

          “Functional complexity” can be intelligently produced, but it isn’t necessarily only the product of intelligence. For instance, life as such is “functionally complex,” but was not created by any intelligence (since intelligence could only come later in the process).

        • Well said, Etian. You have summed up the two positions quite well. What can’t be proven has be taken on faith.

          The difference here being that one side acknowledges that their world view is based on faith while the side is in denial and hiding behind “scientific” pretension.

      • When we discover a lizard in the jungle, nowadays we understand that it evolved from simpler self-replicating things. Bacteria are alive. Bacteria obviously evolved from simpler self-replicating things. We do not even consider any other answer unless we are prepared to take a leap of faith that there is an immaterial being that could produce them. The very heavy burden of proof is on you to prove that such a notion is plausible.

        • Eitan,

          Again, you haven’t addressed the fact that evolution cannot take place without the genetic/molecular machinery already in place. Everyone agrees that fantastic machinery can do fantastic things. The question is: Where did this machinery come from in the first place. Even as zealous an advocated as Eugenie Scott admits that origin of life and evolution are conceptually and fundamentally two different questions. She also notes that some people confust the two. It seems to me that you have confused the two.

      • Since mankind’s only experience is that intelligence is the source of all specified information, the burden of proof would fall to you Eitan, to show us an exception.

        • Since Science has shown that only all LIFE evolved from simpler self replicating things, the burden of proof would fall to you Rex, to show us an exception.

        • There is not exception. You cannot have “specified information” without somebody to do the specifying. That is, “specified information” depends on the existence of DNA, not vice versa!

          • There is no exception. You cannot have “specified information” without somebody to do the specifying. That is, “specified information” depends on the existence of DNA, not vice versa!

      • When we discover a lizard in the jungle, nowadays we understand that it evolved from simpler self-replicating things. Bacteria are alive. Bacteria obviously evolved from simpler self-replicating things. We do not even consider any other answer unless we are prepared to take a leap of faith that there is an immaterial being that could produce them. The very heavy burden of proof is on you to prove that such a notion is plausible.

        Moreover, there are no examples of life that are the result of guided processes. Intelligent design is irrelevant because it cannot occur without a designer already in place. Intelligent design simply pushes the question back one step.

      • Moshe-

        It’s quite simple. There are only two possibilities for the origin of the first cell: Chance or Intelligent Intervention. The probability of intelligent intervention is ZERO. That means that the alternative is statistically 100% certain.

        • []“There are only two possibilities for the origin of the first cell: Chance or Intelligent Intervention.”[]

          Neither of your proposed “possibilities” is actually possible.

          The probability of intelligent intervention is ZERO, and so is the probability of chance. You are overlooking the reality of causality, of things acting according to their nature.

    • [][]“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 think that’s baloney.

      A “natural, unguided process” is the only possibility for the origin of life because “unnatural processes” are impossible. Period.

      And, naturally, “unguided processes” were the only possible kind before the evolution of human intelligence.

      From whence arises this notion that “the philosophical problem of the infinite regress” makes any sense or has any relevance?

    • “The assertion that all living things evolved from simpler self-replicating things is confirmed by evidence across multiple scientific disciplines.”

      I don’t think Drs. Mayr, Crick, Popper, Coyne and Monod got the memo.

    • Speculation and wishful thinking Eitan.

      You have provided no substance, no proof to substantiate your belief system. Humans have recognised that an intelligent designer must exist since as far back as we have a written record for.

      Almost all of our greatest scientific minds of the past believed in a Creator. Many, not indoctrinated, believe today as well.

      I laughed out loud when I read your comment like “There are zero examples of life that are not the result of evolution. ” Such pride, such arrogance, especially considering evolutions complete lack of evidence and failed predictions.

      [1] http://www.darwinspredictions.com/

      Since yours, like the others, is a belief system, with no evidence (if you disagree with this statement, simply provide verifiable evidence) I see no reason why yours should be favoured over another.

      • And what proof do you have to substantiate your belief systemin ID?

        Scientists recognize that life evolved from simpler self-replicating things. Many other people, not indoctrinated, believe that as well.

        Did you laugh when Moshe wrote “There are zero examples of functional complexity and specified information that are not the result of intelligent design. ”

        Were you taken aback by his pride and arrogance, especially considering ID’s complete lack of evidence and inability to make any predictions whatsoever?

    • Also, if your fairytale has overwhelming support, why so much dissent? [1] Many of the scientists who dissent on this list are not theists.

      You say, “What is important is not that we understand how he it happened, but that it DID happen.” Having fingers in your ears, repeating over and over “evolution did happen” will not save your precious theory.

      [1] http://www.dissentfromdarwin.com/download.php

      • Why is there so much dissent regarding intelligent design?

        Even the Pope believes in evolution.

      • Almost everyone believes in evolution! If by evolution, you mean change over time. Even the folks at Discovery Institute believe in microevolution. The issue is Darwinian evolution and whether that is true or not. How life got from the first prokaryotic cell to homo sapien has yet to be demonstrated. BXVI certainly does not believe that life is without purpose or design. Sheesh!

        • “Almost everyone believes in evolution! If by evolution, you mean change over time. Even the folks at Discovery Institute believe in microevolution. The issue is Darwinian evolution and whether that is true or not.”

          MICROEVOLUTION + TIME = MACROEVOLUTION.

          “How life got from the first prokaryotic cell to homo sapien has yet to be demonstrated.”

          Not true.

          “BXVI certainly does not believe that life is without purpose or design.”

          I don’t believe that life is without purpose.

  • –[]–“In short, our DNA-based genetic code, the universal system for all life on our planet, is the most efficient and sophisticated digital information storage, retrieval, and translation system known to man.”–[]–

    Note also the repetition of this senseless article of faith about pre-consciousness DNA being a miraculous “digital information storage, retrieval, and translation system.”

    Again, it is not possible for there to have been “information translation” before the evolution of consciousness.

  • }{Finally Francis Crick, who together with James Watson was awarded a Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA in 1953, writes in his book Life Itself that an honest man armed with all the knowledge and evidence available to us now could only state “in some sense the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to been satisfied get it going.”}{

    There is no sense in claiming that something (anything) is “a miracle,” or even “almost a miracle,” since miracles are quite naturally impossible.

    There is no evidence whatsoever, not even of any kind, to support believing in the notion of “a miracle,” or anything supernatural. Miracles are fantastic, not real.

  • We have come a long way since the epistemological ancestors of Rabbi Averick threw virgins into the volcano, in order to propitiate the Volcano God. Will the Universe ever be understood in its entirety by man? Of course not. There are always new mysteries to explore. But, to consign the currently unknown to the realm of the supernatural is to commit the logical fallacy of “argument ad ignorantiam.”

    Is our understanding of any phenomenon helped by postulating its cause as the will of the Rabbi’s Imaginary Friend? I think not. I think further that allowing such possibilities into the discussion represents an attempt to destroy science.

    The correct approach to the origin of life must begin not with an assessment of its probability, but with the realization that it did, in fact, happen. Therefore, the philosophical significance (unrecognized by the Doctor, himself) of Dr. Monod’s estimate that the chances of life emerging were “virtually zero” is that it shows the difference between “zero” and “virtually zero.”

    One is reminded of the movie, “The Princess Bride,” in which the following exchange occurs:

    =====

    Miracle Max: “It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.”

    Iñigo Montoya: “What’s that?”

    Miracle Max: “Go through his clothes and look for loose change.”

    =====

    While the Rabbi goes through the pockets of science, looking for loose change, working scientists continue to batter back the frontiers of ignorance. On that journey, will man ever become omniscient? No. So what?

    “Atheistic science” is a redundancy, and “Intelligent [sic] Design” is a fraud.

    • Since theism is pure fantasy, science has no alternative but to be atheistic, i.e., to stick to dealing with reality.

      And all design is a product of intelligence. Before intelligence evolved, there was no design, not even of any kind. So, naturally, it is impossible for intelligence itself to have been “intelligently designed.”

    • Mark,

      this is not an argument from ignorance. It is axiomatic – based on the entirety of human experience and is a fundamental assumption of every human being in their perception and evaluation of reality – that we can detect, discern, and identify intelligent causation. In fact, every scientist in the world agrees. That is why there was so much enthusiasm generated by the SETI project. If we cannot detect intelligent causation what would have been the point of investing millions of dollars and countless man hours in a project called the Search for Extra-Terrestrial INTELLIGENCE. We detect and discern intelligence when we perceive certain levels of functional complexity (an arrowhead made out of flint), and specified information (a drawing in a cave or “John Loves Mary” carved on a tree). There are no examples of functional complexity and specified information – above the simplest and most primitive levels – that are the result of unguided processes. Evolution is irrelevant because it cannot occur without highly functionally complex molecular machinery already in place and encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded information present in the DNA of the simplest living things known, bacteria. Evolution simply pushes the question back one step.

      When we assess probabilities we are not calculating the odds of life existing, it clearly exists already. We are calculating the probabilities that it could come from non-life through a random process. As Monod says, that probability is virtually zero.

      Therefore it is not ignorance which leads us to conclude that a bacterium is the result of intelligent causation. We know exactly what is the cause of functional complexity and specified information: Intelligence. It is ignorance which leads someone to conclude it could be anything else. Not ignorance actually, but a leap of faith as Dr. Fry so cogently points out, although she does not use that phrase.

      • [][]“We know exactly what is the cause of functional complexity and specified information: Intelligence.”[][]

        Precisely.

        There was no specified information involved in the origin of life because intelligence did not become an actuality until AFTER life arose.

        You can’t have your cake and eat it, too; and you shouldn’t try to put the cart before the horse.

        First there was life, THEN there was intelligence. Not the other way around. Rabbi Averick has it backwards.

      • [][]“Therefore it is not ignorance which leads us to conclude that a bacterium is the result of intelligent causation.”[][]

        It is blind (i.e., religious) faith which leads you to believe that life originated via “intelligent causation” — and that is definitely not the same thing as ignorance.

        Perhaps you could put the point thusly: “Therefore it is willful ignorance which leads us to conclude that a bacterium is the result of intelligent causation.”

      • Daniel Schealler

        Rabbi

        Mark (and myself) have indicated that intelligent design is an argument from ignorance/god-of-the-gaps argument.

        You have attempted to counter this by saying that SETI does the same thing as cdesign proponentsists.

        This is not actually a counter argument to either Mark or myself.

        Rather, it is a tu quoque fallacy. Even if it was true that SETI is doing the same thing as cdesign proponentsists (it is not), that would be an argument against SETI, not an argument in support of ID.

        Furthermore, SETI is not doing the same thing as cdesign proponenstsists because they actually have observable evidence to back up their hypothesis. We can observe intelligent life creating electromagnetic signalling systems. We understand the mechanisms by which this can be achieved. We can look at the design documents that were used to construct the devices that transmit and receive such signals. And we know pretty well what signals designed in this way look like in ways that distinguish them from other signals found in nature.

        But even so, SETI still makes sure to make a very strong effort do disprove their hypothesis that a given signal is ‘designed’ before they declare success. For a while, pulsars were considered to be a candidate for an attempt to communicate by other intelligent species. But rather than just declare success ‘because it looks designed’ they tried very hard to rule out an unknown natural cause first. The attempt to disprove the intelligent-life hypothesis is what led to the discovery of pulsars.

        Cdesign proponentsists do not have anything to say about the mechanisms that the intelligent designer uses to implement its designs, have nothing to show for a design document that can be understood and can be verified to exist before the phenomenon in question, and never seem to actually try to disprove the notion of intelligent design at all, let alone thoroughly and rigorously.

        It is this absence of observable evidence that makes it an argument-from ignorance/god-of-the-gaps.

        It is the observable evidence that SETI starts with and their attempt to disprove their hypothesis before declaring their success that distinguishes them from cdesign proponentsists.

        Paley was wrong. If I dug up a watch on the beach and did not know what it was, I would not be justified in the conclusion that it is designed by an intentful agent. That might be my natural assumption, and in that case the natural assumption might happen to be correct. But it would not be a justified conclusion on account of my ignorance of the subject matter in this hypothetical example.

        • Daniel,

          Even Richard Dawkins admits that he could not imagine being an atheist before the publication of Origins by Darwin. The “organized complexity of the living world” (as Dawkins puts it) needs an explanation. We don’t have any idea how aliens might send signals. All we would know is that they did send the signals. They might have a technology that is completely un-understandable to us. We observe intelligent humans building digital information processing systems. We observer humans copying the DNA information processing system. To wiggle out of the argument by saying we have never seen anyong constructing these types of systems is disingenous to say the least.
          Only a complete lunatic would deny that intelligent messages from a distant galaxy had any source other than intelligence. DNA is based on CODED information. Codes are based on the linkage between arbitrary “alphabets” – whatever they might be, letters, dots and dashes, etc. – and specific information. The four letter alphabet of DNA is completely arbitrary. There is no physical or chemical linkage between the sequences of nucleotides and the proteins for which they code. The word “chair” is arbitrary. You can use any symbol or sound (as in a different language) to symbolize the very specific concept of a “chair.” This is exactly what takes place in the universal genetic system for all life on the planet. Codes, languages, and digital information processing are inescapably the result of intelligence. Dawkins writes that “except for differences in jargon molecular biology texts are indistinguishable from computer programming texts.” It is worth noting that Dawkins rejects all of your arguments against intelligent design. He writes that the only escape is the philosophical problem of “who designed the designer.” Another prominent origin of life researcher, Dr. Eugene Koonin also rejects all of your arguments. He says that perhaps only the multiverse theory can provide a way out from intelligent design. I think you need to realize that the questions raised are very real and very problematic for an atheistic world view. god of the gaps simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

          • [{}]“DNA is based on CODED information.”[{}]

            No, it is not.

            The ability to CODE did not arise until long after the origin of DNA.

            Before there was DNA, there was nobody around to CODE anything.

            You are letting your imagination run away into fantasy.

          • [{}]“Codes, languages, and digital information processing are inescapably the result of intelligence.”[{}]

            On that point, Rabbi Averick, you are 100% correct.

            That is why there is no CODE in DNA. DNA is the cause of intelligence, not an effect.

            You wish for cause and effect to be reversed, but the world doesn’t really work that way.

          • [{}]It is worth noting that Dawkins rejects all of your arguments against intelligent design. He writes that the only escape is the philosophical problem of “who designed the designer.”[{}]

            Raising the question of “who designed the designer” is another way of pointing out that cause and effect cannot be reversed. Life could not have been designed because design depends on life, not vice versa.

          • Daniel Schealler

            Rabbi:
            “Even Richard Dawkins admits that he could not imagine being an atheist before the publication of Origins by Darwin.”

            False.

            Dawkins’ position is actually that he could not imagine being an intellectually fulfilled atheist before Darwin.

            Actual quote from Dawkins, emphasis mine:
            “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Before that you could be an atheist, Hume was for example, but it was quite difficult because you had no good explanation for why living things look so well designed. Darwin provided that.”
            - If I meet God when I die

            For my own example, Paley’s watchmaker argument was a bad argument (for reasons given above I don’t wish to repeat here) before Darwin and could have been justifiably rejected as such at any time. That said, it would have been very unsatisfying to reject Paley’s argument and not have an alternative plausible concept of how life could have arisen.

            So it’s understandable that many people may have accepted Paley’s argument because at the time it was satisfying. But that didn’t make it a good argument. It was a bad argument then and it continues to be a bad argument now.

            However: Even if Dawkins actually did think the way you say he does, that wouldn’t be a counter-argument of my position. It would just make Dawkins wrong. Dawkins himself openly admits his capacity for error, so it wouldn’t be a big deal to catch Dawkins out in such a mistake.

            Rabbi:
            “We don’t have any idea how aliens might send signals.”

            I’m getting pedantic now, but that’s also false.

            We do know how aliens might send signals. They might send signals in exactly the same way we do!

            Your point that they might use a technology unknown and undetectable to us is valid. But that doesn’t rule out known processes.

            Rabbi:
            “We observer humans copying the DNA information processing system. To wiggle out of the argument by saying we have never seen anyong constructing these types of systems is disingenous to say the least.”

            Not really.

            We have observed living organisms tinkering with DNA.

            If you want to suppose that life on earth was intelligently designed by non-terrestrial living organisms then you can jump in with the panspermia theorists and have an outlandish, unlikely, but nonetheless very-remotely-plausible notion. After all, organic compounds have been detected in space, so they’re not exactly uncommon.

            The problem with panspermia of course is that it doesn’t explain where the alien living organisms came from – it sets up an infinite regress, which is why I think that it is a kind of non-answer. It’s unlikely to be correct… But even if it was, it still wouldn’t answer the real question of how the life that seeded our planet arose.

            However, that’s not what you’re supposing.

            You’re supposing that some kind of intelligent agency that is not itself a living organism that evolved is responsible for seeding the first life on our planet and tinkering with it in some mysterious and unknown way.

            We have no direct observation of anything like this happening ever. That’s the key problem you’re up against, and fallacious-arguments-from-analogy based on nothing more than your naked assertion that something looks designed aren’t good enough.

            Personally I think that panspermia is, at present, a crackpot theory of how life arose on earth. But it’s still more justified than the notion of a mysterious and undetectable intelligent designer.

            Rabbi:
            “Only a complete lunatic would deny that intelligent messages from a distant galaxy had any source other than intelligence.”

            Well I suppose I could be a complete lunatic and remain unaware of the fact. If I am insane, it would be kind of hard to tell, wouldn’t it? :P

            As I keep pointing out to you: It depends on the message and the contextual tacit knowledge we bring along with us in understanding that message.

            Consider again the example of pulsars. Regular pulses seemed like they must have been intelligently designed because at the time we knew of no natural process that could produce them. We eventually discovered a process that could produce them.

            We had a a given phenomenon (recurring periodic cosmic electromagnetic pulses) where we didn’t know how it could have arisen naturally. Superficially, the phenomenon appeared designed. The hypothesis that it was intelligently designed was made, but it remained tentative. Eventually we discovered a natural process that could explain that phenomenon, so the little-green-men hypothesis was rejected.

            This shows exactly why it is an argument-from-ignorance to conclude design from nothing more than the appearance of design. We need to have additional supporting observations and evidence to back up that claim of design before we can justify such a conclusion from our intuition alone.

            We have more evidence for alien life than for a mystical and undetectable intelligent designer that is not itself alien life.

            Because of your lack of supporting evidence, your attempt at argument-from-analogy remains a fallacious one.

            If you had supporting evidence, you wouldn’t need such an analogy in the first place.

            Rabbi:
            “DNA is based on CODED information. Codes are based on the linkage between arbitrary “alphabets” – whatever they might be, letters, dots and dashes, etc. – and specific information.”

            Incorrect. Alphabets are based on a linkage between symbols and a meaning or a sound. It is incorrect to describe DNA as an alphabet. This assumes the very thing you are attempting to prove.

            It is true that a given sequence of DNA will correspond to a particular amino acid, which will in turn be used by the cell to construct a given protein.

            It is even true that this sequence is digitized.

            With an appropriate set of disclaimers and caveats (that you want to gloss over), it is appropriate to call that sequence ‘encoded’.

            Calling it an alphabet is a step too far.

            Rabbi:
            “It is worth noting that Dawkins rejects all of your arguments against intelligent design.”

            Citation needed. You may be misunderstanding and/or misrepresenting Dawkins. Again. This is not impossible given your track record with Jack Szostak.

            Also note that it is possible for Dawkins to be wrong.

            If Dawkins does have an objection to my rejections of intelligent design, the significance of his rejection would be due to the quality of his argument, not because of who he is.

            [digression]
            For the record, I find Dawkins very authoritative on the subject of biology. The Selfish Gene is a great book.

            However, on the subject of religion I find him to be less an expert and more of an interested and passionate non-expert. I consider myself an interested and passionate non-expert too. So in my view Dawkins isn’t any more of an expert than I am. He’s just a better writer and speaker than I am.

            For my money Dennett and Grayling are far more convincing on religion at an intellectual level. Dawkins is more emotional – which makes him persuasive and sticks him at the front. So I’d be far more worried if Dennett or Grayling disagreed with me than if Dawkins did so.
            [/digression]

            Rabbi:
            “He writes that the only escape is the philosophical problem of “who designed the designer.”

            From memory, he writes that this is the most obvious fatal flaw in the concept of intelligent design. Not that it is ‘the only escape’. Again, I think you are misunderstanding or misrepresenting your sources again. Citation needed.

            Rabbi:
            “Another prominent origin of life researcher, Dr. Eugene Koonin also rejects all of your arguments.”

            I don’t care about authorities that reject my arguments – I care about the quality of the arguments they use to reject my arguments.

            Rabbi:
            “I think you need to realize that the questions raised are very real and very problematic for an atheistic world view.”

            I’ll ‘realize’ this as soon as you can justify that position in a way that is simultaneously sound and valid.

            So far you’ve given me is fallacious arguments from analogy, and when those didn’t work you followed up by citing the disagreement of experts without explaining what their arguments actually are.

            The validity of the disagreement of an expert is dependent on the quality of their disagreement, not their status as an expert.

            This is particularly important in this context. As I have stated once already today, you have been shown in the past to be capable of badly misrepresenting the arguments of your proposed experts.

            Given that you are capable of misunderstanding/misrepresenting experts, my scepticism that you could also be misunderstanding/misrepresenting Dawkins and Koonin here today is adequately justified.

            Rather than citing their disagreement as experts, explain their arguments to me in a way that is relevant to my objections. Then misunderstanding and misrepresentation won’t come into it. I’ll be able to evaluate the quality of the disagreements on their own terms. Which is really what matters in the first place anyway.

            In conclusion: An invalid argument remains an invalid argument. God-of-the-gaps remains god-of-the-gaps. Indicating that your invalid arguments are invalid certainly does continue to cut it, and it will continue to cut it until you come up with some actual evidence or a better argument.

            You haven’t addressed the general problem with your position as I have outlined in earlier comments.

            I’ll repeat it here in the hope that it attracts your attention.

            For mud huts (A), we have observable evidence (X) as to the kinds of intelligent actors that are involved in constructing a mud hut from scratch, and the mechanisms and processes they use to do it. This observable evidence can be used to justify the position that something that looks like a mud hut was very probably intelligently designed by something very much like the kind of intelligent actor we already know about.

            For the genetic code (Y), we have no observable evidence as to the kinds of intelligent actors that would be capable of constructing a genetic code from scratch. Nor do we have any idea what kinds of mechanism such an actor might use.

            Granted, we are starting to discover the kinds of mechanisms that a living organism might use to manipulate or create genetic code. But that’s not ‘from scratch’ as there is already genetic code inside those living organisms. The question of where genetic code ultimately comes from remains open.

            All you can say is that DNA looks kind of complicated (B). This is an insufficient basis to conclude that DNA was intelligently designed.

            Therefore, it is invalid to propose an analogy between the two and then conclude that the genetic code was designed because mud huts are designed. Doing so assumes the very thing you are trying to conclude. Your argument only appears superficially reasonable because it hides that assumption as an unstated premise of the analogy.

            If you had direct observable evidence of the kind of intelligent designer that can create DNA and the methods such a designer might use, then you wouldn’t need to make analogies to try and prove your point.

            If you don’t have that kind of evidence then your analogies will continue to be fallacious until such a time as you can produce it.

            Your argument is fatally flawed in this way. At best it is superfluous. At worst it is fallacious.

            You’ve not addressed this problem in a meaningful way. You’ve just restated your fallacious analogies using more and fancier words.

            You’ve still got nothing.

            “False analogy, informal fallacy:
            Correlate functions or properties not necessarily seen with homogeny
            It’s a debauchery! Can’t you see:
            If A has X and Y has B
            Just can’t compare ’till they’ve both got C.
            See?

      • [][]{}“Evolution is irrelevant because it cannot occur without highly functionally complex molecular machinery already in place and encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded information present in the DNA of the simplest living things known, bacteria.”{}[][]

        In reality, there is no “digitally encoded information present in the DNA” of any organism. That notion of “digitally encoded information in DNA” is a fantasy, a dreamworld delusion.

        When bacteria first appeared on Earth, there was nobody around to encode any sort of information in any form into any media. At the time of the origin of life, digital encoding was not yet even a gleam in anybody’s eye. There weren’t any eyes, yet, let alone conceptual intelligence.

      • “DNA is based on CODED information. Codes are based on the linkage between arbitrary “alphabets” – whatever they might be, letters, dots and dashes, etc. – and specific information.”

        DNA is not based on an arbitrary linkage. It’s 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.

        “There is no physical or chemical linkage between the sequences of nucleotides and the proteins for which they code.”

        Uhh…. The linkage between the sequences of nucleotides and the proteins for which they code is precisely based on the laws of chemistry and physics.

        “Codes, languages, and digital information processing are inescapably the result of intelligence.”

        Since codes, language, and information processing utilize symbols and abstract concepts, you’re statement is true. The laws of chemistry and physics are based on actual, real relationships between actual material objects.

        • What difference does it make if a code is chemical? It is still a set of rules or a system of communication, with assigned values and specific meanings. In other words, it’s code.

          If you want say that evolution wrote the DNA code, fine, but your desperate denial of the obvious only makes the cracks in the foundation of your argument all the more apparent.

    • How far have we come?

      For starters, the world is, and always has been, ruled by a power elite. The rest of us fall into the class of necessary support or expendable, and the line between the latter is fluid.

      So just what about the world system has really changed beside the crowd control techniques, of which religion (not same thing as a belief in God) is just one of many?

      And what is the difference between modern religion and ancient religion? We are now taught to worship the all knowing and all seeing great god, Science, but his high priests are still throwing virgins into the volcano.

      But I suppose if you can believe that life came from nothing then you can believe anything. As long it has been approved by the high priests.

      • What does “worshiping” science entail?

        Can you provide the name of one scientist who believes that life came from nothing?

        • The Bible is famous for claiming life to have come from nothing — that dreaded “Void.”

          Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find some “Big Bangers” or quantum indeterminists (who fancy themselves scientists) who believe everything, including life, came from nothing.

          Out of curiosity, check out Heisenberg and Hawking.

        • Worship is simply the honour or homage we pay to any object or entity which we regard with reverence.

          Science is clearly worshiped in all aspects of our life, even here on the Rabbi’s comment page.

          As to providing a name, any one purporting the idea of biogenesis, or so called evolution, is ultimately implying that life came from nothing.

          The universe is finite at both ends of its spectrum, both large and small. It had a beginning and it will have an end.

          In addition, infinity is a theoretical concept that is not demonstrated in the physical realm, so it is clear that you can not simply go back forever without overstepping the bounds of the natural.

          It is also clear that life can’t happen without information, and evolution implies that information just happened by itself.

          Therefore, taken to its logical conclusion, evolution implies that life came from nothing.

  • \|/
    Rabbi Averick writes: ‘If the probability of life emerging randomly is “virtually zero” as Monod puts it, then it is virtually certain that it did not emerge by chance; it is virtually certain that it emerged through Intelligent Intervention.’
    /|\

    Notice the huge logical error in Rabbi Averick’s contention.

    Since intelligence is an attribute of living beings, his contention means: “Life originated through living intervention” — an impossibility.

    If he wants to contend that “God is not living,” then his position boils down to “life originated from non-life.” In other words, he is assuming that the point he is arguing against is actually true.

    So not only is Rabbi Averick arguing from an article of faith, he is arguing plain nonsense.

  • []{}[]“… it regards the emergence of life as a highly probable process.”[]{}[]

    One thing that basic observation shows us is that life actually exists. That is, the existence of life is not “probable,” but absolutely certain.

    To doubt that life exists in nature is not reasonable.

    To believe in the supernatural is pure fantasy.

    • Nobody is questioning the existence of life, but rather where it came from.

      That aside, to imply that the probability of its existence represents a certainty, would be to deny the facts and to ignore the laws of probability.

      In that respect, claiming that the existence of life was probable, let alone the assertion that it was certain, would be a lie.

      That being the case, your statement that the existence of life is certain, simply because it exists, is disingenuous and misleading, not to mention circular reasoning.

      • []“Nobody is questioning the existence of life, but rather where it came from.”[]

        Life, like everything else, is perfectly natural. There is no alternative to nature, and that means there is nowhere else for life to have “come from.”

        Life is the result of 100% natural processes, since an “unnatural process” means an unreal process.

      • [][]“… your statement that the existence of life is certain, simply because it exists, is disingenuous and misleading, not to mention circular reasoning.”[][]

        Since life is real, that means it is not part of some fantasy, such as the fantasy of theism (i.e., the existence of some supernatural God).

        Life is real, God isn’t — and never the twain shall meet . . . .

      • As Rabbi Averick likes to point out, God is not-of-this-world — which literally means that God does not actually exist (though Rabbi Averick shys away from the logical meaning of his view).

      • Daniel Schealler

        1) We know life exists.

        2) It remains an open question as to how life specifically came to be.

        3) Our ignorance of how life came to be is not itself an argument against life having arisen naturally.

        4) Our ignorance of how life came to be is not itself support of a supernatural explanation.

        5) The Rabbi is implying 3) and 4) very heavily in this piece. This is misleading.

        6) Are you also going to be consistent* and criticise the Rabbi for being misleading as well?

        * I neither concede nor reject the notion that Steve was being misleading. Accepting it here implicitly only for the purpose of argument.

        • [][]“3) Our ignorance of how life came to be is not itself an argument against life having arisen naturally.”[][]

          There is no possible rational argument against life having arisen naturally. It could only have happened naturally. There is no alternative to natural processes. There is no other way it could have happened.

          [][]“4) Our ignorance of how life came to be is not itself support of a supernatural explanation.”

          There is nothing that supports “a supernatural explanation” for anything. Nothing supernatural is possible under any circumstances.

          There is nothing “misleading” about nature and logic.

          • “There is no possible rational argument against life having arisen naturally. It could only have happened naturally. There is no alternative to natural processes. There is no other way it could have happened.”
            “There is nothing that supports “a supernatural explanation” for anything. Nothing supernatural is possible under any circumstances.
            There is nothing “misleading” about nature and logic.”

            There is plenty “rational argument” against life having arisen naturally.. a few hundred billion dollars worth and more. Cancer flies in the face of evolutionary biology! I have discovered cancer is an extraordinary immune system response and it hasn’t arisen out of miscopied genes nor even genetic problems arising from retroviruses. It arises due to a person’s bodily reactions to ideas that they have erroneously treated as real. And these misunderstood perceptions haven’t been created in the brain either. They are perceptions of other, toxic related people’s hateful suggestions presented in mind under danger conditions to cause the person to feel fear. The person perceives ideas with coincident fear, mistaking that fear as being associated with the ideas. There is no way, if you believe in a materialism only reality that such ideas can be perceived. Yeah let’s double blind all experiments and take away relationship and if anyone does get publish (such as dogs who know their owner’s are coming home) how easily they can be discredited using the very methods that are being denied! But of course the money on the table will be lost when the truth is known. CANCER IS A PAPER TIGER! I have never had any physical treatments. To get over cancer you only need a mental prescription of ideas that counter the false ideas and instruct your body to return all the cells with modified function back to normal function and remove excesses by apoptosis. I have found in other words that you can modify the genetic code expression at will. After all that is all that cancer is. Clearing it is just going in the opposite direction. I have done this a dozen times or more. Indeed I have reached a stage of instructing my body not to develop cancer at all. Have a look at one of my blogs at http://kyrani99godnscience.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/the-big-c-cancer-explained/

            There is a non-physical “mental” reality that is spaceless and timeless and that underpins the physical reality. It is impossible to use spiritual enlightenment experience to prove anything because it is a whole different realm outside of all physical/ non-physical realities but one consideration for the existence of God is that for the Universe to exist there needs to be a Universal Observer/ Participator.

  • ““philosophical presupposition” is not based on evidence and is non-falsifiable” – I would use the term “currently”, because if we are able to create life in a laboratory setting that mimics what it is thought early earth looked like geochemically, then it will “possible”

    “Unless one assumes a priori, the existence of an – as yet unknown – set of coherent, ordered physical laws and processes that inevitably lead from non-life to life….” – Yet we do this for science all the time, don’t we? We assume the universe started naturally and then evidence is gathered and eventually we arrive at the Big Bang or possibly “I don’t know”. Science CAN’T investigate a universe that isn’t coherent or ordered. A universe where gravity varied for the same mass would be completely unpredictable and unable to support any version of life.

    The rest of this article are statements of “We don’t know”, “Wow, that is complex”, or “DNA is really small and can therefore store a bunch of information”. Thankfully science does not stop at I don’t know and try to fill in the gap with ancient mythology – it actually looks for more information to determine what is most likely true. To quote Tim Minchin “Every mystery
    EVER solved has turned out to be NOT magic.”

    • [][]“Every mystery
      EVER solved has turned out to be NOT magic.”
      [][]

      It is not necessary to solve a mystery (any mystery) to know that the solution is “NOT magic.” No solution to any mystery could ever possibly be magic, or a miracle.

    • ‘Every mystery EVER solved has turned out NOT to be magic.’

      That has to be one of the dumbest sentences ever written by a person capable of words of more than one syllable.

      That’s the definition of magic, you dumb [three-letter acronym beginning with S and ending with B]! Magic, paradoxes (and ‘mysteries’ synonymous with paradoxes] are repugnant to reason by definition! For crying out loud.

      And I’ve seen it before quite recently. It must be an atheist slogan. Duh!

    • Dkeane,
      You have misunderstood the concept of “non-falsifiable”. What Dr. Fry and I mean is that there is no experiment that can DISPROVE the philosophical presupposition that life can come from non-life. No matter what happens and no matter how many centuries scientists fail in their quest to find a naturalistic origin of life it still would not “disprove” their philosophical presupposition. That means it is not falsifiable, which means it is lacking the most basic component to make it a scientifically meaningful hypotheses. In fact, that is why she calls it a PHILOSOPHICAL presupposition and not a SCIENTIFIC hypotheses.

      “Yet we do this for science all the time” – Again, forgive me but you have misunderstood my point. I have no problem if scientists want to investigate IF there is a naturalistic origin of life, or IF the notion is plausible. But then they are not investigating HOW life originated from non-life, but IF it originated from non-life OR from intelligent design.

      Jacque Monod, Francis Crick, Harold Urey, Ernst Mayer, Chandra Wichramasinge, Sir Fred Hoyle and others have already determined what is the obvious truth. The probability of life emerging through an unguided process is virtually zero. Intelligent design is not ancient mythology, it is simply the obvious truth. It also has nothing to do with the truth of the first chapter of Genesis. Atheist philosopher Antony Flew changed his mind and decided that God clearly existed based on his investigation of origin of life and he did not believe in any particular claim of Divine revelation. These are two separate issues.

      • [][]“The probability of life emerging through an unguided process is virtually zero.”[][]

        Maybe, but that makes it a virtually astronomical probability compared to the probability of life emerging through intelligent design, which is absolutely zero (the same probability, by the way, that a circle is square).

      • \|/
        Moshe Averick
        January 29, 2013
        1:39 am
        “The probability of life emerging through an unguided process is virtually zero. Intelligent design is not ancient mythology, it is simply the obvious truth.”
        /|\

        The notion of an “Intelligent Designer Of Life” is “the obvious truth” in the same sense that the notion that “a circle is square” is “the obvious truth.” That is, it is a contradictory notion that cannot possibly be true.

        The falsity of theism is blindingly obvious, but the thing about people of faith is that they BELIEVE, sometimes they even STRONGLY BELIEVE, in the supernatural. So much so that the impossibility of the supernatural doesn’t register with them. (Religious people can claim allegiance to the truth in the same sense that Obama can claim allegiance to the Constitution: they don’t actually mean it, and are not being honest about it.)

        The probability that life emerged through an unguided process, rather than through supernatural intervention is: 1 — that is, it’s a certainty, an absolute certainty, an astonishing, mind-boggling certainty.

      • Daniel Schealler

        Experiment:

        1) Create a sealed room with enough heat and oxygen to support a living oxygen.

        2) Pray to God to poof a new living organism into existence inside that room.

        Either:

        A) New never-before-seen organism poofs into existence inside the room.

        B) Nothing happens.

        —————-

        In the case of A), I’ll grant that this wouldn’t exactly disprove the notion that life as we know it came into existence by purely natural phenomena.

        But it would would undermine the notion that a presupposition of naturalistic causes is the most reasonable starting point based on current knowledge.

        It would lend much more credibility to the supernatural option if an intelligent designer.

  • I just want to post before Steve Staoddard does.

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