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December 8, 2011 10:12 am

Help Atheism and Join the 1%!

avatar by Moshe Averick

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How did life begin? If you can demonstrate how life came from non-life through an unguided naturalistic process, you can hit the Jackpot!

Attention all Wall Street Occupiers, unemployed persons, or any reader who would just like to have an extra $1,050,000 in disposal income. No, you don’t have to start a business, send out your resume, invest wisely, or buy a lottery ticket. It’s simple. Just figure how the first self-replicating, DNA-based bacterium could have emerged from a pre-biotic swamp roughly 3.5 billion years ago by means of a totally undirected, naturalistic process and the money is yours. (Actually, some say it was 3.8 billion years ago and perhaps even earlier, but hey, what’s a couple of hundred million years between friends?)

The prize money is no joke. $1,000,000 is being offered by The Origin-of-Life Science Foundation, “for proposing a highly plausible natural-process mechanism for the spontaneous rise of genetic instructions in nature sufficient to give rise to life,” and, as far as I can tell, the offer has been around since 1997. A quick look at RichardDawkins.net – where the elite of the cyber-atheist world go to strut their stuff – tells us who is putting up the remaining (miserly?) portion of the money. The headline of the post reads: “Origin of Life Challenge: How did life begin?” The sub-headline: ORIGIN OF LIFE RESEARCH AWARD, $50,000 AWARD FOR BEST PROPOSAL“ The post continues: “The sponsor named below is offering an award of $50,000 for the best original proposal pertaining to the study of the origin of life on Earth…submissions should provide a cogent hypothesis for how life first arose…” A little bit of analysis is in order.

– “the best original proposal” – from the use of the word “original” one could deduce that the current proposals are quite inadequate to say the least. After all, if one of the past or present speculative theories about the origin of life were worthwhile, why would anyone offer $50,000 for the best original proposal? (I know that $50,000 isn’t what it used to be, but still…) This deduction turns out to be true. Here are some of the current theories and their standing in the scientific world: RNA-World Theory: “It goes without saying that the emergence of this RNA and the transition to a DNA world implies an impressive number of stages, each more improbable that the previous one.” (Nobel Prize winning microbiologist, Francois Jacob) “The spontaneous appearance of RNA chains on the lifeless earth would have been a near miracle.” (Dr. Gerald F. Joyce of the Scripps Institute and the late Dr. Leslie Orgel of the Salk Institute) Thermal (Submarine) Vent Theory: “Submarine vents don’t make organic compounds, they decompose them…a real loser…I don’t understand why we even have to discuss it.” (Dr. Stanley Miller, Nobel Laureate) Organic Soup Theory: “In short, there is not a shred of evidence that life began in an organic soup here on Earth.” (Sir Fred Hoyle) “The entire effort in the primeval soup paradigm is self-deception.” (Dr. H.P. Yockey, physicist, information theorist) “New Research Rejects 80-Year theory of Primordial Soup as the Origin of Life”, Science Daily, 2/3/10) Metabolism-First Theory: “[based on] if pigs could fly chemistry.” (Dr. Leslie Orgel) “New study contradicts the Metabolism First Hypotheses”, (Science Daily, 1/9/10) Clay Crystal Theory: “Implausible” (Dr. Leslie Orgel) “grossly mistaken” (Dr. H.P. Yockey)

– “Origin of Life Challenge: How did life begin?” – From the use of the word “Challenge,” it is obvious that whoever enters this contest has their work cut out for them. In light of the following remarks of some veteran Origin of Life researchers, we should all wish these young turks luck, they’ll need it. “We don’t know how life  started on this planet, we don’t know when…we don’t know under what circumstances…I imagine my grandchildren will still be sitting around saying it’s a great mystery.” (Dr. Andrew Knoll, Harvard University) “It is virtually impossible to imagine how a cell’s machines…could have formed spontaneously from non-living matter…the actual nature of the first organisms and the exact circumstances of the origin of life may be forever lost to science.” (Dr. Jack Szostak, Dr. Alonso Ricard) “We may never understand how life originated on Earth, because the traces of early life have vanished.” (Dr. Jerry Coyne) “The reality is that despite the egos of some, the existence of life remains a mystery. It is not merely that biology is scratching the surface of this enigma; the reality is that we have yet to see the surface!” (Dr. Milton Wainwright)

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The man who is putting up the fifty grand, Harry Lonsdale of Oregon, is a successful businessman, was the Democratic candidate for Senator in Oregon in 1990, and is an “avowed atheist.” When I read in Lonsdale’s proposal that “submitters are encouraged to offer unconventional hypotheses,” I thought to propose the unconventional notion that maybe aliens from another planet secretly sent life here on a spaceship…but then I thought, that’s the most idiotic idea imaginable. After all, we are dealing with rational, logical scientists; people who don’t believe silly stories like the sea splitting or aliens from outer space…that is, of course, unless you are a Nobel Prize winning scientist like Francis Crick and you give the theory a fancy name like Directed Panspermia.

When Francis Crick proposed his aliens-from-another-planet-seeded-the-earth-with-life theory back in 1973, it is amazing that he did not become a laughingstock. The reason that he was prepared to propose such a ridiculous idea and why he did not become a laughingstock is obvious. Atheist/materialist scientists will desperately propose and consider any theory for the origin of the frighteningly complex and sophisticated nanotechnology and genetic self-replicating systems of the simplest bacterium, rather than consider the obvious answer; that it was created by an intelligent being that is not bound by time, space, matter or energy. As Dr. Robert Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at NYU wrote:

One favorite analogy [of believers] involves the discovery of a watch…it would function  only if its components had been put together…by a watchmaker…Similarly, the existence of bacteria and other living beings, all of which are much more complex than a watch, implies the existence of a creator…we will not take this escape route in our book, for we  are committed to seeking  an answer [for the Origin of Life] within the realm of science…a  being with the capacity to create a watchmaker  would be the most complex of the lot. By following this line of reasoning, we have made our problem more difficult…we can resolve it only by introducing supernatural forces. We must look for another solution if we wish to remain within science.

It is a shame that Dr. Shapiro was held prisoner by the chains of his scientific faith agenda. He abandoned a perfectly valid “line of reasoning” because it led him to an answer that was not “scientific.” He was afraid of committing scientific heresy by coming to the obvious conclusion that science does not have an answer for everything. Like a true believer he was “committed” to finding a scientific answer; whether or not that answer actually existed. Shapiro, and his colleagues along with him, have deluded themselves into believing that their “commitment” to finding scientific answers, magically creates scientific realities. I, of course, am a free man and don’t care if the answer to a question is scientific or not; I only care if it is the truth.

I wanted to contact a Nobel Prize winning scientist by the name of Dr. Werner Arber (Medicine, 1978), inform him of the prize, and suggest he submit his own “unconventional” and “original” proposal: “Although a biologist, I must confess that I do not understand how life came about…the most primitive cells may require at least several hundred different specific biological macro-molecules. How such already quite complex structures may have come together, remains a mystery to me. The possibility of the existence of a Creator, of God, represents to me a satisfactory solution to this problem.” (Dr. Werner Arber) Unfortunately, RichardDawkins.net excludes Nobel Prize winners like Arber from expressing their opinions and proposals: “Submissions involving the supernatural or that violate physical laws will not be considered.” How is that for open-minded intellectual inquiry? I know that the skeptics, atheists, freethinkers, and scientists that inhabit RichardDawkins.net pride themselves on their open-mindedness and intellectual integrity. In fact at the top of the home page it says “A Clear Thinking Oasis.” For those of you naïve enough to believe such nonsense, let me spell it out for you. RichardDawkins.net is a muddy, filthy swamp, filled with fanatical atheists who wouldn’t recognize an open-minded intellectual discussion if it jumped up and bit them on the nose.

As I have said many times; the notion that a bacterium could emerge from non-life through an undirected process is so absurd, it can be rejected out of hand. It is as absurd as proposing that cave drawings in France emerged through an undirected process. Both exhibit the undeniable imprimatur of a conscious, intelligent agent. The onerous burden of proof is on the one who asserts that they are the result of an unguided, naturalistic process. I, therefore, humbly put myself way out on a limb and make a simple prediction:

The following events will occur well before anyone finds a highly plausible, empirically demonstrable, testable and falsifiable explanation for the undirected, naturalistic emergence of life from non-life:

– The Holy Grail will be discovered in a used clothing bin at the famed Shipshewana Flea Market in Shipshewana, Indiana.
– Al Gore, during an interview on GlenBeck-TV, will admit, “Global Warming? Oh C’mon Glen, I was just kidding!”
– The Chicago Cubs will win a World Series
– Hell will freeze over
– The Chicago Cubs will win another World Series

It’s a shame that RichardDawkins.net, Harry Lonsdale, and The Origin of Life Science Foundation aren’t offering a prize to discover something a little more plausible than an atheistically-satisfying origin of life. Like for instance, “A Prize of $1,050,000 is being offered to confirm that Elvis is still alive and is working at a major flea market in the Midwestern United States.” Heck, I could jump in my car right here in Chicago and be in Shipshewana, Indiana in a few short hours…and if I hurry, I might find Elvis and the Holy Grail!

If you wish to be notified when Rabbi Averick’s new columns appear, send an email to moe.david@hotmail.com and simply write the word Subscribe in the subject bar. Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi 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.

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  • Quoting Maverick: ‘”Submissions involving the supernatural or that violate physical laws will not be considered.” How is that for open-minded intellectual inquiry?’

    It is excellent. “Open-minded” does not mean willing to accept the impossible (e.g., the supernatural) as possible. To be “open-minded” means to be willing to accept the evidence and follow where it leads. It does not mean being willing to deny reality and accept arbitrary assertions about “God the Creator” as if they made any sense.

  • There is no such thing as evidence for the supernatural, for a so-called “God the Creator” (or for some “non-physical sort of universe”). All evidence is strictly natural, i.e., 100% in and OF THIS WORLD. Logically, speaking of the supernatural is to say nothing.

  • Normann Wheland

    [b]Normann Wheland on December 12, 2011 at 9:07 am said:[/b]

    jp,

    I hear the crickets chirping! What has happened to motor-mouth Moshe? Has he finally run out of gas?

    ==========================

    [b]To which moshe averick on December 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm relied:[/b]

    Norman,

    Actually, I have a life Norman. Perhaps you should get one too. But soon I will write another column and you will be free to express yourself again

    =======================

    EXCELLENT! Which logical fallacies and discredited evidence will you be embedding and emphasizing in your next column? I look forward to it.

  • “… scientists have no evidence at all that it is possible for such levels of functional complexity and specified information to emerge through an undirected (i.e. non-intelligence guided) process.”

    In fact, such evidence abounds. It is well-known that life goes back only to a certain (relatively recent) point in history, prior to which there was no life. Since there is life now, then it necessarily had to “emerge through an undirected (i.e. non-intelligence guided) process” because intelligence is an attribute of living entities.

  • Either life arose through a natural process, or it didn’t. Since life does exist, we know it did.

  • “… who have all made it clear that no one understands how life began on this planet (that is without a creator).”

    Even if you want to believe in such a creator, you still cannot claim to understand how life began. Postulating a not-of-this-world creator is simply an alternative way of saying that you don’t understand how life began — and that you believe you never will.

    • Steve,

      You may be correct in stating that we do not understand the exact nature of the creator, but we do know how life began: Somebody wanted life to be here.

      • jp

        What progress has been made in the last 65 years in discovering greater detail as to the mechanism used by the supernatural creator you posit?

        • Normann Wheland

          jp,

          I hear the crickets chirping! What has happened to motor-mouth Moshe? Has he finally run out of gas?

          • moshe averick

            Norman,

            Actually, I have a life Norman. Perhaps you should get one too. But soon I will write another column and you will be free to express yourself again

          • jp

            Oh, look! Over there!!! What is it?? It’s an evasive answer.

            Yawn.

      • Come on — before there was life, there were no “somebodies” to want anything. You are letting your imagination run away with you (pushing you into the imagined land of an unreal, unliving “Somebody”).

        • jp

          But it’s perfectly fine to have “somebody” before first life in fiction. If Moshe (as suggested by one of Moshe’s Jewish readers) would treat his creation mythology as poetry, rather than science, then he wouldn’t run into the problems he does, because poetry is not required to conform to reality.

      • In fact, before there was life, there was nobody around. There was nobody who “wanted life to be here.” Step back and listen to yourself to see how ludicrous it is to claim that “life began [because] Somebody wanted life to be here.”

        Wanting things to happen is clearly something people can do. But they don’t do it before they are born, and certainly nobody did it before people actually existed at all.

  • It doesn’t help to try to argue with a theist by granting his premise that nature somehow might have insufficient resources (or complexity — or simplicity or whatever) to stand on its own.

    To those for whom reality isn’t enough, logic is not their friend — and can never get them to theism. They first fundamentally reject logic, in order to pretend to find a door open to the not-of-this-world stuff.

  • jp

    Moshe,

    Do you believe that the very first thing that meets our definition of life, billions of years ago, was necessarily as functionally complex as the simplest bacteria now known?

    It’s a simple yes or no question, any evasion will be noted.

    • Note that it doesn’t matter how simple or complex it was. Neither simplicity nor complexity as such necessarily implies DESIGN.

      There is zero evidence for any sort of unnatural design anywhere for anything.

      • jp

        [b]I[/b] know that. It’s just that Moshe always implies that “naturalistic” = “a single leap from non-life to the simplest currently known bacteria” and I want to know if he’s willing to nail his colours to the mast and flat out state that that’s the only way he can imagine a naturalistic process of abiogenisis having occurred.

        • But I don’t see why it makes any difference how many steps there were. However it happened, it was perfectly natural — since 100% natural is the only possibility. Divine intervention is a fantasy, not a possibility (or a “logical hypothesis”).

          • jp

            Steve, I know what you think, and I agree with you, but I have a reason for asking Moshe, not you, okay?

          • salvage

            What’s the point in asking Moshe anything? You know what the answer is going to be.

    • Notice also how a title such as “Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Theist” would make sense because theists are believers in an illusion (viz., the supernatural). But since an ATHEIST is nothing more than a person who doesn’t fall for such illusions, the title “Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist” makes no sense.

    • JP,

      Your question is unclear. I will try to clarify it and answer.

      If you mean to ask me if I am aware that many scientists theorize there were simpler self-replicating molecules capable of evolving in more sophisticated and complex forms of life eventually reaching the level of bacteria, then Yes I am very aware of those theories.

      If you are asking me: WERE there ever such simpler forms of life that emerged naturalistically my answer is NO, I do not believe they ever existed, and my contention is that the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that they did. If you can demonstrate the truth of such a proposition with empirical data and a testable and falsifiable theory, I would be prepared to change my mind.

      • If you ask for proof in regard to an evolutionary hypothesis, why do you never offer any proof regarding the so-called “logical hypothesis” that your unreal creator exists (somewhere not in this world)?

      • jp

        I agree it’s unknown at this stage.

        But your argument relies on it being known to be false. As you say, this is just something that you “believe” – you provide no evidence that such a thing is improbable nor implausible, let alone that it is categorically false.

        I agree that a claim to have discovered the specific mechanism of abiogenesis would need to be accompanied by empirical data and a testable and falsifiable theory.

        YOU claim to know that supernatural intervention is the specific mechanism of abiogenesis. As I said, not only I but the Nobel committee would welcome a demonstration of the truth of your proposition with empirical data and a testable and falsifiable theory to that effect. Seriously, if you can soundly demonstrate what you merely assert here, a Nobel (and more) surely awaits you.

        Perhaps a good starting point, and one that would be sure to impress our mate Steve, would be to demonstrate with empirical data and a testable and falsifiable theory the existence of supernatural intervention in the material universe.

        Can you outline your argument here? (And remember “I can’t personally think of any other way life got here.” is not a sound argument, no matter how many times you repeat it.)

        • “YOU claim to know that supernatural intervention is the specific mechanism of abiogenesis.”

          A person could FEEL as if some “supernatural intervention” had to (or could) happen, but no one can legitimately claim to KNOW any such thing — since knowledge would require evidence and all evidence is necessarily OF THIS WORLD rather than supernaturalistic.

        • “… demonstrate with empirical data … the existence of supernatural intervention in the material universe.”

          That is like asking him to draw a square circle.

          The supernatural is that “not-of-this-world” stuff, and “not-of-this-world” means “having-no-effects-in-this-world” (i.e., not existing). They don’t call it “supernatural” for nothing: if it had effects in nature, it would be part of nature.

          • jp

            I’m not actually expecting Moshe to collect his Nobel any time soon, oddly enough.

        • JP,

          The simplest and easiest to understand of all the arguments ever offered by believers is the Argument from Design. The argument is remarkably simple, It goes as follows: The existence of a suit implies the existence of the tailor who made the suit. The existence of a bicycle implies the existence of the mechanic (or mechanics, or a factory with workers), who put the bicycle together. The existence of a poem on a piece of paper implies the existence of the poet who created that poem. In other words, the suit itself is the proof of the existence of the intelligent creator of the suit (the same principle, of course, applies to the bicycle and poem), no other evidence is necessary. There are levels of design, sophistication, and functional complexity that the human mind simply refuses to accept could be accounted for by any undirected process. How to precisely define such levels is not our topic of discussion. It is clear however, that a suit, bicycle, poem by Robert Frost, and A LIVING BACTERIUM are certainly well over that line.
          The entire plot of the classic film, 2001: A Space Odyssey is based on this obvious principle. At a dramatic moment in the film, when a rectangular monolith is discovered buried on the moon, it is clear to those who discover it (and accepted as absolutely logical and reasonable by everyone watching the movie) that this is unmistakable proof of alien life. After all, a precisely measured monolith couldn’t possibly have made itself or “evolved naturally.” The rest of the film is about the search for the aliens who constructed and buried the monolith in the first place.

          I do not need to demonstrate that the suit, bicycle, poem, or bacterium are the result of intelligent design. Their very existence is the evidence for intelligent design. Before Darwinian Evolution, non-believers understood they had to account for the astounding complexity of the living world. Darwinian evolution tells us nothing about the origin of life. It takes existing life as a given.

          As Frank Sonleitner of the NCSE writes on the NCSE website: “The origin of life and evolution are two separate notions. The fact that there is much to learn about how the first living creatures originated has little to do with the truth or falsity of evolution. Thus an intelligent designer could have made the first forms and then they evolve” or Eugenie Scott herself: “Although some people confuse the origin of life with evolution the two are conceptually separate. Biological evolution is defined as the descent of living things from ancestors from which they differ. Life had to precede evolution!…We know much more about evolution than the origin of life.”

          You asked me what I thought was a very valid question in order to zero in on where our opinions actually diverge. Let me ask you a simple question to help clarify further:

          It is my contention that there are only two possibilities for the Origin of Life. Either an undirected naturalistic process or a Creator who is not bound by the laws of the physical universe. (Because a creator who is part of the physical universe would also need a creator)

          Question: Do you feel there are more than these two possibilities?

          • jp

            No, I believe that there are LESS than these two possibilities until the second of those possibilities is in fact demonstrated to BE a possibility, which it has not been up to this point.

          • jp

            More generally on the rest of your post, would you say that the eye looks designed? Do you concede that it isn’t? Do you understand the implications of that for your argument?

          • “There are levels of design, sophistication, and functional complexity that the human mind simply refuses to accept could be accounted for by any undirected process.”

            Speak for yourself. Not everyone is helplessly in thrall to supernaturalism. Many human minds are quite at home in nature.

          • It is my contention that there are only two possibilities for the Origin of Life. Either an undirected naturalistic process or a Creator who is not bound by the laws of the physical universe.

            Of your two “possibilites,” the first is a certainty, and the second an impossibility.

          • [oops, forgot the quotes]

            “It is my contention that there are only two possibilities for the Origin of Life. Either an undirected naturalistic process or a Creator who is not bound by the laws of the physical universe.”

            Of your two “possibilites,” the first is a certainty, and the second an impossibility.

      • jp

        By the way, Moshe, I note your less than direct answer to my question:

        “Do you believe that the very first thing that meets our definition of life, billions of years ago, was necessarily as functionally complex as the simplest bacteria now known?”

        I’m taking what you wrote is a “yes”, that you believe that the first living organism was at least as complex as the simplest currently known bacteria. Would that be correct?

        • JP,

          Essentially “YES”, perhaps there was a bacterium slightly less complex, just like there are more and less complex bacteria existing today.

    • Incidentally, how in the world could anybody ever figure out what that “first thing” was or was like (or how many variations of it there were)?

  • Mr. Widemouth

    Who Really Believes Jesus Existed Anyways?
    http://www.squidoo.com/who-really-believes-jesus-existed

    • Isn’t it rather likely that he did? After all, even Uri Geller was a real person. For what it’s worth, Jim Jones actually existed. Of course, Jesus wasn’t “the son of god,” but he might have pretended to be (he might even really have believed it).

  • Nicko

    Mr. Averick, you wrote:

    “Unfortunately, RichardDawkins.net excludes Nobel Prize winners like Arber from expressing their opinions and proposals: “Submissions involving the supernatural or that violate physical laws will not be considered.” How is that for open-minded intellectual inquiry?”

    It embarrasses me that I must point this out to you, but Arber’s hypothesis is not scientific. The mere fact that he is a Nobel prize winner does not imbue his every opinion with some kind of authority.

    The conditions set by Dawkins excluding mechanisms and entities that have not been demonstrated to exist are hardly unreasonable. I would be similarly barred from suggesting that life on Earth began when a Klingon space ship dumped the contents of their toilet in an ancient rockpool.

    As soon as you can demonstrate that a nonphysical immortal being with magic (and yes, the word is entirely appropriate) life-creating powers exists, you will be justified in proposing its actions as a possible cause of abiogenesis.

    • Nicko,

      You seem to forget that the existence of functionally complex machinery and specified information ITSELF is evidence for an intelligent designer. Anytime we encounter functional complexity and specified information beyond a certain level of complexity and sophistication we ALWAYS (100%) of the time conclude that it is the result of an intelligent agent. At the very least one must consider the possibility here, especially when Richard Dawkins and the atheistic/materialistic scientists have no evidence at all that it is possible for such levels of functional complexity and specified information to emerge through an undirected (i.e. non-intelligence guided) process.
      Therefore Arber theory is at least as reasonable as anyone else’s.

      • You seem to be making the totally illogical leap of faith that since people can design watches, something supernatural must have designed and created people. There is no sound basis for such a leap. There is, to repeat the point, ZERO evidence for anything “outside the physical universe.”

        • Steve,

          Life itself is the evidence. It was either created by a Creator outside of the physcial universe (because a physical creator also must have a creator)or there is some naturalistic process. There aren’t any other choices. If it’s not one it’s the other. Unless you have some other options. if You do please share them.

          • jp

            Yep, if it’s not a real cause, it must be a fictional cause. Those are the only two options. I’m going to be bold and say that the probability that a fictional cause created life is 0%.

          • Life is 100% natural, in the first place. In the second place, it can only be a result of 100% natural processes, because (as a matter of fact) there aren’t any unnatural processes (or universes).

            The notion that life (or anything else) implies the possibility of some alternative to nature (viz., your otherworldly non-natural “creator”) makes no sense. How can anything real be “evidence” for anything unreal (i.e., not-of-the-physical-universe)? There’s no way; all you have is an arbitrary (and pretty lame, not to put too fine a point on it) declaration (i.e., “Life itself is evidence for the possibility of supernatural intervention into reality.”).

            Also notice that watchmakers, suit makers, etc. (and the materials and processes they use) are all 100% natural. Such phenomena are no more evidence that intelligence and design could possibly be anything other than natural than they are evidence that you, Moshe, yourself are God.

          • No matter what you are dealing with in reality, if you deny that it involves natural processes and claim that only miracles/magic/unreality can explain it, you are not being serious. Instead you are indulging in fantasies of blind faith.

            If you reject nature, you’ve rejected all there is.

            In favor of NOTHING.

      • Nothing in this world constitutes evidence for anything (“creator” or otherwise) that could be not-of-this-world.

        Further, everything we know about both intelligence and design is based on evidence from certain living species of which we are aware by means of our senses. There is ZERO evidence for any not-of-this-world intelligence (or even the possibility of it).

        Reality is what we have to live with. Even if you feel strongly that somehow reality is not enough, there simply aren’t any other options for living.

      • jp

        Moshe, that’s bullshit. None of the staggeringly complex lifeforms on our planet were designed in the form that they are today by an intelligent agent. None. 0%. And we have tens of thousands of published and verified studies that confirm this. If you conclude 100% of the time that complexity implies design, then you have already been proven wrong.

        • JP,

          Not true. I assume you are talking about the life forms that resulted from Darwinian Evolution. All of them ultimately can be traced back to the bacterium.

          I repeat again what Professor Thomas Nagel of NYU (non-believer) wrote in his review of THE GOD DELUSION: “The entire apparatus of evolutionary explanation therefore depends on the prior existence of genetic material with these remarkable properties…since the existence of this material or something like it is a precondition of the possibility of evolution, evolutionary theory cannot explain its existence. We are therefore faced with a problem…we have explained the complexity of organic life in terms of something that is itself just as functionally complex as what we originally set out to explain. So the problem is just pushed back a step: how did such a thing come into existence?”

          All life forms depend on the staggeringly complex molecular machinery and information contained in the first bacterium.

          “As it turns out, Darwinian evolution is not, as the skeptic would have us believe, a testimony to what can emerge from undirected processes; it is a testimony to the unimaginably awesome capabilities and potential contained in the first living cell and its genetic code. A paradigm-shifting insight emerges from all this: Contrary to popular belief, not only is Darwinian evolution not the cause or explanation of the staggering complexity of life on this planet; Darwinian evolution itself is a process which is the result of the staggering complexity of life on this planet.”

          • jp

            Yes, all life forms can be traced back to the bacterium. We agree. Fantastic. You must concede then that their current forms were not designed by intelligent agency, but by a naturalistic process. No designer designed our brains, or our body shape, or any of our organs. All the result of naturalistic processes, and well over any sane threshold of functional complexity.

            Nagel is simply wrong, in my opinion. Just because he’s also a non-believer doesn’t make his words gospel to other non-believers. To say that “Darwinian evolution itself is a process which is the result of the staggering complexity of life on this planet” for example is simply nonsense. It’s like saying modern car assembly line technology is the result of the diversity of cars being built. It’s utter drivel.

          • If you believe in a supernatural creator, the problem gets pushed back a step: how did such a thing come into existence? Another supernatural creator? Then another in an infinite regression?

            Why imagine all that supernatural mumbo-jumbo? Why not stick with reality, since that is what we actually have? Life exists, and therefore it is perfectly natural.

  • “Why is it a priori impossible for their to exist a being who is not part of the physical universe,…”

    The reason why a being who doesn’t exist is impossible (in any actual relation to the physical universe whatsoever) is that only that which exists exists. Even if you complain that that sounds tautological to you, there is no way for you or anyone else to get around such a basic fact.

    You can’t get something from nothing; and you can’t get to nowhere from here.

    • Steve,
      It does not SOUND like a tautology, it IS a tautology.
      Something can’t come from nothing? There are many physicists who disagree with you. They came the big bang is something from nothing.

      • Claims are not evidence. And claims that you can miraculously get something from nothing are fantasy, not science.

        Sorry to burst anybody’s bubble, but the “Big Bang as origin of the Universe” is just slightly warmed over religious creationism. It’s not a reasonable interpretation of any evidence, period.

  • “If you a priori declare that there cannot be anything outside of the physical universe, then of course there can’t be anything outside of the physical universe. That’s not logic, it is a tautology.”

    Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. So, to apply logic, first there has to be something there to identify. That’s the world around us, if you notice.

    Declarations have to be about something, or else they’re empty and meaningless. That something is reality, the physical universe of which we are a part.

    Now we are restricted, practically speaking, to the physical universe, not because anybody declares that we must be, but simply because there is nowhere else to be (or go, or see, etc.).

  • trubble

    The author has split the world into two camps. On on side he has positioned those that favour magic as the solution to how life began, and on the other he has put the people that think it’s better to examine the issue more carefully.
    Note that many theists don’t actually fall on the magic side of this great divide, it’s mainly reserved for the particularly backward faiths such as Islam and fundamentalist Christianity.

    The author then approaches the issue with a smug air of superiority which is based on nothing more than an argument from incredulity. But If I may add a voice of humility and caution to the author, the magic side will make no further progress on the question because they consider it to already be answered, however those that believe it’s worth further investigation are making progress. This progress is slow, perhaps (not if you look at it from the perspective of Earth), but the side that moves is the side that survives.

    The old superstitions come and go, we no longer concern ourselves with the Norse creation myths for example, and the author’s superstitions are no different, but investigation will never pass, not until we are gone or until we know everything, whichever happens first.

    • Trubble,

      In fact, you are the one who believes in magic. You believe that one day scientists will discover a magical process that can create sophisticated digital code out of a prebiotic swamp. The notion of a supernatural creator is not magic, it is simply the idea that there is a reality outside of the physical universe.

      • Scotty

        “The notion of a supernatural creator is not magic”
        Lol. Google “definition of magic”.

        mag·ic/ˈmajik/
        Noun:
        The power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

      • The notion that “there is a reality outside of the physical universe” is pure fantasy. In practical terms, it is a self-contradiction (the notion that reality isn’t really reality, that there is some unreality needed to sustain reality).

      • David Edwards

        Do I have to bring in ALL of those 116 papers from the relevant scientific research I’ve mentioned in another comment elsewhere, in order to demonstrate that your comment about “believing in magic” is complete hooey?

        Since when were chemical reactions “magic”? Only scientists have been studying these, in depth, for something like 300 years, and in the case of organic chemistry, have been advancing our knowledge of the discipline since 1828, and Wöhler’s synthesis of urea in vitro. Indeed, we’ve learned a lot about the synthesis of complex organic molecules, and the underlying chemistry, none of which requires magic or a magic man. As an example, you might like to review this document:

        http://www.iupac.org/publications/pac/pdf/1989/pdf/6103×0313.pdf

        which covers the total synthesis in vitro of a nice, complex organic molecule originating in certain coral species. Now, if scientists can work out a series of step by step organic reactions to synthesis this molecule, what makes you think scientists can’t work out how to synthesise simpler molecules implicated in the origin of life? Oh that’s right, they’ve already worked out the requisite chemistry. As the papers in my collection amply demonstrate, which cover such topics as basic prebiotic synthesis of fundamental molecules, catalytic synthesis of RNA oligomers from those fundamental molecules, derivation of self-replicating RNA ribozymes from the same synthesis processes, the physical chemistry of lipid membranes and their self-assembly, the possible pathways for integrating amino acids and therefore proteins into the RNA world, and the formation of the first basic protocells. Indeed, one of the papers in my collection demonstrates how an early RNA ribozyme, of the sort that is eminently synthesisable under prebiotic conditions, once it exists, undergoes Darwinian evolution, and how this can be observed in a well equipped secondary school laboratory.

        No “magic” needed, no “faith” needed. Game over for mythology-based nonsense.

  • David Edwards

    Oh look. another supernaturalist posting nonsense about the valid science, and who manifestly hasn’t read any of the relevant scientific literature. And who, in the process, erects the tiresome and all too familiar supernaturalist misrepresentation of the actual research, by claiming scientists think modern, evolved organisms arose in a flash from primordial chemical ingredients. A strawman caricature of the research that is not only wrong, but displays a fulminating ignorance of the actual research.

    Why do supernaturalists always attack strawman caricatures of the real science, instead of addressing what the scientists ACTUALLY postulate? Oh, that’s right, the latter is too much like hard work.

    Oh,and just for the record, I HAVE bothered to read the relevant research. Which is why I know that the caricature erected in this sad and entirely predictable sueprnaturalist puff piece IS a caricature.

    • David,

      What I think you’ve been reading is PZ Myers. You must read what Origin of lIfe scientists actually write.

      At the recent Origins Conference at ASU, as part of a panel consisting of DAwkins, Lawrence Krauss, Sidney Altman, Lee hartwell, Venter , Chris Mckay – Dr. Paul Davies got up and stated the simple truth and no one objected because they all know it is the truth. No one has the slightest clue how life could have begun through a natural process. He explained that since the days of Francis Crick in the 50’s nothing has changed as far as understanding the Origin of LIfe. Everything out there today is pure speculation. That’s why this prize is being offered.

      You are entitled to believe (have faith) that scientists will find an answer. Your faith is protected by the Constitution.

      • Scotty

        “No one has the slightest clue how life could have begun through a natural process.”

        Argument from Ignorance, again.
        “Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or “appeal to ignorance” (where “ignorance” stands for: “lack of evidence to the contrary”), is a fallacy in informal logic.”

        • moshe averick

          Scotty,
          Are you telling me the reason you don’t beleive in God is because of the philosophy of David Hume?

          • Scotty

            I don’t believe in Yahweh for the same reason I don’t believe in Odin or Isis or ancestor spirits or Vishnu. Since I could go on forever about this and don’t have the time, I will leave you a link that explains most of my reasons. I wouldn’t have outlined it exactly like this, and I would have put more than ten reasons, but it is pretty close to my thinking.
            freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2008/09/15/the-ten-main-reasons-i-dont-believe-in-god/

      • David Edwards

        Wrong. What’ I’ve ACTUALLY been reading is the ACTUAL SCIENTIFIC PAPERS from the scientists involved in the actual research, of which I have something like 116 in my current collection. Do you want a full list of citations?

        Only the scientists in question have amply demonstrated that testable natural processes, in the form of chemical reactions, can build up relevant molecules, and from those molecules, relevant structures. Indeed, some of the papers in my collection deal with the latest research, which is beginning to focus upon the production of model protocells, and determining such aspects of behaviour thereof as metabolism and replication. No magic needed, and certainly no magic man of the sort that 3,000 year old superstition tries to tell us is real, despite zero evidence for this.

        Now, you can address the ACTUAL SCIENCE, and cease misrepresenting this as “faith”, or you can continue your specious apologetic blather. Which are you going to do? Only if you want a contest about the ACTUAL SCIENCE, bring it on.

        • David,

          I think you should inform Dr. Paul Davies, Richard Dawkins, Jack Szostak, George Whitesides, Freeman Dyson, etc. who have all made it clear that no one understands how life began on this planet (that is without a creator).

          Most likely what you are referring to are the papers put out by pre-biotic chemists like George Joyce,and synthetic microbiologists like the aforementioned Szostak, who have done amazing things in the laboratory in strictly and rigidly controlled lab procedures but have no relationship at all with processes that could take place in nature.

          Several years ago there was a “breakthrough” in origin of life research by a team at the U. of Manchester. Dr. Robert Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at NYU, made the following comment: “The flaw in this kind of research is not in the chemistry. The flaw is in the logic – that this type of experimental control by researchers in a modern laboratory could have been available on the early earth.” This is the simple problem with most origin of life research. Brilliant chemists who manufacture so called prebiotic molecules only prove that brilliant minds with the best lab equipment available can build amazing things, in other words they are involved in “intellgent design.”

  • Oops, it didn’t make clear that the first sentence was a quote:

    “The science points very clearly (at least as a strong possibility) to an intelligent creator.”

    That is a blatantly false assertion. There is no getting around the fact that an “intelligent creator” of life and/or the universe is an impossibility — because the universe and life have to exist in the first place, before there can be any intelligence, design, etc.
    Reply

    • “Because the universe and life have to exist in the first place before there can be any intelligence, design, etc. ”

      I honestly do not understand what is compelling about this argument. How do you know this? Why do you say it’s true. Why is it a priori impossible for their to exist a being who is not part of the physical universe, i.e. who created the physical universe.

      that does not demonstrate that he is there, but I don’t see you logic in saying it is an impossibility.
      You have not explained yourself clearly. I’ve never heard anyone say anything like this. Even Dawkins admits that without Darwinian evolution he could not “imagine” being an atheist. Hitchens says essentially the same thing. Without evolution the evidence of design in the living world is overwhelming, at least they felt so.

      • Why do you believe that it is possible for there to exist a being who doesn’t exist, i.e., who created existence out of nothing? A Nobody Nowhere Who Miraculously Created that little incidental bauble, the physical universe?

        And don’t forget that there is zero evidence for intelligence outside of nature.

        • “And don’t forget that there is zero evidence for intelligence outside of nature”

          This gets to the heart of hypocrisy in current “scientific” reasoning. Science defines its search for answers WITHIN the “natural” universe. There is no possibility for answers outside of the natural universe by this definition. Therefore, an Intelligent Creator (God) cannot be a “scientific” answer because this is excluded from the realm of inquiry.

          The hypocrisy is the derision of the scientific community for anyone who suggests the natural universe was created by a supernatural agent. It is a perfectly logical hypothesis – except for the fact that the scientific community excludes it from consideration.

          So your suggestion that there is “zero evidence for intelligence outside of nature” continues this hypocritical stance. You would not accept any evidence since your quest for answers is only WITHIN nature.

          Think about that … also think about the perfectly logical analogy of the watch and the watchmaker. The universe is here, it had a beginning, and there is NO scientific explanation for its origins. It could not create itself or put itself together – so the logical conclusion is that some agent with extraordinary power and wisdom brought it into being.

          • RAndy,

            Well put. As I wrote to Steve earlier, he has simply created a tautology. There cannot be anything outside of the natural world because there cannot be anything outside of the natural world. Many scientists write the same thing. Here is Dr. Robert Hazen from his book about the origin of life: “How did life arise?…Barring divine intervention, life must have emerged by a natural process – one fully consistent with the laws of chemistry and physics.” Brilliant. If there are two possibilities and you “bar” one of them arbitrarily, you are left with one possibility. This is called science.

          • “There is no possibility for answers outside of the natural universe by this definition.”

            That’s because if you don’t look at the real world, you have nowhere else to look. Just try to find somewhere else. (People have been wasting their time trying that for thousands of years — and may not stop any time soon.)

          • “The hypocrisy is the derision of the scientific community for anyone who suggests the natural universe was created by a supernatural agent. It is a perfectly logical hypothesis . . .”

            There is nothing logical or realistic about it at all. Where do you imagine you see any logic to it?

            You have some words, some grammar, etc., but no coherent IDEA anywhere in there. Fantasy is not the same thing as logic.

          • The natural world is easy to get an idea of. Just look around.

            But some “unnatural world,” or “non-natural world,” or “non-real world”?? What can you possibly be thinking of?

            If it’s not part of the natural world, it’s not part of anything. The unworldly simpy isn’t there. Unreality really isn’t anything.

      • Since “to exist” means “to be part of the physical universe,” it is impossible for there to be something which exists and doesn’t exist at the same time and in the same respect. In other words, to call something “supernatural” is logically to call it non-existent.

        You don’t seem to find existence compelling, so that doesn’t leave you much to work with.

    • Steve,

      You still have not addressed the point that Richard Dawkins essentially agrees with me, not you. If not for Darwinian evolution he would have readily agreed that there must be a Creator outside of nature. “I could not imagine being an atheist before 1859.”

      However the proof is in the pudding. I challenge you to find a naturalistic origin of life. You will never find it. In 65 years Origin of Life research has gone nowhere. That’s why prizes are being offered for “original” theories. That’s why Paul Davies stated “We haven’t a clue.” I know that your reflexive reaction is to scream “quote mining.” Watch the video yourself and you’ll see he means exactly what it sounds like.

      • Scotty

        I will repeat my response below, as you seemed to ignore it.

        Dawkins does not agree with you. Dawkins make that quote because of ONE issue – that before 1859 he wouldn’t have had an explanation for complex biological design. That’s it. And evolution provided that explanation.

        Dawkins words after your quote:

        “An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: ‘I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.’ I can’t help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

      • Even though you are never guaranteed to find everything you are looking for, the only way to give yourself a chance is to look around in the real world. Trying to find anything in some unreal world of fantasy is a guarantee of failure. You have no place to start looking for anything other than the world you live in (i.e., the physical universe) — there just isn’t anywhere else to look.

        How would you even propose or imagine that anyone could investigate or study anything not-of-this-world?

      • Dawkins’ agreement or disagreement is not any sort of evidence one way or the other.

        Your jesting “challenge” to find the actual origin of life is also not any sort of evidence or argument for anything in particular.

  • The science points very clearly (at least as a strong possibility) to an intelligent creator.

    That is a blatantly false assertion. There is no getting around the fact that an “intelligent creator” of life and/or the universe is an impossibility — because the universe and life have to exist in the first place, before there can be any intelligence, design, etc.

  • Rita Soares (Ritz Crackerz)

    This a rough draft so it is lacking a lot of stuff but just go with it and think nice and funny thoughts you must have an imagination for it and do not think it is impossible who knows it could have happened some where along the same lines hope you enjoy 🙂

    Well how it really happened was that “Earth” was already a planet that could be lived on. Humans and animals came from the Planet that they are calling “Earth’s” “Twin” and are thinking about moving the “rich” and “smart” humans to that planet. Not knowing that it is the planet we all have actually came from. Our ancestors were actually very highly intelligent beings and traveled to get to this planet. After crash landing only a few survived but they happened to be idiots that survived which is why we are how we are today dumb***** that can not work together and just want to kill each other. Some of us have a religion and pray to a “God” but what our ancestors had as far as “religion” went was praying to mythological beings which came into play with the Greeks and Romans and others in the beginning of Earth’s time. It was switched to certain religions when the human race decided to “evolve” and say hey we should have one “God” and pray to the God. The God should be made a male and we should write a book about this God and he should have a son as well all know males are better than any females. If no one goes with this God or has a different God and or has more than one God should be punished and should be called devil worshipers and witches. The reason why we do not have proof of coming from another planet is because it has either been hidden or as most has been destroyed to cover it up and keep the rest of us “lowly” humans “in place” and not to “question” the “leaders” of Earth.

    I could go on I really could but I doubt you want to read more if you even read everything from the above.

    Hail the Crackerz!

    • rita,

      What have you been smoking?

      • Rita Soares (Ritz Crackerz)

        It’s called imagination and I have a lot of it. Just because I can have fun creating something doesn’t mean something I’ve done has resulted in making it or having a hand in making it.

      • Rita Soares (Ritz Crackerz)

        I had to leave so here is my actual answer:

        Anyways who is to say my theory is wrong? It could have happened just like I said a little bit different of course but ya. I mean most people believe in a SUPERNATURAL BEING who made the planet and all living creatures. Who had a woman be impregnated who then bore his son who was killed came back to life then went to heaven. Not to mention all the angels and demons. So if they can believe in that shit why can’t mine be believable? Not to mention if you think about it all of that the “God” one sounds a lot like Greek and Roman mythology just twisted to be “Original”. Didn’t Zeus impregnate many females who happen to be virgins? Wasn’t there a lot of “Beings” that came from the “heavens” to earth that also impregnated females thus resulting in halfings? Isn’t that the same thing as the Angels coming down from heaven having children with human females thus giants?

      • salvage

        And yet she makes more sense than you do.

  • William

    How did the presents get under the tree?
    Santa Claus must have brought them!
    That explanation works for most toddlers.

  • Brian Westley

    I would suggest that everyone just ignore Moshe Averick. He’s essentially ineducable.

    • salvage

      I second this, the man clearly has one pony and he’s beating the darn thing well past dead. At this point I think he’s just trolling.

  • Normann Wheland

    Moshe, despite your clumsy attempts at quote mining, the surveys still show that a vast majority of philosophers and leading scientists reject the notion of God, by about a 70% – 30% margin.

    PHILOSOPHERS:

    “The PhilPapers Survey was a survey of professional philosophers and others on their philosophical views, carried out in November 2009. The Survey was taken by 3226 respondents, including 1803 philosophy faculty members and/or PhDs and 829 philosophy graduate students.

    http://philpapers.org/surveys/results.pl?affil=Target+faculty&areas0=0&areas_max=1&grain=coarse

    God: theism or atheism?

    Accept or lean toward: atheism 678 / 931 (72.8%)
    Accept or lean toward: theism 136 / 931 (14.6%)
    Other 117 / 931 (12.5%)”

    ======================================================
    SCIENTISTS:

    Nature, Vol. 394, No. 6691, p. 313 (1998) © Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html

    “Our chosen group of “greater” scientists were members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Our survey found near universal rejection of the transcendent by NAS natural scientists. Disbelief in God and immortality among NAS biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few believers. We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS mathematicians (14.3% in God, 15.0% in immortality). Biological scientists had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality).”

    • Norman,

      What interests me is your logic and evidence not numbers. If you think about it for a moment it becomes obvious that no matter what you believe, you are outnumbered by billions of people. Frankly I’m a little surprised that you would even write about this as if it is that relevant.

      • Normann Wheland

        Moshe, you have demonstrated time and again YOUR abysmal lack of credible evidence coupled with YOUR fatally contorted logic in YOUR futile attempts to support YOUR discredited thesis. I have tried to present the lighted candle of RESPECTED authority on this issue with my citations; will you open your eyes and see? Men of much keener insight and much more profound understanding in both science and philosophy overwhelmingly reject your fearful ignorance of reality. What don’t you understand about that simple fact? The two legs of evidence and logic have both been kicked out from beneath your shaky stool of belief. Do you think it will continue to remain upright tottering on its remaining leg of faith alone?

        • Norman,

          I don’t know anything about who you are or where you live, but if you are prepared to arrange a debate with one of your “experts” I am more than willing to meet him or her on the field of intellectual battle. When I called my book “Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist” I meant it. I think atheism is for the most part an illusory system that substitutes attacks on religion for a coherent world outlook. It is clear to me that the notion that life could start without a creator is absolutely absurd, I will debate anyone you can convince to debate me.

          • No matter how “clear” it seems to you, you have no way of explaining it to anyone else, since you have no evidence, no proof, no argument, no logic. You have nothing more than the declaration of a strong feeling on your part that “it is clear” to you that something unreal is really real. Sure it’s absurd, but you don’t have anything else. You can “debate” until you’re blue in the face, and you’ll still have nothing.

            Of course, since nothing is precisely what you claim to believe in, i.e., the not-of-this-world, then that might be satisfactory to you. You do seem very determined to stick to your empty guns (of blind faith and denial).

      • Well, I think you are right on this point: the number of believers (either way) is utterly irrelevant.

  • Steve Greene

    When an advocate of superstitious beliefs, who believes that some god exists, insists that if science must produce a scientific explanation for “X” (whatever “X” might be; in this case, the origin of the first primitive living organisms) *or else* “God did it” – but their god, of course, doesn’t need any explanation at all – at that point I know I’m dealing with someone who has no comprehension of logical consistency.

    Not to mention the fact that grown men who use the common “God of the gaps” fallacy (dressed up in whatever rhetoric) aren’t dealing with logic at all.

    Yes, we knew this already.

    • Steve,

      You need to ask Richard Dawkins why he said that he “could not imagine being an athesist before 1859”

      He said that for the same reason that I am not an atheist now. The evidence of intelligent design in the living world is overwhelming. If not for Darwinian Evolution, atheism would not have a leg to stand on.

      As I’ve pointed out many times, even if we totally accept Dar. Evolution, it is irrelevant to the question of the existence of God the Creator. I have explained this in some of the other comments.

      • Scotty

        “He said that for the same reason that I am not an atheist now. The evidence of intelligent design in the living world is overwhelming.”

        He didn’t say that because the evidence of intelligent design is overwhelming. He said that because of ONE issue – that before 1859 he wouldn’t have had an explanation for complex biological design. That’s it. And evolution provided that explanation.

        Dawkins words after your quote:

        “An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: ‘I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.’ I can’t help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

      • The “evidence of intelligent design in the living world” is not only non-overwhelming, it is literally non-existent.

        You may, of course, posit “intelligent design in the living world” based upon supernaturalistic fantasies, but that’s not logic and science, that’s blind faith.

      • Don’t forget that theism doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Not a real one, naturally. Theism is entirely and only a matter of blind faith. There’s no reason to be a theist (though you are free to be one if you feel like forgetting about the physical universe, i.e., real life).

  • December 8, 2011
    5:19 pm

    Moshe,

    If we were looking at the VERY FIRST living organism, then it could not possibly be a result from an intelligent agent because then it couldn’t have been the FIRST. And it couldn’t be both first and not-first.

    The ONLY possibility is that it is a result of a natural process.

    Note that to claim an “intelligent being” to be non-physical is the logical claim that said “intelligent being” is necessarily a non-agent in the physical world (which is where life exists).

  • dutchboy27

    Every single time I go to hear a lecturer or author, at the end they open it up and have people from the audience ask questions. Each time I have stayed for this segment I am stricken with the same sentiment that I feel in this forum. People rise to the fore and pontificate with little or no understanding and bore the hell out of the readers. I am resolved to not stay for these portions and stop reading the after-comments. Here is a tip; before you start typing, read the article again, and then again. It really is better to be thought of as a fool then to open your mouth (or in this case tap on your keys) and leave no room for doubt.

    • Scotty

      Please, dutchboy, illuminate me on how I have responded with little understanding. Otherwise I might suspect you are trying to keep readers from reading about the many problems with the article.

  • Normann Wheland

    Moshe said: ” … the notion that a bacterium could emerge from non-life through an undirected process is so absurd, it can be rejected out of hand. It is as absurd as proposing that cave drawings in France emerged through an undirected process.”

    Another fallacy of ambiguity. Moshe, pray tell, what is your definition of an “undirected process?”

    • moshe averick

      Norman,
      Undirected by any conscious intelligent force

      • Normann Wheland

        Ahh, the old “begging-the-question” fallacy! By your definition, are (the laws of) physics and chemistry entities of direction; e.g., does gravity direct the orbits of the planets in our solar system or the ebb and flow of the tides here on earth?

        • Norman,
          Don’t understand what you are trying to say.

          • Normann Wheland

            OK, I’ll prune it down for you: does the force of gravity direct the orbits of the planets in our solar system or the ebb and flow of the tides here on earth? Yes, or no?

      • jp

        And yet we know that humanity emerged from bacteria through a process undirected by any conscious intelligent force.

        We understand that huge transformation better because it’s more recent, and so we have more evidence. Abiogenesis happened billions of years ago, and involved microscopic agents, making it much harder to get a grasp on.

        But speaking of evidence, any time you want to provide some evidence for a supernatural creator (and “I don’t have a better idea” is NOT evidence), then just go right ahead. The Nobel prize awaits.

        When you’ve collected your Nobel, come back here and say “I told you so.” Until then, have the humility to understand that when people like Paul Davies say “Nobody knows exactly how life arose.”, they’re including YOU in that statement.

  • JacobB

    It’s typical that the theist demands a “a highly plausible, empirically demonstrable, testable and falsifiable explanation for the undirected, naturalistic emergence of life from non-life,” yet has no ability to provide “a highly plausible, empirically demonstrable, testable and falsifiable explanation for the supernaturalistic emergence of life.”

    Somehow the scientific community are held to a standard that requires a detailed analysis of the processes by which life emerged. i.e. ‘how’ exactly did it happen. Theists seem to think they can have a pass on providing any details and yet think that their position is more accurate.

    “God did it” and hand-waving about magic and mystery is not comparable to “a highly plausible, empirically demonstrable, testable and falsifiable explanation.”

    • moshe averick

      Jacob B,

      You have overlooked the simple fact that there are only two possibilities here. a. Intelligent design
      b. Naturalistic process

      If it’s not one, it’s the other. As I wrote in my reply to Humanist John, even Richard Dawkins admits that living organisms LOOK like they are designed, except that he claims there is an alternative explanation, namely, Darwinian Evolution. I am prepared to concede that for arguments sake. However, Darwinian evolution is a result of the fantastic molecular machinery contained in the first bacterium.
      Once that incredible system is in place all kinds of things can happen. How did it get there?

      In explaining Origin of Life you cannot fall back on Evolution. Evolution cannot take place without the genetic material already in place. We are back to square one. The reason (as Dawkins would say) molecular machinery of the bacterium LOOKS designed is because it IS designed. At the very least, you must seriously consider the possibility.

      • JacobB

        I don’t think I’ve overlooked any such thing. As you say, “if it’s not one, it’s the other,” but what makes you think that the un-evidenced and fantastical position of the theist is at all a credible position?
        Until intelligent design is shown to be anything but fantasy I will continue to view it as such.

        • Jacob,

          All you’ve done is declared your “faith”.
          You have not put forth an argument or shown any evidence.

          • JacobB

            I don’t know how that response follows from what I’ve said. In any case, it’s a situation of “pot meet kettle…”.

            I don’t have “faith” in scientific exploration, if that’s what you’re alluding to. Science is something that people just do, and continue to do. The only remote bit of faith is that humans will continue to be curious and will continue to explore, even if the answers aren’t forthcoming.

            The biggest threat to human curiosity seems to be religion, because who needs to search for answers when we can declare with certainty that “god did it”.

            So you can scoff and mock all you like, while clinging onto your primitive, superstitious explanations, while the rest of us go out and explore this world and this universe.

      • Regarding the “Origin of Life,” intelligent design is not a possibility, since life would have to exist first for there to be intelligence and designers.

  • Scotty

    I liked how you cherry-picked the various quotes without referencing the critiques. Like those on RNA (recent research on emergence of RNA: see http://www.physorg.com/pdf229591145.pdf)

    On various rebuttals to Miller’s quote on submarine vents: http://science.niuz.biz/miller-t45458.html

    On Fred Hoyle’s quote that there is not a shred of evidence supporting the organic soup theory, note Hoyle was at the same time promoting the life from outer space theory. (He also rejected the Big Bang theory, if it matters). Also, his logic near the end of his life was so flawed that there is even a logical fallacy named after him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoyle%27s_fallacy

    Anyway, all of these quotes are just fallacious appeals to authority http://www.fallacyfiles.org/authorit.html In any case, critiques of theories is exactly how science is conducted.

    “As I have said many time; the notion that a bacterium could emerge from non-life through an undirected process is so absurd, it can be rejected out of hand.” Argument from incredulity: http://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_ from_ignorance#Argument_from_ incredulity.2FLack_of_imagination

    “Atheist/materialist scientists will desperately propose and consider any theory for the origin of… bacterium, rather than consider the obvious answer; that it was created by an intelligent being that is not bound by time, space, matter or energy.” Well, of course scientists are going to find fault in supernatural explanations. Maybe that is because EVERY SINGLE mystery that has been explained was found to have a naturalist answer, and NOT ONE mystery has EVER been found to have a supernatural explanation. The supernatural track record is not so good. So science has a right to be a bit cocky here.

    • salvage

      Scotty there’s so no point.

      Prediction: HumanistJohn below will politely and clearly point out where Mushe is wrong and then Mushe will stop posting and then go off and write the same silly things and how it has to be his god because no other answer makes sense to his limited mind for next week.

      He cannot learn, I have no idea if this is a choice or a condition but it’s clear he does not care for the truth.

    • moshe averick

      Scotty,

      Let me restate my argument and I will add your comments and you will see how mistaken you are:

      Moshe: The notion that cave drawings in France are the result of undirected processes is so absurd that it can be rejected out of hand.

      Scotty: Argument from Incredulity

      There are some things that are so ridiculous that they actually do strain one’s credulity well beyond the breaking point. To believe that the cells machinery could emerge from non-life through an unguided process with no evidence to support that assertion is absurd and therefore I am incredulous that anyone could believe it.

      In your comments you seem to have overlooked a fundamental fact: the entire reason why this guy is offering the money is because nobody has the slightest clue how life could have emerged from non-life naturalistically. As Dr. Paul Davies recently stated:
      “We haven’t a clue.”

      I don’t know exactly which mysteries you are referring to, but that argument is certainly an argument from authority.

      • Scotty

        Actually, your example IS an argument from incredulity, as it is stated in the following format: I can’t believe P, therefore not-P. Whether or not arguments strain YOUR incredibility does not mean they are incorrect. The usual way to show a statement is incorrect is not through a logical fallacy. Science, for example, uses evidence. In your example, a proper way to refute the notion that cave paintings in France are the result of undirected processes is show a counter-example, such as evidence of human processes.

        I haven’t overlooked the “I haven’t a clue” statement. (By the way, your quote is another falacious appeal from authority). People didn’t have a clue how lightning was created until very recently in our species’s history, however this did not mean the answer was supernatural. However, by stating this a reason you are guilty of an Argument from Ignorance.

        From Wikipedia as I am getting tired of links: “Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or “appeal to ignorance” (where “ignorance” stands for: “lack of evidence to the contrary”), is a fallacy in informal logic. It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false, it is “generally accepted” (or vice versa). This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option, which is that there is insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to prove the proposition satisfactorily to be either true or false. Nor does it allow the admission that the choices may in fact not be two (true or false), but may be as many as four, (1) true, (2) false, (3) unknown between true or false, and (4) being unknowable (among the first three).[1] In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used to shift the burden of proof.”

        By all means, keep going. It is cheap entertainment for me to point out the logical flaws in your responses (just like your last atheist article).

  • salvage

    Child, please.

  • moshe averick

    Humanist John,

    I appreciate your comment and that you have a sense of humor about it. Many of the people who disagree with me write hysterical, childish rants instead of stating their disagreement coherently.

    1. For arguments sake, let’s say I agree with your basic point. At the very least you would have to agree that it is a distinct and reasonable possibility that there is no scientific, naturalistic answer to the origin of life. In other words, the reason why scientists are having such a difficult time with this is because it is an intractable problem and as Nobel Prize winner, Werner Arber wrote, perhaps the solution is a Creator. The problem of origin of life is also the reason why Antony Flew, one of the most prominent atheistic philosophers of the 20th century changed his mind and became a believer, at least in God the creator, although he never embraced any particular religious doctrine.

    What disturbs me more than anything else, is the narrow-mindedness and stubborness of many scientists and skeptics (I mean here TRUE skeptics) not to admit that they must seriously consider the possibility of a Creator, for the origin of life. Religious doctrine, or divine revelation is a completely different question which is unrelated to the concept of God the Creator.

    2. I disagree with your basic point. My argument is not “Science does not have an answer, therefore God did it”
    That is nothing more than mindless repetition of a P.Z. Myer rant against religion. Please give me and intelligent believers a little more credit than that.

    Richard Dawkins has stated over and over again that Darwinian Evolution is a process which produces living systems that fiendishly resemble highly DESIGNED systems. He emphatically agrees that the electric pump we choose to call a “heart” certainly LOOKS designed. It’s just that we discovered a process called DArwinian evolution that offers an alternative naturalistic explanation. This is why Dawkins writes that he “could not imagine being an atheist before 1859.” In fact,Dawkins made a serious error. Darwinian Evolution does not even confront the question. As far as we know, Darwinian Evolution begins with the Self replicating DNA based organism called a bacterium.

    AS non-believing professor of philosophy (NYU) Thomas Nagel wrote in his review of THe God Delusion”: “Since 1953 we have known what that material is, and scientists are continually learning more about how DNA does what it does. But since the existence of this material or something like it is a precondition of the possibility of evolution, evolutionary theory cannot explain its existence. We are therefore faced with a problem analogous to that which Dawkins thinks faces the argument from design: we have explained the complexity of organic life in terms of something that is itself just as functionally complex as what we originally set out to explain. So the problem is just pushed back one step: how did such a thing come into existence?”

    In other words, we are right back where we started before 1859. We have a living organism that is more complex and sophisticated than anything which human technology can produce, of which there exists not a shred of evidence that it was preceeded by anything else. It certainly LOOKS designed, just as Dawkins said.
    There is no evolutionary trail to justify anything except the obvious conclusion: It looks designed because it is designed. I’m prepared to change my mind if you prove me wrong.

    • HumanistJohn

      Excellent reply which is rare on any site I must say.The idea that a creator (god) of some kind created the universe and or earth lacks any evidence. I am far more willing to except the possibility of Panspermia then of a god who did it. Now of course any being that could create life on a scale as (relatively) massive as earth must be as a god to us. I am assuming that your god is supposedly a benevolent all knowing type god (like the christian god). Unfortunately that god is not in evidence in any capacity. Once again no evidence for any god but perhaps a deist type god could have started life. As I assume you know a deist god would have left us to our own devices once he/she/it had created life. As I said earlier though and being that could create life in a fashion that lead to where earth is now would have to be considered a “god” by any measure. A human must appear a god to a ant. So any “creator” (which I still do not believe to be the case) would invariably be so much more advanced than us that even if said creator was flesh and blood and not all powerful all knowing etc it would be so far advanced by our perceptions as to be all of those things. I however see no evidence for a deist type god much less a god of the type in the christian bible. I may not have put forth my thoughts as well as yours but then again I am not a professional writer I’m just a regular guy working in a cube! Thank you for at least responding in a manner that I am totally unused to. I really was expecting to be told about the torment that await me in hell or some such nonsense. Believers and non-believers can certainly have stimulating, if not constructive discourse. I have no illusion that what I say will change your opinion but thank you for listening to mine.

      • moshe averick

        Humanist John,
        It is a pleasure to have a normal conversation on this site.

        Somewhere in the universe at some point in time there was non-life and at a further point in time was the very first living organism.

        Imagine you are looking at that very first living organism. It was either the result of a creative act by an intelligent being or the result of some undirected, naturalistic process. If we conclude that it was created, the creator obviously could not be physical, since it is the FIRST living organism. Therefore, the first living organism was either created by a non-physical creator or an undirected process.

        The question now becomes, which possibility is more likely: a. first living organism is the result of an undirected (and as yet totally unknown) process b. result of an act of creation by a non-physical creator

        There are no other choices. I go back to my earlier statement. The reason the bacterium looks designed, is because it was designed.
        Please keep in mind the following statement by the lste, distinguished biologist, Dr. Lynn Margulis: “It is a bigger step to go from a mixture of amino acids to a bacterium, than to go from a bacterium to a human being.”

        • HumanistJohn

          All I can say to respond is… Who created the creator?

          • moshe averick

            Humanist John,
            That’s a very good question. In fact that is the reason that Hitchens gives why he does not believe in a Creator and ultimately it is the reason that Dawkins gives in The God Delusion.

            It is very important to point out that you have raised, not a scientific problem, but a philosophical problem that has been around for a long time. I constantly try to explain to people that ultimately the question of God the Creator is NOT a scientific issue. The science points very clearly (at least as a strong possibility) to an intelligent creator.

            We are now in the philosophical arena and scientific credentials have no particular value.

            Everyone agrees that the process which resulted in life emerging had a BEGINNING. There are two possible beginnings: a naturalistic process from life to non-life or an uncaused creator.
            In other words, a first cause before whom there is no other cause.

            What this means is that the First CAuse, meaning the Creator, does not exist in time, he CREATED time. TAke note, if I ask you “What was before the big bang?” The answer is “There is no such thing as BEFORE the big bang.” Before and after only exist in time. Time begins with the big bang. AS mind boggling as it sounds there is no such thing as before the big bang. Even more mind boggling: “Where did the big bang take place?” It did not take place anywhere. Space only comes into existence with the big bang. with these questions we have reached the limits of human comprehension. If we conclude that life must be created, the creator does not exist in time or space and is not matter or energy. He created those things. What is he then?
            The only thing we can say is that he is totally “other” than we are.

            Who created the creator? If life is created there is a radical difference between us and him. He IS , He ACTUALLY EXISTS, We are CAUSED.

            Again, this is a very old philosophical question and its about time, militant atheists quite spreading the falsehood that this is a scientific issue and that believers deny scientific realities.

            Enjoying the conversation very much

        • Scotty

          “Which possibility is more likely: a. first living organism is the result of an undirected (and as of yet totally unknown: process [or] b. result of an act of creation by a non-physical creator

          I have stolen from an answer I gave in response to your last atheist column, as it amuses me.

          “”Which possibility is more likely: a. lighning is the result of an undirected (and as of yet totally unknown: process [or] b. it’s a result of Zeus throwing lightning bolts to earth after they were made by his son, the god Hephaestus

          “Which possibility is more likely: a. rain is the result of an undirected (and as of yet totally unknown: process [or] b. God’s son Ilat has spilled water he has collected in Heaven for his father

          “Which possibility is more likely: a. the sun moves across the sky as the result of an undirected (and as of yet totally unknown: process [or] b. Apollo drags it across the sky each day with his chariot

          • moshe averick

            Scotty,
            You have missed the point. The sun moving across the sky in a regular pattern is an interesting phenomena but it doesn’t do anything. It’s a repeating pattern, like a crystal, that is not to say that it was not put in place by a Creator, but it’s inconclusive.

            The bacterium contains functionally complex machinery, it contains Information stored in digital format along with a highly complex and specified system for retrieval and translation. It is in CODE. That means that there is no chemical or molecular law which could predict the order of the bases on the DNA chain, the order of the RNA Codons that code for amino acids, and the connection of the amino acids to the codon triplets which are attached to tRNA. It is like our alphabet. The symbols themselves mean nothing. In order to represent meaningful information they must be arranged by a guiding intelligence in the proper order. This is because there is no chemical or molecular reason why the letters should be in any particular order. It is the exact same phenomena with the genetic code in all living organisms.

            The obvious explanation for staggeringly sophisticated coded information is intelligence. If you want to assert that the encyclopedic amount of digitally encoded information found in the simplest bacterium is the result of an unguided process, the burden of proof is on you.

          • Scotty

            The point was you are making an argument from ignorance.

            “The obvious explanation.. is intelligence”

            Argument from incredulity. http://goo.gl/nlh2o

            “The burden of proof is on you”

            Wow, right out of the first paragraph in wikipedia. Good job.

            “Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or “appeal to ignorance” (where “ignorance” stands for: “lack of evidence to the contrary”), is a fallacy in informal logic…In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used to shift the burden of proof.”

            Anyway, I have not proposed anything. I am comfortable saying “I don’t know”. It is you making the claim. “When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on the person asserting a claim.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophic_burden_of_proof

        • The question now becomes, which possibility is more likely: a. first living organism is the result of an undirected (and as yet totally unknown) process b. result of an act of creation by a non-physical creator.

          Option “a.” is actually the only possibility. The notion that a “non-physical creator” would be capable of anything beyond nothing, i.e., non-acts, non-results, non-creation, etc., doesn’t hold any water.

    • I still don’t see how you can get around the impossibility of there being living Creator of life. For there to be an “origin of life,” there would first have to be a universe without any life. Either way, there is no basis for believing in a “Creator” (as in any God of religion).

      If there was an “origin of life,” it had to be completely, 100% natural — as there is no other alternative.

      • moshe averick

        Steve,

        I appreciate your comment. However, your logic is flawed.

        Everyone agrees that there was a universe without life at one point in time and then at a further point in time there was life.

        Imagine you are looking at the VERY FIRST living organism in the universe. It either was the result of an intelligent agent or it was the result of a naturalistic process. If we decide that it is simply too functionally complex and contains too much specified information to have emerged through an unguided process (like the cave drawings) then it must have been created by an intelligent being. Since it is the very first living organism we are forced to conclude that its creator is not physical. There are no other physical beings.

        This is the reason why Antony Flew became a believer. He concluded that it was irrational to think that the first living organisms could have emerged naturalistically.

        AS I have stated many times, and make very clear in my book, this is not evidence for the God of the Torah, nor is it evidence that this God spoke at Mt. Sinai. That is a completely separate discussion and the two should not be confused. In my opinion one of the big mistakes of many Christian apologists is that they have combined the two when in fact they are not the same at all. You can believe in God the Creator without believing in Christianity or any other religion for that matter.

        I believe that there is evidence of the truth of the revelation at Sinai, but that is not for here.

        • Moshe,

          If we were looking at the VERY FIRST living organism, then it could not possibly be a result from an intelligent agent because then it couldn’t have been the FIRST. And it couldn’t be both first and not-first.

          The ONLY possibility is that it is a result of a natural process.

          Note that to claim an “intelligent being” to be non-physical is the logical claim that said “intelligent being” is necessarily a non-agent in the physical world (which is where life exists).

          • moshe averick

            Steve,
            Do not understand your logic at all. If it was created by a non-physical intelligent agent not subject to any laws of our physical universe, namely, not existing in time or space and not consisting of matter or energy, then it certainly could be the first and have been created.

            I don’t understand why you have precluded that possibility. Please explain again

          • “If it was created by a non-physical intelligent agent not subject to any laws of our physical universe, namely, not existing in time or space and not consisting of matter or energy, then it certainly could be the first and have been created.”

            The logic might be easier to see if you simplify your conditional, thusly: “If there was no way it could have been created, then it certainly could have been created.”

            All those modifiers on your “creator,” that it must be “non-physical,” “not existing,” “not consisting,” etc. simply mean that said “creator” is merely imaginary and not really there (or here, or anywhere).

            You are trying to assert the notion that something which cannot possibly have any effect in reality still can miraculously have some effect in reality. But if it’s not real, then it just is not real. Why do you claim that logic is difficult to understand?

        • [Sorry, I don’t know how to edit the previous reply]
          December 8, 2011
          5:19 pm

          Moshe,

          If we were looking at the VERY FIRST living organism, then it could not possibly be a result from an intelligent agent because then it couldn’t have been the FIRST. And it couldn’t be both first and not-first.

          The ONLY possibility is that it is a result of a natural process.

          Note that to claim an “intelligent being” to be non-physical is the logical claim that said “intelligent being” is necessarily a non-agent in the physical world (which is where life exists).

        • “This is the reason why Antony Flew became a believer. He concluded that it was irrational to think that the first living organisms could have emerged naturalistically.”

          But Flew got it wrong. It is irrational to think that anything could exist or “have emerged” unnaturally. The only rational thought when faced with the existence of something is that it is perfectly natural for it to exist.

          • Steve,

            I can’t argue with you. If you a priori declare that there cannot be anything outside of the physical universe, then of course there can’t be anything outside of the physical universe. That’s not logic, it is a tautology.

        • Scotty

          “this is the reason why Antony Flew became a believer. He concluded that it was irrational to think that the first living organisms could have emerged naturalistically.”

          I’m sure the dementia he was hospitalized for the following year had nothing to do with it.

          • moshe averick

            Scotty,
            a very lame comment. Let’s keep this on a higher level please

          • Scotty

            Really? You don’t think that being diagnosed with dementia a year after his “conversion” is relevant? I disagree. You brought up Flew and stated one conjecture of his conversion, so I by rights can bring up another, distasteful to you as it may be. I suggest you read the following NYT article: http://goo.gl/OWYvL

  • gruff

    Typical argument from ignorance–and logical fallacy.

    • moshe averick

      Gruff,
      Please read my reply to Humanist John. You do not have a proper understanding of the concept of THe Argument from Ignorance. My argument is nothing at all like an argument from ignorance. In fact is the an argument that Dawkins makes himself when he wrote that he “could not imagine being an atheist before 1859.” When you see something that looks designed you assume it IS designed unless you have a reason to think otherwise. As I said, I explained it fully in my reply to Humanist John.

  • HumanistJohn

    The author is obviously a gentleman who thinks since science is unable to answer a question it must be god. Before science discovered what caused hurricanes, earthquakes, diseases etc it was assumed to be god. Then we figured it out and today saying god makes these things happen (or not happen) is only justifiable if you are ignorant. Just because we cannot currently answer a question scientifically doesn’t mean god did it. You know how we all lose socks in the dryer never to be seen again? Well since I haven’t heard a scientific explanation yet i bet it was god! LOL

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