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June 5, 2012 3:56 pm

The Flawed Logic of the Atheist

avatar by Moshe Averick

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Dr. Stuart Kauffman - "Anyone who tells you that he or she knows how life started is a fool or a knave."

Dr. Stuart Kauffman, distinguished Origin of Life researcher, in a critique of the popular “RNA World” hypothesis for a naturalistic origin of life writes that, “the [problem] I find most insurmountable is the one most rarely talked about: all living things seem to have a minimal complexity below which it is impossible to go…Your curiosity should be aroused…all free-living cells have at least the minimum molecular diversity of pleuromona. Your antenna should quiver a bit here. Why is there this minimal complexity? Why can’t a system simpler than a pleuromona be alive?”

“Your antenna should quiver a bit here.” In layman’s terms: This should blow your mind! Pleuromona, the “simplest” type of bacteria, have a functional complexity on the level of a Saturn rocket and in order to survive and self-replicate, their DNA must – and does – contain encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded information. The inert information in the DNA is not nearly enough. There also must be a highly sophisticated information retrieval and translation system.

However, even that is not enough. It is clear that one of the most serious challenges in copying large amounts of information is that errors creep in. With each generation of replication the errors increase exponentially resulting in what is called “error catastrophe.” In other words, errors quickly multiply to the point where the information is useless. Therefore, the bacterial cell must – and does – contain a highly sophisticated error correction system to ensure the integrity of the replication process. Where does the complex molecular machinery needed to retrieve and translate information and correct copying errors come from? How are the amazing molecular machines that perform these functions constructed? (It’s worth noting that we are talking about devices that are measured in the billionths of a meter) The answer is simple: The information required to build them (including the molecular machinery that performs the actual building process), is all contained in the coded sequences of nucleotides in the DNA. Your curiosity should be aroused. Much like information stored in a computer hard drive, the information in DNA is useless unless it can be retrieved and translated with copying integrity ensured. The machinery for retrieval, translation, and error correction cannot be produced without a previous error-free retrieval and translation of the information contained in the DNA. Your antenna should quiver a bit here.

While soberly contemplating this baffling conundrum one begins to understand another statement made by Dr. Kauffman (a self-proclaimed humanistic atheist), regarding the origin of life on Earth: “Anyone who tells you that he or she knows how life started on the Earth some 3.5 billion years ago is a fool or a knave. Nobody knows.” (Chapter 2, first  paragraph)

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The obvious solution to the Origin of Life, a creator with a “super-intellect,” as obliquely suggested by the late Sir Fred Hoyle, is vehemently rejected as even a possibility by atheistic scientists. Why? The purpose of this article is to explain the profoundly flawed logic used by non-believers in their rejection of the notion of a supernatural creator-of-life. I will deal here with the four main objections offered by atheist thinkers.

I. The Argument from Ignorance or “God of the Gaps”

The atheist claims that what I’ve presented is a flawed form of logic called an Argument from Ignorance: “Yes, Rabbi, it’s true that we have no idea how the enormous gap between non-life and life was crossed on this planet, but just because we don’t know, it does not mean that god or an intelligent creator did it.” To be fair, if I am searching for an explanation of Phenomena X and I come to the conclusion that either it was not Cause A or that I don’t know the cause; using that as my evidence to conclude that it must be Cause B, would, in truth, be an example of an Argument from Ignorance. The rejection of one possibility or not knowing the answer is certainly not evidence that it must be Cause B. Perhaps it is Cause C,D,E,F or G.

This objection is also labeled as the God of the Gaps argument: “Rabbi, just because Science has not yet discovered an explanation of how life could have come from non-life through an unguided naturalistic process does not mean that god or a creator did it. There is simply a gap in scientific knowledge and understanding and you have used that gap to jam a creator into the picture.” Hence, God of the Gaps. Both of these objections are baseless, as I will explain.

A major scientific project – the SETI Project – was recently downsized due to its lack of success. SETI stands for Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Scientists would scan the sky with radio-telescopes hoping to detect patterns of radio waves that would indicate an intelligent source. Imagine these SETI scientists detected the following Morse code radio transmission and could prove it came from a galaxy a million light years away: We inhabit a planet a million light years away from your Earth. We have been observing your civilization for centuries, from the time of what you call the Roman Empire. We have analyzed the chemical/molecular formula of your DNA and as a show of good faith we will transmit to you the chemical formula of a cure for cancer.” Would that not be undeniable evidence of an intelligent alien civilization?

Dr. Carl Sagan - An enthusiastic supporter of the SETI Project

Imagine further that the following exchange then takes place between two SETI scientists:

– “Hold on, stop the party! How do you know the source is an intelligent alien life form, maybe there is some naturalistic unguided process that is the source of these transmissions? “

– (Incredulously) “What unguided, naturalistic process do you know of that can produce intelligible Morse code messages?!”

– “Aha! The Argument from Ignorance! Just because you don’t know, does that mean there must be an intelligent creative force behind these messages? After all, did you meet these aliens? Do you know who, where, or what they are?

Is the conclusion that these transmissions originated from an intelligent source an Argument from Ignorance or is it simply as obvious as 2+2=4? The simple truth is that we are not ignorant of how specified information – like Morse code messages – arises. The only known source of such information is creative, conscious, and intelligent activity. This has been confirmed by all human experience. The reason we conclude that these messages came from intelligent aliens is not just because we don’t know of any naturalistic process that could produce such specified information. It is because we know exactly how these types of messages are formed. That knowledge is so clear in our minds that we don’t even consider any other possibility. It is axiomatic that we have the ability to recognize intelligent causation. If not, what was the point of spending millions of dollars on the project in the first place? Similarly, when we conclude that the functional complexity and specified information (contained in the DNA) of the simplest living organisms is the result of intelligent causation, it is not out of ignorance; but from the clear knowledge that there is no other known source for such phenomena. Again, this knowledge is so clear that – absent compelling evidence to the contrary – it precludes the consideration of any other possibility. The failure of science in its attempts to discover a plausible naturalistic explanation for the origin of life is exactly the result we would expect from such an investigation! (It is crucial to point out here that Darwinian Evolution – even conceding its truth for arguments sake – is irrelevant to our question. Darwinian Evolution cannot take place without a living, DNA-based self-replicating organism already in place. Darwinian Evolution and Natural Selection are only operative from that point forward. Evolutionary theory does not even pretend to explain how the first living, DNA-based organisms originated.)

To take it a step further: “Rabbi, you’re telling me that just because there is a gap in scientific knowledge and understanding and we haven’t yet discovered a naturalistic unguided process that could produce Morse code messages, you posit the existence of an intelligent alien civilization? Hah! That’s the old Aliens of the Gaps argument!” Could anything be more ridiculous? In fact what the atheist proposes is much worse than an Argument from Ignorance: “Let’s see, we haven’t a clue how the fantastic machinery of life could arise through an unguided naturalistic process…ergo, there cannot be a creator and I am justified in being an atheist.” Try making sense out of that.

"No idea how this got here, but there CANNOT be a Creator"

Let’s be honest. If someone wanted to propose that these messages were the result of an unguided process – besides the fact that you would assume that this person had completely lost their mind – the burden of proof would be on him to prove such an assertion. If you want me to believe that the astounding levels of functional complexity and specified information that are found in the simplest living organism and its genetic code are the result of an unguided process, the extraordinarily heavy burden of proof is on you…and I wish you luck finding that proof.

II. Who Designed the Designer?

It is worth noting that the next objection the atheist raises is the centerpiece of Richard Dawkins’ rejection of Intelligent Design theory, along with that of Christopher Hitchens, Jason Rosenhouse and many other prominent atheistic scientists. Interestingly enough, it is an argument that has nothing at all to do with Science, it is a philosophical argument: “Yes Rabbi, everything you’re saying is correct, except that if you want to assert that the first bacterium must be designed you run into a serious problem; namely Who Designed the Designer?” In other words, if it is improbable that a living organism could arise without a designer, then it is even more improbable that the designer of this life could arise without a designer, and so on and so forth. We then end up with the absurdity of an infinite regress of designers (It’s designers all the way down!). For a number of different reasons, not the least of which is the fact that we have accepted the Big Bang theory that there was a beginning to time, space, matter, and energy, there simply cannot be an infinite regress of designers. Therefore, the atheist concludes that despite the improbability of a naturalistic origin of life, there is simply no choice and it must have happened at least once.

A full exposition of the flaws that make this objection logically untenable is beyond the scope of this article and I refer you to my 2/16/12 column entitled “Who Created the Creator? Who Designed the Designer?”

III. “Science Will Find an Answer” or what I call “The Argument from Non-Sequiturs”

This objection goes as follows: “Rabbi, over the past couple of centuries scientists have established one heck of a track record for themselves. They have uncovered many of the natural laws that guide the workings of the world around us, including amazing discoveries about how living organisms function. The accomplishments of scientists and modern science can only be described as dazzling. It makes perfect sense to assume that they will succeed in discovering the purely natural processes that led to the origin of life from non-life on this planet.”

I have seen this argument presented by many atheistic bloggers, including the ever-noxious P.Z. Myers on his popular blog-site, Pharyngula. It’s worth noting the rather different tone adopted by the aforementioned, Dr. Kauffman, in his book At Home in the Universe: “Indeed we may never recover the actual historical sequence of molecular events that led to the first self-reproducing, evolving molecular systems to flower forth more than 3 million millennia ago. But if the historical pathway should forever remain hidden, we can still develop bodies of theory and experiment to show how life might have realistically crystallized, rooted, then covered our globe. Yet the caveat: nobody knows.” [emphasis mine] I will proceed to explain, not only the fatally flawed premise of this objection, but why I describe this as an Argument from Non-Sequiturs. It will then become clear that the fallacy of the argument is implicit in Dr. Kauffman’s very description of the scientific quest to find a naturalistic origin of life.

Barbara Tuchman, Historian

The distinguished historian, Barbara Tuchman, wrote a best-selling historical work, The Guns of August, describing the events that led up to the outbreak of WW I. Let us assume that she is unquestionably an authoritative historical voice on that period of history. Imagine that Barbara Tuchman, in an address to the faculty of the history department of Harvard University, proposed that Kaiser Wilhelm made a secret trip to the United States in 1913 in an attempt to get American support for Germany if war broke out in Europe. The following exchange then ensued:

Harvard Historian: “Dr. Tuchman, that is quite a startling proposal. None of us have ever heard of such an event taking place. To the best of our knowledge, Kaiser Wilhelm never left Germany for the entire year before the outbreak of WW I. What evidence do you have for this claim?”

Tuchman: “I have no evidence at all that Kaiser Wilhelm actually made this trip, but I have a strong feeling that he did and since I am a world recognized authority on the history of WWI it stands to reason that I will eventually uncover evidence that confirms my feeling.”

Harvard Historian: “Dr. Tuchman, your qualifications as an historian are impeccable. No one is more qualified than yourself to investigate if such an event actually took place or the plausibility of such an event taking place, but the truth is that Kaiser Wilhelm either made the secret visit or he did not; if it did not actually happen, all the academic credentials in the world cannot make it true. To claim that such an event actually happened based solely on your previously established authority as an historian is nothing less than utter nonsense.“

How life began on this planet is in the category of an historical event. Dr. Kauffman, accurately uses the terms, “historical sequence” and “historical pathway” when describing the events that led to the flowering of life on Earth. Something happened some 3.7 billion years ago that resulted in living organisms swarming over our planet. Nobody was around to witness these events. It is up to us to examine the evidence and deduce what happened. The truth is that either life began as the result of a naturalistic unguided process or it did not. The truth is that life was the result of an intelligent act of creation or it was not. The truth is that a naturalistic origin of life is plausible or it is not.

Scientists like Dr. Kauffman are eminently qualified to investigate if life arose through a series of naturalistic unguided steps; they are eminently qualified to investigate if a naturalistic origin of life is plausible or not. However, all the scientific accomplishments in the world cannot make an historical event a reality if it never actually happened; all the PhD’s in the universe cannot make an historical event plausible, if in fact it is not. Because scientists were able to use all the genius and ingenuity at their disposal to discover a vaccine for polio or to unlock the power of the atom and create thermonuclear weapons does not give them the magical ability to create historical/scientific realities. It becomes obvious then, that to claim life arose through an unguided process with no evidence to support such a claim – other than one’s PhD in Chemistry – is utter nonsense.

Why then does Dr. Kauffman not distance himself from this folly by qualifying his statement with the addition of a single word: “We can still develop bodies of theory and experiment to investigate if life crystallized, rooted, and then covered our globe [through an unguided naturalistic process.]” There is only one possible reason. Dr. Kauffman and his atheistic colleagues, along with diplomats and attorneys, understand very clearly that whole universes can hang on the placement of a single comma, period, or word. With the addition of the word “if,” the game has been irrevocably transformed.

Perhaps there is no plausible scientific explanation of how the first bacteria arose from non-life

“If” means that reasonable truth-seeking individuals must consider the alternative: special creation. “If” means considering that when Dr. George Whitesides, of Harvard University, stated that based on all the chemistry he knows a naturalistic origin of life, “seems astonishingly improbable,” it is because it is astonishingly improbable. “If” means facing up to the distinct possibility that the failure of science to discover a plausible explanation for the origin of life is because there is no plausible scientific explanation for the origin of life. “If” means that teaching Intelligent Design theory about the origin of life in public schools is not medieval, fanatical, anti-science, or unconstitutional; it is simply teaching things the way they are. “If” means perhaps realizing that when Francis Crick wrote in Life Itself, “An honest man…could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle…” it is because, in fact, the origin of life is a miracle.

In short, the genius, creativity, and successes of scientists have as much relevance and bearing on the actual nature of the historical event we call origin of life as Barbara Tuchman’s historical expertise has on whether or not Kaiser Wilhelm actually made a secret visit to the United States prior to WW I; that is to say, there is no relevance at all. Hence, The Argument from Non-Sequiturs. We can now proceed to the fourth and final objection offered by atheists; the one that offers us the deepest insight into the true nature of atheistic thinking.

IV. The Argument from Infinite Possibilities or “Atheism of the GAP”

I accuse the atheist of using the most serious form of flawed logic of all. Let me begin my explanation of this flawed argument by quoting one of the great intellectuals of the 20th century, Bertrand Russell. Russell made the following oft-quoted statement:

“Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of skeptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that since my assertion cannot be disproved [no one can doubt its truth], I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.”

Russell is absolutely correct. If I propose some fantastic notion and demand that it be accepted as truth, it is my burden to present the evidence that it is true. The fact that the particular notion cannot be disproved is irrelevant. Another way of stating that something cannot be disproved is to say, “Well, it’s possible” or “It’s not impossible.” The fact that it’s possible or not impossible is meaningless.

Bertrand Russell

The notion that the awe-inspiring levels of functional complexity and specified information found in the simplest living bacterium is the result of some mysterious unguided, undirected process is an extraordinary claim. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. As of today not only is there no extraordinary evidence available, we find just what we would expect: no evidence at all that would compel me to accept this assertion as fact.

Atheistic scientists are acutely aware of the difficulties involved in proposing that some type of unguided process would be able to bridge the gaping chasm between non-life and life. However, they seem totally oblivious to the fact that – in keeping with the thrust of Russell’s argument – it is their burden to prove it true rather than being my burden to disprove the possibility.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE), headed by atheistic biologist, Dr. Eugenie Scott, has for years been in the forefront of the battle to prevent the teaching of flaws in evolutionary theory or Intelligent Design theory in US public schools. Dr. Frank Sonleitner, a Professor of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma has written a lengthy essay on the origin of life which appears on the NCSE website. He writes as follows:

“Modern ideas about the [emergence] of living things from non-living components…may not have yet come anywhere near answering all our questions about the process, but…none of this research has indicated that abiogenesis is impossible.“

Dr. Paul Davies, renowned authority on Origin of Life research:

“Just because scientists are uncertain how life began does not mean that life cannot have had a natural origin.” (i.e. it’s not impossible)

Even Francis Crick, undoubtedly one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century, is not immune:

“An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going. But this should not be taken to imply that…it could not have started on the earth by a perfectly reasonable sequence of fairly ordinary chemical reactions.” (In other words, it’s not impossible.)

Francis Crick - The origin of life is a miracle, but that doesn't mean it's impossible!

Imagine winning 200 hands of black-jack in a row at a Las Vegas casino. As the pit-boss and his crew are summarily throwing you out of the casino onto the sidewalk, you offer the following brilliant pleading, “I know it seems like a miracle that I could win 200 hands in a row by pure luck, but it’s not impossible!“ (That’ll work real well, won’t it?)

Mark Isaac, from his book, The Counter-Creationism Handbook:

“Nobody denies that the origin of life is an extremely difficult problem, that is has not been solved though, does not mean that it is impossible.“

Isaak then takes this argument to its perfectly logical consequence. In his section on Origin of Life, after listing six of the unproven speculative theories about the origin of life, he lists as number 7, and I’m not kidding: “Something that no one has thought of yet.” Yes, “something that no one has thought of yet” is always a possibility. Imagine the following exchange:

–         “2+2 does not equal four.”

–         “Can you give me any reason at all to believe that?”

–         “Of course I can: Something That No One Has Thought of Yet!”

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the District Attorney has presented eye-witness evidence against my client, fingerprint evidence against my client, and DNA evidence against my client. I would like to present you with a reason to find my client not guilty…Um, I got it! Something that no one has thought of yet!”

What about a prosecuting attorney who says the following: “Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I know I have not presented any evidence that the defendant is guilty, but no one has yet proved that it is impossible for him to be guilty!”

I don’t know how to prove that it’s impossible for life to come from non-life, anymore than Richard Dawkins knows how to prove that it’s impossible for a china teapot to be revolving around the sun in an elliptical orbit between the Earth and Mars; but no rational person is going to believe either of those proposals without rock-solid evidence. And by the way, if we are accepting “it’s not impossible” as an argument, how about the following: “It’s not impossible that God created the world in six days and made it look like it’s 14 billion years old”?

When the atheist says “it’s possible that it happened” or “it’s not impossible that it happened” he is appealing to the notion of Infinite Possibilities. As we know from the courtroom, we don’t live in a world where we are required to consider infinite possibilities; we live in a world where we are only required to consider reasonable possibilities.

Infinite Possibilities?

In the infinite space – or if you will – the infinite gap created by an infinite number of possibilities there is plenty of room for the atheist to believe that life can come from non-life through some mysterious unguided process. It is there, in that infinite gap, that he finds a comfortable place to pitch his tent and call it home. Hence, The Argument from Infinite Possibilities or most appropriately of all: Atheism of the GAP.

Those of us who choose to live in a reality that is guided by reasonable possibilities clearly understand where the truth lies.

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

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  • The Flawed Logic of the Theist

    We live in the real world, not the fantasy world of theism. Theists wish for something “other” than nature, like, for instance, an imaginary Supernatural God.

    There is no logic or evidence for theists to go by, so they invented blind (i.e., religious) faith — and a habit of preaching according to scripture.

    Rabbi Averick claims to have evidence and logic to support his belief in “Creation, by God!” — the funny “IDOL” theory. But he has never been able to produce that alleged evidence and logic. He wrote a book — but that failed to do the job. (He also quotes a lot of people — and gets nowhere doing it.)

    • In this article, Rabbi Averick tries to deal with four points about theism:

      I. The Argument from Ignorance or “God of the Gaps”

      II. Who Designed the Designer?

      III. “Science Will Find an Answer” or what I call “The Argument from Non-Sequiturs”

      IV. The Argument from Infinite Possibilities or “Atheism of the GAP”

      On all four points, the rabbi fails to make a sensible case either for theism or against atheism.

      On the “God of the Gaps” point, the rabbi goes off into a diversion about “SETI,” and never deals with the point that while there are gaps in human knowledge, there are no gaps in reality per se. He still wants to pretend that ignorance (aka a gap in knowledge) justifies belief in God.

      On the “Designer” point, the rabbi simply refers to an earlier debunked article.

      On the “Non-Sequiturs” point, the rabbi simply pulls off the non-sequitur of going on about WWI (which certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with the origin of life).

      And on his last point, the rabbi goes off into yet another diversion, this time about “infinite possibilities” — which he seems to feel we should believe makes God not impossible after all.

      So, the rabbi threw out a bunch of distractions, and wound up getting nowhere, as usual.

      • Next, he’ll roll out his “apartheid” diversion.

    • Mike

      Any way you look at this, it makes more sense that a creator had a hand in the creation of the universe rather than some swamp gasses that came from nothing combined with some more gasses that came from more of nothing exploded then became nothing and then became dinosaurs then became humans along with all the complexity of life… LMAO!!!

    • James

      Its like talking to radio. Atheists just cannot grasp reality like normal people do. It doesnt matter what argument you present to them…God cant exist for them or they are doomed in their eyes. Its too powerful of a bias to overcome.
      Design is obvious. The Math matches this obviousness as well. You have to deny so much such as morals freewill, logic, probability, and cause and effect. Why even bother

    • Curtis Kempton

      My ribs hurt from laughing so hard reading down this long line of comments by “Steve” and “Goodold_Lucifer” Both of you are just proving the point that the author of this article is trying to make. Intolerance at it’s finest (Poorly Disguised) There highly trained scientists out there as well as biologists who believe in Creation that have placed many articles out there and also Scientific Method based research on certain part’s of the Bible that can be the evidence so sought after by Skeptics, but as soon as you mention this evidence is for God, *inserts screech sound of breaking tires* Conversations over even if it was an intellectual one and then ensues the attack on God.

      First i would like to post this

      A figure for the closing of time, the antagonist divine
      Void of vacant word, one final answer to be heard
      I will carry my decree into a storm of lead
      This is total war, my want for tolerance is dead

      To my last breath
      I am someone to hate
      I will spit upon the idol for which you stand
      I will carry the weight
      I will bury your deception with a wrathful hand

      Heart is cold, and my weapons are washed in blood
      I avow to the call on high
      My resolve in the blessed above, in this ever-consuming divide

      A figure for the closing of time, the antithesis defined
      Threat to faith untrue, I am the enemy of new
      All you advocates of Hell, you corruptors of free will
      The culling is nigh, better get your fill

      I am the cry for the falling of time

      Born into the lust within our eyes
      Taught to write the scriptures for our lives
      We inherit the lies

      To my last breath, to my final day

      Second i would like to post this.

      These eyes, they will gaze and reflect
      And gauge every thought I reject
      No sway of stance in changing times
      Just a narrow mind commanding respect
      We stand on the words of the wise
      And languish every call to despise
      We know the hollow wound of their lies

      [Pre-chorus:]
      No reformed edition
      Never losing vision
      Now into forever
      Only getting better
      Ways of now, spiral down
      How much more we allow

      [Chorus:]
      Keeping sight of the vow we made
      Holding fast to the hope
      So when we stand in the line of wrath
      The true and righteous will know

      The foundation that we used to uphold
      Now regarded as the madness of old
      Every alteration made to the standard of truth
      Is a nail in the coffin we hold
      We embody everything they despise
      Because they see us through degenerated eyes
      So when they cast you down as intolerant filth
      Stand firm, never bow to the lies

      That pretty much sums up my feelings about the criticizing Atheists and other forms of Skeptics.
      Thank you all for your contribution to my laughter. Have a blessed day.

  • RexTugwell

    Rabbi Maverick “is a two-bit rube who has a small blog of almost zero consequence” from which jp just can’t stay away.

    Now that’s funny!

    • Strictly intellectually speaking, “Creationism”/”ID” is some very funny business. Senseless, and mildly popular in some circles.

      Regardless of its popularity, no one has ever made a lick of sense out of it (nor could they ever, since it doesn’t connect to things in reality).

      • moshe averick

        Lucifer,

        Obviously, atheistic professor of philosophy at NYU, Dr. Thomas Nagel, who enthusiastically endorsed the book, disagrees with you as does Dr. Phillip Skell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Perhaps it does not connect to things in your skewered view of reality, but I assure you – in keeping with the spirit of Mick Jagger – you certainly have my sympathy.

        • Many people have disagreed with me on many issues over many years — but such disagreement never made any of them automatically or necessarily correct in their views. [BTW I’m back from travelling with the “gol” computer.]

          There are even people who disagree with you, Moshe, and that doesn’t even make them automatically correct.

          The issue is not who agrees or disagrees. The issue is that there is no way in the world to make a lick of sense out of “Creationism”/”Intelligent Design” — since the alleged “Creator God” is “other” than real, i.e., totally unconnected to reality. And reality is the only possible source for material to make sense of anything.

          “Creation, by God” is a complete fantasy. Your “IDOL,” Moshe, is entirely imaginary. You have no evidence for it — and no reasonable inference, extrapolation, or speculation.

        • Nagel, Skell, and Jagger.

          Three more references failing to provide evidence or logic for Rabbi Averick’s belief in his “IDOL.” You could appeal to a million such people, Moshe, and still be nowhere with Creationism.

    • jp

      Rex, you know those Funniest Home Videos TV shows where they show people riding their bikes into telegraph poles, tripping over, and accidentally hitting themselves in the nuts with baseball bats?

      Well, I don’t have a TV, so reading Moshe’s column is my equivalent of that.

      I’m not too proud to say that I’m a sucker for a cheap laugh. I probably shouldn’t hang around gawking at the intellectual train wreck, but it’s oddly compelling. In my day to day life I really don’t meet many people as clueless as Moshe and you, so you fascinate me, in a ten-minutes-a-week sort of way.

      • Christoph

        jp, I always wondered, why I am replying to your posts. You just gave me the answer. There is even more that connects us: I don’t have a TV either.

  • goodold_lucifer

    [][]“Now, if you don’t think all of this is evidence of a Creator please explain why.”[][]

    Since the supernatural is the contradictory of nature, it is not possible for anything in nature to be evidence of the supernatural. Something cannot be evidence of nothing.

    Notice how Rabbi Averick so often tells us that God is just totally “other” — not in any way connected to reality, to time and space, etc. You just can’t get there from here — i.e., find evidence in nature for the supernatural (of course, you can’t find any evidence in “supernature,” either — since you cannot find that anywhere).

    • Christoph

      goodold_lucifer, when you read in the papers that John Smith has died of natural causes, and that therefore no police investigation will be conducted, do you wonder why they even mention the word natural, since, according to your argument, all causes can only be stemming from nature?
      If John Smith would have indeed be murdered, would this not constitute a supernatural cause?

      • goodold_lucifer

        God is known for murdering a lot of people. But God is only a fictional character.

        • God’s_Man

          Let me ask you one question, Lucy. How can something from the realm of fiction be known for murder in real life?

    • You wrote:

      “the supernatural is the contradictory of nature”

      I’m not sure I would use the word supernatural, but why is the idea of a Creator of the natural world contradictory to nature? If I create a computer or computer program I am beyond the computer or program by virtue of the fact that I created it and preceded it. I don’t contradict the computer or program.

      You also wrote:

      “Since the supernatural is the contradictory of nature, it is not possible for anything in nature to be evidence of the supernatural.”

      Perhaps if the supernatural contradicted nature I would agree. But the question is whether or not the natural world can provide evidence of Creator that is independent of the natural world.

      Stating that it’s not possible is not an argument, it’s just a statement – as if reality follows are statement. ‘It’s true because I say it is true’.

      You also wrote:

      “Something cannot be evidence of nothing.”

      Who said that G-d is ‘nothing’. G-d is immaterial – but that is a far cry from nothing. Energy and the forces of nature also seem to be immaterial.

      The famous line ‘In the Beginning G-d created the Heavens and the Earth’ is not really the best translation from the original Hebrew. The Hebrew reads: In the Beginning Elokim created the Heavens and the Earth.

      What is the meaning of the name Elokim? It comes from the word ‘power’ and has been understood well before the existence of science to mean the power behind all the powers – the fundamental power. Or, if you will, the force behind all the forces – the fundamental force.

      I don’t know the history of the word G-d, but it seems that that name is confusing matters. The Torah states in it’s opening line that there is a Primary Force or Power that created the world that we inhabit.

      Now, that Force is not ‘nothing’. It is immaterial – but immaterial and nothing are NOT the same thing.

      • [][]“… but why is the idea of a Creator of the natural world contradictory to nature?”[][]

        Because nature is nature and that imagined “Creator” is NOTnature, i.e., the contradictory of the actual. Totally “other” as Rabbi Averick likes to declare negatively.

      • [][]“Who said that G-d is ‘nothing’.”[][]

        Rabbi Averick has said it often. He claims that God is “other” than something — and that means “nothing.”

      • [][]“Energy and the forces of nature also seem to be immaterial.”[][]

        Not in any way that anyone has noticed.

        Goofball theories about how the world doesn’t really exist cannot actually trump reality. There are forces of nature that are really, really material. Try confronting a tsunami and telling it it isn’t really there.

    • Ayla

      I think the problem atheists have is that they want to be able to quantify G-d, to measure him, to put him in human terms. But if we could do all that, then he would have to be finite, and then he would not be G-d. He very much is “other” and it requires being able to think in terms of the non-physical to conceive of him.

      • In other words, you need to try to think in contradictions to try to think about God. And that cannot be coherently done in any reasonable manner.

        • ayla

          Do you mean that thinking in terms of the non-physical is contradictory? Do you ever think about time? We certainly see the results of the passage of time… in fact, we only know of its passage by seeing the changes that occur. Sort of like knowing a Creator exists by seeing the results of his creation.

          • [][]“Do you ever think about time?”[][]

            Yes, from time to time.

            [][]“We certainly see the results of the passage of time… in fact, we only know of its passage by seeing the changes that occur.”[][]

            Correct. But you ought to notice that every single change that occurs occurs only when SOMETHING CHANGES — not when nothing happens. If there were no things (as some people claim) for changes to happen to, there would be no time. (In other words, if there were no things, there would be nothing.)

          • [][]“Do you mean that thinking in terms of the non-physical is contradictory?”[][]

            It is contradictory to try it, but it is literally impossible to actually do it. Try as you might to think of nothing, you cannot. Even faith cannot make it happen.

            There is a physical component to everything.

          • [][]“Sort of like knowing a Creator exists by seeing the results of his creation.”[][]

            When you see nature, qua nature, you don’t see “Creation.” You see nature. “Creation” is a myth.

  • RexTugwell

    For whatever incomprehensible reason Darwin and evolution makes someone an “intellectually fulfilled atheist”, here’s something for your amusement:

    http://www.getyourowndirt.com/

    • goodold_lucifer

      An “intellectually fulfilled atheist” sounds like rather a fanciful beast. That’s sort of like claiming, “Hey, since I didn’t shoot myself in the foot today, therefore I am terpsichorally fulfilled and can dance like Gene Kelly.”

      Being an atheist merely means not making the mistake of being a theist. It is not a positive intellectual step, but simply the avoidance of a negative step.

  • To JP:

    You wrote:

    “Imagine you came across a guy called Erik who sincerely held that lightning was thrown by an angry Thor. Suppose also that lots of people called Erik a moron who didn’t understand the first thing about science.
    Would you feel that the emotion in the critiques made it hard to know whether they were valid. Because that’s what we’re dealing with here. The ID movement has not demonstrated any more intellectual rigour than Erik.”

    I disagree with your premise that the ID movement has not demonstrated any more intellectual rigor than Erik. From what I have studied and observed they have shown tremendous intellectual rigor.

    Being intellectually rigorous doesn’t mean that they are right, just that they are doing a serious job. In fact, they did such a good job that they convinced one of the world’s leading atheists (Anthony Flew) that there is a G-d [and the response (at least by some) to that ‘conversion’ was again rhetorical].

    Anyone who responds to such a serious intellectual attempt with rhetoric says more about them than about the position they attack. If one can’t tackle the arguments head on then that indicates that there is something substantive to the arguments themselves.

    I also disagree with the notion that believing in a Creator of the universe is akin to believing that lightning was thrown by Thor. In fact, I would argue that the reason you find Thor ridiculous today is precisely because mankind came to believe in a single Creator G-d and rejected idolatry (of which Thor is just one example).

    You also wrote:

    “They believe in design by an entity who they admit does not exist in the real world. They propose no mechanism by which a non-real entity can intervene in the real world. They have gathered no evidence of intervention by non-real entities in the real world (which would necessarily contravene laws of physics that, on the other hand, have truly staggering amounts of evidential support). In place of those rather basic requirements, they have appeals to ancient writings that have all the properties of standard mythological forms of the time.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by the real world – the real world is governed by mathematically precise laws of nature and fine-tuned immaterial forces all of which (seemingly) came to be out of sheer nothingness at the Big Bang and somehow or other the energy created at the BigBang led to DNA based (read code based) living organisms with that life somehow or other developing into intricately designed, highly functional biological organisms and culminating in the stunning creature known as man with a brain that boasts some 15 trillion connections.

    Now fine-tuned forces imply a fine-tuner. Mathematically precise laws of nature imply a mathematically astute law giver. Cellular codes imply a code-giver – and the stunningly sophisticated, intricate and integrated complexity of life indicates that the development is much more sophisticated than Dawkins would have you believe – certainly University of Chicago Professor James A. Shapiro thinks so. From what I understand (haven’t yet read his book yet, although I did listen to a lecture on the topic from him) he thinks that evolution was PRE-PROGRAMMED in the first cell(s). Well, a pre-programmed development of life implies a programmer.

    If that’s not evidence in the natural world for a Creator than I don’t know what is:

    * Existence seemingly came from nothing (as the Bible stated 3 thousand years ago)

    * The foundation of all matter is actually immaterial (what we call matter is actually just the interaction of immaterial forces)

    * There are reasonable, understandable, predictable MATHEMATICAL laws of nature (again, a concept that can be traced back to the Bible, but that’s for another conversation)

    * Life is based on a coded system (a literal coded, that is organized logically, and that is more sophisticated than the coded software systems that we use)

    * Life shows a complexity, sophistication and genius far beyond any technical invention that mankind has ever made

    * Evolution (if it happened – not convinced) may have been pre-programmed into the first cells

    Now, if you don’t think all of this is evidence of a Creator please explain why. But explain – argue you point – step by step.

    In terms of mechanisms – the question isn’t whether or not we can figure out from the natural world HOW G-d interacts with the world. The question is whether or not the natural world gives evidence or indication of the existence of G-d.

    That’s the conversation (not just today, but historically). Dawkins (and others) think that the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution undermined that evidence – the ID movement counters that modern discoveries not only provide extremely strong evidence for G-d’s existence, but that they also present a scientific challenge to the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution (there are non-IDers who agree with this second point).

    Richard Dawkins stated in The Blind Watchmaker that before 1859 he would have been a theist because of the inherent design that one sees in nature. Darwin, he argues, enabled one to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

    In other words, Dawkins agrees that there are elements of the natural world which indicate a Divine Creator. He just thinks that the theory of evolution (in particular, the mechanism of random mutations plus natural selection) demonstrates that there is a non-Divine explanation for that design and thus no longer any evidence for a G-d.

    It logically follows that if one can demonstrate that Dawkins is wrong (and I personally believe that this is not so hard to do), then one can argue that the argument from design still stands.

    What’s more – Dawkins goes to the trouble to try and prove that he is right. Why is it illegitimate to try and prove that he is wrong or to prove that the argument from design still stands or is stronger than ever?

    Is only one side allowed a voice in the debate? Modern atheism has intellectual roots – in the logical positivists, in Freud, in certain philosophical conclusions based off of the theory of evolution. It’s all of the sudden illegitimate to argue against those philosophical roots? The ideas are set in stone? Untouchable. Undeniable. “Holy”?

    On what grounds? None that I can think of. Such a position is not only ridiculous – it’s intellectually blinding.

    When debate gets stymied one has to ask why. There may be legitimate reasons for denying a particular party participation in a conversation. I wouldn’t consider the Nazi’s a legitimate party to a debate on the role of human rights in international law [although given who has sat on the UN Human Rights commission it seems that others don’t agree].

    But more often than not, the attempt to stymie debate or ridicule one’s opponent is an indication of the weakness of one’s own position. That is what I think is happening here. The ID movement hit upon something, something which fundamentally challenges accept views of how modern society sees and relates to the world.

    That is a difficult conversation for many to enter into since the stakes are so high and the paradigm shift is so great.

    That, I think, is the real reason why people don’t take ID seriously – because if ID is right, then the foundations of various aspects of modern life have come crumbling down – and that’s a prospect that many people don’t want to face.

    Now, I may be wrong – but if so, prove it. Argue it.

    • goodold_lucifer

      {}{}“The question is whether or not the natural world gives evidence or indication of the existence of G-d.”{}{}

      Presumably, that is intended to mean: “The question is whether or not the natural world gives evidence or indication of the existence of God, a Supernatural Being.”

      Of course, nature gives no such evidence or indication. Nature is (and gives) evidence (and indication) of nature, period. Nothing else is possible.

      The notion of a Supernatural God is pure fantasy. That notion is contradictory to nature, not reasonably derived from nature in any way, shape, or form.

      “Creation, by God!” is an article of blind faith. It is not a reasonable idea in the least.

      There is not a hint of evidence anywhere in the world for God. (I could challenge anybody to find some, but I know that is asking the impossible, so I won’t bother with any challenge. They would probably come up with nonsense like, “Well, I don’t know how life originated — so God must have done it!”)

    • goodold_lucifer

      }{}{“* Life shows a complexity, sophistication and genius far beyond any technical invention that mankind has ever made.”}{}{

      That is certainly not true.

      Life could only show “sophistication and genius” if it had be invented by humans. Clearly an impossibility.

      And though life does appear complex to us, nature doesn’t look at things from our perspective.

      • Sorry – but you are wrong here (logically and factually).

        LOGICALLY
        You write: “Life could only show “sophistication and genius” if it had be invented by humans.”

        One doesn’t decide whether or not the natural world shows sophistication and genius by considering who the creator is – one decides by looking at the design itself and understanding and analyzing that design.

        For instance – take a look at the human ear: http://youtu.be/PeTriGTENoc. One need not refer to how the ear came to be to realize that it is a brilliantly designed machine for transforming sound waves into electro-chemical pulses.

        FACTUALLY
        Scientists and engineers study the design in nature in order to learn how to build more sophisticated technological designs. There’s even a whole field dedicated to the subject called biomimicry:

        * http://youtu.be/hj_mj85t_os
        * http://youtu.be/FBUpnG1G4yQ

        • Your problem, Moshe, is that there is no “design itself” in nature. Nature was not designed. Nature simply exists — which is what makes designing by humans possible.

        • [][]“… the human ear … is a brilliantly designed machine for transforming sound waves into electro-chemical pulses.”[][]

          The human ear was NOT DESIGNED: it evolved long before the design profession was invented.

    • goodold_lucifer

      ____“* Existence seemingly came from nothing …”____

      That’s a fairy tale.

      Existence simply exists. It didn’t come from somewhere else — or from nowhere. Just stop and think how ludicrous the notion of something, anything, from absolutely nothing really is.

      • Christoph

        goodold_lucifer, ‘ludicrous’ is an entirely subjective judgment. It does not further rational discussion. I would need to know you to understand why you find certain things to be ludicrous.
        This question, why there is something rather than nothing? has kept mankind busy for a few thousand years. Are you suggesting this is a silly question?

        • goodold_lucifer

          Very silly.

      • I’ll rephrase what I said – it is reasonable to speculate from the Big Bang theory that before the Big Bang neither space nor time existed.

        That is what UC Berkley Professor Richard Muller does in this lecture: http://youtu.be/WhmO1nrRtsI (relevant part starts at 7 minutes into the video, but it’s probably worth watching the whole segment).

        He notes that this speculation is shared by other professors.

        So, a seemingly reasonable speculation to make from the Big Bang theory is that before the Big Bang neither time nor space existed – which fits in exactly with what the Torah wrote 3300 years ago.

        Now, there are other speculative ideas out there – but either way this point should give you pause to think. Perhaps the Big Bang really is the beginning of time and space itself and then you would wonder what gave rise to time, space and the Big Bang.

        • Again, you have a problem. The “Big Bang” is not a reasonable theory in the first place, so whatever you wish to “speculate from” it would never have a solid basis in reality.

    • jp

      Moshe Morris, there’s just so much fail in that post it would take more time than I have to go through it all. I don’t have time to do the Gish gallop, so just some brief points.

      * Flew was suffering from dementia at the time of his celebrated conversion. I wouldn’t be putting too many eggs in that basket if I were you.

      * Fine-tuning is a totally discredited idea. Life is adapted to its environment, not the other way around, and this is well-evidenced.

      * The idea that evolution was programmed into the first cell is just an intellectual train-wreck. Evolution proceeds through random mutations proving adaptive, and basic chemistry. We know this, and therefore we know that specification is not the mechanism behind DNA complexity. As in, actually KNOW this by looking at real organisms, not our own navels.

      * You’re misrepresenting Shapiro.

      That’ll do for starters

      * The fact that you are not convinced of evolution, when speciation has been observed in the lab, is just a sign that you know nothing of your subject. Evolution is an observed fact. Evolution research is purely about accurately pinning down mechanisms for an observed phenomenon. If you aren’t convinced that the phenomenon even occurs, there’s no hope for you on this subject.

    • [][]“… DNA based (read code based) …”[][]

      No, DNA is not code.

      You can call a tail a leg, and you can call DNA code, but a dog still has four legs and DNA still isn’t code.

  • While I said I wasn’t going to continue this conversation any more, I just noticed one comment by Steve Stoddard that I wanted to comment on – namely:

    “In the context of this discussion, the relevant facts are that matter is real and God isn’t.”

    I would like to ask Steve – can you please tell us what matter is? My sense is that you actually don’t know based on that comment.

    While we are at it, I would like you to please explain to us what a code is – again, based on comments you’ve made I don’t think you know.

    Finally, please describe for us what DNA is and how it works. Again, I don’t think you know.

    Now, perhaps I am wrong, perhaps you do know, but from your comments it seems that you don’t. And, if I am right, it means that you are making statements and conclusion without any basic understanding of the facts involved in the question.

    Note, I haven’t mentioned G-d here, no theology (yet). Just strict ‘nature’ – matter, codes, DNA. Please show us that you actually have some sort of understanding of any of this.

    Because if you do NOT – as I think you don’t – then you can’t possibly reasonably participate in a conversation about whether or not certain elements in the natural world (such as DNA – or matter for that matter) indicate that they were created by a Higher Intelligence.

    • goodold_lucifer

      [][]“… certain elements in the natural world (such as DNA – or matter for that matter) indicate that they were created by a Higher Intelligence.”

      Not exactly. In fact, there is not a single element in the world that gives any indication whatsoever of having been “created by a Higher Intelligence.”

      Since God (aka “a Higher Intelligence”) is fiction, you might as well try to claim that “certain elements in the natural world indicate that they were created by Winnie-the-Pooh.”

    • goodold_lucifer

      People are inescapably aware of matter, but no one is actually aware of God — except as a rather famous fictional character.

    • [][]“… can you please tell us what matter is?”[][]

      Look around: you will see it everywhere. That is certainly sufficient understanding for the current discussion.

      And if you claim you see nothing, well, that’s a big problem for you.

      I always see something when I look around. I don’t see how you can avoid it.

    • Also remember that a code is a set of symbols for communicating information. DNA contains no symbols and is not communicating with anyone.

  • The Flawed Worldview of the Theist

    We live in the natural world, but theists feel deprived by that. They wish for something “other” than nature. So they imagine God and the Supernatural.

    There is no logic or evidence for theists to go by, so they invented blind (i.e., religious) faith. They feel more comfortable with blind faith than with reason and reality.

    And for some reason, theists really like to complain that not everyone shares their flawed outlook on life.

  • RexTugwell

    Just came across this interesting fact in my studies of epigenetics. We’ve been talking about proteins with lengths of 150 or 250 amino acids and the probabilities involved with these occurring by chance. Well the longest known protein – titin – consists of ~35,000 amino acids. Now that’s specified complexity!!

    Probability Boy calculates the odds of titin (pronounced like the predecessors to the Greeks deities) forming by chance to be 20e+~35,000. Stenger can have all the universes he wants but it ain’t gonna happen without intelligence.

    • {}{}“Well the longest known protein – titin – consists of ~35,000 amino acids. Now that’s specified complexity!!”{}{}

      If it’s a man-made protein, then, yes, that is specified complexity. But if it is a naturally-occurring protein, then, no, it is not specified complexity (but rather unspecified/unguided/non-designed complexity).

    • {}{}“… but it ain’t gonna happen without intelligence.”{}{}

      Life had to happen before intelligence, since intelligence is a product of evolution.

      It is impossible that intelligence came before life — in a similar way to how it is impossible for you to be 20 years old before you are 10.

      • Steve: Can you prove these blanket statements you make? Prove evolution and then prove intelligence has to be a product of evolution … ?

        Yes, as you admit in your next paragraph: “It is impossible”

        • Correct, it is impossible that intelligence came before life.

        • Randy, do you have a plan for how to prove that you would be just as intelligent as you are now if you were dead?

        • Note that, in the context of this discussion, if it were to come down to a contest between proving either that life is the result of a natural process, or that life is the result of a supernatural process, then we don’t have to look beyond the fact that supernatural processes are not real. That leaves natural processes as the winner — since no other possibility actually shows up.

          • Note further that nobody needs to know precisely how that natural process worked in order to be certain that it was natural. Whatever happened had to be natural because it couldn’t be anything else.

            The notion that some “super intellect” is responsible is strictly fantasy.

        • What happened to Randy? Did he turn out to be impossible??

    • The “Creation, by God!” theists want to believe that atheists have to claim that “‘Just because scientists are uncertain how life began does not mean that life cannot have had a natural origin.’ (i.e. it’s not impossible)“

      But that does not mean that science can only say, “Well, it is possible that life had a natural origin.” The fact is that it is CERTAIN that life had a natural origin. Nothing else is possible.

    • {}{}‘When the atheist says “it’s possible that [abiogenesis] happened” or “it’s not impossible that [abiogenesis] happened” he is appealing to the notion of Infinite Possibilities.’{}{}

      The notion of “Infinite Possibilities” is nonsense.

      The possibilities in nature are limited. The possibility of the supernatural is zero.

  • Probability Boy

    Part 5 of 5
    Homework assignment

    Much is made of Christian apologist William Lane Craig today, yet your debate in Hawaii seemed to set him straight on several of his arguments, in particular his first cause argument. What do you make of his challenge?

    I’ve heard William Lane Craig several times and would love to know exactly what cosmological arguments Craig uses that “are already ruled out by existing science.” Again, I think Stenger is hoping the reader doesn’t know any better.

  • RexTugwell

    Part 4 of 5
    Homework assignment

    And secondly, how can “order” come from “disorder”…

    Stenger claims this one is easy to explain but only because he doesn’t distinguish between substances acted upon by universal, physical laws and systems that are not subject to either chance or physical necessity. Comparing the necessary, predictable, crystalline structure of ice or snowflakes to information-baring DNA and claiming it’s the same kind of order is just [fill in the blank because I dare not]. One suspects that Stenger is exploiting the ignorance of the reader who will just take his word for it.

    • Comparing the necessary, predictable, crystalline structure of ice or snowflakes to the necessary chemical structure of DNA and claiming it’s the same kind of order is just natural.

      There is precisely as much specified information in a snowstorm as there is in DNA, viz., none.

    • Just as in reality there was no “gap” between life and pre-life, so there is not — and never was — any “disorder” in reality.

      • The “order from disorder” notion is a myth, and so is the “abiogenesis gap.”

    • {}{}“The accomplishments of scientists and modern science can only be described as dazzling. It makes perfect sense to assume that they will succeed in discovering the purely natural processes that led to the origin of life from non-life on this planet.”{}{}

      It is not necessary to assume that scientist will figure out what the natural process of abiogenesis was. The point that is wrong with theistic creationism is having the blind faith belief that, miraculously, there was no such natural process.

      Of course it was a natural process. There is no possible alternative to nature in this regard.

    • Rex, you seem to be relying on people being ignorant of the fact that you are using an incorrect definition of “information.” How long do you intend to keep shooting yourself in the foot?

  • How many times would people have to repeat the false claim that “Rabbi Moshe Averick believes he has detected Morse Code signals from a galaxy far, far away” before anyone would start to believe it was true? More times than repeating the false claim that “there is specified coded information in DNA”?

  • Moshe Averick (June 13, 2012 10:45 am): “Next you’ll be telling me that life could not have been created because of what the catholic church did to Galileo 400 years ago.

    It is because life was not supernaturally created that the Church persecuted Galileo and the rest. The Church didn’t want its racket being upstaged by actual knowledge of the real world.

    If God really did exist, theists wouldn’t feel threatened by science, logic, reason, and reality. If God really did exist, theists wouldn’t need blind faith — and they would care one way of the other that atheists existed and “denied God.” But since the denial is correct, it bothers them. Theists either want to force people to believe, or punish (or at least revile) them for not believing.

  • Christoph

    I just want to say hello. I always love reading Moshe’s sharp articles. This time the discussion is the more interesting as Steve Stoddard is only supplying about half of all the posts.
    I admire Moshe’s perseverance and good faith that one day Steve might see the light. I feel pessimistic.
    I still try to understand the fervour of the atheist to deny God. Is it perhaps jealousy that the believer has got something to believe in, while he has only nothing to belive in. Very irritating.
    I do wonder how to take the discussion further. The impasse has something to do with the atheist side of the argument being stuck in literalism. With literalism you cannot grasp anything.

    • {}{}“I still try to understand the fervour of the atheist to deny God.”{}{}

      You are looking at it the wrong way around. It is not “to deny God” that I write, but rather to affirm reality and human intelligence.

      The basic problem with theism is that it is a denial of reality and an undercutting of the human mind (by trying to replace reality with fantasy, and reason with blind faith).

      Theists like inquisitions — and we cannot let that happen again.

      You have to wonder why the theists aren’t content to sit back and quietly believe in God. Why attack science and atheists? Such religious attacks do not bode well.

    • Theists have something “other” than reality to believe in. Atheists have the real world. Doesn’t that seem fair to you?

    • Rabbi Maverick’s notion is that it is “flawed logic” to take reality seriously. He prefers “other.”

    • jp

      With literalism you cannot grasp anything.

      That’s fine. Get poetic an non-literal all you like to understand the human condition. That’s a fine and noble thing to do. A great thing, even.

      Up to a point.

      And that point is crossed when you decide that your poetry dictates the nature of reality. Once we’re talking about reality – how life arose, how the observable universe came about – then poetry just doesn’t cut it.

      Any theist who wants to revel in their poetry, and not claim literalism out of it, is OK in my book. Those who think that when poetry and reality conflict, then the truth lies with poetry, and reality must be wrong, not so much.

      • Christoph

        jp, further down you mention Erik, who claims that lightning is caused by the angry Thor. I would call this a poetic way at looking at nature.
        It does not disturb me in the least that there is another explanation. I don’t take Thor literally.
        You don’t get anywhere if you take everything literally that is spoken between people. There are certain people who try to pull up their socks when you say they should pull up their socks. Of course, you mean they should put their act together. (What is this supposed to mean?)
        Some people think the Bible must be wrong because it says, God created the world in six days. These are the literalists.
        Can you give an example, where poetry and reality conflict. Where does poetry dictate the nature of reality? Why should poetry not be able to talk about the beginning of the universe? As long as you don’t take poetry literally…

        • There is nothing wrong with fiction, as such. Stories about God can make popular fiction.

          But God is only fiction, so you cannot take the stories as if they were about a Being that actually exists. You cannot take the notion of the Supernatural literally, as if the supernatural were actually possible.

        • jp

          Christof, Moshe’s whole schtick is taking the poetic literally. He really believes there’s a God, and that God literally created the universe.

          Because he doesn’t understand, as you seem to, that it’s senseless to take poetry so literally, it drives him to regularly slander those whose studies of reality lead to conclusions that are at odds with a literalist interpretation of his favourite poetry.

          I know plenty of people – theists – who treat scripture as allegorical, and so don’t have a problem with scientific progress in understanding the universe, life, and their origins. But given that the reality of such things is in conflict with a literal reading of texts like the Torah, literalists like our host Moshe seem to feel threatened by reality, and lash out against gaining understanding through observation of the real world.

          It’s his loss, because if he just ditched the literalism, he could have the benefits of both, and as a bonus, he wouldn’t look as foolish as he does when he denies reality in favour of the literal truth of his poetry.

          • Christoph

            jp, it is difficult to discuss other people’s beliefs. Moshe Averick seems to irritate you, and I am not surprised sensing that you think that is his fault.
            However, it does not appear to me that Moshe has difficulties with the scientific progress in understanding the universe. He likes to point out that there might not be as much progress in this direction as some scientists (who also happen to be outspoken atheists) like us to believe. Neither does he make us aware of conflict between scripture and scientific theory. He detects conflicts between the scientific theories themselves.
            And, Moshe does not look foolish at all. He is a powerful intellect. His arguments do show the flaws of the atheist logic very powerfully. I have not found any poster in this thread that tried to disprove them.
            Would you not like to have a go?

          • Rabbi Averick alluded to four different points in this article, and he was wrong on every one. How “very powerful” is that?

          • jp

            Seriously, Moshe is a two-bit rube who has a small blog of almost zero consequence, and a book to his name that is not well-regarded or cited.

            He’s fond of ad hominem attacks on well known people because he wants to cash in on the reputation of the people he defames.

            He does not respond thoughtfully to criticism, but simply repeats his shallow points over and over again.

            If you want to think he’s an intellectual, then you go right ahead. He’s a chew toy.

          • Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if Rabbi Averick did respond thoughtfully to disagreement, and even criticism? We can dream.

        • ___“Some people think the Bible must be wrong because it says, God created the world in six days.”___

          The Bible is fiction. Factually, the Bible is wrong because it features a supernatural God. God is not literally real.

          Rabbi Averick’s “IDOL” schtick is a failure to take reality literally as being really real. He takes fiction more seriously than fact.

  • Probability Boy

    Part 3 of 5
    Homework assignment

    Two rather traditional arguments still persevere amongst theists today, firstly that “something” could not come from “nothing”…

    That is correct. It’s not hard to define nothing: it’s “no thing”, not space, not time, not matter, not energy, not what Stenger calls chaos or instability. An eternal universe flies in the face of Big Bang cosmology and the BVG theorum. If, according to Stenger, our universe is eternal, then infinite time has elapsed already and everything has run its course. At this point there should be infinite entropy but there isn’t. Why? Proposing earlier universes or a multiverse is not good science, is certainly unverifiable and wishful thinking of the highest order.

    • Since everything has not “run its course,” and since “Creation, by God!” is nonsense — even if you call God “the Big Bang”) — then it is necessary to think up a cosmology that no one has thought of yet.

      The human pursuit of knowledge certainly has not “run its course.” There’s plenty left to learn.

    • Normann Wheland

      Meyer Moron Muffin Monger Boy,

      You still haven’t responded coherently to Stenger’s assertion that the infinite UNIVERSE (as opposed to our “universe”0 violates the laws of physics, now have you? Try again with a cogent response this time and show us the physics that backs up your fallacy of equivocation.

      BTW, to further your abysmally-deficient education, you can start with another homework assignment:

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

      “The way I [Stenger] handle that question now, which is consistent with all existing knowledge of cosmology and physics, is that the universe is eternal. It didn’t come from nothing, or something for that matter, because it always existed and it always will. Our universe began with the big bang.”

      • [][]“… the universe is eternal. It didn’t come from nothing, or something for that matter, because it always existed and it always will. Our universe began with the big bang.”[][]

        You need to make up your mind; it’s one or the other, but not both.

        Hint: “Creation, by Big Bang/God!” never happened.

  • Jeff

    Forgive me for being new to this site, but to comment about SETI, a signal, and the fractally wrong attempt to repel the argument from ignorance has made me comment.

    Prime numbers, one of the best codes to be used for contact, have not been known to occur in nature. It is strictly the construct of an intelligent mind. It would be nearly impossible for such a signal to appear, as it is non changing. Life, DNA, RNA on the other hand is constantly on process of change and evolution. As to answering abiogenises with We do not know is perfectly acceptable. What outrages me is that one try’s to slip a diety in and claim its true. One only needs to examine the middle ages, during the plague, and the treatment of Jews to understand why substituting an answer for I do not know is potentially harmful, least irresponsible.

    • Moshe Averick

      Jeff,

      YOu did not read the opening paragraph of the article where Stuart Kauffman states unequivocally that there is a minimal complexity below which life cannot exist. There is no such thing as free floating DNA or RNA. They only exist within highly functionally complex living organisms. The fact they change over time is irrelevant. The article did not deal with evolutionary change, it dealt with the question of how life came to be in the first place. The level of sophistication of the specified coded information found in the DNA of the simplest bacterium makes a few lines of Morse coded message pale into insignificance. Your distinction is purely arbitrary. It is as absurd to propose that coded DNA instructions to build protein machines could arise through an undirected process as it is to propose that undirected processes could create morse code messages from distant galaxies.

      • {}{}“The level of sophistication of the specified coded information found in the DNA of the simplest bacterium …”{}{}

        … is a myth. There actually is no “specified coded information” in DNA.

        Coding was invented by humans — and was not accomplished until long after DNA originated.

      • ____Rabbi Averick contends: “The notion that the awe-inspiring levels of functional complexity and specified information found in the simplest living bacterium is the result of some mysterious unguided, undirected process is an extraordinary claim.”____

        Extraordinary or not, it is certainly a false claim. It is blatantly contradictory nonsense to claim that there is “specified information found in the simplest living bacterium.” There is no such specified information.

        The rabbi could try to prove it if he wished, but he would be wasting his time.

    • Moshe Averick

      Jeff,

      The middle ages have nothing to do with how life began, another argument from non-sequiturs. Next you’ll be telling me that life could not have been created because of what the catholic church did to Galileo 400 years ago. Please live in the present.

      If scientists would be honest enough to say “We don’t know” and therefore we must also consider the possibility of a creator, alhtough I would still disagree, at least we could have an intelligent conversation. That would indicate they are not hiding their heads in the sand. Unfortunately, most scientists, like Kauffmann, are fanatically committed to an atheistic world view and are not even prepared to consider the possibility. They are not psychologically ready to deal with it.

      • Rabbi Averick,

        You are so fanatically committed to your theistic world view that you will not admit the the supernatural is purely fantastic.

        There are no coded messages in DNA: that’s a fantasy, not science.

        If you want to “live in the present,” then you need to live in the real world, instead of trying to live out some religious fantasy based on blind faith in “Creation, by God!”

        Your “IDOL” is not real. That is something we all have to live with.

      • Jeff

        Missing the mark in several locations:
        “The middle ages have nothing to do with how life began, another argument from non-sequiturs.”
        I’m saying that I’m surprised that you are using an argument that was used to persecute your people in the Middle Ages, namely blaming the for the plague.
        E.G.
        Serf1: Why are thou afflicted with this cursed illness.
        Serf2: Because we allow thy Jew to live.
        Jew: Thou hath no proof that I am the cause of this illness.
        Serf 1&2: How does illness originate? Thy scholars have no answer… I must be gods will that we burn the Jew!
        ———————————————
        Scenario where an argument from ignorance can be deadly.
        ———————————————

        If scientists would be honest enough to say “We don’t know” and therefore we must also consider the possibility of a creator, alhtough I would still disagree, at least we could have an intelligent conversation.

        -Unfortunately, that idea is not science. Would you want a doctor to say, “we don’t know why you are sick, but perhaps its the voodoo priestess”. Both these claims belong to the “metaphysical” universe and has no place in science. What is science is testable claims and scientific theories based on solid evidence.

        • Moshe Averick

          Jeff,

          Neither I nor anyone else should really care whether or not it is science. the only question that is relevant is what is the truth. There are only two possibilities for the origin of life, as Noble prize winner Dr. George Wald has written, an unguided naturalistic form of spontaneous generation or an act of creation by a supernatural creator. There simply arent any other choices. That is no voodoo. Calling it voodoo is simply a way of avoiding the question.

          • {}{}“There are only two possibilities for the origin of life, as Noble prize winner Dr. George Wald has written, an unguided naturalistic form of spontaneous generation or an act of creation by a supernatural creator. There simply arent any other choices.”{}{}

            Actually, there is no choice or possibility other than the “unguided naturalistic” process that actually happened. There is no possible alternative to 100% natural. The “supernatural” is a fantasy — not a choice or a possibility.

            So Wald was presenting a false alternative.

      • Jeff

        Missing the mark in several locations:
        “The middle ages have nothing to do with how life began, another argument from non-sequiturs.”
        I’m saying that I’m surprised that you are using an argument that was used to persecute your people in the Middle Ages, namely blaming the people for the plague.
        E.G.
        Serf1: Why are thou afflicted with this cursed illness.
        Serf2: Because we allow thy Jew to live.
        Jew: Thou hath no proof that I am the cause of this illness.
        Serf 1&2: How does illness originate? Thy scholars have no answer… I must be gods will that we burn the Jew!
        ———————————————
        Scenario where an argument from ignorance can be deadly.
        ———————————————

        If scientists would be honest enough to say “We don’t know” and therefore we must also consider the possibility of a creator, alhtough I would still disagree, at least we could have an intelligent conversation.

        -Unfortunately, that idea is not science. Would you want a doctor to say, “we don’t know why you are sick, but perhaps its the voodoo priestess”. Both these claims belong to the “metaphysical” universe and has no place in science. What is science is testable claims and scientific theories based on solid evidence.

        • Moshe Averick

          Jeff,

          As I made it quite clear in the article, we are most definitely not ignorant as to how specified information and functional complexity arise; without exception it is through intelligent causation. there are no exceptions. Examples from Darwinian evolution are irrelevant as there must be pre-existing molecular machinery for it to occur.

          • }{}{“Just because scientists are uncertain how life began does not mean that life cannot have had a natural origin.”}{}{

            In fact, it is impossible that life had an unnatural origin. Life is part of nature — like everything.

      • There is no reason to “consider the possibility of a creator,” since the supernatural is unreal.

        Trying to imagine your “IDOL” is like trying to imagine grabbing your toes and lifting yourself 10 feet up in the air. Physics and biology don’t work in such fantasy modes.

  • Science is the process of using the mind to understand the world.

    Religion is the quest to undercut the mind, and to replace understanding with blind faith.

    Religion is thus the enemy of science.

    The “IDOL” notion Rabbi Averick is pushing is self-contradictory because it is meant to serve the furtherance of blind faith as opposed to understanding.

    • Notice that there is no “flawed logic” to atheism. Atheism is very simple: the refusal to accept the illogic of belief in the supernatural (the not-possibly-real).

    • Rabbi Averick wrote: … speculative theories about the origin of life, he lists as number 7, and I’m not kidding: “Something that no one has thought of yet.”

      Rabbi Averick wants us to think this attitude is nuts — but the whole history of human progress has been people thinking up things no one had thought of yet.

      The joy of thinking up what “no one has thought of yet” is practically the meaning of life. It should not be denigrated as stupid idiocy or some sort of evasion of responsibility.

      Of course, the thinkers didn’t lie back and rely on blind (i.e., religious) faith — so they were routinely vilified and opposed by the religious establishment.

  • Probability Boy

    Part 2 of 5

    One of Stenger’s more recent books, The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning, is certainly a timely one based on how common that argument is currently proving. What is your summary on what is wrong with the fine-tuning arguments?

    There is nothing wrong with the fine-tuning arguments unless you’re in denial about the facts and want to casually dismiss the science and mathematics behind them. Taking all the fine-tuning arguments together – which cumulatively amount to life being impossible otherwise – one has to willfully turn a blind eye to the anthropic principle and its implications. For example, Stenger says that life could still exist if parameters were off by just a little. However, if the nuclear strong force was weaker or stronger by just 2%, there would only exist hydrogen or only heavy elements, respectively and life would be impossible not just different. That’s just the nuclear strong force. There are over 100 cosmological, chemical and biological parameters identified that are finely tuned to life.

    • {}{}“There are over 100 cosmological, chemical and biological parameters identified that are finely tuned to life.”{}{}

      That is utter nonsense.

      “Fine tuning” is an intelligent process — and thus can only exist because life exists. Not vice-versa.

    • Probability Boy

      “”Fine tuning” is an intelligent process — and thus can only exist because life exists. Not vice-versa.”

      That’s actually quite true.

  • RexTugwell

    I’ve been given a reading assignment from Professor Wheland:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/questions-on-science-and-_b_1585151.html

    This is the interview with RexTugwell’s answers given in 5 parts:

    What is the fundamental conflict between science and religion? Is it one that will never be resolved?

    There is no conflict between science and religion. There is only conflict between atheists and theists. Theists do science and they do it very well. However, when science declares there is no G-d, it has foolishly stepped out of its self-appointed bounds and into philosophy, metaphysics and theology. It is not qualified to make such a statement just as philosophers are not qualified to state the age of the universe.

    • {}{}“There is no conflict between science and religion.”{}{}

      In your dreams, Rex, but real life is different. Look up Galileo for hints about getting in touch with real life.

      Religion is definitely in conflict with science, sometimes viciously so. More recently, some religions have toned down their hostility, but there is no way to advocate the supernatural without being logically in conflict with science and nature.

      Religion bans books; science writes them.

    • Normann Wheland

      More fallacy of equivocation nonsense, as usual. Probability Boy, have you no self esteem? — Trotting out the same old discredited, unsound arguments over and over again and hoping no one will notice! Surely you jest?

      • Are you trying to save face for the theists by making the other side look bad?

        You should let Rex just keep shooting himself in the foot — instead of trying to make him look good in comparison to you acting like an anti-intellectual clod.

      • RexTugwell

        Sometimes I do jest and don’t call me Surely.

  • Atheism is nothing more (or less) than the choice not to be a theist. Since God does not exist, the choice not to be a theist is the correct one.

    But note that being an atheist is no guarantee that other choices in a person’s life will necessarily also be correct. For instance, one could be an atheist, and yet make the sadly wrong choice of voting for Obama. Many theists, of course, also have made that mistake (and likely will do so again).

    One huge mistake that a lot of atheists make is to accept the morality of altruism — just as if they were theists! So while theists can sacrifice people in the name of God, atheists can sacrifice people in the name of society (or the state). Altruism is really, really bad news for humanity.

  • {}{}“… but…none of this research has indicated that abiogenesis is impossible.”{}{}

    Naturally not, since abiogenesis is the ONLY possibility. There is no possible alternative to it. “Superbiogenesis” is a fantasy.

  • Notice how Rabbi Averick basically has a backwards view of the world. He considers nature mysterious and miracles obvious.

    The opposite of the “IDOL” notion is the truth: nature is real, the supernatural is unreal.

  • Beorn

    So how did God come into existence (assuming he/she is fairly complex)?

    • God didn’t. God doesn’t exist (outside fiction).

      • Life, like everything else in the world, is real through and through (“reality all the way down”). God, on the other hand, is not a bit real in any way, shape, or form.

        The supernatural is fiction; nature, the real world, is non-fiction.

        • “God of the gaps” has a certain sort of consistency to it: the supernatural is such an incredible, even unfathomable, gap.

    • Moshe Averick

      Beorn,

      God did not come into existence. WE came into existence along with time, space, matter, and energy. God simply is. He is not “complex” at all. Complexity, in the way we use the world means some sophisticated arrangement of molecules and chemicals. God consists of neither. There is nothing to say about him other than that he is “other”

      • God is “other than real” — correct.

        God never came into existence, and, as always, just plain isn’t. God is not here, not there, not anywhere — not in any way, shape, or form.

      • Technically, Rabbi, since you have nothing to say about God, that should leave you speechless on the subject. Obviously, you have made a rather “other” decision.

  • From jp (June 10, 2012 2:44 am): “For every argument you’ve ever heard in favour of ID, I can tell you the number of pieces of evidence for how ID occurred were presented: zero.”

    Yes, an accurate count.

    The whole “IDOL” notion is about the impossible. It is self-contradictory, after all.

  • More from Moshe Morris (June 10, 2012 6:37 am): “You are right that the fact that so many people pray is not proof that there is a G-d. I didn’t seek to ‘prove’ G-d, though, just offer evidence of His existence.”

    Certainly that’s not proof. But how do you figure it is even evidence — except perhaps hearsay, which is not good evidence. It really doesn’t qualify as anything other than fantasy.

  • From RexTugwell (June 10, 2012 6:44 am): “If I have the time and patience later, …”

    Even with all the time and patience in the world, you still wouldn’t be able to come up with any evidence or logic supporting any belief in anything supernatural.

    You could still try it, if you feel like it, but don’t tell us you’ve already done it (since you cannot support such a claim).

  • From Moshe Morris (June 10, 2012 6:37 am) “The point is, you have enough evidence in the list I present to take a closer look.”

    Check your list again, Moshe: it contained zero evidence.

    To repeat: you did not present any evidence for the possibility (or actuality) of God.

    • The supernatural is unreal (and, naturally, impossible). Nature is real.

      Not only is it “possible” that life arose naturally, it is 100% certain that it did. There is no alternative, no “other possibility.”

  • RexTugwell

    Well jp has just weighed in. Unfortunately, it’s just more of the same sniveling and hand-wringing that characterize the atheist side of the debate. jp set up a straw man and then courageously proceeded to tear it down. If I have the time and patience later, I’ll comment on what he wrote. For now, I’d like to offer something for my ID friends to keep in mind.

    To date, there have been about 20 websites offered in defense of Darwinism, most of them dealing with the science of life origins, and none offered by ID proponents. One might get the impression that Darwinists have more to say on the matter and that science is on their side. Don’t be fooled by the sheer number of URLs. This is a tactic that Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute calls citation bluffing. It’s the idea that by merely citing lots of references to papers, books, websites, etc, that deal, even peripherally, with the topic under discussion, it will give the impression that the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the one doing the citing.

    Don’t fall for it. Luskin’s advice is to read the referenced works (if time permits) and what you’ll see many times is science that has little or nothing to do with the given subject, speculation and conjecture on the part of the author(s) and poor argumentation that is easily refuted. Also, in the area of abiogenesis research, look for signs of intelligent design on the part of the researchers. This is particularly fun to point out. Ironically enough, jp laments the intervention of a deity in the “real world” while Darwinists intervene in the lab, call it a natural process and claim that we’re getting closer to proving abiogenesis.

    • You could have a billion or more Creationist sites, and you would still have zero evidence or logic supporting the “IDOL” notion.

    • {}{}“One might get the impression that Darwinists have more to say on the matter and that science is on their side.”{}{}

      That would be the correct impression, and understanding. The “Creationists,” “IDOLers,” “IDists,” whatever, have nothing on their side.

    • jp

      Yeah, read those citations!

      If you do, you’ll find that abiogenesis researchers routinely intervene in the lab by artificially changing the lab environment to be less like today, and more like the environment billions of years ago when abiogenesis likely took place. Shock! Horror! How can they sleep at night?

      Meanwhile, instead of setting me straight by pointing to ID proponents proposed mechanism by which supernatural entities effect real-world causation, and evidence supporting that proposal, Rex goes off on an extended ad hominem. You’re all class, Rex. Love your work!

      • Abiogenesis researchers have something to look for. “Creation researchers” have nothing. (Maybe the latter could be called “God Busters,” after the Venkman group.)

      • RexTugwell

        Thanks jp. That means a lot to me

    • Normann Wheland

      I see that you are back, Probability Boy.

      So, instead of spewing your over-generalized drivel, why don’t you cite some specific examples of “…science that has little or nothing to do with the given subject, speculation and conjecture on the part of the author(s) and poor argumentation that is easily refuted.”

      The crickets await.

      • RexTugwell

        Wrong again, Norm, as usual.

        I’ll be happy to provide examples but give me time. The work week has started and things are pretty busy down here at the car wash. BTW, we’re having a special. If you have the left side of your car washed, you get the right side washed at no additional cost!

        Speaking of probabilities, you’re no doubt an expert on all things mathematical. So while you’re waiting to hear back from me maybe you can enlighten us. What are the chances of RNA polymerase developing through blind, undirected, G-dless forces? RNA polymerase is a protein that consists of multiple subunits with thousands of specifically sequenced amino acids. It’s what spits out the mRNA chains during protein synthesis. Remember my calculations? That would be 20 raised to the ~3000.

        Probability Boy has a question: How did it come about that the information for building this protein, essential for transcribing highly specific biopolymers, is itself contained in the very DNA that it helps to decode? What we’ve got here is a chicken and egg scenario. Which came first: the DNA containing RNA polymerase sequencing or RNA polymerase that just happened to have the functionality necessary to transcribe mRNA?

        As one great philosopher once put it: The crickets await.

        • {}{}“What are the chances of RNA polymerase developing through blind, undirected, G-dless forces?”{}{}

          At this point, since it has already happened, we know that the chances are excellent.

          We know, by the way, that it did happen naturally, because the chance of it happening through unnatural processes is zero.

        • Normann Wheland

          I’m never surprised by the incoherence of your questions and false premises of your “arguments(???).”

          Please defined “…blind, undirected, G-dless forces…” and how exactly those forces differ qualitatively and quantitatively from the four fundamental forces of nature?

          The crickets need some competition.

          Your reading assignment for this week is:

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/questions-on-science-and-_b_1585151.html

          • RexTugwell

            “Please defined [sic] “…blind, undirected, G-dless forces…” and how exactly those forces differ qualitatively and quantitatively from the four fundamental forces of nature?”

            Wrong again, Norm, as usual. Nice stalling tactic but I want an answer. Since I don’t dodge questions, by the above-mentioned forces I mean natural selection working on random mutation. I started my reading assignment but so far I’m not impressed. Looking forward to pointing out the flaws.

          • Normann Wheland

            Wrong again, Probability Boy, as usual. You haven’t phrased a coherent question yet. When you do, please post.

        • Normann Wheland

          And Probability Boy, to enlighten your abysmal ignorance of the *probable* prebiotic, chemical origins of life on this planet, here is your second reading assignment:

          http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/366/1580.toc

          • RexTugwell

            Do you have any particular article in mind or is this just more citation bluffing?

          • RexTugwell

            It seems you’re putting all your eggs in the “RNA World” basket. I’m afraid you’ll be sorely disappointed. Meyer has dealt with RNA World handily in Chap 14 of his book.

            “Thus, in addition to the specificity required to give the first RNA molecule self-replicating capability, a second RNA molecule with an extremely specific sequence—one with essentially the same specificity as the original—would also have to arise. RNA-world theorists do not explain the origin of the requisite specificity in either the original molecule or its complement. Orgel and Joyce have calculated that to have a reasonable chance of finding two such complementary RNA molecules of a length sufficient to perform catalytic functions would require an RNA library of some 10[e+]48 RNA molecules.36 The mass of such a library vastly exceeds the mass of the earth, suggesting the extreme implausibility of the chance origin of a primitive replicator system. They no doubt vastly underestimate the necessary size of this library and the actual improbability of a self-replicating couplet of RNAs arising, because, as noted, they assume that a 50-base RNA might be capable of self-replication. (See note for qualifying details.)37
            Given these odds, the chance origin of even a primitive self-replicating system—one involving a pair of sequence-specific (i.e., information-rich) replicases—seems extremely implausible. And, yet, invoking natural selection doesn’t reduce the odds or help explain the origin of the necessary replicators since natural selection ensues only after self-replication has arisen.

            Meyer, Stephen C. (2009-06-06). Signature in the Cell (pp. 315-316). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.”

          • Normann Wheland

            Probability Boy:

            Shallit has already demolished Meyer, but, of course, you are too ignorant to understand that fact. However, rave on, the crickets will tolerate your cacophony.

          • Normann Wheland

            Probability Boy:

            Your assignment requires that you all of the papers. How else can you raise yourself out of your ignorance?

          • RexTugwell

            No fair, Professor. I’m doing all the reading and you’re doing all the dodging.

    • Rex, I suppose we could call your tactic “information bluffing“. You think that pretending there is information in DNA will magically mean there’s a God.

    • jp

      Oh, and Rex, if you’re still around, I don’t “lament the intervention of a deity in the real world”, I’d just like someone who thinks this happens to explain how it happens, and present unambiguous evidence as to how we can be sure of that mechanism over others.

      It’s not hard to devise such an experiment, and in fact many experiments have been performed to verify proposed mechanisms of divine intervention such as intercessory prayer.

      Unfortunately for those wanting a revolution in our understanding of how the universe works, the results of all such experiments have been entirely consistent with the complete absence of the proposed intervention of the supernatural in the natural, and indeed entirely consistent with the non-existence of supernatural phenomena, theistic or otherwise.

      But if you’ve got something I’m unaware of, both I and the Nobel Committee would love to see it. Think of the glory!

      • RexTugwell

        I’m happy to reply to you. However, I’m on vacation with sporadic internet connection.  Will try to send an answer Monday. Cheers

      • RexTugwell

        Dr. Kauffman as quoted above states “we may never recover the actual historical sequence of molecular events that led to the first self-reproducing, evolving molecular systems …”

        jp, I don’t have to provide a mechanism. In fact, I can’t provide one. However, the lack of a mechanism in no way makes the claim of intelligent design in the origin of life any less true. Taking the premise of the SETI program as an example, detecting intelligence ( or more precisely intelligent design ) in the form of specified, complex information (unnaturally modulated radio signals) would tell us nothing about who, what, why or how such radio signals came about. Even with the lack of knowing the mechanism of such radio signals, we would all agree that intelligence was the cause of such communication. 

        Those who promote ID in the origin of life make an equally modest yet valid claim: intelligence is the cause behind the specified, complex information in the cell – nothing more, nothing less. You can draw your own inferences. However, to claim that the premise of the SETI project is legit while denying the similar premise of ID is inconsistent. 

        As for insisting on a “mechanism”, we have no mechanism for how our universe came from nothing to a singularity to the Big Bang. Most would agree that this is our origin – Stenger’s fantasies notwithstanding – and we will never know what happened in the first 10e-43 seconds of our universe. Hence, no natural mechanism.

        And lastly, all glory is G-d’s.

        • goodold_lucifer

          {}{}” intelligence is the cause behind the specified, complex information in the cell”{}{}

          It would be IF there were any specified information in the cell, but there isn’t any such “specified information in the cell.” That “SI-ID” notion is pure fantasy.

          A “non-living intelligence” is simply a contradictory notion — supported by nothing but blind faith.

          No matter whether you try SETI, religion, or whatever, you will never find a non-living intelligence (aka “super intelligence”). Even dying to try to connect to such would be a dead end.

        • jp

          There is no specified complex information in cells. There’s a whole bunch of non-specified patterns of chemicals, but your assertion that those patterns are speicifed is completely unevidenced, and indeed we know that those patterns arise through evolution (mutation and natural selection via environmental pressures) and simple chemistry.

          In other words we KNOW that the pattern of DNA in human cells, for example, was derived from previous cellular patterns which mutated at random and certain mutations were then selected for by an independent, and as such we KNOW it was not specified.

          Specification and random mutation are opposites, and all the evidence is in favour of random mutation, not specification, as the source of what you call “specified information” in cells.

          • jp

            “independent” should be “independent process” above.

          • jp

            “independent” should be “independent process” above.

  • Rabbi Averick makes the bogus claim that “The truth is that either life began as the result of a naturalistic unguided process or it did not.

    His claim would have been correct if he had left out “either” and stopped before tacking on those last four words. Those incorrect five words (viz., “either … or it did not”) render his proposition bogus.

    An “unguided process” is the ONLY possibility; there is no possible or logical alternative. The truth is that life began as the result of a naturalistic unguided process, period.

  • Claiming to believe in God is an intellectual dead end.

    There is neither any reasonable justification for believing in God, nor any reasonable follow-up to choosing any theistic ideology.

    Theism is a thoroughly flawed ideology with no logical basis in reality. (Of course, theists don’t want a logical basis in reality, which is why they retreat into faith.)

  • Rabbi Averick continues to push the bogus notion that ‘The obvious solution to the Origin of Life [is] a creator with a “super-intellect,”…’

    He ignores the problem that fiction, in this case “G-d,” is not an answer to any actual, serious questions about life. The vaunted “super-intellect” is unreal.

  • Physics and biology are about studying aspects of the real world. Theology is about studying stories of impossibilities, e.g., Gods and miracles.

  • Rabbi Averick’s “IDOL” theory suffers from the fatal flaw of depending on magic.

    Since intelligence depends on life to exist, any “Intelligent Designer Of Life” would have to be magically supernatural — which, of course, is impossible in the real world.

  • To Steve Stoddard:

    It’s your life, so you can lead it as you wish. But to just keep making the same statement over and over again as if that makes it true is not a very intellectual or honest way to addressing some of the most important questions that anyone can ask, namely: is there a G-d, is there a purpose to my life, and am I living in tune with that purpose?

    Having read a number of your comments, I would like to suggest that you take the time to understand some basic theology, what DNA is and on how it works, what atoms are and how they work as well as learn a bit about what information and codes are and how they work.

    I personally feel that your position (and others who have commented here) is much more ideological than intellectually based (although I commend you for not resorting to the base rhetorical replies that other commentors have stooped down to).

    I have no problem with critiques of Rabbi Averick, Meyer, Dembski, Behe or others if they are INTELLECTUALLY BASED. Such critiques are enriching and welcomed – even if at the end of the day the critique is wrong it is still beneficial to intellectually hash things out.

    Dogmatic ideological statements, on the other hand, stops all intelligent conversation in its track and thus prevents everyone from getting a deeper, more sophisticated and (hopefullY) more insightful understanding of the issues involved.

    If you think that truth is important and understanding the real nature of reality is important (as it seems to me that you do), then first make sure that you properly understand the science and theology involved and why each side is making the points that they are making.

    To all the rhetorical commentors:

    Rhetoric is easy – comments like so and so is a moron are easy to make and require no real understanding or insight on the person making them.

    With that said, I’d like to make a similar appeal that I just made to Steve Stoddard – if you actually think the questions involved are serious ones then abandon the rhetoric and understand that those who disagree with you may be smarter and and more insightful than you think.

    Again, I have no problem critiquing Rabbi Averick, Meyers, Behe, Dembski or others if the critique is intellectually based. One of the links in the comments lead to an article that was part an intellectual critique and part rhetorical deligitimization. It’s hard to know how to relate to such an article. Is the crituqe influencing the rhetoric or is the rhetoric influeincing the critque. I plan to look at the article more carefully, but already I’m a bit suspicious because of the rhetoric.

    Either way, it has to be understood that there is a lot of rhetoric thrown around in this conversation – much of it against the ID movement – and that that just blinds the issues. Beyond becoming an expert in the area, it’s difficult for one to know whether or not the critique of the ID movement is intellectually based or not if the critues contain within them so much emotional baggage.

    Finally, it’s important to note that modern atheistic thinkers tend to display the same emotional and ideological bias that they claim religious people possess. They oftentimes come off as the blind, ideological zealots that we have seen time and time again in history (whether they are religious zealots, political zealots, ideological zealots, etc.).

    And from vast historical experience we know that 999 times out of 1000 zealotry blinds and leads to errors. There is no reason to think that this is not also the case with atheistic zealots.

    That doesn’t mean that every atheist is a zealot or that they can never make an intellectual point worth considering. It does mean, though, that those who are clearly zealots should be taken LESS seriously and everything they say should be taken with a POUND of salt.

    • salvage

      >time to understand some basic theology

      Gods are real and they sporadically inteterfer with humanity is strange and usually destructive ways would be “basic theology” Mushe.

      Sadly that gives no insight into reality.

      You on the other hand don’t understand atheism, you make that clear with nonsense like:

      atheistic zealots.

      How can someone not believe in gods more fiercely than another who doesn’t believe in gods?

      Your a silly man with a silly job who desperately tries to make it relevant with these silly long-winded ID defending posts.

    • }{}{“… understand some basic theology, what DNA is and …, what atoms are …”}{}{

      In the context of this discussion, the relevant facts are that matter is real and God isn’t. People can study real DNA, but nobody can find and study any real God.

    • —-“… understand the science and theology involved and why each side is making the points that they are making.”—-

      Science logically adheres to reality; theology contradicts reality.

    • {{}}“Dogmatic ideological statements, on the other hand, stops all intelligent conversation in its track …”{{}}

      That is a big problem for those who believe in God: they can only make “dogmatic ideological statements” that they believe in God. Belief in God is not a position that can be reached by rational intellectual processes.

      Belief in God is nothing but blind faith, i.e., a dogmatic ideology.

      Atheism, on the other hand, is basically the refusal to accept such dogmatic ideology.

      • Look, you have enough evidence to seriously study these topics. Repeating the same logical positivist claim as if it’s absolute fact over and over again is an ideological, not intellectual position.

        If that’s how you want to decide one of the most important questions anyone can answer that’s your prerogative, but I personally see no point in continuing such a ‘conversation’.

        But, I will leave with one last, parting word in response to one of your few actual responses.

        You are right that the fact that so many people pray is not proof that there is a G-d. I didn’t seek to ‘prove’ G-d, though, just offer evidence of His existence. Evidence can always be interpreted in multiple ways, although sometimes one interpretation seems more realistic, reasonable and plausible than others (as I think is the case here).

        One possible explanation for the reason that people find praying meaningful is because it really is meaningful, there really is a G-d that one is praying to.

        Similarly, one reason why G-d has appealed to billions upon billions of people all over the world is because there really is a G-d.

        I could go on with all the points in my list and others.

        The point is, you have enough evidence in the list I present to take a closer look. The choice to do so or not is yours.

        Be well,

        Moshe

        • {}{}“One possible explanation for the reason that people find praying meaningful is because it really is meaningful, there really is a G-d that one is praying to.”{}{}

          Why do you feel that is really a “possible explanation”? There is no evidence that it’s possible. There is no logic to the contention that it’s a “possible explanation.” It is simply an arbitrary assertion on your part.

          {}{}“Similarly, one reason why G-d has appealed to billions upon billions of people all over the world is because there really is a G-d.”{}{}

          The problem you won’t face is that nothing can exist if it’s not part of the real world — so the insistence that God is supernatural rules out the possibility of the existence of God.

    • {}{}“I personally feel that your position is much more ideological than intellectually based …”{}{}

      Since an ideology is “a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture [M-W],” how do you imagine there could be such a thing as a “non-intellectally based” ideology? Do you propose that only “faith-based ideologies” are possible (or at least acceptable)?

    • jp

      Beyond becoming an expert in the area, it’s difficult for one to know whether or not the critique of the ID movement is intellectually based or not if the critues contain within them so much emotional baggage.

      Imagine you came across a guy called Erik who sincerely held that lightning was thrown by an angry Thor. Suppose also that lots of people called Erik a moron who didn’t understand the first thing about science.

      Would you feel that the emotion in the critiques made it hard to know whether they were valid. Because that’s what we’re dealing with here. The ID movement has not demonstrated any more intellectual rigour than Erik. They believe in design my an entity who they admit does not exist in the real world. They propose no mechanism by which a non-real entity can intervene in the real world. They have gathered no evidence of intervention by non-real entities in the real world (which would necessarily contravene laws of physics that, on the other hand, have truly staggering amounts of evidential support). In place of those rather basic requirements, they have appeals to ancient writings that have all the properties of standard mythological forms of the time.

      They’re just like Erik.

      To dismiss them requires no expertise, it simply requires the lack of confirmation bias. Their position can not be argued for, it can only be adopted as a default position (an entirely unearned status) and defended with evasion, apologetics, and sophistry.

      For every argument you’ve ever heard in favour of ID, I can tell you the number of pieces of evidence for how ID occurred were presented: zero. All ID arguments have the same form: they argue from the premise that we do not know how life started to the conclusion that we DO know how life started. Without Christian confirmation bias, there are not only no good reasons to accept such an argument, and fairly robust reasons to reject it as ridiculous.

    • Theism is entirely emotion-based, and not in the least bit intellectually based. Theism makes no sense; and IDOLism is patently anti-intellectual.

  • Rob

    My advice to the Meyer and Dembski skeptics — know your enemies.

    The Intelligent Design guys are continuing on very well thank you. For example, listen to Meyer and Metaxas at a recent SITC in New York.

    And meanwhile, the Golden Calf of the materialist darwinbots continues to fall apart.

    • salvage

      >Golden Calf of the materialist darwinbots continues to fall apart.

      Really? I did not know this, can you show us what you’re talking about?

    • ___“The Intelligent Design guys are continuing on very well thank you.”____

      I think we have to admit that they have a rather popular scam going.

      Who knows, they may even have succeeded in kidding themselves that there really is a magical “IDOL.”

  • The odds anyone can calculate against life arising in nature are irrelevant, since life actually does exist.

    And the possibility of God existing is the same as it has always been: zero.

    • Jorge

      “The odds anyone can calculate against life arising in nature are irrelevant, since life actually does exist.”

      Steve’s assertion (above) would be like saying, “Yes, a fair coin has been flipped 10,000 and 10,000 consecutive heads resulted. The odds anyone can calculate against that event are irrelevant, since it actually occurred.”

      Uhmmm, Steve … Stevie-boy … Stevie-pooh … the point is that even though the event actually occurred,
      IT SHOULD NOT HAVE OCCURRED. Calculating the odds allows us to make that statement with mathematical certainty. After this we are led to the all-important question, “What made this occur when it should not have?” It is here where Materialism totally fails to provide an answer. The Atheist answers that question based on his FAITH.

      “And the possibility of God existing is the same as it has always been: zero.”

      (1) I’d like to see your calculations resulting in that “zero” probability – FULL details please.

      (2) Taking a page out of your own book: Since God *actually* exists, whatever results your calculations yield are irrelevant.

      • 0

        • Zero is the amount of evidence there is for God, and also the probability that anything supernatural could actually exist.

  • RexTugwell

    Meyer is a moron and Dembski is a dumb-ass and all Normann Wheland can do is regurgitate text from talkreason.org so as to come off as really, really smart. I suppose when your position is bankrupt, one has to resort to name calling and voice raising. Keep up the classless rhetoric. It shows who has the position most difficult to defend.

    I still don’t see a refutation of the combinatorial problem. Maybe talkreason.org has something you can cut and paste.

    • Scotty
    • Normann Wheland

      Wrong again, Rex, as usual. If you want to defend Mayer and Dembski and their pseudo-scientific nonsense then let’s see your reasoning. Simply admitting that you are apparently too ignorant to “see [understand] a refutation” in Jeffrey Shallit’s dismantling of Meyer and Dembski is laughable. Do you have any knowledge or training in information theory or probability theory at all?

    • RexTugwell

      We can throw URLs at each other all day long but that’s not very scholarly. If you want to read a response to Shallit and Elsberry’s critique addressing their errors, it’s out there if you want it. I doubt you’ve got the fortitude to read it though.

      Scotty pulled a Normann and supplied us with a link to talkorigins.org. Unfortunately, the page mentions nothing regarding amino acids and this is the combinatorial problem to which I refer.

      For you Wizards of Smart, the combinatorial problem is very simple:

      Proteins are specific chains of twenty (20) different amino acids. The specificity is, of course, contained in the information found in DNA. Out of the whole domain of possible sequences of amino acids for a given length, functional proteins are very rare. What is the domain of possible sequences of amino acids for a given length/protein? Simply raise the base (20) to the power of the length of the protein.
      For a simple protein of 250 amino acids (some proteins can be specified sequences of several thousand amino acids) the domain of possible combinations of amino acids is 20e+250 or 10e+325. Any Wizard of Smart will know that this is a big number and there are not enough femtoseconds utilizing all the probabilistic resources of the universe since the Big Bang to arrive at a functional protein by chance.

      That is the combinatorial problem.

      If you’re unwilling to understand the maximum probabilistic resources of the universe, I’d be happy to explain.

      • Normann Wheland

        Wrong again, Rex, as usual. As we say in Texas, you’re all hat and no cattle. Here is why you childishly simplistic argument fails:

        http://www.science20.com/stars_planets_life/calculating_odds_life_could_begin_chance

      • RexTugwell

        This is nowhere near a refutation. In fact:

        “They reasoned that buried in those trillions were a few catalytic RNA molecules called ribozymes that happened to catalyze a ligation reaction, in which one strand of RNA is linked to a second strand. The RNA strands to be ligated were attached to small beads on a column, then were exposed to the trillions of random sequences simply by flushing them through the column. This process could fish out any RNA molecules that happened to have even a weak ability to catalyze the reaction. They then amplified those molecules and put them back in for a second round, repeating the process for 10 rounds. By the way, this is the same basic logic that breeders use when they select for a property such as coat color in dogs. ”

        Sounds like Intelligent Design to me. RNA World has no standing.

        • Normann Wheland

          Wrong again, Rex, as usual. You lack of understanding of Deamer’s article in no way diminishes its validity. Instead, it simply highlights your ignorance.

          Again I ask: do you have any training in bio-metrics, information or probability theory? If you do, it is certainly not manifested in your posts.

      • RexTugwell

        No link this time, Norm? I still don’t see anything directly addressing the combinatorial problem. Hey, I know!! Norm, why don’t we hear your own argument against the problem. You can demonstrate your expertise in bio-metrics, information or probability theory. Ready? GO!

        • Normann Wheland

          Wrong again, Rex, as usual.

          Your childish “combinatorial problem” is largely irrelevant to the argument and your inability and denial to comprehend your own lack of understanding is not my problem.

          Are you the poster boy (get the pun, son?) for the Dunning-Kruger effect this week on this blog?

        • RexTugwell

          I calculated the certainty of you saying

          “Wrong again, Rex, as usual.”

          at 100%. See Norm. I’m familiar with probability theory.

          • Normann Wheland

            And based on the abysmal quality of your puerile posts, I calculate the the probability that you have little to no formal training in information or probability theory to be 0.99 with an asymmetric 97% confidence interval of 0.9889 to 0.9999.

      • Scotty
      • Scotty

        Hmm, took a while but I found a site that seems to be referring to what you were talking about. Didn’t realize it was about protein folding.

        “A protein with a paltry 30 amino acid components – a level at which it might not even be considered a protein – could have those amino acids ordered in 20 to the power 30 (20 x 20 x 20… thirty times) different ways, only one of which would result by chance in the aminos being in the right order to fold into a perfectly functional device (with four-fold symmetry in the case of hemoglobin). Experimenting at one million different ways per second – all failures – would take 634 million billion years. That’s the age of the Universe, multiplied by 45 million.”

        So I am a bit confused here. Why would life have to run through all these combinations? It just has to experiment enough to find a few proteins (maybe like 20).

        Also I found more critiques on this. Seems to have come from Fred Hoyle, who also rejected the Big Bang.

        http://atheism.about.com/od/evolutionabiogenesis/a/probability.htm

        This is now known as Hoyle’s fallacy.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoyle's_fallacy

        • Scotty
        • moshe averick

          Scotty,

          First of all, free floating proteins are useless. Secondly, the problem is exactly the same as putting letters in order to compose an intelligible message. Most functional proteins have at least several hundred amino acids in their chain. A sentence composed of 250 letters can have 26 to the 250th power different combinations. that number is beyond imagination. The problem is that the overwhelming majority of those combinations are nonsense combinations. Only relatively very few are going to give you a meaningful sentence. The exact same thing is true with proteins. Most combinations of amino acids give you nothing more than a useless string of amino acids, relatively few will ever produce a meaningful protein chain. That’s assuming you have a cell within which the protein can operate in the first place.

          If you want to understand the hopelessness of the situation, sit down at your computer and start typing out at random strings of 250 letters. You will give up after a few minutes.

          This is why Kauffman says that anyone who thinks they know how life began is a fool or a knave. Deamer himself never claims to know how life began,it’s just that his faith is very strong.

          • Normann Wheland

            Moshe — wrong again as usual. Your framing of the problem is just another of your childish “straw-man” fallacies. Get your nose out of your bronze age fairy tale and try reading some of the links that Scotty and I have provided you.

          • Scotty

            Since you didn’t read my link, I will copy and paste part of it here.

            Hoyle’s Fallacy is comparable to the older infinite monkey theorem, but applied to cellular biochemistry instead of the works of William Shakespeare. The fallacy claims that the probability that a protein molecule could achieve a functional sequence of amino acids is too low to be realised by chance alone. Hoyle calculated this as being comparable to the probability that a tornado could sweep through a junkyard and randomly assemble a Boeing 747.

            The argument conflates the difference between the complexity that arises from living organisms that are able to reproduce themselves (and as such may change to become more complex over time) with the complexity of inanimate objects, unable to pass on any reproductive changes (such as the multitude of parts manufactured in Boeing 747), the comparison breaks down because of this important distinction…

            They calculate the probability of the formation of a “modern” protein, or even a complete bacterium with all “modern” proteins, by random events…

            They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.

            They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather than simultaneous trials.

            They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.

            They underestimate the number of functional enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.

  • RexTugwell

    Getting back to the article, we need to move beyond “possibilities” or “impossibilities” and talk about probabilities. Anything is possible. The question is: “Is it probable?”

    Dembski and Meyer prove time and again that the probability of life arising from undirected processes is unimaginably small. So small in fact that it’s more reasonable to believe in Dawkins’ Flying Spaghetti Monster than to believe that the cell was not designed.

    Atheists love to appeal to reason. Is it reasonable to believe in an event whose odds of happening are trillions upon trillions of times greater than all the probabilistic resources of the know universe? I say no.

    • Brian Westley

      Dembski and Meyer CLAIM the probability is unimaginably small, but hardly anyone else agrees with them; that’s not “proof”. By the way, Bobby Henderson created the Flying Spaghetti Monster, not Dawkins.

      • Whether or not others agree with them is not the question, the question is who has the better argument – Dembski and Meyer or their critics.

        I don’t know if ‘hardly anyone’ agrees with them, but their are prominent critics. That means that we can note both Dembski and Meyer’s arguments and their critics arguments and then ask what is the QUALITY of Dembski and Meyer’s argument and what is the QUALITY of the criticism of that argument. I.e., which position seems more reasonable and true.

      • Normann Wheland

        That same old debunked Dembski and Meyer bovine stercus that the “ID” creatards keep regurgitating gets a bit tiring. They should try a little education as a cure for their ignorance, so here goes:

        http://www.talkreason.org/index.cfm?category=10

      • RexTugwell

        Dawkins refers to the FSM in his book The God Delusion. I cite him because he’s better known than Henderson. No need to be so pedantic. Maybe in your world hardly anyone agrees with Dembski and Meyer but their numbers don’t lie.

      • moshe averick

        Brian,

        What you seem to have missed is that Origin of Life researchers across the board all admit that they do not have any idea how life began. Why? For all the reasons that we have been talking about.It’s just that they have very strong faith that somehow they will discover an answer. That is not scientific at all.

        • {}{}“Origin of Life researchers across the board all admit that they do not have any idea how life began.”{}{}

          Of course, they don’t. Nobody disputes that — so there you have a good point on which we can all agree.

          But then you squandered it with the next bit:

          {}{}“It’s just that they have very strong faith that somehow they will discover an answer. That is not scientific at all.”{}{}

          You’re wrong about that, Moshe. It is indeed science. You are confusing the confidence of scientists that they live in the real world, on the one hand, with your practice of blind (i.e., religious) faith, on the other hand.

          You’re equivocating like crazy, Moshe, pretending that confidence in science is equivalent to religious faith — when in fact they are fundamentally opposites.

    • Scotty

      Please cite Dembski and Meyer sources.

      • Check out Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell – he has pages of footnotes, it’s not possible to list his sources in the comments. He did do a PhD at Cambridge and studied the issue for 20+ years before writing the book.

        But it’s not so much the sources that is the issue, but rather the interpretation and understanding of the sources.

        In terms of Dembski, I haven’t read his book, but I imagine you can buy his book and read (or rather study) it and then see his sources. Again, he’s pretty well educated. Doesn’t mean he’s right, but it does make it hard to just dismiss him.

      • RexTugwell

        There are many instances out there. Just Google Dembski, Meyer, probalistic resources. Meyer deals with this extensively in his book Signature In The Cell Chap 10 “Beyond the Reach of Chance”.

        • Normann Wheland

          Meyer is a moron:

          “The renowned expert in information theory, Professor Jeffrey Shallit demonstrates the abject ignorance of information theory displayed by S. Meyer of the Discovery Institute in his miserable pseudo-scientific opus titled Signature in the Cell that has been highly acclaimed by creationists of various hues.”

          http://www.talkreason.org/index.cfm?category=10

        • Normann Wheland

          And, of course, Dembski is a dumb-ass:

          “Intelligent design advocate William Dembski has introduced a measure of informa-
          tion called \complex speci¯ed information”, or CSI. He claims that CSI is a reliable
          marker of design by intelligent agents. He puts forth a \Law of Conservation of Infor-
          mation” which states that chance and natural laws are incapable of generating CSI.
          In particular, CSI cannot be generated by evolutionary computation. Dembski asserts
          that CSI is present in intelligent causes and in the °agellum of Escherichia coli, and
          concludes that neither have natural explanations. In this paper we examine Demb-
          ski’s claims, point out signi¯cant errors in his reasoning, and conclude that there is no
          reason to accept his assertions.”

          http://www.talkreason.org/articles/eandsdembski.pdf

          AND

          “In 2004 William Dembski disseminated an article wherein he introduced an allegedly novel measure of information he dubbed “Variational Information.” This measure was in fact not a novel quantity but rather a well known (for over forty years) “Rényi divergence of the 2nd order.” When his flop was pointed out, Dembski added to his article a reference to Rényi. However, the amended version of Dembski’s article contained statements which showed that Dembski not only was not familiar with the widely known and heavily referenced work of Rényi, but did not grasp its essence even after it was pointed out to him. In the three years after the amended version of Dembski’s article was posted, Dembski has kept that version posted without any signs of having a second thought. This allows one to think that no self-correction from Dembski is forthcoming. These facts seem to support the opinion of Dembski as being, in the words of Professor Shallit, a “pseudo-mathematician”. I similarly suggested that his mathematical exercises are “quasi-mathematics.” Contrary to Dembski’s claims, it in no way can serve as a “mathematical foundation of Intelligent Design.” Although in the opinion of ID advocates it contains innovative and useful stuff, all that is “innovative” there is usually useless, while all that is useful there has usually been known for a long time.”

          http://www.talkreason.org/articles/stillbad.cfm#2

        • Meyer’s book is an attempt to justify believing in God, so it’s a losing proposition from the get-go. There is no way to make sense out of believing in God.

    • {{}}“Anything is possible.”{{}}

      Not so much. You can’t fly to the moon by waving your arms, and you can’t make socialism work — just to name a couple of the many things that are not in reality possible.

    • One of Rabbi Maverick’s favorite non sequiturs is the one about how Morse Code being a product of intelligence means the the “genetic code” must also necessarily be a “product of intelligence.”

      That is one more case of illogic deriving from the flawed ideology of theism — in contrast to making reasonable comparisons based on facts instead of wild imagination.

      Since theism makes no sense, atheism is the logical view to take on the issue.

  • Kevin Bjornson

    The good theologian makes a number of assumptions and gaps in reasoning.

    True there was a Big Bang. Though Kabbalists (among others) believe there are/have been many Big Bangs. Not an infinite number, since nothing that exists is infinite; rather a continuous loop consisting of a very large number of possible universes. Eventually some repeat exactly though almost all are different, some slightly some greatly.

    In some of these universes, there might be a Rabbi Algemeiner who agrees with me, humanism, and western civilization.

    The singularity projects all possible universes simultaneously. Time is simply the measurement of motion. And motion is the warping of space-time by gravity.

    The singularity concentrates all existence into the size approximating a pinhead (though no angels dance on it). So naturally it’s gravitational force is as great as can be. This super-gravity warps the direction of the Big Bang, so that all particles are projected in curved lines, which inevitably must return to their point of origin.

    If a Big Bang could project things in straight lines, then yes there might be only one Big Bang.
    But that is not the case, and some enlightened philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists agree.

    But there is a bigger gap involved in theological arguments, which must after all be communicated by natural language. In order to communicate meaning, all terms used must be defined with reference to observations; logic alone is not sufficient. Try defining “circle” to an infant who is not yet able to talk or understand language. Inevitably you must examples of circles, and this allows the inborn logic of the infant to extract the essential characteristics which define circularity.

    What do you mean by “supernatural G-d”? First all that “supernatural” means is simply “not natural”.
    Because if you could point to an example of a supernatural entity it would natural. “G-d” is very similar to “good” and simply refers to the best elements in human nature.

    For humans, there is now way out of humanism.

    • I’m not sure I followed 100% what you were saying, but I want to relate to the question of what one means by ‘supernatural G-d’. What is wrong with the Creator of the physical universe and all that it contains?

      The argument that if one could point to it then it would be natural – perhaps, if you are talking about something that can be pointed to. But when one is discussing an entity that is independent of and outside of space and time, there is no ‘thing’ to point to.

      We can, of course, see examples of this in the physical world – I can’t point to energy or gravity, but I can see their effects.

      So, I may not be able to ‘point’ to G-d, but I can see His wisdom in the creation, His influence in history, listen to his ‘voice’ via my conscience, relate to His ‘will’ in the Torah and sense His ‘presence’ when I daven.

      Note, though, that all of these are non-physical items – wisdom, influence, voice, will, presence.

      • In other words, God is imaginary.

        • I don’t see how this logically flows from what I’ve said and you didn’t offer a logical explanation of why what I said implies this.

          As such, can you please try and explain why what I said indicates that ‘G-d is imaginary’?

          • You stated that you can only imagine God’s wisdom, influence, voice, etc., but that you cannot point to any actual effects like you can for gravity.

  • {}{}Rabbi Averick also makes this false claim: “… scientists are acutely aware of the difficulties involved in proposing that some type of unguided process would be able to bridge the gaping chasm between non-life and life. However, they seem totally oblivious to the fact that … it is their burden to prove it true …”{}{}

    Rabbi Averick has got science confused with religion.

    In fact, scientists understand quite well that the job of science is to investigate, experiment, etc., in order to work at finding evidence/proof for scientific theories, ideas, speculations, etc. Scientists have no problem shouldering the burden of proof. It is theists who avoid the burden of proof like the plague — retreating into blind faith as their substitute.

    • Okay, here is some evidence for you:

      * The Torah has been the most influential work throughout human history either:

      * The values expressed in the Torah are unique both for it’s time period and in human history (except for those groups and religions that were influenced by the Torah) – for instance:
      — Man is of inherent worth
      — Chesed and taking care of the poor is of prime importance and is both an individual and communal responsibility
      — All citizens deserve fair access to fair court systems
      — Integrity in one’s personal relationships
      — Honesty and fairness in the market-place

      * The Jewish people have been one of (if not the) most influential people throughout human history

      * The survival of the Jewish people is a mystery:
      — They are plagued by a seemingly unnatural and never-ending hatred by various other groups for various (and at times contradictory) reasons
      — For most of their history they live without any of the normal forces or power that provide a people with protection (economic power, diplomatic power, military power, geographic power, etc.) – rather they are stateless, spread-out, speaking different languages, belonging to different cultueres, etc – and yet they survive and exert massive influence and produce great works during that time

      * The fine-tunings of the universe indicate a Fine Tuner because properly set properties are indicative of intellectual behavior

      * The genetic code likewise indicates an intelligence because codes by definition are intellectual entities – they require intellectual agreements between the code giver and the code receiver.

      * The almost universal sense of a moral truth indicates that there really is something such as moral truth

      * The undue attention to Israel and Jerusalem exists because Israel and Jerusalem really are holy.

      * Belief in G-d has grown so exponentially throughout human history because there really is a G-d (see here for more on this idea: http://morethinking.com/2011/g-d-is-universal-idolatry-and-atheism-are-local)

      * People find prayer a meaningful and true experience because it really is a meaningful and real experience.

      • {}{}“People find prayer a meaningful and true experience because it really is a meaningful and real experience.”{}{}

        Certainly it is true that there are people who like to pray. They really experience prayer.

        But that does not mean that the supernatural somehow miraculously exists. Praying is real; God isn’t.

  • ayla

    SteveStoddard: are you saying that if intelligent man is not there to interpret information, then information doesn’t exist? So, if no one is around to read the Ikea instructions on how to assemble a couch, for say, 20 years, but then later, someone comes along and reads them, and thus puts together a perfectly decent couch,there was actually no information for those 20 years?

    • No, I’m saying is no one is there to produce the information, then no information gets created.

      Where do you think “Ikea instructions” come from?

      • Alya, no. I’m saying if no one is there to produce the information, then no information gets created.

        Where do you think “Ikea instructions” come from?

        • ayla

          Well, that’s the thing Steve, an intelligent being produced the information in the Ikea instructions, and then later, another intelligent being observed them. Of course, in this analogy, the intelligent being producing the instructions found in genetic information would be the Designer. And then we are the intelligent beings who now, much later, are observing it. The time variable is different, but time is a curious thing isn’t it?

          • Neither a Supernatural Designer nor a non-living intelligent being is a possibility.

            That’s why there is no information in the DNA.

            The term “genetic information” refers to how people understand the causal processes involved. It is not a literal description of the chemicals.

  • {}{}“Something That No One Has Thought of Yet!”{}{}

    When Edison was starting out, should he have given up on the light bulb in the blind faith that “Only God can make a light bulb because it is something no one has thought of yet”?

    • No – scientists should obviously explore new ideas and hypothesis.

      But that doesn’t change the question of whether or not something is a reasonable or worthwhile pursuit. Pursuing a hypothesis means that one is dedicating one’s time, effort, money and other resources to that particular project as opposed to some other project. Theoretically, one should have a solid reason for believing that this particular pursuit is a productive use of one’s time, though, energy, money, etc.

      Furthermore, there is the ever important question of what does the evidence in front of you inherently indicate. If the evidence indicates that it is not developed from a natural process then one might want to consider that perhaps it wasn’t.

      Or, perhaps it was developed by a natural process, but a natural process that was guided – i.e., that somehow or other the system was ‘rigged’ or (ala Fred Hoyle) someone monkeyed with the system. That, of course, just pushes the Creator back a step.

      The real question is – is it naturalistic explanations all the way down or at some point does natural law and processes have to give way to a Creator of those laws and processes. If it is the latter, then science will have to grapple with the fact that at some point they have hit the end of the road of what they can explain.

      • {}{}“The real question is – is it naturalistic explanations all the way down or at some point does natural law and processes have to give way to a [supernatural] Creator of those laws and processes.”{}{}

        Moshe, I think you are right that that is the “real question” we are dealing with here.

        I think you are wrong to believe that the world cannot be “real all the way down”, or “natural all the way down.”

        Since the world we actually live in is real, there is no reasonable/logical way to get to the conclusion that somehow, somewhere, sometime it really isn’t real.

        Believing in God is a leap of faith — a leap away from reason, logic, evidence, etc.

        Now you wish to turn the tables and claim instead that believing in nature is the real leap of faith — when, in fact, not only is no faith required to perceive nature, faith actually gets in the way of understanding the world.

  • Nestor Tuchy

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I to find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I’m hoping to offer one thing back and aid others like you helped me

  • {}{}Rabbi Averick likes to assert that “The notion that the … simplest living bacterium is the result of some mysterious unguided, undirected process is an extraordinary claim.”

    But there is nothing extraordinary about it at all. Since life does exist, it is 100% guaranteed that it is 100% natural. There simply is no other possibility. The real world is what exists: there is nothing else.

    Even saying that “claims for the existence of God require proof” is not quite right. Since there is no cognitive substance to such claims, there is really nothing to prove. Claims in favor of the supernatural always boil down to: there’s no there there.

    Even Rabbi Averick always falls back on fact that God is not real (i.e., not in time and space). He hasn’t got anything else (yet he still can’t bring himself to really accept it).

    • salvage

      >Even Rabbi Averick always falls back on fact that God is not real (i.e., not in time and space).

      It’s odd that such a creature that isn’t in time and space makes all kinds of appearances in the Torah, talks with folk, writes on walls, kills first borne, tell people to cut off their foreskins etc.

    • You wrote: “since life exists it is 100% guaranteed that it is 100% natural”. Okay, let’s say I agree. That doesn’t mean that ORIGIN of life is 100% natural – that at some point or other an intellectual entity was required for the existence of life.

      You also wrote: The real world is what exists: there is nothing else.

      I agree, the REAL world is what exists – now let’s get to figuring out what the REAL world. Does the REAL world have a REAL Creator or not.

      You also wrote: ‘there’s no there there.’

      Okay, agreed – there is no there there. That’s because in the REALLY REAL world, there is also no there there. Atoms aren’t really there, it’s the forces in the atoms that make up the world we interact in, not the particles themselves.

      But what are forces? They aren’t physical. You can’t see or touch them. You just notice their effects.

      And then there is information – that’s not really there either, it’s intellectual. And then there is consciousness, that also doesn’t seem to really be there.

      At the end of the day, it seems that the only way you can HONESTLY deal with the REAL world is that at it’s heart it’s not at all REAL in the way that materialists like to imagine.

      • {}{}“Does the REAL world have a REAL Creator or not.”{}{}

        Naturally (logically) not. Even you have written about that many times. Your “IDOL” is “totally other,” not REAL in the least.

      • {}{}“That’s because in the REALLY REAL world, there is also no there there. Atoms aren’t really there,…”{}{}

        You’re getting way, way too mystical, Moshe. You are kidding yourself massively if you believe the world isn’t really there.

        Where in the world do you think you are?

      • And sorry, I think I got you mixed up with the real Moshe.

        • God’s_Man

          I am part of reality. And you are totally other/different than me. does that mean that you are not real? or could it be possible that you could be misinterpreting our meaning of other? Also, intelligence can only come from intelligence. just as you say something can not come from nothing.

  • Eric

    This reads like the author has never read an argument against his position, ever. We have a very good ideas on the origins of life. You have a talking snake. Grown up!

    • RexTugwell

      Please share

    • Eric,

      Like most smug atheists you have no idea what that actual state of origin of life research is. The problem is that you keep reading the nonsense churned out by people like PZ Myers. Get used to it. Science has not got a clue how life began.

      • Rabbi Averick,

        Not only do you not have a clue how life began, your position amounts to having blind faith that no clues are possible — because it never really happened, since life is unreal/unnatural instead of real.

        • I’m willing to concede that Rabbi Averick is a smug theist with no idea about the actual origin of life.

      • Jorge

        Moshe,

        Great article! I read your articles whenever I find one. Though I’m a Biblical Creationist, I can’t help but notice the numerous similarities within our individual thinking patterns – I find that spiritually ‘confirming’.

        On another note, several years ago I briefly explored the link between the *mathematical* probabilities/possibilities of events with the *physical* possibility of those events. This is related to the notion of ‘probabilistic resources’. Not considering this idea is why many people fail to realize the sheer lunacy of materialistic claims.

        BTW, those two ‘specimens’ – Eric and Steve – are not worth your time. I’d advise totally ignoring them.

    • tobewan

      Eric: What you have is very good imaginative ideas but lack the evidence to fill the gap. Plus, the intelligence found even in microscopic life makes what you think or say, “it’s possible that it happened” or “it’s not impossible that it happened” impossible!
      “Intelligence” makes impossible those wild imaginations of the origins of life. Even you and I and our wives are proof of the need of intelligent creation. It takes TWO and guesswork would not, could not fashion such wonderful unions needed, and all the emotions involved, to boot.

    • moshe averick

      Eric,

      It is amazing that even though Kaufmann states that anyone who claims to know how life began is a fool or a knave and that he states over and over again that “nobody knows” you seem to feel that you have good ideas on the origin of life. You are confusing the article of faith that atheistic scientists have about a naturalistic origin of life and their accompanying speculative theories with “good ideas.”

      As far as “talking snakes.” The article did not deal
      with the truth or non-truth of the Jewish claim of diving revelation; you are free to reject it if you please. However, that has absolutely nothing to do with the very real problem of the origin of life which (for the past 65 years) is annually counted as one of the great scientific mysteries. “Mystery” means that no one understands it. This is a perfect example of an Argument from Non Sequiturs that was discussed in the article.

  • Corey

    What is the nonsense?

  • salvage

    Shorter Mushe:

    Who needs science when Bronze Age mythology already gives me all the answers I want?

    Oh Mushe, you do atheism such service with your pablum, so many words! So much convoluted twisting like a pretzel doing Yoga on a roller-coaster! So self-serving with many glaring omissions and facts? Well once again they are pick and chose for you.

    You certainly dispel the stereotype of the wise and thoughtful Rabbi. More Dumb-dumb than Rambam.

    • moshe averick

      Unsalvageable,

      I keep writing long articles in the hope that perhaps one day you will actually read one carefully and it will straighten out your convoluted thinking processes.

  • You say this:

    “A major scientific project – the SETI Project – was recently downsized due to its lack of success.”

    Your lack of understanding about SETI does not bode well for the rest of what you have written.

    First – It was not a “major Project” – The largest of the SETI projects is the Allen Telescope Array (ATA). It was and still is a rather modest project funded by private donors.

    Second – There is no such thing as “the SETI Project”. There are several groups that are doing SETI work and they actually have little interaction with each other. ATA is one of only four SETI projects on the face of the Earth.

    Third – It was not downsized for “lack of success”. The ATA SETI project simply ran out of money.

    Lastly – do you make this stuff up as you go along???

    • moshe averick

      Dear James Brown (King of Soul),

      Your entire post is a non-sequitur. Ok, it was NOT a major project, it doesn’t change anything that was said. It ran out of money because no one wanted to fund a project that was a total failure.

  • Phil

    Long winded, blow hard, redo of “DNA is the language of god” post. Your take on Intelligent Design was as unimpressive as the rest.

    • Phil,

      Since you offered no argument at all you did not even make it into the category of blow hard, you are in the category of insignificant.

  • Scotty

    “What unguided, naturalistic process do you know of that can produce intelligible Morse code messages?!” – “Aha! The Argument from Ignorance!”

    No, that is not an Argument from Ignorance, as there is no ignorance involved. In this case, we know that intelligent entities are involved. Why? because the use of reason and applying knowledge is the DEFINITION of intelligence.
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/intelligence

    As I have mentioned many times before, please take an introductory logic class. Your reasoning is pathetic.

    On your assertion that “the bacterial cell must – and does – contain a highly sophisticated error correction system to ensure the integrity of the replication process”, you are incorrect. Very early life probably didn’t have an error correction system. Some dna even today lacks error correction. The correction was that the cell died, therefore no replication. If you really want a theory of how error correction developed, see this site: http://www.vetscite.org/publish/items/000880/

    Finally, I find you intellectually dishonest that you don’t mention how Kauffman answers his own question of how “all living things seem to have a minimal complexity below which it is impossible to go”. Hint: it doesn’t involve a god. http://goo.gl/H9ApO

    • RexTugwell

      Your reasoning is pathetic.

      You know, Scotty, I don’t mind a good lively debate about science, life origins and theism but don’t insult the good rabbi’s intelligence and then make a statement that is so breathtakingly stupid and ill-thought-out that you’ll just discredit yourself in the process. I’m always amazed at how the Wizards of Smart happily remind theists how dumb we are while constantly demonstrating a total lack of critical thinking on their part.

      Very early life probably didn’t have an error correction system. Some dna even today lacks error correction. The correction was that the cell died, therefore no replication.

      So I guess the same fate should have befallen the very first cell(s) of life. As soon as the first living cell self-organized (the odds being at least about 1 in 10e+41,000) and already able to replicate and metabolize!!, copying errors would find their way into the DNA code. Once that happened, the proto cells, lacking an error correction system, “died, therefore no replication” due to error catastrophe in a relatively few generations. In your scenario, life would hardly be able to get off the ground in the first place. Good grief. Think before you write.

      Hint: it doesn’t involve a god.

      No hint is necessary since the author already volunteered that Dr. Kauffman is a self-proclaimed humanistic atheist.

      • Scotty

        ” I don’t mind a good lively debate about science, life origins and theism but don’t insult the good rabbi’s intelligence and then make a statement that is so breathtakingly stupid and ill-thought-out that you’ll just discredit yourself in the process. I’m always amazed at how the Wizards of Smart happily remind theists how dumb we are while constantly demonstrating a total lack of critical thinking on their part.”

        I don’t know how dumb other theists are. I do know that Averick himself is stupendously ignorant of basic logic, since I have pointed out countless logical fallacies in the past. I am not even sure this fallacy has a name – it is like he is trying to disprove a tautology.

        “So I guess the same fate should have befallen the very first cell(s) of life. As soon as the first living cell self-organized (the odds being at least about 1 in 10e+41,000) and already able to replicate and metabolize!!, copying errors would find their way into the DNA code. Once that happened, the proto cells, lacking an error correction system, “died, therefore no replication” due to error catastrophe in a relatively few generations. In your scenario, life would hardly be able to get off the ground in the first place. Good grief. Think before you write.”

        Read what I already wrote. Some dna TODAY does not have error correction capabilities. According to your logic, they should have died out. It’s extremely simple – the ones that have errors die (or mutate – that is what evolution is all about), the ones that don’t continue on to reproduce.

        • ‘Some dna TODAY does not have error correction capabilities.’ In these cases, the repair mechanism might have degenerated.

          Given the massive prepronderance for bad mutations how is genetic entropy stemmed?
          How do the incredibly rare ‘beneficial’ mutations become incorporated in a population – see Mendel’s accountant.

      • salvage

        >but don’t insult the good rabbi’s intelligence

        How can he insult something that Mushe doesn’t have?

      • [][]Hint: it doesn’t involve a god.[][]

        Naturally not. Nothing does (outside fiction).

    • No explanation of anything can legitimately involve a god. No god, not even of any kind (including any with a capital “G”) is a real (i.e., non-fictional) possibility.

      • Paul Sternberg

        “No God . . . is a real possibility”.

        Mr. Stoddard, you unceasingly prove Rabbi Averick’s point. Your basic statement consistently is, “I don’t know a God, so therefore there cannot be a God.”

        Jesus had a comment on that type of thinking, “Even if a man comes back from the dead, you will not believe.”

        The Rabbi is most correct on his pointing out the “Atheism of the Gap” fallacy. While materialists deride creationists and Intelligent Design proponents for their supposed “God of the Gaps” defense, they are blind to their “materialism of the gaps” theory. You cannot concoct a reasonable hypothesis that can be lab tested for how even the simplest mechanism of the cell could arise, but you are sure that somehow, someway, everything arose by “rolls of the dice”. You appeal solely to time and the fact that something already exists as proof that it “must have happened by unguided processes”, no matter how improbably. The average persons absurdity meter goes off the chart when they hear this, if they know the least about the complexity of the cell. Darwinism only “works” when the actual, chemical processes of living are unknown and macro scale observations of nature are all you have.

        How a scientist can be so dogmatically sure of anything is beyond me. The history of science is littered with things we “know are so” and later disproved. Science should be first and foremost a seeking for truth, no matter where that search takes the scientist. Science can give us facts, not speculations. Even something as simple as the gravitational constant needs to be qualified according to how it is observed, where, for how long. Data that does not comply with a theory cannot be thrown out because it is inconsistent, but the data and the theory need to be reexamined. There are no static “always/nevers” in the world of our observations.

        You may wish to avoid considering a Creator, but you are outside of science when you declare that there CANNOT be a Creator. You cannot prove he doesn’t exist – all you can do is ignore any evidence that he does and define him out of existence. That’s willful arrogance, not science or philosophy.

        • {}{}Your basic statement consistently is, “I don’t know a God, so therefore there cannot be a God.”{}{}

          You got it backwards. My actual position is: since God is impossible, I’m not going to pretend to “know a God.”

          Note also that there is zero evidence that God exists. Lots of stories, but no evidence.

    • RexTugwell

      The logic you so heartily recommend to the author is apparently lacking in your own argumentation. I did read what you wrote and I find it incoherent and self-contradictory. First you state that “very early life probably didn’t have an error correction system” then you insist that you were only referring to DNA TODAY.

      “It’s extremely simple…” Yeah, an oversimplification. The extremely rare and extremely fragile first cells, without error correction according to you, mutate (assumed to be almost always beneficial by Darwinists) and life goes on. Beautiful. Certainly error catastrophe would have crept in before any beneficial mutation had gotten a foothold and made the first life form more robust. Indeed, experiments done by ID scientist Michael Behe, show that even after 30,000 generations of E. coli, very little changes in the cell in terms of mutation and evolution.

      The link you provide paints a picture of a world where ancient cells were happily living life undisturbed until viruses and transposons come along and ruin the party. The good cells, in a fit of heroic and undirected counterattack, fight off the invasion by evolving an error correction system that recognize the invading DNA, eliminate or silence it and once again life goes on. It does make a great fairy tale.

      • Like shooting fish in a barrel.

      • Scotty

        Sigh. I never insisted that I was only referring to DNA today. I am pointing out that since we have DNA today that does not have an error correction mechanism, the lack of an error correction system is not a fatal flaw, and early life didn’t necessarily need such as system right off the bat.

        Mutations are not considered “almost always beneficial”. I have no idea where you got that from. Wait, yes I do, probably some creationist website. Non-beneficial mutations can either kill the organism, or not provide a reproductive benefit if the organism lives. Your statement that “certainly error catastrophe would have crept in before any beneficial had gotten a foothold” is incorrect. If you have a million cells, and 10 have errors, those 10 can easily die out and not affect the population. When a beneficial mutation does occur, even a very small benefit can take over the population after a long enough period of time. Your lack of understanding on this simple concept shows me that you haven’t even tried to understand natural selection.

        Regarding Behe – really? Just 30k generations? That probably took a few years. Try a few million years.

        Yes Steve, this is like fish in a barrel.

        • tobewan

          Scotty: you wrote, “Mutations are not considered “almost always beneficial”. I have no idea where you got that from. Wait, yes I do, probably some creationist website. Non-beneficial mutations can either kill the organism, or not provide a reproductive benefit if the organism lives. Your statement that “certainly error catastrophe would have crept in before any beneficial had gotten a foothold” is incorrect.”
          Your claim of “is incorrect” is based only on what you next imagine and postulate with “IF”
          How can you not find that faulty and illogical reasoning?

          “If” you have a million cells, and 10 have errors, those 10 can easily die out and not affect the population. When a beneficial mutation does occur, even a very small benefit can take over the population after a long enough period of time. Your lack of understanding on this simple concept shows me that you haven’t even tried to understand natural selection.”
          “you haven’t even tried to understand natural selection.”
          Why bother with fictional imaginations – lacking in complete intelligence? Try as anyone might to elude it, ultimately, all knowledge will lead to an Intelligent Designer, who has and will and is outsmarting even the cleverest of disbelievers, no matter how many times or how much they bow to the obelisk of faulty scientific reasoning.
          There is more to life than what’s under the microscope. Man has an innate ability to regard something or someone higher than himself, and that I-Designer has given us much including a revelation whereby we may know our history and the further plans for us, in a non-fiction book you probably haven’t read or even tried to understand. From Genesis to Revelations is man’s history and future. Happenstance cannot duplicate what is written, though you try to ignore what is written.

      • RexTugwell

        You guys have no imagination. “Like shooting fish in a barrel” is my line. Then again Steve Stoddard isn’t know for his novel thinking. I am glad however that Rabbi Maverick is writing once again about origin of life topics so as to give meaning and purpose to Steve’s life.

        “If you have a million cells…”

        Nice try. Darwinists love to take leaps from humble primordial soups to megapopulations in a single bound. I’m not talking about 1M cells, I’m referring to the very first cells you can count on one hand. You know, the cells that assembled themselves with a minimum 250 proteins, DNA and RNA all in the same locale. And while they were all floating around, what luck!, here comes a bi-layer phospholipid sheet to surround these fortunate biomolecules to protect them from the noonday sun. Oh yeah, the 250 proteins? They just happened to have known enough to self-assemble with only left-handed amino acids. Because we all know, people and molecules alike, that right-handed amino acids just don’t make the cut.

        Fish…barrel..indeed

        • Scotty

          Early cells may not have had DNA or RNA. Thomas Cech for example, who won the Nobel, has hypothesized that RNA came later.

          If early cells developed in the ocean there would be no need for protection from the noonday sun.

          For the homochirality argument, a quick search showed this: “Most scientists believe that Earth life’s “choice” of chirality was purely random, and that if carbon-based life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, their chemistry could theoretically have opposite chirality. However, there is some suggestion that early amino acids could have formed in comet dust. In this case, circularly polarised radiation (which makes up 17% of stellar radiation) could have caused the selective destruction of one chirality of amino acids, leading to a selection bias which ultimately resulted in all life on Earth being homochiral. ” In any case, the best answer now is probably “we don’t know”. Also, see http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB040.html

          The first life didn’t need to be complex. “Self-replicators can be incredibly simple, as simple as a strand of six DNA nucleotides” (see http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB010_1.html)

          By the way, using your example of e coli, you would get a million cells in just under 7 hours.

          • Paul Sternberg

            Hypotheses are neither facts nor reality. That we can hypothesize something does not mean that it is TRUE. Even if we can create it in a lab (by intelligent design, does not mean it is true when dealing with origins or the composition of living things.

            What we see working now is that random forces working on populations of organisms DO NOT cross boundaries to the creation of new, distinct organisms or body plans. Our main public concern has been that selective forces in nature now are so extreme that we fear extinctions, not adaptations. Where adaptations are known, they are not speciating changes, but within the variability of the original organisms.

            “We don’t know” is the open door not for materialist bias, but to consider the full range of what our experience and prior knowledge can lead us to. If “we don’t know”, then we CANNOT say “but it MUST not be this”.

        • Don’t play obtuse, Rex. The “barrel” remark was addressed to you (not Scotty) precisely because it was your line.

          It was to remind you how far out of line you were when you tossed it off in the attempt to defend your mistaken definition of “information.”

        • {{}}
          RexTugwell (June 6, 2012 3:53 pm) comments: “I am glad however that Rabbi Maverick is writing once again about origin of life topics so as to give meaning and purpose to Steve’s life.”{{}}

          That’s another good example of how “Creationists” wear blinders. Rex sees only what I write here — so he assumes it is not possible that I do anything else. He also sees that scientists do not understand the natural process through which life arose — so he assumes it is not possible for there to have been any such process.

        • RexTugwell

          Maybe your friends at talkorigins can help you out here because I’m a bit confused.

          Just how many comet tails would the early earth have to fly threw to achieve the high concentration of amino acids needed for self-assemblage of proteins in the oceans?

          If amino acids originated in comet dust, what does this say about the relevance of the Miller-Urey experiments since left and right-handed amino acids occur naturally in equal amounts? Comet-based or meteor-based amino acids are not enough to tip the scales in favor of left-handed homochirality .

          How much of the comet-based amino acids survived entry and impact with earth? Was it enough to allow for the assemblage of one functional protein let alone 250 or more?

          Once the mystery of left-handed homochirality for amino acids is solved, maybe talkorigins can tackle the right-handed sugar mystery.

    • Scotty,

      You seem oblivious to the point. DNA is an information storage system, as sophisticated as anything human technology has ever produced – if that does not reflect intelligence,nothing does.

      “Very early life probably….” = All “scientific” statements about what early life is and isn’t is nothing more than pure speculation since no one has any evidence at all except a leap of faith that there was early life before bacteria. Your blindness is amazing. Stuart Kauffman is honest enough to write over and over again that nobody knows how life began. Everything he writes about origin of life is SPECULATION. EVen Richard Dawkins admits this, It is only ignorant people like yourself who continue the sham.

      • Rabbi, you keep making the same mistake of claiming that “DNA is an information storage system, as sophisticated as anything human technology has ever produced …,” when it is nothing of the sort.

        DNA is something involved in a causal process, but there is nothing intelligent about it. There is no information in DNA, since it is not conscious (or the result of any conscious activity).

        You deliberately make this mistake in order to try to use it as an argument for the existence of God — but it is an utterly bogus argument.

        You have only blind faith; you have no argument (and no clue about the origin of life).

      • {{}}“Stuart Kauffman is honest enough to write over and over again that nobody knows how life began.”{{}}

        He’s right, of course. Nobody does know. And nobody is farther away from knowing than believers in the supernatural. At least good scientists want to know, while Creationists don’t want to know. Good scientists seek knowledge, but Creations wish to wallow in blind faith instead.

        • tobewan

          “At least good scientists want to know, while Creationists don’t want to know. Good scientists seek knowledge, but Creations wish to wallow in blind faith instead.” Steve, how did you imagine that? It’s quite the reveres. It is the “good?” scientists who are stumbling blindly by faith in their theories and the “god” of happenstance, while it is Believers who seek knowledge and KNOW WHERE to look for it – in the 66 books of Wisdom. Meanwhile, you and others are being allowed to move on groping in darkness.

        • Oops.

          It’s Creationists who wish to wallow in blind faith. With maybe some “scripture” thrown in.

    • What do you mean by ‘probably’.

      Do you have a number? If so, where did that number come from?

      Do you have evidence? If so, what is the evidence?

      Do you have a hunch? Well, this is science – so please demonstrate your hunch and then get back to us.

      But for now, let’s grant that you are right – early life did not have an error correction system. That doesn’t not explain how DNA (with it’s biological information and coded system) and the proteins needed to translate DNA came into being.

      Whether or not Rabbi Maverick got a particular detail correct is not the issue, the issue is whether or not a naturalistic, unguided, undirected process is a reasonable or even plausible explanation for the origin of life. Side details are just distractions from the main question.

      Finally, can you please offer a summary of the main points of your links – so that we can discuss the points you want to bring out.

      • {{}}“… the issue is whether or not a naturalistic, unguided, undirected process is a reasonable or even plausible explanation for the origin of life.”{{}}

        It’s the only possibility, so it is naturally reasonable and plausible.

        The origin of life IS the origin of the possibility of guided, directed processes, i.e., intelligence.

    • Moshe Averick

      scotty,

      “Very early life PROBABLY…” On what do you base this?
      There is no evidence that that there ever was any life before bacteria. don’t you realize that all Origin of Life theories are- in the words of none other than Richard Dawkins – “highly speculative” Stuart Kauffman also has speculative theories (Def. of Speculative: No evidence to support it) about the origin of life. So what? I don’t know where you are getting your information. The simple truth is that no scientist has any idea how life began. Kauffman himself said that anyone who claims to know is a fool or a knave. Which one are you?

  • {}{}“… in order to survive and self-replicate, their DNA must – and does – contain encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded information.”{}{}

    It is still the case that this notion of “information in DNA” is not literally true. It seems to be a popular analogy, but it still isn’t actually true . . . .

    Strictly speaking the existence of information depends on study, investigation, etc., that is, on conscious processing. DNA is not conscious, so there is no information there.

    • I think you are misunderstanding what coded information is.

      When I save a file on my hard-drive, that file is saved as coded information. Even if I set up a program to run automatically and periodically save it’s work, the saved version is still information.

      It is the sequence of 1s and 0s that is the information. In DNA it is the specified sequence of nucleotides that represents biological information.

      I write a bit about this here: http://morethinking.com/2012/how-easy-is-it-to-type-the-letter-a/

      Also, this Wikipedia definition may be a good place to start: “Information, in its most restricted technical sense, is a sequence of symbols that can be interpreted as a message.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information]

      That interpretation need not take place by a conscious entity, the interpretation can be built in or programmed into a system so long as all aspects of that system are in agreement about the meaning of the sequence of symbols.

      • {}{}“That interpretation need not take place by a conscious entity,…”{}{}

        In your imagination, but not in actual practice.

  • Marty Kay Zee

    Dr. Kauffman is seriously behind the cosmological curve with his pseudo-biological apologetics. We now know the age, size, makeup and destiny of this particular universe and if this is what some creator had in mind going in, much is the pity.

    • Scotty

      Kauffman is not an apologist. The poster just used a dishonest trick by taking his words out of context. Kauffman goes on to explain how his problem was solved without resorting to the supernatural. See my link above.

      • Scotty,

        The problem was not solved. He offered a purely speculative approach.

        • Scientific speculation based on facts can be useful, as contrasted to theistic “speculation” based on blind faith and scripture, which is rather useless.

  • Brian Westley

    Hey, again Moshe Averick shows he doesn’t know what atheism even means.

  • masonjarjar

    “it is their burden to prove it true” – um, that’s what scientists do. They’re getting closer every day and they’ll keep trying. It might take another 1000 years, but just because they haven’t got there yet doesn’t mean “God did it” – and if it doesn’t happen in my lifetime, that’s ok. I’m more willing to say “science will find the answer eventually” than to throw my hands up in the air and give up. Theists are always so focused on the NOW. Someone thousands of years ago would say “God made the Earth flat” because that’s all that they knew. Science of the time could not explain it. But that person was wrong.

    • It’s more like Rabbi Averick is focused on the NEVER (i.e., the time covering the existence of God).

      • He does seem to admit that God doesn’t exist in the real world, i.e., in space and time.

    • Masonjar,

      It is so refreshing to see that your scientific faith is so strong. “Even if it takes forever I will never give up my faith in science!” Praise Darwin!

      • salvage

        “Even if it takes forever I will never give up my faith in science!”

        Has your religion ever cured a disease Mushe? Sick people ever skip the doctor and come see you to say magic words to get your god’s attention for relief? Any inventions there Mushe? The Torah and Talmud have blue prints for power generators and light bulbs? Any discoveries at all?

        No, not a thing, your stupid god can’t even manage a land deal of a tract of desert without confusion, war and misery yet you think it great.

        Science has advanced humanity in every way, saved countless lives, improved our lifestyles and given us so much that if we have to worship something, yes, science would be it.

        Of course we don’t because that would be silly, science doesn’t care about our opinions unlike your deeply insecure and self-admittedly jealous god.

        I suppose you also hate science because in that world you would be out of a job as it does require, y’know, thinking and imagination not the regurgitation of Bronze Age balderdash.

        >Praise Darwin!

        And we should, the man revealed more about our world than every single bit of theism ever.

        I suppose that’s why you hate him and science so they deliver what your nonsense pretends to.

        • Paul Sternberg

          Non-directed processes did not “create” science, religious men who knew a God of order and laws sought to find that order and laws in his creation. You stand on the foundation provided by religious men. Not all scientists have been religious, but religion has not been antithetical to science. Just as there is a large population who nothing more of Darwin and current science than the word or concept “evolution”, there are religious believers who know nothing more about creation than the opening lines of Genesis. It is for those of us who go beyond the simplistic ideas to delve into the mechanisms, hows and whys of what we see. The question “why” itself begs us to consider a creator, because only a creator has a “why”.

          You use the science behind the development of medicine as a club against religion, but fail to recognize that much of that development occurred in religious founded hospital, clinics, and public health initiatives. The majority of hospitals in the western world were begun by religious entities and much of the charitable public health work done in the world is by religious organizations. Atheism did not bring care into the world – believers did.

          • salvage

            >Non-directed processes did not “create” science, religious men who knew a God of order and laws sought to find that order and laws in his creation.

            That would be the same god that claims to have made the world in six days? That would be the same god of “order and law” that launched several wars of genocide? The one that demands foreskins?

            It’s so cute the way your god becomes whatever you need it to be as if it has no history of being the exact opposite.

            Tell me, what scientific breakthrough is found in the Torah / Bible / Koran? I know the Greeks with their fake gods had more than a few, they figured out the world was round by using a stick and the shadow it cast! Does that mean Zeus should get the credit?

            And yes, it’s true that a great deal of science can be traced back to theistic entities but that’s not because of anything divine but because they, at the time, had a stranglehold on education, they ran the schools essentially. They understood that to thrive they needed to keep people ignorant. Why do you think they screamed when the Bible was translated? They knew how much nonsense there was and were terrified of their flock noticing.

            And if you went against the “truths” of their god? They would embrace it because they were proven? I think history says otherwise.

            Theism hates science because it has revealed time and time again that what was once thought supernatural to be anything but forcing your silly god into the gaps.

            And yes, many hospitals were started by theists, Christians mostly, so what? That means myths are true and magic real? Did they pray at patients?

            Shall we talk about how science has been held back by superstition and religion? Shall we talk about how Catholic hospitals refuse care based on their belief that their god (and yours I’m sure) hates homosexuals and women having a say over their own bodies? Shall we talk about idiots who deny evolution and try to spread their stupidity through tax payers schools?

            Yes, let’s tally up the scientific breakthroughs of the last 100 years that have saved lives and broadened our understanding of the universe vs. religious institutes that have done the same and see who has a higher score.

  • Possibilities are limited by nature. There are no “infinite possibilities” for anything outside the imagination.

  • {}{}“… we live in a world where we are only required to consider reasonable possibilities.”{}{}

    And rejecting claims for the existence of the supernatural is reasonable to say the least. There is no evidence, not even of any kind, for the supernatural — and all claims in favor of it are strictly arbitrary and unreasonable.

    • Sharon

      “A man can no more diminish the Glory of God by refusing to believe in Him, than a criminal can blot out the sun my scribbling ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”

      I’m sorry, but this quote comes to mind as I read your comments.

  • The truth is in nature. The “supernatural” is imaginary.

    It is reasonable to adhere to nature; it is unreasonable to believe in the “supernatural.”

    • Wait and see – it won’t be long.

      • In fact, we don’t have to wait: nature has already happened!

        (Plus, there’s no reason to wait for the impossibility of God. The supernatural is already impossible. Always has been. Always will be.)

        • Michael

          “The supernatural is already impossible. Always has been. Always will be.”

          PROVE IT. Thanks.

          • Impluk

            There is no need to prove in this situation. If it is supernatural then it is not natural, if it is not natural then it is not a part of life. Think before you try to make smartass comments next time.

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