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July 6, 2012 2:29 pm

The Funny Things Scientists Sometimes Say

avatar by Moshe Averick

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Dr. George Whitesides, winner of the Priestley Medal for Chemistry - 2007

Skeptics and non-believers – particularly those with a scientific bent – are wont to accuse believers of clinging to irrational ideas. While it may very well be true that some believers espouse ideas that are not supported by meaningful evidence or rational investigation, it is important to realize that this reflects a human flaw and is by no means limited to theists.

In his acceptance speech for the Priestley Medal for chemistry in 2007, Dr. George Whitesides of Harvard University, one of the world’s greatest living chemists, said the following:

“The Origin of Life: This problem is one of the big ones in science. It begins to place life, and us, in the universe. Most chemists believe, as do I, that life emerged spontaneously from mixtures of molecules in the prebiotic Earth…How? I have no idea. Perhaps it was by the spontaneous emergence of “simple” autocatalytic cycles and then by their combination. On the basis of all the chemistry that I know, it seems to me astonishingly improbable. The idea of an RNA world is a good hint, but it is so far removed in its complexity from dilute solutions of mixtures of simple molecules in a hot, reducing ocean under a high pressure of CO2 that I don’t know how to connect the two [emphasis mine].”

If I were to publicly state that I “believe” God spoke to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai some 3,400 years despite the fact that based on all the investigations of Orthodox Jewish scholars in the last 100 years the actual occurrence of such an historical event seems to me “astonishingly improbable,” and that “I have no idea” how to go about backing up my belief with empirical evidence, Sam Harris, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, et al, would not be able to contain their hysterical laughter. What conclusions then should we draw from Dr. Whitesides’ remarks?  What do we call it when someone “believes” things that are “astonishingly improbable” with “no idea” how to back them up with evidence? Whatever the answer to that question, one thing is clear: It is definitely not Science.

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When visiting a library I always look in the Evolution/Origin of Life section to see if there is interesting new information that I might have missed. On a recent visit to the Skokie Library I came across a book by Nobel Laureate, Dr. Christian DeDuve, entitled, The Genetics of Original Sin: The Impact of Natural Selection on the Future of Humanity. In Chapter 2 – The Origin of Life – Dr. DeDuve writes:

Dr. Christian DeDuve, awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine, 1974

“Thanks to the revolutionary advances of the last fifty years, we now understand and explain life entirely in natural terms. The same can’t be said of the origin of life, which is unknown so far. It thus remains permissible…that life was flipped into being by a Creator…As long as the origin of life can’t be explained in natural terms, the hypothesis of an instant divine creation of life cannot objectively be ruled out. But this hypothesis is sterile, stifling any attempt to investigate the origin of life by scientific means. The only scientifically useful hypothesis is to assume that things, including the origin of life, can be naturally explained [emphasis mine].”

I offer a brief analysis of the aforementioned paragraph:

  • “…we now understand and explain life entirely in natural terms. The same can’t be said of origin of life, which is unknown so far.” Translation: If the simplest living bacterium were a Formula-1 race car, we would understand how the motor burns gasoline to provide energy, how the drivers cockpit is constructed to maximize efficient high speed driving and yet protect the driver from injury, the special tires that are used, etc. However, we would have no idea how, where, when, or by whom, the car was constructed in the first place.
  • “It thus remains permissible that life was flipped into being by a Creator…the hypothesis of an instant divine creation of life cannot objectively be ruled out.” Hmmm…”Objectively” as opposed to what? Daydreaming? Just-So storytelling? Fantasizing? Hallucinating? Is there anything besides “objectivity” that should interest a scientist? How gracious of Dr. DeDuve to declare it “permissible” to think about Origin of Life “objectively!”
  • “But this hypothesis is sterile, stifling any attempt to investigate the origin of life by scientific means.” Could some rational human being out there please explain to me why should the consideration of an “objectively” reasonable explanation for a particular phenomenon be labeled as “sterile?” This question is especially puzzling in light of the fact that in our case there are only two possibilities to begin with: an unguided naturalistic process or divine creation. The notion of intelligent alien life in a far-off galaxy generates delirious excitement in the world of science; does the real possibility of a divine creation of life deserve less? For what possible reason would this prevent scientists from investigating the plausibility of a naturalistic, unguided process that could lead from non-life to life? Who or what would stop them? Does Dr. DeDuve perhaps fear that once scientists seriously contemplate the possibility of special creation they will realize it is the obvious answer?
  • “The only scientifically useful hypothesis is to assume that things, including the origin of life, can be naturally explained.” Is DeDuve interested in what is “scientifically useful” or is he interested in finding the truth? What strange universe does Christian DeDuve inhabit where scientific utility trumps the search for truth? Isn’t it obvious that the job of a scientist is not to make assumptions but rather to test assumptions? Again, does DeDuve fear that once scientists squarely face up to the fact that they are not investigating how the first life came into existence through an unguided naturalistic process, but if life came into existence through an unguided naturalistic process, they will realize the futility of their quest?

When brilliant scientists talk this way it elicits in me a profound sadness. It is a testimony to the ease with which pre-conceived notions and agenda compromise intellectual integrity. What scientific purpose is served (or any other purpose for that matter), by declarations of “belief” in hypotheses that at best lack any semblance of compelling evidence and at worst are astonishingly improbable? Why must the mention of the possibility of divine creation be accompanied with a stingy and begrudging caveat that it is a “sterile” idea? How refreshing and liberating is the attitude of another Nobel Laureate, Dr. Werner Arber:

Dr. Werner Arber, awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine, 1978

“Although a biologist, I must confess I do not understand how life came about…I consider that life only starts at the level of a functional cell. The most primitive cells may require at least several hundred different specific biological macro-molecules. How such already quite complex structures may have come together remains a mystery to me. The possibility of the existence of a Creator, of God, represents to me a satisfactory solution to this problem.” (Part 2 – Chapter 2)

For the die-hard skeptics, however, there is one consolation…remember, as Dr. DeDuve has pointed out, you only need consider a Creator of life if you choose to think about it “objectively.”

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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  • Why, Rabbi Averick, do you restrict your “specified information” argument to DNA? Why don’t you argue that there is “specified information” in all atoms — which you would take as proof that God created everything (not only life)?

    The “specified information” argument applies equally well to elementary atoms as it does to DNA. After all, we never encounter water made up of carbon and helium atoms — and that is largely due to the “specified information” in the electron shells of the various atoms. Can that be explained by anything other than a “Supernaturally Intelligent Designer”?

  • Nature has various structures and processes in it, and it’s all 100% natural. It couldn’t be any other way.

    The belief that nature is just a bubble within a larger unnatural realm (the supernature of God) makes no sense — but then it doesn’t have to since it is only a fantastic fictional creation.

  • [][][]“Put another way, you’re saying DNA isn’t information until it’s modified for improvement.”[][][]

    Not exactly.

    I’m saying it is not “information” until somebody is there to study it (for understanding, modification, etc.). Obviously, at the origin of life, there was nobody around to study it. (That’s why it’s a problem now to figure out what the situation was back then.)

    Without consciousness making classifications, it’s all just a bunch of chemicals that doesn’t convey anything to anybody.

  • The notion that DNA, amino acids, etc. (or even hydrogen and oxygen atoms), are conscious — and therefore capable of dealing with information — is not fact-based.

    Rex’s logic is all wrong. Since intelligence is a necessary cause of information, there can be no information in the absence of intelligence. The origin of life happened way, way before the evolution of intelligence. Thus it is inescapable that there was no information involved in the origin of life (or in the many following years of evolution).

    Life was not guided into existence, since guidance is an intelligent function so could not have occurred prior to a great deal of evolution after the origin of life.

  • [][]‘… Richard Dawkins himself talks about the “uncannily computer-like” information processing system that is “universal” in all living things …’[][]

    That DNA contains “computer-like” or “information-like” material does not mean that it contains actual information.

    • If you can’t handle similies, Moshe/Rex, you should close up shop.

      Or you could make like God, and be unreal.

    • RexTugwell

      Steverino, when we start storing information in DNA, what kind of info did you have in mind?

      • Nothing too complicated, Tugerino. We could start by introducing modifications for better resistance to certain viruses, or pests.

        Modifications could be put in by some scientists, and would help convey to other scientists the different expressions that would match different environments.

      • RexTugwell

        Are you saying that the modifications would be considered information but the DNA that is modified would not be info? I don’t see the distinction. Put another way, you’re saying DNA isn’t information until it’s modified for improvement. Correct?

        • Even if it’s not modified, there is no information in there until people start studying and understanding it.

          In other words, nothing in nature, per se, is information until humans get involved. And then, everything in the world is available to studied as a basis of information (whether double helixes or valance electrons, or whatever).

    • An interesting point to understand that no computer, as far as the computer itself (or any other computer) is concerned, contains any information at all.

      Information pertains only to the people involved. A computer is a tool, like a slide rule or a smoke signal. Computers and smoke signals, per se, have no more information in them than genes or rain.

  • If there really is “information in DNA to instruct cells on creating organisms,” do the cells (and amino acids, etc.) need to go to school to learn how to understand the instructions, how to “interpret the code”?

    They cannot just do it automatically, otherwise there wouldn’t have been any information conveyed.

    So where are those schools? (Are the “divinity schools”?)

  • How about this?!

    Googling “why there is literally no information in DNA” gets this result:

    “Clearly, this means there was no information in DNA. …. computer code, there is literally no such thing as code in DNA,…”

    Are you going to swear by Google now, Rex?

    • RexTugwell

      Absolutely. It shows that you’re the only one in the world who denies that DNA is information-bearing. Thanks for proving my point. You’ve reinforced the minor premise.

      • Even if your conjecture were true, Rex, how in the world do you figure that would mean I was wrong about it?

        Why would you believe that amino acids are conscious? Blind faith? What else have you got?

      • Even if your conjecture were true, Rex, how in the world do you figure that would mean I was wrong about it?

        Why would you believe that amino acids are conscious? Blind faith? What else have you got?

    • Moshe Averick

      Steve,

      You must have googled your own comments on this article!

      • That’s what happened. I was surprised they showed up like that.

        It just goes to show that Rex’s faith that Google can replace critical thinking is misplaced.

        Of course, nothing is suitable as a replacement for critical thinking, not even religious faith.

  • RexTugwell

    What have we learned so far…

    1. Stalwart Steve admits that intelligence is a necessary cause of information

    2. Stalwart Steve denies DNA contains information while everyone else on the planet accepts this fact

    3. Therefore, Stalwart Steve believes DNA is the result of intelligence but is in deep, deep denial

    • Sorry to burst your goofy little bubble, Rex, but the notion that DNA, amino acids, etc., are conscious — and therefore capable of dealing with information — is ridiculous.

      Your logic is all wrong. Since intelligence is a necessary cause of information, there can be no information in the absence of intelligence. The origin of life happened way, way before the evolution of intelligence. Thus it is indisputable that there was no information involved in the origin of life (or in the many following years of evolution).

      “Information in DNA” is a metaphor, not a literal description or observation.

    • Well, Rex, you’ve dug yourself into quite a hole, but it appears that you have taken the advice to stopping digging under such circumstances.

      That is sensible advice, but as a theist, why would you care? Can’t you simply have faith the God will rescue you no matter how deep in it you put yourself?

    • Or perhaps you feel you are applying Mark Twain’s advice when he said, “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

      Somebody suggested I should apply that advice to this blog, but, as luck would have it, I don’t consider you, Rabbi Averick, or jp (to name a few participants) to be stupid. (That doesn’t necessarily apply to everybody, though.) Besides, the idea isn’t to convince you guys of anything anyway.

    • I do have to admit, though, Rex, that name-calling is not the smartest thing you could be doing.

  • []-[]“… the differences between the DNA and water molecules,…[]-[]

    Is the difference supposed to be that while DNA is divinely guided, poor water must struggle along to exist naturally?

    Why not, in fact, claim that everything contains “God Code” and can only exist because it is divinely inspired? Pretend God Created The Entire Universe, not just DNA? You could tell us God told you so. You could write a book about it.

    [][]“Of course the functioning of DNA is within the paradigms of the laws of chemistry and physics, but that still does not tell you how the specific order of the nucleobases are arranged on the double helix to store and convey information.”[][]

    For one thing, there is the same “paradigm” to “store and convey information” in DNA as there is in water, viz., zero information, stored or conveyed.

    For another thing, it is a wildly arrogant dismissal of science to believe that since we don’t already know everything, we shall never learn anything more (so therefore must believe in God).

  • RexTugwell

    Steve Stoddard & salvage both seem to be aware of the awesome search capabilities of Google. I suggest they Google something like “does dna carry information” and see what comes up. Then do the same with “dna does not carry information”. I also suggest a possible topic for a future Rabbi Maverick column – The Importance of a College Education

    • [][]‘… Google something like “does dna carry information” and see what comes up.’[][]

      If that is how you got your ideas on this subject — well, that explains a lot.

      Most of what you can get by googling is merely what various people happen to be saying about something. Lots and lots of people make the mistake of taking the information analogy about DNA literally — and Google searching will confirm that they are not shy in talking about it.

      But, Rex, it is elementary logic that you cannot count on something being true merely because a lot of people feel that it is so. You need to learn to exercise reasonable judgment.

      Science is not a democracy.

    • For example, I just googled “information,” and this is the first thing that came up:

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

      Now if you really believe the line that “DNA carries information,” then you are going to reject that Google result as spurious (since it would necessitate believing that amino acids are conscious and able to interpret symbols).

      The point is, you simply cannot swear by everything you read by googling. You need to exercise judgment.

    • A Google search for “RexTugwell”:

      … an agricultural economist who became part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first “Brain Trust,” a group of …

      Rex Tugwell’s Plan to End America as We Know It « …

      • Google search for “Steve Stoddard”:

        STEVE STODDARD “TORNADO BRAIN” – YouTube

    • Moshe Averick

      Rex,

      Although I was in engineering/computer science at the University of Illinois/Chicago I never did finish my degree. It’s amazing that Richard Dawkins himself talks about the “uncannily computer-like” information processing system that is “universal” in all living things and the fact that DNA operates on a “digital to the core” basis, that DNA is “pure digital code”, and that DNA is copied with an accuracy that “rivals anything modern engineers” can accomplish, guys like Salvage (or Unsalvageable as I affectionately call him) and Steve choose to remain completely oblivious.

      Let’s keep trying!

      • Being “atheistically oblivious” to God is a bit more reasonable than being theistically oblivious to nature.

        If you can’t handle people using metaphors, you should close up shop.

        Believing in the supernatural is like believing that the world you live in isn’t really there. (You could even incorporate the alleged QM story about how DNA doesn’t actually exist, that it’s just empty space.)

      • RexTugwell

        Fair enough, Rabbi. It was really just an attempt at saying Steve needs to learn some critical thinking skills. And please don’t think I’m a some kind of a snob that looks down on those with no degree. I work at a university along side folks with MSs and PhDs and believe me when I say a degree from an institution of higher education does not necessarily equal intelligence.

        • [][]“… learn some critical thinking skills …”[][]

          The basic theistic problem is that blind (i.e., religious) faith is the opposite of critical thinking skill. So believing in the supernatural requires that you turn off your thinking ability to the extent that you feel God is important in your life.

      • That something might be “uncannily computer-like” does not make the supernatural somehow miraculously possible.

        You need to realize that even if the were information in DNA, it would be impossible for it to have gotten there by some unnatural (e.g., supernaturally guided) process.

        “Creation, by God!” is not a real possibility.

  • RexTugwell

    “Now that humans have evolved, it is possible that we could learn to genetically-engineer DNA to store and convey information. But that certainly was not a possibility at the origin of life.”

    So what Stalwart Steve is saying is this (listen closely): “it is possible that we could learn to genetically-engineer DNA to store and convey specified and complex credit card information. But that certainly was not a possibility to store specified and complex sequences of nucleotides at the origin of life.”

    Question: If there’s no specified, complex information in the gene for hemoglobin, we can just make up our own 146-codon sequence and we’ll get a functional hemoglobin protein? That’s awesome!

    P.Z. Myers call your office

    • [][]… (listen closely): “it is possible that we could learn to genetically-engineer DNA to store and convey specified and complex credit card information. But that certainly was not a possibility to store specified and complex sequences of nucleotides at the origin of life.”[][] (I didn’t actually say that, but it is Rex’s notion of trying to convey what I did say.)

      Anyhow, that is correct. The reason it is possible to store information now is that humans now exist. The reason it was impossible to store information at the origin of life was that intelligence did not yet exist, i.e., humans hadn’t evolved yet.

      • RexTugwell

        Nice try

        • Are you trying to claim, Rex, that humans evolved before there was DNA? That sounds a little offbeat.

          Almost as offbeat as claiming that since you don’t know how DNA happened, it must have happened by magic (e.g., a supernatural God).

    • Who, by the way, is “P.Z. Myers”?

      • RexTugwell

        To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, he’s a guy who prefers to raise his voice rather than reinforce his arguments

        …and to quote jp he’s a “chew toy”

        • As usual, Rex, you are decidedly uninformative.

          But then, that’s the “Creationist Way.”

        • I googled pzmyers and got this neat quote: “Faith is a vice pretending to be a virtue, its lies and errors and frothy nonsense deluding us and distracting us from action. There’s no salvation in wishful thinking, only inertia. Faith is the enemy of reason…. It’s the barren refuge of the vacuous, the fearful, the frauds, and the obstacles to accomplishment.”

          It does sound like he’s chewed the theists to a pulp.

          • RexTugwell

            I’ll refer you again to Mr. Johnson

          • Thanks for the reference, Rex.

            But the significance you wish to attach to it is rather obscure.

          • Anyhow, back to the subject. Do you really believe there were humans before there was DNA? How was that miracle supposed to have happened?

  • []–[]“… the differences between the DNA and water molecules,…”[]–[]

    Is the difference supposed to be that while DNA is divinely guided, poor water must struggle along to exist naturally?

    Why do you feel that God is prejudiced against water? Why does water have to ride in the back of God’s Bus?

    Why not, in fact, claim that everything contains “God Code” and can only exist because it is divinely inspired? Pretend God Created The Entire Universe, not just DNA? You could tell us God told you so. you could write a book about it.

  • [][]
    Moshe Averick
    July 11, 2012
    12:05 pm
    “Of course the functioning of DNA is within the paradigms of the laws of chemistry and physics, but that still does not tell you how the specific order of the nucleobases are arranged on the double helix to store and convey information.”[][]

    There are a couple of fundamental errors in Rabbi Averick’s idea here.

    For one thing, there is the same “paradigm” to “store and convey information” in DNA as there is in water, viz., zero information, stored or conveyed.

    For another thing, it is a wildly arrogant dismissal of science to believe that since we don’t already know everything, we shall never learn anything more (so therefore must believe in God).

  • [][]
    RexTugwell
    July 11, 2012
    7:25 am
    ‘Likewise, in DNA there is no physical or chemical law that the nucleotide “G” must follow “A” and so forth.’[][]

    Rex has declared the end of science, since there is something about something he does not already know.

    Claiming that there is no natural reason for DNA is like claiming that there is no natural reason for rain.

  • RexTugwell

    “Information is completely dependent upon intelligence. Intelligence is the creator of information.”

    Stoddard gets it right again! Now if only we can get him to agree with the scientific community; even the part that advocates neo-Darwinism. Biologists don’t argue about whether DNA is information bearing. That’s obvious. They argue about how it got there in the first place.

    Notice, by the way, which side is reinforcing its arguments with science and which side is simply being naysayers.

    • [][]“Biologists don’t argue about whether DNA is information bearing. That’s obvious.”[][]

      Not only is it not obvious that “DNA is information bearing,” it is clearly nonsense to believe that DNA literally does “store and convey information.”

      Information depends on intelligence, and DNA doesn’t have intelligence.

      Now that humans have evolved, it is possible that we could learn to genetically-engineer DNA to store and convey information. But that certainly was not a possibility at the origin of life.

    • {}{}]“Notice, by the way, which side is reinforcing its arguments with science and which side is simply being naysayers.”[{}{}

      It is the naturalists who progress in knowledge with science, and the supernaturalsts who persist in simply being naysayers — with their mystical doctrine that “nature isn’t enough.”

  • Information is completely dependent upon intelligence. Intelligence is the creator of information.

    So, naturally, while there was plenty of potential, there was no information in the world until after humans had evolved.

    Clearly, this means there was no information in DNA.

    The notion of “unnatural information” emanating from a “supernatural intelligence” is pure fantasy. Sure, it’s a popular storyline, but it is just a fictional story (not something that actually happened).

  • RexTugwell

    “There is no coded information in DNA because there was nobody to put it there”.

    Not only do I agree with Steve Stoddard on certain socio-political issues but he is exactly right; to admit that there is information in DNA implies that intelligence is needed to place the info there in the first place. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn from time to time. Rabbi Maverick’s explanation below that DNA sequencing is not based on physical laws is, of course, correct as any first-semester biochem student would tell you.

    To carry the ink-letter-paper analogy further, there are no physical laws that state that, when writing, the letter “t”, it must only follow “s” or “b” must only follow “u”. Think how limited information would be if this were the case. Likewise, in DNA there is no physical or chemical law that the nucleotide “G” must follow “A” and so forth. Someone who says otherwise either knows the implications and is in denial or has his hands over his ears shouting, “La la la la la. I can’t hear you”.

    So for example, the very specific, complex sequence of nucleotides for hemoglobin are the 146 4-bit, 3-base codon “bytes” of information that is transmitted from DNA to RNA polymerase to mRNA to ribosomes to tRNA to that essential protein that carries oxygen to our cells. Bits, bytes, storage and retrieval, error correction, copy and paste. Sound familiar?

    • salvage

      >no physical or chemical law that the nucleotide “G” must follow “A” and so forth.

      From dust coalescing into a star to that star’s explosion blowing the chemicals together into DNA it all runs on physics. There is nothing else.

      • Moshe Averick

        Salavage,

        That would be analogous to saying that all music runs on the physics of sound waves and nothing else. That statement is true but it tells you nothing about how a Mozart symphony is composed. When Mozart composed his symphonies he could not violate the laws of physics, that is nothing more than a truism, but the laws of physics did not determine the particular composition.

        Of course the functioning of DNA is within the paradigms of the laws of chemistry and physics, but that still does not tell you how the specific order of the nucleobases are arranged on the double helix to store and convey information. Like music or writing they could just as easily have been arranged in patterns that mean nothing and convey nothing. The fact that they are arranged in a way that is highly functional and specific is the baffling challenge that naturalistic researchers are faced with.

        • The notion that there was some supernatural source for the order of the nucleobases on the double helix is a dead-end. For scientists to take such foolishness seriously would be the intellectual equivalent of chopping off their heads to stop the progress of scientific understanding.

          The notion of some supernatural source for the electron-filling arrangements of the atom elements would also have been an intellectual dead end.

          You might as well claim that God wants Eric Holder to be AG, so Congressional oversight and investigation is unnecessary.

        • salvage

          >That would be analogous to saying that all music runs on the physics of sound waves and nothing else.

          That’s because that’s all it is.

          We enjoy patterns, we look for them, we appreciate them, it’s part of what makes us successful as a species (footprints of our prey was probably the first patterns we ever saw that triggered abstract thinking) but that doesn’t mean anything outside of our brains.

          And the brains of some species of birds if YouTube is to be believed:

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

          DNA is not a code in the way you are suggesting anymore than ice melting is the result of a code or the planet’s orbits or the electrons that carry this website.

          It’s all 100% natural chemicals and physics, not magic, not supernatural, not your Bronze Age myths.

          • Moshe Averick

            Salvage,

            A muscial composition is not supernatural. However, the proper arrangement of the notes requires intelligent, creative input. DNA is not supernatural either in that sense, but it requires intelligent input to arrange the “pure digital code” (Dawkins’ description verbatim) in the proper order, for it to be functional.

          • salvage

            Quite right, it’s not supernatural and it wasn’t made by a supernatural agent because there is no such thing.

            It’s physics and chemistry, forces of nature that are completely indifferent to how our brains interpret and describe them. We call DNA a “code” because that’s a convenient way to categorize and explain it but in reality it’s just chemicals reacting the only way they can.

            It’s just like color. Red doesn’t exist anywhere outside our minds, none of the colors do. The light refracts off the apple, hits our eyes, the “information” is then carried to the brain that manifests as what we perceive as red.

    • [[]]“Bits, bytes, storage and retrieval, error correction, copy and paste. Sound familiar?”[[]]

      Very familiar. That’s computer jargon.

      Pretending that it’s biology is a hoot.

      There may be contexts in which using it as an analogy might be useful. But taking it literally is sophomoric (if not downright disingenuous).

      • Moshe Averick

        Steve,

        Dawkins is the one who describes DNA as “uncannily computer-like.” I believe he is a biologist, so complain to him.

    • [][]

      RexTugwell
      July 11, 2012
      7:25 am

      Likewise, in DNA there is no physical or chemical law that the nucleotide “G” must follow “A” and so forth.[][]

      Rex has declared the end of science, since there is something about something he does not already know.

      Claiming that there is no natural reason for DNA is like claiming that there is no natural reason for rain.

  • [][]“It’s the existence of coded biological information that leads people to state that there must be an intelligent force behind DNA …”[][]

    There is no coded information in DNA because there was nobody to put it there.

    Now you wish to claim that a supernatural God did it — but there is no such thing. The supernatural is sheer fantasy. God is a fictional character, not anything at all real.

    • On this molecular level, there is nobody around — either to create or interpret code.

      It’s just insentient chemicals. No communication is going on. No matter how hard you struggle to imagine that DNA has a design, there is no design in it.

  • [][]
    RexTugwell
    July 10, 2012
    6:27 am

    salvage refers to theists as very simple people.[][]

    Very simply, theists are people, just like the rest of us. They are not special conduits into unnatural realms.

  • Steve Stoddard wrote:

    “And there is no more code in DNA than there is in H2O. DNA reacts in certain ways with its environment; H2O reacts in certain ways with its environment. All perfectly natural.”

    As I said, you don’t know what DNA is and how it works. It is simply not scientifically true that ‘there is no more code in DNA than there is in H20.” DNA is a real code – as real as the codes that you find in computers, etc.

    It is the fact that it is a code (with it’s symbolic relationships) and that it carries digital information – for instance, see this book which discusses the issue: http://amzn.to/OuZmSx.

    It’s the existence of coded biological information that leads people to state that there must be an intelligent force behind DNA since information and symbolic codes are inherently products of intelligent agents.

    In terms of your constant refrain of ‘natural’, ‘real’, etc. I suggest again that you learn some basic science before you continue. I would start with understanding

    * What an atom is, how it works and how it leads to the physical world that we see AND

    * What DNA is, how it works and it’s role in biological life

    There is much more to learn than that, but that’s a good start.

    • Godbusters? Rexbusters? Moshebusters?

      • This system seems to be duplicating some comments lately.

    • [][]“DNA is a real code – as real as the codes that you find in computers, etc.”[][]

      Not exactly.

      While you may be able to make an interesting analogy with DNA and computer code, there is literally no such thing as code in DNA, not even of any kind.

      The existence of code requires a coder. In the case of DNA there is no possibility of a coder — since the supernatural is not a real possibility.

    • salvage

      No, you are wrong, we call it a “code” because that’s a good way of describing it but what it really is is a bunch of chemicals beholden to the laws of physics just like every single atom in the universe.

      It is nothing like the code in a computer save in the most abstract of ways, certainly not literal.

      So no, your god did not sit there “writing” out your DNA as much as you want that to be true.

      Theists! Always trying to jam their silly deities into the gaps and strap it to the facts.

      • RexTugwell

        salvage, you are wrong in so many ways. Stay tuned for your education.

      • Moshe Averick

        Salvage,

        You write that the nucleobases in DNA are just chemicals beholden to the laws of physics.

        That is exactly the reason why Origin of Life researchers are so baffled by the structure of DNA. Within the paradigms of physics and chemistry there is absolutely no reason why the nucleobases should be arranged in a highly specific order that conveys instructions to the molecular machinery within the cell to construct new proteins, which themselves are highly specific structures.

        Any of the four nucleobases can attach equally well to any point along the inner edge of the double helix. There are no chemical bonds at all on the longitudinal axis between the nucleobases.
        There is no law of chemistry or physics that would dictate the order of the nucleobases. That is exactly what allows the arrangement to store massive amounts of information. In the same way that nothing about the chemical make up of ink dictates in what order letters are written on a page so too nothing dicatates the arrangements of the nucleobases.

        • The myth of “information” “communicated” by the order of the nucleobases in DNA hasn’t disappeared yet. But there is the same amount of information in DNA as there is in water molecules, viz., none. On this molecular level, the is nobody around — either to create or interpret code.

          It’s just insentient chemicals. No communication is going on. no matter how hard you try to imagine that DNA has a design, there is no design in it.

        • salvage

          Baffled Scientist X /= Myth Y True

          There are no letters in DNA, I know we’ve assigned letters to it but that’s the way our brains interpret and work with data found in nature. In reality it’s chemicals and physics doing the only thing they can do.

          There is no law of chemistry or physics THAT WE KNOW OF / UNDERSTAND yet. See? That’s a gap and that’s you shoving your goofy god into it.

          We don’t know, we will know and the answer will not be found on a dried lambskin.

    • [][]“It’s the existence of coded biological information that leads people to state that there must be an intelligent force behind DNA since information and symbolic codes are inherently products of intelligent agents.”[][]

      So the fact that there is no “coded biological information” really blows theism out of the water.

      Of course, you still have your myths, rituals, etc. You just don’t have any “DNA code” or any “Real God”.

      You have God for story-time — and the real world to actually live in. Call it “the best of both worlds,” and don’t give up your stories.

      But remember that it is impractical to take God literally — and even dangerous to try to get morality from an unnatural source (especially in the form of Commandments).

  • RexTugwell

    salvage refers to theists as very simple people. Let’s see if he can follow along:

    The intrepid Steve Stoddard, in his ignorance of the differences between the DNA and water molecules, shows how the other side continually fails to grasp the intelligent design arguments for certain aspects of biology. His insistence that there is no information in DNA probably is not shared by the majority of those who reject ID but his rejection of the idea of information in biomolecules underscores the problem that biologists have to deal with.

    In “The RNA World” chapter in Stephen Meyer’s book Signature In The Cell , he relates the study of Orgel and Joyce, origin of life researchers working on the RNA World hypothesis. They calculated that to have a reasonable chance for two RNA molecules of a very modest size (50 bases) to self-replicate would require an RNA library that vastly exceeds the mass of the earth. Yet the RNA World pipe dream still persists in the hallowed halls of science. Why? Because to suggest intelligent design would be “sterile”.

    It took me 10 minutes to write this post. If done randomly, it would have taken Dawkins’ monkeys trillions of times longer than the age of the universe. See how efficient intelligence is?

    • While intelligence certainly can be efficient, it cannot produce miracles — which is apparently what it would take for you to understand that the odds of God are zero.

      Intelligence can sometimes also be very destructive (as in Obama’s transformation of America).

    • [][]“… the differences between the DNA and water molecules,…”[][]

      Is the difference that while DNA is divinely guided, poor water must struggle along to exist naturally?

      Why do you feel that God is prejudiced against water? Why does water have to ride in the back of God’s Bus?

      Why not, in fact, claim that everything contains “God Code” and can only exist because it is divinely inspired? Pretend God Created The Entire Universe, not just DNA? Tell us God told you so?

    • salvage

      Silly person.

      Gods are not real.

      It’s that simple.

      There is no argument for “Intelligent Design” because there is no proof for it at all. While DNA may be complex it’s also perfectly natural, no magic and it certainly didn’t come about in one day as your god claims to have made it.

      You say ID I say burst appendix, wisdom teeth, 99% extinction rate and all the countless flaws in nature.

      If your god is real it’s a sloppy designer, heck I doubt a Chinese video game knockoff company would hire it.

  • [][]
    RexTugwell
    July 8, 2012
    8:15 am

    “Or the forensic scientist who must explain the knife in the victim’s back by purely natural causes.”[][]

    It would take an exceedingly rotten forensic scientist to say the knife got into the victim’s back by supernatural means.

    • salvage

      Ha! OJ should have tried that! It wasn’t me it was an angry spirit that butchered ’em.

      Who ya gonna call?

      • Godbusters? Rexbusters? Moshebusters?

        • salvage

          I’m afraid the infestation of fear, superstition and plain old dumb is too great for any sort of busting.

          Point, laugh and mock, that’s my plan.

          • RexTugwell

            ’cause that’s all you got, bro

          • And theists have naught but blind faith and fantasy.

          • Well, I guess you do use name-calling quite a bit, too.

          • RexTugwell

            He sure does

          • Pretending it wasn’t you, eh, Rex? Go for it.

          • salvage

            Against people who are so deluded they think myths are real? That’s all I need because that’s all that’s called for.

  • []-[]}”Theists always look for natural explanations first.”{[]-[]

    If they did, they wouldn’t be theists. There is no way to get to theism through any process of looking for natural explanations. Theism is solely an unrealistic assumption reached through blind faith. Theism is unnatural.

  • [][]“So you’re saying that all persons who ever discovered anything in nature by scientific means were atheists?”[][]

    In practice, regarding actually making discoveries, they were in effect atheists. That is, theism was not part of the method they used in figuring things out. Scientists who were theists, insofar as they were scientists, had to use exactly the same scientific method that is available to atheists.

    Even if it wasn’t always a disadvantage, theism certainly could provide nothing more than what atheists have, science-wise.

  • RexTugwell

    And what, you think your gods are going to be proven to be so in the future? That would be startling considering that for the last 300 years its been going in the exact opposite direction.

    If anything zooms over my head, salvage, it’s only because you’re not making yourself clear. Now, if you wouldn’t mind, why don’t you explain the above statement because I would assert the contrary. In what terms: biology? biochemistry? cosmology? astronomy? anthropology? primatology? Three hundred years of science disproving G-d? Wow that did get by me.

    • There have been zero years during which evidence has been found and presented to reasonably support belief in God.

      And, of course, there is also the practical and logical impossibility of the supernatural.

    • salvage

      Sorry Rex, I thought you were a bit smarter, my mistake, wont’ happen again. Let me put it simply.

      300 years ago more people believed in gods, magic and superstition.

      Then this thing called The Enlightenment happened. That’s when people started thinking “Hey, maybe there are other reasons for stuff, not magic ones.” and they started proving things.

      And then stuff started getting better! Science began curing diseases, and making all kinds of breakthroughs that we enjoy to this very day.

      Then people started to realize, hey, maybe there aren’t gods playing weird games with humans, maybe it’s just us?

      And region has been on a steady decline ever since.

      If you look at the world today, the more educated a nation? The less religion they have. The less religion they have? The better the quality of life.

      Now, those are all facts so I expect you to reject them because facts and gods? They don’t get along.

    • RexTugwell

      I looked and I looked but I don’t see any examples from you of science pointing in the opposite direction of an intelligent designer. And do you think that all or even most post-Enlightenment discoveries that benefited mankind were done by atheists? I don’t have time to wait for you to prove that.

      • [][]“And do you think that all or even most post-Enlightenment discoveries that benefited mankind were done by atheists?”[][]

        Practically speaking, it was all “done by atheists.”

        God was not leaking secrets to bail out his favored theists. It was all science, all the way down — and all the way up.

      • salvage

        >t I don’t see any examples from you of science pointing

        That’s because I am not a scientist, merely a fan, why don’t you go look and see what science says?

        Because it doesn’t say your god so you lose interest.

        >And do you think that all or even most post-Enlightenment discoveries that benefited mankind were done by atheists?

        I already told you, no science has ever been done by any theist ever.

        • RexTugwell

          You don’t have to be a scientist to cite examples. C’mon just a couple.

          • salvage

            You don’t know how to use Google?

            Sorry, if you’re that… challenged it’s beyond my skills to assist.

        • RexTugwell

          OK so just for the record: you’re unable to back up your claim. That’s what I thought.

          • salvage

            No, you cilly sunt I am unable to muster enough care to educate your dumbness. I am indifferent to your ignorance.

  • Earlier, I stated that: Literally, there is no more code in DNA than there is in H2O. I suppose that by analogy, you could call it “Nature’s Code,” but there is not a whiff of the supernatural about it.

    There was a reply by “ayla (July 8, 2012 3:43 pm)” which implied a disagreement, but no reason was offered as to why “reproducing” was supposed to make any difference.

    • ayla

      Oh my bad, you were serious? You were comparing a water molecule with a DNA molecule, and here’s the thing, Steve, what you don’t get, aside from the obvious, is that it is not the elements making up the DNA molecule that qualify it for the designation of containing a code, but rather something altogether immaterial, and that is the ORDER of the bases.

      • Not only was I serious, but even the scientists who developed the periodic table of the elements — in which the ORDER of the electrons makes a lot of difference — were serious.

        Is it your contention that biologists who talk about “ORDER” in DNA are on to something, while physicists who talk about “ORDER” in electron filling are just telling fairy tales?

        • Steve, please learn the difference between the ‘order’ in the period table and the ‘order’ in DNA. You simply cannot have an intelligent conversation about these issues until you educate yourself on what DNA is, how it works, etc.

          • The problem of having an “intelligent conversation” is not on my side, but rather on the side of those whose faith tells them there is a divine code in DNA.

            For the purposes of this discussion, the full details of how DNA actually works are not needed. The point is: DNA is real — there is nothing supernatural about it.

            And there is no more code in DNA than there is in H2O. DNA reacts in certain ways with its environment; H2O reacts in certain ways with its environment. All perfectly natural.

            If your contention is that a closer look at the details of the operation of DNA would reveal its divinity, they you’re talking through your hat. You’ve got only blind faith, not facts.

          • So you feel that it’s God, not the devil, in those details, eh?

            Remember, though, that while you are entitled to you own strong feelings, you are not entitled to your own facts.

          • Steve continues to put up an invalid straw man and then knock it down. DNA is natural in the sense that it exists in nature. Agreed. But the “supernatural” aspect of DNA is its origin. That is where the argument for ID exists. To quash the concept of divine origin of DNA vs naturalistic origin because it exists in nature today is nonsense.

          • salvage

            >But the “supernatural” aspect of DNA is its origin.

            Really? Your god magicked it into existence?

            Weird that it didn’t mention it in its explanation of how it made people.

          • [][]But the “supernatural” aspect of DNA is its origin.[][]

            A “supernatural origin” is fantastic, mythological, fiction, etc., not a real possibility.

  • salvage

    >see if there is interesting new information that I might have missed

    There is Mushe, weekly and you miss it, constantly.

    Of course if you didn’t you’d realize just what a deeply silly job you have.

    • RexTugwell

      Is that the best you can offer, salvage? Michael Ruse was embarrassed for the atheist movement when Dawkins’ book The God Delusion came out. I image other sincere atheists who take seriously meaningful discussions of the issues would be equally embarrassed by the vacuous posts you, Stoddard and others have to bring to the table.

      Instead of typing hit-and-run posts, why don’t you enlighten us on what Rabbi Averick misses on a weekly basis.

      • Thanks again, Rex, for a neat little example of your hit-and-run wishful thinking.

      • salvage

        >Is that the best you can offer, salvage?

        No but it’s all that a Mushe post is worth.

        >Michael Ruse was embarrassed for the atheist movement when Dawkins’ book The God Delusion came out.

        Really? I have no idea who that is but he sounds like a tool. Dawkins is a fevered ego to be sure but doesn’t make him wrong or even an embarrassment to anyone other than himself on occasion. And there is no movement, just people finally starting to understand that there are no such things as gods.

        You do know that’s all there is to atheism right? No such things as gods? Nothing else?

        >I image other sincere atheists who take seriously meaningful discussions of the issues would be equally embarrassed by the vacuous posts you, Stoddard and others have to bring to the table.

        I love this bit it shows just how deeply silly theists can get.

        There is no sincere discussion possible as you think the supernatural found in Bronze Age mythology is real! Would you sincerely discuss the practicality of making a sacrifice to Poseidon before taking a boat trip? Would you sit there and listen carefully as someone told you how if you want to make it to the other side of the Mediterranean you’ll need to perform the ritual in the original Greek making sure that the lamb is fresh and pure?

        How about Scientology? Would you have a sincere chat with Tom Cruise about how our thetan level (from the ghosts of dead aliens don’t you know?) affect our happiness? Or would you roll your eyes making the international “Coo-coo crazy” sign by twirling your finger by your head?

        What about someone who swears that if they catch a leprechaun they’ll get a pot of gold? You’d roundtable that? Maybe invest in the expedition to Ireland?

        How about Jesus, there’s an argument that could be made that would convince you that your god impregnated a woman?

        I know, I know, those crazy beliefs aren’t real because they’re not YOUR crazy beliefs. The ones you know to be true are perfectly reasonable and certainly up for serious discussion despite the obvious fact they’re the same things with the same amount of evidence.

        >Instead of typing hit-and-run posts, why don’t you enlighten us on what Rabbi Averick misses on a weekly basis.

        Oh I have tried in my feeble way and so many others who know what they’re talking about have as well only to discover that Mushe isn’t interested in anything that could lead to him understand that there isn’t any such thing as a god.

        Well a god that isn’t his, if we talk about all the other thousands of gods he might agree those aren’t real, but his? No, no, no, that one MUST be real.

        Amazing coincidence that, the god he gets paid to worship being real and the ones he doesn’t not so much.

        It’s simple you very silly people, there’s no magic, there’s no supernatural, there is only reality and you can deny that all you like but it remains stubbornly indifferent to your delusions.

      • RexTugwell

        What we’ve got here as offered by salvage, is what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery”. It’s the feeling of superiority in relation to an older age due to the fact that the “snob” lives in the current, more “enlightened” age. Mind you, not due to anything that the snob has contributed presently. Just due to the fact that he happens to know more because of the work of others.

        Salvage, no doubt, if he were living in ancient Greece would have told those sailors that what they were doing was so obviously wrong and how could they not see that. The salvage of 15th-century Italy would have informed Columbus that “the earth is round you Shmuck!” I’m sure that the chronological snobs of the 22nd century will look back at us and think we were all a bunch of rubes because we believed in multiverses.

        • That’s one way of ignoring the intellectual dishonesty of theism.

        • salvage

          Ha! Ha! Yes! I am a snob because I don’t think Bronze Age mythology could possibly be true! It’s such a flaw of mine!

          And what, you think your gods are going to be proven to be so in the future? That would be startling considering that for the last 300 years its been going in the exact opposite direction.

          Like the Sun isn’t a god? The earth doesn’t quake because a giant snake is under the ground shaking things? Illness isn’t cause by demon possession? That’s what people used to believe then we got this crazy idea of proof and the scientific method and oh boy hasn’t it been going downhill since?

          Oh and Columbus knew the Earth was round, in fact anyone with any learning knew that for 1,000s of years, the Greeks figured it out using a stick, the shadow it cast and some simple math.

          See, that’s what happens when you prove stuff rather than just have faith, you get to the truth, the reality, y’now the stuff you clearly hate.

        • RexTugwell

          Point of clarification: the Greeks used the shadow of 2 sticks and a bit of trigonometry to measure the distance between the sun and the earth; not its roundness.

          So you’re saying that all persons who ever discovered anything in nature by scientific means were atheists? Yes or no? That’s what you’re implying? I’m afraid atheists – at least in any significant number – came onto the scientific scene rather late. Sure there were superstitious and anti-science religious people. We don’t deny that. You don’t know your history if you think that without rejecting religion there would be little or no scientific knowledge.

          • salvage

            Point of clarification: That may also be so but Eratosthenes proved the Earth round with one stick so I’m not sure what you’re babbling about.

            >So you’re saying that all persons who ever discovered anything in nature by scientific means were atheists?

            Yeah, that’s exactly what I said. Every single scientific breakthrough was made by a stone cold atheist. No theist has ever discovered any truth in any math, biology, astronomy or any other scientific discipline.

            And this is not sarcasm, I have decided to adopt the theist way of thinking so you could show me all kinds of biographies on Newton, Mendel, Lemaître and I will simply restate my faith that no theists has ever made any breakthroughs in science ever.

            Hmm, this is going to make my life so much easier this new way of thinking. I can’t wait until I get my next credit card statement because I have faith that I did not make all those charges to it.

          • RexTugwell

            OK, so we’re babbling about the same person. I’m not feeling the love, salvage. Maybe later I’ll bury you with examples of all that religion-influenced Western Civilization contributed to the sciences.

          • salvage

            Wow, just zoooooooms right over your head.

            Yeah, influence-shminfluence, it doesn’t mean that there is a universe creating god demanding its adherents slice the foreskin off their child’s penis.

            They had no other options for the answers of creation and human origins other than the supernatural back then, we are not so hobbled.

            Well, I’m not, not sure what your excuse is.

          • [][]“So you’re saying that all persons who ever discovered anything in nature by scientific means were atheists?”[][]

            In practice, regarding actually making discoveries, they were in effect atheists. That is, theism was not part of the method they used in figuring things out. Scientists who were theists, insofar as they were scientists, had to use exactly the same scientific method that is available to atheists.

            Even if it wasn’t a disadvantage, theism certainly provided nothing more than what atheists have, science-wise.

    • Moshe Averick

      Unsalvageable,

      How nice to hear from you. I was beginning to think you didn’t like me any more!

      Moshe

    • Moshe Averick

      Unsalvageable,

      How nice to hear from you. I was beginning to think you didn’t like me any more!

      Moshe

      • salvage

        Oh Mushe, I never liked you, you make your living selling snake oil, the fact that you might be a victim of your own nostrum is only the slightest of mitigating circumstances.

        • dutchboy27

          Salvage. It is good to see that you took a break from your job at the supermarket sucking farts out of the dead chickens.

          • salvage

            Do you kiss your god’s ass with that mouth?

          • Moshe Averick

            Dutchboy,

            Those types of remarks are totally uncalled for! In tough times, a man does what he has to do to support his family.

          • salvage

            Yeah, I should get a job like yours Mushe, selling lies to fools.

  • Why doesn’t rain prove there’s a Rain God?

    Because nothing in reality is unreal — or somehow points to anything unreal.

    Nature is 100% real. That’s the world we live in. The world of God is fiction.

  • Jason

    A sincere request for the religiously inclined:

    An historical example of of any case(s) where a theistic explanation of a natural phenomena trumped a naturalistic/mechanistic explanation.

    • You’re asking for a miracle.

    • Oops.

      I guess that should have been, “You’re asking for a miracle, Shmuck.”

    • RexTugwell

      Theists always look for natural explanations first. So a theistic explanation wouldn’t trump a natural one. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Dembski’s Design/Explanatory Filter; a theistic explanation is always the last option. Please rephrase the question.

      • In other words, theism is the belief that something supernatural is necessary for nature to exist and operate — no matter how often it superficially appears that nature can take care of itself.

        [][]“… a theistic explanation is always the last option.”[][]

        A “theistic explanation” is never a valid option. Settling on a “theistic explanation” — the unreal option — is simply the refusal to look for the real explanation.

        • ayla

          You know, your method of arguing could be turned right back on you… I could say that you refuse to look for the real explanation – because you are so entrenched in a refusal to look for any answer that involves a force that you cannot measure (which, as I’ve said in previous posts, would not be G-d if it were able to be measured, because it would then have to be finite) The materialist’s explanation is not possible, not ever, never. It is a refusal to accept anything greater than oneself, it is unrealistic. It is blind faith that the material world is all that exists. See? This goes both ways.

          • {}{}“… you refuse to look … for any answer that involves a force that you cannot measure …”{}{}

            In other words, you accuse me of refusing to look for something which isn’t there. Well, you are quite right, I do refuse to do that — just like I refuse to be 20 feet tall with x-ray vision. I have this real habit of refusing to do impossible things. Very unGodlike of me, I know, but a man’s got to know his limitations.

            {}{}“It is blind faith that the material world is all that exists.”{}{}

            Believing in reality is the opposite of blind faith. It is belief in the supernatural which can only be held by blind faith. On the other hand, believing in the real world takes just-look-around “faith.”

            Nobody can see the supernatural, but everybody can see the real world (or hear it, touch it, taste or smell it — it’s just really out there). The supernatural just isn’t there.

          • [][]“See? This goes both ways.”[][]

            Actually, no, it only goes one way.

            Believing in the supernatural is a one-way ticket to nowhere — there are no return-tickets from nowhere.

      • [][]}“Theists always look for natural explanations first.”{[][]

        If they did, they wouldn’t be theists. There is no way to get to theism through any process of looking for natural explanations. Theism is solely an unrealistic assumption reached through blind faith.

    • Moshe Averick

      Jason,

      YOu need to rephrase your question. A theistic explanation of a “natural phenomena.” (?) I think what you mean is an observed phenomena that is more adequately explained by divine intervention than a naturalistic/mechanistic explanation.

      The indestructabililty of the Jewish people is easily understandable within the paradigms of divine intervention, a baffling mystery using any other explanation.

      • Moshe, your position seems to be that the world is a bifurcated phenomenon with some natural parts and some divine parts.

        So does God’s existence depend on nature? Does He need nature to work with, to be able to do anything?

        Or does nature depend on God — so that at root there is only the supernatural, and nature — including all life — is an illusion (divinely-imposed)?

        Divine or natural? Which is it? How in the world could it be anything other than natural?

        Your view, Moshe, boils down to the claim that since we are not omniscient, the supernatural must exist. It simply must!

      • Jason

        Thanks Averick,
        I’d rather credit my grandfather leaving Lithuania before ’31 for the continued “indestructibility” of my immediate family than believe in the divine intervention of a force that did not intervene on behalf of the rest of my less fortunate family members, but I was looking for something else (again, in earnest).

        An example of an historical argument, waged between the scientific community and the religious community, whereby theists have prevailed. The opposite, of say, Galileo’s stance against a theretofore biblical understanding of the geocentric universe.

        My very obvious point is that on an historical continuum, betting against science hasn’t seemed to pay off, but I would be very happy to learn about examples to the contrary.

        Thanks,
        Jason

        • Moshe Averick

          Jason,

          I wasn’t talking about your immediate family, I was talking about the continued existence of a NATION. If your family was the only one that survived that would not comprise a nation. The Jewish Nation is indestructible, not individual Jews.

          • Apparently the Israeli government feels so strongly that their nation is indestructible that they are willing to get hit by nuclear weapons to prove it.

            That could explain a lot (like why they seem willing to let the Iranian regime get away with murder in terms of building those nuclear weapons).

            I sure wish they believed in active preemption more than passive indestructibility.

          • salvage

            >The Jewish Nation is indestructible

            That would be the nation that was destroyed by the Romans and other empires a few thousand years ago and is dependent on American tax dollars to survive today?

            You know that right? That if it wasn’t for America’s support Israel would be pretty much defunct?

            It’s so cute the way you crow about a nation that can’t stand on its own.

            Guess your god is outsourcing his promises to the American people, for an omnipotent being he sure is lazy.

            Oh and there is this of course:

            Jewish population in Israel is declining

            Despite a million immigrants over the past two decades, the percentage of Jews in the Israeli population is declining.

            snip

            There is no choice but to deal with forecasts for the next decade or two, and it turns out that by then the proportion of Jews will have declined to 42 percent. That means an end to the Jewish entity in the Middle East. The demographic bogey, then, is alive and threatening after all, and we still haven’t discussed the density of the population or the issues of internal security that we can expect from a hostile population of millions of people.

            http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/jewish-population-in-israel-is-declining-1.317042

      • [[]]“The indestructabililty of the Jewish people is easily understandable within the paradigms of divine intervention, a baffling mystery using any other explanation.”[[]]

        You have it backwards, Moshe.

        That people can live is quite a natural thing. But it is utterly baffling to try to explain how the supernatural could be involved in any way. You have nothing to work with in attempting such a supernaturalist interpretation of history.

      • salvage

        The indestructabililty of the Hindu people is easily understandable within the paradigms of divine intervention, a baffling mystery using any other explanation.

        The indestructabililty of the Muslim people is easily understandable within the paradigms of divine intervention, a baffling mystery using any other explanation.

        The indestructabililty of the Chinese people is easily understandable within the paradigms of divine intervention, a baffling mystery using any other explanation.

        The indestructabililty of the Australian Aboriginal people is easily understandable within the paradigms of divine intervention, a baffling mystery using any other explanation.

        Really Mushe? You think your god protects Jews cuz y’all are so Chosen? You do know that every single religion has made the same claim?

        You really give no thought to any of this.

        • Moshe Averick

          Unsalvageable,

          First of all Hindu and Islam are religions, not peoples. Secondly if you think that the history of moslems, hindus and australian aboriginals, and Chinese are in any way at all comparable to the history of the Jewish people, you truly are unsalvageable.

          • salvage

            Yeah, I know you don’t think Muslims and Hindus are people.

            But yes, the histories are comparable, you do know that Jews aren’t the only ones to suffer persecution, exile and genocide right?

            No, you probably don’t because that would mean learning stuff about cultures that aren’t your own and that’s something you wouldn’t bother with.

            Newsflash for you Sparky, Jews aren’t special.

            NO! WE ARE CHOSEN! OUR GOD SAID SO!!!

            No, really, you’re not. There is nothing that happened to the Jews that hasn’t happened to other peoples in other times.

            In fact the last major genocide in Europe was the one where Muslims were the victims. It was in a few papers? They called it “ethnic cleansing” this time?

            BUT THEY DESERVE IT!!! OTHER MUSLIMS LIVED ON LAND THAT OUR GOD PROMISED US! HIS FAVORITES!!!

            Sorry Mushe, you’re just a human with very silly superstitions and an inflated ego due to a bizarre cultural arrogance.

            Being Jewish doesn’t make anyone special* and in your case it makes you a bit of a tool because you take it so seriously.

            *Okay, Woody Allen, fine.

  • RexTugwell

    I actually feel sympathy for Drs. Whitesides and DeDuve and all scientists who are forced to approach biological and biochemical research from a purely naturalistic worldview. It must be acutely frustrating when the body of knowledge increasingly points to an intelligent designer, yet they are required by the academic powers that be, to explain everything by chance and/or necessity. Imagine the geologist whose discipline doesn’t recognize intelligent causes and is forced to explain Mt. Rushmore in terms of wind, rain, snow, ice and plate tectonics. Or the forensic scientist who must explain the knife in the victim’s back by purely natural causes. Why does the academy exclude intelligence from biology when it is allowed in other fields of science? Did the belief in G-d hinder the desire for scientific discovery among scientists prior to 1859?

    The frustration turns to horror when you realize that you’ve devoted your whole life to trying to prove a theory that was based on scant evidence and an atheistic philosophy while being propped up by intimidation and misinformation i.e. neo-Darwinism.

    The information in the DNA code, the irreducible complexity of such systems as gene expression, the blood clotting cascade, bacterial flagellum and the chemistry of sight. All of these and much more point to a supreme intelligence. But that can’t be admitted by the Wizards of Smart.

    • [][]“… the body of knowledge increasingly points to an intelligent designer,… “[][]

      You don’t have a “body of knowledge” supporting your belief in “Creation, by God!”. You simply have a “body of blind faith.

      Knowledge, i.e., a body of non-fiction concepts logically derived from observation and experimentation, cannot possibly point to a “supernatural intelligence.

      In effect, you are seeing white, Rex, and calling it black.

      For instance, there is not literally any code or information in DNA.

      Literally, there is no more code in DNA than there is in H2O. I suppose that by analogy, you could call it “Nature’s Code,” but there is not a whiff of the supernatural about it.

      • ayla

        When H2O starts reproducing, Steve, we will listen to that argument.

        • Why do you think that would make a difference?

          • salvage

            h20 doesn’t reproduce because its chemical composition doesn’t allow for it.

            DNA’s does. That isn’t code, it’s physics.

        • Why not simply believe that the whole of nature is dependent on “Supernatural Intelligence”? Isn’t the whole world-wide cycle of precipitation-evaporation, the whole system of rain, snow, steam, glaciers, rivers, lakes, oceans, vapor, heating, cooling, etc., simply too well-designed to be a random, unguided process?

          If life proves there’s a Life God, why doesn’t rain prove there’s a Rain God?

    • ayla

      Well put, Rex. Add to your list in the last paragraph sonoluminescence, the amazing connection between sound and light. Sound causing light… a phenomenon that occurs in Genesis 1. But vanity induced blindness will prevent the militant atheists from seeing that design demands a designer.

      • Designers do produce designs; that’s the job they’ve chosen.

        But where there is no design, as in nature, there was no designer.

        And, think about it, even if you ever did find some mysterious “design” somewhere in nature, the only reasonable course would be to look for the force of nature that produced it. Looking for that imagined “Supernatural Intelligence” is always going to be a dead end (the attempt to get fiction to explain fact).

        • ayla

          You say there is no design in nature… study the Fibonacci numbers and all the places they appear, from Nautilus shells to spiral galaxies. This is design, my friend. The number phi is everywhere. Yes, it is “natural”, but where did the pattern originate? And yes, sonoluminescence is “natural”, as you say. So is all of the material world. So are the laws that govern all that is material. But what isn’t “natural” is the primal force that put the physical laws into existence, and then created the matter/energy that is governed by those laws.

          • [][]But what isn’t “natural” is the primal force that put the physical laws into existence, and then created the matter/energy that is governed by those laws.[][]

            You can say that again. That “primal force” is totally unreal — as in “wholly imaginary.”

            There is nothing, utterly nothing, to know about that “primal force.”

          • RexTugwell

            ayla, you’re better off considering Steve to be totally unreal and imaginary.

          • You have a good point, Rex. If you cannot deal with certain ideas, try to ignore them.

            Or: if you can’t stand the heat, pretend the kitchen doesn’t exist.

          • {}{}“You say there is no design in nature… “{}{}

            Correct. There is no design in nature, and I am not afraid to acknowledge the situation.

            {}{}“… study the Fibonacci numbers and all the places they appear, from Nautilus shells to spiral galaxies.”{}{}

            Nature pre-dates Fibonacci. Mathematicians simply describe what they find in nature. They didn’t design it in, they observe it.

      • Sonoluminescence, like life, is a perfectly natural process. Why do you insist on trying to read miracles into everything (or anything at all, for that matter)? There is zero evidence for miracles. Miracles are fiction, not reality.

  • Steve, your incessant rants only prove your feelings of insufficient understanding. Real truth is not afraid of a deccenting opinion.

  • Jason

    “If I were to publicly state that I “believe” God spoke to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai some 3,400 years despite the fact that based on all the investigations of Orthodox Jewish scholars in the last 100 years the actual occurrence of such an historical event seems to me “astonishingly improbable,” and that “I have no idea” how to go about backing up my belief with empirical evidence, Sam Harris, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, et al, would not be able to contain their hysterical laughter.”

    Even with the dubious investigations into your bronze-age mythologies the claim is still hilarious Averick. Shmuck.

  • kevobx

    What God are they praying to? What Lord are they asking for? *1st Corinthians 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. *Jeremiah 13:22 And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare.* (Esau is an elder, and Jacob held on to his heel *Genesis 38:27* equals 1st Thessalonians 5:3

  • RexTugwell

    Oh no! Steve Stoddard is starting to reply to himself. Get this man a life – quick!

  • RexTugwell
    • Looks like Rex needs somebody to find him something to say. (And, according to jp, I’ll never have a life ’cause I don’t put society first.)

  • Rabbi Averick’s notion that the utility of science is not 100% based on truth, and that truth can miraculously undermine science, is not correct. Instead, it is religious.

  • On the question of “the origin of life,” the fact that we don’t know the specifics of how it happened means that “we don’t know the specifics of how it happened.”

    It does NOT mean that we can presume that our lack of knowledge makes a miraculous “Creation, by God!” possible, or even actual.

    Logically, realistically, objectively, there is no actual alternative to a natural origin of life. An unnatural origin is not a possibility. (Not in the real world, though fiction has wider latitude.)

    • Since they are both fictional characters, it makes just as much sense (viz., zero) to claim that Winnie-the-Pooh created life as it does to claim that God created life.

    • Anonymous

      Dude, your incessant rants only point toward your own feelings of inadequacy. Real truth is not afraid of a dessenting opinion.

      • salvage

        I know you are but what am I?!?!

        That sums up your argument right there.

        Steve Stoddard is saying “We don’t know but that doesn’t mean magic” so he is presenting the REAL TRUTH rather than the mythology that fools cling to.

        • RexTugwell

          You’re defending Stoddard’s version of REAL TRUTH?! That’s either heroic or you have a serious lack of self-respect. Thanks for the chuckle, sal.

          • salvage

            In the matter of reality vs. the supernatural Steve is quite correct.

            I get the vibe it’s probably the only thing we’d ever agree on.

    • David

      “Logically, realistically, objectively, there is no actual alternative to a natural origin of life. An unnatural origin is not a possibility. (Not in the real world, though fiction has wider latitude.)”

      That’s methodological naturalism, folks.

      Whether ID is Science isn’t Semantics
      by Alvin Plantinga
      http://www.discovery.org/a/3331

      [snip]

      What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing science in accord with methodological naturalism? There is a good deal to be said on both sides
      here. For example, if you exclude the supernatural from science, then if the world or some phenomena within it are supernaturally caused — as most
      of the world’s people believe — you won’t be able to reach that truth scientifically.

      Observing methodological naturalism thus hamstrings science by precluding science from reaching what would be an enormously important truth about the world. It might be that, just as a result of this constraint, even the best science in the long run will wind up with false conclusions.

      Methodological Naturalism? by Alvin Plantinga
      http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od181/methnat181.htm

      Methodological Naturalism? Part 2 Alvin Plantinga
      http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od182/methnat182.htm

      • The traditional religious way of dealing with “methodological exclusion of the supernatural” is pretty tough to handle: kill the unbelievers.

        It is difficult to have an intelligent discussion with someone who wants you dead because you do not believe in his God. In the face of such opposition, how remarkable is it that science has survived? Could we call it the “indestructibility of science”? And would “divine intervention” be the only allowable explanation?

      • If science hamstrings itself, shouldn’t the religionists be cheering? After all, it would destroy the mystery of God if science could find Him. (I think ayla was making that point.)

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