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August 10, 2016 5:20 am

It’s Easy to Be an Atheist if You Ignore Science

avatar by Moshe Averick

Email a copy of "It’s Easy to Be an Atheist if You Ignore Science" to a friend
How did life begin? The world of Science is completely baffled.

How did life begin? The world of science is completely baffled, the writer asserts. Photo: Wikipedia.

Although the general public is disconcertingly unaware of it, it is a fact that scientists do not have even the slightest clue as to how life could have begun through an unguided naturalistic process absent the intervention of a conscious creative force.

Here are just a few well-chosen statements on the Origin of Life:

  • (2016) “[There is] collective cluelessness…those who say this is well worked out, they know nothing, nothing about chemical synthesis…Those who think that scientists understand the details of life’s origin are wholly uninformed. Nobody understands…when will the scientific community confess to the world that they are clueless on life’s origin, that the emperor has no clothes?” James Tour — Professor of Chemistry, Rice University (Synthetic chemist and among the top ten most cited chemists in the world)
  • (2011) “The Origin of Life field is a failure.” Eugene Koonin, microbiologist at the National Center for Biotechnology Information
  • (2011) “With respect to the Origin of Life, I find the more we learn about cells, the more complex they seem; they are just incredibly complex things, and to go from what we can see today and try to reason where it came from, I think is really impossible.” Lee Hartwell, Nobel Prize in Medicine, 2001
  • (2007) “How? [did life begin] I have no idea.” George Whitesides, Professor of Chemistry, Harvard University, Winner of the Priestley Medal in Chemistry (second only to the Nobel Prize)
  • (2001) “The origin of life appears to me as incomprehensible as ever, a matter for wonder but not for explication.” Franklin Harold, Professor Emeritus, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Colorado State University
  • (1983) “In short, there is not a shred of objective evidence to support the hypothesis that life began in an organic soup here on earth.” Sir Fred Hoyle, distinguished British astronomer, physicist, mathematician (without question one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century)
  • (1981) “Since Science does not have the faintest idea how life on earth originated…it would only be honest to confess this to other scientists, to grantors, and to the public at large.” Hubert Yockey, physicist and renowned information theorist

Out of consideration for the reader, I won’t go back further than 35 years to illustrate the seamless ignorance of science and scientists regarding a naturalistic origin of life. Suffice it to say that not only has science not progressed in this area since Darwin published his famous treatise in 1859, but — on the contrary — it has slid backwards by many orders of magnitude.

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What I mean by backwards becomes clear if we plot the Origin of Life dilemma on a standard x-y graph; with the horizontal X axis representing the understanding of a naturalistic origin of life from 1859 until the present. It is a straight line starting at zero (our understanding in 1859) and ending at zero (our understanding in 2016). Let the Y axis represent the level of understanding since 1859 of the magnitude of the problem that needs to be solved. In 1859 it was thought to be a relatively trivial issue (i.e. close to zero); however due to the astounding breakthroughs in genetics, biochemistry, and microbiology since then, the line of the Y axis is now off the graph.

As Biochemist Klaus Dose wrote: “Experimentation on the origin of life…has led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its solution.” Researchers Carl Woese and Gunter Wachtershauser concur: “While we do not have a solution, we now have an inkling of the magnitude of the problem.”

Why are researchers having such difficulties discovering a naturalistic Origin of Life? Let’s let the aforementioned  and atheist microbiologist Eugene Koonin answer this question: “Certainly this is not due to a lack of experimental and theoretical effort, but to the extraordinary intrinsic difficulty and complexity of the problem. A succession of exceedingly unlikely steps is essential for the Origin of Life…these make the final outcome seem almost like a miracle.”

Translation for the lay-person: Discovering how unguided naturalistic forces could assemble a living cell — a molecular machine that is more sophisticated and functionally complex than anything human technology has ever produced — is a problem of nightmarish proportions.

Imagine a LEGO set designed to build a model of the Brooklyn Bridge, with hundreds of blocks specifically designed to construct it; imagine you are then assigned the task of finding a pathway to a successful assembly of the model using only unguided, naturalistic forces (i.e. heat, lightning, sunlight, wind, radiation, etc.) Would you agree with Koonin and describe that as a problem of “extraordinary intrinsic difficulty”? Actually, Koonin’s description is quite appropriate for the LEGO problem, but is a gross understatement when we are talking about something as frighteningly complex as a living cell and its DNA-based genetic code and digital information processing system:

The living cell is best thought of as a supercomputer – an information processing and replicating system of astonishing complexity. DNA is not a special life giving molecule but a genetic data bank that transmits its information using a mathematical code. Most of the workings of the cell are best described as…information, or software. Trying to make life by mixing chemicals in a test tube is like soldering switches and wires in an attempt to produce Windows 98. It won’t work because it addresses the problem at the wrong conceptual level. (Dr. Paul Davies, Origin of Life expert, Physicist, Arizona State University)

When one dispassionately contemplates the enormous difficulties involved in a naturalistic origin of life, it is not surprising at all that one often suggested solution is Intelligent Design or Divine Creation. In fact, any number of world class scientists themselves have brought up the issue:

  • “Abiogenesis [life from non-life] strikes many as virtually miraculous…you might get the impression from what I have written not only that the origin of life is virtually impossible, but that life itself is impossible…So what is the answer? Is life a miracle after all?” (Dr. Paul Davies)
  • “[We have no naturalistic explanation for] the origin of life, which is unknown so far…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.” (Dr. Christian DeDuve, Nobel Prize-Medicine, 1974)
  • “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility.” (George Wald, Nobel Prize-Medicine, 1967)
  • “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.” (Dr. Werner Arber, Nobel Prize-Medicine, 1978)
  • “From my earliest training as a scientist I was very strongly brainwashed to believe that science cannot be consistent with any kind of deliberate creation. That notion has had to be very painfully shed. I am quite uncomfortable in the situation, the state of mind I now find myself in. But there is no logical way out of it; it is just not possible that life could have originated from a chemical accident.” (Chandra Wickramasinghe, mathematician, astronomer, astrobiologist – longtime collaborator of Sir Fred Hoyle)
  • “Indeed, such a theory [Intelligent Design] is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.” “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with the laws of physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” (Sir Fred Hoyle)

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “atheism” as “a disbelief in the existence of the deity” or “the doctrine that there is no deity.” If one approaches the Origin of Life issue “objectively,” as Nobel Prize-winning biologist Christian DeDuve put it, there is no way that any rational person can rule out the very real possibility of a Creator of life. It is certainly reasonable to suggest or raise the possibility that the reason why scientists cannot find a naturalistic answer is because there is no naturalistic answer. Perhaps the reason why many people deny Intelligent Design as the answer to Origin of Life is a psychological reason not a scientific reason, as Sir Fred Hoyle has suggested. Perhaps the reason why a “common sense interpretation of the facts” suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the universe, is because a super-intellect has monkeyed with the universe.

If a rational, truth-seeking individual is asked: “How did life begin; naturalistic, unguided forces or Divine Creation?” There are only two possible answers: (a) Divine Creation or (b) I don’t know, the jury is still out; but atheism – a denial of the existence of a Creator of life — is not possible anymore….unless, of course, as I stated in the title of this article, you are prepared to ignore science and scientists. And if so, you might just as well go and play children’s games and with children’s toys, like…..LEGO blocks.

Rabbi Moshe Averick is the author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused World of Modern Atheism (Mosaica Press, 2016available on Amazon and in fine bookstores.  He was ordained as an Orthodox Rabbi in 1980 and has taught Judaic studies, spirituality, and Jewish theology for over three decades. He may be contacted at: RabbiMosheDavidAverick@gmail.com. If you would like to subscribe to his column, send an email to above address with the word “Subscribe” in the subject line.

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  • goodold_lucifer

    Where is the inconsistency?

    Nature is real. Supernature is fantasy. There is, of course, a differnce.

    But what is supposed to be inconsistent about believing in the real while not believing in the unreal?

  • goodold_lucifer

    “So you say that creating matter out of nothing is impossible……”

    Yes, I do say it. And, of course, it is perfectly true; there is no alternative.

    Think about it: if there were nothing, there would be nothing to use to create anything — and, naturally, nobody to do anything about it.

    You can fantasize some miraculous immaterial power, if you wish, but the fact remains that you have no grounds in reality on which to reasonably base such an idea. “Creation, by God!” is fantastic wishful thinking.

    “….. but matter having always existed is not impossible?”

    Not only is it “not impossible,” the existence of matter is absolutely necessary and unavoidable. You really cannot even imagine a world without it.

    “Yet, the possibility that GOD always existed is not possible?”

    If you think of God as an immaterial, supernatural being, then there is no possibility that God has ever existed, not even a little bit, let alone always. How could such a thing be? There’s no way.

    “If you say matter always existed (even though you don’t know how) you would have to concede that God could have always existed.”

    Certainly not. There is no logical way to contend that the existence of matter implies or requires the existence of God. Matter does exist. God doesn’t.

  • kennydc

    I don’t think you gave what I said a fair shake. You avoided a lot.

    But just picking out one thing you said: “Since matter is factual stuff, not fiction, nobody had to create it” I suppose we could say the same for the watch on someone’s wrist? It’s here, so no one fashioned it. Haha.

    Applying your logic, because it is here, we do not have to prove its existence. OK. I will apply your logic. God is here. And because He is here, I do not have to prove His existence.

    • goodold_lucifer

      “God is here.”

      Where?

      “… I do not have to prove His existence.”

      No, you don’t. You couldn’t, of course, even if you wanted to. But why bother about it?

      “… the watch on someone’s wrist? It’s here, so no one fashioned it.”

      Think about the difference between “fashioning” something out of matter, on the one hand, and “creating” matter out of nothing, on the other hand. The former happens all the time. The latter is impossible.

  • goodold_lucifer

    kennydc goodold_lucifer • 4 days ago

    I quote you here: “Intelligence is an attribute of certain living entities, so it could not have existed before life originated.”

    So you’re saying that intelligence requires life. We can’t have intelligence unless there’s a life form to embody that intelligence. The existence of intelligence absolutely requires the existence of life first. This intelligence did not exist before, but now, since life is present, intelligence is now possible.

    Ok, got it.

    You may have sort of “got it,” but not very clearly.

    For instance, to say that a life form can “embody” intelligence is rather strange. It’s as if you think of “intelligence” as some weird ineffable essence floating around out there waiting for a body to inhabit in order to get to work. Your statement that “The existence of intelligence absolutely requires the existence of life first” is more sensible.

    And you say:

    “… since life is present, intelligence is now possible.”

    That is inaccurate, since life and intelligence were just as possible all along — even before the potentials were actualized. Nothing magical/supernatural happened at any point in history.

    • kennydc

      I’m confused about your opinion on this. Are you saying life is necessary first, then intelligence? Or are you saying both are possible apart from each other?

      • goodold_lucifer

        Intelligence is an attribute of certain living things. Not all living things are intelligent, of course, but intelligence apart from life is a fantasy.

  • goodold_lucifer

    “… billions of human beings throughout history – in fact the overwhelming majority – have had an experiential and intuitive connection with some form of higher power that is not part of the physical universe.”

    No, they have not. That “experiential and intuitive connection” is a myth, a fantasy. It has not literally happened to anyone in the real world.

    • kennydc

      I quote you here: “Intelligence is an attribute of certain living entities, so it could not have existed before life originated.”

      So you’re saying that intelligence requires life. We can’t have intelligence unless there’s a life form to embody that intelligence. The existence of intelligence absolutely requires the existence of life first. This intelligence did not exist before, but now, since life is present, intelligence is now possible.

      Ok, got it.

      …..but you do not require an explanation for the existence of matter itself. No explanation is needed for the existence of matter?

      So you HAVE to explain origin of intelligence, but you don’t HAVE to explain origin of matter?

      So instead of explaining the origin of matter, you believe matter was always there, that it had no origin at all…..

      ………………………….but you find it impossible to believe that “God” was always there? You have to point to an origin for God! But you don’t have to point to an origin for matter.

      And your conclusion at the end of all this is that you do not have faith in anything?

      So it isn’t the infinity that bothers you. It isn’t the origin of life….or matter…..or intelligence, that bothers you.

      It’s literally just God that bothers you.

      You are willing to accept no explanation for “matter”, but unwilling to accept no explanation for God.

      Yes! (You say) it is ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that matter has always existed with no need for an origin! But there’s ZERO POSSIBILITY that God always existed with no need for an origin.

      You have a clear bias against God’s existence that is factually unsupported and, in fact, you demonstrate the very thing you deny: FAITH.

  • goodold_lucifer

    The universe has alway been — it didn’t poof itself into existence, and God is a fairytale.

  • goodold_lucifer

    “The Universe has not always been and it didn’t poof itself into existence.”

    The universe certainly did not “poof” — especially not by some Godly “Let there be light!” poofiness. The notion of “Creation, by God!” — or as you call it “Supernatural Poofing” — is fantastically absurd.

    The only logical/physical possibility is that the universe “has always been.” You can’t get something from nothing. (And you cannot logically argue for “God” as an alternative to “always been,” since if you don’t argue that “always been” is an attribute of your “God,” then you have dropped the ball. And once you have “always been” you don’t need “God” anyhow.)

  • goodold_lucifer

    Natural is the ticket. Theism is a wild goose chase.

    • kennydc

      I quote you here: “Intelligence is an attribute of certain living entities, so it could not have existed before life originated.”

      So you’re saying that intelligence requires life. We can’t have intelligence unless there’s a life form to embody that intelligence. The existence of intelligence absolutely requires the existence of life first. This intelligence did not exist before, but now, since life is present, intelligence is now possible.

      Ok, got it.

      …..but you do not require an explanation for the existence of matter itself. No explanation is needed for the existence of matter?

      So you HAVE to explain origin of intelligence, but you don’t HAVE to explain origin of matter?

      So instead of explaining the origin of matter, you believe matter was always there, that it had no origin at all…..

      ………………………….but you find it impossible to believe that “God” was always there? You have to point to an origin for God! But you don’t have to point to an origin for matter.

      And your conclusion at the end of all this is that you do not have faith in anything?

      So it isn’t the infinity that bothers you. It isn’t the origin of life….or matter…..or intelligence, that bothers you.

      It’s literally just God that bothers you.

      You are willing to accept no explanation for “matter”, but unwilling to accept no explanation for God.

      Yes! (You say) it is ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that matter has always existed with no need for an origin! But there’s ZERO POSSIBILITY that God always existed with no need for an origin.

      You have a clear bias against God’s existence that is factually unsupported and, in fact, you demonstrate the very thing you deny: FAITH.

      • goodold_lucifer

        “You have a clear bias against God’s existence …”

        I have no bias one way or the other. I simply do not have a problem with accepting the impossibility of anything supernatural.

        “… God’s existence that is factually unsupported …”

        A belief in “God’s existence” is certainly factually unsupported. There is simply nothing there.

        “… the very thing you deny: FAITH.”

        I don’t deny faith. Faith is out there all over the place. I simply don’t indulge in it. Faith is a means of irrational belief. Faith is not a means of knowledge and understanding.

        • kennydc

          And you missed my point: You ARE “indulging” in faith. Your faith is that matter was always here. And that nothing created it.

          And for some reason you feel that is logical. But when I say God is here and no one created Him, you seem to think that is illogical…..?

          • goodold_lucifer

            It is not faith to believe in nature. It is direct experience.

            It is an indulgence in faith to believe in the supernatural — since it is impossible to experience.

            Believing in nature is a logical exercise of empiricism. Believing in the supernatural is an illogical exercise of faith in fantasy.

  • goodold_lucifer

    What happened to all the other comments in the old format?

    Is this new format replacing the old one?

  • goodold_lucifer

    “Experimentation on the origin of life…has led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth …. While we do not have a solution, we now have an inkling of the magnitude of the problem.”

    Have you heard of Fox Butterfield?

    In case you haven’t, I could explain:

    He is the NYT guy famous for the illogical claim that it is a paradox when “prison population increases, while crime is decreasing” (on the doctrine that most people are being put in prison arbitrarily and unnecessarily). The truth of the matter, of course, is that crime in decreasing because a lot of the criminals are in prison.

    You are committing a similar fallacy by assuming that the question of the origin of life should be susceptible to a solution before anyone figures out just how complicated a problem it is. You have the causality mixed up. Science first needs to figure out the full extent of the problem before having any chance at explaining how it worked.

    It is called “a learning process.”

    Regardless of the lack of understanding of the natural processes in the origin of life, it is impossible that there could have been an intelligent designer of life. Intelligence is an attribute of certain living entities, so it could not have existed before life originated. So when faced with a choice between the impossibility of a Divine Creator and the mystery of abiogenesis, the only reasonable option is the necessarily 100% natural process of abiogenesis.

    The burden of proof about the origin of life is most definitely on science, since religion cannot possibly explain it by reference to supernatural forces. The only explanation can be reached by reference to 100% natural processes. There is no alternate possibility.

    The rational, truth-seeking individual, naturally an atheist, would say about “a Supernatural God” that such a thing is literally impossible. Not even “a Supra-natural God” is a notion with any actual referent in reality.

    It is not that a rational atheist does not know that there is a God, and so puts belief on hold, but that he knows that God is impossible, and refuses to believe in Him in spite of the impossibility (i.e.,declines to be any sort of theist).

    And theists often realize that it is not rational to believe in God, which is why they do it on the basis of faith.

    • Moshe David Averick

      Why is it impossible for God to have existed before life? The Jewish/monotheistic God is a God who created time, space, matter, and energy, but is none of those things. He is OTHER than we are. The question is does he exist or not. There is no reason at all why his existence is impossible. So I do not understand what you are saying. The first living cell = which had to exist at some point in time – was either created or it was not. If in truth it was created it could not have been a physical being – the question then becomes: Which of the two possibilities is most likely to be true?

      • goodold_lucifer

        “… OTHER …”

        Since your contention is that God is not alive and is the Creator of life, then you are proposing life from non-life. That is, as the alternative to abiogenesis, you are proposing … abiogenesis. I don’t see the sense in that (especially since you claim to have absolutely no clue how that could have happened).

        The reason that God is impossible on your terms is that “He is OTHER than we are” — and since we are real, then God is other than real, i.e., not real.

        “There is no reason at all why his existence is impossible.”

        To say that God is not matter or energy, that He is absent from space and time, is nothing more than a long-winded approach to saying “God does not exist.”

        “The first living cell – which had to exist at some point in time – was either created or it was not…. Which of the two possibilities is most likely to be true?”

        The only real possibility is that it was created by a natural process. Nothing happens unnaturally.

        But I also question your assertion that there had to be “at some point in time” something which was the “first living cell.” Why assume that? There could have been a bunch of them, for all anybody knows. Natural processes are wide-spread, and time-consuming; they don’t happen merely “at some point in time.”

        There could have been “the first living cell,” of course, by why try to limit the process before you have any clue what was really involved?

        “… billions of human beings throughout history – in fact the overwhelming majority – have had an experiential and intuitive connection with some form of higher power that is not part of the physical universe.”

        Actually, that has never happened even once. Nobody has ever had any actual experience or connection to anything that is not part of the physical universe. There isn’t anything unconnected to the physical universe. (“Physical universe” is basically a redundancy — as there is no other sort of universe. And there isn’t anything which is not in the universe.)

        If people claim to have talked to God, they are pulling your leg — or seriously fooling themselves.

      • goodold_lucifer

        “Why is it impossible for God to have existed before life?”

        If God were an inorganic thing of matter and energy, it is entirely possible that God could have existed before life. There was, for instance, water before there was life.

        But if, as your theory holds, God is not part of reality, then it is therefore not possible for God to exist in any literal, meaningful way (before or after life). God is a literary character: fiction, not fact.

        You could say that “God is OTHER than fact.”

        It seems obvious that it is possible for people to imagine an unreal, non-material, non-energetic, Godly-type being. But imaginary isn’t exactly real.

        Logically, in order to make the extraordinary claim that God exists (or is even possible), you need to have some explanation of how it could happen. Yet all you ever talk about is how God is impossible (i.e., how God is not matter, not energy, not life, occupies no space, takes no time, etc., etc.).

        • Moshe David Averick

          It seems to me you have missed the point. The concept of God does not exist in a vacuum, billions of human beings throughout history – in fact the overwhelming majority – have had an experiential and intuitive connection with some form of higher power that is not part of the physical universe. That in itself of course does not mean that it is true but you cannot just wave it away and say this concept of God means that he does not exist. All you have done is make an arbitrary declaration. You can say that YOU don’t believe he is there but of course like anyone you are entitled to your opinion. What you are not entitled to is to make personal declarations and assume they reflect reality. It does not matter if there was originally one living cell or a thousand living cells, the emergence of life is an historical event. At one point in time there was no life and at a later time there was life. Something happened to bring it into existence. The question then becomes WHAT brought life into existence. As Nobel Prize winning biologist (atheist) George Wald put it: There are only two possibilities, naturalistic origin or a supra-natural creative force brought life into being. If we determine that it is fantastically improbable that life could have started by itself. then it becomes fantastically PROBABLE that it was the other possibility. The only question that is important is the following: Which origin is more likely to be the truth? The idea that life could start by itself is nonsense, that is the reason why Origin of LIfe research has been a total absolute failure over the past 160 years. The obvious answer is an act of creation; at the very least the bacterial cell certainly LOOKS like it was the product of intelligent design.

          • goodold_lucifer

            “As Nobel Prize winning biologist (atheist) George Wald put it: There are only two possibilities, naturalistic origin or a supra-natural creative force brought life into being.”

            Wald is wrong on this point. The naturalistic origin is in fact the only possibility. A “supra-natural creative force” is pure fantasy — not by any reasonable standard an actual possibility. It is utterly arbitrary and unmoored from reality to declare the possibility of supernatural forces.

            “If we determine that it is fantastically improbable that life could have started by itself …”

            That is another arbitrary declaration of religious faith (rather than being sensible).

            It is not improbable that life could have started naturally; it is absolutely certain that the process was 100% natural. There is no alternative to nature.

            “… at the very least the bacterial cell certainly LOOKS like it was the product of intelligent design.”

            No, it doesn’t. That is fantasy, not a reasonable observation. To declare that living cells look like 747’s is nonsense. There is no basis in fact for such a notion.

            “The concept of God does not exist in a vacuum,…”

            Perfectly true. But there is no reasonable way to get around the fact that it is a strictly literary concept, not a concept about a literal being of some sort.

            From another perspective the “concept of God” is void for vagueness. It lacks useful cognitive content.

          • goodold_lucifer

            “… Origin of LIfe research has been a total absolute failure over the past 160 years.”

            So what?

            If you go back to that 160 years ago, people had been hearing thunder for thousands of years, and yet no one had yet correctly explained it. So “Origin of Thunder research” had been “a total absolute failure” over more than 2000 years (before the 1880’s). Does that mean that the only possible explanation for thunder is that God caused it? That no natural explanation was possible?

            Your notion is way off the mark. You are barking up the wrong tree. Pushing the possibility of God is sheer nonsense.

          • goodold_lucifer

            “… some form of higher power that is not part of the physical universe. That in itself of course does not mean that it is true but you cannot just wave it away and say this concept of God means that he does not exist.”

            Strictly speaking, that is precisely what it means.

            Logically, in order to have a cognitive concept of God (as contrasted to the popular fantasy concept), you would have to include in it at least some actual real-world attributes.

            To declare that “God is not part of the physical universe” is to declare that “God does not literally exist; God is imaginary.” There is no reasonable, logical way to get around that. Religious faith is not a method of cognition.

  • Steve Stoddard

    It is easy to be an atheist if you ignore religion. And it is not too difficult to be a theist if you ignore common sense.

  • Steve Stoddard

    ]]– “Experimentation on the origin of life…has led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth …. While we do not have a solution, we now have an inkling of the magnitude of the problem.” –[[

    Have you heard of Fox Butterfield?

    In case you haven’t, I could explain:

    He is the NYT guy famous for the illogical claim that it is a paradox when “prison population increases, while crime is decreasing” (on the doctrine that most people are being put in prison arbitrarily and unnecessarily). The truth of the matter, of course, is that crime in decreasing because a lot of the criminals are in prison.

    You are committing the same fallacy by assuming that the question of the origin of life should be susceptible to a solution before anyone figures out just how complicated a problem it is.

  • Steve Stoddard

    ]]– “Experimentation on the origin of life…has led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth …. While we do not have a solution, we now have an inkling of the magnitude of the problem.” –[[

    Have you heard of Fox Butterfield?

  • Steve Stoddard

    ]] “I don’t know” means that it is quite possible that there is no scientific answer.[[

    It is never possible that there is no scientific answer to physical, chemical, and biological questions and problems. To say, “I don’t know,” means not knowing what the scientific answer is — NOT that you somehow know that the answer might be some mystical religious fantasy.

  • Steve Stoddard

    moderated?

  • Steve Stoddard

    Can’t take reasonable criticism? That’s new, and I am surprised

    • Steve Stoddard

      OK, my comments had disappeared — and now have reappeared (although still unmoderated).

      • Steve Stoddard

        Is there a way to delete or edit comments? I don’t remember.

        • Steve Stoddard

          How deep do replies go?

          • Steve Stoddard

            Any deeper?

    • Steve Stoddard

      thanks for deleting this one!

      • Steve Stoddard

        I may have jumped the gun on that ….

  • Regardless of the lack of understanding of the actual origin of life, it is impossible that there could have been an intelligent designer of life. Intelligence is an attribute of certain living entities, so it could not have existed before life originated. So when faced with a choice between the impossibility of a Divine Creator and the mystery of abiogenesis, the only reasonable option is the necessarily 100% natural process of abiogenesis.

    • Tim

      You misunderstand the fact that God, by definition is eternal and existed before the creation of the universe. You argue from ignorance when you state there is an “impossibility of a Divine Creator”. The “mystery of abiogenesis” has no scientific validity.

      • Steve Stoddard

        That definition is of God as a purely fictional character. It has no literal referent in the real world.

        I am not arguing from ignorance, but rather from observation and logic.

        • Henry

          I’ve seen a number of your posts that make the same unsubstantiated claims. I don’t think you are logical at all. You make a truth claim when you say God is fictional. Prove it.
          Is it possible that some things are not observable – how did they discover dark energy? Certainly not by direct observation. How many dimensions are there that we will never see? Go Moshe

          • Steve Stoddard

            <>

            They made it up — just like God.

            It’s easy enough to see that God is a fictional character. Besides the fact that there is no trace of Him outside stories like those in the Bible, such a Being is literally physically/logically impossible.

            God is only a literary possibility . . .

            <>

            Plenty of things are not directly observable, but it is not possible for there to be anything utterly unconnected to reality (so as to be incapable of scientific study, i.e., reasonably believable only through blind faith).

          • Steve Stoddard

            ]]–“… how did they discover dark energy?”–[[

            They made it up — just like God.

            It’s easy enough to see that God is a fictional character. Besides the fact that there is no trace of Him outside stories like those in the Bible, such a Being is literally physically/logically impossible.

            God is only a literary possibility . . .

            ]]–“Is it possible that some things are not observable …”–[[

            Plenty of things are not directly observable, but it is not possible for there to be anything utterly unconnected to reality (so as to be incapable of scientific study, i.e., reasonably believable only through blind faith).

  • Lori

    What an interesting discussion! I am a mom and grandmother who is tired of seeing my children being fed lies through public education and the misinformed (lied to) culture regarding evolution. I have read all the comments here and wonder why this did not come up: let’s not even talk about a Divine Creator; let’s just consider the scientists’ conclusions about their observations. At the very least we should be asking “Why is evolution taught as a *fact* in schools when it cannot be proven to be so?” This is not about science and anybody with half a brain can see that!

    • Lori,
      I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly. However, as a point of order, the article focused on Origin of Life which is fundamentally and conceptually different than Evolution. One of the implicit points of the article is that as far as the question of the existence of God the Creator, Evolution is completely irrelevant. For evolution to occur -even if we grant its truth for arguments sake – an entire array of astoundingly complex molecular machinery must be in place – Atheists have no clue where this molecular machinery comes from. I contend that the assertion that life started by itself – an assertion that has zero evidence as a support – is part of atheistic superstition and mythology; It just happened somehow! You need great faith to believe that. Thanks for your comments

  • Slyffinpaw

    Somehow it happened that not one of you people who commented thought of the name for a person with the stance of “not knowing”; Agnostic
    I find it strange that people who are clearly agnostics keep insisting that they’re atheists. I believe that a true atheistic belief is impossible, because there is no way for us to know for certain whats true until either, the rapture the bible describes, or science discovers without question what happened with life, the universe and everything. (Obviously some other religion could reveal itself to be true without question, but since im a christian myself I’ll deal with God and science)

    Since I believe what the bible says is true, I’m not worried that evidence for Gods existence won’t come, but I find it hard to believe that any real proof against Gods existence will be revealed any time soon.
    I liked the article. Also there seems to be a lot of misunderstandings going on here, and I realise I haven’t really presented any arguments for my point of view.

    God bless you all!

    Ps: i wont be replying to any replies unless there is something particularly interesting i want to reply to 🙂

    Pss: extra points for hitchikers guide reference?

    • Slyfinnpaw,

      Actually an agnostic means somebody who can demonstrate that it is impossible to know either way. I’ve never met a real agnostic either. Most people are in the “I just don’t know category”

  • Stand up

    What makes me chuckle at all these theories is that laws are in everything and were in place before any origin of life, before any supposed cosmic evolution happened.
    Who put the laws for us to understand an even observe.
    Yet we will deny any higher intelligence but still state these laws and rules for understanding, but yet they just poofed up from nowhere. How hypocritical can one get. If i use my brain to think and try an fathom out complexity then how can i trust my own thpughts to be true if its only authority is the next man who like every man came into this world not of himself knowing nothing but that which is shown to him. God said tell them that i am.

    • Steve Stoddard

      ]]–“… yet they just poofed up from nowhere.”–[[

      You’ve got two errors there.

      First, the world (physical, chemical, etc.) did not just “poof up from nowhere.”

      Second, you are not being logical to claim that God somehow magically did “poof up from nowhere” — and has the ability to make the universe so poof.

  • Bro Cope

    I find it amusing when the same people who cheer when the Hadron collider is able to produce evidence of the Higgs boson, but stumble in incredulity at the idea that there is an individual smarter than they.

    We know how to convert mass to energy, and energy to mass. If we can do that, how can it be that there cannot be a creator, one who knows much more about converting energy to mass and mass to energy?

    There is no limit on intelligence. We live short puffs of life, and come to understand some but not all of the physical universe. To postulate that there is someone who is exceedingly old who has learned much much more than we have is not a violation of science. It is instead a logical prediction of science.

    Our Syfy writers can conceive of the ability to create three dimensional pseudo material simulations, but our scientists can’t? Are the Syfy writers smarter than our scientists?

    Apparently so. Some recent work on “virtual particles” point in the direction of our reality being a three dimensional projection.

    Postulating a very smart creator who fully understands the interconversion of energy and mass, who can effect the conversion at will is not an appeal to magic any more than the existence of a laptop computer is an appeal to magic.

    A creator who is able to convert energy into mass would be the highest scientific postulation. A creator who can convert energy to mass is no more a magician than the scientists who built the first atomic bomb.

    Both require only an understanding of how it is done.

    • Steve Stoddard

      ]]– “A creator who is able to convert energy into mass would be the highest scientific postulation. A creator who can convert energy to mass is no more a magician than the scientists who built the first atomic bomb.” –[[

      “Creation, by God!” is not a scientific proposition. It is way “above and beyond” that (as God is said to be “above and beyond the mere physical-chemical-energy world”).

      Bombs and laptops are actual physical entities. “God, the Creator” is not literally a magician (since magicians are actually real people), but rather a fantasy character popular in mythology. God is otherworldly, not at all of our world of matter and energy.

  • Reg

    ….but atheism – a denial of the existence of a Creator of life……
    This statement is factually incorrect. Atheism is a lack of belief in the existence of God. I have never known an atheist or a Scientist to claim they know how life was created. Please cite an example of a respected scientist that has claimed to have done. That is a claim that religious people of all faiths make. They claim to know that their God created life. This article reminds me of many of the Creationist articles I read that try to make the case for a Creator god by misrepresenting Scientists and disparaging atheists.

    For clarity, the Theory of Evolution only deals with life after abiogenesis. It does not attempt to explain the origins of life. However as Evolution is 100% TRUE it does negate any “First man and woman” mythologies.

    • JRC

      Depends upon what one means by the word “evolution.” There is no known mechanism that could have produced all the complicated life forms since life first appeared 3.6 billion years ago. Yes, new life forms appeared but how extremely complex systems arose in these life forms is a mystery. So what does 100% true mean? That they appeared (we know this) or we know the mechanism by which they appeared (we are clueless and thus 100% true is false).

      There are over 50 ways that cell division produces anomalies in daughter cells but none of them have the power to create new coding sequences in the DNA that will produce the novel proteins that form the basis for these complex systems to operate effectively. Functional amino acid sequences are incredibly rare.

      Because of this there is no evidence that would refute a first man and woman hypothesis if an intelligence was involved in the origin of new life forms. Humans are qualitatively different from every other animal in their DNA control sequences that affect protein expression especially in proteins affecting neural development. Something that seems beyond any naturalistic processes to accomplish.

      Maybe some day science will have an answer as to how the DNA coding sequence arose and how the control sequence developed but as of this moment it seems beyond the reach of naturalistic processes and is a mystery.

      So what are we 100% sure of?

    • Paul Becke

      ‘I have never known an atheist or a Scientist to claim they know how life was created.’

      You should get out more. Meet people. Or you could end up believing in evolution, ‘because every one knows it’s true’. Despite all the irrefutable evidence to the contrary, such as Cambrian explosion, the complexity of the earliest life forms, according to the admittedly nugatory and puzzling fossil evidence.

    • Bylander

      Actually, you are mistaken – even evolutionists like PZ admit that abiogenesis is part of evolution.

      “Evolution is a theory about the origin of life” is presented as false. It is not. I know many people like to recite the mantra that “abiogenesis is not evolution,” but it’s a cop-out. Evolution is about a plurality of natural mechanisms that generate diversity. It includes molecular biases towards certain solutions and chance events that set up potential change as well as selection that refines existing variation. Abiogenesis research proposes similar principles that led to early chemical evolution. Tossing that work into a special-case ghetto that exempts you from explaining it is cheating, and ignores the fact that life is chemistry.” ~ PZ Myers

      • Steve Stoddard

        I don’t know why I hadn’t realized that before, but it is a good point: abiogenesis is just an earlier stage in evolution, the evolution of organic stuff from inorganic stuff. It makes perfect sense.

        Thanks for pointing it out.

  • David Apple

    Life in not ‘something’; Life is a chemical ‘process’; it is something that matter arranged in a certain way will tend to do.

  • David Apple

    [Jeremy] England has received some publicity for his hypothesis of the physics of the origins of life, that he terms ‘dissipation-driven adaptation’.The hypothesis holds that random groups of molecules can self-organize to more efficiently absorb and dissipate heat from the environment. His hypothesis states that such self-organizing systems are an inherent part of the physical world.

    And JE is not the first or only scientist who thinks abiogenesis is driven by thermodynamics and is inevitable.

    And if Scientists do come up with an accepted theory of abiogenesis then G-d will be squeezed out of yet another corner.

    • David,

      There is zero evidence that Jeremy England’s idea can account for a living bacterium. Natural self-organization is another way of saying that the laws that govern the physical universe are for the most part “boringly” consistent. That is why there is a “boring” consistent pattern in the way water goes down a drain, in patterns in sand dunes and sand in shallow waters at the edge of a beach, in wave patterns and convection patterns, in crystals and snowflakes.

      What self-organizational principles never do is construct complex functional machinery or digital information systems loaded with encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded information. These require the exact opposite of consistent repetitive patterns. In other words self organization will get you: AAAABBBBCCCCDDDD, etc. Consistent patterns with no information. The reason why your comment contains coherent intelligible information is because it is filled with aperiodic, non-consistent patterns. That is why it is self-apparent that the information contained in your comment is the result of conscious intelligent creative activity NOT self-organizational principles.

      In the meantime Origin of LIfe research has utterly failed over the past 160 years and as I pointed out in the article the problem has gotten worse not better. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The burden of proof is therefore upon atheistic scientists to come up with evidence why anyone should believe the extraordinary claim that life can come from non-life.

      • Paul Becke

        I wonder if there is any progenitor-progeny less probable, nay possible, than non-life creating life. I very much doubt it.

        But then if atheists can believe that nothing has produced everything, what could they not believe ? Really ? Well, they were the ones who thought up ‘pink pixies’ and ‘unicorns’, to disparage Christians and other theists, so, we do have something to go on, when it comes to their infinitely, insanely fertile imaginations.

      • The burden of proof about the origin of life is most definitely on science, since religion cannot possibly explain it by reference to supernatural forces. The only explanation can be reached by reference to 100% natural processes. There is no alternate possibility.

      • Steve Stoddard

        ]]– “The burden of proof is therefore upon atheistic scientists to come up with evidence why anyone should believe the extraordinary claim that life can come from non-life.” –[[

        Except that the idea that life originated in the actual world we live in is a perfectly ordinary idea. There is nothing at all “extraordinary claim”-ish about it.

        Life is perfectly natural. Why do you find that so hard to live with?

    • Steve Stoddard

      You cannot squeeze something out of a corner when it doesn’t exist in any actual place. God is nowhere, and there is no getting around it.

  • Just two possibilities. How can you argue with that?

    If you’re incuriously committed to one possibility, then what difference, at this point, does it make? My advice is not to parrot sophomoric shibboleths (But is it science? God of the gaps; God wouldn’t do it that way). This cannot impress the seeker, only those of like commitment.

    If you are curious–READ THE RABBI’S BOOK!

    • I’m sorry but the burden of proof is on the believers, if they want to convince atheists. You’re right, extraordinary claims do require extraordinary evidence, but “we don’t know how that happened yet” is not an extraordinary claim. In fact, it’s an statement that can’t even be argued with. We don’t know the actual mechanism by which life originated. We may never know. We can speculate. We might even succeed in creating life out of non-life at some point. That’s not say we’ve discovered how it happened initially, just that it could have happened that way. Or, someone like England might postulate a model by which the emergence of life might make sense, which is what he did. The claim that, since we don’t know, and you can’t prove otherwise, therefore God is responsible, IS an extraordinary claim. It makes an unsupported leap to a conclusion that is has no verifiable, reproducible, or measurable evidence. The burden of proof in on you not science. Science can only measure, test, and reproduce results. It makes no claims about God other than there is little evidence to support such a being and, so, its likelihood is low. That doesn’t need to be proved. It’s obvious. I don’t believe there is a shred of real evidence that points to phenomena that could ONLY be caused by a sentient deity. If there is a God, he deliberately created a Universe that looks as if there is no God.

      • Paul Becke

        No. No offence intended, but presenting proof to atheist ‘scientists’ is not really the issue here, it seems to me.

        For believers, even with the layman’s familiarity with scientific advances, dating back to at least the discovery of the quantum world, that there should exist atheist scientists with a tertiary level of education and a commensurate worldly, analytical intelligence, who espouse the world-view of scientism, is as impossible to understand as if the latters’ proponents could not understand that a circle cannot simultaneously be a square. It is that absolute. Hence the aggrieved note in the voice of some of you atheists.

        Blandishments, such as ‘with respect’ or ‘no offence intended’ seem to us as difficult to articulate in relation to the former as to the latter, so nul to our minds is the case for materialism.

      • Ken Merrell,

        In my opinion you are profoundly mistaken. The obvious answer is Intelligent Design or Divine Creation. ALL functional machinery that exists and ALL specified information that exists is the result of intelligence. Why is the molecular machinery and digital information processing system loaded with encyclopedic amounts of digitally encoded information, that is found in every living organism, including the bacterium – somehow different? Why is it an exception? Only one reason: Because there are people who do not want to believe in a Creator. It is not an extraordinary claim that life was created, that is the obvious intuitive, common sense reaction, and to think differently would go against the basic laws of physics and mathematical probability. To sum up: Human intuition, observations about nature, laws of physics, and mathematical probability point to a Creator – it is YOUR burden to present evidence why I should think differently.

        It seems to me your mistake is somehow granting god-life powers and insight to [atheistic] scientists who have been grasping at straws in the Origin of Life field for the past 160 years. Just because [atheistic] scientists want to believe that life could happen by itself does not mean that we should give that idea the time of day. It is nonsensical and absurd. The fact that we do not understand the Creator is irrelevant – if we received morse code messages from a galaxy a million light years away, we would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they came from conscious intelligent beings – more than that we would have no understanding of who they are, after all they are a million light years away. The fact that that we do not understand who they are does not in any way interfere with the obvious conclusion that the signals are the result of conscious creative activity.

        The burden of proof is on those who assert the nonsensical idea that the astounding molecular machinery of a living cell could assemble itself. That is atheistic mythology in my opinion.

      • Paul Becke

        You must live in a fantasy world. The evidence pointing ineluctably to an omnipotent Creator is overwhelming.

        Intelligent Design is irrefutable, and while its scientific apologists insist it’s purely scientific, its theological and philosophical implications are clear and incontestable. Quite apart from being common sense to a native of a lost tribe in the jungles of New Guinea.

        This article transmuting the banal into the supernatural, epistemological alchemy, is breathtaking :

        http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/experience-rational-debate-science-depend-on-the-supernatural/

        • “Intelligent Design” of life is impossible. It would logically require a non-living intelligence, which is a contradictory notion.

  • RandyW

    “I don’t know” is not evidence in favor of magic. Our ignorance about life’s origins is not evidence of supernatural life origins. This is a big argument from ignorance logical fallacy. You are asserting that your answer is best because there is no solid scientific explanation. That’s not how you demonstrate the veracity of a claim. And, do remember that evolution and abiogenesis are two separate things, just like the formation of mountains and erosion of mountains are two separate things.

    • Randy W, As I mentioned to another person who posted a comment, it seems you missed the point of the article. The point was not to prove a Creator of life, the point was to show that it is irrational not to consider the very real possibility of a Creator of life.

      I don’t know what you mean by “magic”. There are only two possibilities as Nobel Prize winning biologist George Wald stated: Spontaneous generation or Divine Creation. To be frank, I think that to believe in spontaneous generation (somehow life came from non-life) is much closer to believing in magic than to believe in Divine Creation.
      Right now there is zero evidence that such a thing could occur and it seems to violate the laws of physics, mathematical probability, all that we observe and experience about the natural world, and common sense. That doesn’t mean it’s “impossible” it just seems to indicate that it is astoundingly improbable. At the very least then , Atheism is out. Contrary to what some people have said here, Atheism is an active denial of the existence of God; if a person does not know if God exists or not then don’t call yourself an atheist, just say: I don’t know if God exists or not; that is being honest.

      I am very aware that Evolution and Origin of LIfe are fundamentally separate scientific disciplines. Using Evolution to explain the amazing complexity of life on our planet is a grand tautology; you explain the amazing complexity of life by invoking the amazing complexity of life. Before evolution can occur all the fantastic machinery of a living cell must be present. Where did it come from? (Atheistic) Science has utterly failed so far in all its attempts to show that such an event could happen naturally. Whether or not that proves a Creator is not what this article is about; what it shows however is that only someone who ignores the scientific data could DENY the existence of a Creator of life.

      • There are not two options, either the supernatural or the natural.

        Natural is the only way anything ever happens. There is no alternative.

      • Steve Stoddard

        ]]– “… it is irrational not to consider the very real possibility of a Creator of life.” –[[

        It is irrational to believe in the possibility of any sort of non-natural origin for life (like supernatural God). The notion of an “unnatural cause” is basically self-contradictory. A cause which is somehow not part of nature could not have any effect in nature. Miraculous causes are simply fantastic.

        ]]– “… Evolution and Origin of LIfe are fundamentally separate scientific disciplines. ” –[[

        Actually, they are part of the same continuum from insentient physical/chemical processes through biological processes. Regardless of the state of knowledge at any given time about all those processes, it is not possible that there is some miraculous gap in the continuum.

    • Paul Becke

      ‘…. there is no solid scientific explanation’

      There are higher canons of epistemic validation than science. It essentially deals with very grossest, most base, manifestations of our life on this earth, and, indeed, the closer it has approached the extremes of Creation, where it must meet the world of the spirit, i.e. of the Creator, believed in by theists and deists, the more impenetrably mysterious (paradoxical) intrinsically, physics has become.

  • Garrett

    The answer to your final question is absolutely (b). We don’t know how life started. Scientists have some good ideas and plausible explanations, but in the end we truely don’t know.

    The point you get wrong is the next sentence. Atheism isn’t a denial of the existence of a Creator of life, it’s lack of a belief in one.

    The rational, truth-seeking individual is an atheist and responds, “I don’t know.”

    • Atheism is a denial of the existence of God, I don’t know means just that “I don’t know”. You are mistaken about you wrote in your second sentence; SCientists have no good or plausible ideas at all about a naturalistic Origin of Life.

      If world class chemists like James Tour and George Whitesides have no clue, if Dr. Paul Davies who has devoted the last 30 years of his life to investigating the Origin of Life could said “How? We haven’t a clue” If the late Dr. Robert Shapiro, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry could write that no one has any idea how life began, if Dr. Ken Nealson (UC Berkley) who was co-chairman of the committee for Evolution and Origin of Life for the National Academy of Sciences could say “Nobody understands the Origin of Life. If they say they do they are probably trying to fool you”, (plus the other scientists cited – In my book I have 82 citations starting in 1859 through 2015 all saying the same thing), then I think it really is time for Scientists to admit openly that the Emperor really is buck naked and has flabby and blotchy skin to boot.

      • Josef

        Quote mining scientists is disingenuous. Other scientists completely disagree with these statements, why weren’t those included? Cherry picking??

        • Josef,

          To accuse me of quote mining is disingenuous. If you think I took a citation out of context, then simply present evidence that it is true. There is not one citation in this article that is taken out of context. NO scientist in the world has the slightest idea how life began through a natural unguided process. They are absolutely baffled and clueless.

          Sadly there are any number of well meaning people who don’t know the primary source material and actually quote WIKIPEDIA articles as being authoritative sources for understanding the ORigin of Life. The WIKIPEDIA article on the subject is a materialistic propaganda piece. As atheistic Origin of Life researcher Dr. Stuart Kaufman wrote: “ANyone who tells you they know how life started on the sere [arid] 3.5 billion years ago is a fool or a knave. Nobody knows.” DR. Kaufman’s credentials are impeccable. Josef, why don’t you find me a world class chemist or Origin of Life researcher who disagrees.

          • Steve Stoddard

            ]]– “NO scientist in the world has the slightest idea how life began through a natural unguided process.” –[[

            You are indulging in some hyperbole, but it is nevertheless perfectly true that no one knows very much about how the origin of life actually proceeded. It is still a mystery. Nobody knows the actual history.

            Yet there is not the slightest rational doubt that the process was 100% natural — and necessarily unguided by any intelligent being (since biological processes are the origin of intelligence).

        • Paul Becke

          Because they would be mostly dummmies or unashamed ostriches, who knowingly and avowedly choose to bury their heads in the sand.

          The most notable of the latter, I should imagine would be Richard Lewontin, the geneticist, with his famous admission.

          http://creation.com/amazing-admission-lewontin-quote

    • Garrett, I quoted a dictionary definition of ATheism.

      “a”- variant of an-1.before a consonant, meaning “not,” “without”: amoral; atonal; achromatic.(Dictionary.com)

      The word itself means without God or not God. “I don’t know” means I don’t know if God exists or not. If you don’t know then it distorts the reality of things to call yourself an Atheist. JUst say I don’t know if God exists or not, I don’t know if life happened by itself or if it is the result of Divine Creation; I would disagree with that opinion (as I elaborate on at length in my book) but at least it is reflects some type of honest assessment of the reality as it stands.

      The rational truth seeking individual says either: A. It is clear to me that life was Created or B. I don’t know if it was created or is the result of natural unguided causes.

      The

      • Steve Stoddard

        To be a theist is to believe in a supernatural God or Gods. To be an atheist is to not be a theist. A theist> is a person who believes in at least one God. An atheist is a person who does not believe in any Gods, not even just one.

        The honest, logical, rational truth seeking individual says it is certain that life is the result of natural unguided causes. There really is no possible alternative to natural causes for anything involved with matter and energy.

        Even fictional stories of Gods have natural causes, viz., actual people who actually think up those stories.

    • Steve Stoddard

      ]]– ‘The rational, truth-seeking individual is an atheist and responds, “I don’t know.”‘ –[[

      Not exactly.

      The rational, truth-seeking individual, naturally an atheist, would say about “a Supernatural God” that such a thing is literally impossible. Not even “a Supra-natural God” is a notion with any actual referent in reality.

      It is not that a rational atheist does not know that there is a God, and so puts belief on hold, but that he knows that God is impossible, and refuses to believe in Him in spite of the impossibility (i.e.,declines to be any sort of theist).

      And theists often realize that it is not rational to believe in God, which is why they do it on the basis of faith.

  • An atheist is an atheist because they haven’t found nor have been presented credible evidence for the existence of any gods. Likewise, there’s no credible evidence for “creation” of life on Earth by an entity or entities, be they gods or not. The good Rabbi has a fundamental misunderstanding of both what atheism is and what science is and how it works.swer, which asserting “creation” is doing. Until an answer is found, “I don’t know” is

    • Sorry, that should of ended at “works.” Ignore the rest.

    • Jorge

      “An atheist is an atheist because they haven’t found nor have been presented credible evidence for the existence of any gods.”

      Absolutely, positively NOT TRUE. An Atheist is an Atheist because (s)he rejects all of the evidence and logic that more-than-adequately supports the existence of God – ‘THE’ God of Scripture. Likewise, there are TONS of evidence pointing at a creation of life by that same God. The sentence quoted above is nothing more than the usual, less-than-honest, convenient cop-out for choosing to not believe in God.

    • Dave,
      “I don’t know” means you are not an atheist. “I don’t know” means that it is quite possible that there is no scientific answer. There certainly is evidence for Creation of life. It’s not that difficult to understand but it is beyond the scope of this forum. REad my book and write me back. I’ve very open to serious adult discussions on the subject.

      • There is zero evidence for the supernatural creation of life. God is a fantasy character, not some actual thing.

  • Trevor O

    In the past ten thousand years, many, many things that were attributed to supernatural causes have been shown to have natural, explainable causes. Earthquakes or lightning or rainbows or conception or astrological events or eclipses or fire… It’s all natural.

    Abiogenesis has not been replicated in a lab. In simulating primordial environments we’ve created many building blocks for life, and there are theories about how those building blocks may have yielded the first microorganism. Sure, this doesn’t conclusively prove how life started, but it doesn’t mean you can say “Not all the pieces are there, therefore it was God!”

    Here’s an article on seven theories about the origin of life:
    http://www.livescience.com/13363-7-theories-origin-life.html

    None of them require magic or a God intervening. Even today, tests are being done to see whether they pan out. You can bet that if someone finds out that it is impossible for life to arise in one of those situations, the theory will be dropped.

    Falling back on a supernatural explanation is NOT science, because scientific theories must be disprovable or at least testable. There is no way to disprove a supernatural explanation, because any evidence presented can be ignored with another supernatural explanation (“God put that there to test our faith”).

    And just because you found scientists who believe in creation doesn’t mean you have anything resembling a scientific argument.

    • Trevor,

      Believe me if any of those theories were anything other than pure speculation, George Whitesides, James Tour, Paul DAvies, Richard Dawkins, Robert Shapiro, J.Craig VEnter, Andrew Knoll, Chandra Wickramasinghe, Steve Benner, Jack SZostak, George Church, Eugene Koonin, etc. would all be trumpeting it from the highest tower at the National Academy of Sciences. I don’t mean this in an insulting way, but you (as James Tour said explicitly) are wholly misinformed as to the true state of affairs in the world of Origin of Life research. They are totally clueless. I recommend you watch the entire lecture by James Tour – his scientific credentials are impeccable (and read my book).

      As far as a supra-natural Creator not being a scientific answer; of course it’s not “scientific”. This Creator – if he truly exists – Created science – he is not a part of science; he created time, space, matter, and energy – he is none of those things. I don’t really care if the answer is scientific or not – I only care if it’s true; that is to say, if our reason, logic, and evidence lead us to conclude that the most likely answer is a Creator.

      In fact, it is the atheist position on this matter that is untestable and non-falsifiable. No matter how many theories are rejected the atheist accepts as an article of faith that SOMEHOW it started; either an as yet undiscovered naturalistic pathway, or by astoundingly, improbable blind luck. This actually was the position of Nobel Laureates Francis Crick (life was a “happy accident”) and Jacque Monod (“Lucky for us our number came up in the Monte Carlo game”)

      In fact, the Argument from Design (the one I propose in the book, beyond our scope here) makes a very testable and falsifiable prediction: All attempts to find a naturalistic, unguided pathway from non-life to life will end in utter failure because the proposition itself is absurd to begin with. It is as absurd as suggesting that a LEGO set could assemble itself. For the past 160 years that prediction has come true in spades.

      • Trevor O

        “Believe me if any of those theories were anything other than pure speculation…”

        I’m not sure you understand the meaning of a scientific theory. We’re not talking about a wild guess here. Consider taking a look at the following wikipedia article on the theories mentioned above:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis#Current_models
        The Talk page has some FAQ that address some of your objections:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Abiogenesis

        Here are a few snippets for you:

        “A “theory” in science is different than a “theory” in everyday usage. When scientists call something a theory, they are referring to a scientific theory, which is an explanation for a phenomenon based on a significant amount of data. Abiogenesis is a phenomenon scientists are trying to explain by developing scientific theories. While there isn’t one unifying theory of abiogenesis, there are several principles and competing hypotheses for how abiogenesis could have occurred, which are detailed in the article. Wikipedia describes the phenomenon of abiogenesis as a fact because the reliable sources from the peer-reviewed scientific literature describe it as a fact.”

        “The scientific evidence is consistent with and supports an origin of life on Earth out of abiotic conditions. No chemical, biological or physical law has been discovered that would prevent life from emerging. Clearly, abiogenesis happened, because life exists. The other option is that life is a product of a supernatural process, but no evidence to support this has been published in reliable sources. There is plenty of evidence that nearly all the components of a simple cell can and do form naturally, but it has not yet been shown how molecules eventually formed self-replicating protocells and under what environmental conditions.”

        “How this happened is still conjectural, though no longer purely speculative.”

        Regarding your creator not being a part of science…

        First of all, your article is titled “It’s easy to be an atheist if you ignore science”. You can’t say that science proves the existence of the supernatural in one breath and then say science has nothing to do with it in the next.

        If it exists, it is a part of science. If it can be observed, interacted with, predicted, measured, or has ANY sound evidence, then it is real. If it doesn’t have any evidence, it somehow defies any sort of evidence, then what’s the difference between it not existing.

        You can also quote as many scientists as you want who might agree with you. Many, many more would disagree. And to quote Einstein when presented with a list of scientists who disagreed with his theories:
        “100 Authors Against Einstein? Why one hundred? If I were wrong, one would have been enough”

        “In fact, it is the atheist position on this matter that is untestable and non-falsifiable. No matter how many theories are rejected…”

        That’s the very definition of testable and falsifiable.

        Create testable theory, test it. Try to prove it wrong. After you’ve eliminated all incorrect theories, the one that survives, no matter how unlikely, must be true. This is why argument through incredulity doesn’t work, and why there’s no room for supernatural explanations.

        It seems that your entire argument boils down to argument from incredulity.

        • Trevor,

          I’m sorry Trevor, I deal only in primary source material. WIKIPEDIA is not a serious source for anything significant on the subject. I’m not trying to be insulting, but to quote WIKIPEDIA in this discussion (I know you are well intentioned) means you are out of your depth here. The article in WIKIPEDIA is an atheistic propaganda piece. Anyone who has a serious understanding of the subject will tell you that Science is absolutely clueless about an unguided pathway from non-life to life. If you do not know that you are simply out of the loop here. I suggest you read my book if you are seriously curious.

          • Steve Stoddard

            }}”Anyone who has a serious understanding of the subject will tell you that Science is absolutely clueless about an unguided pathway from non-life to life.”{{

            That is certainly common knowledge. I doubt that there is anyone (beyond perhaps some silly fringe) who seriously think science has explained abiogenesis.

            But that is irrelevant. A 100% natural process of abiogenesis is the only possible cause of the origin of life. A “Divine Creator”/”IDOL” is not a possibility.

        • Trevor,

          It seems to me you have mistakenly conflated evidence and proof with “scientific evidence and proof” There are many things that we know are true without “scientific evidence” Logic itself is not “scientific”. Logic and rules of evidence are TOOLS that scientists use to demonstrate things, they are not the exclusive property of scientists. 2+2=4 is not “science” it is arithmetic. That doesn’t mean it is not true. If you ever played the game CLUE and you come to the conclusion that it was: Mr. Mustard in the Billiard Room with the Candlestick your opponent cannot say you are wrong because that is not “scientific”, it is based on reason, logic, and evidence.

          I have never claimed in my article or in my book that there is “scientific” proof of a supra-natural Creator. (As I have said over and over, this article does not claim at all to demonstrate the existence of a Creator, it demonstrates that is irrational to DENY the real possibility of the existence of a Creator)

          What I do claim is that the scientific data can be used ultimately as powerful evidence for a Creator. Again, the testable, falsifiable prediction of the Argument from Design (or as Dawkins calls it: The ARgument from Improbability) as I formulate it in my book (beyond our scope here) is that any attempt to explain the astounding functional complexity of a living cell is not only absurd to begin with but will end in complete failure. It is as absurd as an investigation to find a natural unguided cause to assemble LEGO blocks into a model of the Brooklyn Bridge. My testable, falsifiable prediction has not only held true for 160 years but the implausibility of finding a solution becomes more apparent with every new discovery in genetics, microbiology and biochemistry. You can easily prove me wrong, just find a plausible, demonstrable pathway from non-life to life.

          Be in touch if you succeed; I will personally attend the ceremony in Stockholm as they present you with the Nobel Prize and I will publicly admit that I was wrong. My question to you is: How long are you prepared to tolerate the failure of Origin of Life researchers before you admit that there is no naturalistic solution? If you are prepared to wait forever, then you are a man of true faith as Nobel Prize winning chemist Harold Urey said in 1962 (Nine years AFTER the famous Stanley Miller experiment – Urey, of course, was Miller’s mentor at the University of Chicago): “All of us who study the Origin of Life find the more we look into it, the more we feel it is too complex to have evolved anywhere. We all believe as an article of faith that life evolved from dead matter on this planet. It is just that its complexity is so great, it is hard for us to imagine that it did.”

          I assume you thought that Scientists only are motivated by logic, reason and EVIDENCE. You were wrong Trevor.

        • Clearly, abiogenesis happened, because life exists.

          Precisely.

          The other so-called option, viz., supernatural creation, fails not for lack of evidence, but completely on being impossible.

      • Steve Stoddard

        What is the deal with using the term “supra-natural Creator” instead of the straightforward Supernatural God?

      • Steve Stoddard

        ]]– “This Creator – if he truly exists … created time, space, matter, and energy – he is none of those things.” –[[

        In other words, “This Creator” cannot possibly exist. Being “none of those” literally means being nothing, period.

        Not matter, not energy, not in time or space — that simply means not being: not anything, not anywhere, not anytime. God, the Zero.

        ]]– “All attempts to find a naturalistic, unguided pathway from non-life to life will end in utter failure because the proposition itself is absurd to begin with.” –[[

        You’ve got it backwards, Rabbi. Life exists as a 100% natural — and certainly “unguided by a designer” — process. Any proposition to the contrary is absurd.

        If no one were alive, there would not be any guides or designers at work anywhere. Can’t have your cake, and eat it, too.

  • Yaakov

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  • Just because science doesn’t know something, in no way proves that it was done by a creator. That’s called the “god of the gaps” theory, which is an absurd fallacy. If you want to postulate a creator, you either need to provide evidence, or gtfo. Nobody wants to hear your speculation on how it happened, especially us evidence-minded individuals. And, NO, your book is not evidence. It’s just a book. It’s as much evidence for a creator as the Odyssey is evidence of the existence of a towering cyclops.

    • Forgive me but I think you missed the point of the article. I was not trying to prove that life was created by a Creator. I was just showing that anyone who is familiar with the scientific data and squarely faces up to the implications of that data, cannot possibly be an atheist.

      In other words, the position that: “Well we don’t have the slightest clue how something as staggeringly complex as a living cell and its DNA digital information processing system could have come into being by a naturalistic, unguided process, ergo -therefore: we conclude that there CANNOT be a Creator of life” (i.e. Atheism) – would truly be an absurd and irrational conclusion. Any rational individual must accept the very real POSSIBILITY of a Creator of life. That’s all. AS for God of the Gaps and why I think that the only reasonable answer for the rational truth seeker is that life was Created, I address both those questions at length in the book.

      • There is zero possibility of a Divine Creator of life. Only nature could have done it, since only nature exists.

        God is only a fictional character, and could not have done it.

        • Bylander

          You continue to argue from ignorance. The statement that “only nature could have done it” is a statement of religion, not a statement of science.

          • Steve Stoddard

            Nature exists, and that is the basis of science. There is nothing religious about either nature or science.

            Basically, religion is about trying to ignore nature and science in favor of fantasy.

    • Roland

      Rynosaur, since you are an evidence-based individual, then no doubt you will have plentiful evidence for the non existence of a creator/designer – your response is rather short on it.

      Your closed mindedness is equalled by your rudeness; nobody asked/forced you to read the article and then insult the writer. Whatever your argument, it looses any credibility due to your stance.

  • That many words, all dedicated to a God of the Gaps argument. Awesome. I guess science could explain how life began if it just made it up from unquestionable myth and legend.

    • Brian Westley

      “we conclude that there CANNOT be a Creator of life” (i.e. Atheism)”

      You still don’t know what atheism means, even though you have been told repeatedly, and you continue to insult atheists as you have many times in the past.

      • Brian,

        Atheism is a “a disbelief in the existence of the deity” or “the doctrine that there is no deity.” This is a dictionary definition. If you are saying that you just don’t know one way or the other that is absolutely not atheism. that is just not knowing. There is nothing wrong with a lack of clarity on the subject, but lack of clarity is not what Atheism. I don’t see why that is insulting. Perhaps we agree; do you acknowledge that when one looks at the scientific data on the Origin of LIfe that it is irrational to discount the real possibility of Divine Creation. In other words, scientists are not trying to discover HOW life emerged form non-life, they are trying to discover IF life emerged from non-life.

        • Steve Stoddard

          ]]– “[D]o you acknowledge that when one looks at the scientific data on the Origin of LIfe that it is irrational to discount the real possibility of Divine Creation.” –[[

          Reasonably speaking, it is irrational to consider the “possibility of Divine Creation.” The “divine” is specifically the unreal.

          Scientists are working to find out HOW it happened — not IF. There is no legitimate question that it DID happen.

        • Steve Stoddard

          [edited]

    • First of all as an aside, the Origin of Life dilemma is not a “gap” – A “gap” implies a relatively tolerable opening that we anticipate will be filled in. The ignorance in the Origin of Life field is more like the wide open plains stretching from Ohio to Colorado. As was explained in the article it is a “gap” that is enormous and has grown exponentially bigger (not smaller) over the past 160 years.Back to the main point: God of the Gaps is really jsut another way of saying An Argument from Ignorance….

      As Eugene Koonin explained (and as agreed upon by anyone knowledgeable in the field) the reason why this endeavor has failed until now is because of the fundamental extraordinary intrinsic problems with the very proposal in the first place. What about the laws of nature would allow an unguided construction of the most sophisticated digital information processing system known to man (DNA)? Nature does not build functionally complex systems; it breaks them down. Cars fall apart if they are not serviced, they don’t operate more efficiently. All machinery falls apart eventually absent the input of intelligent agency. ALL functionally complex machinery needs to be constructed by intelligence, unguided forces break things down, they don’t build them up.

      Evolution does not solve the problem, because for Evolution to work, incredibly sophisticated machinery needs to be in place. As Professor (Chemistry) Addy Pross put it: “Despite the widespread view that Darwinian Evolution has been able to explain the emergence of biological complexity that is not the case..Darwinian theory does not deal with the question how life was able to come into being. The troublesome question still in search of an answer is: How did a system capable of evolving come about in the first place?” Very troublesome question indeed.

      Natural forces constructing a sophisticated functionally complex system like a bacterium seems to defy the laws of physics, mathematical probability, all that we observe about nature and common sense. Our intuitive reaction that functional complexity and digitally encoded information (found in every living cell) are the result of conscious creative activity is not based on ignorance at all. It is based on a wealth of experience, observation, knowledge and clarity. God of the Gaps is a lame response when there is full awareness of the massive question that is being asked.

      That is why Richard Dawkins – who at least appreciated and confronted the magnitude of the question in The God Delusion – does not resort to something as inadequate as God of the Gaps to deal with what he calls The Argument from Improbability (ie the staggering improbability of a naturalistic Origin of LIfe). You can read his answer yourself, I discuss it at length in my book; his answer is also inadequate to say the least, but dealing with it is beyond our scope here. To sum up: You need something a lot more compelling than God of the Gaps to deal with this issue and the profound questions it raises.

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