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    Calculating The Odds That Life Could Begin By Chance
    By Dave Deamer | April 30th 2009 03:00 AM | 445 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    My research focuses on a variety of topics related to membrane biophysics, including the origin of cell membranes and the use of transmembrane

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    Many people, perhaps most, hate the idea that life might depend on chance processes. It is a human tendency to search for meaning, and what could be more meaningful than the belief that our lives have a greater purpose, that all life in fact is guided by a supreme intelligence which manifests itself even at the level of individual molecules? 

    Proponents of intelligent design believe that the components of life are so complex that they could not possibly have been produced by an evolutionary process. To bolster their argument, they calculate the odds that a specific protein might assemble by chance in the prebiotic environment. The odds against such a chance assembly are so astronomically immense that a protein required for life to begin could not possibly have assembled by chance on the early Earth.  Therefore, the argument goes, life must have been designed.


     It is not my purpose to argue against this belief, but the intelligent design argument uses a statistical tool of science -- a probability calculation  -- to make a point, so I will use another tool of science, which is to propose an alternative hypothesis and test it.  In living cells, most catalysts are protein enzymes, composed of amino acids, but in the 1980s another kind of catalyst was discovered. These are RNA molecules composed of nucleotides that are now called ribozymes. Because a ribozyme can act both as a catalyst and as a carrier of genetic information in its nucleotide sequence, it has been proposed that life passed through an RNA World phase that did not require DNA and proteins. 

    For the purposes of today’s column I will go through the probability  calculation that a specific ribozyme might assemble by chance. Assume that the ribozyme is 300 nucleotides long, and that at each position there could be any of four nucleotides present. The chances of that ribozyme assembling are then 4^300,  a number so large that it could not possibly happen by chance even once in 13 billion years, the age of the universe.

    But life DID begin! Could we be missing something?

    The answer, of course, is yes, we are. The calculation assumes that a single specific ribozyme must be synthesized for life to begin, but that’s not how it works. Instead,  let’s make the plausible assumption that an enormous number of random polymers are synthesized, which are then subject to selection and evolution. This is the alternative hypothesis, and we can test it.


    Now I will recall a classic experiment by David Bartel and Jack Szostak, published in Science in 1993. Their goal was to see if a completely random system of molecules could undergo selection in such a way that defined species of molecules emerged with specific properties. They began by synthesizing many trillions of different RNA molecules about 300 nucleotides long, but the nucleotides were all random nucleotide sequences. Nucleotides, by the way, are monomers of the nucleic acids DNA and RNA, just as amino acids are the monomers, or subunits, of proteins, and making random sequences is easy to do with modern methods of molecular biology.

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


    The results were amazing. After only 4 rounds of selection and amplification they began to see an increase in catalytic activity, and after 10 rounds the rate was 7 million times faster than the uncatalyzed rate. It was even possible to watch the RNA evolve. Nucleic acids can be separated and visualized by a technique called gel electrophoresis. The mixture is put in at the top of a gel held between two glass plates and a voltage is applied. Small molecules travel fastest through the gel, and larger molecules move more slowly, so they are separated. In this case, RNA molecules having a specific length produce a visible band in a gel. At the start of the reaction, nothing could be seen, because all the molecules are different. But with each cycle new bands appeared. Some came to dominate the reaction, while others went extinct.


    Bartel and Szostak’s results have been repeated and extended by other researchers, and they demonstrate a fundamental principle of evolution at the molecular level. At the start of the experiment, every molecule of RNA was different from all the rest because they were assembled by a chance process. There were no species, just a mixture of trillions of different molecules. But then a selective hurdle was imposed, a ligation reaction that allowed only certain molecules to survive and reproduce enzymatically.

    In a few generations groups of molecules began to emerge that displayed ever-increasing catalytic function. In other words, species of molecules appeared out of this random mixture in an evolutionary process that closely reflects the natural selection that Darwin outlined for populations of higher animals. These RNA molecules were defined by the sequence of bases in their structures, which caused them to fold into specific conformations that had catalytic properties. The sequences were in essence analogous to genes, because the information they contained was passed between generations during the amplification process. 


    The Bartel and Szostak experiment directly refutes the argument that the odds are stacked against an origin of life by natural processes. The inescapable conclusion is that genetic information can in fact emerge from random mixtures of polymers, as long as the populations contain large numbers of polymeric molecules with variable monomer sequences, and a way to select and amplify a specific property. 


    I will close with a quote from Freeman Dyson, a theoretical physicist at Princeton University who also enjoys thinking about the origin of life:


    “You  had what I call the garbage bag model. The early cells were just  little bags of some kind of cell membrane, which might have been  oily or it might have been a metal oxide.  And inside you  had a more or less random collection of organic molecules, with the  characteristic that small molecules could diffuse in through the  membrane, but big molecules could not diffuse out. By converting  small molecules into big molecules, you could concentrate the organic  contents on the inside, so the cells would become more concentrated  and the chemistry would gradually become more efficient. So these  things could evolve without any kind of replication.  It's a  simple statistical inheritance.  When a cell became so big that  it got cut in half, or shaken in half, by some rainstorm or environmental  disturbance, it would then produce two cells which would be its daughters,  which would inherit, more or less, but only statistically, the chemical  machinery inside.  Evolution could work under those conditions.”

    Comments

    Steve Davis
    Thank you Dave. And its nice to see a quote from Dyson, he's a great thinker. His reference to evolution without replication was an interesting point also.
    Hi Steve (and indirectly Dave Deamer)
    I stumbled across your blogging "by chance" and I ended up with a head-ache for my troubles! Some of your scientific terms and thoughts are not easy for me to grasp. I am curious. Dave Deamer gave an example of a laboratory experiment [guided by careful design!] which resulted in the "scientific" conclusion that a key "evolutionary" step towards "life" almost certainly happened "by chance". I just have a nagging concern about this line of thinking. Would it not be possible for someone to deliberately conduct a new scientifically feasible experiment and manage the conditions such that the first set of "Dave's" conclusions would never happen, and then claim that this new result was in fact the "chance" result? Or was Daves proposed process the ONLY possible chance, in which case it was not chance at all? Or was it the only proposed process which could support his pre-supposition that life evolved by chance, in which case although it could explain Dave theory, but it is really no proof at all - in the strict sense of "chance". Not sure I'm making too much sense, but would appreciate your comments. Leslie

    Steve Davis
     Or was Daves proposed process the ONLY possible chance,...
    I don't think anyone will ever claim to know how life began, the best that can be done is to put forward suggestions based on known chemistry, physics and biology.
    The holy scriptures which form the bibles for the both the Jew and the Christian contain amazing information about how the Creator (our God Almighty) created the heavens and the earth! There was a period during which I wondered whether it could actually be accurate - after over 20 years of study I have come to the ever-deepening understanding that it most certainly is accurate - both from a scientific and also from a spiritual perspective.

    While I agree that there is an immense bias in conducting ANY experiment, it's still rather difficult to prove the existence of a higher being. I am somewhat spiritual, but even with such a minute chance of the universe randomly occurring, there is a chance. It's impossible to know the amount of time that the was before the universe (making the assumption that time is a factor), so a near infinite amount of time could be enough for the universe to start.

    I have read that there are an estimated 10(80) [i.e. 10 followed by 80 zeroes] atoms in our known universe. And that each atom has 10(45) possibilities of interaction per second. And that assuming our universe is approx. 4,5 billion years old then there have been about 10(25) seconds since the hypothetical big-bang event. Which means that there have been 10(150) total possibilities of random, purposeless events for the first theoretical simple cell to have evolved by chance. A seeming major issue arises when we consider that the theorized odds of the most simple living cell arising by chance has been put in the range of 1 chance in 10(1000s). Some scientists have put the odds as low as 1 chance in 10(3000)-plus. If these assumed figures are even roughly correct then we have an enormous reality problem when ignoring the "chance" factors. This is why atheistically inclined scientists have been investigating "intelligently designed" laboratory experiments which can support theories which would reduce the chance-odds of a living cell so that an Intelligent Designer could become unnecessary. Because if the accumulated odds of the first cell by chance are in the 10(1000s) then life by random chance may be safely assumed to be impossible. Or to look at it another way, we could safely say that the odds FOR of a Designer Creator would be in the range 10(1000s) to 1.
    And the above points do not address the even greater "scientific" issues of (i) How life can ever arise from non-living materials - randomly or not; and (ii) how highly sophisticated (DNA) information can ever be created without needing a prior intelligence to create the information.
    And so I struggle to get excited when hearing of highly intelligent people working in laboratories in a decidely non-chance design effort to prove simple-cell life by chance. It just doesn't make sense at this time.
    And it seems to stubbornly refuse to even consider the simple answer of an Intelligent life-giving Designer, in preference of a highly complex multi-stage hypothetical random non-designed design which is founded on scientific phantasy [e.g. something from nothing; life from non-life; and complex information from non-intelligence] rather than known and indisputable contrary scientific truths.
    I'm very open to other views of course, if they can make scientific and logical sense within our actual REALITY.
    But it seems to me that the idea that "anything" can happen given enough time and chance is simply unreal. We cannot simply theorize our universe to get older and older without running into the problem of the dissipation of all useful energy available to create or support "life". Nor should we ignore known "inviolable" scientific principles without having actual verifiable facts to support the new theories.
    That's my basic thinking at this time.
    Kind regards, Leslie

    Gerhard Adam
    But it seems to me that the idea that "anything" can happen given enough time and chance is simply unreal.

    First of all, no one suggests that "anything" can happen, but rather that specific events can happen given enough time if they follow specific scientific principles.  In other words, your inability to fly by flapping your arms isn't subject to a time constraint.  It doesn't matter how much time passes, it simply won't happen.

    Similarly, it is exceedingly unlikely that an evolutionary path would exist that would allow your arms to be transformed into wings, although that has a slightly higher possibility of occuring (although it is still quite unlikely).

    No matter how you look at it, it is much more improbable to postulate the existence of an entity defined as "infinite" that simply skirts around all the scientific problems than it is to accept the scientific probabilities as the most likely explanation.  It's no different than looking at the probabilities for winning the lottery.  Once the numbers are drawn, it is quite likely that for one individual the winning numbers have a probability of one, so it is pointless to look at it the perspective of how high the probabilities are.  In that example, they have collapsed to one for an individual, so the rest is simply irrelevant.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Dear Gerhard, thanks very much for your comments. Good photo! Hope the following comments make sense without giving offence.
    You suggest, and I believe you, that you are not deliberately suggesting that “anything” can happen in our reality. But my point was that if we consider the commonly accepted “odds” of life by purposeless chance in the first so-called “simple” cell we are theorizing outside the realms of probability and science as we currently know and understand it. Apart from the unimaginable odds against the first simple cell randomly “gathering” and then precisely “ordering & assembling” its many complex parts, there remains the key “scientific” issues of:
    (i) how the cell hardware could manufacture the DNA software; and (ii) how random non-purposeful, non-intelligent atoms “write and store” complex “information” in the DNA/RNA; and (iii) how “life” came from either the hardware or the software of the cell. I am respectfully suggesting that if we wish to ignore these issues and dress them up in scientific terms it seem to me that we have entered the realm of science fantasy where “anything” can then happen. It would seem to me – just to make my point – that given our current scientific knowledge there is as much chance of a 5 legged flying pig being the next head of the UN, as there is of the first living cell by chance – i.e. none.
    You mentioned “scientific principles”, but I do not know of a complex information coding system ever being produced by “unintelligent blind-chance”. And the non-reality of this concept can be demonstrated. Try taking any meaningful set of information as a test base and then implement a series of purely random changes to that information a “letter/code” at a time. I can confidently predict that your experiment will result in a degradation of information – not an information improvement. As an ex-computer programmer, I can sadly verify the truth of this time-and-again from my software development experience! Unfortunately, whenever I made a “typing error” as I entered my software code I NEVER ended up with a better program. So I humbly suggest that a Blind Chance god-concept is a less scientific theory than an Intelligent Designer god-concept, when attempting to explain the “something from nothing” origins of our created reality.
    Your point of the “much more probability” of an evolutionary answer to the first living cell as opposed to an Intelligent Designer answer appears “unscientific” to me in terms of probabilities as I suggested in my earlier comments. The odds of a typical coin spinning either heads or tails is 1 in 2. Evolutionary theory and Intelligent Design are two sides of a coin. It is either heads or tails. But if we find a bias in one side of our coin that favors – lets say, heads occurring from a spin then the odds of tails occurring must diminish by the same factor. And so if the odds AGAINST a living cell by chance are 1 in 10(3000-plus) then it follows that the adds FOR a Designer concept are 10(3000-plus). So, based on generally accepted science today I don’t understand your logic that an evolutionary explanation is MORE probable than a Designer explanation. Respectfully, I suggest your “probabilities” argument is unscientific.
    Your point about a Designer answer “skirting around” the scientific problems seems weak. You are completely entitled to have blind-faith in a chance-based evolutionary explanation which conflicts with current scientific principles and evidence, and is against the “odds”. But I respectfully suggest your rationalizations do not appear to be supported by sound operational science or logic.
    When you say it is “pointless” to look at the probabilities, you again seem to deny current scientific reality and logic in order to hold to your utterly “improbable” origin views. The decision-making reality of our lives is continuously run by probability analysis according to our knowledge and our ability to reason. Jury decisions, mathematical formulae, business decisions, lifestyle choices; scientific data analysis; investment; medical diagnosis; whether to carry an umbrella; etc. So for you to suggest that we should “ignore probabilities” in this important discussion seems unreasonable, especially since you appear to be sincerely trying to argue your case “scientifically and logically”. To the best of my knowledge the current enormous probabilities against “blind chance evolution for the first living cell” argue overwhelmingly for an Intelligent Designer answer at this time, given the “real” scientific evidences and principles that exist today.
    I previously said that I am interested in other views especially if they have a scientific and logical basis within our reality, but I can’t yet see a great deal of true science or logic from your main points. As a last point, one serious attempt to overcome the very real “first living cell by chance” issues I have raised above is to suggest that there are in fact many, many universes like ours, - but our universe supposedly managed to win the evolutionary “blind chance” jackpot as it were. But even this speculation doesn’t remove the issue that for each particular universe the “blind chance origins” odds are still EFFECTIVELY zero. Nor can it explain the problems of the original SOURCE of "something from nothing" or “life” or “information”.
    Anyhow, that's my thoughts for now.

    Gerhard Adam

    The problem with an Intelligent Designer is that it simply begins with the premise that there is already an intelligence and an entity in existence from which everything else springs.  That answers no questions, since it simply argues that the difficult part was always there.

    Why not argue that cells are infinite and that they were always there?

    The point there is that it gets us nowhere closer to understanding the processes from a scientific perspective.  You can't simply postulate that the difficult parts are there and then proceed to explain the process which is precisely what Intelligent Design does. 

    However, my point about the probabilities being "irrelevant" is that once an event has occurred, then it is pointless to discuss the odds against it.  Probabilities are intended to discuss events before they occur.  Once they occur, the probability is one and therefore not particularly relevant.

    In addition, you seem to think that the formation of cells requires completely random processes to assemble, and yet that isn't true anymore than magnetic particles would require random processes to line up along magnetic force lines.  While the particles may move randomly, their response to a field would be quite predictable.  Similarly if you look at the formation of the cell membrane you find exactly that kind of behavior in the molecules.  The hydrophilic heads and hydrophobic tails will spontaneously align precisely according to their proximity to water.  As a result, they behave quite similarly to the spontaneous alignment of magnetic particles in a field.  In other words, the behavior isn't nearly as unpredictable as it seems.

    Certainly you can argue against the likelihood of such complex phospholipid molecules could form, but then why not argue against the formation of any particular element.  But we know that isn't reasonable because chemical processes are quite predictable when various molecules are in proximity to one another and they will behave accordingly to the rules of chemistry.

    How do crystals grow?  How does the sun manage to burn?  These are all basic chemistry questions and they don't require completely random processes.

    So, in principle, there is much going on in the world that doesn't require anything beyond normal physics and chemistry principles to explain their existence.

    The sticking point appears to be the transition to living organisms, but once again, the issue seems to be that the assumption is that this process occurred as a completely random singular act after which a modern cell was miraculously created.  However, there is no basis for believing that. 

    It is obvious that eukaryotic cells formed much latter in the evolutionary process, so an early cell doesn't need a nucleus or half the mechanisms available which is precisely what we see in the prokaryotic cells.  Similarly, we see that the DNA in the prokaryotic cells is more "primitive", as well as the means of exchanging DNA is much more "primitive".

    However, the most obvious issue is the appearance of a sophisticated "information" system in the for of DNA.  Is this really more significant (in principle) from the information necessary for a crystal to grow?  Certainly the DNA is orders of magnitude more complex, but in the end similarly simple principles may well be at work. 

    As you know from software development, a game like Pong is no different (in principle) from the entire internet since it is all achieved through the simple process of turning on 1's and 0's.  From that simple principle instructions have been created that could be interpreted by an electronic framework, as protocols have been developed defining the rules of communicating.  But to extend your analogy using computers, the misunderstood part of that is that none of the systems we currently use were developed in their present form from the beginning.  Each evolved based on the principles and understanding of previous versions.  So to argue the odds of a fully formed biological cell occurring randomly is the same argument that a fully formed version of the internet or Windows 7 system could occur even with "intelligent design". 

    So, the point then is that none of these processes occurs fully formed, but instead they take countless numbers of interim steps to ultimately achieve a later form.  So, if you're looking at a human cell, you will be struck by the utter improbability of it's having formed randomly, but the answer is that it didn't.  Much more primitive ancestors predated its existence, the majority of which probably no longer exist (and certainly never left a record).

    Similarly there is nothing to argue that the cell and DNA needed to evolve together.  They could well have been completely separate processes that later converged to form the cell. 

    Out of the billions and billions of chemical interactions that take place, only one has to survive as a stable mechanism for preserving such "information" for there to be a foothold to allow future evolution.  In other words, it isn't nearly as random as it first appears.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    ...but I do not know of a complex information coding system ever being produced by “unintelligent blind-chance”.
    But that's exactly what's being suggested.  In other words, Intelligent Design postulates that "information" already exists in the form of a "designer".  Therefore the issue of an original source of such "information" is effectively skirted around.

    Once again using your computer analogy, that is tantamount to arguing that programs exist only because of previous programs.  That doesn't explain anything since it requires a cause that is synonymous with the result.  An Intelligent Designer cannot answer the "information" question, since such an entity represents "information" already in existence.

    It simply pushes the question back to another level which is equally unanswered, whereas I'm simply looking at the probability of a cell forming, your problem is to explain the process by which an Intelligent Designer came into existence. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hi Gerhard. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me once again, I really appreciate it even though we haven’t found much common ground. My response follows. Sorry for the length.

    ID BEGINS WITH A PREMISE ETC. AND ANSWERS NO QUESTIONS
    1 Your portrayal of the supposed “fundamental weakness” of the Intelligent Design (ID) position doesn’t seem entirely fair or accurate. Just for example, the renowned adversarial atheist and philosopher Anthony Flew astounded his peers by renouncing his atheistic position after many decades. Flew concluded eventually, and with every attempt at analytical objectivity, that there had to be “a God of some sort” based purely upon scientific developments and evidence - not upon any pre-suppositional ID bias – just the opposite in fact. Naturally, Flew brought the ire and mockery of his “fellow atheists” upon himself for publicizing his viewpoint. Flew went from “thinking” hero to zero overnight, as it were. Flew has not been the only well-educated thinker to go through this type of “conversion” of belief, if I may put it that way.
    2 You seem to be dismissing the incontrovertible logic that if there was no evolution - there must be ID. Its as if you have your head in the sand about the only obvious and logical alternative to an evolutionary answer to origins – irrespective of your view of its connections with operational science (OS) or not. And I wonder if you are aware of your own “faith-based” major pre-supposition that the one and only valid way to validly answer this problem is to engage in an operational scientific process. Hopefully, you would agree that no “true” OS is ever going to be able to “prove” the issue of origins. Certainly it can take some “today” data and facts and conceptualize a “metaphysical” origins hypothesis. But that is all it will ever be, unless time travel allowed someone to go back to “the beginning” and returned alive: - or heaven forbid, the ID answered the origins question!
    The concept of an ID is both entirely logical and an obvious “possibility”. The fact that OS cannot, or perhaps will not “see it” in a laboratory context is completely irrelevant as to whether it is TRUE or NOT. There have been any number of today’s scientific truths which were not provable in OS in the past. But they were nevertheless true!
    3 Furthermore, as I have pointed out earlier, current OS evidence refutes a number of foundational aspects of the evolutionary paradigm, which the ID concept answers very well. IF, there was an ID then “something from nothing” is explained, “life from life” is explained, “intelligent information” is explained, and the “complexity of the first cell arising within an acceptable period since initial origins” is explained. To argue that this option is “too simple” is simply avoiding the issue, that ID can provide an obvious answer to several seemingly intractable problems for the evolutionary scenario. Since when MUST we assume that the obvious and simple theories must be by default “wrong”? This is unreasoning nonsense in my view. When Prof. Dawkins and others of his ilk argue that their “harder” methods of investigation “prove” that only their “presuppositions” and fanciful speculations in the name of OS are worthy of consideration, I suggest they are misleading people away from right thinking. I am not arguing that someone must be dogmatically subjected to the ID option. But I am arguing that the case for ID cannot be easily dismissed in the way that many “evolutionists” suggest, as they hurl dogmatic pre-suppositional stones from their own fragile glass-houses. ID provides logically coherent, simple, and non-contrived answers to OS origins. That is no reason to dismiss it out-of-hand as many evolutionists are prone to do, thereby giving strong evidence of their pre-suppositional bias.

    WHY NOT SAY CELLS ARE INFINITE AND ALWAYS EXISTED? I would suggest, because cells are material and are dependant for their ongoing existence upon an ever-decreasing pool of available energy in our REALITY.

    ID GETS US NOWHERE CLOSER TO UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESSES SCIENTIFICALLY.
    ID doesn’t prevent or discourage ongoing scientific investigation within the LIMITS of OS. Good unbiased OS should be completely independent of whether the scientist believes in ID or evolution. The fact that it often isn’t is often caused by a bigotry which is certainly not limited to scientists in the ID scenario. The various “frauds” and blatant “exaggerations” emanating from time to time from the evolutionary camp are a blight upon the many evolutionary-oriented scientists who work with integrity. Anyhow, I suggest this point is completely irrelevant to the main issues of ID theory versus evolutionary theory. OS has been used to try and suggest evolutionary theory is “proven” “done and dusted”. But I suggest it is far from achieving that at this time – despite the theatrical huffing and puffing of Prof. Dawkins and co.
    Are you not ignoring “by faith” some of the foundational OS issues [that I have highlighted] which can completely undermine the evolutionary theory? Are you perhaps showing unreasonable bias in that: (i) Very serious OS deficiencies exist at this time within the evolutionary system of thought; and (ii) although OS will never be able to “prove” the origin of the first living cell by chance, - and yet you are “essentially” refusing to even “consider” [I don’t say accept] the obvious and only alternative?

    ONCE AN EVENT HAS OCCURRED IT IS POINTLESS TO DISCUSS THE ODDS AGAINST IT
    Respectfully, surely this statement cannot be true? If we examine the current situation of something in our real world we frequently engage in attempting to establish truth and causes by considering the probabilities leading to the current situation. This is an essential part and parcel of our truth-investigation. Especially when, in the absence of ID - “evolutionary theory” must explain itself purely by purposeless, random, chance chemical events. An obviously very serious and fundamental issue for evolutionary theory is how chemistry and materialism can explain the “origins” of “NON-material” information in DNA! How exactly do we explain blind-chance MATERIAL chemicals bouncing around aimlessly and without directed purpose to produce even SIMPLE purposeful “NON-material” information, let alone the COMPLEX information in the DNA process? Has anything remotely like this ever been found in OS? I suggest not. Logic and OS evidence in world history is firmly and completely against this evolution theory NECESSITY.

    CELL BEHAVIOR ISN’T NEARLY AS UNPREDICTABLE AS IT SEEMS.
    I take your point to a degree. But I am not disputing the established natural laws we currently find in operational science. [Although a uniformitarian view on our natural laws from the point of origins is yet another massive assumption that evolutionists seem to make]. Just because there are physical laws governing the behavior of elements under various conditions etc. that still does not explain the overall CHANCE purposeless movement and collaboration [within known laws] to produce a living cell within its fine-tuned sub-component limits, and in the necessary sequential order – and presumably within a generally hostile environment. And this is exactly where probabilities regarding “chance” must come into play, based around our current OS knowledge.
    WHY NOT ARGUE AGAINST THE FORMATION OF ANY PARTICULAR ELEMENT?
    Because the issue of the formation of elements, whether originated by chance or not, is not essential to the ID argument. What we are primarily focusing on is self-replicating living cells – an entirely different proposition.

    CHEMICAL PROCESSES ARE QUITE PREDICTABLE WHEN VARIOUS MOLECULES ARE IN PROXIMITY TO ONE ANOTHER. Atoms and sub-atomic particles are NOT entirely predictable though. Am I correct in thinking that? Anyhow I can’t yet see that this point is material to our discussion, one way or another.
    IN PRINCIPLE, MUCH GOES ON IN THE WORLD THAT DOESN'T REQUIRE ANYTHING BEYOND NORMAL PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY PRINCIPLES TO EXPLAIN THEIR EXISTENCE. Respectfully, surely that does not “explain” their existence, nor the amazing fact that they operate in wonderful integrated mathematical order? Nor does it answer the self-replicating living cell issues.
    The sticking point appears to be the transition to living organisms, but once again, the issue seems to be that the assumption is that this process occurred as a completely random singular act after which a modern cell was miraculously created. However, there is no basis for believing that.

    EVOLUTIONARY THEORY DEMANDS “CHANCE” PROCESSES – THIS IS NOT MY INVENTION
    Perhaps the greater issue is how “material” chemicals produce [non-material again?] “life” in the first place. We know much of the maths for our REALITY. But current OS hasn’t a clue at this point as to “what LIFE is” let alone how it [cohabits with OR co-exists with] the maths/chemistry?

    EUKARYOTIC CELLS ETC. [Assumptions? But I accept your right to make them to postulate your theory].

    SOPHISTICATED "INFORMATION" SYSTEM FORMS FOR DNA.
    How do chance purposeless activities between material chemicals institute a purposeful non-material self-replicating information system? Information design requires intelligence. DNA first needs RNA. But RNA first needs DNA. How does a dumb “material” set of chemicals learn a “non-material” coding system – however “simple” you want to hypothesize it? How is a “messenger” trained to take the information to a protein assembly plant? How do other blind-chemical agents learn to run a protein manufacture factory and process select “information”. How does the skill of “error correction” originate, by chance?
    These types of questions are totally beyond any serious and acceptable scientific conceptualizing at this point. In fact I believe there is a US organisation offering 1$ million for any of the great minds on this earth to come up with a viable OS theory. It seems there are no takers yet. The noted philosopher of science, Sir Karl Popper expressed part of the problem like this. “DNA code cannot be translated except by using certain products of its translation. This constitutes a baffling circle; a really vicious circle, it seems, for any attempt to form a model or theory of the genesis of the genetic code”.

    A GAME LIKE PONG IS NO DIFFERENT (IN PRINCIPLE) FROM THE ENTIRE INTERNET. IT IS ACHIEVED THROUGH THE SIMPLE PROCESS OF TURNING ON 1'S AND 0'S.
    I think there are a couple of serious problems with the particular analogy you use. Firstly, the 1’s and 0’s are merely the system for recording the coded info. They are not the coded info, per se. Second, dumb computer hardware [the equivalent of the cell chemicals] cannot produce its own operating code (software). Third, as you expressed it to me, your Pong/Internet analogy is still totally dependant on an outside ID who designs the coding to achieve a purpose. Yes? You have not escaped the ID. There is no reasonable chance that purposeful Pong coding could occur by random chance. We could “imagine” computer hardware evolving its own very, very basic “operating software” with purposeful design. But I would classify that as science fantasy– not OS.

    THE PROCESSES TAKE COUNTLESS INTERIM STEPS TO ACHIEVE A LATER FORM
    I suggest that you make a number of unprovable assumptions here. But irrespective, the necessary “countless numbers of interim steps” you envisage from evolutionary origins is the very reason that there are no current viable/provable theories from evolutionists as to how this could have occurred from chance steps leading into an ordered incremental process - within 4,5 trillion, trillion, trillion years, - let alone the few billion years commonly postulated. I believe this is an extremely serious problem for evolutionary theory which doesn’t go away just because Prof. Dawkins argues vehemently that it is irrelevant.

    THE CELL AND DNA NEED NOT HAVE EVOLVED TOGETHER
    I’m think you will accept that the weakness of this idea is that it has no current OS basis, and probably never will have. The insurmountable problem and irony for those undoubtedly brilliant scientists who are trying to use OS to demonstrate evolutionary origins, is that they are proving that we need some of the best brains on the planet to systematically and intelligently design ways to disprove ID!

    ONLY ONE OUT OF BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF CHEMICAL INTERACTIONS HAS TO SURVIVE FOR AN EVOLUTION FOOTHOLD
    I proposed the maths on the CHANCES in an earlier response. Given what we currently know - there is no reasonable “chance” of the “one” occurring in our REALITY. The probabilities [as we currently understand them] overwhelmingly support ID – not evolutionary chance.
    ...but I do not know of a complex information coding system ever being produced by “unintelligent blind-chance”.

    ID SKIRTS AROUND THE ISSUE OF THE ORIGINAL SOURCE OF “INFORMATION”
    I suggest the ID concept obviously answers the source problem rather than skirts around it as you put it. Fundamentally, software programs exist in our REALITY because of the applied intelligence of IDs - not previous programs. An ID source of the DNA information is eminently logical and completely conforms with the universal experiences in our REALITY of information production. Information implies intelligence. Intelligence implies a mind. You may validly disagree with the ID answer because you think an evolutionary answer is a “superior” answer , but I suggest it is silly (in an unfortunately typical Dawkins way) to argue that ID provides no logically cohesive answer.
    ID MUST EXPLAIN HOW THE ID CAME INTO EXISTENCE
    This becomes a red-herring issue IF the ID is self-existent. But irrespective, we are postulating an ID for our universe as one of the only two logically possible options. One cannot say a particular option is refuted merely because we don’t have all information about it. If that was so we would have to deny the theories on light and electricity and life and evolution, etc.

    In conclusion, I guess we are nowhere near consensus on most points at this time. And yet I have really valued hearing your views to understand the evolutionary position a little better. Sincere thanks again for sharing your time, patience and knowledge with me in our discussions. Leslie.

    Gerhard Adam
    And I wonder if you are aware of your own “faith-based” major pre-supposition that the one and only valid way to validly answer this problem is to engage in an operational scientific process.

    Of course that's the only valid way until you've got a demonstrable alternative.  However, it is not "faith-based" when one approaches a problem from the perspective that there is a knowable universe that is subject to interrogation and subject to interpretation based on testing and repeatable results.  To suggest otherwise requires the ability for "miracles" and that simply means that the universe is fundamentally unknowable since everything is subject to intervention making it behave differently.  While you may choose to believe that, there is no basis for thinking it is true.
    This becomes a red-herring issue IF the ID is self-existent.

    What does "self-existent" mean?  It seems like you're using it in place of "infinite", but it conveys no meaning beyond suggesting that it has always existed.  If that's the case, then you're simply arguing for the existence of a God, which whether you want to accept it or not is the subject of faith and not scientific inquiry.  To discuss that aspect becomes philosophical and is no longer in the domain of science.

    Until you can adequately explain what ID is (in a scientific sense) demonstrating it to be a measurable phenomenon or demonstrating a means by which it can be detected, then you're merely speculating and considering things from your personal belief system.  Contrary to the perpetual charge of science also being "faith-based", this attitude is unwarranted since regardless of whether science is perfect or even completely correct, it has an excellent track record for testing, and demonstrating the repeatability of the phenomenon being measured.  More importantly, it gains further confirmation every time a successful prediction occurs from a theory.  Science is not "faith-based" and despite not having a time machine, it is relatively straightforward to demonstrate that evolution is a solid theory by its ability to predict into the future.  Also, you seem to be confusing evolution and origins of life issues, since the latter is not subject to any particular theory at this point.  Evolution is NOT intended to explain the origins of life. 

    Your response to my analogy using computers is also quite telling since you avoided the bigger question.  Even though it wasn't intended, you seemed to extend the analogy to include the human programmer as an example of an external intelligence necessary for programs to work.  The obvious problem is that computers are inanimate and therefore would clearly require external intervention, in the same way any machine does.  However even in this case, you must recognize that introducing humans doesn't answer the question of where humans originated, even if it explains computer programs.  Similarly, introducing ID doesn't explain where the ID came from if you're suggesting it is a force of nature.  While you may feel that you have explained the origin of life, you've got a much bigger problem explaining the ID (and simply asserting it's existence doesn't do it).
    Mundus vult decipi
    And so if the odds AGAINST a living cell by chance are 1 in 10(3000-plus) then it follows that the adds FOR a Designer concept are 10(3000-plus).
    No it does not. There are two fallacies here, one is of false opposites or the Fallacy of the Excluded Middle; the other is a much more dangerous error called the Lawyer's Fallacy (iirc) which is known to have resulted in miscarriages of justice in real life. Oh yes, "blind chance" is also a strawman so that's three fallacies all in one sentence. Well done.  
     
    How is it possible to have life without time or chance?

    I like how you use the lottery for an example but if you are going to use it take into account that it wouldn't be just one drawing. In order for all of the protiens to form and then come together wouldn't be like a singlr person winning the power ball... It would be like that one person choosing the winning power ball numbers for every single drawing for the next 769.23 years. Your theory is pretty unlikely at six random numbers per drawing and two drawings per week for seven and a half centuries.

    Leslie,

    As an atheist, I agree - the 'given enough time and space' argument is a dodge. It's pathetic on the part of scientists to sink to that kind of logic. It's really no better than Creationism. I prefer to look to non-material possibilities - and that does not require God. David Bohm's implicate order is an interesting, if vague, theory.

    You mentioned atheist scientists exploring ID possibilities - can you give me any links on that. I'd love to see more,

    Kelly

    Hi Kelly
    Just a few points of clarification between us first. Intelligent Design is not Creationism, although logically, all Creationists would believe in Intelligent Design by an entity called God. This point is important since many people seem to inadvertently confuse the two independent areas of study.
    According to a BBC "Horizon" program, Intelligent Design is "A War on Science". And certainly in my limited studies of Intelligent Design and Creationism I can confirm this common "fundamentalist" atheistic view. According to the metaphysical view of many worshippers of "science" they dogmatically state by faith that no truth or reality exists outside their current view of "scientific materialism". It would appear you are not in that atheistic camp of thinking.

    I would presume that the great majority of scientists who argue for Intelligent Design today are either ex-atheists or esle they were always believers in some form of Creationism. So finding atheistic non-materialistic scientists who propose ID is not going to be easy I guess. Added to this we must recognize that in every worldview system right thinking "philosophically-speaking" is an essential ingedient too. That was why I mentioned above the "conversion" of the fundamentalist atheistic philosopher Anthony Flew to a form of Intelligent Design / Creationism. Flew claimed in his book "There is a God" that this was based purely upon right thinking applied to the implications of scientific breakthroughs, particualrly in the area of DNA. Flew claimed to adhere rigourously to the Scoratic principle of following the evidence wherever it leads regardless of the consequences.
    Anyhow, just in case this helps - perhaps you might get some leads through William Dembski's web-site on "Design Inferences". In theory at least - it shouldn't matter whether the ID position is being evaluated by an atheist or a Creationist scientist / philoso[her. True science and true thinking should prevail from either worldview if scientists and philosophers are truly striving for objectivity.
    Not sure this help you much. But I wish you well on your searching.

    And what exactly was this information in the Bible that described how God created the heavens and the earth. Could you let us in on this wonderful information.

    As a Christian minister who gew up an atheist - both parents are scientists - I work hard to ensure my faith is not a blind one. I came to realization in college that to be an atheist is it's own belief-structure. After an open-minded examination, I came to a personal conviction about intelligent design. Still, though I read great articles like this to challenge my understanding & beliefs. I found the experiment & its conclusions interesting - even somewhat a little disconcerting for a religious world-view. But then I discovered this article: "The RNA World: A Critique - What do Ribozyme Engineering ..." (http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od171/ribo171.htm), which clearly refutes Bartel and Szostak’s research claims to be an illumination of early life formation. This other article's contention is that, "In vitro RNA selection does not demonstrate that complex ribozymes could have arisen naturally in a prebiotic soup, because the in vitro experimental conditions are wholly unrealistic, revealing at every turn the fingerprints of intervening intelligence."
    I thank Dave Beamer for sharing this interesting experiment with us & its thought-provoking questions it engenders, but since it bears so little resemblance to the reality of an evolutionary scenario in which a miniscule amount of potential RNA material spilled over a wide barren planetary surface, somehow resulting in life. If anything, to me, Beamer's blog suggests to me that, in light of this experiment, we may not have given the chances of randomly-occuring life a low enough probability ratio. Thank you Dave for helping me continually see that my convictions of intelligent design still weathers the best research that evolutionary science can hurl toward it.

    Hey Les are you still following this thread at all? Prob not ----

    Dear RBX
    I have occasionally taken a quick scan of the ongoing comments. But I lost my overall interest due to what I perceived as a lack of objective, logical and polite interactions with respect to issues I raised. I found this disappointing. When I made my very first enquiry on this group I had the impression that I was being sincerely invited to discuss my views about "Calculating The Odds That Life Could Begin By Chance". But unfortunately things didn't work the way I naively expected. I imagined that persons with a contrary view to mine would provide me with powerful 'scientific' and logical answers to my queries, but in many instances this did not occur to my satisfaction. Not did I often encounter a balanced appreciation for 'alternative' thinking. Instead I found clever but dismissive reponses designed to close down discussion rather than explore real difficulties with the atheistic goo-to-you evolutionary arguments. There was insufficient recognition that there are many important if not foundational questions relating to the origins of life that science can never answer 'scientifically'. The derogatory and impolite approaches used by some members of the group may satisfy themselves, but it doesn't really help an open discussion of the issues. One interesting point continually inferred by some was that there is and can never be an acceptable 'evidence' of an Intelligent Designer. The logic seemed to be along the lines that there cannot be 100% scientific proof of an Intelligent Designer [true] therefore the idea is not worth exploring further. But that dismissive thinking could equally be applied to the foundational origins assumptions of atheistic science. Personally, I believe I could argue quite reasonably that there are a number of possible evidences in our reality for the existence of an Intelligent Designer, but to explore that line of thinking would probably invite accusations of bringing 'religion' uninvited into a 'science' group. And so I have tried my best to respect that, and avoid those arguments. But if there is anyone who would like to explore that area with me on a polite and constructive basis I would be pleased to offer a few thoughts in that area. To be clear, what I am suggesting is that there are certain 'measurable' evidences available which strongly suggest that an Intelligent Designer entity has in fact communicated into our known reality. Should anyone be interested in that line of thinking I can be contacted on lesliec@ew.co.za. Kind regards to everyone on the group.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...explore real difficulties with the atheistic goo-to-you evolutionary arguments...
    The problem is pretty self-evident.  When you think you are being "scientific" by classifying such arguments as "atheistic", it reeks of AGENDA.  So, let's not pretend that it was ever about anything except advancing religion as the primary argument.

    It's simply annoying and boring when creationists or ID'ers can't be up front about promoting their religious ideas.   However, I also want to be clear that it is about a specific religious agenda.  The majority of Christians certainly don't have a problem with evolution or natural selection.  They certainly recognize that the discoveries of science are well in line with anything God could have created.

    The problem is that creationists and IDer's want to only allow for one explanation, and that's a literal interpretation of the Bible.  So, their argument is disingenuous because they claim it is against "atheistic" scientists, but it is equally against Christians that accept the possibility that God could have created the world in exactly such a manner as described by science.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Well put - for an atheist! :)
     
    Dear Gerhard. I suspected I wouldn’t be able to sneak my last post in under your radar! Oh well. A few comments are in order. Firstly, we all have agendas, don't we? And our worldviews ultimately have a religious implication in that they shape our behaviours, - if we live out what we believe. With respect, the ID, Creationist and Atheist worldviews all contain potential metaphysical implications - this is no big 'agenda' secret as you seem to infer.
    And out of interest 'advancing religion' would be the last thing on my mind when engaging in posts to this group. Especially since I don’t view myself as following any religion, although I do view myself as a bible believing Christian. [I only say this since you seem to be interested my status in that regard.] As far as your opinions about what the majority of professing Christians do or don't think, I take little account of such things as you seem to. True truth is not found by establishing ‘majority’ viewpoints as you would surely know from the history of religion, or science for that matter. And as for your ‘expert?’ opinions on Bible hermeneutics, well I’m sure you have some dogmatic and judgmental views there too. But I don’t think it is appropriate to discuss the merits of various systems of Bible interpretation in this forum. Oh, and for the record. I don’t ever think of myself as being ‘scientific’. From my perspective you are letting yourself down with ‘emotional’ posts like your last one. Respectfully, Leslie.
    PS. This is definitely my last response to you. So feel free to have the last word.

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, apparently I will have the last word, only to clarify a few vague points.
    With respect, the ID, Creationist and Atheist worldviews all contain potential metaphysical implications - this is no big 'agenda' secret as you seem to infer.
    This could be true, if it weren't hidden by the fact that it generally takes several posts before one finally gets the "creationist/IDer" to admit that theirs is not a "skeptical" position but a religious one.  Of course this is even more evident when one looks at organizations like the Discovery Institute that have made the subterfuge of avoiding religious connections practically an art form.
    Especially since I don’t view myself as following any religion, although I do view myself as a bible believing Christian.
    So, you do or you don't?  Nevermind, it's clear why such scientific ambiguity can exist.
    I don’t ever think of myself as being ‘scientific’.
    Then, what exactly was your point in posting a scientific query here?
    So feel free to have the last word.
    Thank you.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Dear Dave,
    Thank you for writing this article. I'm 15 and I'm trying to understand the origins of life. This article helped me understand more about how life could have began than I thought possible. It's still a fairly confusing concept to wrap my adolescent mind around. Your scientific lingo got a little confusing so I looked up what some were on Wikipedia. I was engaged for hours. Please notify me if you have any more articles simular to this.
    ~Desa

    You people slay me. We are blazing ever faster into another apparent event horizon. Your own physics states that there must have been an infinate source of power to create the big bang, again not possible with your physics.

    I hate the egotistical, erroneous way you all present theories as if they were fact.

    Well friend there is an infinate power, He is returning soon!
    1 Christian

    Gerhard Adam
    I hate the egotistical, erroneous way you all present theories as if they were fact.
    Of course, since it is so much easier to present magic as if it were fact.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You believe that one particular version of one particular bronze age god is an infinite power and that his son/self that he made in order to watch it die is going to return and naturally that one particular version that is true and infinite is the one you were raised believing while countless others are just following the wrong one.

    You people slay me.

    Each step of this complex procedure was performed by a highly skilled, highly disciplined scientist who was controlling and manipulating all aspects of the experiment to produce the results he was wishing for. He purposefully directed the results at each stage to begin the next stage towards a predetermined goal. Sort of sounds like how creation might have went. Big guy controlling all aspects and selectively using the correct procedures and processes to produce cell biology and building blocks. Maybe that is how it was done? You could be discovering that.

    The theories proposed on the origins of life to me, still require vast amounts of faith. With what is claimed to be known about this process, it should be fantastically easy to recreate the origin of life. Sterile environments with all native and natural elemental and gas environments possible. There is no reason this should not have been finished 10 years ago at a minimum.

    The greatest leap of faith is the spark of life or energy in the cells that separates living matter from dead matter. Where does it come from? Why do fully formed, fully developed and previously fully functioning, corpses not reanimate? Why can we not re-establish this? It should be far easier to do this to a fully formed creature than trying to assemble it all the way down to its protons as it were. Take a fully formed creature, even a microscopic one, and make it live again. If you can do that, you'll convince me that life can arise spontaneously.

    Gerhard Adam
    If you can do that, you'll convince me that life can arise spontaneously.
    What makes you think that anyone cares whether you're convinced or not?  It's unfortunate that you don't even realize how little you understand about the issues.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Most responses to ID answers, especially later on, involved personal attacks and sweeping statements of biased idiocy meant to demean, intimidate and bully people into joining the crowd so as not to appear foolish. ("My friends were Christians till they grew up" type of statements).

    The oft cherished Scientific Method of proving theories works until it disproves evolution and its associated trappings. When it becomes clear that current observable conditions in the universe including its most basic of laws give it a zero mathematical chance of success, suddenly the rules have to be changed. Oh conditions were different than now, in some vague and unprovable way.

    Lubos quote from above: " However, they're not right because each step in the evolution/birth of life we observe that looks too complicated was either different, or a chain of many separate steps."

    I fail to see evidence of the scientific method. I see facts presented leading to an inescapable conclusion that is sweepingly dismissed as wrong because "things were different then." We cannot brush aside things we see plainly and say, "well it was different then", or "i don't know how it happened, but it obviously did because here we are the probabilities must be one." Thats taking a bunch of oranges, putting them in a crate, slapping your name on it and saying you created them. Those same assumptions can be made regard ID and have more credibility since the odds potential of proveable science works against blind chance. Math disproves a chain of logical events leading to life creation from blind chance because the events must work in exact order and sequence on the first try. Try again? Ok, keep trying for the next 100000000000000000000000000000 billion years and you'll still be at it.

    The oft used possibility of life originating from extra terrestrial sources puts off the origins of life even further. So life was seeded here on earth? Oh ok, so the same questions we have today fail to be answered because it simply puts the event in some unreachable location that may take mankind generations if at all to ever see and verify. A weak stalling arguement with no verifiable confirmation method of either its validity or that it was an actual past event.

    The "evidence" i see from blind chance advocates is weak on argument but strong on volume. The put downs and attacks on intellects are impressive. I won't challenge you there. But if you cut away that flotsam, you have little more than what IDers have. A faith based system. The exception is the blind chance ideology is supposed to be based on the scientific method; but that method is discarded in its moment of greatest glory...

    ID theory, because it's based on the only alternative to blind chance, stands under the scrutiny of the scientific method quite well. Why? It seems very clear in the universe WE know and live in, blind chance is proveably mathematically impossible. While we cannot prove how "God" came into being, we are not really examining that are we? We're asking how life came to be in THIS UNIVERSE. It seems to be clear someone or something intelligently designed it. Who created him or it? I'm not venturing a guess because i cannot measure what exists or came into being on other planes of existence if there are even such. I know what i see, and i see intelligent design of a master worker. Ironically mankind can't even make one blade of grass on our own. We can only manipulate that which has already been made. So its not just intelligence we're speaking of, but a level of intelligence far beyond us.

    The ID answer doesn't preclude science or guarantee its obsolescence. On the contrary it encourages further exploration into what has been made and how it works together and perhaps to the processes used to generate intelligently the great variety of life we see.

    Men and women of intelligence who believe the theory of blind chance perhaps do so based on the track record of organized religions and their general overall attitudes on past centuries toward science and because quite simply, they are told to. We must be careful that the new "high priest" is not he who wears a lab coat.

    Gerhard Adam
    ... and your solution is to invoke magic.  You don't get to make ridiculous comments under the guise of being "scientific, while ignoring science.  You don't get to invoke religious beliefs under the pretense that you're providing a scientific argument.  You're promoting a religious agenda that has no basis in science, and it is because of the disingenuous nature of such posts that you are routinely attacked. 

    If you have nothing scientific to contribute, then go away and keep your belief to yourself.  Your ignorance and lack of understanding will not be indulged simply because you wish to gain an audience for your religious views.

    [Go ahead and explain how miracles aren't magic and "how things are different" in your explanation]
    Mundus vult decipi
    "Magic" or "miracles" as you put them are sometimes considered things which humans cannot at present explain. Everything about modern life is "magic" to someone from the ancient past.

    The original article points well to how it could have been developed by an ID. Might have been done some other way too. I'm not offering a "solution," but my solution would not be to invoke magic, but to continue learning about how things are made. The more you know about your car in the driveway, the better you can understand how it was made as an example. But starting off with the premise that it was made by someone is a good starting point. I'm not attacking anyone or their belief structure on here. But arguments for blind chance fail to convince me of anything except that this is a modern "sexy" religion of sorts that no one can question. You're right, no one on here will care if i live my life thinking what i do. I'm not asking you to care either nor do i expect it. Survival of the fittest after all right?...

    I see your comment has been expanded. I fail to see any religious agenda here at all. ID is about something intelligent being the first cause. Blind chance is about the alternative. All i see from you is personal attacks that speak nothing to the logic of what was present.

    From reading your older posts, I was expecting more from you than 'go away, you're not qualified to be here because you don't support the dogma.' The Catholic church used to do that (and more obviously) back in the dark ages. Anyone can do that.

    I'm not going to defend my posts from personal attacks like that. IF you want intelligent back and forth dialogue thats talking about the issues i'll respond. I've presented and drawn upon nothing BUT scientific facts. Compare the evidence of proven mathematics. With all due respect., I won't comment on responses unless they speak about the issues raised. The rest is just noise to me.

    And once again i have no religious agenda here whatsoever.

    Gerhard Adam
    You don't seem to want to engage in an "intelligent" conversation.  You say silly things.  Where has it EVER been said (except by unqualified amateurs) that the origin of life was a purely blind process subject to pure probability?  Even a cursory examination indicates that such isn't true and cannot be true.
    I fail to see any religious agenda here at all. ID is about something intelligent being the first cause.
    I simply can't understand such reasoning.  You want to complain about probabilities and the unlikely prospects of life's origins, so you invent a magical "intelligence" that started the whole process.

    You cannot simply invoke a process without a corresponding explanation as to its origins.  You have a problem with a simple cell forming, but are willing to suspend all belief and postulate a full blown intelligence capable of engineering life.  HOW DOES THIS ID'er BECOME ALIVE?
    ...you're not qualified to be here because you don't support the dogma.
    Don't start with the dogma crap.  Every fairy tale interpretation isn't legitimate and there's no reason to respond nor grant credibility for every screwball idea that comes down the road.  Calling scientific query "dogma" simply indicates that you aren't qualified to participate in the discussion.  It's a common practice for those that have nothing intelligent to add or to present beyond more fantastic interpretations of magical thinking.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Thank you, these responses are a bit meatier. I'll address the one that makes the most sense and sounds the most controlled.
    I realize the common component in arguments for all Blind Chance proponents falls back to basically, "ok, so you say thats impossible, well how is what you're saying MORE possible." I didn't invent anything magical here. I'm simply comparing possibilities and asking readers to weigh which sounds more probable. The research is there for all to see. The odds don't stack up reasonably to accept Blind Chance. We DO have evidence of highly complex organized systems of life intricately woven together, based on ultimate physical laws that many of the highest mathematical minds have admitted speak of design. While i don't understand the ultimate "Cause" if that is a creator, i do look at the handiwork and say, thats amazing. Thats how it appears to me and many others with no specific religious agenda or affiliation. It insults my intelligence to believe in the simplest and most basic structures required for life require odds number more than all the atoms in the universe. Sir, i am not that naive to believe this.

    My argument with dead organisms may not be the best? I'll admit thats possible. Are there things i don't know about those processes. I suppose. But we're trying to reinvent a wheel out of stone not yet carved out of a mountain when a perfect good rubber tire is beside us except it has a flat. That argument is speaking of the spark or energy that makes something alive verses a collection of dead, albeit highly organized proteins and structures. The Blind Chance theory is assuming some of those structures could potentially arise by chance? Let's go out on a limb and give you that? Then what? Where's the spark of energy come from that turns that from the pile of complicated pieces into a living organism? Lightning? My response was, prove it in an experiment then. Show me you can animate non living organisms with the methods that would of necessity have to exist.

    Otherwise we're simply debating whether snowflakes can organize themselves into piles or not. Sure, maybe, but are they alive??

    Your insight is appreciated
    Owen

    Gerhard Adam
    You're not assessing probabilities or possibilities, because you're arbitrarily assuming that everything has an equal chance of occurring.  They don't.
    ...asking readers to weigh which sounds more probable.
    Science by consensus?

    You keep going on about blind chance, but it isn't blind chance.  The are rules of chemistry regarding what atoms can bind with others.  Energy requirements, strength of bonds, etc. that will all play a role in eliminating countless possibilities from ever being attempted. 

    You're completely missing the point that chemical processes only have to develop to the point of where selection can occur.  It doesn't even have to be technically alive.  It only has to fare better than other combinations, which will immediately accelerate the process in favor of those that respond more quickly and stabilize. 
    It insults my intelligence to believe in the simplest and most basic structures required for life require odds number more than all the atoms in the universe. Sir, i am not that naive to believe this.
    But you have no problem postulating an "entity" (who clearly must exist without a first cause), possessing an "intelligence" (which is postulated without any historical precedent), and with an intent to design (and ultimately create) the universe ... and you think you're not being naive?

    It's disingenuous to argue design and not acknowledge the required act of creation that accompanies it.  It's disingenuous to argue against the spontaneous creation of life which requiring a creator/designer that exists spontaneously.
    A.  Life is too complex to have arisen by chance and therefore requires a designer.
    B.  The designer is alive
    Therefore, the designer is too complex to have arisen by chance. 
    That's your proposed logic.
    Lightning? My response was, prove it in an experiment then. Show me you can animate non living organisms with the methods that would of necessity have to exist.
    You're watching too many movies.  Let's use a simpler example.  You have obviously had human manufactured objects stop functioning, correct?  To all appearances they have all their constituent parts and might even presumably be fixed.  Yet, there are numerous instances of where they cannot be fixed (and not because of money).  They could only be rebuilt with new parts.  This clearly demonstrates that simple materialistic things can break down without the possibility of making them work again.

    To suggest the same approach to biological systems that are millions of times more complex and to presume that it's simply a matter of "turning on the power" is incredibly naive.  If your car can break down without the possibility of repair, how much more difficult would it be re-animate a biological organism that "breaks down"?

    You don't get to set the parameters of such testing or hypothesis.  Science has never claimed that life could be reanimated by lightning or electricity (Frankenstein doesn't count).  You're attempting to argue that there is some "extra" spark of life that animates an organism, but you don't want to describe what it is ... only that there's something special there.  However even if one were to accept your explanation of intelligent design, you haven't answered that question, since the designer apparently doesn't see fit to reanimate bodies either.  So, why do you think you can hold science to a higher standard than the explanations you're offering under your alternate agenda?
    Where's the spark of energy come from that turns that from the pile of complicated pieces into a living organism?
    Why do you insist that any question that science can't answer renders science obsolete and paves the way for superstition?  You already know that science has no explanation or theory regarding the origins of life.  You know that this is something that is being worked on.  However, you're one of those people that insists that until the answer is known then science is presumed to have failed.

    You don't get a free pass to claim your answer is correct, simply because science can't answer your specific question today.  Science has NEVER laid claim to all knowledge.

    However, this also doesn't mean that you can introduce all manner of nonsense into the discussion.  Just because there's no specific answer, doesn't mean that there aren't parameters governing what the answer must eventually look like.  If you want to propose an answer, then outline it and see how well it stands up to scrutiny.  If you only want to wave your arms around saying ..."but, but, but", then you're simply wasting everyone's time.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I believe i understand this post. Hopefully. The nonsense at the end isn't really worthy a response but i feel some of the rest is for a certainty.

    No one's asking for superstition. I'm not asking you to rejoin the dark ages. You continually step beyond this argument and believe ID can't exist because its absurd to answer to a higher power. I'm not asking you to.

    Science isn't by consensus you're right. But you aren't the only one reading this. The statement of asking readers to decide for themselves means: don't accept a pretentious blowhard argument that inflates weaks unprovable ideas with bigotry, scare tactics and put downs. Only stupid people believe in ID. Really? Cmon lets have something with substance.

    Rules of chemistry comment. I agree. That reduces untold numbers of combinations of said probabilities. However at no point does any of that become alive. Broken inanimate objects can with extreme ease be made to function again. That argument is the weakest i've seen you present. Whatever is wrong with a car can be easily replaced and made to function again. We're not talking about a 115 yr old exhausted worn out individual so fragile that you blow on them and they become dust. Let's talk about a child. Perhaps died of a drowning. Assuming the child could be preserved or put in stasis immediately before serious cell degradation and decomposition processes begin. Why can't the energy of life that makes cells function, move, reproduce, eat, excrete, self replicate and rest and the countless other functions, be restored?

    You speak of soups of proteins that because of chemistry have better than impossible odds of developing. Good for you. But that still doesn't make them living organisms. I admire you for admitting science doesn't understand the origins of life. Bravo. I'll agree science makes progressive discoveries. Perhaps you will be proven right in the future? Reason, logic and the scientific method lead me to believe this is not likely anymore than i can fly because i keep flapping my arms and keep trying.

    I again will refuse to bring theology into this discussion. I merely postulate an ID exists. The rest i'll leave to the philosophers. I won't insult myself and all of science and bow to bullying and give in to the pressures of individuals in love with intellect, invention and self absorption. This is not directed at you by the way but those in the scientific community who promulgate this ideology using pressure tactics to force acceptance.

    Owen

    i've retyped about 4 responses to this all of which have either been deleted or not posted. I'll check back in the morning to see if any landed. Thanks for your patience.

    I'll admit i'm weak on this point. I'm not particularly religious. But i'm only rejecting the absurd. I'll do more study before i answer this latest post if you'll permit that indulgence. I really am not proposing religious thought.

    Why does the idea of a being of intelligence creating the universe necessitate religious thought? I firmly believe this places the finger on the reason why so many reject the idea of ID. Why? People find religion, religious thought or the idea of being accountable to someone or something that made you, repulsive. Maybe it is? I'm not arguing that. I'm not willing to lay down an ideology, a set of commandments as it were for your pleasure to dissect. I'm not qualified nor will i throw pearls before swine even if i had such. There may be planes of existence you are not aware of. There may be more than the physical universe. As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, "when all other things have been considered and eliminated, whatever remains no matter how improbable must be the truth."

    You may apply this in your own way to support your argument of course. But i apply it this way. No matter what i do, i cannot reconcile that life can spontaneously generate itself from non living matter. Science promises me that may occur in the future, but with all our technology, ingenuity, experience and efforts we cannot prove it today, here and now, in the universe i live in. I believe therefore the only logical alternative to this science fiction is at least ADMITTING the possibility of ID. Whether that raises further questions that need answering later is of no issue to the discussion at hand. The evidence points to a conclusion that is inescapable.

    Owen

    Along with the other response to this i have posted i'll add the axiom "we seem to be at an impasse." You wish to put words in my mouth and force me into a predetermined mould ie, I deny life got here by blind chance, hence I'm a religious nut job and you keep trying to get me to commit to a system of thinking you are assured i must possess. I won't admit to that because i'm not a religious man. I can pick apart theologies also, many of them are absurd. To me this is not the point of this discussion.

    From my end, i keep trying to force you to speak about the topic you've admitted has no answers that satisfy science. You skirt the real issue. I'm clinging to mathematical absurdity of life arising by chance, you're clinging to religious fanaticism as our main arguments. There isn't much left here except an exercise in argumentative debating skills. I can't divert time from my professional obligations to maintain that nor can you i imagine. I respect your intellect and obviously the great amounts of time you've spent in higher learning and devotion to topics and thought processes of great meaning to you. I wish you the best.

    Owen

    Gerhard Adam
    I fail to see any religious agenda here at all.
    This is just about the silliest comment I've ever seen.  We aren't talking about finding some blueprints for humanity lying around.  We're talking about something that supposedly engineered the entire universe; physics, chemistry, biology, etc. and besides designing it, constructed it through a miraculous act of creation.  Who do you think you're kidding?
    Mundus vult decipi
    There's no religious agenda because i never stated you have to worship, serve, follow, obey, listen to, or in some other way acknowledge the IDer. That would be a religious agenda. For the purposes of this discussion, we're speaking of origins not theology or systems of worship. If your thought processes lead you there thats none of my business though. Mine are on the discussion at hand regard origins of life. I'm not ready to move past that yet. I can't honestly admit that i have any religious agenda because i do not and nothing i have stated moves beyond the concept that something higher than us might exist.

    Gerhard Adam
    You are proposing a creator.  You are proposing a supernatural origin to the universe and life, initiated by a creator.  You are NOT advocating a designer, since that would be useless without the corresponding act of creation.

    So let's stop pretending that this isn't a religious explanation.
    Mundus vult decipi
    As i said before in this mini thread. If you choose to look at it that way, i cannot stop you. I'm not moving past the current issues at hand. The internet itself would likely not have enough space to counter all your arguments on theological questions let alone the scientific ones we're addressing now.

    If we asked people what color is the sky? The average answer would be blue. To the contrarian though it might be black, at night, white or grey on a cloudy day, red at sunset? Arguments could be debated for centuries. Yet the essence of what was asked could be answered by a child and be satisfactory.

    Intelligence itself doesn't equate wisdom

    Gerhard Adam
    "Choose to look at it that way"? .... that's gutsy.  It's your proposal.  You may think that it's a neutral position, but that's simply being coy. 

    Stop tap dancing around your claims.  Lay them out.  Is there an intelligent designer?  If so, what is the nature of this entity?  What act of creation was involved?  If you have a proposal, then spell it out and see how well it stands up to scrutiny.

    Of course, if you don't actually have any answers, then you're wasting my time by complaining about science's lack of answers while you have none yourself.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard, are you not promoting your "religion" of a theory that is impossible to prove and you only believe it because you have "faith" that is how life started? What still remains even if your theory was any more plausible than ID is how could that single cell evolve into animal AND plant life? During that evolution process till plant life evolved out of the animal life, what did the animal life eat to survive till that plant life came into being? Where are the theories of where plant life came from. If plant life started the same way animal life did according to your religion, wouldn't that require another impossible accident of chemicle chain reactions to take place? I am open to your explanations to these questions and would like a reason to believe the way you do but for now I just don't have enough blind faith to be an atheist.

    Gerhard Adam
    First of all, no one in the scientific community has a "theory" of how life originated.  There are certainly ideas and conjectures, but nothing resembling a theory exists at this point.  In that respect, I most certainly am NOT promoting a "religion", unlike those with a religious orientation that claim they already have the answer.
    ...how could that single cell evolve into animal AND plant life?
    Interesting, but it's the wrong question.  Animals and plants are single cells ... just more of them in one spot.  It's not hard to imagine at all, consider how single cells already group together to form colonies [corals, jellyfish, etc.].  Similarly, we already see that behavior in bacteria under stress when they form biofilms. 
    During that evolution process till plant life evolved out of the animal life, what did the animal life eat to survive till that plant life came into being?
    Your question has no meaning, because you're asking it as if we were looking at cows having evolved to eat grass, but no grass being available.  Plainly that couldn't happen.  It should be clear that any food that an animal has adapted to eat, must've existed before it became part of that animal's food supply.
    Where are the theories of where plant life came from.
    What are you talking about?  There aren't separate theories for plants versus animals.  In fact, you're leaving out the majority of living things.  The kingsdom are:

    1. Animalia (animals)
    2. Plantae (plants)
    3. Fungi
    4. Protista (amoeba, algaes)
    5. Eubacteria (Bacteria, Cyanobacteria(blue-green algae), Actinobacteria)
    6. Archaebacteria (
    Methanogens, Halophiles, Thermophiles, Psychrophiles)

    Lest you think that this is an unimportant classification scheme, bear in mind that we are overwhelmingly the minority of these creatures.  In fact, as a human being you can't even survive a day without their help [your body consists of 10 microbes for every cell you have.  At 10 trillion cells, that represents 100 trillion microbes living in and on you].

    You don't need to be an atheist, nor do you need to believe in "blind chemical processes" to achieve these things.  Also, there does NOT have to be a second set of coincidences to produce plants versus animals.  Clearly you need to investigate some of these lower life forms, before you begin focusing on animal cells.  It becomes obvious what the evolutionary trajectory was, which gave rise to the more complex forms.

    ... also, for the record ... your lack of understanding doesn't make my understanding a "religion".  So if you want to ask questions, I'll be happy to answer them.  If you want to be a smart ass, I can also delete them.
    Mundus vult decipi
    As I read to better understand the view points of people, i cant help but notice that several of these comment are directed more at individuals rather than ideas or topics. Remember to try and keep it constructive.

    Gerhard Adam
    Why do fully formed, fully developed and previously fully functioning, corpses not reanimate? Why can we not re-establish this? It should be far easier to do this to a fully formed creature than trying to assemble it all the way down to its protons as it were. Take a fully formed creature, even a microscopic one, and make it live again.
    You can't be that naive.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Each step of this complex procedure was performed by a highly skilled, highly disciplined scientist

    Yup, not having an entire planet and several hundred millions years to play with, it is always a good idea to test one part of theory at a time. 

     it should be fantastically easy to recreate the origin of life. Sterile environments with all native and natural elemental and gas environments possible. There is no reason this should not have been finished 10 years ago at a minimum. 

    Really? You sound like the person who, when asked "Can you play the violin?" replied "I don't know, I've never tried"

    The greatest leap of faith is the spark of life or energy in the cells that separates living matter from dead matter. Where does it come from? Why do fully formed, fully developed and previously fully functioning, corpses not reanimate?

    Because there are a lot more ways of being dead than there are of being alive.

    If you can do that, you'll convince me that life can arise spontaneously.

    No I wouldn't. You'd say it must have been alive all along.
    I'd respectfully ask you to read the entire thread please with my conversations back and forth with Mr Gerhard. Most of the points you speak of get clarified and dumbed down to the essence of the argument that fully formed non living organisms assuming they are intact and preserved before cell decomposition begins are easier to make alive than trying to brew one up from the ground up out of protein soup. I don't have the patience to retype it all sorry. Also saying i'd refuse to admit to the results of an experiment is highly insulting. I strongly believe and I practice the scientific method. I'm sorry you're dismayed at my counter reasoning, but there's no need to insult.

    Also saying i'd refuse to admit to the results of an experiment is highly insulting
     
    Quit the "waiting to be insulted" act! We're nice people here, we have families and friends and pets. We don't mug old ladies. We pay our taxes and give way at road junctions. We are experts in our own fields. Our methods work. We supply society with the tools to make all the goods it craves. We're practical and down to earth and like a good meal out. 

    If you feel insulted, ask yourself why it happens. Why is more likely:
    `
     1   That you have seen evidence for something that we cannot? And that we, who manage to unravel the intricate processes that go on between subatomic particles, should suddenly lose our marbles completely and adopt a crazy theory requiring a series of appallingly unlikely events because we all happen to have the same metaphysical inclinations (which we do not).... 

    ...OR
    2  That you are misled by the ID theory that you have somehow picked up from demonstrably false religion and I got irritated by you?

    Clue, the answer is the second one.



    I really enjoyed reading your article! You come to the conclusion that it is possible for life to begin under a random set of circumstances of proteins perfectly coming together - just as it did in the 1993 experiment by Bartel and Szostak you mention. However, the 1993 experiment was conducted and governed by two scientists who somewhat guided the process to a scientific result. Therefore, I believe that the Bartel and Szostak experiment actually proves intelligent design (more of a Theistic Evolutionary Model) rather than a theory that of a god-less evolutionary model.

    The title of this blog is Calculating The Odds That Life Could Begin By Chance

    What is painfully obvious is that there are huge gaps in our scientific knowledge and therefore the odds cannot be calculated to any useful accuracy. All we can do is rule out certain mechanisms as being too unlikely to be worth considering. For example the scenario of  
    life to begin under a random set of circumstances of proteins perfectly coming together
    is amenable to calculation under different geological assumptions and so on. I dare say the resultant odds will be uncertain over a range of at least a trillion, maybe much more, as we know so little. And I would not be at all surprised if it took a good few chance events to create circumstances where the molecules could evolve. One thing everyone agrees upon - you do not get to life by a single freak event.
     
    Your point about Theistic Evolution is subject to the same critique - note I say critique not criticism. If you postulate God poking at the rocks and the puddles and pushing molecules together then you are back into simple creationism (apart from the fact He uses existing matter). Science will almost certainly continue to find natural ways in which the same things could happen without God poking at things and without needing Bartel and Szostak in person. If so, then the need for a "poking God" disappears, like every other God of the Gaps.

    I said "almost certainly".  Perhaps one day scientists will prove that they have thought of everything and none of it works. In that case a "poking God" may be the only remaining explanation possible. But we are so far away from exhausting the possibilities that even to consider the logical possibility at all is to give it more attention than it warrents. 
     
    However, in the sense of God designing the universe so that geology would produce "Bartel and Szostak equipment" in the cracks in the rocks as a matter of course - inevitable rather than depending on a precise initial set-up - in that sense you can assert that the universe has to be designed. But that is not Intelligent Design. Neither is it Theistic Evolution. It is a metaphysical Deism which does not impinge on the scientific quest to find out what natural mechanisms brought life about. 
     
    Why do we have so many separate animal species that only produce their "like kind"? If evolution started life why is there such diversity? And if we all developed from single cell organisms, Why do single cell organisms still exist. Why don't they evolute? No species has ever produced another species. As a matter of fact we only have scientific evidence that one species can only produce it's own species. Any slight variation from that dies. This puts a big problem in the evolution from chemicals theory. The earth appears as though all life began at the same time in many variations. Why are these issues not covered in public schools?

    Gerhard Adam
    Actually none of what you're saying is true.  Single celled organisms certainly evolve, which is why we now have antibiotic resistant bacteria.  You're also incorrect in saying that species can only produce their own kind.  That's why we have ligers, tigons, and mules.  Cross species reproduction is possible, although it is often unlikely because of geography, etc.

    You should be able to understand that although all dogs are essentially the same species, they look vastly different and it doesn't take much imagination to recognize that if we were in the wild, a German Shepherd isn't likely to mate with a Pomeranian.  As a result, over time these two animals would drift apart until eventually they might not even have the same shared genes any more.

    We see this all the time with animals in different geographic situations.  This is what the point is regarding Darwin's Finches.

    As for what is taught in public school ... well, some of it is taught, but most is simply too complicated for simplistic treatments, since that's what gives rise to misunderstandings.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Your falling into the same Darwinian trap. Yes single cells do micro evolve to accommodate their environmental changes. But ameba never evolve into a paramecium or does a cat ever evolve into a dog. So if all had a common ancestor they should be able to reproduce. They don't and can't. Even the galapagos Islands had many different animal types. A finch is always going to make another finch. Never will a finch make a turtle or a fish. It just will never happen even if you throw out a crazy untestable amount of time such a 3.5 billion years.

    Gerhard Adam
    Actually you're falling into the classic religious trap such as assuming that a cat SHOULD evolve into a dog, etc. etc. etc.

    If you wanted to be honest about it, you'd recognize that cats and dogs or other animals would have shared a much more ancient ancestor, so to compare two separate species today and ask why they don't evolve into each other is either disingenuous or seriously misinformed.
    Never will a finch make a turtle or a fish. It just will never happen even if you throw out a crazy untestable amount of time such a 3.5 billion years.
    Again ... you're simply being silly.  Part of the problem is that some evolutionary "paths" can't be converted into other things.  So, depending on particular adaptations, there is no "going back", so again your comparison is a bit silly.

    However, if you can look at a flying squirrel [which just glides] and not imagine how it could eventually evolve to have wings and become more like a bat, then you're not being honest.  Just like looking at a mudskipper and not being able to see how it could become an amphibian.

    These don't require unusual feats of imagination.  They are quite obvious.  Just like watching single-celled organisms form biofilms, certainly provides a glimpse into what it takes to form multicellular organisms.

    The simple truth is that none of what you've said is true, except in the superficial sense that you're comparing the wrong things to each other and asking the wrong questions. 

    So you're use of the term "micro-evolve" is cute, because it clearly requires evolution to occur.  More importantly, you're allowing for small changes to occur, and consequently you have to allow for the possibility that the accumulation of such small changes could make a species diverge if they are separated from each other and unable to reproduce with each other.  Before you know it, you have two species [by your own argument in allowing for micro-evolution].

    In other words, that's part of the silliness that represents such "counter-arguments" because they want to separate evolution into "micro" and "macro" as if there are small changes and then really big ones.  Wrong!  All changes are generally small, although depending on selection pressures they could occur quickly [in fewer generations].


    Mundus vult decipi
    You are taking huge leaps of faith as well thinking a squirrel could evolve into a bat or bird without any scientific proof. And there is a big difference in micro evolution and evolution from a mud puddle to reproductive lifeforms without some sort of creator. we can test for the micro mutations. You have to have faith in the latter. I have faith that someone is behind the curtain. Basic laws of physics show given a clump of matter and energy and a long period of time the matter breaks down into more stable matter not complex organelles that can reproduce.

    Gerhard Adam
    It's not really my problem to deal with such beliefs.  You're certainly free to believe whatever you like.  Your inability to differentiate what takes place really isn't of any concern to me.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thank you for the conversation. God bless you and yours.

    MikeCrow
    Obviously if Gerhard can't get you to the light I'm not going to be able to.

    But this:
    Basic laws of physics show given a clump of matter and energy and a long period of time the matter breaks down into more stable matter not complex organelles that can reproduce.

    Is a frequently listed complaint, and it just shows you don't understand the laws of physics you wave around. "Matter breaks down" in a closed system, but the earth isn't a closed system, the earth receives huge amounts of energy from the sun, this energy can drive molecules into increasing complex combinations.
    Never is a long time.
    Evolutionist don't have the answers for how life started so they have to throw out that "billions of years ago" thing to answer any question that shows a designer was involved. Man has been around for around 6000 years. Look at the advances we have made in 6000 years. From painting in caves to Cell phones and space ships. If man has been around for 100K years, as according to evolutionist, what the heck were we doing for the first 94000 years. Logically that just doesn't add up.

    MikeCrow
    LOL, Theists don't have an answer for where God came from, so they throw out that he's been around forever.

    What has he been doing for the last 13.7 billion years?

    There is no logic to even add in this.

    But what billions of years on earth allow is small micro changes (you do believe in those, right?), to accumulate into large macro changes.

    What is beyond me is that Theists don't just adopt that God made the universe, and the scientific processes of said universe just unfold, creating the magnificent planet we live on that's full of life.
    See science and an religion in perfect harmony, just like Michael Jackson and Paul McCarthy, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Chocolate and Peanut Butter.

    Hmmm, Peanut Butter's getting double billing.............
    Never is a long time.
    I have been an evolutionist for most of my life. I read the creation story in Genesis and just thought it was a ancient myth. Then I investigated what my evolution myth was stating about the origins of life. That was just as far fetched except we put nature and random chemical reactions as responsible for man and his intellect. I have come to peace in my mind that the universe is a beautiful and complicated place that just could not just happen by chance and there is some rhyme and reason to this place. Where can we find out about this reason? There is this book that has been around for as long as anyone can remember. As for where did God come from? Some things we just may never know. Just like "Dark Matter and Dark Energy". We think it's there but can't measure it. We think it's there...

    MikeCrow
    the universe is a beautiful and complicated place that just could not just happen by chance
    But it could, it did! It has to be as it is, or we'd never be here to enjoy it, but if that's not good enough, we have no idea how many tries there were at a universe that supports life, for all we know there could be a near infinite number of them. And only in the ones that did support life could there be someone who wondered about the odds.

    Some things we just may never know.
    Why is this an acceptable answer for a magical being that has the power to create an entire universe, yet when applied to how life started it's a non-answer?

    Especially when the answer could be that God made a universe where science allows it all to happen, do you have to have the magic to find a purpose?
    Never is a long time.
    Do you believe in the "magic" of Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Cosmic Gravity, Microgravity? Why and how do they exist? MAGIC! LOL! Whatever spin we put on it. I reason that it was made. Why do we have an atmosphere that we can see through and see the stars? Just a few degrees difference and we would never know about stars or other galaxies. But that just happened with randomness. We are really really lucky. I'm going to Vegas!!

    Gerhard Adam
    Why do we have an atmosphere that we can see through and see the stars?

    This is what happens when you try to rationalize things without understanding.  How lucky are we that wheels are round.  Can you imagine how difficult life would be without that? 

    So not only do you misunderstand, you think that humans are so special that it was all "designed" especially just for us.  After all, there are thousands of creatures that don't see light [deep ocean, etc.]. 
    Just a few degrees difference and we would never know about stars or other galaxies.
    ... and this further demonstrates the problem.  How many things DON'T we know about that we've had to spend years researching and discovering?  Instead of the stars, perhaps it would've been more handy if some "designer" had given us the ability to see viruses and pathogens instead. 
    Do you believe in the "magic" of Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Cosmic Gravity, Microgravity? Why and how do they exist?
    There's a big difference between in trying to find out what exists and simply not knowing.  That doesn't make the hypothesis, "magic", because until something more definitive is known, it is simply a hypothesis.  However, you aren't content with that.  If the answer isn't known then it must immediately be resolved to a magical solution and rather than work at understanding, we'll just wave our arms, declare it all to be a product of a divine being and be done with it.  So, the major difference between the "magic" of gravity and the "magic" of a creator, is that the former causes us to investigate, while the latter causes us to stop looking.

    You marvel at seeing the stars, and yet, if there is a God that created humans, you willingly decide to turn off the brain you were created with, so you don't have to think about the problems regarding what you don't know. 

    I always imagine the ultimate irony of some religious person facing God in their afterlife and saying how they never lost faith and never accepted evolution, and God's response being ... "You fool, of course things evolve, how else do you think life could persist without my constant involvement.  If you had used the brains I gave you, you would've seen the evidence all around you and really appreciated how complex things are."



    Mundus vult decipi
    A religious person doesn't ignore the laws of nature. A religious person is respectful for the ability to learn about our world. I don't think that man can look at the universe and see how everything works and not be amazed by what is there for us. Don't ever stop thinking or studying. But to admit certain things are not in our control is reasonable. I imagine a man facing God that was a scientist with the ability to find and discover things never before seen by a man. And then God points out all of the accomplishments he was allowed to find and never did he give thanks for those abilities.

    Gerhard Adam
    And then God points out all of the accomplishments he was allowed to find and never did he give thanks for those abilities.
    See, that's the problem with religious interpretations, because it makes God out to be a petty tyrant.  It is the height of arrogance to claim that the hard work of people thinking and working occurs because they are "allowed" to discover such things.

    If that's truly your view, then God is not just petty, but he's mean.

    After all, was it really necessary to have so many people suffer and die from diseases before we were "allowed" to discover the concept of germs?  Or perhaps the number of people that had to suffer through amputations or suffer from surgeries that couldn't be performed before we were "allowed" to discover anesthetics?

    Sorry, but I want no part of such a God.  So either your interpretation is wrong, or your God is.
    Mundus vult decipi
    God gives you free will to make your own decisions. To fight or not to fight. To love or not to. To give thanks or not. (This is getting deep) very cool, but deep. You are only responsible for what you know and do. But you are responsible. After you know something though, you can't unknow it. If you knew what God has done for you, including but not limited to creation, you would be thankful. Now back to our regular scheduled program... Even the most basic single cell organisms are so vastly more complicated than what we can create in an ideal lab should show you something. Life from the void of space is very precious. Everytime we find another exoplanet it shows how special we on earth are.

    Lucky a wheel is round??? Really??? Yeah it's a good thing those chemicles came together and formed a round wheel instead of a square one. The wheel is round because of DESIGN. Just because people are Christian doesn't mean we stop thinking or searching. Some of the greatest leaps forward in humanity were designed or discovered by Christians. The biggest problem in the scientific community is that when a scientist starts trying to find out if there is a God, they usually find God and are shunned by the rest of the scientific community. Some of the greatest minds on earth have tried to prove the bible false and in the end find out just the opposite. Simon Greenleaf for example, He is the man who wrote the Treatise on Evidence of Law which is used by every lawyer, and judge all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court and He is one of the principle founders of the Harvard school of law. He was an atheist who was so convinced that Jesus never existed that he weighed all of the evidence against and for the viability of the Gospels. He concluded that he in no way could deny that there is a God and Jesus was his son. I know he was not a scientist but he was a great mind that new how to discern evidence a whole lot better than any lawyer since him. Otherwise someone else would have written a new treatise. There are many scientist with less name recognition who have come to the same conclusion though. If you would do the very thing you are saying Christians don't do and research the opposing side, which I have extensively done, you might be surprised at the outcome.

    Gerhard Adam
    You simply don't know what you're talking about.  Scientists are just as religious as the next person in many cases, and they have no conflict with their beliefs and conducting good science.  This artificial battle is constructed by people that don't know any better and want to turn it into a "turf war".

    Science is NOT the place to investigate God and religion is not the place to lay claim to science.  If you can't differentiate the two, then you truly don't understand what any of it means.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You're noting species families when referring ligers (big cats) and mules (equine). I think he was referring to situations such as apes with humans, horses with dogs, or birds with fish. There are no ways to even splice those genes in a controlled lab environment. If we all came from one common ancestor it would only make sense that under the right circumstances it would be possible to make a new species out of two existing species.

    With all of the worlds and stars we have discovered isn't it interesting we have only found intelligent life or any life for that matter only on one planet. On only this 15 mile deep film coating. Just the outer sliver of that planet. Very precious gift we have been given in the hostile universe.

    Gerhard Adam
    If we all came from one common ancestor it would only make sense that under the right circumstances it would be possible to make a new species out of two existing species.
    Well, it is clear that we have found another area of study that you would benefit from investigating.  In the first place, the issue of "ligers" and "mules" are the mixing of two different species. 

    In the second place, don't confuse breeding capabilities with genetic manipulation, because in the latter case those things could be done.  What do you think the basis is of introducing pesticides into food plants?  Where do you think Glo-Fish
    came from?
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/04/120423-fish-glowing-pollution-bpa-environment-science/
    However, I don't understand why you would think that a common ancestor necessarily means that everything stays the same and represents interchangeable parts.  Are you really suggesting that God created unique DNA and structures for each animal and then somehow made the DNA look the same just to fool scientists?  Is that your argument?

    Also, before you get sidetracked into creating walking fish, or horses with wings, consider that even if you can generate such structures in the body, that doesn't mean that the rest of the anatomy or physiology can render them functional.  A horse with wings is still too heavy and aerodynamically unsound to ever fly like Pegasus.  Just like I can implant a marathon runner's heart into your body, but that won't make you a runner.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Why do we have so many separate animal species that only produce their "like kind"? If evolution started life why is there such diversity? And if we all developed from single cell organisms, Why do single cell organisms still exist. Why don't they evolute? No species has ever produced another species. As a matter of fact we only have scientific evidence that one species can only produce it's own species. Any slight variation from that dies. This puts a big problem in the evolution from chemicals theory. The earth appears as though all life began at the same time in many variations. Why are these issues not covered in public schools?

    "The RNA strands to be ligated were attached to small beads on a column, then were exposed to the trillions of random sequences simply by flushing them through the column. This process could fish out any RNA molecules that happened to have even a weak ability to catalyze the reaction"- This statment shows the "Inteligent Design" of the researcher in action! They selected the RNA sequences with ribozyme activity and amplified them. In a prebiotic world, consedering that a multitude of RNA sequences were being synthetized randomlly, the Ribozymes with the capability to copy RNA would copy RNA sequences randomly. So, if you have one polymerase ribozyme in a mixture of one trilion RNA sequences, the chance of that polymerase copying a RNA sequence with catalitic function (lets call it a pre-gene) is one in a trilion. There is no selective advantage for the ribozymes- unless, of course, in the lab with the "Intelligent Designer" (a.k.a researcher) fishing them out for amplification- therefore the information carried by the pre-gene will be lost in time.

    Hank
    So how did these self-catalyzing nucleotides arise?   As Stanley Miller has said, 'life has to happen easily'  so have researchers synthesized uracil in Earth conditions circa -4 billion years ago?
    Dave Deamer
         The nucleotides themselves are not catalysts. Only after they are linked together into a long polymer called a ribozyme does catalytic activity arise, and the ribozyme must fold into a specific configuration for this to happen. When you have trillions of different RNA molecules, a few of them will happen to have a nucleotide sequence that permits them to fold  into a catalyst, and the Bartel and Szostak experiment depends on this chance process.     But your main question concerns how nucleotides might be synthesized by non-biological processes, as Miller showed for amino acids. Keep in mind that a nucleotide in RNA consists of a base, a phosphate and a ribose sugar. Any of four bases are used -- adenine, uracil, guanine or cytosine -- and these can certainly be produced by non-biological processes. For instance, John Oro showed in the early 1960s that adenine can be synthesized from five cyanide (HCN) molecules. Similarly, a whole suite of sugars, including ribose, are synthesized when formaldehyde (HCHO)  reacts with itself, and phosphate was available on the early Earth as mineral deposits. The problem is, how did a base, a ribose and a phosphate get linked together into a nucleotide? This is a tough one, and we don't have convincing answers yet. One possibility is that RNA is a later development, and the first polymer was a simpler version called peptide-nucleic acid (PNA) in which the monomers are linked by peptide bonds rather than the phosphodiester bonds of nucleic acids. 
    Hank
    Excellent,thanks.   Your insight is a lot more comprehensive than my layman understanding but I had thought PNA wasn't the primordial replicator because no one could be sure (in the scientific sense of sure)  it could have existed under what is considered the likely prebiotic conditions.    

    Still, biology has chased that old 'miracle' into a pretty remote corner - that self-replicating molecule that  existed 'simply' and evolved into a more complex one is out there.   It'll be found in our lifetimes, that's for sure.
    adaptivecomplexity
    till, biology has chased that old 'miracle' into a pretty remote corner
    That's the great thing about Szostak's work (and the work of others). These guys have gone beyond speculation. They've walked into the lab and done some pretty amazing chemistry - in the end, it's the physical results that counts.
    One thing to keep in mind about this whole topic is that it's less important to understand exactly how life arose specifically on this earth, than it is to understand (and experimentally demonstrate) how life  can arise from abiotic processes. The first question is a historical one; the second really gets to the scientific heart of this topic.


    So science will never be able to prove that on our earth, in this one case, that there wasn't some mysterious, unexplained designer involved, but science will most likely be able to demonstrate that life can arise from non-living elements.
    Mike
    I always thought that some of the "improbability that life can spontaneously evolve" arguments to be missing key elements. One is the fact that life is already here as was noted.

    For example, how probable is it that any one specific human would be born with their unique combination of genes? I don't venture to calculate the probabilities, but the probability of any one specific individual arising is vastly low. Any single person's genotype is the product of all of their ancestors and of all of the events and influences in their ancestors lives that led up to their reproducing.

    So, can you demonstrate mathematically that it is very very unlikely for you or me to exist? Yes, but it proves nothing. In fact it proves that some of these lines of argument are false since they are looking at after-the-fact events that did in fact happen.

    Maybe this line of argument has been developed elsewhere, but it always comes to mind when I read something like this.

    Perhaps the basic assumption of those who propose a designer from the unlikelihood of life evolving randomly is this: the greater the improbability, the more likely a Designer. Wouldn't one have to answer that the most unlikely phenomenon of all is the existence of a Designer? How to calculate the odds for that?

    Respectfully, goo to you evolutionists DON''T know for sure that the events occurred as they postulate. THAT is our key starting issue. And that is why probabilities MUST come into play when considering the available EVIDENCE, exactly as they would in any objective discussion about any number of other issues (take Courtroom evidence 'after the fact of a murder' as an important example. Or medical diagnosis. Etc.). Unfortunately, you seem to be discounting an unavoidable and perfectly reasonable method of evaluating two alternatives by implicitly denying one alternative to start with (by faith - not science)! Fundamentally, the seemingly silly idea (to me) of incremental small changes of improvement to highly complex DNA INFORMATION by chance over time is utterly refuted by all Operating Science (OS) evidence available today. Not does OS hard evidence support the idea of immaterial INFORMATION being created by non-intelligent purposeless material chemicals. Remember that the chemicals which present the DNA information (like ink on paper) ARE NOT THE INFORMATION SOURCE! Therefore it does not seem entirely inappropriate for a non adherent to the evolutionary faith-system to begin considering the question "What are the chances?".
    Anyhow, it seems to me that doing a probability analysis on chance is actually KIND to evolutionary theory because it results in an extremely minute possibility that just perhaps it could be correct. But when I consider pertinent current OS INDISPUTABLE UNIVERSAL FACTS it seems clear that evolutionary goo to you theory infact has a ZERO possibility of being true - from a strictly OS perspective. Would we allow for a supposedly materialistic Operating Science theory to postulate that apples occasionally float up above the tree they grew on instead of falling to the ground - although no one has ever witnessed it in all recorded history? We have to ask ourselves why otherwise intelligent and obviously sincere people are prepared to undermine the equivalents of "the law of gravity" into their thinking in order to support a theory which OS clearly refutes on a number of levels. I suggest that considering CHANCE when evaluating the evolutionary 'story' is not as silly as some of the blind-faith converts like Richard Dawkins suggest.
    Just an opinion, Leslie

    Gerhard Adam
    Just an opinion
    Yep, and about as unscientific as it gets.  You clearly don't understand biology, nor probability.  Even your example for gravity is foolish, since your supposed argument would only be true on Earth.  It simply demonstrates how little you understand about science.

    Also, where did you come up with something as inane as "Operating Science"? 
    Not does OS hard evidence support the idea of immaterial INFORMATION being created by non-intelligent purposeless material chemicals.
    That's just a completely stupid statement.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Apologies for typing 'operating' instead of 'operational'. My point about gravity was obviously intended to apply to earth, not the entire universe. I'm sure I don't understand as much science as you do but I do understand churlishness when I encounter it. Respectfully I suggest my thoughts are not quite as 'stupid' as you like to try to portray them. You give yourself away in the general pattern of your comments Gerhard. You make very little attempt to constructively listen to what someone with alternative opinions is trying to say. Not do you make the slightest concessions to the obvious weaknesses in your 'scientific' theories. Rather the pattern of your comments is that you seem bent on opposing contrary views without recognition of the possibility of their logical validity. If your argumentative approach is the scientific way, then I truly don't understand your 'science', and nor do I want to. But I will take some comfort on the fact that many of the points I have raised ARE considered valid by numerous people with considerable specialized mathematical, philosophical and scientific credentials. But I guess they also must also be stupid if they disagree with your seemingly intractable dogmatism. Kind regards, Leslie

    Gerhard Adam
    You come and post a comment with little more than half-baked ID proposals, you dismiss modern biology and evolutionary theory out of hand, and then expect to be taken seriously?

    My "churlishness" is nothing in this.  You have raised no valid points.  You've simply climbed on the bandwagon of a group of people that have no alternate theory, no evidence, and an agenda.  If you think that entitles you to serious consideration, then you are sadly mistaken.

    The "general pattern of my comments" is that I don't like to keep repeating myself for people that are too lazy to do a rudimentary examination of the actual evidence.  Instead, they want to keep repeating the nonsense they've absorbed from fellow "believers".

    Actually the problem is very easy to articulate.  What you consider "dogmatism" is adherence to the known evidence.  However, it is clear that you seem to believe that evidence constitutes any story that someone is willing to tell and others listen to.  Let's see the evidence that your other "experts" have.  Point it out.  However, if it comes from the Discovery Institute, or it includes the phrase "Intelligent Design", I can already tell you that it is stupid and it doesn't warrant one second of my time.

    Am I being dismissive.  You bet.  I refuse to waste any more time on people that can't even define the terms used in their supposed "theory".
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard I'm sorry but it appears you are the one who doesn't have the slightest clue on the subject of probability. If you did, you would be as far away from this subject as possible considering there is a greater chance of a tornado going through a junkyard and assembling a 747 jet. As quoted by famous atheist.....

    Sir Fred Hoyle has admitted, “The idea that life originated by the random shuffling of molecules is as ridiculous and improbable as proposing that a tornado blowing through a junkyard would cause the assembly of a 747!”

    Is there a reason that you feel the need to refute every opposing argument with condescending chatter?

    Gerhard Adam
    ...you would be as far away from this subject as possible considering there is a greater chance of a tornado going through a junkyard and assembling a 747 jet.
    Well, it seems that you keep wanting to pick a fight between religion and atheism.  It doesn't appear that you can have a scientific discussion without bringing up the religious point, so I'll bite.

    Only an idiot would invoke the "tornado through the junkyard" argument, because it is completely stupid.  However, let's examine what the alternate argument is.  Hmmm ... let's see.

    "There's this super guy in the sky that got lonely and decided to mold some dirt.  By blowing on it, he gave it life.  Later when the guy was sleeping, he copped a rib and made a woman.  He thought it would be cool to have them running around this garden he made and populated with all kinds of plants and animals.  In fact, he really enjoyed messing with people and animals, so he would create lions with sharp teeth, but they would have to eat vegetables and live with the lambs in this garden.  The humans were forbidden from eating of a particular tree, because apparently the tree had to be planted, and it was good just to have something to mess with their minds.  Of course, they eventually ate from it, got kicked out of the garden, all the animals got screwed over to, and the garden was closed indefinitely."

    Hmm ... does that about sum up your theory regarding the origins of life?

    Perhaps you'd like to revisit probability theory ....
    Mundus vult decipi
    Methinks you are dealing so far with the arguments only of those intelligent design advocates who rely on the calculations of chance that you convincingly vaporize. The less reachable argument for ID is that the very logic of chemistry and physics and mathematics that you use so deftly and that you describe so thoroughly in the physical world is not a logic or intelligence that can arise randomly.

    I have not followed the debate at this level except occasionally, and the last time I did any extensive reading was in physicist Paul Davies' book, "The Mind of God." As I recall, he concluded that the design we see in the physical world does not necessarily require a designer, but as I also recall, his conclusion was inconclusive.

    Interesting speculation on how live could have evolved through RNA replication. I think the main point to be derived from the "Designer" hypothesis is the question "Where did the designer come from?" which means that it is not really an explanation after all.

    Respectfully, your thinking seems a little muddled to me. The POSSIBILITYof an Intelligent Design as opposed to a purely Naturalistic explanation of origins is logically indisputable. They are effectively two mutually exclusive options. If one if true the other is false and vice-versa. And there are certain OS and logical reasons that give support for the Designer option. The TRUTH or not of the Designer option is not disproved becuase a person cannot fully EXPLAIN everything about the Deisgner option. I suggest that is wrong thinking. We can't 'explain' everything about electricity, light or sub atomic particles etc. But it doesn't therefore mean they are not part of our reality. Regards, Leslie

    A) I am a believer in intelligent design.
    B) I am a mathematician and engineer.
    C) These theories mean nothing to me without the statistical plausibilities of every assumption given. I am glad you can play in the sand box.

    This reminds me of a joke:

    Two scientists confront God and say that they can create life JUST as well as Him. God says "allright, in fact I'll give you as much time as you need" . He then reaches down and forms a wonderful living being from the Earth, with all of the amazing properties of his first creation.

    The scientists then together, reach down to the ground that they stand and scoop up their first handful of dirt to start their long process. But God says "OH NO, you get your OWN dirt."

    Hank
    Belief is fine, it's when people refuse to accept science or want religion taught in science classes there tends to be a schism.   There is also a greater propensity for this kind of if-you-don't-kn0w-every-step-it-isn't-real thinking among engineers, it seems, even though I have never met an engineer who could accurately define a magnetic field without being recursive, which does not prevent the $250 billion semiconductor industry from functioning just fine.  So it goes with science.

    I believe in intelligent design in engineering.   This would not prevent me from wanting to know why things go nonlinear - but you seem to be contending they can't go nonlinear unless we can predict exactly when and how it will happen and its result.   Something no engineer can do.
    If you can't say exactly when and how, it is still faith in an unknown. I choose to put my belief in the God who has done a miraculous work in my heart, and in the souls of countless individuals on the planet.

    To a scientist, it's still all hypothesis, unknown, and conjecture- statistically plausible or not.

    What's funny is, well, we're never going to know, you know?! :) No matter how many RNA we put through a sieve.

    Gerhard Adam
    To me, I have a very simple question to the creationist:

    Who created water, since the book of Genesis clearly indicates its presence before the first act of creation occurs.  Since we already know water is made of up Hydrogen and Oxygen, then these two elements must also have existed before the first act of creation.  So ..... where did they come from?

    BTW ... this also indicates that God, heaven, angels, etc. must all be made of substances that are outside the known elements since they could not have existed from known materials before the act of creation.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I don't mean this in jest, honestly, but who created your water? yes yes, protons, electrons, quarks, strings, bigbang, etc... Steven Hawkings math says "it just had to happen"...I find that a bigger leap of faith than anything else. Faith in the root cause of my God is a lot less faithful then 'out of nothing'....

    Oh, I did not answer your question, apologies. " Where'd the water come from ".

    There are a lot of things, and details, missing in the creation story, that I concede. (RNA, etc, included) But it's really not up to me to say that our creator's first day on the job was OUR day ONE in the bible. THAT, would be rather haughty of the human race to think so.

    In my first post I mentioned that I am an engineer and mathematician. But to earn a living, I now live as an artist. Humankind is more than just chemical processes, it's about heart and soul. Just don't bank on the marbles mentioned below, look at the space created in the jar between the marbles. Something has to make us human.

    Gerhard Adam

    Sorry but that seems to be both unnecessarily restrictive and fundamentally irrelevant.

    Being "just a chemical process" is true, but it is hardly complete.  I find your position to be unnecessarily biased towards humankind. 

    I'm equally not sure why you think the space between the marbles is relevant to the discussion about probabilities.

    We already know what makes us human.  What I fail to see is why people think that one can attribute all the developments and achievements (artistic or otherwise) of a few select individuals to humanity at large.  The average individual is largely incapable of producing anything noteworthy and many lack even the most fundamental appreciation of such an achievement. 

    Mundus vult decipi
    rholley
    This is an incredibly tedious topic, but
    I find your position to be unnecessarily biased towards humankind. 
    would make a wonderful line in a science-fiction drama.  Does this ring a bell, anyone?
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Gerhard Adam
    I'll never understand how it's supposedly an act of faith to say "it just had to happen", and then turn around and add a hundred times as many conditions and suppositions and suddenly it supposedly makes sense?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    "I don't mean this in jest, honestly, but who created your water?"

    Sorry, but I don't require a WHO?
    Mundus vult decipi
    no WHO, i can take that one. but regardless, to me it comes down to ROOT cause.

    Gerhard Adam
    But you haven't established a root cause.  You've simply created an arrangement that supplies one particular root cause, and then promptly ignores the other.

    You cannot say that science must explain a root cause, when you are content to offer an explanation that is more involved, that also provides no root cause (and simply using the word infinity isn't an explanation).
    Mundus vult decipi
    I am really sick of the "X takes more faith than Y" nonsense that creationists think is so clever. It's quite the opposite. I can definitively answer you question quite easily with absolutely zero appeal to faith whatsoever. The answer is, "things always have to be somehow". If they weren't one way then they would be another, and you would be asking, "why are they that way instead of some other way". You assume that there is some "reason", although the limit of your reason appears to be, "because god said so, that's why". Even a two-year-old can see that this isn't any kind of legitimate answer. A better answer is, "Why do you think there is a reason? Do you know that it requires a reason? What do you mean by a 'reason'". A more compact form of this answer is, "I don't know, but that doesn't entitle me to just make something up and go around pretending that I've somehow solved the problem."

    Now then, you fallaciously assume that things had to be created, begging the very question at issue. Also, you should really update your theology readings, because even fervent theists have long ago abandoned the "out of nothing" phrase. It is a straw man. Nobody said that things have to come "out of nothing". You assume that there was nothing, but that premise is entirely without merit. No theory, such as the Big Bang, starts with "nothing".

    Anyway, I suspect that you won't like this answer because I also suspect that you aren't really asking questions in good faith. You can accuse me of haviing faith, but at least it is "good faith" attempts to find the answers. I'm willing to change my views when new info comes along, but I suspect that you aren't, because you arrogantly believe that you already know everything you need to know via divine revelation.

    hmm, this is really easily solved!

    Allow me to establish two facts first,

    1) Creationists of my sort operate on the assumption that the Bible is the absolute and true word of God, and is factually correct for all purposes of deduction from information within.
    2) In order to contradict the argument that the creation account cannot be factual, you have momentarily borrowed this concept of the absolute truth of the Bible to question whether it can indeed be trusted.

    So, if I may refer to the Bible, it doesn't need a lot of searching to find a reply to your question. The answer, is that the basic premise of your challenge is wrong, "Who created water, since the book of Genesis clearly indicates its presence before the first act of creation occurs. " because the first act of creation comes before the first mention of water.

    Read Gen 1:1 clearly. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
    Gen 1:2 THEN reads, "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."

    Line 1, creation of the heavens and the earth is the very first act of creation. Line 2 shows the existence of water "the waters". God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth had water in it. QED.

    (to the above commentor Orley, if I may gently suggest, many times the Bible has simple answers before we try to use our limited abilities to raitonalise. referring to the Bible as first step may be a good idea in future, it would have saved you a few sketchy-sounding arguments.)

    1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
    It states God created the heavens and the earth. If you are going to go along that lines, why don't you ask who created diamonds, steal, or oxygen? He obviously created everything involved with the earth when creating the earth.

    If you are going to ask what Godect is made of since He was around before the earth can we just assume that maybe those elements were of Him and He used them to create everything we know. Then again you could be right in assuming He is of an element we have no knowledge of but to assume that you would have to assume there might be something in existance you don't have any understanding of and cannot assume there is no God.

    You've defeated yourself with your own questioning.

    Gerhard Adam
    This is one of the problems I have with this use of the word "random" to describe processes that aren't. 

    There are laws that govern interactions, so it isn't the same as arbitrarily pulling some colored marbles from a bowl.   Atoms have chemical interactions that indicate their "preferences" for bonding, and electrons/protons display attractive forces that will dictate what interactions are possible.

    While pulling a certain number of colored marbles from a bowl may be a "random" process, it certainly wouldn't be nearly as "random" if we stipulated that each marble was positively or negatively charged.  We would not only expect to see increased complexity in what was extracted, but the possible combinations would extend far beyond a simple one-marble extraction.

    Similarly there when we add other variables as sources of energy, the possible interactions increases again, moving it even farther away from a "random" process.  While we may certainly argue that the precise process is unknown, it most certainly isn't random.

    When we add in the iterative properties that many chemical interactions have, it certainly doesn't come as a surprise that many of the possible outcomes represent chaotic events (where any possible result is completely unpredictable without an absolute understanding of the initial conditions).  Once again, this doesn't render them "random" but rather they are part of a deterministic process that is simply highly dependent on a particular set of initial conditions.

    Using probability calculations always creates the implication that life is similar to a roll of the dice, where it might be much more appropriate to suggest that it is a roll of metal dice, on a electro-magnetic table with periodic discharges of mechanical and electromagnetic energy disturbances that would ultimately determine what number is rolled.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Wallace Kaufman
    I don't have a conclusion on this question, but I have questions about the conclusions.  Gerhard, the question your position raises, is from where came those laws of which you speak, and why these laws rather than others?

    And since we have no idea whether the scientific method can answer all questions about nature and the cosmos, acting as if it could is certainly a leap of faith. 

    Although I doubt it is true, I think it is worth considering that while we are often accused of "playing God," it is also possible that God is playing us.
    Gerhard Adam

    "...from where came those laws of which you speak, and why these laws rather than others?"

    While I can appreciate the sentiment, these seem like the wrong questions.  For example, assuming that you're married (or have a girlfriend), one could easily ask what the probability was that you two would meet and have a relationship.  If you examined each of the events in your lives, you would be forced to marvel at the improbable set of circumstances that brought you together.

    What is incorrect about this perspective, is that it poses the question in reverse as if you had fore-knowledge about who you would be in a relationship with rather than simply that you responded to what was there. 

    It is irrelevant to discuss who else you might've had a relationship with just as it is irrelevant to discuss whether or not other laws of physics are possible.  What matter is that we have what we have, and it is those circumstances that have created the environment wherein a lifeform could evolve which asks the question.  To ascribe a specific purpose to this is unnecessarily introducing variables that don't provide any answers.

    While people are certainly fond of suggesting that there is a divine purpose to their lives, in truth it is a weak argument, since by definition, a creator doesn't have any need of our services.  Therefore, at best, it becomes a sort of "game" wherein the participants are asked to perform their roles despite the fact that they are fundamentally unnecessary.  It is well and good to talk about experiences making us stronger, or of doing good, but once again .... what's the point, since if this were truly an objective a divine creator could much more easily accomplish the same goal.

    At this point, the argument usually shifts to "free-will" but this is also misleading, since we could legitimately question how "free" our will is, when the parameters of our existence are already pre-determined by an all-knowing diety.  This is a particularly flawed argument given that most religious groups tend to view this diety as being our "father" and we, his children.  However, any parent with a modicum of experience would readily tell you that all children have the desire to express their "free will", but only the truly irresponsible parent would allow it to occur at all times.  Yet, apparently this isn't a problem for the diety, regardless of how far off track any individual may stray.

    It does no good to blame evil, since that would actually suggest that a diety is powerless to act against it.  So if not powerless, then it must be intentionally allowed to happen.

    "And since we have no idea whether the scientific method can answer all questions about nature and the cosmos, acting as if it could is certainly a leap of faith. "

    You could certainly make that argument although you're shifting the meaning of the word "faith" from the religious sense, to the more colloquial usage which generally describes confidence.  Science has always attempted to minimze the number of assumptions that need to be made, and leaves itself open to recognizing that what is known today may change tomorrow.  Articles of "faith" in the religious sense already profess to know the answers despite have a rather poor history of accuracy.

    The simple reality is that religious belief is ultimately a luxury that survives because there are alot of scientists that ensure that people don't actually have to live according to their beliefs.  If you get sick, you can rely on science to heal you.  Your use of modern technology is based on the hard work of human beings that have devoted their lives to studying and understanding the phenomenon in the world. 

    Whether or not science can ever satisfactorily answer ALL questions isn't really the issue.  I am quite confident that religion will answer NONE of them, since it voluntarily elects to not ask any questions.

    Mundus vult decipi
    nice response. Somewhere along there I was wondering what part of the scientific method folks don't understand. I think they would rather argue and wear down folks to try to win an argument rather than use the scientific method and data to determine what can be determined using the scientific method.

    Wallace Kaufman
    I'm afraid that while you and I might have the same perspective on the possibility of a deity, we do not have the same sense of what constitutes a valid argument.  For instance, "This is a particularly flawed argument given that most religious groups tend to view this deity as being our "father" and we, his children. "

    Since when does the way most people interpret an argument become a flaw in the argument itself?  If most people think evolution is always gradual and slow, that does not invalidate the argument of evolution.

    Second, you try to negate the arguments for a creator by defining what you assume are the characteristics and mind of a creator.  (C.S. Lewis has dealt eloquently with such artificial limits and projection.)  For starters you commit the fallacy of assuming metaphors are literal. 

    Whether the scientific confidence in reason is akin to faith, is relatively simple.  Those who argue that there's a big difference would like to believe scientists have nothing in common with religious believers.  One could say that religious faith is a confidence in the existence of a creator.  Now where are we? 

    Has science minimized the assumptions any more than religious believers?  They have one assumption, that nature was created by design.  After that they become very diverse as to why, how it played out, etc.  That may explain the very large number of clerics who played major roles in scientific discovery over the past 1000 or more years.

    Scientists, as a matter of fact, have to make a few more assumptions before they can go about their business. 


    Gerhard Adam
    "Scientists, as a matter of fact, have to make a few more assumptions before they can go about their business"

    Religion creates a whole other order of existence and postulates the existence of, not only a divine being, but an entire social structure not of this world .... and scientists make MORE assumptions?

    As I said, science asks questions where religion claims knowledge.  If you insist on using the word faith, feel free, but it changes nothing in terms of the fundamental difference between science and religion.  To attempt to equate the two as being synonymous requires mental gymnastics beyond my capability.

    "Since when does the way most people interpret an argument become a flaw in the argument itself?  If most people think evolution is always gradual and slow, that does not invalidate the argument of evolution."

    Sorry, but you can't piggy-back the two situations.  Evolution isn't dependent on people's opinions, since it is subject to scientific scrutiny and validation.  Since religion offers no such evidence, then it is completely dependent on people's opinions (unless you can point me to a theory of religion that has been tested and validated).

    "...you try to negate the arguments for a creator by defining what you assume are the characteristics and mind of a creator"

    This is another common tactic, where the religious believer never has to substantiate claims made and therefore they think themselves beyond questioning.  So, if I have mischaracterized a diety, please set the record straight.  I am more than willing to evaluate any theory you deem appropriate to advance. 

    "For starters you commit the fallacy of assuming metaphors are literal. "

    Sorry, since it's so difficult to tell what particular camp any view is in.  Since one view states that the bible is infallible and therefore the literal world of god, then it becomes difficult to phrase the argument if I don't know whether it should be taken literally or not.  As I said, feel free to present your own theory and evidence, but I suspect there won't be any .... and that is where the religious view differs from science. 

    I don't care what people choose to believe, but it is too much of a stretch to elevate it to the level of science when there doesn't seem anyone willing to submit a theory, let alone evidence.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Wallace Kaufman
    I'm amused that again I find myself, an agnostic, perceived as a believer arguing his own cause.  Perhaps too persistently what I am responding to is flawed logic and argument, something common on both sides.  That said, I'll conclude my part with this post.

    "As I said, science asks questions where religion claims knowledge.  If you insist on using the word faith, feel free, but it changes nothing in terms of the fundamental difference between science and religion.  To attempt to equate the two as being synonymous requires mental gymnastics beyond my capability."

    Agreed, religion claims knowledge and science asks questions (though scientists often also claim knowledge, and rightly so).  Nevertheless, science proceeds on the bedrock faith in its method as a way of applying human intelligence.  Feel free to call it confidence.  One can argue that results prove the validity of that confidence.  One can say the same for religion.  And both have sent civilization down a number of dead ends and into a number of disasters. 

    However, that said, it's also important to point out that science and religion strive for different results.  I've argued elsewhere that science creates a language and set of experiences that can be accessed by everyone, whereas religious experience is ultimately subjective.  Another way of saying religion and science apply their respective faiths toward different results.

    I asked, "Since when does the way most people interpret an argument become a flaw in the argument itself?  If most people think evolution is always gradual and slow, that does not invalidate the argument of evolution."

    Your reply: Evolution isn't dependent on people's opinions, since it is subject to scientific scrutiny and validation.  Since religion offers no such evidence, then it is completely dependent on people's opinions (unless you can point me to a theory of religion that has been tested and validated).

    You miss the point, or perhaps stated your earlier proposition poorly.  Whether it is how opinions interpret evolution or religion, the underlying argument's validity is not dependent on those opinions but on the strength of the logic and the proofs.  Argue that religion's proofs are lacking or inadequate, but to argue that any religious proposition is invalid because of how people interpret it, is to enshrine subjective perception as judge.

    "if I have mischaracterized a diety, please set the record straight.  I am more than willing to evaluate any theory you deem appropriate to advance."

    Again, I'm not arguing for any deity, only against the method you applied, of ascribing certain traits to deity, then knocking them down.  Unfortunately the variety of conceptions of deity are too various to do that and they include everything from Lovelock's Gaia to the many deities of pantheism.

    "Since one view states that the bible is infallible and therefore the literal world of god, then it becomes difficult to phrase the argument if I don't know whether it should be taken literally or not."

    Very few people believe the Bible is infallible.  (The Koran is something else and requires its readers to believe it was dictated by Allah rather than written by inspired scribes as in the case of the Bible.)  Even Christian fundamentalists can't reconcile contradictions in scripture and don't actually live a life that their scripture would dictate.  Characterizing religion and religious believers by attacking fundamentalists is a bit like criticizing civilization by describing society in a street gang.

    And yes, the varying ways of responding to the metaphorical content, the narrative, also makes it difficult to phrase a counter argument in general.  I think it might suffice to say that science always has a problem dealing with one-of-a-kind phenomena.


    Gerhard Adam
    "Argue that religion's proofs are lacking or inadequate, but to argue that any religious proposition is invalid because of how people interpret it, is to enshrine subjective perception as judge."

    In a religious context that's exactly what it is.  Since there is no objective sense of "religion", then all religious experience and knowledge must, by definition, be subjective and therefore simply opinion.

    "...only against the method you applied, of ascribing certain traits to deity, then knocking them down"

    Once again, this was only done against the general concept of a diety which was all-knowing and all-powerful.  Without assessing any other characteristics, these are fair game in any discussion about religion.

    "Characterizing religion and religious believers by attacking fundamentalists is a bit like criticizing civilization by describing society in a street gang."

    If that were only true.  Whether it be because of the nature of the topics here, but if you want to characterize every creationist and young-earth supporter as fundamentalist that's fine.  But the point here is that it is the literal belief in the bible that gives rise to these viewpoints.  I don't have a quarrel with people's beliefs as long as they remain in that arena.  By extension, if someone wants to proclaim that their religious beliefs are provable as science, then, fundamentalist or not, their only source of proof is the bible, which they consider to be infallible.  While I recognize that many religious people do not hold that position, those that argue the science, invariably do.

    Lest I misrepresent my own position, I don't have a problem with individual beliefs (religious or not), especially since most people (myself included) hold beliefs that wouldn't stand scientific scrutiny.  By the way, if only a few believe the bible is infallible, then this science must have a magnet that attracts them in droves, because that argument is spread through these discussions.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The advent of our creator and our creation lies in a realm beyond our mortal perceptions. We know we come from the elements created in the belly's of stars. We know stars were created from other stars and we can conceptualize and explain, and in some limited ways tests the creation process. We know that the material and rules by which life arises all came into being shortly was creation. Once this dusty material, these pieces of particles, and energetic forces arose, then the possibility, the probability, and the certainty of life was assured.

    With the rules and the gameboard in place along with the amount of mass and energy as well and the time permitted life arose, evolved and thrived. Beyond the point of origin lies a place we can only imagine, but never actually see or even test. By our faiths the only possible way to actually see it we must cease to exist in this universe. That is the only thing for certain, that and taxes. So sayeth Ben.

    Hank
    The advent of our creator and our creation lies in a realm beyond our mortal perceptions.
    Sure, but the whole point of science is to explain the world according to natural laws.   Giving up is nihilistic.
    Wallace Kaufman
    The two quotes below illustrate that what we seem to have at the root of the disagreement something like a discussion on the nature of energy being conducted by a bonfire and a pair of railroad tracks? 

    >>The advent of our creator and our creation lies in a realm beyond our mortal perceptions.

    Hank replied, "Sure, but the whole point of science is to explain the world according to natural laws. Giving up is nihilistic."

    With the exception of fundamentalists, in the Judaeo-Christian tradition religion has nothing against science because its adherents are looking for a different kind of knowledge.  (Whether it exists or not is another question.)  They are usually quite happy, even eager to accept the ever widening wonder revealed by scientists and their methods of explaining nature. 

    I suspect much common ground exists in the kind of observation made by Rodolfo Llinas when science writer Susan Allport and he were sitting on a lawn at Woods Hole looking at a marvelous seascape and she asked him if all his analysis hadn't made enjoying such a scene more difficult. 

    "No.  It's part of me.  It's so beautiful.  It makes life so unbelievable.  Not because it's the study of
    oneself--because it's clear that we didn't make it all, that the world is not just a product of our imaginations.  There really is something out there. But because what is really amazing is that one is: that the brain can do this and do it so well that we are convinced that we perceive and what is out there are one and the same thing.  And the question is how. Other questions are interesting, but they are trivial."  Rodolpho Llinas, microbiologist, Allport, Exploring the Black Box, p 62.

    Hank
    Hi Wallace (and welcome to the site!),

    You make a fine point.   There isn't much beauty in life if we just seek to break it down empirically and I don't think most of us (you being one of us now also) here do, because there's no point in doing this kind of science outreach if that were so - most people have made up their minds already about the place of science in the world.   But in any heirarchy of needs, in order to get to the top the lower level ones must first be satisfied.

    I am fine with a religious origin of the life, the universe and everything - I just want something a little less subjective taught in science classes.
    I have to disagree with you on your first point, Hank. I believe it was Feynman who said, in response to a friend's accusation on this topic, "flowers are MORE beautiful because I know the inner processes." Thinking about the inner workings of a cell and the mental leaps scientists throughout the years to discover these things has moved me to tears many more times than just seeing a simple flower. Certainly these processes have moved me much more than the violent stories of some book written thousands of years ago. ;-)

    But for your second point, I think that's the real issue. Religion is religion and science is science. If I were asked to teach ID in my science class as a possible origin of life, I would need to look up and teach every possible creation myth, because they would all be equally plausible. But none of them are scientific, and as such, none belong in a science class.

    I'm a third-year environmental science student, so I'm still very-much learning, so be gentle if I present a question that may dumbly miss a point:

    While taking a break, drinking from the water fountain, I observed the droplets of water and concluded how they wouldn't be sterile because of absorbing bacteria from the fountain tray and other strangers' spit from before. And it astounds me how a precious resource like water can be so essential yet so easily detrimental to your health by such small "vulnerabilities." Before and now creating mass health concerns with the spread of disease and on the other side, depleting sources of drinkable or even potable water.

    What I wanted to say was what would be the odds that the element of water would become the "Goldie-Locks" of molecules (much like nucleic acids to encoding genetics) to yield such various environments and then the vehicle to sustaining so many different types of life. I mean, we have our "CHONP" (all elements of which are phenomenally significant) that are most common in living organisms, and only two of these make up water. In Bio 101, you learn of the remarkable significance of water, where the weak-hydrogen bonds having a lot to do with it as well as weak Van Der Waals forces. Ice floats, high and low vapor and solidifying temperatures, high surface tension, "the universal solvent," miscible, low electrical conductivity and so on. Even how the 104 degree angle has chemical significance.

    So, what are the chances, in a chemical perspective, of this phenomenal occurrence? Or is it simply a cause and effect, which isn't the evolution of life, chemically that is?

    It seems to me organic compounds should be more of an astounding progression of cause and effect in the history of the universe, which I believe is what this article is stating, whereas the chemicals just happen, most of them at the big bang (even as hard to imagine as that may be for a still-learning chemistry or physics student).

    Okay, so maybe I just answered my own question...but does someone see my point?

    -cheers

    Dave Deamer
    Sure, I see your point, and I have a quote for you:
    "Hydrogen is a colorless, odorless gas which, when given enough time, turns into people."

    In other words, "the chemicals just happen" as you noted (but only hydrogen and a little helium in the Big Bang) and after that comes a huge load of cause and effect. That's what science tries to sort out, the causes and effects occurring in the physical universe that ultimately lead to the origin of life, and then you and me.
    I'm not sure the word "ultimately" is needed in there. The origin of life is irrelevant, and so are you and me, except that we wouldn't be having the conversation without them. But the universe doesn't need life, or humans, to exist, since it apparently existed for eons before life came along and developed what we call consciousness and eventually the scientific method to sort things out and figure out that once upon a time there was a big bang and a lot of hydrogen began doing what it does over time and space. "Ultimately" this universe might come to an end, with or without life or humans present.

    Dave, not to put too fine a point on it, but surely if we're talking about origin of life we have to start with chemicals.

    Starting with RNA strands 300 nucleotides long is like saying "we can form an automobile engine out of sand, we'll just start with pistons, conrods, block and head already formed."

    What are the odds against a specific organisation of chemicals into 300 nucleotide strands?

    Above claims have mischaracterised the improbability argument when claiming that the odds against a specific genetic arrangement in an individual is astronomical therefore a certain person cannot exist.

    Picture it like taking a truly random deck of cards and dealing a 5 card hand. That hand was random and within the limits of a 52 card deck unique. To replicate that hand on a random deal would be highly improbable, however if all you want is a hand of cards (with no particular order) then the probability is 1 that you will receive some combination of cards. If you want a specific combination like a royal flush then the odds drop considerably (in the case of the royal flush 649739 : 1) and if two royal flushes were drawn in the same game people would generally conclude that someone stacked the deck. The unique arrangement of the individual human is a result of the hand they're dealt out of the human gene pool, but the differences between us amount to less than a tenth of a percent of the total genome anyway.

    The configuration of chemicals necessary for human life exist. However the question that design advocates ask is "what are the odds of achieving that combination on a single draw?" (You can even invoke multiple draws if you like, you only have about 4.5 billion years to play in) Unlike the aforementioned card game not any particular arrangement of chemicals will do. The human genome has in the region of 3 billion base pairs, even if we assume that perhaps 90% of it could be in any arrangement (a generous enough concession I think) that's still 300 million base pairs that have to have a specific arrangement in order for human life to exist.

    Two royal flushes in the same game are grounds to suspect cheating. At what point is it reasonable to consider that human life is evidence of "cheating" by an intelligent agent?

    If I understand your argument, Jason, you are saying that your existence is highly improbable, therefore you were created by an intelligent agent. But certainly the universe was devoid of human intelligence for billions of years, so the creation of the universe did not require an intelligent agent, if I understand your logic. But human life. you think, could not be the result of random chance and repetition as described in the original article. So I guess the question is: can the results be replicated? That's what the scientific method is all about.

    Gerhard Adam
    "However the question that design advocates ask is "what are the odds of achieving that combination on a single draw?" (You can even invoke multiple draws if you like, you only have about 4.5 billion years to play in) ..."

    ... and therein is the mistake.  Why is it always assumed that the creation of humans was a singular event?  The odds of producing a human being with the initial chemical interactions would obviously be highly improbable and never happened.  The creation of the first step is something else entirely.

    Once a base process is established then it can continue to evolve and become more complex.  Therefore the steps that lead to a human being are not simply probabilistic combinations of chemicals, but refinements of processes that already had millions and billions of years of success.
    Mundus vult decipi
    That article was a pretty interesting read. I would love for a complete detail of the experiment, since Dave's article is pretty slim on some details. I'll give an example:

    ''This process could fish out any RNA molecules that happened to have even a weak ability to catalyze the reaction. They then amplified those molecules and put them back in for a second round, repeating the process for 10 rounds.''

    I understand this phrase meaning that the scientists took the RNA strands that had interacted, amplified them and then went on to the second round. I may not be understanding it clearly, hence why more details would have been fun.

    (BTW, my first language is french, so I may not understand correctly every word in its scientific sense, such as ''amplified'')

    But according to my understanding of that phrase, doesn't this leave an important part of the issue to the side ? I'm talking about the replication(amplified?) of the RNA strand, which would require proteins. I know that Dyson's position has some sort of evolution-natural selection without auto-replication, but eventually even in his form of primordial soup, replication most arise.

    Replication is, in my opinion, the very heart of the origin of life debate, since it is at that point only that proteins enter the game (you don't necessarily need proteins before, even if it would be better). The lowest estimate I've seen of the number f proteins for minimal auto-replicating life is 387 proteins. Which is quite a lot. (simply as an example: if you consider 20 amino acids/protein, the statistical chance is on in 10e5035)

    At this point, time always seems to be the ''hero of the plot''. I think there is no better quote to represent this then the one from George Wald: “…Time is the hero of the plot…what we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the impossible becomes possible.”

    It seems ot would be easy to see all the billions of years you have at your disposal and conclude that your bond to get it at some point. But I have always seen this as pretty weak and here is why:

    10e80 atoms in the universe
    10e12 atomic interactions per second
    10e18 seconds since the classic view of the Big Bang (which I am not a proponent of, see Carmeli cosmology)

    This only gives a number of 10e110 possible interaction since the beginning of the universe. But then again, it is way, way smaller then any statistical calculations of the happening of the 387 proteins.

    My point is, if it is the scientists who did the replications of the molecules for the other rounds, then this problem (which is pretty much the biggest, most major problem in any origin of life hypothesis) isn't really solved, even if the results of the study are really interesting

    I'm amazed at the simplistic discussion occurring on this board. The fact is that recent advances in understanding epigenetics and chromosomal topography add layers of staggering information to our genetic code. One would think that life is a simple string of beads after reading the forum posts.

    Do any of you think you are smarter than Crick (DNA co-discoverer; Nobel prize winner)? He believed DNA was so complex (based on his LIMITED knowledge at the time) that aliens sent life here. You can read about this on NIH.gov site (http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/SC/Views/Exhibit/narrative/neurobiology.html).

    He had such a simple-minded faith. Incredible.

    Here are the facts:

    1. FACT #1: The National Science Foundation declared last year that how life originated is one of the Top 10 unanswered questions in science. "Unanswered" means that you are operating on faith like Crick.

    2. FACT #2: No indisputable process has been shown to change a fish into a philosopher. We are just now starting to understand how epigenetics and chromosomal topography add information (remember we were told we are only 1% different than monkeys, then suddenly 6%, and now really different since "junk DNA" isn't actually junk plus epigenetics and chromosomal topography contribute to our differences). The textbook companies love rewriting the books every year to make money off of you.

    3. FACT #3: Scientists have been working on origin of life experiments for nearly 500 years. No answer yet.

    Does anyone dispute these facts?

    Please be intellectually honest. Declare yourselves agnostics operating on faith instead of pretending to have answers. Declaring that something WILL be proven true in the future is FAITH.

    Rob Miller, MD

    Re: Fact #1: No scientist says there is an absolute answer to any question. To do so would result in mental rigidity, which is conducive to scientific thought. However, faith means believe in something where there is no evidence. There is evidence for evolution, and therefore the acceptance of this theory does not rely on faith, anymore than predicting the sun will rise tomorrow relies on faith, and that the sun rose 2,000 years ago.

    Re: Fact #2: Why on earth would you want to make a fish into a philosopher? In terms of what is "junk" and what is not "junk" DNA, it is really the public media that coined the phrase "junk DNA". Scientists at the time simply said there was no known function. As more research has been done, what was unknown, or UNANSWERED, has become answered. And scientists typically don't buy textbooks once they're out of college ;-)

    Re. Fact #3: Which origin of life experiments are you talking about? Are you talking about Newcombe's experiment that showed that bacteria are capable of producing a random mutation that provides a selective advantage? Or are you talking about the experiments that show lipids can form the makings of the cell membrane spontaneously? The experiments that showed inorganic material can be made into organic compounds with electrical charge (similar to lightning)? Or the experiment here, showing RNA molecules can become more and more specialized when subjected to selective pressure? Those experiments have provided us answers to the questions that were being asked. Which experiments, pray tell, are YOU referring to?

    So yes, I do dispute these "facts".

    Here is a fact for you,
    I am TERRIFIED that you are a doctor.

    I am TERRIFIED that you possess such astronomical arrogance. It's almost as perplexing as the origins of the universe.

    You seem to be implying that you have the answers to questions that scientists and philosophers have been pondering since the beginning of mankind. Unfortunately, you haven't really answered them; you just changed the subject. Evolution does not explain why life originated. A fish turning into a philosopher is significant because it refers to the relation between humans, fish, and all other living creatures to a common ancestor, and so far scientists have not been able to discover proof of a common ancestor. Unless you were there to witness the dawn of time, I doubt you know how the universe originated, especially since even the most brilliant scientists haven't been able to figure it out so far. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Hank
    I doubt you know how the universe originated, especially since even the most brilliant scientists haven't been able to figure it out so far.
    Explaining how things happened (and why) - or at least trying - are what separate us from the animals.   There was no proof germs caused disease 200 years ago but doctors wash up before surgery now.  Every year we achieve new insights that are part of a bigger picture; because scientists didn't know something in centuries past doesn't mean they shouldn't try. 

    P.S.  I am not sure what you mean by 'common ancestor' in the context you use it.   Mammals all have hair and milk - that means they had a common ancestor.
    rholley
    ... but doctors wash up before surgery now.

    Which gives me an opportunity to draw the attention of you all to this article:

    When Childbirth Was Natural, and Deadly

    I do really recommend reading this; I won't give any hints, though, because they would act as 'spoilers'.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    I completely agree that there's nothing wrong with trying to obtain new knowledge and trying to figure out how the universe began. I'm not sure that science can answer why, but it can certainly answer how. I was just supporting Rob Miller's post about how science has not been able to answer questions about the origin of life so far.

    What I meant by common ancestor was the theory that all animals, including humans, birds, fish, etc. originated from the same organism, or a universal common ancestor.

    Hank
    What I meant by common ancestor was the theory that all animals, including humans, birds, fish, etc. originated from the same organism, or a universal common ancestor.
    Well, they do.   That's not even an issue.    However, people who need to have a religious basis for all things tend to go off the rails on that fact and there's no reason.     If your mother makes you a birthday cake one day and brownies the next, those two delicious foods have common ancestors in flour and water, etc.  - they are modified and different from each other but have common descent.   The knowledge of their common descent from similar materials does not invalidate the existence ofyour mother.
    Gerhard Adam
    You're absolutely correct and I think it points out the reason why creationism will always be in conflict.  By acknowledging that there is a common ancestor then it precludes a special act of creation for humans and that invariably becomes the sticking point.

    It has little to do with whether there is a God, but rather whether humans are "special".
    Mundus vult decipi
    I see what you mean by the cake and brownies having "common ancestors," but I don't really understand how it relates to the existence of my mother. So I don't quite see what you're getting at with the analogy, but the main point I was trying to make is that science still knows very little about the origin of life, so no one can really claim to know why or how life originated; all we can do at this point is speculate. In any case, it's not humans alone that are "special"; it's life itself that's special because it occurs so rarely in the universe.

    Gerhard Adam
    I think Hank meant that regardless of the ancestry of the brownies, it didn't impact the fact that your mother was real.  Same thing in biology.  Regardless of whether we have a common ancestor or not, it doesn't affect whether you believe God created the universe.

    We don't actually know whether life is special or whether it is something that is inevitable given a certain set of initial conditions.  That is definitely speculation since we have barely explored any of the universe, and know virtually nothing about the conditions that may exist on millions of other worlds.

    It's also true that science doesn't know specifically how life originated, but there is more evidence mounting all the time about some of the chemical requirements that are necessary.  Therefore if those chemical interactions are inevitable (given the right conditions), then any planet meeting those conditions would clearly be a candidate to have life on it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The idea of faith originates with the Bible. There faith is defined in Hebrews chapter 11 as "the assured expectations of thing of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld." Sounds like science to me.

    jtwitten
    Are you arguing that the concept of "faith" did not exist until ~100 CE?

    The meaning of the quoted passage (Hebrews 11:1) is made more clear using the New International Version translation (which you may or may not accept, but is used here for clarity, for which the King James version is not noted):
    Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
    To paraphrase: faith is accepting without evidence.

    This sounds like "science" in the same way that a kazoo sounds like a grand piano.
    Gerhard Adam
    This sounds like "science" in the same way that a kazoo sounds like a grand piano.

    I don't know when I've ever heard you wax so eloquently ....
    Mundus vult decipi
    logicman
    I don't know when I've ever heard you wax so eloquently ....
    Ditto.
    jtwitten
    Given my usual eloquence, I'll take that as a great compliment.
    rholley
    And that sounds like scoffing.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    jtwitten
    A statement that ridiculously inaccurate requires a ridiculous response.
    logicman
    And that sounds like scoffing.

    A statement that ridiculously inaccurate requires a ridiculous response.

    What sounds like scoffing, the kazoo or the piano?

    Was that ridiculous enough, Josh?
    jtwitten
    If I am the one playing the kazoo or the piano, both may sound like scoffing.  They certainly don't sound like music, or science.
    It's hardly ridiculous quoting from a different translation of the Bible then what you have. What is ridiculous is assuming that your translation is the most accurate thereby negating the one I was using. Also, its obvious that faith was around before 100 C.E.(To be more accurate the Paul finished writing Hebrews by 61C.E) But it's also obvious that what some may think of the definition of faith is quite different then what is in the Bible. A little less arrogance will actually leave you open for a true discussion of the matter.

    jtwitten
    I can only respond to what you say, not what you mean:
    The idea of faith originates with the Bible. There faith is defined in Hebrews chapter 11
    Do you believe that the concept of faith did not exist prior to the writing of biblical stories?

    My use of a different translation was to provide simplified language with English usage more familiar to the modern reader, relative to the King James's version.  I did not say either translation is more accurate.  In fact, my implication was that both translations carry the exact same meaning, which does not sound anything at all like science.

    While the definition of "science" is very topical to the discussion of Dave's article, I do not think a discussion of the definition of "faith" would be appropriate.  But, I am perfectly amenable to opening a "Definition of Faith" thread on my own blog.
    I'm amazed at the simplistic discussion occurring on this board. The fact is that recent advances in understanding epigenetics and chromosomal topography add layers of staggering information to our genetic code. One would think that life is a simple string of beads after reading the forum posts.

    Do any of you think you are smarter than Crick (DNA co-discoverer; Nobel prize winner)? He believed DNA was so complex (based on his LIMITED knowledge at the time) that aliens sent life here. You can read about this on NIH.gov site (http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/SC/Views/Exhibit/narrative/neurobiology.html).

    He had such a simple-minded faith. Incredible.

    Here are the facts:

    1. FACT #1: The National Science Foundation declared last year that how life originated is one of the Top 10 unanswered questions in science. "Unanswered" means that you are operating on faith like Crick.

    2. FACT #2: No indisputable process has been shown to change a fish into a philosopher. We are just now starting to understand how epigenetics and chromosomal topography add information (remember we were told we are only 1% different than monkeys, then suddenly 6%, and now really different since "junk DNA" isn't actually junk plus epigenetics and chromosomal topography contribute to our differences). The textbook companies love rewriting the books every year to make money off of you.

    3. FACT #3: Scientists have been working on origin of life experiments for nearly 500 years. No answer yet.

    Does anyone dispute these facts?

    Please be intellectually honest. Declare yourselves agnostics operating on faith instead of pretending to have answers. Declaring that something WILL be proven true in the future is FAITH.

    Rob Miller, MD

    I am a Land Surveyor and feel that I hardly have the gray matter to comment, however, since we are talking about probability, (I deal with this subject on a daily basis with measurements and angles) in practice I know some things. Since there is nothing in the known universe to compare the existence of Earth to (a similar planet) how can one begin to calculate what the chances of life are? You first need a habitat that supports live, correct? If you could, calculate the probability of the Earth existing with the correct atmosphere, temperature ranges, tilt of axis and rotational speed to the sun, and gravity however, the odds should increase by the second. Because every second we find new stars, planets that would form the basis of the analysis. It goes without saying that we can only explore the distance that our instruments can reach. Therefore we can only theorize how many stars, planets etc. exist, no human could possibly know exactly how many stars exist. Therefore, the odds of the existence of life must be coupled with the odds of a habitat also existing to support life. The two systems of numbers must produce infinite results.

    Since everyone has an opinion, mine is this. First my experience is that persons who choose to believe that there is no God do so because they have not made an honest effort to read, meditate and search through the bible in its entirety and objectively. This coupled with a failure to examine nature to see how things perfectly exist for us and are here really for our enjoyment. Rather, many scientists sit as academic judges and disparage those simple minded people like me who choose a belief system that does require the establishment of every fact and therefore is unscientific and unacceptable. The bible is not, and never was intended to be a science book. From my study of the scriptures and science I find that they agree in total and have not found a single instance where they disagree. Conversely, I have found that many men of science neglect the second step of the scientific method, observation and research off all existing resources (including the bible) dismissing the scriptures as a fairytale on the way to forming a conclusion that there is no God. Instead, intellectual pride in the theories and research men produce has blinded many to an alternative explanation that is as reasonable as their unproven theory is. If only persons would honestly consider all the alternatives to their theories. Has science explained why water and not some other solvent (that is also more probable)? Why the variety of fruit or veggies? O, let's not forget the animal kingdom and their chance of existence and the variety we see there. O yes, they can be explained away as the product of a chance explosion and evolution, singularly; collectively existing at the same point in time, they can not, and that must annoy the scientific mind to no end.

    Rob makes a good point.

    About some other interesing stuff in the comments:

    Totally irrelevant, but it wasn't a little helium that would have been produced in the big bang, but actually 25% of the total weight of the mass in the universe.

    Also, I recognized that people have the wrong impression of the word faith. If you are to argue against the judeo-christian religion, you have to at least have the right understanding of this very important concept. The Greek word for faith is Pistis (synonyms 'truth' and 'persuasion') is derived from a primary root pietho meaning 'to convince by argument'. So the faith that the bible talks about is (and asks there followers to have) is never a blind faith, since it must have a basis on arugments-facts. It ouwld be the same word that would be used if I had faith that my wife loved me. It would not be blind faith, it would be faith based on facts, observations, etc.

    So if today many people see faith as blind, it is not because of any sort of teaching of the bible, but rather on cultural/ideological/etc. influences.

    Also about the ''where did the water come from? question, it is a very, very interesting subject. The bible says that everything was originally made out of water (somewhere in the book of peter). And so water was made essentially before everything else, and then the everything else was made by this water (don,t search any science behind this, I concede it is supernatural). However, what is interesting about this particular fact is that Russell Humphreys based his paleomagnetic-origin theory on this very aspect of creation in 1984, in which he made predictions about the magnetic field of four planets. His predictions were 100 000 times bigger then the evolutionary predictions made. In 1986 and 1989, the two competing theories were put to the test when the NASA probes collected data on these magnetic fields. I turned out that the results were exactly in the same magnitude as Humphreys predictions, and so 100 000 times bigger then the expectade results from the dynamo theory.

    I always liked this example because it is a clear-cut example of a creationist theory that was falsifiable, that made predictions before-hand, and turned out to be accurate.

    One addition to my earlier post:

    4. FACT #4: Science can be used to detect design.

    The old semantical ruse that creation/ID research isn't "science" is simply low IQ banter in my opinion. Pattern recognition is critical to science. What isn't scientific about detecting patterns and then studying the patterns to determine if chance produced the pattern? I'm totally amused by scientists who let their existing beliefs in a theory determine the facts (instead of letting the facts determine the theory).

    Hank
    Hi Rob,

    ID research is not science because they do no actual research.   They raise and spend millions of dollars and instead use it to foment doubt about science.   If they actually supported studies, including the kinds of information theory you're talking about, that would be different.    Simply looking for holes in biology - and in every science there are holes - does not mean they are doing science, it means they are doing propaganda.
    ID do research, they just can't conclude their paper by saying: Thus, this would point towards an intelligent designer. Because it won't pass peer-review. I don't know if you suscribe to any scientific journal, but if you pay attention you can sometimes recognize an article written by someone who is in favor of intelligent design, but it will never (or very, very rarely) be explicit.

    Obviously, if you don't pay attention, you get the impression that they don,t do research or even worse, don't even contribute to the scientific community, which is not true.

    The problem with the intelligent design movement, is that they accept the possibility that reality is not only composed of matter and energy (naturalism). And I fail to see what is wrong with making people doubt science, because they never question the philosophical concept of science, but only the mainstream-politically correct science.

    I would aknowledge that if they criticisez the concept of science, then this would be harmful. But this is not the case, and so I often ask myself why there is such an opposition to criticism of the main paradigms of science. The scientific establishment has become more and more dogmatic over the years, and this is not only true in the origin of life debate, or even creation/evolution debate.

    There is a strong movement of desire to change the big bang cosmology, but I doubt you will have heard of it even if there are over 1000 cosmologist and physician to have joined this movement, simply because the establishment and mainstream media as well have become dogmatic on the main paradigms.

    i want to precise that this is in NO way a conspiracy-type thing. It is just normal human psychological behavior of which the scientific community has to stop be lazy and realize the dogmatism it is now into in some of these issues.

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but this is nonsense.  In truth, if there was ANY merit to alternative interpretations of biology (or any other science), then let the evidence speak.  Your assertion that it wouldn't pass peer review would only be true, if based on a singular experiment someone concluded that it must be ID.

    It's simple enough.  If biology and evolution are wrong, then point to the proper direction.  Indicate what ID research has discovered (not asserted) and show the evidence. 

    The reason why creationism isn't science, is because there is no research.  Criticism of existing research is not new research.  Criticism of science is not new science.  Anyone can and should have a healthy skepticism of claims made, but if you want to play in the game, you have to come up with ideas of your own that advance knowledge.  Simply asserting that design must be intelligent is simply a waste of time.

    As for Crick's claim that DNA is so complex that life must've been introduced by aliens, isn't just silly, it's downright stupid.  Which just demonstrates that even gaining the Nobel prize doesn't make one excempt from dumb explanations. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Aren't you mixing two things ? We are talking about Intelligent design and you say ''It's simple enough. If biology and evolution are wrong, then point to the proper direction. Indicate what ID research has discovered (not asserted) and show the evidence. '' which is clearly an argument that is only useable against creationism, not intelligent design (who doesn't go against evolution, just abiogenesis)

    Funny how Crick' claim is downright stupid, when it was reiterated as a possibility by Dr. Dawkins ... and that the SETI program originates from this idea that advanced alien civilisation coud exist and have developped to the point they could communicate with us ...

    By the way, the error in your argument is that creationism doesn't solely criticise research (although they do, such as every scientist does) but they criticize a theory. Criticism of a theory is science, since it leads ultimately to new theories. Pasteur criticised the theory of abiogenesis in his research. Lyell criticised the theory of catastrophism, Copernic criticised the theory of geocentricism (which originated from Aristotle, not christianity). All eventualy led to new scientific theories, all started as a criticism of an existing theory

    Criticism of a research is not new research, but criticism of an existing theory leads to new theories.

    Gerhard Adam

    Criticism isn't science.  I have no idea why you would think that SETI has anything to do with "seeding" the earth as the origin of life.

    I fail to see the distinction between Intelligent Design and creationism.  Both are full of difficulties that are conveniently ignored, by simply asserting that life is too complicated to have originated by itself, therefore let's introduce a hundred times more complexity and call it good.  It's gibberish.

    You cannot answer complexity by introducing greater complexity.

    Mundus vult decipi
    I recognized it seemed as I was saying the SETI was supporting directed panspermia, but this is not what intended (as I've said, I'm french so this happens often when I discuss in english) I just wanted to say that the scientific basis for the research of making contact with extra-terrestial intelligence pretty much started off with Crick's statement that he believed such life existed, and that it seeded life on earth. But of course, SETI won't ever proove directed panspermia or anything

    I don't understand though how you can't see a difference between the ID movement and creationism. Creationism is a christian thing, presupposing that the bible is true etc.

    ID is simply recognizing the pattern of information in the DNA-nature, etc. Also some of its proponents do in fact get involved in the evolution debate, you can easily be an ID and an evolutionist (since evolution by natural selection starts of after life already existed).

    Big differences between the two, and although they join up in certain places (information theory, origin of life) they are complete opposite in others, where ID joins up with evolution etc.

    PS if you're going to assert that ''criticism isn't science'', you will have to back it up a little bit. I agreed with you that criticism of a scientific paper will not result in new science. But I think it is pretty evident (by what i said earlier) that criticism of existing theories has been the motor for the creation of new theories in the past ... (if you disagree, I would suggest reading some philosophers of science such as Karl Popper on this, because pretty much everyone of them agree on this) Even my astrophysic professor said this multiple times about cosmology theories (he is a complete atheist-bigbanger etc.)

    FACT #5: Scientists, including Darwin, believed for hundreds of years that life could spontaneously generate. They were wrong. For example, Darwin believed that a pile of rotting hay produced mice; a rotting log produced an alligator; etc. (see Oparin's The Origin of Life for an excellent review of this non-sense). Today's "scientists" posting on this board claim absolute proof when they have only faith that their assertions will be proven true based on a few simple chemical experiments. A pile of RNA does not equal a nano-machine single cell. Period.

    FACT #6: Ignorance is bliss. For example, one commenter above ("K") is still propping up Miller's amino acid concoction experiment without knowledge of the chirality problem. Wow. It is staggering how today's group is simply brain-washed like Darwin's colleagues were into believing that life just easily popped into existence. http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v18/i2/abiogenesis.asp

    FACT #7: "K" avoided the NSF statement. "K" is confusing bacterial adaptation with a bacteria changing into a fish (i.e. macroevolution - lots of DNA information would have to be added to change into a fish). "K" is dodging the fact that "scientists" declared over and over that our DNA was only 1% different than chimps, thus implying that the rest of the DNA/epigenetics/chromosomal topography weren't factors. Smart.

    FACT #8: We are spending $100 million/year with SETI listening for aliens to contact us from space. Crick's belief continues. This money should be spent on feeding hungry children and cancer/HIV/heart disease research. Carl Sagan testified before Congress that we would soon find "100,000's" of civilizations (that was over 30 years ago). I agree with Gerhard..."downright stupid." But, these are our leading "scientists" promoting this philosophy based on their evolutionary faith.

    FACT #9: No one has explained how all the information stored in DNA originated. I recommend a book from the inventor of the gene gun (a Cornell professor) titled Gene Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome (available at Amazon). He shows how mutations are degrading the genome, not improving it.

    FACT #10: There are over 5,000 known human diseases caused by a single base pair mutation (e.g. cystic fibrosis). Evolutionists would have us believe that these are genes struggling to become perfect through mutation and natural selection. Creationists would say these are once perfect genes that have recently become mutated. What makes the most sense to you?

    FACT #11: Darwin not only believed in spontaneous generation (which Pasteur disproved), but he also believed in magic "gemmules" that passed behavioral traits on to the offspring. For example, if a giraffe stretched his neck to get higher leaves, the magic gemmules traveled through the blood to the germ cells and would be passed on to offspring (with the belief that physically stretching in the parent caused the kid to have a longer neck). Wrong. Silly.

    FACT #12: Since Darwin believed in spontaneous generation (e.g. mice popping out of rotting hay) and magic gemmules that easily passed on traits, it is easy to see how he believed macroevolution occurred over time. The miracles were already done! Evolving was the easy part.

    FACT #13: Ota Benga is the name of a Pygmy that was brought to America and exhibited in the New York zoo in the early 1900's (you can Yahoo or Google his story). "Scientists" at the time were teaching all of us that Negros descended from Apes; Asians descended from Orangutans; and, Whites from Chimpanzees. Wow. Another great example of "smart" evolutionary thinking.

    FACT #14: Oparin, in The Origin of Life, pointed out that some plants make hemoglobin in their root nodules, but the hemoglobin had no use in plants. He coddled this as proof that hemoglobin easily appeared (I guess he thought that plants were trying do develop a blood supply? lol). Well, today we know that the hemoglobin in plant root nodules plays a specific role to balance oxygen supply related to the nitrogen fixing bacteria. Oparin's "blind faith" led him to the wrong conclusion. Again.

    Hank Campbell (commenter above) proves my point that many of today's scientists, just like in Darwin's time, are allowing their a priori belief to determine the facts, instead of letting the facts determine the theory. There is an absolute blindness in today's academia to even consider alternative explanations over fear of losing their jobs...no backbone or dignity to stand up as men of character or principle.

    Instead of using science to try to detect the purpose of the hemoglobin in root nodules, Oparin let his beliefs interpret the facts. He declared no purpose/no design instead of using science to take a fresh look at it. This pattern is being repeated today by blind faith followers of Neo-Darwinism.

    Gerhard Adam

    I think you're placing too much emphasis on the character and behavior of individual scientists.  The "power" of scientific query is that it must pass peer review and be accepted by a larger number of individuals than just one.  While the argument has been made that this may be too conservative an approach and often stifles innovation, it also ensures that the scientific community isn't constantly following the latest fad or radically altering principles only to regret it later.

    There is absolutely no question that mistakes have been made and will continue to be made.  There is also no question that many of the scientific theories may be improperly interpreted (even though the theory itself is sound).  There is also no question that individual scientists will always be shaped by their own worldviews and may invoke interpretations that aren't supported by the data.

    Having said all of that, the point remains that the creationist/ID position does nothing to advance the cause of exploring theories or developing ideas, but instead is simply pursuing an agenda of attempting to color evidence in favor of a particular objective. 

    As evidenced by physics, regardless of whether someone likes a theory or not, the data will inevitably lead to conclusions that must be confronted.  If the creationist/ID perspective is legitimate, then the data must inevitably lead there, but it doesn't.  Instead, the creationist/ID viewpoint is simply offering criticisms and not evidence, so there are no alternate theories.  There are no alternative explanations.  There is only an agenda which says ... "Stop looking because we already know the answer".

    If creationism/ID were correct, it wouldn't alter a thing, since it would then raise the question of pushing the first cause farther back.  Where did the creating entity (or designer) come from and what rules/laws govern their/its behavior?  From a scientific perspective, it would be completely wrong to suggest that such questions are undeserving of answers.

    Mundus vult decipi
    I agree with Gerhard that scientists interpret data because of their worldview. If only the others posting on this board could recognize this, we could then have an intellectually honest debate. Most of the scientists I know have an existing belief/blind faith in evolution so strong (macroevolution i.e. a bacteria changing into a fish) that it prevents him/her from even considering alternatives. It is an intellectually dishonest position.

    Assertions that an object can't be studied to ascertain design are simply false. We find items constantly (e.g. archeology) that we study to ascertain if they were created by an earlier civilization or random chance. It isn't fair or correct to rule out studying an organism for design, simply because others believe no design is possible.

    The same scientists trying to stop people from studying "design" also object to study of a worldwide flood. What is unscientific about trying to detect evidence of a worldwide flood? What we recently learned from Mount St. Helen's caused the textbooks to be rewritten (read "Footprints in the Ash" from Amazon.com) and even plaques at Yellowstone to be changed. The fact is that we find billions of dead things buried in sediment around the world. This is exactly what we would expect to find with a global flood. Many uniformitarians are now calling themselves "neo-catastrophists". Hmmmm.

    Establishing truth on number of peers accepting "evidence" is also dangerous (e.g. Nazis' view that lower "races" should be purged) when the peers are reviewing with an existing belief.

    FACT: Watson (the other DNA co-discover/Nobel winner) was recently fired from his job because he stated that populations geographically separated had no reason to evolve at the same rate (thus, this was Africa's problem). Based on theory, his statement is correct! Evolutionists can't disagree. Of course, he had to be fired for political reasons. Creationists on the other hand believe that "races" are only different people groups, and that we descended from "one blood" recently (interestingly, secular science recently proposed that we all descended from an "Eve" 6,000 to 200,000 years ago).

    The fact is that the scientific community has radically changed and altered its principles frequently over the last 150 years. The fact is that a long string of scientific fraud, ignorance, errors, change of positions, alien claims, etc. Individuals have done this and individuals have established the current arguments. Those same individuals want us to now take their word for the "Gospel Truth" and blindly follow their lead (into the next round of errors and mistakes).

    I encourage everyone to get off the semantical merry-go-round trying to define and redefine "science", "design", etc. Any object can be studied to detect likelihood of design. Even SETI (which is a totally incompetent waste of money) is trying to detect an alien message with a design. Humans have the intellectual capacity to recognize patterns that were created. To argue that design detection is non-scientific is absolutely nonsensical. Engineering can be detected.

    FACT #15: Billions of fossil links would need to be discovered to account for all the current living organisms. Some scientists are struggling to argue that a single fish shows evidence of a jawbone breaking away to form the inner ear (just the bone - of course, they are neglecting the millions of nerves and highly sophisticated connections that would be required to process and understand the information). Gould, a prominent evolutionist, decided that since so many transitional fossils were missing that he would explain it away with "punctuated equilibrium" (essentially that evolution occurred in fast bursts, thus leaving no fossils behind). Smart! This reminds me of the origin of life scientist that wanted SETI discontinued because life could only exist in other water covered planets, and we need to spend the money on sending deep space satellites to these planets. Since they are water covered, fire can not be made. Metals can't be made without fire. Communication equipment can't be made without metals. This is where we will find the intelligent life Carl Sagan insisted we would find before Congress! '

    Let's keep spending tax payer dollars on these nuts while children starve and women die of breast cancer. Thank you all for supporting the above nonsense with your blind faith.

    Gerhard Adam
    "It isn't fair or correct to rule out studying an organism for design, simply because others believe no design is possible."

    That's putting the cart before the horse.  That's the problem I have when people want to propose a design and then seek out the evidence to support it. 

    "What is unscientific about trying to detect evidence of a worldwide flood?"

    There isn't enough water, nor are there any places for it to go.

    "The fact is that we find billions of dead things buried in sediment around the world. This is exactly what we would expect to find with a global flood."

    Not true at all.  If there were significant clusters of modern species that were grouped together with the appearance that they were trying to escape flood waters, then perhaps you'd have a point.  In addition, the geological changes that occur normally are in direct opposition to what you're proposing so there would need to be substantial evidence of what your suggesting before you can overturn all of paleontology.

    "We find items constantly (e.g. archeology) that we study to ascertain if they were created by an earlier civilization or random chance."

    There is a vast difference between evaluating something that is known to be a human creation versus something that has no evidence of design.  People can be easily mislead in assuming design where none exists, such as in the internet.  That is a perfect example of natural evolution producing something far greater than any designer could have established.

    "interestingly, secular science recently proposed that we all descended from an "Eve" 6,000 to 200,000 years ago)."

    Sorry, don't know where you got those numbers but I can tell you without even examining them that they are completely bogus.  With a spread of 33 times, they aren't even in the ballpark statistically.  Reporting that kind of variation is just plain fantasy.

    "Billions of fossil links would need to be discovered to account for all the current living organisms."

    Not true, since the vast majority of biological processes are conserved, it would be wrong and misleading to suggest that each species needed to have a unique developmental path.  Frankly, I'm surprised that you don't understand the development of nerves and blood vessels better since these are highly conserved processes that occur without an "explicit" roadmap by the genes.  As a doctor you should have certainly seen birth defects that still resulted in an infrastructure that wasn't just "empty", but rather it worked with what was provided.  In addition, normal variation dictates that no two humans are alike in the development of their nerves and blood vessels, so I'm not clear on why you should be suggesting that there is a specific genetic program versus a more generally conserved process at work here.

    "Let's keep spending tax payer dollars on these nuts while children starve and women die of breast cancer."

    I'm sure there are many people that would argue about what should be done by governments, but it has nothing to do with biology and even if your wish were granted, the problem would remain unsolved because it is unsolvable.  Humans will always grow their populations until they reach the point of misery.  As for breast cancer .... I can think of dozens of diseases that I'm sure people would love to cure, but in the end, the medical profession also needs to grow up and realize that people die and will continue to die no matter how far the technology progresses.  Failure to acknowledge the role of death is simply immature.
    Mundus vult decipi
    1. "That's putting the cart before the horse. That's the problem I have when people want to propose a design and then seek out the evidence to support it."

    MANY evolutionists have stated, "We don't know how it happened, but we know it happened!" You illustrate perfectly what I'm stating. Scientists should start with a blank slate instead of a preconceived belief!

    ===
    2. "There isn't enough water, nor are there any places for it to go."

    There would only have to be enough water to cover a pre-flood earth. In fact, if the world were relatively flat, it would be covered with over 8,000 feet of water everywhere. http://www.icr.org/article/520/ PLATE tectonics. Mountains rise up. Valleys sink. Continents shift. A global flood would be global (not like running water in your front yard with a hose).

    ===
    3. "Not true at all. If there were significant clusters of modern species that were grouped together with the appearance that they were trying to escape flood waters, then perhaps you'd have a point. In addition, the geological changes that occur normally are in direct opposition to what you're proposing so there would need to be substantial evidence of what your suggesting before you can overturn all of paleontology."

    WE FIND sediment layers that are transcontinental. This can only be explained by massive water sediments on a tremendous scale. It wouldn't be slowly rising waters like a traditional flood. Study Mount St. Helen's eruption to see how a large amount of water can do a lot of geologic work in a small amount of time. http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v3/n3/transcontinental-rock-...

    ===
    4. "Sorry, don't know where you got those numbers but I can tell you without even examining them that they are completely bogus. With a spread of 33 times, they aren't even in the ballpark statistically. Reporting that kind of variation is just plain fantasy."

    Evolutionists often argue over dates by hundreds of millions of years. To state that a spread of "33 times" inherently disproves something is not correct. The 6,000 to 200,000 range comes from two sets of scientists. Both ASSUME (arbitrarily) different mitochondrial mutation rates. http://www.answersingenesis.org/e-mail/archive/answersweekly/2006/0527.asp

    ===
    5. "There is a vast difference between evaluating something that is known to be a human creation versus something that has no evidence of design. People can be easily mislead in assuming design where none exists, such as in the internet. That is a perfect example of natural evolution producing something far greater than any designer could have established."

    The internet was highly designed and depends on "organelles" (routers, hubs, computers, networks, etc.) that thousands of humans designed/contributed to design. If Crick's aliens show up to eat us, do you feel they would think the internet was designed? I think the aliens would recognize what was designed and what was a natural object/formation. Also, "...known to be a human creation..." shows again that you are not grasping the concept of starting with a blank slate and letting the facts determine whether or not it was designed or not.

    ===
    6. On "Billions of fossil links would need to be discovered to account for all the current living organisms.":

    There should be billions of "missing link" fossils, but there these aren't found. That is WHY Gould (an evolutionist) proposed what he did to try to cover the lack of evidence. To assume we are talking about soft tissues versus hard tissues is incorrect. You do bring several other points up though:

    FACT: Protein was recently found inside a T-rex "fossil" bone and another hadrosaur. Of course, because of preconceived belief, scientists immediately declared that what we had been told for decades about protein aging was wrong, instead of even considering that the "fossils" could be younger. http://www.scientificblogging.com/news_articles/fossilized_collagen_prot...

    FACT: The development of symmetry is no where to be found in the fossil record. Where are the millions of transitional fossils showing all the birth defects that must have occurred as we developed symmetry (arms and legs on both sides of the body)?

    ===
    7. "I'm sure there are many people that would argue about what should be done by governments, but it has nothing to do with biology and even if your wish were granted, the problem would remain unsolved because it is unsolvable."

    FACT: The Federal government is a huge funding source of biology research. I'm sure a 33 year old woman dying of breast cancer, or a six year old dying of hunger, would vigorously disagree with your indefensible position. We are talking about enabling people to live a healthy and normal lifespan, not immortality.

    Gerhard, please provide answers for me since you are surprised at my apparent level of ignorance (despite me Johns Hopkins medical training):

    1. How did life originate? (i.e was the NSF wrong when they said this was an "unanswered" question)

    2. How specifically did our DNA obtain all the information it contains?

    3. How specifically did emotions evolve from chemicals?

    4. Is "thinking" just a biochemical illusion?

    5. Do geographically separate groups evolve at the same intelligence and physical pace? (i.e. is there a hidden aspect about evolution that would keep all "races" at the same physical and mental levels)

    6. Should Darwin and his colleagues have been more open to skeptics of spontaneous generation and gemmules/inherited traits? These two errant tenets greatly impeded science.


    7. Are the 5,000 known single base pair mutation diseases imperfect genes that are on the evolutionary verge of becoming perfect, or once perfect genes that are now mutated?

    Even though you may believe that our perception of any reality is only a temporal chemical delusion, I would still appreciate you altering my immature delusion!

    Gerhard Adam
    "In fact, if the world were relatively flat, it would be covered with over 8,000 feet of water everywhere."

    Why would you believe the earth was relatively flat?  Even the bible states that Noah's ark settled in a mountain.

    "We don't know how it happened, but we know it happened!"

    Of course it happened, because they can see that it exists around them.  That doesn't suddenly open the floodgates for every speculative notion to be considered as equally valid.

    "This can only be explained by massive water sediments on a tremendous scale."

    Not if it occurred over longer time intervals.  There is absolutely nothing to suggest that there was ever a world-wide flood, nor is there any reason to believe that one ever occurred.

    "The 6,000 to 200,000 range comes from two sets of scientists."

    I dont' care if they came from 50 sets scientists.  That kind of a range is bogus.

    "I'm sure a 33 year old woman dying of breast cancer, or a six year old dying of hunger, would vigorously disagree with your indefensible position."
     
    They may disagree but it's hardly indefensible, as I would expect they should.  However, it changes nothing, since everyone must die.  Apparently the six year old dying of hunger isn't important enough for anyone to actually do anything about it (since there is plenty of food to go around).  On that basis alone, I can easily argue that the problem is unsolvable because people don't want to solve it. 

    As for the 33 year old woman dying of breast cancer, I can readily agree that she would want something done, just as I've seen 80 year old people that want extraordinary measures taken to save their lives.  In addition, there are plenty of people that want to extend the human life-span.  It changes nothing.  People will die, and there isn't anything anyone can do to change that.  What is truly indefensible is people refusing to recognize that simple fact (and being willing to consume any amount of resources to advance their own selfish agenda).  If you want to save people then we don't need to worry about the six year old kid starving.  Instead, why don't we stop with the religious nonsense that results in more people dying from gunshots, knife wounds, and abuse.  Why not focus on the sick individuals that think it's fine to abuse their children or their spouses?  In truth, these problems are unsolvable and it doesn't take a special disease or case to make me realize that the world will never be free of these conditions.  Anyone that thinks it ever will be is being rather naive.

    I also find it interesting that you think that putting questions to me that I can't answer somehow negates the reality of biological research.  Since no one has an answer to these questions, I can fathom how you can jump to the conclusion that it must involve design.

    1. How did life originate? (i.e was the NSF wrong when they said this was an "unanswered" question)

    This is a red herring argument, since no one knows how life originated.  More importantly, even creationists cannot explain their "first cause" so the question is entirely without merit as an indicator of scientific fallacy.

    2. How specifically did our DNA obtain all the information it contains?

    Through chemical interactions.  If you mean how did it happen to gather the information together that creates humans ... well first you'd have to demonstrate that there was absolutely only one path to achieving that.  I suspect you can't, so don't expect me to answer this question for the entire scientific community.

    3. How specifically did emotions evolve from chemicals?

    That is much easier, without getting into specific causes, it is clear that the biochemistry of the brain very clearly responds to a variety of chemicals giving rise to the mood-altering drugs as well as the narcotics.  As I'm sure you're aware, this isn't much of a stretch.

    4. Is "thinking" just a biochemical illusion?

    Clearly it is, because when the biochemistry breaks down the ability to think does too.  This is easily demonstrated by people that have biochemical disorders as well as many of the diseases that are a result of brain deficiencies.  There is absolutely no question that many medications can interfere with the "thinking" process, as I'm sure they covered in medical school.

    5. Do geographically separate groups evolve at the same intelligence and physical pace? (i.e. is there a hidden aspect about evolution that would keep all "races" at the same physical and mental levels)

    No group is that isolated over time and distance, so while there may be some variation (as seen in tribes that live in the high mountains having evolved larger lung capacities).  To suggest the "same" level is disingenous.  Clearly even people living within the same geographic boundary aren't uniform enough to warrant calling them the "same".

    6. Should Darwin and his colleagues have been more open to skeptics of spontaneous generation and gemmules/inherited traits? These two errant tenets greatly impeded science.

    Not my problem to defend Darwin or to suggest what he should or shouldn't have done.  He did pretty well for himself.

    7. Are the 5,000 known single base pair mutation diseases imperfect genes that are on the evolutionary verge of becoming perfect, or once perfect genes that are now mutated?

    If they were once perfect that would make no sense, since you'd first have to determine what function they provided that has subsequently been lost.  I'm highly skeptical about any claims of perfection since there isn't anything I've seen that fits that category.  I'm not sure what this obsession with "becoming perfect" is, but once again, this has never happened and isn't likely to ever happen. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    ''Of course it happened, because they can see that it exists around them. That doesn't suddenly open the floodgates for every speculative notion to be considered as equally valid.''

    I saw by this comment, and some others earlier on. That you have a misconception of science that I had when I was younger. I thought that theories originated from data, etc. That the support for the theory came before theory itself. But reading great philosophers of science of the 20th century, you clearly ealize that in reality, is not the case. The theory often originates from from very smal observations, it gets developped extensively and only after does the scientist go out and searches for support to his theory. It is very counter-intuitive, but this is exactly how science works in real life. Einstein talked about this concept in a discussion he had with Heisenberg:

    ''... But on principle, it is quite wrong to try founding a theory on observable magnitudes alone. In reality the very opposite happens. It is the theory which decides what we can observe.''

    There is nothing more scientific, according to Einstein, Popper and many other who have spoken about this, than to formulate a theory and then evaluate what you observe according to it.

    Nobody knows anything... about love.

    I hesitate to add to the long list of commentaries, but thought all might enjoy Robert Frost's much earlier take on the subject of design and chance.

    Accidentally on Purpose

    The Universe is but the Thing of things,
    The things but balls all going round in rings.
    Some of them mighty huge, some mighty tiny,
    All of them radiant and mighty shiny.

    They mean to tell us all was rolling blind
    Till accidentally it hit on mind
    In an albino monkey in a jungle
    And even then it had to grope and bungle,

    Till Darwin came to earth upon a year
    To show the evolution how to steer.
    They mean to tell us, though, the Omnibus
    Had no real purpose till it got us.

    Never believe it. At the very worst
    It must had had the purpose from the first
    To produce purpose as the fitter bred:
    We were just purpose coming to a head.

    Whose purpose was it? His or Hers or Its?
    Let's leave that to the scientific wits.
    Grant me intention, purpose, and design --
    That's near enough for me to the Divine.

    And yet for all this help of head and brain
    How happily instinctive we remain,
    Our best guide upward further to the light,
    Passionate preference such as love at sight.

    Wallace Kaufman
    I believe I successfully added the following before finding the right ID and password to log in, but in case it did not go through, with apologies for possible duplication, I again note that all involved in this discussion might enjoy Robert Frost's much earlier take on design and chance.  Here it is:

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    Accidentally on Purpose

    The Universe is but the Thing of things,
    The things but balls all going round in rings.
    Some of them mighty huge, some mighty tiny,
    All of them radiant and mighty shiny.

    They mean to tell us all was rolling blind
    Till accidentally it hit on mind
    In an albino monkey in a jungle
    And even then it had to grope and bungle,

    Till Darwin came to earth upon a year
    To show the evolution how to steer.
    They mean to tell us, though, the Omnibus
    Had no real purpose till it got us.

    Never believe it.  At the very worst
    It must had had the purpose from the first
    To produce purpose as the fitter bred:
    We were just purpose coming to a head.

    Whose purpose was it?  His or Hers or Its?
    Let's leave that to the scientific wits.
    Grant me intention, purpose, and design --
    That's near enough for me to the Divine.

    And yet for all this help of head and brain
    How happily instinctive we remain,
    Our best guide upward further to the light,
    Passionate preference such as love at sight.


    I'm glad to see that Gerard couldn't give me specific answers to any of the major questions. He unwittingly proves my point that evolutionists are operating by faith with their "just so" stories.

    "We don't know how it happened, but we know it happened!"

    I guess monkeys were banging sticks on coconuts, and the other monkeys liked the sound of it...so they bred with the musical monkeys. Thus, over time, the ability to create and enjoy music was generated in humans. I don't know how it happened, but it happened!!! LOL

    1. How did life originate? (i.e was the NSF wrong when they said this was an "unanswered" question)

    This is a red herring argument, since no one knows how life originated. More importantly, even creationists cannot explain their "first cause" so the question is entirely without merit as an indicator of scientific fallacy.

    LET ME ADD TO THE END OF GERARD'S ANSWER: "I don't know how life spontaneously generated, but I know it did! I have FAITH it did. I believe it so much that I'll defend it without proof. Plus, I'll put others down for their beliefs at the same time."

    2. How specifically did our DNA obtain all the information it contains?

    Through chemical interactions. If you mean how did it happen to gather the information together that creates humans ... well first you'd have to demonstrate that there was absolutely only one path to achieving that. I suspect you can't, so don't expect me to answer this question for the entire scientific community.

    LET ME ADD TO THE END OF GERARD'S ANSWER: "I don't know how chemical interactions created forward/reverse/3D/palindromic DNA information more sophisticated than any supercomputer on Earth, but I know it did! I have FAITH it did. I believe it so much that I'll defend it without proof. Plus, I'll put others down for their beliefs at the same time."

    3. How specifically did emotions evolve from chemicals?

    That is much easier, without getting into specific causes, it is clear that the biochemistry of the brain very clearly responds to a variety of chemicals giving rise to the mood-altering drugs as well as the narcotics. As I'm sure you're aware, this isn't much of a stretch.

    LET ME ADD TO THE END OF GERARD'S ANSWER: "I'll dodge the question of how emotions evolved, and instead state that chemicals influence mood. If I did choose to answer, I would say I don't know how emotions evolved, and even though it is sheer speculation, I'll believe it and defend it. Uhhh...what do I believe in again?"

    4. Is "thinking" just a biochemical illusion?

    Clearly it is, because when the biochemistry breaks down the ability to think does too. This is easily demonstrated by people that have biochemical disorders as well as many of the diseases that are a result of brain deficiencies. There is absolutely no question that many medications can interfere with the "thinking" process, as I'm sure they covered in medical school.

    LET ME ADD TO THE END OF GERARD'S ANSWER: "I believe there is no other reality than illusionary chemicals, although I can't prove the opposite. Thus, I'll make fun of those who have different beliefs than me just because I like arguing and feeling important on this science blog."

    5. Do geographically separate groups evolve at the same intelligence and physical pace? (i.e. is there a hidden aspect about evolution that would keep all "races" at the same physical and mental levels)

    No group is that isolated over time and distance, so while there may be some variation (as seen in tribes that live in the high mountains having evolved larger lung capacities). To suggest the "same" level is disingenous. Clearly even people living within the same geographic boundary aren't uniform enough to warrant calling them the "same".

    LET ME ADD TO THE END OF GERARD'S ANSWER: "I'm a racist just like Dr. Watson (who cares if he discovered DNA because he was fired for making a similar remark). And who cares if the Bible teaches we are "one blood", and recent studies only show 0.2% DNA difference between "races". Heck, yeah we needed to bring that Pigmy here and put him on display in the NY zoo like they did Ota Benga. And, YES, it is more important to listen for ALIENS than to study breast cancer and feed the hungry. We are just selfish genes so I would rather have science foster this great blog than feed kids."

    6. Should Darwin and his colleagues have been more open to skeptics of spontaneous generation and gemmules/inherited traits? These two errant tenets greatly impeded science.

    Not my problem to defend Darwin or to suggest what he should or shouldn't have done. He did pretty well for himself.

    LET ME ADD TO THE END OF GERARD'S ANSWER: "Things do spontaneously generate, although no one has ever observed this or tested it (forget the rules of science because this is a THEORY immune to testing). I don't know how life spontaneously generated, but I know it did! I have FAITH it did. I believe it so much that I'll defend it without proof. Plus, I'll put others down for their beliefs at the same time."

    7. Are the 5,000 known single base pair mutation diseases imperfect genes that are on the evolutionary verge of becoming perfect, or once perfect genes that are now mutated?

    If they were once perfect that would make no sense, since you'd first have to determine what function they provided that has subsequently been lost. I'm highly skeptical about any claims of perfection since there isn't anything I've seen that fits that category. I'm not sure what this obsession with "becoming perfect" is, but once again, this has never happened and isn't likely to ever happen.

    LET ME ADD TO THE END OF GERARD'S ANSWER: "I'll ignore the tens of thousands of genes that ARE perfect in the human body, and declare the 5,000 imperfection as representative of the other tens of thousands. I'll also ignore the fact that mutational load is increasing by 300 bp per generation. I haven't read the inventor of the gene gun's book "Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome" and I don't need too because I am set in my beliefs. Science's major theories never change (well, except for spontaneous generation and magic gemmules). I'll even state that just because I don't know the answer someone else must know the answer!"

    Gerhard Adam

    I'm sorry, but I really don't have the time or the inclination to fill the gaps in your education, nor engage in parsing your definition of science into religious concepts.  Whatever you want to believe is strictly your own concern. 

    If you feel that science is so deficient, then why waste other people's time?

    Mundus vult decipi
    Tell me exactly how it works! I'm waiting!!!

    Gerhard Adam
    Wait all you like.  I have too many other things to do than to argue with someone that clearly has little understanding of science and a personal agenda.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "I'm sorry, but I really don't have the time or the inclination to fill the gaps in your education, nor engage in parsing your definition of science into religious concepts. Whatever you want to believe is strictly your own concern.

    If you feel that science is so deficient, then why waste other people's time?"

    LET ME ADD TO THE END OF GERARD'S ANSWER: "Since I have no clue how to answer Dr. Miller's science questions on life and DNA, I'll just try to pretend that I DO know the answers, but tell him I just DON'T have time to fill in the gaps in his education. If that doesn't silence him, I'll just throw some religious comment into the mix. No one has ever really held my feet to the fire for specific answers (usually just stating 'through chemical reactions' works for the average IQ person). But, it sure feels uncomfortable not being able to provide clear answers given that I defend my evolutionary particles-to-people FAITH. For some reason I thought my side had clear, concise answers. Hmmm. I'll just try to disparage his argument as religious in nature instead of admitting that I operate on faith in my evolutionary belief system. I know I'm right because tons of other people believe what I believe. If that doesn't work, I'll just threaten to stop posting on this thread by saying he is wasting my time. God, it is hot in here."

    Wait all you like. I have too many other things to do than to argue with someone that clearly has little understanding of science and a personal agenda.

    LET ME ADD TO THE END OF GERARD'S ANSWER: "I've only given Dr. Miller speculative answers , so I'll just tell HIM he has little understanding of science. Yeah, if I say it like I mean it and act like I know what I'm talking about, then I can worm my way out. I don't like how this conversation has evolved. I'll pray it goes extinct."

    Gerhard Adam

    If it makes you feel better holding both sides of the conversation, then feel free to indulge.  In truth, I'm not convinced that you hold any of the credentials you claim, and I seriously doubt that you've had much exposure to biology, since you seem to be so fundamentally unaware of the developments discussed in the literature.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Please do fill in the gaps in my education! I've asked you for simple, definitive answers.

    Do some of your recent "developments" discussed in the literature demonstrate RNA changing into a bacteria? I will openly discuss/debate any developments with you.

    Even the relevance of the blog article above is speculative in its relevance to explaining the origin of life. The study showed that RNA "evolved" into (drumroll)...RNA. Hmmm...chemicals behaving like...chemicals!

    The fact is that you operate on faith, not definitive answers.

    A = probably true in the future
    is NOT equivalent to
    A = true today

    The point of all my postings is to demonstrate that the majority of scientists interpret data based on their existing beliefs instead of letting the data determine their beliefs. (e.g. Oparin errantly interpreted the presence of hemoglogin in nitrogen-fixing nodules as having no purpose because of his evolutionary belief). Even Darwin was so set in his prior beliefs that he failed to discover Mendelian genetics (he had an opportunity to do so before Mendel did).

    Fire some developments at me! I'm speculating they will be speculative, non-definitive, and/or disputed. Of course, you may say that science constantly changes. I will reply, "So you are saying you can't be sure about anything?"

    I'll be waiting.

    I was searching for some recent developments online after you stimulated me to do so: http://www.physorg.com/news161358845.html

    "Sasselov, professor of astrophysics at Harvard and director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative, agreed with Verschuur that life is probably common in the universe. He said that he believes life is a natural “planetary phenomenon” that occurs easily on planets with the right conditions."

    HEY GERARD, IS THIS BASED ON THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD OR BELIEF ON DR. SASSELOV'S PART?
    ------>>>"...occurs easily on planets with the right conditions."

    Has Dr. Sasselov observed life originating easily on any planet? Or, is this statement based on his existing evolutionary beliefs?

    Ask some of your colleagues (if you work in academia) to see if they can help answer! Oh, wait a minute. They may fire you for even questioning the particles-to-people evolutionary religion...

    logicman
    Rob Miller:  the only 'faith' element in science is faith in the sanity of the observer.  When a large number of independent and impartial observers choose what they consider to be the least irrational explanation for a phenomenon, then we must assume that they are not all, by some unexplained coincidence, stark raving mad.

    You can tell when scientists are impartial - they often come from countries with less than friendly relationships.  If a communist and a capitalist, a jew and an arab can agree on a scientific observation, then that lends weight to their impartiality - not their faith in the results, and much less in each other.

    The comment about monkeys inventing music is obviously unresearched.  Drums, gongs and other noise-makers have a greater carrying power than any human voice.  Before ever music was invented, humans must have invented the alarm signal.  I say 'must have' because it is not a matter of faith - monkeys have alarm signals to protect them from predators.  We just happen to have invented louder alarms, and hence, music.  Never forget, one man's skirling, stirling music is another man's 'idiot torturing a cat' on the front lines of battle.  Music or noise, either way, it has always proven very effective in letting people know that the British are coming.  :)
    rholley
    Music or noise, either way, it has always proven very effective in letting people know that the British are coming.  :)

    Or the Turks.  I read that in the armies of Suleiman the Magnificent,  there was a very loud military band whose function was to intimidate the enemy.

    I also read that of all the orchestral instruments, the trombone at 4.3 W is the loudest.  Now, as a way of dispersing demonstrators ....
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    PATRICK, how does your first paragraph apply to the history of spontaneous generation? A large number of independent and impartial observers (e.g. Darwin himself) believed that mice came from rotting hay, alligators from rotting logs, flies from rotting meat, and mayflies from dewdrops for HUNDREDS OF YEARS (Oparin's "The Origin of Life" book has a great review on this). Generations had not questioned their scientific indoctrination with the "just so" stories. Until...Pasteur came along. His colleagues weren't mad, they were just blinded by their faith.

    Today, scientists are trying to revive spontaneous generation, but repackage it as a long process. They don't know how it happened, but they swear it happened! (i.e. beliefs are dictating their science, not observable facts). 'We will observe the properties of chemicals acting like chemicals, then declare we are well on our way to understanding how RNA created a multicelled, thinking person.'

    The fact is that scientists are intellectually dishonest when representing themselves as "impartial." Look at the ridiculous, unsubstantiated comments from the Origins of Life Initiative above. I'm not against science (I'm an MD), but I am against willful ignorance hiding under the cover of science.

    You state: "Before ever music was invented, humans must have invented the alarm signal."
    Did you observe humans inventing the alarm signal using the scientific method?

    Humans have the glorious ability to enjoy music, while just a few have the incredible ability to produce it. Do you know some monkeys "must have" been better alarm sounders, so they were naturally selected because more food was brought to them? So after millions of years the better alarm sounders' genes evolved into an infinitely complex neural process that could appreciate and/or create multiple scales of perfect pitch music? Is this an observable fact, or a another "just so" story?

    FACT: Scientists don't agree on an undisputed explanation of how spoken language or music evolved.

    The correct answer would have been, "I'm not sure." The "must have" answer shows that you are interpreting the known facts using your faith in evolution.

    I look forward to discussing with you further. Your work on computer languages looks interesting. I'll read more on it. You may appreciate the book, "Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome" from the Cornell professor that invented the gene therapy gun. It discusses the language of DNA and how mutational load is reducing fitness of the human genome (not improving it).

    FROM ONE OF PATRICK'S ARTICLES ON THIS SITE = SHEER SPECULATION, NOT "MUST HAVE" FACTS:
    "In a time long gone, in a place unknown, a group of not quite humans huddled together in a cave, fearful of the noise of rain, thunder and howling wind outside. By some as yet unknown process they had progressed beyond the grunts and gestures of a purely command-oriented language. For them, there was a comfort and a joy in the feel of language, in its flowing rhythms and its power. Perhaps they had learned to chant rhythms together. Language, a gift from evolution, became something more than a tool. One day it would blossom into poetry and song. But in a stone-age cave it would have been, for our ancestors, the greatest force for bonding a collection of genetically related beings into a true community. In a fire-lit shelter against a bewildering maelstrom of natural forces, language was surely the brightest candle against the raging darkness."

    I see Patrick's above statements are based on speculation, so I'm not sure how the "must have" is valid regarding music (an arguably more sophisticated form of language). It takes much faith to believe the above paragraph from Patrick.

    Are there any scientists on this site that I can discuss facts with instead of "just so" stories?

    It's amazing how "professors" will openly preach evolution to their impressionable young students. But, when challenged on this board to provide clear, concise, unbiased answers, they scatter like leaves in the wind.

    I listened to CNN yesterday as Mayor Bloomberg proclaimed the little lemur Ida as 'the missing link that Darwin had hoped to find.' I found that odd since the scientific journal editors made the research team tone down their linkage claims.

    If evolutionists aren't chasing little green men throughout the galaxy and beyond (see the comments above about Nobel prize winner Dr. Crick and Harvard conference), or getting fired for racist comments (see comments on Dr. Watson above), then they are making wild claims about extinct lemurs for a lucrative History Channel deal (or making up pure speculative stories about cavemen chanting rhythmically together in a cold dark cave). Maybe the little green men will show up soon and explain it all to us...

    Hank
    I found that odd since the scientific journal editors made the research team tone down their linkage claims.
    I'd like for you to document this.   Citing a NY politician's somewhat misguided claims and then saying that has anything to do with actual science is nonsensical.  I read that study four times and, while I agree that the mass media hyped this beyond belief, we did not.   Nor did the authors, at least in their study.  

    But if you have proof that journal editors made anyone 'tone down' anything in their article (in PLoS One, no less, which proves you know nothing about peer reviewed science journals) it will revolutionize publishing.

    "Note that Darwinius masillae, and adapoids contemporary with early tarsioids, could represent a stem group from which later anthropoid primates evolved, but we are not advocating this here, nor do we consider either Darwinius or adapoids to be anthropoids."
    jtwitten
    Did your Johns Hopkins medical education not cover logic?  Generalizing to all scientists from a few individuals is the height of fallacy.  I might as well say that I've known a doctor who is a jack ass.  Therefore, all doctors are jack asses.  It is also fallacious to assume that simply because an individual has ideas that you do not like or respect that all their ideas must be bad.

    In addition, although it may be a technical distinction, but none of the individuals you have referenced are evolutionary biologists. 

    I will also humbly suggest that by producing comments of great length stating a plethora of supposed issues and even more supposed facts discourages debate, as none of the points can be dealt with in depth.
    jtwitten
    Also, on an aesthetic level, appending MD to your name looks kind of pretentious and insecure at the same time.
    Hank
    At last count, we had some 1000 PhDs or doctors as members here.   Imagine if everyone did that.  Worse, imagine if everyone met ... this X 40 ...

    logicman
    Should a doctor doctor a doctor ... ?
    logicman
    Rob Miller:  we do not 'scatter' because of your comments.  Unless we choose to enable comment tracking on each of the thousands of pages here, it is only by accident that we stumble upon these comments.

    "Before ever music was invented, humans must have invented the alarm signal."
    Did you observe humans inventing the alarm signal using the scientific method?
    For 'must have', please read 'logic demands that'.  Since we have alarm devices, and they don't grow on trees, logic demands that we invented them.  Again, it takes an evolved brain to build an evolved device - using a stick to hit a naturally hollow log, or the buttress roots of some tree species, does not require an evolved brain.

    Thank you for publicising my article in the above comment.  However, when copying and pasting from one person's blog to another, even on the same site, it is customary to cite the original article.

    I shall not reply to any more of your comments since you appear to have an agenda, and such dicussion  would  only serve to distract readers from Dave Deamer's excellent article.
    Hank, here is the quote that was reported in the Guardian:

    "The paper's scientific reviewers asked that they tone down their original claims that the fossil was on the human evolutionary line." from http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/may/19/fossil-ida-missing-link
    PlosOne is to be commended for not being swept along with all of the hype.

    IMAGINE a peer-reviewed journal using peer-review to SUGGEST CHANGES for the article. Happens all the time Hank! It is a sad fact that scientists in today's economy have to inflate the importance of their findings in order to be more competitive for funding. Economic survival of the fittest at work, right?

    A few others that may interest you:

    Dr. Gingerich told the Wall Street Journal: “There was a TV company involved and time pressure. We’ve been pushed to finish the study. It’s not how I like to do science.” http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25515021-2702,00.html

    “It’s not a missing link, it’s not even a terribly close relative to monkeys, apes and humans, which is the point they’re trying to make,” said Chris Beard, a curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. . . . http://www.livescience.com/culture/090520-ida-fossil-hype.html

    Other researchers grumble that by describing the history of anthropoids as “somewhat speculatively identified lineages of isolated teeth,” the PLoS paper dismisses years of new fossils. “It’s like going back to 1994,” says paleontologist K. Christopher Beard of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who has published jaw, teeth, and limb bones of Eosimias. “They’ve ignored 15 years of literature.” http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/519/1

    FACT: Scientists allowed the mainstream media to overhype this find.

    QUESTIONS FOR HANK:
    1. I was pointing out that Mayor Bloomberg's comments were misinformed because scientists/mainstream media overinflated this find. How can you point out that you didn't overhype this find, but then criticize me for pointing out that Bloomberg's statement was inflated? Is this the missing link that Darwin longed for?

    2. You state, "Nor did the authors, at least in their study." In other words, you are saying that they kept it toned down in the study publication, but really went overboard with the History Channel deal and theatrical-style claims, right? Is that what you mean but "...at least in their study."?

    3. Do you agree with Dr. Gingerich that having the time pressure of a TV company is not a good way to do science?

    Hank
    Rob,  I agree that some mainstream people hyped this.  I also agree that one scientist, Hurum, tends to go overboard in his media hype, but he is a paleontologist and not a biologist.

    You keep wanting to take the exaggeration of (a) Bloomberg and (b) a paleontologist who is sort of a running joke to many scientists and (c) the History Channel(!) as being an indictment of evolution.  That doesn't make any sense.

    3. is just a straw man.   I am all for media exposure and if the History Channel offers to do a TV special on us if we delay an article, I will do it.   That doesn't mean the biologists here - arguably the best compilation in the world - are making things up.   The researchers worked on the fossil for two years.
    JOSH, so posting in-depth responses prevents in-depth discussions? Not sure if I follow you! I have many great scientist friends, so I don't understand your comment. Also, I'm glad to see you use the word "ideas" instead of "must haves" (apparently Rob Miller won't admit that his speculation of cavemen humming rhythmically in a damp cave is just an "idea", not a "must have" proven fact).

    I see you study genetics. I was wondering if you could explain to me how DNA came to possess palindromic and topographic encoded information. Please don't say aliens created it and flew it here on unmanned spaceships like Dr. Crick believed.

    P.S. I enjoyed reading your profile where you state, "I feel no constraint to restrain myself to things that I know something about."

    jtwitten
    Rob,

    There is nothing wrong with in-depth discussion.  The problem arises when one attempts to have the in-depth discussion all at once.  To insure that individual ideas are dealt with thoroughly as individually as possible, they need to be dealt with individually and intense focus.

    In this case, because you asked about a single topic, I can ask a clarifying question.  Neither my ability to study your question, nor your ability to reply will be distracted by numerous other issues.
    I was wondering if you could explain to me how DNA came to possess palindromic and topographic encoded information.
    Please clarify the nature of the "how" information that you are requesting.
    ROB, you answered my speculation accusation with more speculation!

    The only agenda I have is to keep scientists honest. A fair "I don't know!" is more intellectually honest than speculative pontifications. You are making assumptions to "prove" your assumptions. Perhaps Josh can explain the "logical fallacy" of this to you.

    P.S. "Signals" are just noise unless the receiving party assigns a meaning to the signal. The signal plus signal reception would have to develop simultaneously to be of significance. You can only provide more speculation on how this would have co-evolved. Am I wrong?

    Rob, I agree with you that the media and scientists hyped this. That was my point that Bloomberg did a disservice to science and himself by making such a misinformed statement (it made him look brainwashed by the media). We still appreciate his $100 million JHU contribution! He's a brilliant businessman. Perhaps it was a poor choice for CNN to quote him.

    “The PR campaign on this fossil is I think more of a story than the fossil itself,” said anthropologist Matt Cartmill of Duke University in North Carolina. “It’s a very beautiful fossil, but I didn’t see anything in this paper that told me anything decisive that was new.” http://www.livescience.com/animals/090520-fossil-reactions.html

    I wasn't trying to draw any distinction between biologists and paleontologists (not sure of your point). When the media and scientists make obviously false and/or inflated statements, I hope the great scientists on this site have the intellectually integrity to step forward with us to condemn such inflated statements. I define stretching the claims as "making things up." I define someone pretending to have definitive answers (e.g. how did life begin; how did DNA obtain the encoded information, etc.) as "making things up." (in reference to Gerhard). A simple "I don't know!" will suffice from any scientist (including biologists).

    Also, I would hope the great scientists on this site would agree that it is SPECULATION to say that monkeys banging sticks led to the development of an incredible ability in humans to create/appreciate music. How was the scientific method used to derive that "just so" story? (rhetorical)

    P.s. Great site you've created! Congratulations on the commercial success. I DO NOT think posting how much yearly revenue ($60 million) your prior company accomplished is pretentious (Josh may think otherwise). I'm a free market guy (I retired last year at the age of 38 due to similar success). I'm starting a gene therapy company (we are examining various technologies now).

    Josh, I understand what you mean. If this comment board allowed threads/subposts, it would be easier to stay on a particular topic while allowing new topic posts, too (Hank, no charge for the idea).

    Scientists used to think DNA was simply a 'bead on strings' molecule. Now we know that DNA possesses coded information forward/backwards, 3D (chromosomal topography), and palindromic (especially the Y chromosome), plus epigentic information. What I'm asking is do you know how the most sophisticated information storage device known in the universe arose from random particles? Or do you just have faith and join the crowd in yelling, "I don't know how it happened, but it happened!" (don't worry - I won't tell your mentors!)

    jtwitten
    My question still is: what do you mean by "how"?

    Do you mean a story describing the events that occurred to make DNA the information molecule?  Or, are you asking about the evolutionary mechanisms that are consistent with DNA as the information storage molecule?

    do you know how the most sophisticated information storage device known in the universe arose from random particles?
    I would not agree with your statement that DNA is the most sophisticated device of its kind.  When compared to all the storage devices available, it is difficult to argue that it is the most sophisticated.  DNA contains numerous trade-offs between efficiencies and inefficiencies.    

    The random particle conjecture is also a gross over simplification.  For example, star formation locally increases order, while increasing entropy at the universe wide scale.  As a result of the stellar cycle, concentrations of elements are not randomly distributed.  Instead, the concentrations of certain elements are correlated with each other, biasing the chemistries that are possible.
    logicman
    What I'm asking is do you know how the most sophisticated information storage device known in the universe arose from random particles?
    The most sophisticated storage device known to science is the human brain.  It is a marvel of evolution.  It is the only product of evolution with reflexive properties: it can inspect, analyse and decode the very DNA that determines in major ways how its neuron groups shall be layered.  We have learned so much about evolution only because we have a brain and hence, the gift of language.

    If I say that the brain is the most sophisticated storage device known to science, then anyone is entitled to ask: "what does the brain store?" and "how does the brain store it?".  The brain stores information - that much is known.  The other question is still under investigation, but research strongly shows that neurons and their interconnections can be modified temporarily or permanantly.  The interdependence and inter-relations of neurons as groups strongly suggest that the brain produces a formal abstraction of the environment as a mental model.  The whole of language and its rules of operation is represented as mental models.

    The four components of DNA can produce a likeness of any living thing.  By using our brains and language, we humans can make reasonable facsimiles of anything, invent new things and even debate for hours on end about things mythical, hypothetical, imaginary, hallucinated or real, and then extrapolate and interpolate still more ad libidinum.

    And you thought DNA was complex?
    Kimberly Crandell
    Patrick... I love this line of thought.  I think there are few mysteries out there that are more fascinating and rich than how our own human brain reasons, communicates, remembers, and creates - while simultaneously managing a million mundane functional requests as part of its "day job". 
    Josh, nothing stores as much information in as small of a space as DNA does (volume to volume comparison).

    You mention that DNA determines in a major way how neuron groups should be layered. Obviously, DNA contains detailed information/instructions on how to build/organize other molecules, and even multicellular organisms. Where did those instructions come from?

    I'll take your advice and limit my question to just this one topic. I do have numerous questions about some of the multiple statements you posted simultaneously above.

    jtwitten
    So, by "sophisticated" you mean "compact".  Sophisticated can mean a number of things.  DNA is quite unsophisticated in number of ways.  And, of course, the comparison to hard drive density has less to do with the limitations of the information storage device and more to do with the technical limitations of how the information is read out and printed.  Of course, hard drives have teh capacity to change the information at will, a capability that adds limitations.

    Again, "how" questions are vague.  Do you want stories or predictive theory?  
    I don't agree that "how" questions are vague. It isn't a trick question.

    The National Academy of Science asks "how" questions.
    http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12161
    "How did life begin? The origin of life is one of the most intriguing, difficult, and enduring questions in science. The only remaining evidence of where, when, and in what form life first appeared springs from geological investigations of rocks and minerals. To help answer the question, scientists are also turning toward Mars, where the sedimentary record of early planetary history predates the oldest Earth rocks, and other star systems with planets."

    How about a what version of the question? (I had to pose as a how)

    What natural process instilled into DNA the mind-blowing, alien-invoking coded information it contains?
    Both stories and/or predictive theory are fine at this wonderfully late hour.

    Best regards, Rob

    jtwitten
    The statement of general questions of import by the NAS is used to define areas of research interest, not to present mechanistic questions.  Academy members would call those questions vague.

    The evolutionary processes of mutation, selection, and drift are all that is needed to explain the information or lack thereof in DNA.  The complexity of information in DNA is frequently overstated.  There is no good evidence that there is any non-sequence dependent information (including the fine scale shape of the DNA) contained in DNA.  The structure of a DNA polymer combined with protein-DNA interactions explains the high information density.  Upon the occurrence of a protein or RNA that interacts with DNA and compacts its structure further allowing more information to be encoded.

    Nucleic acids have the addtional advantages of being able to perform biochemical functions, occurring through natural, non-biological processes, and being relatively stable as polymers.

    Much of the perceived genomic complexity (e.g., introns and "junk") can be explained by drift.  As organisms become more complex and have smaller population sizes, the populations become unable to eliminate these slightly deleterious expansions in genome size.  

    Perhaps the conversation would be more directed it you were to state what precisely you think is inconsistent with natural mechanisms, thus requiring the postulation of additional forces.
    jtwitten
    I would also avoid getting too caught up in anything bizarre that an individual scientist says, no matter how supposedly reputable.
    -->"The evolutionary processes of mutation, selection, and drift are all that is needed to explain the information or lack thereof in DNA."
    This is a "just so" general story that doesn't address how all of the original information in DNA came to exist.

    FACT: No one has an undisputed answer for how information-rich DNA formed through "natural mechanisms" to control and direct a single cell, much less an entire organism. For Josh to pretend otherwise simply "stretches the truth." Josh confirmed my suspicion that he accepts "just so" stories and isn't intellectually accountable enough to just say, "Science doesn't know!"

    Diverting the discussion to all of the side issues of a question (brain structure, perceived complexity, introns, etc.) is not a substitute for actually answering the question! Semantical ruses disguised to impress are amusing. This is a consistent pattern I've documented from the others posting here.

    -->"The complexity of information in DNA is frequently overstated."
    You can't overstate DNA's complexity when we don't even fully understand DNA's complexity. Again, the correct answer would have simply been, "We don't understand DNA's full complexity." The recent explosion in epigenetic research funding documents that DNA is only part of a very complex information system.

    I can only imagine what Dr. Crick would have proposed if he had understood the added layers of complexity and information! He may have said that we had microscopic aliens living inside of us (instead of aliens just sending life here on unmanned spacecraft).

    --> "Much of the perceived genomic complexity (e.g., introns and "junk") can be explained by drift. As organisms become more complex and have smaller population sizes, the populations become unable to eliminate these slightly deleterious expansions in genome size."

    Genetic drift REDUCES information (versus creating information) by decreasing heterozygosity (not just by increased introns and "junk") so your statement is only partially correct. As a population becomes less heterozygous, it becomes less able to adapt to a new environment. The trend of decreasing heterozygosity shows that life in the past exhibited greater heterozygosity than life today. So what "natural mechanisms" produced the original greater heterozygosity (greater DNA information)? Are Yorkies more "complex" and fit than wolves?

    ***************
    Bonus question:
    Where is the clear experimental data of mutation plus selection creating a new kind of animal? I've seen a few fruit flies with legs on their heads, but they were just funny looking fruit flies (not new kinds of animals).
    ***************

    jtwitten
    -->"The evolutionary processes of mutation, selection, and drift are all that is needed to explain the information or lack thereof in DNA."
    This is a "just so" general story that doesn't address how all of the original information in DNA came to exist.
    There is a distinction between a "just so" story and a scientific statement.  My statement is that the observed phenomena are consistent with existing evolutionary theory.  It is not possible to construct a narrative describing the sequential events that occurred, because the evidence of those events no longer exists.  Once chemical replicators existed, no additions to the standard forces of evolutionary theory are necessary to explain current observations.  While the specific origin of a replicator was an improbable chance event, over the time scales and number of chemical reactions involved the overall likelihood is not unreasonable.  Do not allow the vanishingly small probability of a specific event occurring at a specific place and time distract your from the statistical certainty that specific events at specific places and times happen continuously.     

    You have not yet described what evidence would accept as "proof" of a natural, mechanistic origin. 

    The example of introns was simply a representative illustration of a perceived complexity of the genome that is actual the result of random processes.
    "We don't understand DNA's full complexity." The recent explosion in epigenetic research funding documents that DNA is only part of a very complex information system.
    No.  The correct statement is that our observations are consistent with that DNA's information content is sequence dependent (plus thermodynamic noise).  Citing the explosion of epigenetic research funding is an argumentum ad populum.  It does not imply that the information is not determined by sequence.  Numerous factors that are nto related to scientific truth mpact funding priorities.  That being said, epigenetic research has the potential to be informative independent of whether it adds "complexity" to DNA.

    The structural complexity of the systems that translate genotype into phenotype should not be confused with complexity in the message itself.  Simple rules and building blocks can generate complex behaviors.  
    Genetic drift REDUCES information
    It may be helpful if you define your use of information.  Drift and selection act to reduce genetic variation.  Mutation and migration act to increase variation.  Variation is not synomous with information content.  Most variation is noise.  If you want to go back to the origins of life, then a great deal of variation would have been created by low fidelity replication of RNA or DNA.

    What is your evidence for the claim of decreasing heterozygosity?  The example of dogs and wolves is irrelevant, as that is the result of ignorant breeding practices.

    The example of fruit flies is disingenous.  First, the experiments you refer to were exploring develpmental signalling pathways, not speciation.  Second, the definition of a "new" animal is imprecise and subjective.  Third, a failure to experimentally produce a "new" animal is entirely consistent with limitations due to cost, time, and low bomedical impact value of such experiments.
    I agree on the individual scientist comment - clearly winning the Nobel prize has no correlation to common sense! Dr. Watson (Crick's buddy) was fired for making racially charged evolutionary statements, too.

    jtwitten
    To be precise, Watson may have been fired for making non-PC racially charge evolutionary statements, but he was not defended by scientists because his statements went against the scientific evidence.
    Hank
    That's a key idea the more conspiratorial anti-science contingent misses. They tend to think there is some cabal invested in promoting dogma (no surprise, plenty of religions do that, so it is a frame they understand) but the opposite is true in science; people are competitors. No one circles the wagons around Nobel prize winners (except when it comes to group letters endorsing presidential candidates, but that's because everyone votes for the same party anyway) - heck, in the science community you get bonus points for proving a Nobel laureate wrong.
    logicman
    in the science community you get bonus points for proving a Nobel laureate wrong.
    I'm not going to even try that - unless it gets me a scientificblogging t-shirt.
    Dave,

    Excellent article! It has long seemed to me that the potential for life existed in matter and the laws of nature all along. The origin and evolution of life seems to be a continuation of the evolution of the matter of the universe. The work of people such as Jack Szostak and yourself will quite likely eventually bear this out.

    I wonder why many people apparently equate belief in the scientific Theory of Evolution with life having no purpose? To me it provides a much superior foundation for human purpose and meaning than does, say, Christianity. Evolution is dynamic and very creative. It created living beings through a process that more or less continually increased the capabilities of species of which we are one. Our general purpose is to continue in the same vein as evolution -- to increase our knowledge, to grow and improve and increase our capabilities. We are at a point where we are realizing our profound interconnectedness and interdependence with other people, with other species, with nature. This imples that our growth should include learning greater compassion and cooperation as part our advancement of capabilities.

    Let me plug one of my favorite books, Nonzero, by Robert Wright.

    Fred, as much as I would love to be clear what the purpose of my few decades in hundreds of millenia might be, evolution is not an entity that can create a provable purpose. I believe either Marston Bates or Garret Hardin once wrote that evolution had created many wonderful creatures, most of them dead ends. The dinosaurs survived far longer than Homo sapiens has existed and is now extinct, the writer noted. And what assurance do we have that intelligence is not also a dead end?

    In fact, the more pessimistic Jeremiahs among us are forever telling us that our own intelligence has already doomed us. If we believe that life came about and evolved by random events, then we must ask if randomness can be construed to have a purpose. Saying yes, I believe, requires a leap of faith.

    Hello Wallace,

    You wrote:
    “Fred, as much as I would love to be clear what the purpose of my few decades in hundreds of millenia might be, evolution is not an entity that can create a provable purpose.”

    Evolution does not provide a *specific* purpose for any individual, but it does show us a basic purpose of life in general, including human life. That general purpose is as I have indicated above. It is not easy to prove in terms of scientific experiments, but with sufficient study of the issue, I believe the case for general purpose is much more logical and sound than Stephen Jay Gould’s arguments for the non-directionality and purposelessness of evolution. Gould’s position on the topic, backed by Earnst Mayr, seems to have become practically ideological dogma on the issue among academics and atheists, but in recent years is being challenged.

    “I believe either Marston Bates or Garret Hardin once wrote that evolution had created many wonderful creatures, most of them dead ends. The dinosaurs survived far longer than Homo sapiens has existed and is now extinct, the writer noted.”

    Indeed, it’s estimated that of all species that have ever lived, well over 99% are extinct. This indicates something of the trial-and-error nature of evolution. Many of those that became extinct were driven to it by the evolution of more capable competition, inability to adapt to a changing environment, increased abilities of predators, etc. Natural selection causes the gradual increase of capabilities of life in general over time.

    “The dinosaurs survived far longer than Homo sapiens has existed and is now extinct, the writer noted. And what assurance do we have that intelligence is not also a dead end?”

    Homo sapiens might become extinct. But thousands of other species exhibit some type of intelligence. If we disappear, it is likely that some other species will eventually show up with intellectual capabilites similar to ours. The evolution of intelligence appears to be bulit in, so to speak, to the laws of nature. As Carl Sagan has stated, if life were begin on another planet, sooner or later intelligence would almost certainly emerge.

    “If we believe that life came about and evolved by random events, then we must ask if randomness can be construed to have a purpose. Saying yes, I believe, requires a leap of faith.”

    Life came about and evolved by random events, IN COMBINATION with the laws of nature (which control natural selection) – which are NOT random. Many of the events that affect life including mutations occur randomly. But it is the apparent fixed nature of the “laws of nature” that, via natural selection, ulitmately imparts general purpose.

    Regarding faith, as Einstein said (paraphrased): Even scientists must have faith that the laws of nature are consistently reliable. But in everyday practical situations, it seems that the laws of nature can be trusted. Gravity always seems to always pull things earthward with consistent force. If my car stops running, there always seems to be a cause consistent with what we know about how cars work.

    Sorry for my absence everyone! I've just returned from touring Europe for the past few weeks.

    Fred, you enthusiastically state that, "Evolution is dynamic and very creative." I've been asking people on this site (and at fine academic institutes) for experimental data showing evolution creating a "very creative" new kind of animal. Do you have any examples for me?

    Modern medicine is decreasing human fitness (you state "...improve and increase our capabilities.") by allowing deleterious mutations to continue within the gene population. For example, retinoblastoma used to be nearly 100% fatal. Modern medicine can quickly "cure" it, but survivors pass it along to their children.Q

    Hello Rob,

    Fred, you enthusiastically state that, "Evolution is dynamic and very creative." I've been asking people on this site (and at fine academic institutes) for experimental data showing evolution creating a "very creative" new kind of animal. Do you have any examples for me?

    New species have been created in labs, and new species have been seen to develop in nature, but I doubt that any of these particular new species could be considered to be “very creative” in themselves. By far the most creative species now existing seems to be Homo sapiens. It took evolution billions of years to come up with us. We have quite a bit of information to indicate how we came to be, although we are not about to create advanced versions of ourselves just yet (but we probably will eventually).

    Modern medicine is decreasing human fitness (you state "...improve and increase our capabilities.") by allowing deleterious mutations to continue within the gene population. For example, retinoblastoma used to be nearly 100% fatal. Modern medicine can quickly "cure" it, but survivors pass it along to their children.Q

    Human life is incredibly complex. Modern medicine, like many aspects of our culture, is filled with pros and cons. You point out one negative aspect of modern medicine. There are probably thousands more such examples, but also at least as many examples of positive affects of modern medicine – one being that “retinoblastoma” can now be medically countered. But these are details.

    People are living increasingly longer. Technological knowledge and capabilities are increasing at ever accelerating rates. But the world population is growing to a point that our life sustaining environment and resources are under threat. Advancement brings new problems. Will humanity have the intelligence and wisdom to solve them?

    Hello Rob,

    (I just posted this using HTML tags which did not work, so just for clariity, here it is again using standard quotes.)

    You wrote:
    “Fred, you enthusiastically state that, "Evolution is dynamic and very creative." I've been asking people on this site (and at fine academic institutes) for experimental data showing evolution creating a "very creative" new kind of animal. Do you have any examples for me?”

    New species have been created in labs, and new species have been seen to develop in nature, but I doubt that any of these particular new species could be considered to be “very creative” in themselves. By far the most creative species now existing seems to be Homo sapiens. It took evolution billions of years to come up with us. We have quite a bit of information to indicate how we came to be, although we are not about to create advanced versions of ourselves just yet (but we probably will eventually).

    “Modern medicine is decreasing human fitness (you state "...improve and increase our capabilities.") by allowing deleterious mutations to continue within the gene population. For example, retinoblastoma used to be nearly 100% fatal. Modern medicine can quickly "cure" it, but survivors pass it along to their children.Q”

    Human life is incredibly complex. Modern medicine, like many aspects of our culture, is filled with pros and cons. You point out one negative aspect of modern medicine. There are probably thousands more such examples, but also at least as many examples of positive affects of modern medicine – one being that “retinoblastoma” can now be medically countered. But these are details.

    People are living increasingly longer. Technological knowledge and capabilities are increasing at ever accelerating rates. But the world population is growing to a point that our life sustaining environment and resources are under threat. Advancement brings new problems. Will humanity have the intelligence and wisdom to solve them?

    Josh, I've missed our debate.

    You state:
    "To be precise, Watson may have been fired for making non-PC racially charge evolutionary statements, but he was not defended by scientists because his statements went against the scientific evidence."

    What "scientific evidence" goes against Watson's assertion that populations separated for long time periods would evolve at the exact same intellectual capacity rate? Geographic separation is a key component of the common allopatric speciation belief.

    jtwitten
    What "scientific evidence" goes against Watson's assertion that populations separated for long time periods would evolve at the exact same intellectual capacity rate? Geographic separation is a key component of the common allopatric speciation belief.
    Watson did not assert that separated population might have different intellectual capacity.  He asserted that Africans have less intellectual capacity than Europeans.  Technically, since he is making a positive assertion, he is responsible for demonstrating the evidence.  Although there are studies showing racial difference in IQ, these studies are riddled with problems.  In short, these studies do not support a conclusion that IQs differ between racial groups.  Therefore, we must default to the statistical null hypothesis that there is no difference.

    The genetic evidence does not support the concept that human populations are isolated from each other.  There are certainly genetic differences that correlate with geographic location, but these are completely consistent with a neutral diffusion model (i.e., the differences are due to the distance because the likelihood of two people mating is, in part and at a very practical level, dependent on proximity).  Off the top of my head, see Novembre et al 2008 in Science (I think, like I said, top of head sans reference) for an example in Europe. 

    Watson also supported his claims with entirely anecdotal claims about stereotypical negative experiences of working with individuals of African descent.
    Josh, thank you for the feedback.

    You state:
    "It is not possible to construct a narrative describing the sequential events that occurred, because the evidence of those events no longer exists." You are the first person on this site to simply admit that there is no evidence, and no way to determine the evidence.

    You state:
    "Once chemical replicators existed, no additions to the standard forces of evolutionary theory are necessary to explain current observations." There is no experimental data showing successive steps of chemical evolution leading to "current observations" of even a single "simple" cell. This is another "just so" story.

    Experimental data exists proving that mutations plus natural selection can change one type of animal into a new kind of animal (e.g. changing a dog into an animal that isn't a dog). True or False? You eloquently dodged the question last time.

    Regarding your question on genetic drift and decreased heterozygosity, see http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIID2Genesdrift.shtml for a succinct review.

    jtwitten
    "It is not possible to construct a narrative describing the sequential events that occurred, because the evidence of those events no longer exists." You are the first person on this site to simply admit that there is no evidence, and no way to determine the evidence.
    I did not say that there is no evidence.  Rob, this is where we need to be clear.  My statement is that the evidence that you require to be convinced (i.e., that which is necessary to build a narrative from the origin of life to now with each step completely proven) no longer exists and it would be ridiculous to think that it would. 

    I instead apply the scientific method.  The evidence that does exist (e.g., fossil record, DNA, etc.) is consistent with the theory of evolution.  It is not consistent with alternative theories.  Therefore, I accept the theory of evolution over other theories. 

    Finally, the scientific method requires that one reject supernatural causes, as they cannot be experimentally tested.  To accept anything other than testable, natural hypotheses would negate the utility of the scientific method.

    "Once chemical replicators existed, no additions to the standard forces of evolutionary theory are necessary to explain current observations." There is no experimental data showing successive steps of chemical evolution leading to "current observations" of even a single "simple" cell. This is another "just so" story.
    I don't think you know what a "just so" story is.  Again, you are insisting on a narrative, which really is just a near infinite collection of "just so" stories.  Evolutionary theory is consistent with progressing from a chemical replicator to current levels of complexity.  The ability to perfectly describe every historical step is not relevant.

    Do you need to know every historical event in a patient's condition in order to make a diagnosis?

    On heterozygosity, I completely understand that drift reduces variation.  As does selection.  Migration and mutation increase variation.  So, over time, heterozygosity does not necessarily perpetually decrease.  Indeed, populations under selection can reach something called mutation-selection balance where the heterozygosity no loner declines.  My question was where is your evidence for all the ancestral heterozygosity in the past that you think has been steadily decreasing.

    On the new animal question, I was not dodging, I was being precise.  You will find that I am annoying pedantic on definitions.  Experiment and observation have seen divergence between populations.  Species is not a precise term.  So, I need to know what degree of divergence you are implying by the word "kind".

    Rob, the simple fact is that you are (intentionally or not) demanding a level of evidence that is both impossible and unnecessary.  As such, it will be impossible to convince you.  At least you are consistent in that.
    So...

    "Scientists" want to prove something can be produced by chance. So they use laboratories, where human beings perform very specific, non-chance actions.

    I am a teacher of math myself, and I grew up in a family of university professors, in physics and in logic. If I am not mistaken, a scientist in laboratory can prove something can be produced by a scientist, in a laboratory. How did you all make the logical connection from that to "something can be produced by chance"?

    Gerhard Adam
    By that logic there can be no such thing as probability theory, since by your definition there can be no probability experiments that are intentional.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Oh, absolutely not. There can be such thing as probability THEORY. There can't be such thing as PROVED probability laws.

    In the same way, all the lab experiments to prove evolution by chance only prove that there is such a thing as evolutionary THEORY - in the minds of evolutionists, that is. But they don't prove it. They only prove something can be created in a laboratory, which is not exactly the definition of evolution, last time I checked.

    Gerhard Adam
    You're splitting hairs.  By making such a suggestion you're creating a "straw man" argument because something isn't completely deterministic or reductionist.  It's an artificial construct to suggest that unless every specific event can be absolutely witnessed then it must not exist.  Every experiment is necessarily a subset of real world operation to determine whether the phenomenon being examined can be isolated and analyzed.  Even in cases where an absolute explanation isn't available (yet), such as with gravity, it doesn't render the findings invalid simply because we haven't measured the "forces" between every planet and star. 

    The purpose of the experiments with origins of life are to determine whether certain ideas are plausible and could lead to a possible explanation of how life originated.  No one is suggesting that the specific mechanisms employed in such experiments are absolute, however without such experiments it would render any possible explanation forever speculative.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Splitting hairs? Since when the difference between "theory" and "proof" is "splitting hairs"? Then why write the above article at all? Why try to prove anything? You have a theory, therefore it is true, therefore anyone who is pointing to the difference between "theory" and "proof" is "splitting hairs."

    Gravity is not a good example for you. Gravity exists today. Any experiment with gravity uses the REAL conditions - gravity itself. You can observe it on earth, and you can observe the planets and stars interact.

    Experiments with origins of life are always speculative. The speculate about everything. The real conditions are not observable, they are ASSUMED. The primitive environment is ASSUMED. The original chemical content of the air is ASSUMED. The time-frame is ASSUMED. Everything is ASSUMED, and it is assumed in such a way as to increase the odds for a certain solution. Eventually, with every single thing assumed in favor of a certain solution, the scientist "proves" the odds are reasonably high. That's the very nature of the experiments "proving" evolution.

    So yes, you say: "without such experiments it would render any possible explanation forever speculative." But is it different WITH such experiments? No. The "possible explanations" are still speculative as long as the conditions are speculative and ASSUMED. Nothing is proved except that a scientist in a laboratory can produce certain organic materials from other organic materials. Well, we knew that, didn't we? Any moonshiner can do the same. But have we really proved anything about a blind, mindless, random process of evolution?

    Gerhard Adam
    No one is suggesting that the specific process employed in a laboratory experiment is the origin of life.  You've arbitrarily extended the argument from evolution TO the origin of life which isn't part of evolution theory.

    Secondly, the experiments done in laboratories are intended to determine whether such processes can occur by chance and by creating the artificial circumstances to simulate what conditions may have been like on earth.  No one has ever suggested that this is absolutely true, nor that it constitutes proof of anything that actually occurred.

    That's why this is a "straw man" argument, because you're the only one asserting that this is being presented as proof.  Experiments are only trying to determine what is possible and how it might occur.
    Mundus vult decipi
    So you basically agree with me. The experiments in a laboratory are intended to determine whether a process chosen by a scientist to re-create - on conditions that "MAY have been like on earth" - can really be re-created. But they don't prove anything nor disprove anything outside of it. Evolution can not be proved nor disproved. It is just ASSUMED.

    Of course, your statement that "origin of life isn't part of evolution theory" is interesting. How was Darwin's book titled? "The ORIGIN of Species"! And what is the article above talking about? The beginning of life! The formation of elements of life!

    So, evolution is not really about origin of life, huh. What is it about then?

    Gerhard Adam
    Origin of life is about the processes that may have given rise to life.  Evolution is about the processes via natural selection that gave rise to species.  As I said before, you're simply trying to fabricate straw man arguments, despite the fact that you have no basis for doing so.

    It's obvious that you are peddling some sort of agenda, but your criticism of the science is completely without merit.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Science cannot PROVE anything. Nothing. Nada.

    If we knew the EXACT laws of the universe, then we could prove things based on those laws. But we don't know those laws -- that what we're trying to determine. The laws of the universe aren't simple, so determining them is a lot of difficult work.

    The best science can produce is a theory. A theory is basically someone's best guess as to how the universe (or some piece of it) works. However, this isn't just some random guess -- it's an educated guess based on the results of hundreds or thousands of observations (frequently from experiments).

    If Science were a game, it would be more "Zendo" than "Clue". Clue is a game of deductive logic, while Zendo is a game of inductive logic. The scientific method uses both, but induction is the more critical of the two.

    Jeff Sherry
    Bo, I guess I'm not following your logic or argument very well. I don't see where evolution is just assumed.  Either there were natural processes that led to life appearing on the Earth or there wasn't. It follows that the Earth is older than 10,000 years. Again the Earth formed from natural processes or not.  Are fossils the remains of previous generations of life on Earth?

    If I reject evolution I might as well reject the other sciences as well. Bo what are you putting forth as an explanation for how life got here?
    So, Gerhard, are you saying that evolution doesn't talk about origin of life? Think twice before you answer the question; and you may want to consult with evolutionists. May be the large majority of them - about 100% - would disagree with you, me thinks.

    My "criticism of science"? When did I criticize science? I pointed to the obvious inconsistency in the author's logical construct. Why would that be considered "criticism of science"?

    Jeff, evolution is just assumed because it has never been observed, and the conditions for it have never been observed. It is an artificial theoretical construct, never observed and never observable. What exactly in my logic is it that you can't follow?

    Are "natural processes" the only possible explanation for the origins of life? Are we open-minded enough to accept alternative explanations? Are we willing to apply Occam's razor to the theories of the origin and just accept the simpler one of them?

    If you reject evolution you might reject other sciences? What do you mean? Evolution is not a "science" in any accepted meaning of the word. It is only a THEORY, remember? Biology is science, physics is science, chemistry is science, geology is science: they are not THEORIES, they are sciences. Evolution is only a THEORY, and by the way, ONE OF THE MANY theories within those sciences. So rejecting evolution is not "rejecting science," it is only acting within the field of science on the basis of supporting evidence or the lack thereof.

    Jeff Sherry
    Bo, what are the alternate explanations for life on Earth? Evolution is science. What are you stating that is unobservable in evolution? 

    Show me the alternatives. Are you willing to take a shave to your theories?
    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but you clearly misunderstand the nature of theory and the role that it plays.  In addition, you clearly are confusing evolution with origins of life issues.  Despite your earlier claim, Darwin did not argue about origins of life, but rather origins of species (you should probably read it).

    Your assertions about what is science is, is confused regarding what constitutes theories versus proofs.  You are attempting to suggest that evolution is only a hypothesis rather than a theory. 

    Your concept of observation is also flawed since a great deal of technology that exists consists of phenomenon that can not be observed although it was developed from scientific theories.  So despite your desire that we should approach this with an "open mind", you know that you have no such intention since you're not proposing an alternative scientific theory, but reverting directly back into superstition.  If I'm wrong, then what is your alternative view?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Jeff, if you don't know what the alternative explanations are, then may be you need to first educate yourself and then participate in a discussion. It may help if you just read the article above. The author mentions the alternatives and seems to accept them as legitimate, seeing that he proposes counter-explanations to them. So I propose that you first read before your write.

    Also, you didn't answer my epistemological questions about what we accept with an open mind and what not. Before we talk about knowledge, we should decide what "knowledge" really means.

    You may want to believe that evolution is a science, this is your right. Dictionaries and scientists keep calling it THEORY. Why? Because science is OBSERVABLE facts. Theory is EXPLANATION of the observations.

    Gerhard, Darwin did not argue about origins of life? Well, I must say you are wrong here. Here is a quote from him in a letter to a friend, commenting on his own book:

    "But if (and oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity etc., present, that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes."

    So, Gerhard, Darwin didn't argue about origins of life? Really?

    Oh, you need to read the article above. The author mentions the alternative views.

    Jeff Sherry
    Well Bo, I haven't been disappointed in your knowledge base. You keep stating there are alternative explanations, yet you don't state what they are. I was actually hoping you could extend my knowledge. I am certainly glad you speak from lofty heights of education and open mindedness in extending what your alternates are.



    Again I await your learned knowledge of your alternatives to evolution. You aren't going to feed me aig propaganda are you? I promise I won't move my lips when I read your next post.
    Gerhard Adam
    Darwin did not argue about the origins of life.  While he may have speculated about them in correspondence, much like anyone might, it was never included nor offered up as a theory in any form.

    In any case, you obviously have some point you're trying to make, so what is your alternate explanation for evolution and/or the origins of life?  Why be coy about it?

    BTW, I'm going to be really disappointed if your only answer is to advance another fairy story or magical tale.


    Mundus vult decipi
    Quote: "BTW, I'm going to be really disappointed if your only answer is to advance another fairy story or magical tale."

    If someone has not covered the groundwork or done their homework, surely some things will seem 'magical' or incredible; probably not unlike the folks who show up here and ask how a monkey could have given birth to a human, somewhat like dismissing quantum mechanics without learning the mathematical foundations behind the theory. Without doing the experiments, there is no foundation for acceptance or rejection, so the honest position is neutral. Such experiments' transcendental results necessarily cannot be presented in this dimension - only the experimenter can appreciate the validity of that conclusive truth.

    Even the theist should appreciate the marvel of the systems behind the production and maintenance of the life forms - whether the efficient cause happened in astronomical antiquity or whether it continues as an on-going controlled process. When cells split, the use of the word 'chance' or 'random' is simply not scientific. At these pivotal points, instead one might just give a second to identify them as points where outside influence could possibly direct the entire dance of life (e.g. insemination, fertilization, replication, mutation, yadda yadda). This unbiased or generous approach would tend to include many more people in the understanding of the science of life. Failing that approach, the theists should just search for the words "chance" and "random" in the theories.

    Jeff and Gerhard, I don't state what the alternative explanations are? Didn't I suggest that you two read the article above? Let me check again, I may have forgotten. Yes, right there, I really did suggest it! Hmmm, if you don't read what I write, I must say the problem lies not with me. Seems to me you two are desperately trying to not notice what I write, or may be there is another problem?

    Okay, let's try it again, it is not that hard. Just read what the article above says. The first two paragraphs would suffice if longer reading is beyond your abilities. The author states at the very beginning that he has opponents and he is arguing against them. Who are his opponents?

    Darwin did not argue about the origins of life, he may have speculated about them in correspondence? I can agree with that statement. In fact, I must say, all evolutionists only speculate about the origins of life, they never prove anything. Talk about "fairy stories" and "magical tales." Honestly, they also speculate about origins of species because they have never observed evolution from one species into another. So, however much you may try to re-define evolution to save it from criticism, it still makes no sense.

    So, Jeff and Gerhard, are we open minded enough to accept the possibility for alternative explanations, or are we going to be worse than the retrograde clerics of the Middle Ages who wouldn't accept any opinion but their own? Calling everything we disagree with, "propaganda," "fairy tales," "magic" - is this intellectual honesty, or is this a sign of malice and prejudice?

    Gerhard Adam
    That's what I thought.  Criticism, but no alternative explanations.  Your argument is meaningless since your argument about observation means that there can ultimately be no science since (1) a significant number of events can never be directly observed, and (2) events that are observed will usually contain only a subset of all possible samples since that can never be complete.

    Unfortunately you've already made plain that there is no evidence that would ever be sufficient to convince you, since you intentionally seem to ignore everything that has been observed and recorded. 

    As I thought, you're simply attempting to argue from the Intelligent Design perspective which is another meaningless viewpoint.  Personally I couldn't care less what you choose to believe, but please don't try and suggest that there's anything remotely scientific about your ideas.  You want to criticize scientific processes, but you offer nothing in return except more wild conjecture which has even more speculation about it than your worst allegations against scientific hypothesis.

    Whatever you claim science has failed to observe, I suspect that's not nearly as little as what has been observed regarding your alternate explanation.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Fred Pauser
    Bo…



    Dictionaries and scientists keep calling it THEORY. Why? Because science is OBSERVABLE facts. Theory is EXPLANATION of the observations.




    Science seeks to explain the natural world, and uses methods designed to eliminate bias to the greatest extent possible. The word “theory” as used in science does not mean hunch or unverified opinion – that is only the layman’s meaning of the word. The meaning in science is very different. In order for a concept to be elevated to the level a scientific theory, it must be found to successfully explain a broad set of factual data and observations. It does this in part by proving to be of predictive value. The Theory of Evolution has passed countless tests and has been greatly reinforced by vast evidence from the field of genetics. “In fact,” the evidence in support of the evolution of species is overwhelming!



    In fact, I must say, all evolutionists only speculate about the origins of life, they never prove anything.




    Yes, scientists (who usually happen to be evolutionists), do speculate and hypothesize about the origin of life. So far they have gathered many indications the life probably evolved spontaneously from matter. As yet this in not “proven,” but scientists are getting closer.



    As Gerhard pointed out, the evolution of species as expounded by Darwin, does not include the origin of life itself. The former is very well established; the latter is still hypothetical.



    It seems apparent that you are a Christian “Intelligent Design” advocate. If so, you believe that God created each species fully formed from scratch, all appearing from the beginning pretty much as they appear today (although you make allowance for so-called “microevolution,” since it is irrefutable that many species have evolved to some extent).



    Have you considered that a really intelligent God may have designed the universe and the laws of nature in such a way that life and various life forms could have evolved spontaneously over time as per Darwin’s findings??? For one thing, that would eliminate the need to do all sorts of mental gymnastics in the attempt to reconcile the Bible with what the evidence actually shows about nature. The Christian God poofed everything into existence very quickly, and then did a lot of intervening and finagling of things. Which God seems the more intelligent, the one I suggest, or the Christian version?
    In my study of religion and science I found that the the E=MC2 could have an inverse. Theoretically by the inverse of the formula if you had enough energy you should be able to create matter. Now the bible is not a science book as I have said previously. If you have the gumption look at Isaiah 40:26. Einstein did not discover his formula until recently in the human time line. This is one whale of a coincidence that may explain how the universe was put together.

    Also, by observing explosions of massive amounts of energy (like the A-BOMB), never to these explosions produce organized systems. To the contrary they produce chaotic mess. Has science explained how any trigger that could produce enough energy and subsequently matter be controlled such that we have what we have order in the cosmos?

    Gerhard Adam
    What does Isaiah 40:26 have to do with anything?  It's simply a passage that asks who created all the stars.

    Your comparison to releasing massive amounts of energy as in an atomic bomb are seriously flawed.  In the first place, the "chaotic mess" you're referring to is that organized structures that it interacts with.  As for the beginnings of the universe, I refer you to Johannes Koelman's piece.
    Mundus vult decipi
    This is relevant because it discloses a fact that I think you might have missed. It said that God has abundant power. Some translations render this verse dynamic energy, others mighty power, still it carries the same thought. The correlation between the designer of the stars and great power provides a general explanation that corresponds to the inverse of Einsteins findings in relationship of energy and matter.

    My point is that this passage existed many centuries prior to the discovery of the relationship of energy and matter. Therefore, the bible does seem to provide information that confirms that in order for a creator to be a creator he would have to have abundant even dynamic energy.

    Gerhard Adam
    26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
           Who created all these?
           He who brings out the starry host one by one,
           and calls them each by name.
           Because of his great power and mighty strength,
           not one of them is missing.

    I think you're seriously stretching the meaning in equating power and strength as being synonymous with energy.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Is it a stretch? I dont think I can agree with that comment at all. Any number of translations render the verse in nearly the same way, still conveying the thought that a creator would have to have great power and strength in order to be a creator. Again, all I am saying is that abundant power would have to be a charistic of a creator and that charistic is confirmed in scripture and agrees with the scientific relationship between energy and matter.

    Some other scriptures that I have found in my research are found at Isaiah 40:22 and Job 26:7. Keep in mind that these scriptures were written several thousand years before Columbus and before science confirmed the general shape of the earth. Back then "science" maintained that the earth was flat and was supported by elephants on the back of a large sea turtle. True, it was before the scientific method and the enlightenment, but it was still the best man could come up with in challenge to scripture and intellegent design. Surely you would have to admit that it is a profound coinsidence in the choice of words. And these words were not "added" based on current knowlege. These were the original hebrew words transladed to their english counter parts. I'll leave it to you to make up your own mind. For me this is pretty concrete. If there is a designer of the universe and if there is a powerful individual out there and if the bible is his communication with us, it does stand to reason that he would want us to have a correct, basic, understanding of his work. So far in my study I have not found anything in science to unseat that notion.

    Gerhard Adam
    Back then "science" maintained that the earth was flat and was supported by elephants on the back of a large sea turtle.
    That's simply nonsense.  Such beliefs may have existed in the general populace, but most assuredly, in the parts of the world that shared such a view, they were not perpetrated by "scientists" of any stripe.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hey, I agree with you that it is nonsense. However, that is what the wise men, people of academia thought 3,000 years ago. These are individuals that would equate to modern-day scientists, men of knowledge, etc.. I did qualify that statement with the fact that this belief was widely taught before the scientific method was derived.

    Dear Sir,

    if i am to meet a friend for tea today at 8pm, lets look at the posibility of this event hapening and not happening. the weather might change, i might die, get hit by a car on the way same could hapen to my friend so on and so on endless posibilities as to if it is going to hapen or not. but we will meet if all these uncontrolable facores are favorable to us.
    but we have no controle over these factores right ? then why did i meet with my friend how did so many factores subsided .... :-)

    thank you

    Gerhard Adam
    ...then why did i meet with my friend how did so many factores subsided...
    These aren't random events.  You're suggesting that all of the possibilities (i.e. car accident, etc.) are simply random.  However, they aren't.  You can watch for traffic and minimize the odds of an accident.  You will certainly react to the weather, but it is predictable within a short time range.  The possibilities are NOT endless.  They are very specific, and most are controllable to an extent.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I think that intelligent design is a worthwhile theory to follow if it can develop a testable model. I suggest that we discover a model for detecting animals whose genes have evolved through human domestication and artificial selection versus animals which have evolved through natural selection. It should be easy to determine that dogs have evolved differently than wolves. Dogs would be the example of artificial selection and wolves would be the example of natural selection. If humans display similar differences from monkeys than perhaps there is artificial selection in humans as well. I am not sure this would lead to a supernatural creator but at least it would show intelligent intervention in breeding aka intelligent design.

    I have read through many of these discussions. However, I was unable to find where a living organism has been created artificially from non-living elements. Have I missed something?

    Gerhard Adam
    ...I was unable to find where a living organism has been created artificially from non-living elements...
    If that had been done, it wouldn't be an open question, would it?
    Mundus vult decipi
    the title of this article is calculating the odds that life could begin by chance. It doesn't answer the question. The creationist argument gives a specific calculated number.I am trying to debunk this for my brother-in-law. what are the odds of life beginning by chance?

    Gerhard Adam
    There is no creationist argument.  It's simply a made up number based on the erroneous requirement of a completely random set of actions.  It's bogus no matter how the argument is presented. 

    Since NO ONE knows how to create life, the best that one can do is suggest possible scenarios that could lead to such a thing.  However, since no one knows how it occurs, it is impossible (including for the creationists) to calculate a probability, since they have no greater insight than any other researcher.  All one can do is to determine, which this article does, that the process isn't as random as most people think, and consequently takes many fewer iterations to produce something useful.

    According to the creationist argument, life is impossible based on their probability calculations.  Therefore, they conclude that the only way it could occur is by magic.  However, the proper analysis would say that if your probability calculation indicates life is impossible AND we see that life does exist, then there's something wrong with your assumptions and calculations.  Invoking magic doesn't help.
    Mundus vult decipi
    thanks for your reply.
    I agree that argument is pretty weak. Richard Dawkins in his book "the God delusion" attributes the origin of life to luck. That is pretty weak too, but it does imply odds.
    To a creationist, God is not magic or luck.
    I certainly don't see very favorable odds for the process described in this article as happening by random chance.

    Gerhard Adam
    That's the point.  It isn't completely random, nor is it "chance" as most people think of it.  Obviously there is a finite probability of having the right combination of elements, molecules, energy, etc. that could lead to life.  They certainly didn't happen on Venus or Mars, so there is a set of initial conditions that have to be met.  Once those conditions are met, then there are certainly other circumstances that have to come together to create the right blend of possibilities.  None of them are impossible, but they need to come together.

    The difficulty in using words like "chance" is that it presumes that all possible outcomes are equally likely, which clearly isn't true.  If a sufficient number of possibilities exist, then the appropriate chemical interactions can occur which can lead to the organic molecules described.

    Since no one knows exactly how these organic molecules actually produce life, then it would erroneous to suggest that we know all the steps that would need to be fulfilled.  However, since life does exist, then clearly we can look back and recognize that these events did occur.  If they hadn't then we wouldn't be here to discuss it.  While that looks like it's an unusually lucky set of circumstances, any situations when viewed in hindsight can look like that.

    I don't know if you're married, but if you consider what the circumstances were that had to come together to meet someone, to imagine the choices people made regarding where they live, the fortuitous circumstances of having certain experiences or engaging in certain activities.  In hindsight, they all take on a special significance as if the situation is so unique as to be almost impossible to envision ever occurring.  However, this would be wrong, since you had no way of knowing in advance that these were the circumstances that you would end up in, so it is a false sense of complexity.  You might have equally ended up with someone else had circumstances been different and been none the wiser.  The point being that it only appears significant in hindsight.  In truth, any workable situation would have sufficed.

    Similarly, when we consider how organic molecules come together, it isn't like there are an infinite possible number of combinations.  Each is subject to the laws of chemistry and physics so there are boundaries against which such molecules can form.  Similarly when a particular combination is chemically stable, it isn't necessary to reinvent each step along the way, so it can become more of a building up process than a perpetual reinvention from scratch.

    There are many theories about how such chemistry can occur so that there is a sufficient amount of energy to initiate reactions, but not too much to compromise the reactions. and long enough periods to where they can bind into more complex forms, etc.  To a creationist that may sound like an extremely "lucky" set of circumstances, but remember the marriage analogy previously, because it only looks that way when you look at a successful occurrence.  We could just as readily point to dozens of planets where it wasn't successful and show that the conditions just weren't right.
    To a creationist, God is not magic or luck.
    If God is not magic, then they're not being honest.  When the proposition is that something took place outside the laws of science, then it is supernatural or magical.  While they may prefer words like "miracle", that's just quibbling over the semantics.  A miracle is magic.  What bothers most creationists about the term, is that when it is put that way, it sounds implausible even to them.
    Mundus vult decipi
    It seems like you're saying that whatever was necessary for life to originate it just happened. End of story. We are here and that's all that we know for sure.

    Magic is the art of producing illusions as entertainment, deceptive devices etc.
    A miracle is an extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

    They are not equivalent terms. A person might use magic to fake a miracle but a supernatural being would not stoop to magic.

    BTW I believe in a six-day creation by the God of the Bible and I am trying to give my brother-in-law, who is agnostic, a reasonable estimation of the odds that life could originate on its own. I guess there is no good answer for that.

    In browsing these comments I saw a post of yours from May 3, 09 where you ask the question where did the water come from in Genesis 1: 2.
    It was created in Genesis 1:1. The Bible is not specifically clear if there is a time lapse between those two verses. The six-day creation could have begun in verse 2. The question I have about that verse is where did the darkness come from.

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, that's not a good enough explanation since the earth was without form.  More specifically the problem recurs in verses 6-8:
    And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.  And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day
    In this explanation it is clear that there is supposed to be water below us and above us.  Therefore the water isn't explained as being only on the earth.  Specifically in verse 9 it clearly states that the water below the heavens were the basis for forming the land masses on Earth. 
    Magic is the art of producing illusions as entertainment, deceptive devices etc.
    That's only the entertainment definition of the word as used by magicians.  The definition of magic is:
    1 a : the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces b : magic rites or incantations
    2 a : an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source b : something that seems to cast a spell
    So whatever else you want to call it, supernatural powers are magic.
    It seems like you're saying that whatever was necessary for life to originate it just happened. End of story. We are here and that's all that we know for sure.
    In a manner of speaking that's true.  But that's similar to the creationist explanation as well, except in their case they're simply pushing back the first cause to a diety that they claim is infinite and therefore always existed.  If you feel that the origin of life requires a specific explanation before you'll accept the plausibility of it, then why not offer an explanation as to how a diety came to exist.  Simply claiming that it was always there is not explanation, it simply shuts down the questioning as being unanswerable.

    Science has never claimed to have all the answers, which is precisely why research occurs.  At one time it was considered that the earth was the center of the universe.  When that was proven to be false, then the religious views backed off to another point.  In each instance, as science discovered new realities about our universe, religion has had to back off from its earlier positions.  In this case, I suspect something similar will happen, since there is nothing in the Bible that precludes the scientific explanation.  While you can certainly believe whatever you like, it isn't likely that the Genesis story is true.   It may make a good story to highlight the beginnings of the Jewish people, there are far too many problems with it, to make it true.  At the very least, it is clear that the story is incomplete in significant details (and that's being generous).
    Mundus vult decipi
    Genesis 1:1 deals with the creation of time, space and matter. In the next verse we find the earth was without form and void. The two terms used together denote confusion and desolation, in other words uninhabitable. The question is, did the Lord create it that way or did it possibly become that way as the result of a judgment on a world inhabited by angels that rebelled.

    I can't give a very good answer until I understand your question better. The waters which were above the firmament are no longer there. In chapter 7 verse 11 during the great flood the windows of heaven were opened and there was rain on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights.

    Genesis 1:9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
    This is creating order out of chaos in preparation for the earth to be inhabited. The surface of the earth was in some places raised in other places lowered creating a boundary for the water.

    Your definition of magic says “believed to have supernatural powers” and “seems to cast a spell”.
    Magic is a counterfeit, a fraud.

    The creationist believes in an eternal self-existing God who created all that exists.
    The evolutionist believes in an eternal self-existing Cosmos and that life is a natural product of matter.

    They are both religious beliefs, they are both beyond science, they are both beyond rationality.

    Gerhard Adam
    Look, I'm not particularly interested in arguing about the merits of Genesis.  You asked a question about the probability of life and I tried to give a reasonable answer based on my understanding of the science at this time.

    If you choose to believe something else, then that's up to you, but don't behave as if your explanation can be dressed up in mathematical terms just to contradict the science.  If you choose to believe based on your faith, then that's fine, but don't steal mathematics under the auspices of manufacturing your own set of facts.

    Despite what you say, the two perspectives are NOT religious beliefs.  Yours is a belief based on faith, while mine is based on science.  What's the difference?  My view is subject to change and modification as new information comes to light.  I'm prepared to integrate new information and follow where the evidence leads.  Your view suggests that all such inquiry has already been stopped.  If you find that satisfactory, then I congratulate you and leave it at that. 

    You may think that my attitude is condescending, but I truly have no desire to try and argue about an individual's personal beliefs.  The discussion is about the state of the science, not about whether you believe it to be true or not.  But as I said ... if the basis of your disagree is that you have a religious belief or faith, then be honest and say that's what the basis of your disagreement is.  What I find annoying is when a person claims faith and then wants to abuse probability theory to make their case.  If religion's case could be made scientifically, there won't be any need for faith.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I had a question about probability of life which you tried to answer and I appreciate that.
    I found where you had asked the question of creationists about Genesis and I tried to answer that.

    Mathematicians calculate the odds for everything. Creationist mathematicians have calculated the odds for the probability of life using one method, I would like to know how evolutionist mathematicians do it.

    I suppose they have to come up with a workable method to create life before they can calculate the odds that it actually happened that way. But they will never know how it actually started, so they will never be able to get past the statement that it just happened, end of story, we're just here and that's all we know.

    to say that life could or did originate on its own is not a scientific statement because they just don't know, but that is the position evolutionists must take, in spite of the fact that it contradicts the facts they do have about life, which is life comes life.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...which is life comes life...
    Definition of redundant:   See redundant.
    Mundus vult decipi
    That should have read life comes from life. The law of biogenesis: life only comes from already established life. Since it has never been scientifically shown to come from non-life; you know dead stuff like rocks, muck and electricity etc., evolution is left with a big gap. It seems like I read about a “god of the gaps” somewhere. He’s just never around when you need him.

    Yeah, I saw those same calculations as a boy in some book or other. Gave me pause. The odds of the essential building blocks of life coming together purely by chance is greater than the number of atoms in the universe, something like that (as is, btw, the possible synaptic arrangements of the human brain). But a little further inquiry – I hadn’t had chemistry – supplied the answer. They DON’T come together by random chance; they come together through the laws of chemistry, making the odds much more likely. Which, I believe, was the point of the experiment and of this article.

    Now, of course, you will ask, Well, who created the laws of chemistry. And, I admit, I often asked myself the same question when studying chemistry; the rules seem so, somehow, arbitrary. But for that very reason I don’t see any divine hand in them; She could have made things so much simpler.

    As to how inanimate matter could become life... pretty much the same way living organisms become inanimate matter, but in reverse.

    If you are going to believe that any kind of controlled laboratory experiment, repeated up to ten times, producing nothing more than molecules that in some ways resemble the building blocks of life but actually contain no information what so ever from which a living organism could be produced then you might as well also believe that entropy is bidirectional.

    Good grief, I think I’ll go see if my car has un-rusted from the last time I looked at it.

    I’m not sure where the laboratory came in, or, really, what you’re saying here other than something about the arrow of entropy. But, as pretty much everyone knows, subsets of order can and do exist within larger fields of chaos. Something like that; I’m no physicist (but, then, neither are you). But, since you mention laboratories and life, perhaps you missed this news item: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/scientists-create-first-self-r...

    I can’t edit these posts. Let me try to rephrase that:
    The experiment of this article was obviously conducted in a laboratory under very controlled conditions that would never randomly exist in any imagined environment where life supposedly began. It did not produce life or anything close to it. There was no information coded into the molecules. They merely resembled real ones. If you are going to believe that that is evidence or indicative that life could have originated on its own, then you might as well also believe that entropy is bidirectional.

    Your claim about subsets of order would take us back to the creationist’s response about the probability of that happening.

    This article helps explain what was actually accomplished in the article you mentioned:
    http://www.icr.org/article/have-scientists-created-synthetic-cell/

    “A team of brilliant scientists only succeeded in copying information from a germ to a computer and back to a germ.”

    logicman
    the earth was without form and void.
    Remember, this was written when the Earth was thought to be flat.  'Without form', meaning, perhaps that the earth, the pedosphere, was shapeless.  There were no valleys, mountains etc. It was void, i.e. empty, presumably empty of life. 

    Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

     About 4.5 billion years ago the water began to exist in liquid form.  The ocean began to fill.  There may well have been just one supercontinent, hence one ocean.

    Not much of a clash between the Bible and proto-earth theory there, is there?
    do you think the Egyptians who built the pyramids thought the earth to be flat? they knew exactly what its size and shape was.

    we don't know what the writer of Genesis knew or didn't know. I suspect he was at least as educated as the Egyptians.

    logicman
    If the bible was written at the time of the Egyptians, who were pretty good astronomers, then it was written long after the events described in genesis.  And of course, there was no eye witness to the biblical version of creation.  That is why neither science nor religion knows exactly how the Earth was formed.

    Which is why it is such a wonderful topic for idle speculation for scientists and philosophers.  I have many beliefs, but when people argue that I really ought to believe what they believe, then I just love to push buttons.

    Have a great day, all!
    I dont know enough about it to state facts, I dont know enough about it to state the word of god. I'm in limbo. So when its time for me to depart.... who do I listen.... No luck just die..... Your going to a place with families. Half truth and half sorta facts,,,, would you take the pain killer away from a dying person....You connect with all the energy and partichles.... you see your father and mother.... WHAT EVER!!!!!!!

    so that is w/ outside help what about in an uncontrolled environment w/ absolutely no human help at all such as the wild parts of nature

    Looks like we have fall in a trap, we are missing the point, changing the viewpoint:

    Religion has his place in evolution, you can prove when it started, around 200,000 years ago, its easy to see why, any decent anthropologist can tell you that. Its part of the social evolution of humans.

    The article is about chances in the origins of life, waaaaay before human sociology, so just stop giving to religion a place in time where it doesnt even exists...

    Cheers.

    Hi I am just a curious fellow,
    I can digest the concept of evolution, non-life elements -> time process -> made DNA/RNA -> cells -> finaly with this evolution..i can think upto reaching till, plants , frutes and vegetables ->>> but there is a disconnect after this point onwards ->> that how they became animal, started walking, finaly started creating intelligent design themself (humans)
    I can see how a potato can grow....as it has chemical reactions replications etc...so i see plants vegitables fruites as biological mass... but then dont undestand how this biological mass started thinking... and became human...or who know does poteto also "thinks" or plants "think" and from where this "feeling" "emotion" and "fear" came...hard to digest....or simply i can imagin growing a potato in a laboratory...but can't grow a butter fly ?

    So, is the concept of think, feeling, emotions, etc. that you still cant understand or "digest", its comprensible its still not well know, but we are learning its matter of time, of course as from 200.000 years ago there are humans making "gods" responsible for what they cant understand, its a well know tool of human evolution, yet, the same old tool...

    And hey, my dog feels, has emotions and think, he can comunicate, he warn me, you are not soo special as you think maybe, but if you need to feel that (you are so special as human) for your psiquic health, go ahead, again any decent anthropologist, cant tell you why, has been that way since the beginning.

    Very sensible ideas. Life did have to start with some natural selection that already applied to pieces that didn't quite work and that couldn't quite accurately reproduce each other. Ribosomes or RNA/DNA molecules - even the small ones - obviously have to be already some kinds of composites.

    If life depended on a random creation of the whole RNA molecule for a simplest bacterium, it would be such an unlikely event that the ID advocates would clearly be right. However, they're not right because each step in the evolution/birth of life we observe that looks too complicated was either different, or a chain of many separate steps.

    Congratulations, Gerhard, Dave and others for your extraordinary patience in trying to explain essential scientific principles to bloggers who claim to want clarification but don’t seem even to attempt to grasp the most basic aspects of what you’re trying to make simpler and simpler, dumbing down till you prune things to the magic essence that will finally enable even the meanest intellect to get it.

    Your efforts are futile, of course, just as is attempting to explain human-caused global warming to those who don’t want to confront the prospect of making any modifications in their lifestyles, even to spare their children and grandchildren enormous hardship. Your efforts are instructive, though, in watching the ID believers labor thought pages of dense, mostly irrelevant text (Dr. Flew? – never heard of him – used to believe in science but then he found god; funny - most of my atheist friends were Christians until they grew up) to convince, primarily, themselves, that they will never die.

    Most responses to ID answers, especially later on, involved personal attacks and sweeping statements of biased idiocy meant to demean, intimidate and bully people into joining the crowd so as not to appear foolish. ("My friends were Christians till they grew up" type of statements).

    The oft cherished Scientific Method of proving theories works until it disproves evolution and its associated trappings. When it becomes clear that current observable conditions in the universe including its most basic of laws give it a zero mathematical chance of success, suddenly the rules have to be changed. Oh conditions were different than now, in some vague and unprovable way.

    Lubos quote from above: " However, they're not right because each step in the evolution/birth of life we observe that looks too complicated was either different, or a chain of many separate steps."

    I fail to see evidence of the scientific method. I see facts presented leading to an inescapable conclusion that is sweepingly dismissed as wrong because "things were different then." We cannot brush aside things we see plainly and say, "well it was different then", or "i don't know how it happened, but it obviously did because here we are the probabilities must be one." Thats taking a bunch of oranges, putting them in a crate, slapping your name on it and saying you created them. Those same assumptions can be made regard ID and have more credibility since the odds potential of proveable science works against blind chance. Math disproves a chain of logical events leading to life creation from blind chance because the events must work in exact order and sequence on the first try. Try again? Ok, keep trying for the next 100000000000000000000000000000 billion years and you'll still be at it.

    The oft used possibility of life originating from extra terrestrial sources puts off the origins of life even further. So life was seeded here on earth? Oh ok, so the same questions we have today fail to be answered because it simply puts the event in some unreachable location that may take mankind generations if at all to ever see and verify. A weak stalling arguement with no verifiable confirmation method of either its validity or that it was an actual past event.

    The "evidence" i see from blind chance advocates is weak on argument but strong on volume. The put downs and attacks on intellects are impressive. I won't challenge you there. But if you cut away that flotsam, you have little more than what IDers have. A faith based system. The exception is the blind chance ideology is supposed to be based on the scientific method; but that method is discarded in its moment of greatest glory...

    ID theory, because it's based on the only alternative to blind chance, stands under the scrutiny of the scientific method quite well. Why? It seems very clear in the universe WE know and live in, blind chance is proveably mathematically impossible. While we cannot prove how "God" came into being, we are not really examining that are we? We're asking how life came to be in THIS UNIVERSE. It seems to be clear someone or something intelligently designed it. Who created him or it? I'm not venturing a guess because i cannot measure what exists or came into being on other planes of existence if there are even such. I know what i see, and i see intelligent design of a master worker. Ironically mankind can't even make one blade of grass on our own. We can only manipulate that which has already been made. So its not just intelligence we're speaking of, but a level of intelligence far beyond us.

    The ID answer doesn't preclude science or guarantee its obsolescence. On the contrary it encourages further exploration into what has been made and how it works together and perhaps to the processes used to generate intelligently the great variety of life we see.

    Men and women of intelligence who believe the theory of blind chance perhaps do so based on the track record of organized religions and their general overall attitudes on past centuries toward science and because quite simply, they are told to. We must be careful that the new "high priest" is not he who wears a lab coat.

    Gerhard Adam
    Hmm ... let me see if I understand the logic of this ...

    1.  We can't explain God nor can we explain his mysterious origins

    2.  You can't explain how life originated

    3.  Therefore we're right!

    Does that about sum it up?
    Mundus vult decipi
    ID theory, because it's based on the only alternative to blind chance

    Evolution is not "blind chance". That is the whole point of Darwin's theory. More specifically, why don't you answer this simple question. When you breathe, why does the air go in and out of your lungs? I'll tell you. Blind chance.  Yet it does. Why do you think that it?
     
    ID is a toxic meme so I am sure that your immediate response is "That's silly, it's not the same." But I assure you it is. The air moves because it obeys the gas law, your muscles obviously applying the pressure to the fluid. The resultant flow is very beautiful or would be if you could see it.  But you can see a good simulation and you you can even look at the real thing in a model. It's all there - boundary layers, turbulence, laminar flow, all the solutions of the gas law on show in a simple breath. Nothing mystical about it being life either, a vacuum cleaner would have been just as good an illustration.

     But why does the gas obey gas laws? Zoom down a billion times to find out. Then you'll see molecules of nitrogen and oxygen and lone atoms of argon all bouncing around obeying simple laws like conservation of momentum. There is no hint that they are cooperating to produce "pressure" and "flow". They don't know about gases, they're molecules, they collide and bounce. It's what molecules do. It's all governed by blind chance.

    Which is precisely why on average they obey the gas law. There are googols of different ways a lung-full of air could move so the chances of the air moving the particular way it does are microscopic. Remember me saying the odds of it happening are gazillions to one against? And so they are. But there is also an incalculable number of possible ways for the air to move and the vast majority would be seen as obeying the gas law.
     
    This is precisely what happens with random mutations. Yes, each mutation is "blind chance". No, your genes have no knowledge of their purpose. (Darwin didn't actually know about genes, he only knew about the traits seen in the phenotype - all the more credit to him for working out how natural selection works.)  But the manifestation in the organism of many mutations, mostly small and taken over as many generations as necessary means that natural selection ensures, without any chance being involved whatsoever, that the disadvantageous mutations die out and the advantageous ones survive. It's not a speculative idea, it's an absolute - and obvious - fact.

    This is why there's a qas law for mutations. Gas molecules achieve their equilibrium state through conservation laws so that the gas law emerges. Nothing mysterious there. Natural selection is does the same thing to mutations allowing good, cooperating traits to accumulate. It is inevitable. In fact its inevitability is why the previous generation of IDers - who were more honest about what they were selling and called themselves creationists - would say it can't be science, you can't test it.

    You see how ambiguous "blind chance " is? You breathe by blind chance but have a look at what happens when there are a lot of these random events and you get a completely predictable gas. You do have to look at the question of large numbers. If you don't, you won't know whether they'll produce a gas or a parking ticket. Same with mutations, or as Darwin called them, variations. You can't tell how they will behave together until you actually stir yourself to consider their effect on their own survival.  That's natural selection and it makes evolution inevitable.
     
    So, please, please, please, quit babbling those second-hand inanities. I know all about Behe and Dembski and all the other lunatics who apparently think that air should lie down on the floor and the fact it doesn't must be because God picks it up and throws it around all the time, giving "mere appearence of a gas law". ID simply discredits Christianity - and I see some Islamics are also adopting it now. Nobody is fooled by the pretence that you're not talking about God - and if God is half the person He's cracked up to be, He won't be very pleased by such denial of His name either. 

    Well, I've broken my own rule now :(













    Dr. Flew? – never heard of him.

    Was that not Antony Flew, the atheist philosopher best known for "The No True Scotsman Fallacy"? I knew he'd decided there was a God, I had no idea he had anything to say about ID.

    They can add Prof McIntosh to their list of trophies as well, a world expert on thermodynamics and yet one who maintains that evolution is contrary to the second law. Go figure.
     
    The thing is...

    Well, perhaps I should have mentioned this before but it's kind of hard to talk about in public.

     Bruce Almighty did not start as a big screen comedy. It started as a TV documentary about a true event. Of course, as so often happens, the beancounters looked at the bottom line and said "£2M for a documentary? That's far too much, make it £240M" so they did and it ended up on the Big Screen. But this is is what happened and it happened to me. Apart from the Jennifer Aniston bit, that is. That was, and still is, wishful thinking.

    Having my head full of crap about physics as usual one evening, I confess I started beefing about it all to God saying "Why couldn't You have made it all a bit simpler?" not expecting to get an answer, but much to my surprise, He immediately took me aside and said "You think you can do better? Well go ahead. Here's the holy dust of existence, all you have to do is design a simpler world and then we'll see whether it works." I had a horrible feeling I wasn't going to enjoy myself for a little while, and, well, you know, with God "a little while" can be a very long time indeed.

    "Not sure about simple!", I said, "I mean, Sascha's right. Are things like the state of my socks Predestined?" hoping that my use of that theological word would divert God long enough for me to think of an excuse and escape. But God just grinned and said "How should I know? It's your design!" and took the mop out of my hand, replacing it with a crayon to use on the drawing board that had miraculopusly appeared. "Oh be fair!" I cried, "I'm not as smart as You..." but once again God had thought of that. "Don't worry, Son", He said, "If you get stuck I'll give you a hand." "Well I'm stuck before I start: so how about a universe in which everyone's happy". 

    "Go on!"
    "Well I've never understood..."
    "And you still don't!"
    "Oh..."

    "I mean," He continued, as if talking to an idiot, "when you say 'a universe', you're just borrowing from My ideas. It wouldn't be your own design, it would just be a Mark Two version of one of Mine."

    So I sat down at the drawing board and started to think. At this stage I had precisely no constraints and precisely nothing to be unconstrained. Oh this is easy, I suddenly realized. I'll make a universe in which everything logically possible is actually possible and everything that is possible actually happens.

    Here is my first attempt at a universe:
                                                                       x = x
    God was not impressed. "What precisely is x? Haven't you learned anything from Russell and Godel? Your terms must be defined, make a consistent set of symbols if you feel up to it but you still have to say what they mean." "But, " I said, "that's the point, x can be anything, anything at all." "And what precisely do you mean by 'anything'? There isn't anything there. Show me an anything and then I'll let your anything be anything you like. Otherwise quit the sophistry already!" "But in Too Many Worlds", I bleated lamely, "x really can be anything. What's wrong with that?" "Well, in that case you'd better not say what the x on the left hand side is equal to until you've defined the x on the right hand side."

    I rubbed out the left hand x and, for some strange reason it reappeared on the right.
                                                                        = xx
    "Hoi! I don't mind learning from You, but that's sabotage!" I yelled.
    "Just giving you a hint" He remarked calmly. "You need to say what x is. Then you can start putting useful stuff on the left."
    Annoyed, I put another equals sign in. Actually the result wasn't too bad.
                                                                       =x=x
    "They You are!", I said triuphantly, "something I haven't decided on equals that which is equal to itself."

    "Apart from that being a tautology," He sighed, "the only thing that comes remotely near being its own reason for existence is Me. And you're not putting Me in your universe.  Are you?"

    I reached for the erasor and my designer universe became
                                                                        =x= 
    But I knew what was coming: "Equals what, Derek?"
    I replaced the x and added another equals sign.

    After several hours my revised universe had become:
                               =x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x
    I had a feeling this was going no-where. God, once again, started to say, "Very nice. But what is x?" but I'd had enough and decided the only thing to do was to delete all the x's and superfluous = signs.

    Version 3938 of my universe was this:

                                                                        =

    "That reminds Me" said God, "Have a sandwich.  You could do with one." Which was true enough. After a short break we returned to what was left of my Not Many Worlds universe. God was obviously enjoying Himself. "Better move on," He said, "or I'll have My holy dust back and make a few more Worlds Without End." "Amen" I mumbled automatically.

    "What have you come up with, then? Oh - an equals sign!  Is that it? Nothing in particular equal to nothing at all or what? Huh. I suppose it is rather, umm, quaint."

    I resignedly rubbed out the equals sign.




    "That's the best one you've come up so far! Mind if I borrow it?", I heard Him cackling behind me. 

    "And you can't have Jennifer Aniston!"  He added. It seemed like a non-sequitur at the time.
     
    Gerhard Adam
    I"m not sure what your point was, but I find such stories to be somewhat disingenuous because they focus on the irrelevant.

    Surely it doesn't take divine foresight to recognize that a simple improvement in the universe might be the elimination of birth defects?  Does reducing personal suffering violate any scientific laws or principles, such that it couldn't be addressed?  After all, we're talking about "magic dust", so it isn't like any laws of physics will be violated, if you're the creator of those laws.

    More to the point, I also find it a bit disingenuous to hear these kinds of stories which ultimately conclude that the "world is perfect" and we mere humans couldn't improve on it.  Well, I suspect that you wouldn't be able to improve on the design of many things, even that humans have built, so I'm not sure that's a realistic test.

    While I don't particularly care what beliefs someone holds, I find it increasingly tedious to listen to religion being introduced into scientific discussions.  I don't go into churches and demand that they apply the scientific method to their stories ... why do religious people never grant the same courtesy in return?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Really?  Well, Neo (not verified) had come out with this amazing statement:

    It seems very clear in the universe WE know and live in, blind chance is proveably mathematically impossible. While we cannot prove how "God" came into being, we are not really examining that are we? We're asking how life came to be in THIS UNIVERSE. It seems to be clear someone or something intelligently designed it. Who created him or it? I'm not venturing a guess because i cannot measure what exists or came into being on other planes of existence if there are even such. I know what i see, and i see intelligent design of a master worker

    It seemed to me that he was a little confused so I thought I'd help him out a bit by explaining how these things really work.




    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry ... must be getting a bit cranky in my old age.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Heh! Did someone use the "O" word?

    No problem, people do sometimes take my humour the wrong way.  One of the risks I'm prepared to take - like driving in Cardiff. Part of the rich tapestry of life :)
    Blind Chance is impossible as a creative force for life was what was referred to. Creative maybe a distasteful word i suppose to most readers here so whatever you want to call it.
    Blind chance, chaos theory and other evident things that spiral towards disorganization or in some cases organization are all facts. Perhaps the wording might confuse you since it was part a long back and forth chat i was having with Mr Gerhard. But i wasn't denying the concepts of blind chance and that it exists. But i've yet to have it proven it can make something alive from non living matter. This was the essence of the statement, sorry you had to waste your breath on that!

    Nobody is claiming proof that a particular theory of ambiogenesis is correct. the science is not far advanced enough for that. However unless you can show that every theory is fatally flawed, and that every such theory must be, then the fact that they are plausible and getting better every day is precisely the proof you need that non-life can bring forth life.
    i respectfully admit this is a potential argument yes. The amount of possible theories on this subject is vast and would take me years to write a thorough, logical and exhaustive thesis on. I wish i had that kind of leisure time to devote to it. My reply to that however is, that is akin to looking for a single needle in a haystack when you already have found the needle. But someone tells you to keep looking because there might be another one in there. To me the task is accomplished. However if science completes the task of turning inanimate matter into a living organism then i'll reevaluate and change my stance. Until then its like Dumb and Dumber when he asks the pretty girl, what are the odds of me and you. She says, 1 million to one. His response: so there's still a chance!!!! Movie title says it all

    But someone tells you to keep looking because there might be another one in there. To me the task is accomplished.

    No, we are spoiled for choice at this stage... The fact that is a huge amount of work to be done should not be misconstrued as meaning that the job is impossible. One day huge classes of theories will be eliminated, not thereby eliminating all chance of a good theory, but simply as a natural part of narrowing the possibilities down to the truth. On the other hand, every time someone finds a molecular system capable of replicating and storing information with variation, it creates more and more possibilities.

    Meanwhile your precondition: "if science completes the task... then i'll reevaluate and change my stance. Until then..." just tells me that ID is God of the Gaps all over again.
    No it simply means that you're asking people to put on hold their life waiting for science to find the needle if there is one. Its like the gambler begging, cmon, double or nothing, just one more try. At some point you have to walk away from the table because its sad and unreasonable. You have your staunchly held opinions. I do respect you for them and everyone on here is clearly an accomplished debater! However the position God of Gaps is a cop out for you. You ignore design and bow before the God of Chance or Luck. Thats who you revere. I mean no offense. Whatever title you slap on it, its a theology as much as anything because it requires faith as it is as yet unproven.

    I do respect you for them and everyone on here is clearly an accomplished debater! However the position God of Gaps is a cop out for you. You ignore design and bow before the God of Chance or Luck. Thats who you revere. I mean no offense.

    Then do not presume to judge others. I'm sorry to rain on your parade but I happen to be a committed Christian - by anyone's definition - and I strongly resent your accusations of worshipping anyone other than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ - a subject which is not up for discussion here, before anyone jumps down my throat :)

    No it simply means that you're asking people to put on hold their life waiting for science to find the needle if there is one.

    Only if anyone is stupid enough to do that. You're the one making a religious thing out of biochemisty. We've been saying that all along. ID is religion masquerading as science.
    Thanks for playing.


    So you are arguing for the sake of arguing? Your personal stance is religious but professionally you adhere to the scientific ideology thats current? Am i supposed to respect that? My stance is irreligious but i'm not atheist in that i feel there must be intelligent design in large part due to the serious vacuum of reasonable theory from the scientific community in general. Sadly people here immediately jump and say, FANATIC FANATIC, a believer in magic, burn him at the "stake"!!! I challenge it in the spirit of early scientists who challenged the Catholic Church and its inquisition.

    Science has taught that to successfully put down ID thought you must pin the person to a religious ideology and attack it mercilessly till it falls. You're far more vulnerable on here than i am if you believe in the "party line" as stated in the Bible! Sorry i'm not a mind reader, i just assumed since youre defending BC that you might be agreement with it also. That's what i get for assuming :)

    So you are arguing for the sake of arguing?
     
    No, I am establishing the truth for the sake of establishing the truth. Admittedly the chances of convincing you appear to be negligible but it's my duty to give you a chance.

    Your personal stance is religious but professionally you adhere to the scientific ideology thats current?

    You are confused. Science is not an ideology and there is no conflict between my personal stance and my professional life.  And as I said, that subject is not up for discussion here - that is to say on this site which is about science. There's plenty of other places on the 'net where they thrive on it.

    Am i supposed to respect that?
     
    Well, that's a difficult question. Your unteachable stubbornness and arrogant indifference to truth and integrity make your value judgements of even less interest than your opinions on sprites who tinker with genetic material when no-one's looking.  I would be more concerned if you did show respect. That said, since I do not compartmentalize my thoughts in the way your myopic imagination seems to think I must, the question doesn't arise. Are you supposed to respect someone like the ID-monger Andrew McIntosh who is a past-master at it? No.

    My stance is irreligious but i'm not atheist in that i feel there must be intelligent design in large part due to the serious vacuum of reasonable theory from the scientific community in general.
     
    Who cares what you think? For the millionth time, this site is about science, not the inconsistent blatherings of the likes of Behe and Dembski. You have not demonstated the slightest willingness to learn, nor have you responded relevantly to anyone's attempts to help you understand. 

    Sadly people here immediately jump and say, FANATIC FANATIC, a believer in magic, burn him at the "stake"!! I challenge it in the spirit of early scientists who challenged the Catholic Church and its inquisition.
     
    Pass me the torch, someone.











    Gerhard Adam
    Thank you for responding with a level of patience, I clearly no longer possess.
    Mundus vult decipi
    There's plenty of people willing to pass you the torch here it seems. And the resemblence to what i said is remarkable. I'm more than open to new concepts and have adjusted several times when proven wrong about matters of thought or matters of etiquette on these very posts. You are the first person in a post below to acknowledge that anything i've said has even a grain of truth in it, albeit derisively.

    Its an interesting double standard maintained here. You comfortably keep your personal beliefs in your magic little box, while Mr Adam repeatedly asks what mine are. Even when repeatedly told, he still insists there is more and believes i have no right to post here until i tell him. Your little clique of super minds is very difficult to penetrate.

    You're adding nothing new to the discussion with this last post and are now descending to name calling also? When the unprovable keeps being put back on the table, you all resort to name calling, belittling and arrogant statements. I don't need your verification or acceptance to know i have a mind and intelligence Sir.

    I quote: "Your unteachable stubbornness and arrogant indifference to truth"
    What have you presented that is truth on the arguments that actually have bearing on what i am maintaining? That your diction and phraseology is better than mine? That your overall education is better? That i must bow before you as High Priest? I'm sorry, you need to give me factual evidence from proven repeatable experiments that you can create life from inanimate matter. End of discussion. I'm here to learn from you and your collegues yes. So teach me something that has evidence. Teach me something based on TRUTH. Teach me something you can actually back up! I don't want more vague esoteric probability word puzzles. If that is your evidence to back up your claims then there is nothing here for me and i need to search elsewhere.

    You are all men of intellect, science, genius, but i'm surprised at the arrogance and condescending behavior. You'll only treat others well if they say "yes Sir, oh please Sir, edify me more!" Yes! Please edify me, but with facts not unproven theories and probability studies while you dodge the real questions and when it gets a little too close for comfort resort to arrogant name calling. We did that back on the playground. This is a science forum!

    Gerhard Adam
    Let me say this again ...

    No one is asking about your personal beliefs.  You've been asked about such statements because you brought them up as an alternative hypothesis.  Presumably they weren't your personal beliefs, because that would make it even more unscientific.  It is not contradictory. 

    It's also not a question of being allowed to post, but rather it is one of making assertions without any basis for them and then declining to explain why your rationale should be granted credence while you're simultaneously accusing science of failing to "prove" something that science acknowledges it doesn't know (at this point).  Your stubborn insistence on knowledge that doesn't exist is inexplicable, but when it is coupled with the strong suggestion that science is therefore deficient, it generates frustration.  You do NOT get to claim being correct as a default position simply because there is knowledge that science lacks.  I can't think of any more ways to explain that to you.
    Teach me something you can actually back up!
    While you present all manner of unsupported ideas?  This is why people are indicating that you're simply being stubborn and refuse to learn.

    If specific claims were being made, then you'd have every right to demand evidence for it, but that isn't occurring.  Instead it has been repeatedly mentioned that such specific knowledge and data simply isn't available at this point.  Therefore, there are certainly discussions about various probabilities, and you may well criticize them as not being convincing. 

    However, you cannot then springboard into completely unsupported claims and introduce wild hypothesis and then claim you're being unfairly targeted when you are being tasked with the same level of evidence you are demanding of us. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Fair enough. In short you're saying the answer is not here and i don't have the answer either. Sadly neither of us can really post anymore about this by those rules. I accept that and will move on. I do respect science, but i ask that it behave by its own rules. Virtually everything we have in modern life, good and bad, mostly good, we owe to science, scientific thought and discovery. We do have to caution ourselves however
    Presenting theory as fact when such has not been proven and seems at present to be highly unlikely to be proven is a very religious stance. Many here would loathe that idea and are likely offended at it's suggestion. But presenting unproven theories this way and dismissing other arguments or ideas as fairy godmother fantasies is really a double standard also is it not? It is not dissimilar to what happened in the Dark Ages where dissenting ideas and thoughts were strictly forbidden. No one here will burn me at the stake for disagreeing with you, but in intellectual terms that has basically been done. No I have appreciated some parts of this exchange and am determined to keep making sure i maintain or perhaps by some standards, improve, my open mind. I would offer the same is true for all of us however.

    Gerhard Adam
    Presenting theory as fact when such has not been proven and seems at present to be highly unlikely to be proven is a very religious stance.
    When was theory ever presented as "fact" in this article or in this discussion?  We know that life did originate at some point, so that is a "fact", so when someone presents probabilities arguing that it couldn't happen, then they're obviously not paying attention.

    Similarly, arguing such probabilities doesn't open the door for a religious interpretation which is often also another tactic.

    Scientifically we can state as a "fact" that life did begin at some point.  Similarly we can state as a "fact" that it doesn't require impossible odds to achieve it.  We don't know precisely what happened and will never know that.  However, we will be able to find a way in which it could happen and that will be confirmable by experiment. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Looking forward to seeing that in print one day

    I'm more than open to new concepts and have adjusted several times when proven wrong about matters of thought
    Really? Your constant referral to evolution as "blind chance" would suggest that you have learned nothing of any consequence.

    Its an interesting double standard maintained here
    "Personal beliefs" are out of place in a science blog. That is why I will not discuss mine and why Mr Adams challenges you to admit that you are promoting yours.

    You're adding nothing new to the discussion 
    It's not a discussion. We've all tried to point out where you are mistaken- but you haven't rebutted a single point except with blank denial and re-affirmation of your untenable position.  There is nothing else to be said.

    and are now descending to name calling also?
    If you don't like like it, stop insulting everyone, reply to what they tell you and you'll find everyone will be as nice as pie.

    What have you presented that is truth on the arguments that actually have bearing on what i am maintaining
    You are often careful with your words to say "The position I'm maintaining, blah blah". Do you really think it fools anyone? We all know that organisations like AiG long ago decided that ID would be a good way to soften kids' minds to the idea of creationism and hoped they could get away with teaching it legally as science. They haven't given up. That's where all the ID nonsense comes from.
    To those of you stating that the odds of life forming by "random chance" (and if you're arguing that, you've missed the point of this excellent article; life did not have to form by chance alone), are too great so there must be a designer, please answer me this question. How improbable does an event have to be to invoke a designer? How improbable is too improbable to have occurred? Before you answer, please keep in mind that I can easily describe an event sequence that has actually occurred, has occurred entirely as a result of random processes and has odds of occurrance of approximately 1 in 10^15774. Would you conclude that an event sequence this improbable could not actually have occurred as a result of chance, but rather is evidence for an intelligent designer?

    The event sequence I have in mind is the exact sequence of Powerball lottery numbers that have been drawn in the U.S. since the inception of the Powerball lottery in April 1992. Each individual set of lottery numbers has odds of 1 in 54 million of actually being drawn. (approximately, the actual odds are a bit higher than this). The drawing has occurred twice a week, every week since April 1992, for a total of approximately 2040 such drawings. Since each drawing is an independent event, the probability of the sequence of numbers produced by these drawings is (1/54 million)^2040. This is equal to approximately 1 in 10^15774. Are you going to seriously argue that there must be an intelligent designer simply because this sequence of events that occurred was so improbable?

    This logical is cyclical. Here's a link to actual powerball odds: http://pittsburgh.about.com/cs/pa_lottery/a/powerball.htm

    It plainly states: 5 white + Powerball = Powerball jackpot prize (Odds of winning 1 in 146,107,962 million)

    I'm not sure the relevance of calculating all the odds that have ever existed in all the drawings and why that has any bearing on the odds of life occuring by chance. If the same person had won all the drawings since 1992 perhaps you're odds are correct, but unless i'm mistaken that hasn't happened has it? Stacking odds in this way only has relevance if its the same person winning them all.

    Response try number 4 for this post. Actual powerball odds of winning the Grandprize is according to the official website: 1 in 195,249,054. Those odds don't stack in the way you are speaking however. Each time the drawing is held the chances reset to this number. The only way they cyclically stack the way you've written is if the same person wins every drawing from 1992 forward. An event that is mathematically unreasonable as is in my opinion, BC

    Gerhard Adam
    I simply can't take your posts seriously any more, despite your claims that you aren't trying to advance an agenda.

    This simplistic argument about probabilities was already discussed in the article itself, and has been presented in numerous ways, so you can't claim to still misunderstand how the probabilities work.  I think a previous comment you made, explains it, when you basically admitted that you had already reached your own conclusion and consequently weren't interested in what science actually explained.
    To me the task is accomplished.
    http://www.science20.com/comments/90614/Re_Really_%C2%A0Well_Neo_not
    Under those circumstances, I think it's a bit disingenuous to present yourself as if you were still interested in exploring possibilities when, in fact, you've already made up your mind.
    Until then its like Dumb and Dumber when he asks the pretty girl, what are the odds of me and you. She says, 1 million to one. His response: so there's still a chance!!!! Movie title says it all
    I think this statement from you simply pisses me off.  You are quite audacious to present nothing new to the discussion, except a series of tired old ID arguments, and preposterous proposals.  You have no answers, nor explanations for your own proposed ideas and then you have the nerve to suggest that the rest of the scientific community is "Dumb and Dumber"? 

    As I said previously, it doesn't appear that you have anything to offer, or anything in particular to say.  So, despite efforts to engage you in presenting your point, you've been content to simple waste everyone's time with the same old garbage that always surfaces and not the slightest indication that you've learned a thing.

    You're a striking example of why I have little patience with such discussions and why it is usually better to walk away than to engage in such a debate with an ID-iot.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I found very little enlightening from your comments Sir. Most lacked self control and i feel if we were face to face you'd probably lose your temper and possibly become violent? The arguments seem old and inconvenient to you because the community isn't answering them to anyone's satisfaction.
    There's nothing here that is innovative or enlightening at this juncture. I'll look again in the months ahead but i can do better trying to find answers on forums where people don't lose control and utter run away insults. Very weak.

    Gerhard Adam
    Oh, please don't pretend that this is any kind of scientific issue regarding opinions or control.  The simple reality is that you've come in with a religious agenda, pretended as if it isn't (despite offering no explanations for any of your claims), and then acting all hurt because people aren't responding favorably.  You cannot be enlightened because you refuse to learn.  You insist on drawing your conclusions based on fantasy and then everything else appears "old and inconvenient". 
    ...because the community isn't answering them to anyone's satisfaction.
    In this statement, we finally get a glimpse into your actual agenda.  By community, I assume you mean the "scientific community" and the satisfaction you're referring to is undoubtedly the response to Intelligent Design.  This suggests that you've been dishonest from the beginning and have intentionally been advancing a religious argument, thinking that you could pass unnoticed by suggesting that it was being framed within a scientific context. 

    Let me be clear.  Intelligent Design is not science and will never be science.  You can't simply make things up and then expect to be taken seriously.  You insist that science isn't answering your questions, while you postulate all manner of magical beings and events without the slightest inclination of offering an explanation about where THEY originated from. 

    The only thing insulting here, is your persistence in maintaining your view against all explanations, while coyly avoiding any commitment to stating your own arguments.  It doesn't get any more one-sided than that.
    Most lacked self control and i feel if we were face to face you'd probably lose your temper and possibly become violent?
    No violence ... I would simply have walked away from someone that clearly has no interest in learning anything.  If I had lacked self-control, I would simply have deleted your nonsense and been done with it.  Instead, I gave you every opportunity to advance an argument, but instead you elected to remain coy and accusatory towards science. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I'm sorry you feel i'm coy and accusatory towards science. That's not my intention at all. I also did not know you were a moderator on here. In that case i retract my statement since yes, you could have deleted my arguments. I fail to see how doing that would advance YOURs however. I feel you're too intelligent to do something like that. So i don't know if that was a favor to me so much as to protect your own interests. Semantics.

    I've never stated i'm not open to many of science's views. I am saying i'm not open to this one at present because it cannot be proven. Science over the centuries has put forth many ideas that today we would mock. It was the best they had at the time. I respect science in that this is the best they have. But i cannot accept it yet because its not proven. I state that you accept this ideology based on faith simply because it has not been demonstrated yet that it can in fact be proven. The scientific method shows conclusions can only be based on evidence of the experiment. We're all extrapolating wildly here and stating it must be fact because we don't understand ID and consider it magic.

    If i commit to a religious debate i lose my scientific groundings. Im also not educated enough on religion to even postulate ideas. I've read your other posts. You have an excellent command of put downs to religious arguments. Why would i venture into ground like that? Ground that has very little to do with the debate on whether science has proven life comes from inanimate matter. THAT is the actual discussion. If i go to this place, i lose the essence of this article and its assertion blind chance created life. This is not a theological seminary.

    Gerhard Adam
    I've put together some basic questions anyone proposing ID must answer.  Failure to do so, indicates that you have no alternative idea and consequently nothing to discuss.

    1.  What is the associated probability of a "designer" emerging in the universe?

        a.  What is the basis of assessing this probability?
        b.  What is your description of this designer?
        c.  By what means was the design translated into creation?

    2.  Describe the proposed mechanisms by which the universe was "designed"

        a.  What are the predictions/expectations of having a 'designed' universe?
        b.  Where did the materials originate from to implement the design?

    NOTE:  I'm not interested in absolute knowledge, but rather your hypothesis or explanation of what is presumed to have happened so that ID has a context in which it can be assessed against prevailing knowledge.  After all, if you're suggesting it to be true, then you must have a "story" you're willing to tell that offers an explanation for how it all works.  Since you've heard science's "story", we now need to hear yours.

    If you have no hypothesis or theory, then you're simply wasting everyone's time.  No hypothesis; no discussion.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I appear to have no discussion to offer you Mr Adam. I apologize for that; there is little i can offer to those questions. Sorry if in the end you feel i've wasted your time. Once again i'm not crossing into those waters at a serious level. Also, i'm now fronting arguments from 3 different individuals. I'll bow from this one with the exception of these observations which are not intended as pure answers by the way.

    If you use this series of arguments for others who are interested in this topic, some ideas to consider are, which universe would the probability odds be calculated for; assuming this designer existed. Many believe in alternate realities or universes as some posters even here have touched on.

    Is it logical to conclude a designer came to being within the design he is supposed to have created? If not where does he/it originate from? Those might be better questions.

    Question 1B and 1C are too theological for me to comment and would require an inside mind with the so called designer of ID. I don't claim to have that nor know of its existence.

    Series 2 of your questions including the main question and question A i have little to offer. Question B i have a religious friend who once said apparently there's a verse in the Bible that says something to the effect 'that due to "god's" dynamic energy, matter is maintained.' I'm no Bible scholar but that sounds half reasonable since we know energy and matter do have conversions. Hardly an answer to your well thought out questions sorry however.

    As i've repeatedly stated my stance here is not to defend creationism, or lay down a "set of commandments" as it were. Its ludicrous and not required. You simply seek to divert the arguments from the uncomfortable facts. There are answers out there to your questions but i'm not going to supply them for you. I'm feeling even if i had "answers" i'd be reluctant to post them for you to simply tear apart like a ravenous wolf. :)

    Let me ask you this question: What color is the sky? Is it blue? Is it black? Is it white? Is it gray? Is it red? Is it ? What color is it to a man born blind? As you can see some things can be debated just for debating's sake. While an esoteric and mildly amusing exercise, it has no real value. This is my last post to you Mr Adam. You ask good questions i'm not qualified to answer. If that means your arguments for BC are valid, then that Sir, is your right.

    Gerhard Adam
    What color is the sky? Is it blue? Is it black? Is it white? Is it gray? Is it red? Is it ? What color is it to a man born blind? As you can see some things can be debated just for debating's sake.
    Actually they can't.  While we can discuss our objective response, it is quite specific if we confined the discussion to the wavelengths of light in question (even to a blind person).
    You simply seek to divert the arguments from the uncomfortable facts.
    Once again, not true.  There is nothing wrong with science not possessing all the answers, nor in having significant gaps in that knowledge.  It is an disingenuous criticism of science to use that as a basis for complaint and thereby try to assert a non-scientific perspective into that gap. 

    The irony [which always appears to be lost] is that you seem to have no problem with the lack of answers in your "hypothesis", and yet when science has similar gaps you want to argue that they represent fatal flaws.  This is the inconsistency that is perpetually frustrating in such discussions.  It's typically manifest as a debate with wildly divergent rules.  In short, logic requires that if the lack of knowledge is a fatal flaw in a scientific hypothesis, then correspondingly it must be a fatal flaw in any opposing hypothesis.  You cannot argue that I MUST know the answer, while you don't.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I will agree to this yes. So are you saying the answer is not here?

    Gerhard Adam
    At this point, there is NO answer.  NO ONE knows how live originated, and anyone that claims they do is being dishonest or introducing magical claims. 

    Science is certainly investigating various possibilities to determine how plausible various scenarios are, but even if someone created a new organism in a lab tomorrow.  This would only demonstrate a plausible scenario and not be definitive proof that that was how life actually originated on earth.  That train has left the station and that data is simply not available.  Therefore, science pursues the path of plausibility to demonstrate how life might have originated.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Neo,

    You seriously need to study probability theory. Okay, I looked at wikipedia and trusted their number for the odds of a given set of numbers being drawn. If you insist, I'll use the number you gave. It just makes my point that much more effective, however, since the odds you gave are greater than the odds I used. The probabilty of the actual sequence is 1 in 6.3E16912, given the odds you quote. The point of my argument is that while the probability of SOME sequence of Powerball numbers having been drawn is 1, the probabilty of the PARTICULAR sequence that actually has been drawn is such that an ID defender should conclude that there must have been a designer because such a sequence of numbers is so wildly improbable.

    Your assertion that this is only relevant if the same person had won the lottery makes no sense. The assumption that you are making is that ALL of the chemical reactions that occurred HAD to occur for life to arise. That's not necessarily a valid assumption. We don't know enough about the mechanism of the origin of life to just assume that only one possible pathway would have led to life. Perhaps there were trillions of possible pathways and the probabilty of life arising given the conditions and materials present on the prebiotic earth was actually quite high.

    All that is neither here nor there, however. One of the main ID arguments is that the occurrance of a sufficiently improbable sequence of events (such as those leading to life arising) is evidence that these events were caused by design, and could not have occurred otherwise. My example is a wildely improbable sequence of events. Now answer the question: is the sequence of Powerball drawings that have occurred evidence for a designer?

    Sean i agree i do need to do more research on this. But the way you're stacking odds puzzles me. I'll do the work and come back later. To me this is chaos theory. The probability that a rain drop falls in a certain fashion and splatters a certain way. That you came into existence at just the right time and place when your parents decided to make love and their parents and so on and so on. Yes stacking those odds is astronomical. But the end result is a child HAD to be born under each set of circumstances. Once it occured, the next set or probabilities can be developed for the next generation.
    Stacking makes no sense in real world logic. Its still a lottery in your case within predetermined rules. It's still a child within predetermined rules given. A reasonable comparison might be with all the odds accumulated from all the people on earth through their likelihoods that they would be the child selected at conception verses another one. This would compare well if we assumed that in stacking all those odds, there should be a chance that at least ONCE a horse or ape or some other creature should have been born. Its something new and rule breaking in the scenario. None of us would seriously suggest that. But to use this sort of odds stacking and saying at some point something new and creative would appear is a more accurate portrayal. The odds of anything happening is astronomical. But because there are rule structures, we can predict with fair accuracy that the results will fall within an established parameter. And under most circumstances we can definitively rule out certain results.

    Just for once you've said something that I agree with. "Sean i agree i do need to do more research on this. But the way you're stacking odds puzzles me." It's nothing you need to research at all, although you are struggling to find the right words: you have seen the flaw in Sean's argument. It is easy to stack odds the wrong way. Sean, somewhat misguidedly, implied that very improbable events occur all the time. Which is true. Unfortunately in doing so he somewhat reinforced your own belief that scientific theories of abiogenesis rely on a series of lucky flukes. But as you've been informed a million times, they do not.  So why waste time nit-picking about numbers which have no relevance? 
    Correct me if i'm wrong but the ENTIRE argument for blind chance, since it has no actual physical experimental results to back it up, is BASED on numbers and probabilities. This argument to me seems to have relevance? Why wouldn't it? Unless they've made life in the lab last night from rocks? Then ok, its irrelevant.

    Gerhard Adam
    Once again, let me explain the contradiction.  Science indicates that life must've developed from the chemical processes present during the early Earth's existence.  Yes, it is a life from non-life scenario.  That's the only kind there is.  That's the only kind there can ever be.

    Your proposal doesn't solve any problems.  It simply argues that there was some other supernormal form of life that created life, which is no explanation at all.  Therefore, you're on the hook for explaining where your supernormal form of life originated from.  You cannot claim life from life without explaining where the original life came from.  Without that explanation, you're simply arguing stubbornly by refusing to address the actual problem.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Quote: Without that explanation, you're simply arguing stubbornly by refusing to address the actual problem.

    Your copying my debating tactic and once again introducing the topic of God. What is new here? My other post is my conclusion to this debate. I believe we can both agree there are no answers at present to this issue. Thank you for responding and i appreciated your insights.

    I would like to ask you where does matter and energy come from? The Big Bang theory and variations on it discuss an original super dense form of matter and other concepts of that nature. That simply means it always existed. Is that really possible?
    Matter may be destroyed and converted to energy (and vice versa), but mass cannot ever be destroyed; rather, mass remains a constant for both the matter and the energy, during any process when they are converted into each other. If it has always been, then why could a form of life not always have existed also? Both are irrational concepts yet plausible

    Gerhard Adam
    Actually not plausible.  We're also have to consider the entropy of the universe versus the entropy associated with a living thing (highly organized structure - negative entropy).  

    However, even postulating an infinite life form is problematic, because you'd had to redefine what you mean by life, since such a thing wouldn't be alive in the way we consider it to be.  So, again, the concept of a "designer" would have to introduce a new form of existence that is beyond life, because if it was simply "not alive", then the problem of life from non-life hasn't been addressed at all.  So, you're automatically stuck with a definition that requires life, but that's difficult because the nature of life itself. 

    NOTE:  If you can't imagine the problems associated with life consider:

    1.  We are born by inheriting the traits from our parents.  However for an organism to be infinite means that it wasn't born.  Where did it's traits come from?  If there is no genetic basis, then how did it acquire its traits?  If they are just fixed, etc., then how can we claim this to be life in any meaningful way in which we use the word?

    2.  Life does not exist by itself, since it isn't immortal.  Just using the example of human beings, requires a carefully orchestrated network of 10 trillion cells in a fantastic division of labor doing their jobs.  Are these cells also immortal?  Do they reproduce?  If not, then can we claim they are alive?  Do they require nutrition?  If not, where does the energy come from?  Once again, if it simply infinite, then it is a new definition of life and doesn't apply.

    This is just an example of the problems.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Your problem can be more simply stated.  There are only three choices:

    1.  Life from non-life

    2.  Life from life

    3.  Life from divine origin (magic)

    Number 2 is not an option since that's a routine occurrence, so we can discard it.  Therefore we are left with options 1 and 3.  While you may object to the use of the term "magic", the point here is that we are talking about something that is NOT subject to scientific laws.  It is capable of operating outside those laws and, in fact, is usually credited with creating them.  So, while religions tend to be more respectful about the terminology, in the end, it is simply magic.  It also doesn't help to simply call it a miracle, since that is also something that, by definition, cannot occur.  It isn't that it is unlikely to occur, a miracle must flatly be impossible, which is what renders it a miracle when it does occur.

    Therefore unless we resort to magic, the only option left is life from non-life.  Therefore, that is the only scientific choice available.  Even if you wanted to argue for #3, it is decidedly unscientific and therefore not subject to scientific investigation.  Hence it is religious.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Your argument is compelling. But you did not address the problem of infinite matter/energy? I might add, using a layman's simplistic illustrative example. Your argument that the life we are aware of and accept and is proven scientifically, is based on genetic material from one common ancestral pool or origin correct? The illustration i put forth is we are simply using monopoly money from a game made by a company. We play by the rules. But who set forth those laws or the game's rules?

    Let's set that aside for now and assume no one did. Now return to the problem of infinite matter and energy. The universe is not infinitely old. In fact it is composed of almost entirely hydrogen, its basest of elements. Stars continually consume this and convert it to heavier forms of matter. By this example, we can see the universe, cosmically is quite new. Does the big bang theory or some other idea assume that matter somehow when it is compressed again to some sort of singularity get reconverted again to its simplest form thereby renewing all things? Does compression to a singular state produce lighter elements? What causes this conversion? Are there known ways or describable methods of seeing this in our current universe? At the nuclear level are there processes observable that break down helium into hydrogen again? If so is it likely that virtually ALL matter in the universe could magically be reconverted back to hydrogen again?

    Infinite matter/energy poses a threat to the concepts you speak of.

    Gerhard Adam
    Let me direct you to this post which was just listed
    http://www.science20.com/gerhard_adam/what_about_infinity-85373

    This will help you understand the problems in your statements regarding infinity.  Point being, that it isn't accurate, nor true.

    Regarding the actual physics of the "big bang" you'd need to look at:
    http://www.science20.com/hammock_physicist/big_bang_big_bewilderment
    http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme/big_bang_not_follow_pluto-79780
    http://www.science20.com/hammock_physicist/big_bang_cosmic_crackerpack-81136
    Mundus vult decipi
    I'll read those, thank you for the links. So if matter/energy is NOT infinite there originally was nothing at some point? So from nothing came forth everything? That sounds magical? Thats as magical as someone putting it there. Or better put less believable than saying from this blank plot of land a house came, from nothing... not even from building materials.... surely I must be missing something.

    This isn't a word semantics exercise but a reality check right? This is what you are asserting that from nothing came everything correct? Because if matter/energy is not interchangeable, the basic law of physics that energy can be neither created nor destroyed; if thats not true, then it means all of this came from nothing?

    Please forgive me if its covered in one of the links, i will reread the Inifinity article and will read the big bang articles. Apologies in advance if its in there. I'll read it tonight

    Gerhard Adam
    If you want to follow the big bang, then it's best to pursue it with one of the folks that is more adept at explaining it than me. 

    The only thing I know for sure, is that your explanation of the big bang isn't accurate and is based primarily on some of the notion that it was some kind of explosion. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    more choices:
    1. a designer within our universe - but where did that being come from?
    2. a designer in another universe that then either made our universe or put life in it (or both) - again, a source?
    3 .a designer that made a multiverse, if there is one) and life, or made a multiverse in which life would appear

    A first cause doesn' t need an origin - that's the point. SOMETHING OR SOMEONE had to start it all, you can' t have an infinite regression, or an infinite bouncing" of one universe (loses energy with each bounce). It makes sense that the first cause is non-material because everything we know about material is that it runs down. Something or Someone who is not running down does not need a beginning (something had to be eternal).

    Gerhard Adam
    A first cause doesn' t need an origin - that's the point.
    That's a cute side-step, so that you can arbitrarily introduce a miracle without an explanation.  Science has no law or axiom that states that you're allowed to introduce one miracle "for free" as an explanation.

    However, if you were actually serious, then your original question is a "set-up" since you would already know that your claim to have considered probabilities is simply a ploy to introduce your "miracle-man".

    If a first cause doesn't need an origin, then why would you demand one of a first cause in a cell?
    Mundus vult decipi
    That simply means it always existed...
    If it has always been, then why could a form of life not always have existed also?

    I believe Fred Hoyle considered this to be very plausible, but Hoyle was considering a universe which was in steady state, not derived from a Big Bang (his own term). That theory has been discredited.
     
    Whether there is anything before the Big Bang is moot. Favourite idea is that time began at that point, which would rule out life having always existed as there can be literally nothing before the initial time.  

    However some kind of everlasting universe is not ruled out either. Eternal chaotic inflation, for example would spawn many universes, and a kind of ever-growing cosmic scrap heap of universes which have grown old and worn out. That also would rule out life having existed for ever.

    Fantastical? It's all speculation!

    So yes, it's not very fashionable but some kind of everlasting universe is still on the cards. The question would then be whether there's a BB and if so whether life could enter it from the other side and emerge unscathed. This in itself seems implausible as the initial condition would, in most scenarios not have any particular state at the first moment. 

    That said, whilst your idea of matter-energy equivalence wouldn't "work" for this initial state (it's far more drastic than that!) there is one thing which should be very dear to your heart and which does pose problems in the theory. That is entropy. Once you get back to the initial condition you have zero or a very minimum, entropy, so there isn't much can go on before it. (entropy always increases.) Zero entropy sounds like "perfect order" but as there is only one possible state it is also as disordered as is possible. To my mind that means the picture is missing something vital, even for a speculative model. I do have an idea but it's only that. An idea. I shall blog on it one day. Suffice it to say that I think there could be an escape clause that does allow life to pass from one generation of universe to the next.
     
    This of course would mean that life could always have existed, not requiring either a biochemical evolutionary explanation nor ID or anything else. 

    See? Ask a meaningful question and you'll get a meaningful answer. Even if it's probably wrong :)

       
    i'm not sure i'm any closer to a belief structure similar to yours than i was before. Which is irrelevant of course.

    The ease of throwing around the idea of life migrating from universe to universe as an example, in a never ending structure is erotic in a mental sense. But it could be fanciful and of course, as you've admitted difficult or impossible to prove. Right. And its entirely possible the causative force of "life" may have directed certain aspects of universe generation, life conception and other laws. Its not entirely impossible to not marry the two ideas in the end, ironically. Either way, we're in an environment that we cannot step out of to examine from another perspective. We play by the rules HERE and make judgements based on those. We may be VERY far from knowing even a fraction of what is out there and what there is to know dimensionally.

    I will admit i've gained a far greater respect for you and your colleagues. I'll admit i came into this discussion with preconceived ideas of dogmatic anti dissension philosophy. I believe it started off on the wrong foot perhaps because i might have been a bit too simplistic and adversarial and perhaps that illicited a lot of the condescension. I can see through several balanced and well thought out responses there is more here than that. Also you don't by any means HAVE to be here answering these posts so i respect the time and thought that is put into them.

    If its not too much trouble could you please explain your concept of entropy a bit further? My understanding in thermodynamics is that entropy is waste energy from the conversion of convertible energy to useful work, dissipated ie in the form of heat. This allows systems of energy conversion to progress towards increasing amounts of entropy.

    Is it possible that the universe in its entirety is a "closed system", which neither gains nor loses energy. For example a star millions of light years from us, still produces a slight visible wave length, radio signature, x ray radiation and other forms of radiant energy. That energy is reduces to a whisper through the vast void of space surround the star in all directions, yet its energy persists.

    I agree that if the BB occurred, nothing substantial could be expected to survive. Interestingly, my research has shown that scientists have found that not only is the universe expanding, but it is doing so at an ever accelerating rate. This would suggest that if another cycle would be needed to renew things that something in the current structure would need to radically change.

    If its not too much trouble could you please explain your concept of entropy a bit further? My understanding in thermodynamics is that entropy is waste energy from the conversion of convertible energy to useful work, dissipated ie in the form of heat. This allows systems of energy conversion to progress towards increasing amounts of entropy. 
    My apologies for not answering before, I actually missed your post.

    I did start to explain, but really this is something you must research for yourself as it's too much for a quick answer. Sorry.

    Just bear in mind two things. Firstly that the more interesting stuff about entropy is somewhat removed from its origin with heat engines - it is to do with microscopic states of a system and understanding how macroscopic thermodynamic (and other) laws emerge from probabalistic calculations. These are based on counting the number of possible states a system might be in.

    Secondly, the calculations rely on all microstates being equally probable in the long term. This can be proved for systems where the laws of physics are reversible in time. Hence it applies at the particle level. However it cannot be assumed for macroscopic systems (nor for genetic information!)
     
    Just bear these in mind as you wade through Wiki and so on. They are important but are not always spelled out. I think I "did" this stuff in my second year at university so don't be surprised if you need to work at it. Fortunately a lot can be done without too much maths. 

    The ease of throwing around the idea of life migrating from universe to universe as an example, in a never ending structure is erotic in a mental sense. But it could be fanciful.
    There are some physical principles that allow us to say whether it's plausible within a given cosmology, that's all. But cosmology is highly speculative. Whether you choose to use the loaded word "fanciful" is up to you!
    Is it possible that the universe in its entirety is a "closed system", which neither gains nor loses energy. For example a star millions of light years from us, still produces a slight visible wave length, radio signature, x ray radiation and other forms of radiant energy. That energy is reduces to a whisper through the vast void of space surround the star in all directions, yet its energy persists.
    Well, there's nothing fixed about a system being closed or open. A cat, for example, is open if you use the obvious boundary between cat and non-cat i.e. its surface, since stuff passes in both directions into and out of the cat. It is closed if you run a more detailed boundary encompassing everything that goes in or out of the cat. You would expect the universe to be closed by definition since nothing can enter or leave "everything".
     I agree that if the BB occurred, nothing substantial could be expected to survive.
    Well the point is, if there is some way of approaching the BB "from the other side" there may be ways of retaining information. Information is remarkably hard to destroy completely, it gets stirred up and unusable but it is never actually lost.
    Interestingly, my research has shown that scientists have found that not only is the universe expanding, but it is doing so at an ever accelerating rate. This would suggest that if another cycle would be needed to renew things that something in the current structure would need to radically change.
    Correct, although even before the unexpected acceleration was discovered it was clear that the universe is not oscillatory in the classical sense.  Whether old universes are nevertheless recycled in some way is another matter. 
     
    Correct me if i'm wrong but the ENTIRE argument for blind chance, since it has no actual physical experimental results to back it up is BASED on numbers and probabilities. This argument to me seems to have relevance? Why wouldn't it? Unless they've made life in the lab last night from rocks? Then ok, its irrelevant.
    The point is you must use the correct numbers. When you do, you will realize that the term "blind chance" is misleading.  Does an apple fall off the tree because of blind chance? There is, we may assume, no specific intelligent interventioin to make it fall, thuis it is blind, and the timing depends on wind, vibration and a butterfly flapping its wings six months earlier the other side of the globe. 
    So, ignboring the fact we have moved on  alittle from Newtonian physics, which conveys the truth - "Scientists believe the apple falls to the ground by blind chance" or "Science explains the way the apple falls by a universal law of gravity which works for everything else on the planet and also for planets and stars and galaxies...."
     
    So yes, you are wrong. Twice over.





    ok but the apple must fall downwards not upwards. It is limited by its kinetic energy potential as to how far it will roll after falling. It is still playing by a set of rules, if you will, that are in place limiting its potential variation to a few possible results.

    IT doesn't fall upwards because of gravity. It doesn't fall and create an earthquake of magnitude to perceptibly shake the world in all directions around it. It has laws of mass. The universe is governed very efficiently by laws that limit possible chances of events happening. Genetic law as an example absolutely prohibit natural bonding of gametes between humans and animals. We may attempt to violate them, but the end result is as futile as jumping off a cliff and not expecting to fall.

    There is great variation in the natural world, almost infinite, yet with all of it, laws persist and order of some level remains. If it were not for that, absolute physical chaos at all levels would have set in long ago. The cosmos would have descended to absolute chaos. We measure that and judge possibilities of accidental life based on that. But how did those laws come into being? Entropy or chaos theory seems to indicate all things degrade irreparably.

    ok but the apple must fall downwards not upwards. It is limited by its kinetic energy potential as to how far it will roll after falling. It is still playing by a set of rules, if you will, that are in place limiting its potential variation to a few possible results.

    As are all the wonderful mechanisms that researchers on the origin of life are discovering.
     
    But how did those laws come into being? Entropy or chaos theory seems to indicate all things degrade irreparably.
     
    Fundamental questions of being or not being are metaphysics not science. 

    "all things" do not degrade, whatever degrade may mean. I once again recommend you to read my critique of Mcintosh's Law (and there is a "deliberate mistake" in it - see if you can spot it and then tell me whether it affects the argument).

    If you are referring to the low entropy start for the universe, that is cosmology and nothing to do with abiogenesis.
    ok but the apple must fall downwards not upwards. It is limited by its kinetic energy potential as to how far it will roll after falling. It is still playing by a set of rules, if you will, that are in place limiting its potential variation to a few possible results.

    IT doesn't fall upwards because of gravity. It doesn't fall and create an earthquake of magnitude to perceptibly shake the world in all directions around it. It has laws of mass. The universe is governed very efficiently by laws that limit possible chances of events happening. Genetic law as an example absolutely prohibit natural bonding of gametes between humans and animals. We may attempt to violate them, but the end result is as futile as jumping off a cliff and not expecting to fall.

    There is great variation in the natural world, almost infinite, yet with all of it, laws persist and order of some level remains. If it were not for that, absolute physical chaos at all levels would have set in long ago. The cosmos would have descended to absolute chaos. We measure that and judge possibilities of accidental life based on that. But how did those laws come into being? Entropy or chaos theory seems to indicate all things degrade irreparably.

    I would have to answer yes to the fact that powerball drawings show evidence of a designer. There is a rule system with consistantly applied intelligently designed results that although they have astronomical potential for variation, still fall within a standard. This is an axiom, since we know men designed, maintain and execute the powerball drawings on a regular basis. Yes there is definate design behind this process. People have enormous potential for variation. Snowflakes none are the same. Yet in both cases, people remain people, snowflakes remain snowflakes and resultantly inanimate matter remains inanimate.

    Gerhard,

    Thank you. Your point #1 is very cogent and something just about ALL ID'ers ignore. Their argument generally runs that the creation of life from random processes (yes, I understand that the process isn't really random, but that's the ID strawman argument) is so unlikely that it's much more likely that a designer created life. However, they fail to postulate what the probability of a designer creating life is. They insist that ID is not a religious theory, but rather a scientific one. Therefore, they cannot postulate that a designer must be an all-powerful being, ie a god. The designer must be an intelligence therefore that arises from some matter in the universe. If the probability of simple one-celled organisms arising via natural processes is so remote, how can it be more likely that a designer intelligent enough to create life would arise from natural processes? Therefore, either ID must fail as a scientific idea, or it's time for the ID'ers to just fess up and admit that it wasn't ever really intended to be a scientific hypothesis in the first place.

    Ah yes, I knew there was something I intended to comment on. I've only just found it.

    However, they fail to postulate what the probability of a designer creating life is. They insist that ID is not a religious theory, but rather a scientific one. Therefore, they cannot postulate that a designer must be an all-powerful being, ie a god. The designer must be an intelligence therefore that arises from some matter in the universe.
    Well you have to be a bit careful with that argument.

    There can be no doubt that ID has a religious agenda. However the official line is that they are just pointing at the evidence and leaving you to make up your own mind as to what or who the designer is. To them that makes it a scientific matter as they don't officially call the designer "God".

    I have a certain amount of sympathy for the AnswersInGenesis crowd in one respect: they feel that omitting God from creationism is tantamount to denying ones faith...

    Anyhow, just because they do not include the god postulate in "ID" does not mean that ID denies the possibility. It is officially dumb on the subject. A fair critique of the position would be "they do not postulate an all-powerful god but the only alternative is something material which is even more complicated than life, and thus removes any explanatory power.  So, in considering ID, it would appear that evidence of a designer would entail an all-powerful god, whether the theory says so or not."  That may seem like splitting hairs. Nevertheless if we are evaluate this particular product, we cannot impose explanations when the manufacturers have explicitly removed them.

    Of course this doesn't let them off the hook one little bit. Instead of the ID "theory" being flawed, it means that the perpetrators of the meme are not entirely honest - though no doubt kidding themselves that they are.
     

    Article says "But life DID begin! Could we be missing something?"

    Yes you could be missing something--perhaps the point?
    In logic you dont look at if something happened to calculate if its probable.
    If I roll a bowling ball down San Fransisco hills and a billion chance occurrences cause it to bounce onto a truck, get carried to NY, fall off, roll into a bowling alley and bowl a strike--that doesn't mean its probable.
    In fact no one on earth would believe that it was a random event.

    You also seem to only focus on one instance of chances in trillions. You people are incredibly myopic and seem to pick and choose singular points instead of looking at the entire picture.

    These insurmountable odds are found all through the entire process of the universe..not just cells. You cant get past the atoms cohesion. Link your single improbable event to to the trillions of other improbable events and you have the odds of ZERO. Yet this is the age of reason? What you propose is not reasonable by any stretch. Its in the range of lunacy. This is about nothing more than bias--its the OJ Simpson trial...simplicity is starring you right in the face and you pick the odds of 1 in every atom in the universe?

    Gerhard Adam
    In logic you dont look at if something happened to calculate if its probable.
    Of course you do.  If it occurred, then it has a probability of 1.0 [for that particular event]; i.e. it is certain because it occurred.  In fact, your argument is completely wrong in even discussing probabilities after an event has occurred.  It's like winning the lottery and then discussing the probabilities with the winning ticket holder.  There's nothing to discuss, since [for them] the probability of winning is exactly 1.0.

    Probabilities are used to articulate how future events may occur, based on a clear understanding of the sample set. 

    Your simplifying assumptions are just wrong.

    You want to argue that the probabilities are too high for the formation of atoms and the universe in general, and yet you want to postulate that there's an entity that exists [without explanation] that is even more complex, possesses an intellect, and has powers beyond anything known ... and this is your explanation.  So, with a wave of the hand, you create something even more unlikely and improbable and use it to explain the probabilities of the universe and life.  It doesn't get more irrational than that.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Forgive me if my post is to simple, disregarding the probabilities of a possible birth from a random collection of material subject to various and complex processes, where did the material for that to happen even come from? Your arguement is putting belief into a limited way of thinking. It's also being hypocritical, Evolution is a religon in itself. You believe in the big bang correct? How are we to believe the matter, without any possible stimuli, suddenly convulsed and imploded and exploded CREATING, not destroying, a complex Universe.

    "" So, with a wave of the hand, you create something even more unlikely and improbable and use it to explain the probabilities of the universe and life. It doesn't get more irrational than that.""

    No, there is no more Biased and poorly thought out statement than yours.

    I mean, this almost kiddy stuff.
    This is a Spacetime universe with clear design as the probabilities show. I say probabilities, for you, because most can see the world for what is without the numbers. That means cause and effect demand an explanation for the universe.

    The most logical explanation is an intelligent being that is Not caused. The overwhelming majority of humans have come to this conclusion for a reason.

    So in the objective of finding out an explanation of the Zero Odds, Spacetime, cause and effect, universe--we have the best explanation...we always have.

    Now, in being intellectually dishonest you are demanding an explanation of the explanation--something that would destroy all of science, logic, and reason. To find the explanation of Clay Pots and stone cutting tools I can safely say the cause was intelligent beings. I dont need to explain that explanation to have an answer to the question I just posed.
    And this is just clay pots...we are talking about the greatest question in all of Reality. One which cannot have a cause or all logic falls to an infinite regress.

    So a caused random explosion of particles assembled your consciousness and all the other ingenious parameters including space and time--but a clay pot needs an intelligent cause without an explanation of who that was?
    So, I hope its clear that this type of argument for an explanation of God is beyond childish. It amounts to na na na na na. Its desperate --as God is not the improbable spacetime *Thing-----Particles randomly designing the universe is.

    Gerhard Adam
    To find the explanation of Clay Pots and stone cutting tools I can safely say the cause was intelligent beings. I dont need to explain that explanation to have an answer to the question I just posed.
    You clearly have no idea what logic means, nor how to employ it.  You don't postulate "intelligent beings" you postulate human beings or their equivalent?  Why?  Because you know they exist and therefore they represent a plausible explanation for what you've observed.

    You don't look at a clay pot and ponder what planet they originated on, because you know such a leap in logic is unwarranted.  Similarly you don't presume that such clay pots were left behind by aliens camping overnight on our planet, because you know that this is implausible and offers nothing by way of explanation.

    This is the same problem that people proposing that the Earth was "seeded" by an alien species faces.  It answers no questions.  It merely pushes the question back to a different level where no one bothers to answer it.

    Similarly with your concept of God.  You can't simply claim that God is infinite and capable of whatever magical stuff you want to suggest, but then I could say, that if such a thing is possible then why not argue that it is intrinsic in the particles themselves.  I don't need a separate being on which I can hang magical happenings.

    The rest of your comments just demonstrate how little you truly understand regarding the questions, so suffice it to say that you haven't even begun to answer any questions.  Keep your belief however you choose, but don't think for a moment that explains anything in a scientific sense, and don't use words you don't understand (like "random") when you don't know how to apply them.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    That means cause and effect demand an explanation for the universe.

    The most logical explanation is an intelligent being that is Not caused.
    Do you even begin to see how ridiculous that is?  It's like arguing that there can't be magic, so the only explanation is that magic must cause it to appear that way.
    Mundus vult decipi
    My only comment is to say (and this is simplistic, I will admit), that there is a difference between understanding how something works, and why it works.

    My thoughts go even beyond the probabilities of prokayotic cells or RNA formation based on chemical and biological characteristics and interactions, and asks, why do these elements which produce everything in our known universe, exist in a way that allows them to do so? Our universe is presumably infinite and beyond (at this time) our comprehension, yet everything we know about it thus far says that it is made of a very limited number of elements, which are produced by a very specific organisation of protons, neutrons and electrons. Why is it that there appear to be a finite number of elements that comprise something so infinite? Certainly there are a specific group which can be found in all living organisms, yet they also exist inanimately in other combinations and objects. What are the chances that the elements which exist, and make up every piece of matter in our known universe, just happened to spontaneously arrange themselves in a way which, over time, has given rise to millions of different species of living organism? Also, we're discovering the patterns of visual math via fractals - we're learning that so many things in our world, and indeed Universe, display mathematical and geometrical uniformity and repetition.

    So, I guess what I'm ultimately asking is, how did one singular event produce a seemingly infinite Universe, comprised (from what we know thus far) of a relatively limited group of elements, which just happened to display chemical characteristics that allowed them to spontaneously arrange themselves according to these characteristics, in such a way as to eventually produce 6 million different varieties of life, while arranging themselves in other combinations to produce inanimate objects?

    I hope this doesn't sound too vague or simplistic.

    Gerhard Adam
    What's the alternative?  However, your also making the classic mistake of looking at an outcome and wondering how events could come together to produce such a result.  It would be like examining where you live and then wondering what the probabilities were that produced circumstances in such a way as to result in your living there. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    I'm sorry, but I'm extremely lazy and decided not to read the previous; so forgive me if these questions were asked before me. Where did the material for the begining of the begining appear from? Can you create life from nothing? By nothing, I'm implying nothing, zip, nada.

    Gerhard Adam
    Since I'm lazy too, I decided to give as much time to my answer as you gave to your question.


    ...
    Mundus vult decipi
    It takes for faith to believe there isn't a God, than it does to believe there is. Looking at all the complexity of the universe and how everything just works, how everything is structured,etc....look at a computer...all its inner pieces....how can a random event cause such order out of chaos? The fact that we can experience, question, and speak about such things to me proves that there is something bigger than i know of........whether the truth is somewhere in the middle with it comes to religion, afterlife,etc....

    Gerhard Adam
    Your argument makes no sense.  Also, why on earth would you invoke a computer?  .. Baffling.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Question pertaining to the origin of the universe: How did the universe come into existence from nothing?
    Question pertaining to the origin of life: How did life come from non-life? I've seen explanations about the vast amount of time and steps it takes for it to occur. But at some point along the way non-life transitions to life. How?

    What do you mean by "nothing"?
    What do you mean by "life"?
     
    Question pertaining to the existence of God: How did God come into existence from nothing?
    Question pertaining to the origin of cookies: How does cookie come fom non-cookie? I've seen recipes and watched people making them. But at some point along the way non-cookie transitions to cookie. How?

    Are you quite sure the universe came into existence from nothing? How do you know that nothing didn't become a grofulcim and the grofulcim became a moganortrix which then became the false vacuum which evolved into the big-bang?
    Are you quite sure life came from non-life? How do you know that it ever stopped being non-life? Or how do you know that non-life isn't alive?

    Could it be your question about existence is not a scientific one but a metaphysical one and you are a religious troll?
    Could it be your question about life and non-life is meaningless without superstitious assumptions and you are a religious troll?

    Does your religion respect honesty or does it encourage disingenuous questions?
    Do you expect answers? 


    Gerhard Adam
    Great post Derek.  I want to be like you when I grow up.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Clever and funny but maybe a bit harsh, even possibly a 'worse than chimp' answer to a very good bonobo question? You believe in God don't you? So how did God come into existence from nothing? Surely that proves that there is no such thing as complete nothingness and never has been, unless 'God' really did pop out of nothing and therefore is nothing as most atheists believe?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    That's the problem isn't it.  They're not very good questions.  They're vague, with no definitions or a context.  Invariably they end up being trolling questions to inject religion into the discussion.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Oh, well in that case it worked very well on me didn't it :)
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Wow, a "religious troll"? Did you think I was trying to get a rise out of you or something? Because I wasn't. I'm sorry if my questions pissed you off for some reason, but do not insult me again. I asked those two questions because I'm doing research for a paper and some of the theories I've seen suggest the "from nothing to something" and "from non-life to life". I was looking for quality information, not some prick to make condescending remarks to me. Excuse me for posing a couple of questions I thought worth asking. If you thought they were bad questions, you could have just said so without being a jerk. And what the hell do you know about my perspective on religion? Wait, that's right, nothing. So keep your assumptions and your insults to yourself. You read two questions from a stranger and thought you knew who this person was and what they were about? Next time show some courtesy, because you don't know me and have no reason treat me that way.

    Gerhard Adam
    If you knew how many "religious trolls" we routinely encounter, then perhaps it might make more sense [especially in a topic like this one].  However, when you post anonymously it makes it harder to take questions seriously.

    However, while I can't specifically address the universe "something from nothing", the question of non-life to life is a bit difficult.  So while nothing is specifically sure about how life came about, there are a few assumptions that can be considered.

    In chemistry you may be familiar with oscillating reactions, which cycle through their reactions.  This is counter-intuitive because we tend to think of chemical reactions as going in one direction only, but such reactions are [in my opinion] the precursors to the types of chemical processes employed in cells.

    Once the chemistry was contained within a cell wall/membrane, then processes that could acquire new materials to keep the reaction going, while disposing of waste products would become more prevalent.  Without necessarily being considered "alive", these initial structures would have been subjected to selection pressures, since those that did it well, would last longer [and dominate the available resources] of those that didn't.

    So, while it's not necessarily "evolution" in the biological sense, it certainly allows for more sophisticated structures to gain the advantage in resources.

    It's important to not read more into this, because nothing at this point would have had any cognition or control to direct activities.  It would simply be that those that did it better, would survive longer/better than those that didn't.  It's kind of like lighting two or three fires in different places.  Each one burns, but the one that gains access to the best combustible resources first will dominate [regardless of whether we can tell them apart later or not, it's just an analogy].

    Obviously at some point much higher degrees of sophistication would be introduced to begin "life" as we consider it today, but in the early stages it may have been little more than "sacks" of chemical reactions that were drifting around.

    In any case, I realize that's pretty vague, but it's a possible beginning to understand how such a transition may have occurred.

    BTW, I also expect that multiple types of chemical systems were "developing" simultaneously so that it shouldn't necessarily be viewed as a serial process [where one thing must occur before another does].  As a result, it's entirely possible that self-replicating molecules were forming, while protocells were forming.  Later, these may have "joined" together and created more sophisticated structures beginning to resemble what we consider modern cells.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thank you for a respectful response, Gerhard. I think that guy is just a little too eager to run someone down, regardless of the "religious trolls" running around. I don't know how he read "I'm a hostile religious fanatic" out of two questions that I thought were clear and devoid of anything with which to insult someone. Shoot, I wasn't even talking to anyone specifically and it seems like he took it as a personal affront. Lately it seems like atheists I've seen online freak out worse than religious fanatics. Anyway, thank you for the info. That is quite a bit to digest. Since you seem to be an agreeable person, I'll probably ask you later for criticisms you have on the Creation position.

    Gerhard Adam
    In truth, I might well have responded exactly the same way coming from an anonymous posting.  I just went several rounds with someone on exactly the same kind of issue.  However, it is good to be reminded that not every question is hiding an agenda.

    One other thing to keep in mind regarding the chemistry involved, it is important to recognize that nothing being described requires anything extraordinary to occur.  The molecules that line up to form the cell walls or membranes do so quite naturally based on their normal orientations towards water.  Just like we line up molecules to eliminate polarized line in sunglasses, so do these molecules line up in specific ways and form semi-permeable barriers that allow selected materials in and out.   The same thing occurs when we consider something like "natural selection" which always ends up sounding like some force, but it's really nothing more than the luck of the draw.  If nothing happens to you, then you make it to the next round.

    Of course, at this point, nothing approaching reproduction will have occurred yet, so it's quite likely that anything of that sort, would have occurred by these "sacks" just breaking apart and forming more.  Sort of like when you blow bubbles and they split up into multiple bubbles.

    These are obviously very loose analogies, but I'm trying to get you to see that these things occur as a natural consequence of the chemistry and not that anything special is occurring.  This is precisely why so much time is necessary.  However, once selection can occur, then things can move very quickly.

    Just FYI, there are no criticisms of the "creation position" since there is no position.  There is no science involved on that end, there's nothing to compare it against.  I expect that if you wish to articulate the "creationist position" as a scientific hypothesis, the problems will become readily apparent.

    BTW, for the record, Derek is NOT an atheist and he's much more readily offended by religious trolls hijacking his beliefs to advance non-scientific agendas.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I understand this is a science site, but do you have any philosophical criticisms? My paper isn't limited to just the science. And sorry if I misspoke about Derek being an atheist. I'm still a little pissed about what he said and wasn't thinking.

    Gerhard Adam
    Sure.  The most obvious problem is that you can't explain "intelligence" by postulating the existence of an intelligence to create it.  That's simply circular reasoning.

    However, if we were to go with the creationist argument and claim that there was a creator, then the question becomes recursive, because we can then ask how the creator was brought into existence.  Usually the response is that the creator is infinite and therefore always present.  Even invoking "infinity" is problematic, since anything which is infinite is in a perpetual state of creation [since it can't exist until it ends].  You might want to read this post which discusses that aspect of it.
    http://www.science20.com/gerhard_adam/what_about_infinity-85373

    However, if that's the stipulation then why not argue that RNA or DNA were always present?

    This is no different than the people that want to argue that the Earth was seeded by an alien race, or something else.  It simply pushes the problem back to a different level and offers no answers.  That's what makes science hard.  You can't simply postulate your difficulties away by declaring a miraculous event to explain it.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I've heard arguments associated with genetic code and the information it contains. Is that sort of a part of what you just said?

    Gerhard Adam
    Yes.  Most of that is simply people presuming that for anything to happen, it must be designed.  However, it is clear when examining biological organisms that they aren't designed, but rather exploit opportunities to adapt. 

    Consider the stapes and then imagine if this is a result of "design" or evolution.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_mammalian_auditory_ossicles

    Another part of the problem is that people making the genetic argument place too much emphasis on the role of genes.  Genes are NOT a blueprint.  Some genes may not be expressed and consequently they won't do anything.  Epigenetics can influence how (or if) genes are expressed.  Even after that, the organism must still find a mate and reproduce.  Sexual selection plays as much a role in future generations as "natural selection" does.

    Also bear in mind, that you could have genetically identical organisms that look and behave completely differently from each other [consider the difference between chimpanzees and humans, despite sharing over 98% of the genes].  This is a result of how genes are expressed, not simply that they exist in a particular pattern.

    Even after all that, you still have to consider that you're alive because beside the 10 trillion cells you share DNA with, there are 100 trillion microorganisms that live in and on you that you depend on for life.  There is no genetic relationship between you and those organisms, although there is a kind of "environmental" relationship [if you consider your body the environment] that makes your microorganisms somewhat unique to you versus others.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Lol I want to ask more questions, but I need to sleep. Got an away game (baseball) I have to leave for at 7 am. Thank you for your input. I'll be back with more queries later. Maybe you could tell Derek that I'm not all that bad lol. I'd hate for someone to forevermore believe me to be a troll!

    Gerhard Adam
    No problem.  Good luck with your game.
    Mundus vult decipi
    There is more than enough evidence of God's existence. Atheists are more properly called materialists, since the word materialism best describes what "atheists" believe in, a material explination for the exsistence of the universe. All materialists have is what they believe what sounds rediculous to them, in their opinion, for example, a 6 day creation by God to them it is a fairy tale. Because they can't see it, hear it . To this day there is no method which can date a single physical object to date one million years. The cell is incredibly complex, much less getting the earth the right distance from the sun, as well as somehow creating an atmosphere as well as a an inner core which create a magnetic field, protecting life from the suns rays... the numbers get higher and higher trying to explain the universe outside of the supernatural.

    Gerhard Adam
    ... and yet you rely on science to type that belief on a science website on the internet.  I suspect you rely on medical technology when you get sick.  Funny how that works.

    Of course, I already know that the strongest believers in the supernatural are also those that know they don't actually have to live by those beliefs, because science is their safety net. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Whether or not man has developed technology is not relevant to whether or not God exists. You are saying that all technology and advancement has been brought about by atheists or inspired by a belief in materialism, yet the truth is both atheists and theists have advanced technology throughout the mellenia. The pope is not god, nor does has his oppresion stopped us from asking questions and finding answers. Advancment of technology has been brought about because of our free will, not man's control or self imposed authority of his opinionated interpretation of Scripture. We do not have an internet because of atheism. You cannot prove every scientist or engineer or anyone who has ever advanced technology were atheist because they have confessed to both. We do however have technology because of information, not through random processes. We also have DNA because of information and not through random processes.

    Gerhard Adam
    You made it relevant by denying science.  In any case, I'm not interested in people that want to keep score regarding theists and atheists.  If you can't see the difference in the role of science versus religion, then I can't help you.  You're on your own.
    Mundus vult decipi
    The requirement for technology and information science is not an atheistic mind since both atheists and theists have advanced them both. You do acknowledge the simple fact that you do not have to be an atheist to advance technology do you? Religion is not the cause of all man's sorrows and neither is atheism since both have examples of moral and immoral personalities. There are atheists who lead a responsible life, just as their are theists who lead a responsible life. Both have examples of people who have used their belief to justify their actions of selfishness and in some cases acts of brutality as well. The similarity is their ability to choose.

    I can give you real life examples of both. Can you give me a real life example of the difference between science and religion and their role? Either way man has the capability to justify their actions by either one. Maybe the difference you are referring to is many religion's justification to kill people in the name of God. That men are driven to choices because of what he believes, I would agree with you on this subject. There are many religions but only one atheism and there are and have been religions which have sought to kill in the name of God. In any of these religions human choice is still supreme.

    Gerhard Adam
    I'm not interested in disputing religion.  People can believe whatever they choose.  Science is about evidence and trying to acquire the best one can to explain how the world operates.

    Your initial statements regarding the Garden of Eden or creation aren't science and never will be.  In that respect you can believe what you like, but you can't claim it as evidence.  Similarly your other points are not evidence.  It was your invocation of how big the numbers get, that sounds like you're trying to justify using your religious belief as scientific evidence.

    The religious person that tries to "prove" the existence of God understands neither science, nor their religion.

    Here's a simple guideline.  If you can't say something about science without invoking God, referencing the Bible, or mentioning atheists, then you don't actually have anything to say about science.  If you want to argue about something in science and have an alternate hypothesis or evidence, then that's something that can be discussed.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard wow you are still on this thread? Leslie completely destroyed you early on - love how you made no attempt to address any of his valid points - apparently you are a masochist with "blind faith" materialism will some day explain morality.

    Sad.

    Actually there is no obligation for anyone here to refute Leslie's "points". They have been refuted over and over again already in many places and are the sort of nonsense that only someone who is wilfully ignorant could come up with. What would be the point in explaining it all to someone who is too lazy to find out for themselves whether their "points" have already been refuted before they post? A moment with Google and Wikipedia and all this thread would have been avoided. Personally I don't know why Gerhard bothers. Trying to enlighten the wilfully ignorant can only ever provide a heartbreaking reminder of how incorrigibly self-deceptive people can be if they're determined not to learn.
    Gerhard Adam
    Hmmm ... does that make you feel all warm and fuzzy, thinking that you can come onto a science site and show those Darwinists just how clever you are? 

    It is interesting that you would think that a couple of half-baked Intelligent Design ideas warrant shutting down science.  Trust me ... the only thing masochistic about scientists is the fact that they'll still provide discoveries and advances even for people too ignorant to appreciate where they came from.
    Mundus vult decipi
    "thinking that you can come onto a science site and show those Darwinists just how clever you are? "

    This belief, in order to be valid, would have to be scientifically proven with a double blind placebo controlled study - as it exists right now, it is merely your belief.

    "It is interesting that you would think that a couple of half-baked Intelligent Design ideas warrant shutting down science."

    Actually in all honesty - I think Leslie made some great arguments; in my opinion your rebuttals were weak, putting it lightly. When he saw that you were not even attempting to address the valid points he was making; he bowed out because it wasn't challenging enough.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...he bowed out because it wasn't challenging enough.
    Is that what you think?  That this site exists as some sort of gladiator competition between scientists and people that just make shit up?  There wasn't anything valid in any of the arguments because they begin from a stupid premise.

    The premise is that intelligence exists as a necessary condition to create intelligence.  I'm done with those kind of arguments.  I'm tired of people that simply want to waste everyone's time and can't even be bothered to educate themselves on the most fundamental principle.

    So, unless you've actually got something to say on the subject, then I won't be responding to any more of this crap.  Too much of my time has already been wasted on people with stupid ideas.
    Mundus vult decipi
    TO COWBOY

    HOW MUCH INSIGHT SHOULD ONE EXPECT FROM A PURPOSELESS RANDOM PRODUCT ?

    HOW WOULD IT TELL TRUTH FROM FICTION ?

    AND WHY WOULD IT BOTHER ?

    Gerhard -

    What is stupid is your blind faith in naturalism - an irrational worldview.

    "bothered to educate themselves on the most fundamental principle."

    And what is the most fundamental principle Gerhard? That life emerged by chance?

    ...  some sort of gladiator competition between scientists and people that just make shit up?
    :)
    Does the DNA create life simply by the chemical reactions dictated the DNA strands or do the strands create life based on the contents and sequences naturally (somehow) producing a head or hand or hair dependent on some natural life laws?

    If it is the latter, and if we assume that like other laws they do not evolve over time (in fact astrophysics assumes all laws are the same throughout this universe forever), then we must conclude that the life mechanism is an intrinsic quality of the universe. If this is the case, then evolution needs to once again redefine itself.

    Gerhard Adam
    Your statement doesn't make any sense, since the DNA is already part of a process that is alive.  It isn't the DNA sequences that produce the particular trait.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Does the DNA create life
    No, it is part of life!
    simply
    Hardly simple!
    by the chemical reactions dictated the DNA strands
    Yes, if you are referring to the whole process of gene expression
    or do the strands create life
    they are part of life!
    based on the contents and sequences naturally (somehow) producing a head or hand or hair dependent on some natural life laws?
    No. No special laws for life, just the same old physics.
    If it is the latter, and if we assume that like other laws they do not evolve over time (in fact astrophysics assumes all laws are the same throughout this universe forever), then we must conclude that the life mechanism is an intrinsic quality of the universe.
    Since the life mechanism is simply physics that would appear to be a reasonable assumption.
    If this is the case, then evolution needs to once again redefine itself.
    Clearly not so - unless you can establish that the life laws are not fully subsumed by physics.

    You are, in fact assuming the very point you are trying to make: that there is some woo-woo about "life" which cannot emerge from physics and chemistry without woo-woo laws. Even if your mother is a tree-hugging hippy and your father a Bible-belt creationist and you believe in the woo-woo factor with all your heart, you still cannot challenge the scientific view without actually demonstrating that it falls short somewhere. I would be the first to agree that if you can demonstrate a woo-woo phenomenon, then it will need woo-woo laws to explain it. But merely talking about woo-woo laws without establishing that there are any phenomena needing them is not merely silly it is a catastrophic error of logic. As the man said "It's not even wrong."

    Thank you for clariification. My rudimentary understanding was that sometimes when procreating the DNA mutated through random faults or they changed by merging qualities of the two parents thus producing a new DNA sequence which in turn generates a slightly different offspring. Maybe that is naive - but I do have other interests and time is limited and precious.

    Perhaps mistakingly and likely as you suggest, I was picturing the process like my poker computer AI games where I create random genomes for 200 players where various poker-playing qualities and habits are coded by a string of numerical likelihoods. Then my program determines how each of the players will react based on each artificial player's genome. In this world, the genomes, without my program, are meaningless. But it would appear that I am missing something very basic here. And I apologize for not having the time or the same level of interest in this topic in order to educate myself sufficiently to make any conclusions.

    When I heard that someone can insert a different DNA into a cell and then produce a different creature, then it seemed that the DNA itself played an essential part in the creation. Are we saying that the DNA in actuality simply documents the creature that is already created?

    "Bible-belt"? I don't see that. I see the gods of science, ran and dom. They are always given credit by scientists whenever they can't understand why something happens - as though the question "WHY" has anything at all to do with physical science. There just is no "WHY" in science, only "HOW". But philosophy is not my reason to join this discussion.

    I apologize for not having the time or the same level of interest in this topic in order to educate myself sufficiently to make any conclusions.

    You mean your time is so precious that you feel free to waste mine instead of doing the groundwork yourself?  Well, I apologise for not having the time or the same level of interest in order to help you understand any more.

    No. "Precious" because I am about to leave this world. But then, ain't we all.

    Like in the Blade Runner, the replicants when they learn they would have to die, they killed their god, their maker Tyrel. Indeed, what kind of God would create us and then let us lose it all in death. That is the bottomless pit of sadness and despair to be found in the world-view that "I" am this body, this bag of mucus and stool - governed entirely by the physical laws, over which I have no control - therefore I am a robot in a meaningless dance..

    I just did some research on Wikipedia. I am assuming that everyone is being honest when they report that KNOW that this causes that and that and the result is a human being. And when I think of it relating to my own world-view (the ancient Vedic world-view) it does make sense, that the world's laws are all meant to develop all these forms in these varied environments.

    So in my AI poker parallel, the program is actually the universe itself with all its physical laws. The life mechanism I was speculating about is indeed the physical logistics of this universe itself.

    By the way, noticing the real subject matter of this discussion, I would point out that the Vedic wisdom reveals that there are innumerable universes in the material world. There are 8,400,000 forms (species), 400,000 of which are human, distributed throughout each universe. They indicate that the eternal soul transmigrates, evolves through all 8,400,000 species ... from aquatic to plant to animal - hence the fossil record we see. Vedic time also matches our speculations about the age of this universe and our planet. The Vedas suggest that this world is like a dream when we finally wake up again in the eternal world. I am sure that in our own dream space there are sure be scientists trying to divine the structure and makeup of the characters and fantastic creatures we find as we sleep on our pillows here.

    I just did some research on Wikipedia. I am assuming that everyone is being honest when they report that KNOW that this causes that and that and the result is a human being. And when I think of it relating to my own world-view (the ancient Vedic world-view) it does make sense, that the world's laws are all meant to develop all these forms in these varied environments.

    So in my AI poker parallel, the program is actually the universe itself with all its physical laws. The life mechanism I was speculating about is indeed the physical logistics of this universe itself.

    By the way, noticing the real subject matter of this discussion, I would point out that the Vedic wisdom reveals that there are innumerable universes in the material world. There are 8,400,000 forms (species), 400,000 of which are human, distributed throughout each universe. They indicate that the eternal soul transmigrates, evolves through all 8,400,000 species ... from aquatic to plant to animal - hence the fossil record we see. Vedic time also matches our speculations about the age of this universe and our planet. The Vedas suggest that this world is like a dream when we finally wake up again in the eternal world. I am sure that in our own dream space there are sure to be scientists trying to divine the structure and makeup of the characters and fantastic creatures we find as we sleep on our pillows here.

    I still find it difficult to understand how the same chemical flag in a different position within the code can produce different chemical results than if it were in another position in the code. But then I'm not a chemist. The mere information theory aspects of the mechanism smacks of something more sophisticated than simple H+O+O=Water.

    But as was pointed out - this is one complex jigsaw! All the other laws seem so trivial and tight and slick by comparison.

    Sorry about the stststuttering and the hydroperoxyl = water thing.

    I have found the missing logical segment that translates the trips into amino acids. So my digitally-spatially-conditioned brain now has added a passing acquaintance with the magical chemical dimension to it, although I'm sure I'll never understand how it all works together, if anyone will ever understand, or even if anyone can prove that it is simply chemical. But it certainly is elegant beyond words. You gotta bust an atom to get that complicated these days, and even then I get the feeling that will seem trivial by comparison.

    From a systems standpoint, putting the shuttle on the moon was mere child's play compared to the life system. I'd hate to have to be the guy who writes the program to simulate the interface of all the chromosomes, genes, DNA, proteins, acids, salt and pepper in the soup, hoping to come up with a walkin' talkin' cyber human.

    As a Reality Researcher for the past forty years, I have concentrated mostly on Metaphysics. I'm at the point now where I'd like to be able to find the link between Metaphysics and Physics - maybe in Quantum Mechanics. The ancient Vedas reveal that God enters into each and every atom, that He accompanies the soul as the witness and eternal friend in every living form in every universe, and it is He that sanctions and effects the desires of the soul with the body, thereby affording some free will in an otherwise uncontrollable physical form which is fully governed by the physical and chemical laws of the material nature. So there must be some linkage between the eternal realm and this temporary world. Scoff as many uninformed somehow seem to, the fortunate experts in that science know it to be more real than this world of stone. It is our home.

    Simple as this. The chance that ALL life come about by random chance is 0. Look at the life cycles of the ocean, if man did not intervenve, it would be perfect and balanced. Say a cell was evolving and on its way to being a man, would there also (by chance) be the female else where in same form or image ( a head, 4 limbs, butt checks, brain, organs of the same) evolving?? NO! Look around at all life sea or land. All have blood running thru our veins, eyes (that are very awesome by them selves, research them), digestive system, hearts the list goes on!! By CHANCE??!

    Think about human reproduction alone. The brain and its awe inspiring wonders sends signal to gear up for some nookie in both parties. It happens (sex). So, by chance we evolved with sperm that has to be implanted into another evolved creature, that just so happens to have 4 limbs and a brain as the other. And since it would take days to explain that wonderful design (a baby human forming), just research that and be amazed by that process. Then tell me if that is also without design and completly by CHANCE!

    Think about how we have feelings, how much smarted than anything that has ever been on this earth (bible does say that he gives domain over the earth and animals) until Adam and Eve screwed up, now its a waiting period before he takes back control of the earth and brings back human perfection and paradise.

    How about this, is it chance that the earth has produced water, fruits that just so happen to lite up our taste buds, that also by chanced got put there, colors that we find delight in with our eyes, that see them all, seasons that bring balance. Flowers with colors so bright and pretty, that also bring us plesure. You think all these things were put in order by a chance that happened over and over again? NO!

    Its really not that hard to see, that without a doubt a designer had to be involved Look Im just an owner of a large construction company (masonry). I know when we finsh a building that we put each peice in the wall. That there is no chance that after a few storms and tornados each peice landed there just like that. Some one had to construct it.

    LOOK at life the same!!

    Gerhard Adam
    Its really not that hard to see, that without a doubt a designer had to be involved Look Im just an owner of a large construction company (masonry). I know when we finsh a building that we put each peice in the wall.
    You're not getting it.  Using your example, if you look at the building you see evidence for your existence as the builder.  However, that explanation does nothing to explain where YOU, the builder, came from.  That's what you're attempting to do.

    If your explanation is accepted, then it fails at all levels because the problem now must go towards explaining where the "designer" came from.  It solves nothing, it explains nothing.  It simply pushes the problem to a different level.

    If you then argue that the "designer" is infinite or was always there, or is exempt from the laws of physics, then you've simply reverted to avoiding the explanation and invoking magic or a miracle.  Again, those solves things and explains nothing.  If you are willing to concede that a "designer" is possible, then you might as well concede that a cell is equally possible without the need to be "created".  Which is easier, creating one cell by chance?  or creating an entire "intelligent being" from chance?

    However, if you were to look at the actual biology involved, you'd find that the fundamental problem you're identifying is that you're misunderstanding "chance".  No one is suggesting, or has ever suggested, that a cell was created in a single moment.  It doesn't require the confluence of millions of different events into a singular occurrence.  It only requires millions/billions of events occurring simultaneously in billions of situations over millions/billions of years, which is precisely what the conditions were that gave rise to life. 

    You may think of probabilities like card games as to how difficult it is to do something like draw a royal flush.  Yet, you really have to imagine how difficult it would be to draw a royal flush if there were a billion games occurring simultaneously.  Then imagine a new hand being drawn every second over millions of years.  Now how impossible is such a hand?

    Furthermore, even that doesn't describe the probabilities properly, because it still suggests that everything had to occur in one operation.  If instead each piece that is useful is retained, while the next is "selected", then it becomes even easier to see how such a series of events can produce results that are difficult to imagine.  In short, a great deal of your problem is simply in misunderstanding how probability operates at this level.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Just got in from offshore fishing NC coast! What a day out! Saw my email and the response (was wondering why it ask for my email) should have read a little closer.

    Any way, Im not here to preach or argue with anybody, but it does seem like it would be fun. LOL. Read genisis, think thats how to spell it. The man writing that 1000's of years a go,he would have no clue of the precise order of events unless informed by someone or something. (yes even many archeoligist aknowlege the order as correct) Think about were it says "and he created fruits and grains to their likness bearing SEEDS to their likness" and talks about making the atmosphere. Sorry it just amazes me that, that was 1000's of years a go. That dude was writing a book about how earth come about instead of his next meal or dieing of something, think about it he was insprired.

    Hey man, if you dont beleive in a higher being, fine, have at it. Its obvious you love to argue about it. All ill say is look around you and really think about how things develope, their purpose in the cycle and the overall beauty of nature (when its not devastated that is). Its this simple 1. Science still can not create living from non-living to any extent. 2. If they could remotley, it/they still would not be able to put the ingredients together to form a simple plant, mush less a operating being of some sort, and NEVER will. Hell, they cant even explain the"FORCE THAT GENERATES THE POWER THAT MAKES LIVING THINGS LIVE" aknowleded HAWKINGS in 2011. its way past our level as humans. But, its here every day just like the earth turning exaclty the same speed every 24hrs. I would like to hear you on this. IF, we evolved into what we are and so did every other creature exsisting and extinct.1. Where are all the fossils records of transitioning humans (ape to almost a man before it was man but with a little bit of ape lingering),2. How, did ape man go from brain cavity of ape man to full on man brain cavity, with no in between ape man and man head or noodle seat?lol NO fossil record exsist. 3. How come (and this is reconized by most scientist/evolutionist and simply not talked about with others.) most all animals that are living now have no pre-record of what they were before their last change or transition or evlolutionary step?? It is obviouse they appered at once. Monkeys reproduce monkeys, humans reproduce humans, rabbits rabbits and the list goes on.

    Im not religous at all, I like to go boating, party like hell and cuss and many other material pleasures not to mention. But facts are facts, Ive been around what they refer to the ONE true religon and listened to it. I can tell you its fact that there are hundreds of prophesys in the bible that are being fulfilled. Even now and some 1000's of years a go and they were told in some cases over a 1000 years before they happened (HISTORICAL FACT). I would feel thats proof??

    I think if you truley beleive in no creator and that all life on our earth with everything in place for us to breath and eat was by random peices being put together just right over and over again, and doing so to go as far as perfecting the reproduction process in the process all I can say is, WOW. I may be a southern guy that works and plays just as hard and prolly mis-spells words a lot but im not crazy.

    To sum it up (time to make a drink), science has yet to prove anything AT ALL when it comes to this subject and the bible has its proof all in it, on all levels, life, present, future, train of thoughts, mental awareness thats put to use even today, princabals in use today for our well being if applied, and a hope for all of man kind even today (and its not heaven but better from my understanding). I was just looking over the side of the boat at a school of tuna in a feeding frenzy today as the turtles were picking up the peices thinking, WOW! how can anybody think other than a very creative creator! It still amazes me that all creation or most have eyes very simular to ours and blood. Weird but it runs thru my brain but that isnt obviously planned either right?? :) Everything you have is theory and asumption when it comes to life on earth. Study the Toucan and why his very large beck dont make him top heavy a long with the beautiful colors on him, then think Design or Evolution??

    Gerhard Adam
    Nevermind .... it's just not worth the trouble.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I did forget to respond to your post, sorry.

    1st line, Thats just my point, we humans represent the building with all the peices put together. (something billions of times simpler than just a fruit fly the building is) by a being "full of dynamic energy infinite(holy bible)". We do not understand that as we only know things with beginning.

    Next to last line, Ive played cards alot in my adult life Im 31 so in around 12 years ive had a royal flush maybe 10 times that I remember. Pretty common I think.

    Last line response. When you are dealing with a human only human now. Im not sure if you have read my last response, but il say this again in response to your last line. Where are all the fossils of the peices that were put together in there early form. Lets say we would have started with the head first were is just our form when we were just a head with no lower jaw. Further in time where are our lost bones of say a full head with a monkey brain one breast half a arm AND maybe the first peices of reproduction organs. Do you follow?? The peises being put together over time would never, even billions of years would never work. We would have to start some where whole and functioning as all life forms would have to. That does not happen, not to mention the chance that each usable peice is kept and more added later to form a super being above all other creatures on earth........just think about it.

    Gerhard Adam
    Where are all the fossils of the peices that were put together in there early form. Lets say we would have started with the head first were is just our form when we were just a head with no lower jaw.
    I don't believe that even you can be that naive. 

    Your whole argument is simply childish and it's not worth the trouble to respond any further. 

    I already know how this conversation would go.  I'll point out the obvious effects of evolution through domestic breeding [which every animal breeder for thousands of years has known] and then I'll point out antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Then you'll argue that "well, yes, micro-evolution occurs", but that doesn't explain the lack of transitional fossils  for macro-evolution [being totally ignorant about their existence].  Then I'll have to explain that transitional fossils do exist, and that we even have the genetic histories that we can use to show how species are related ... at which point you'll either ignore the evidence or argue that we still don't know how life started.

    At some point, you'll then claim that no matter what, science doesn't know everything and that it is obvious that there must have been an intelligent designer ....

    Sorry, been down that route ... it leads nowhere and it's not worth the trouble to talk to people that simply choose to remain ignorant of the evidence.  So, go ahead ... enjoy yourself ... believe whatever you like and be glad that when you get sick and go to a doctor, that he's received training in biology [as well as all the other people that will provide medical support and technology].  Because when it's all said and done, no matter what you claim you believe ... when you need help, you'll go to a doctor ...not a priest.
    Mundus vult decipi
    OK, OK! Last time. A poodle and a lab reproducing a poodlelab is not any form of evolution. Just like black and white people making babys, even though they both inheirite features that the youth would not have other wise if it stayed original. So you do that for 1000's of year and yes it would appear in some creatures to have evolved. Still was created originally.

    Ignorant to the evidence of evolution. WOW!!

    To this day, and forever more sceince only has speculation and theroy, of which in fact is no proof my freind.

    I can look at the pyrmids, stone henge and all the other ancient wonders and speculate all day of how they got there. Just because I think my answer sounds good, it means or proves nothing. On the other hand the bible (this conversation almost makes me want to start back study of it) has all the PROOF of the creator of us. I really do mean PROOF.

    I have a masonry company with 65 employees. We have worked on many college buildings and ive had the pleasure of these converesations with the supossed big brain professors before many times.

    Not none of them have even close to the same opinions or a clear response to many of my coments to them, NONE.

    So, again you have no proof/evidence at all and I happen to know this, you have only speculation.

    DONT BE SO NAIVE. Also if you want some real thoughts to think about, that will take you back a few steps in your belief.If I could only talk to you as obviouly my typing and spelling...... Email me an address with who's attention, to place or institute of your choice. You can make out my email by my name. Be good and dont get so defensive, its just conversation. Love that mini horse picture by the way.

    Gerhard Adam
    I have a masonry company with 65 employees.
    So how do you respond to the following assertion?

    How hard can that be?  It's just piling rocks [in one form or another on top of each other].  What kind of skill is that?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Let's see if I can draw you a picture. (Working on a school)

    1 crew size of 16@492.00 per hr all inclusive(keep in mind this is only a portion of my payroll)

    Crew leader starts by laying walls out at 4:30am interior. Main crew comes in. Mortar mix man starts just prior to masons. Masons start at 7. We are coming up several coures AND architect comes up and says 'our concrete masonry units have fail a devamp period, and that test take place to confirm now' shut down crew till further notice"! After special inspection of "air dampness test" we get proceed on production. In the mean time we will get fines for"oxegenic redution of fumes" due to hold up of architect and engineers. Ok, now we are ready to grout block, so we call in grouting company. Well grouting company can not make it, why you ask?? Per approved specifications sand has to be at a min of -312+/- bhp372 so we wait for consistisy when humidity allows -311desm.

    Now that was our start on base this past Monday (cherry point air feild) to start.If I was in office, I would fax all field rejections according.

    I normally keep 5 crews going and deal with same specifics that come along.

    And my come back to you is "anyone can speculate life, but to live it and prosper....."

    Gerhard Adam
    ...and yet despite all that, you think that you can discuss science without having done even the most basic research.

    So, while you maintain that some degree of expertise, management, etc is necessary for masonry work, when it comes to science you think that everyone's opinion and expertise is comparable.  Think about that.

    You think nothing of insulting people that have spent countless years learning, experimenting, and trying to understand how the world works.  It's an insult to them.  Not because they might not be wrong in some ways.  It's an insult, because you don't think it's even worth the most basic education before you already presume that they must be wrong.  I don't expect that you would say "it's just a conversation" if someone offered opinions like that about your work.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I have read these back and forth conversations MANY of time and thought "these people need a life'" now look at me.
    Even after all those years of study science has only discovered they are tring to explain the unexplainable, and will never figure out the secrete of life. FACT. Ill leave with this if I can put into words.

    There is a spot on the human brain that appered instantly, prefront cortex. It acts on things like deep thought, intelligence overall, motivation and personallity. It associates experiences necasary for production of ideas, judgment, persistence,planning, caring and overall consceince. It has helped humans in our mathmatical quest, philosophy and many other things. So, why do we have this large prefrontal cortex and animals dont or have very little.

    One professor even told me right on the job site "we cant explain the mysterious explosion in brain size, we went from ape man to super brain instantly". Well that is because your speculated "ape man" was just anther species of animal not nothing related to human.

    As I said before, if you think male and female human, animals, fish and all other mamals swimming or walking just so happened by chance to evolve into what they are then all I have to say is WOW!!!

    Study the TOUCAN and tell me it has evolved. I can give you details about many species that will blow your mind if you think they evolved.

    No need to reply, but do me a favor and think outside the box and open your eyes to a reality, THERE IS NO CHANCE THAT ALL LIFE IS MERE CHANCE.

    Gerhard Adam
    As I said before.  There's nothing to discuss, since you've already decided that the path of 'non-science' is scientific.  You obviously choose not to understand.
    THERE IS NO CHANCE THAT ALL LIFE IS MERE CHANCE.
    You can write it letters as big as you like, but the irrational position you've chosen isn't going to become more correct.  Invoking miracles and magic answers no questions.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Well, likewise, your thoughts and points and scientific reasoning have no answers either as far as origins. When you put the ingridients together to make say a new grass or flower from scratch, since you have it figured out, I'll listen. Its been fun conversing with you, Im serious about that. I feel for you as you are naive to your surroundings, as well as self. Life is wonderful, and im thankful for a very creative designer. Any time you want me to forward you some incredible facts that even you will think twice about let me know.

    Again I have enjoyed your points of view. Be good.

    Lets just keep it simple. It takes a very organized grip to run a company any size. If its 1000000 or 50000000.
    I feel that I do it well.

    Be good Hank

    Holy smokes, look at all the pseudo-philosophers in this thread! "God's real because ... [Long as hell nonsense babble]." and "Gods not real because ... [long as hell explanation based on logic that theist can't grasp any way]." Give it up, will ya!?

    This was a great article until I read 20 of the long-winded, ridiculous comments. Sucked the fun right out of it. Took a perfectly good observation by the author and turned into 10 textual miles of conjecture and silliness; and terms like "logical fallacy". Logical fallacy my rear, your talking about God, there's no logic involved in defending or denying his existence because the whole conversation is incredibly illogical. It would be like arguing the existence of unicorns, only the most illogical fools on the planet would waste their time doing so!

    Good article, good author; all but ruined by a crusading readership.

    In addition to trying to imagine the odds that 'life' as we know it could develop spontaneously on any planet like ours, we also need to consider the information from the ancient wisdom in which civilizations in other environments are described. For example, beings living on stars are described as having bodies composed of fire - undoubtedly their life mechanism functions through different natural phenomena than our genomes do. There are descriptions of airplanes, rocket ships, even immediate yogic space-time travel by beings in more advanced states of consciousness.

    A five dimensional creature would be everywhere at every moment. Science is indeed more complicated than an apple falling from a tree. These may seem fantastic and of no immediate reward for us, BUT somehow we have to resolve the mind-body paradox science presents. If we have no control over the physical laws, and our brains are governed entirely by physical laws - then we have no control over our brains, our minds - we are robots, we have no free will, we do not exist as beings other than as nameless mushy globs of the biosphere. And no one feels or lives like that is intuitively the case.

    Odds in a Box
    The Green Felt Field Theory
    One might well wonder what the odds are that the white sphere, with only one random motion, can make all other spheres in the Felt Field disappear.
    The one white sphere on the Green Felt Field will periodically be placed into motion by random quantum forces causing it to impact with other spheres, and if those spheres approach one of six points on the field grid they may disappear entirely. Because of the unique light frequency of the white sphere it is more susceptible to the random quantum flux forces in the field, and therefore all action in the field is initiated by that one white sphere.
    Some spheres, but only the ones that are not red, when they disappear will again momentarily reappear on the Felt Field at what seem to be predetermined special coordinates. When no red spheres remain in the field, these remaining eccentric spheres lose their power to reappear after disappearing. Then they invariably disappear in a distinct predefined sequence, and once the last black sphere disappears, a new set of spheres again appear in the field in a preset configuration, awaiting the next quantum flux force to affect the white sphere starting the process all over again.
    What might be the average time expected before the white sphere could cause the disappearance of all other spheres with one quantum flux force impact?

    The probability of linking together just 100 amino acids to create a protein molecule by "chance" would be the same as a blind-folded man finding one marked grain of sand in the vastness of the Sahara, or a tornado whirling through a junk yard and accidentally assembling a fully functional Boeing 747.

    Gerhard Adam
    I find it incredible that such a vast misunderstanding of probabilities and biology should exist within a single individual.  What is truly amazing, is that it must take a considerable amount of effort to ensure that not even the slightest bit of useful information finds its way into your brain.
    Mundus vult decipi
     The probability of linking together just 100 amino acids to create a protein molecule by "chance" would be the same as a blind-folded man finding one marked grain of sand in the vastness of the Sahara, or a tornado whirling through a junk yard and accidentally assembling a fully functional Boeing 74
    And the probability of a creationist writing anything relevant to science is considerably smaller. 
     

    Well, of course, given an infinite amount of time, a Rolex could appear on its own, one molecule at a time binding in the right place and elemental structure.

    But did it? Well, maybe this one here evolved naturally, but not those over there in the watch factory. It would seem that science can only disprove such scenarios, not prove them.

    Hank
    Infinity has nothing to do with science, it is solely a mathematical construct, bordering on philosophy. This is why we have never actually had monkeys recreate the works of Shakespeare, except in some made up string theory multiverse.
    Good point, Hank. We've only been shaking this box of stuff for a finite period of time in this place. Still, there could be a Rolex in the box. Or not. I can probably only speculate about the odds that there is now a Rolex in the box. Of course if I find a Rolex, I can't even be sure that it evolved as the result of time shaking the box or whether some intelligence (created in the box or from outside of the box) engineered its construction.not

    Of course if I assume that nothing exists outside the box, the solution becomes simplified ... perhaps even discernible by my tiny vain mind. However, the body of knowledge suggests that such an assumption without conducting the specified experiments of the extra-box science is simply cheating. It is cheating ourselves, as well as the innocent who accept the words of 'authorities'. Responsibility requires that we expand our horizons and field of inquiry.

    To claim based solely on mental speculation that metaphysical science is simply hallucination is simply offensive to the intellect. In the technical jargon of that science it is the mode of ignorance under whose spell a person considers his work to be the all in all and accepts irreligion as religion and religion as irreligion.

    Doctor Frog follows the story of the frog in the well who asks the bull at the top of the well: "Is this Atlantic Ocean you speak of twice as big as my well ... three times a big"? Odds in a box. Think outside the box for a while if you seek honest truth.

    Gerhard Adam
    But did it? Well, maybe this one here evolved naturally, but not those over there in the watch factory. It would seem that science can only disprove such scenarios, not prove them.

    I can probably only speculate about the odds that there is now a Rolex in the box.
    You can speculate all you like, but the proposition is silly and irrelevant.  It's absolutely preposterous that you even considered using such an example and evolution in the same sentence.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Yes, Gerhard. It was not meant as a parallel or an estimate for equal probability. Maybe if the partial Rolexes could reproduce with each other, themselves, joining functionality with functionality, generating more and more partial Rolexes to hasten the process, etc. etc. The world would indeed be filled with Rolexes strewn all over the beaches!

    My point was that just because it is possible does not mean that it happened that way for those reasons. This chance(?) random(?) tweaking of biological evolution speculation can never prove anything - not until we remove the words chance and random and replace them with real logical physical law causes. Until then those holes remain - holes that can be filled with other controlling causes - and maybe that is as it is. Indeed maybe those are the links for which I search.

    Yet, the hype is that evolution is a proven fact. And the innocent believe that. Parts may be proven and obvious, but the naive world assumes that all is beyond doubt, and that whatever we might tack onto the theory is also beyond question. Even Darwin himself had doubts about abiogenesis as I recall, although it was 1970 when I read his book. But that is the common man's understanding of the theory of evolution (soup to ape to man), and that is certainly not a proven fact. When science tries to exceed its domain and answer the question "Why", then it runs afoul, because there is just no "why" in the box., only "how".

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but you're talking about too many different and unrelated things.  Abiogenesis is NOT the theory of evolution [by  natural selection].  It is certainly an issue related to biology and it is the starting point at which evolution begins, but it isn't now, nor has it ever been part of the theory.

    At present, no one has a theory, and the experiments/research are all speculative, primarily exploring possibilities, not certainties.

    Evolution is a fact, because it makes predictions that can be validated. 
    ...soup to ape to man...
    Sorry, but that's just wrong and has NEVER been suggested.  The primordial "soup" has been discarded long ago and apes did not become men.  There was a common ancestor which divided down two paths of which one became man and the other became ape.  That's one of the common problems with people's misunderstandings, because they don't see "evolution", they expect to see "transformation".
    This chance(?) random(?) tweaking of biological evolution speculation can never prove anything - not until we remove the words chance and random and replace them with real logical physical law causes.
    Well, that's simply another misunderstanding.  "Random" or "chance" are NOT intended to imply those mathematical traits.  Instead, those terms are used to simply mean "unpredictable".  In other words, we don't know what atom or molecule might be affected, if any.  We don't know whether a particular trait may be beneficial or not.  These aren't random events, but they are largely unpredictable because of all the possible outcomes.

    Consider that we don't suddenly see brand new proteins being coded.  We don't see the laws of chemistry or physics changing.  So, if the energy of a cosmic ray interacts with a molecule, or there's a copying error, it isn't "random" in the sense that absolutely anything can happen.  It is specifically bounded and confined to the rules of chemistry, physics, and even biology in producing a viable organism.  If it doesn't work properly, the organism simply dies and the "error" is lost.

    In short, the genetic code tends to get conserved, so that processes that "work" tend to stay preserved across organisms, and consequently evolution isn't working from scratch each time.  Mutations [or changes] are occurring for already working systems, so it doesn't all have to be reinvented.  I also think many people get confused because they think that each organism's genes are completely unique.  That simply isn't true.  While people usually refer to the genes we share with chimpanzees, we also share many genes with other creatures including birds, fruit flies, etc.

    Additionally, people often think that genes code everything in extreme detail.  That also isn't true.  Sometimes genes are more generic [i.e. responsible for establishing "front" and "back" in a body plan].  Similarly with the development of blood vessels and nerves.  There are signalling processes between the growing structures and the cells they are to connect to.  Those that don't find a connection "commit suicide" [Programmed Cell Death].  Also, many characteristics have a "range" of possible manifestations, so the genes can convey benefit without being explicit.  For example, everyone has leg muscles, but some may have genes that allow someone to run faster or longer than others.  If that trait is important, then those genes would tend to be preserved.  Of course, if there's no need for it, then those genes can become dispersed throughout the population or even lost.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    I think a better visual is a million(billion) monkeys, who each might get to add a single letter to a piece of paper in a typewriter, when a copy of the paper is then passed down to each of the monkeys children, where they might be able to add a letter (or not), which will then be passed to it's children, and so on.
    Never is a long time.
    Thank you, Gerhard, for the explanation. It was very clear and allowed me to see the process a little more clearly and logically. I was very happy to hear a knowledgeable person confirm that abiogenesis is no longer part of the theory, and indeed it never was.

    The mutations, splitting of chromosomes, combining of traits, and other processes which are often unpredictable (somehow, perhaps because of environmental circumstances) thereby facilitating the gradual evolution of forms will be my focus of attention in identifying points where metaphysical influences can control the process of the evolving of the required life forms on this planet.

    For me, the eternal realm is more real than the physical. It is no longer a matter of speculation. So I must try to explain to myself how I got back here, and how my eternal self can seem to continue influencing my physical body's activities as I live with one foot in each world.

    Nuts? Yes, so it seems - most definitely atypical, but that is who I've become and it's the only show in town. Thank you for your patience, Gerhard. It was class.

    gHari

    Gary, if you really needed to be told that abiogenesis is NOT part of the theory of evolution (though of course it is part of the wider scientific picture) then you should backtrack a bit and mug up on the subject, or both of themj rather than enter a pitched battle. It will be time well spent. 
     
    As for this:
    my focus of attention in identifying points where metaphysical influences can control the process of the evolving of the required life forms on this planet
    I have personally given this a great deal of thought myself, being a Christian. Actually I am not sure that it's necessary to think in terms of God wanting homo sapiens to emerge and then tweaking the process to make it happen: such would be exactly the same as direct creationism - only hidden down in the noise - perhaps relying on the butterfly effect to make the plan come to be. The question can almost be settled by mathematical/biological argument: Are we really so special biologically that we need some sneaky metaphysical tweaking to have been going on in our past? We may (I believe we do) have special metaphysical - spiritual - atrributes which are NOT explicable by biology: even simple consciousness is an insoluble "hard problem", let alone our spiritual side. But, to me, Omnipotence can "plan secretly" as it were, do Its tweaking right at the level of the laws of logic and the basic categories of all possible physical laws. Just as mathematicians jokingly end a proof with COG - Clever Old God - instead of QED. Can God fine-tune logic and square the circle?  I believe so but of course such an idea cannot be discussed logically as logical discussion is bounded by logic as we know it.

    This is one reason I do not discuss metaphysics or "religion" on this science site and do not propose to start. Nevertheless, hopefully this comment will be useful or helpful - I'd rather not continue it as a thread, but my corkboard and email are still working if you or anyone want to talk about it. I'm not usually around for "chat".
     
    -Derek


    I'm a Christian. And you are obviously an athiest.

    We both have faith in things we can't prove.

    Cheers.

    Gerhard Adam
    The difference is that you won't ask questions, where I will.  You think you already have the answers, so for you, there is no science, there is only faith.  That's fine, but this is the wrong place for that kind of discussion.
    Mundus vult decipi
    You've made a common misconception. I'm constantly asking questions and love scientific discovery. Belief in God and seeking answers to the mysteries of the universe are not mutually exclusive. You think science leads man away from the Creator where I believe it draws us closer to him.

    Regardless, I've enjoyed reading your comments and respect your knowledge of science even if I don't agree with your conclusions.

    Cheers

    Gerhard Adam
    I agree that science and religion are not mutually exclusive.  However, that also means that as soon as a Creator is invoked then, of necessity, science ceases.  Such a discussion is clearly not scientific so when it is brought up as an explanation, then inquiry is no longer possible.

    I don't believe my conclusions [nor science in general] has anything to say about a "creator", so as far as I'm concerned it should never come up.  That's why it is so unfortunate when some Christians abuse their religion by attempting to use it as a bludgeon to get their point across in science.

    So, if the discussion is to stay scientific, then God cannot be introduced as an explanation. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I agree that science and religion are not mutually exclusive.  However, that also means that as soon as a Creator is invoked then, of necessity, science ceases. 
    Really? Would you like an epitaph Gerhard and if so what would it be?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Stephen Hawking has said that matter has always existed. Is this also the end of inquiry/end of science?

    Gerhard Adam
    Not sure why you mentioned Stephen Hawking ....
    Mundus vult decipi
    I guess because I thought he was revered by the science community. The point is that even scientists (most) reach a point where they throw up their hands and just assume something is so. Even science has its' dogmas that aren't to be questioned.

    Close mindedness is not just a trait of the religious community. It extends to non-believers as well.

    Gerhard Adam
    I"m sorry, but you're misunderstanding my point about invoking God. 

    This isn't some accusation about closing minds, but rather the point that when one gets to something like "God", there can be no scientific inquiry.  Not because it is close-minded, but because it is beyond scientific inquiry.  By definition, God doesn't follow the rules, therefore there can be nothing scientifically said about it, nor can it be explored scientifically.

    Therefore any scientific query that posits a role for God, is beyond any "laws" of science and cannot produce anything scientifically valid.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gotcha. Thanks for the clarification. I can live with that.

    Anyway, like I said, I enjoy reading your views.

    Take care.

    This entire article does not address something called the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.. This mathematically proven law basically says that the whole idea of life, an ordered system capable of gathering more energy toward itself and out of the environment it is in, "evolving" out of the chemical processes the author talks about, is pretty much an impossibility. The physical world heads towards entropy, not away from it. How is it that life, then, grows, creates and populates? In my opinion the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is somehow violated where life occurs, on a purely scientific and mathematical level that is simply not possible to believe on paper. It makes more scientific sense to believe that God - - or magic pixies, actually, or just about anything else - - formed life than independent chemical processes happening by chance. How DID life actually become "animated"? THAT is the $100,000 question, THAT is more than just chemistry. and It involves ENERGY being conserved in a way the 2nd law does not explain - - and in a way that goes against everything we currently know about the universe. The development of life's existence goes against everything we know in nature about how energy is collected and distributed. You have to address the 2nd law of Thermodynamics - - and how it is violated - - in order to begin to address how life is formed. Some chemical compounds liking other chemical compounds better than others may be part of the process but those processes do not even begin to explain the conundrum of how the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is violated when considering life's existence, in my opinion.

    Gerhard Adam
    Thermodynamics has nothing to do with it.  It's a classic misunderstanding and not a source of insight.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I think you are wrong, and I think that anybody who says this is a "classic misunderstanding" is completely wrong. It goes right to the heart of the matter. For a living system to develop spontaneously, in my opinion the 2nd law would have to be violated - - and I suspect the reason you aren't giving me a further explanation of your "answer" is that you know it has weaknesses. If life was caused by spontaneous electro-chemical processes don't you think it would have be observed at least once in the lab or in nature? Somewhere? Anywhere? Even one in 10 million or 1 billion shot chances can be amplified in the lab - - as your article so clearly outlines. "Catalytic reactions to enzymes" don't qualify as life. They are part of life. If catalytic reactions feel a need to continually promote themselves as you claim, does that mean you can prove it's just a matter of time before they evolve into life? No, you can't. You can describe the circumstances necessary for life to begin, you can describe how those circumstances can come about, but you have done nothing to explain how the actual moment of "life" transpires. NOTHING, Bartel and Szostak’s results even, can tell me how the very "moment" of life is realized. Natural chemical processes on our planet make DNA and RNA combinations more "likely". Whoop-dee-do, I'm sorry, tell me something I don't know or that anyone can't instinctively realize.
    Create life in the lab. Heck, show mathematical proof of how it is created. Until you or somewhat else does that, you can't say you know with any reasonable degree of certainty ANYTHING about the moment I'm talking about, the moment life begins.

    Gerhard Adam
    I suspect the reason you aren't giving me a further explanation of your "answer" is that you know it has weaknesses.
    Nope .... no weaknesses.  You simply don't understand thermodynamics, and I'm not pursuing an answer for you, because it has already been answered far too many times to mention.  It is readily available on this site, as well as numerous sites with a simple Google search.
    Create life in the lab. Heck, show mathematical proof of how it is created. Until you or somewhat else does that, you can't say you know with any reasonable degree of certainty ANYTHING about the moment I'm talking about, the moment life begins.
    Nobody claims to have that knowledge, so your argument is irrelevant.  The only thing being done is the lab is to establish whether some of the proposed ideas are plausible.
    If life was caused by spontaneous electro-chemical processes don't you think it would have be observed at least once in the lab or in nature?
    Yes, and it has been.  That's precisely why you're here able to ask the question.

    If you mean shouldn't it have been observed as occurring more frequently?  No.  Why would you expect that?  It makes no sense, since the initial conditions of Earth that gave rise to life are not the same today.  What makes you think that you'd even recognize if it did occur?

    These aren't particularly relevant questions, but it seems that somewhere you've got an axe to grind, so what is it?  [Just please don't tell me this is another Intelligent Design argument].
    Mundus vult decipi
    "If life was caused by spontaneous electro-chemical processes don't you think it would have be observed at least once in the lab or in nature?
    ...Yes, and it has been. That's precisely why you're here able to ask the question."
    No, no, no, that is precisely my point, nobody was around over 3 billion years ago to OBSERVE it happen, fossil evidence is simply fossil evidence and any evidence of life now simply came from life past. And you haven't observed it in the lab, either. The point is, scientists have not even begun to corner what the INITIAL "spark" was causing the very FIRST life - - nobody has found out what precisely happened at that moment, or as I say you would have a solid theory with repeatable experiments proving it - - and once again, to use a metaphor, I will aver that simply showing how a deck of cards can arbitrarily fall into position as a house of cards does not show how that house of cards can arbitrarily start hopping around.
    I am a mechanical engineer. I am sure I know about the nuances of thermodynamics better than you. Your two responses to me are pure defensive bullshit, I disagree with anyone dismissing the 2nd law as not applicable in this case and I ask you what your own ulterior motive is in trying to talk down to me really is. If you can't come up with anything, anything at all, on the nature of the instant of how life first started, that first impulse, why is that threatening to you - - especially when it's true?

    Gerhard Adam
    I am a mechanical engineer. I am sure I know about the nuances of thermodynamics better than you.
    Do you really think you're the first guy to come up with this lame argument?  Do you really think it hasn't been addressed numerous times, but you're simply too lazy to look it up?

    You don't know squat about thermodynamics if you think that explains anything about why life can't exist without magic or a miracle.  I also have no idea why you would think that being a mechanical engineer conveys some sort of thermodynamic knowledge to you.  It obviously hasn't.

    http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/biology/b103/f00/energydiagram.html

    http://physics.gmu.edu/~roerter/EvolutionEntropy.htm

    http://www.panspermia.org/seconlaw.htm
    If you can't come up with anything, anything at all, on the nature of the instant of how life first started, that first impulse, why is that threatening to you - - especially when it's true?
    I have no idea what you're talking about.  No one has an explanation for life's origins, so I'm hardly obligated to make something up for you.  If you want to take that to mean that you're "right" by default, then do so and go away.  I'm done with religious believers that think their quaint view of the universe stands up to scientific scrutiny.

    It doesn't threaten me ... it annoys me when people feel that the lack of knowledge in science automatically opens the flood-gates for every nutcase to come out of the woodwork and suddenly claim that THEIR idea is credible.  If you can't discuss this in terms of biology, then you're on the wrong web-site.  I have no interest in pursuing your religious agenda.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Look, you are missing the forest for the trees here in your understanding of what I'm specifically addressing, and the reason is me, I am at fault here. Please hear me out and let's start over.

    I was not emphatically saying EVOLUTION violated the 2nd Law. In fact, it was VERY wrong of me to ask in my first message to you,
    "How is it that life, then, grows, creates and populates?"

    and that betrayed an everyday sense of ignorance that you immediately addressed. (Which is embarrassing, because I really do have a mechanical engineering degree.)

    That question totally distracted you from the REST of what I had to say. I should have NOT asked that question, and you have answered that question. I will readily agree that all CURRENT LIFE does not violate the 2nd law.

    I very much apologize for asking that question, because that question 1.) has clearly been answered by your links above, and 2.) that is not the question I really wanted to get at by commenting on your article.

    Your article postulates on how the path that life took to originally come to pass. THAT is what I wanted to discuss.

    In fact I very much I agree with you that any life coming from other life is NOT a violation of the 2nd law - - but what you have to realize is that the thing that I have been focusing on here is the ORIGIN of life - - just like you seem to be discussing with your article. How does the ORIGIN of life not violate the 2nd law? How does the instant the inanimate changes to the animate not violate the 2nd law? That is the 64,000 dollar question, in my opinion.

    Take a closer look at the REST of my comments and you will see that is what I'm getting at .

    By the way, I believe that evolution is a valid theory - - I LIKE COLLECTING FOSSILS. I routinely argue with anyone that does not believe in evolution.

    What I don't believe is that the biological or chemical sciences can adequately explain how in the hell life came to be from non-life. And at some point THAT had to happen.

    You yourself say in your latest note, "No one has an explanation for life's origins, so I'm hardly obligated to make something up for you." You may not need to make something up for me, but clearly if you have no explanation for life's origins, and yet you think that the very first sort of life came from that which was non-living - - and yet you don't believe there is a God, or some other tinkerer around - - clearly you have FAITH that something NOT involving God happened - - which you clearly do. You see, it's definitely a specific sort of faith when you specifically say you don't know what happened - - and then tell others they are wrong on what they believe happened. Digest that for a moment. Clearly by telling others they are wrong you have ideas on how it happened - - yet you yourself just said nobody knows how it happened. If you don't know how it happened, yet you believe it happened in a certain way, the word for that is FAITH, buddy.

    And to my point, originally made very badly. The 2nd law does not allow for life's ORIGIN, in my opinion. When I contemplate the 2nd law and the ORIGIN of life, I say that, either in a divine (I won't use a capital "D" here so you don't get overly excited) OR - - OR - - OR - - in a SCIENTIFIC way that involved the BREAKING OF THE SECOND LAW - - which according to our CURRENT understanding of science cannot be broken - - something absolutely extraordinary happened THAT WE CANNOT EXPLAIN - - you yourself just said we cannot explain it.

    To me, that FIRST instance of life violated the 2nd law, why? Precisely because we don't observe it ever happening in nature or in the lab. Random chemicals may attract each other in certain ways, and form certain reactions, but has anyone ever seen them form life spontaneously? No. Unless we are able to show otherwise, proof the 2nd law was violated very uniquely when life was originally formed is found by the total, complete absence of the event in any situation we have ever actively checked out on a scientific basis.

    How was the animate born of the inanimate? Don't tell me you know any better than I - - you just said "nobody knows" how it happened, and that you didn't feel obligated to come up with an explanation. I say that whatever your explanation is it has to explain an event so rare a person in all probability must make the argument that the 2nd law was violated. The statement, "Random chemicals found in nature do not spontaneously produce life" is true 100 percent of the time anytime recording human beings have taken a close look at them.

    We don't see life spontaneously appearing out of non-life, so WHERE did the FIRST life come from? We never see life spontaneously come to be. Why - - if it happened over 3 billion years ago WHY CAN'T IT EVER, EVER HAPPEN NOW? The earth's revolution about the sun hasn't varied that much since then. We sure as hell can't reproduce it in the lab even though we can amazingly reproduce endless other scenarios in the lab and on our computers.

    NOW then, please compare your FAITH with mine, and if you wish tell me where you think I'm wrong, and why, regarding THAT. And please realize I BELIEVE that evolution is a theory based in fact, but I also believe there is a God that initially created life and currently guides life - - and if you don't believe that, I can understand that, that really does not bother me, because to believe that, it requires faith. Every man's faith is his own, you are welcome to yours.

    But now maybe you'll understand why I'm upset at you. You aren't any smarter than anybody else just because their own FAITH doesn't match yours, despite your seeming implications that you are. You may be smarter for other reasons but not that one.

    "Therefore any scientific query that posits a role for God, is beyond any "laws" of science and cannot produce anything scientifically valid." I'm not so sure. How can you say that when you just told me that nobody knows how life originated? God originally making life is just as probable under that understanding - - especially as long as it remains our understanding - - as anything else and no less "scientific" of a theory. Theories routinely deal with facts NOT observable and not always repeatable (ie the Big Bang) and for that matter can be totally respected one moment and disproved the next. Why WASN'T God the originator of life? Tell me how you know for sure, given that the origins of life are "not known". You may not know for sure but you have your own faith and you are following it, and by belittling others who do not have your BELIEFS you remind me of a Bible-thumper telling anyone who will listen that they're going to hell.

    You yourself are operating on your own faith parameters. A bunch of random chemicals become "alive", you don't really have any complete explanation for me how it originally sparked to life, you don't feel obligated to explain how THAT happened and THEN you tell me that no valid scientific theory can posit a role for God? You ought to see at this moment you are really full of BS. When "nobody knows what happened" than theories other than yours, differing from your own, can be posited, and when they are about something that you have no explanation for, maybe you ought to have more respect for people that differ from your opinion other than telling them you "know" they're wrong!

    Don't tell me you know better when you just said you don't AND that you don't care to come up with an explanation. Quit thumping your bible at me.

    Gerhard Adam
    ...clearly you have FAITH that something NOT involving God happened - - which you clearly do. You see, it's definitely a specific sort of faith when you specifically say you don't know what happened - - and then tell others they are wrong on what they believe happened.
    Let me address this part first, because I think it introduces a pre-conceived notion about "faith" that is misleading.  If you insist on using that word, I suppose you could argue that I have "faith" that SOMETHING happened, not involving God. 

    The problem is that anything to do with God is, by definition, outside the purview of science, so to introduce it immediately stops any scientific discussion.  So, if we are to explore the origins of life, then it isn't that I have "faith" that it occurred without God.  Instead, I have a clear understanding that my question is only meaningful if asked without God.  As soon as I introduce God, then I can't presume any scientific basis or laws to govern the behavior that lead to life.

    In other words, it's one thing for me to experiment and postulate how non-animate chemistry could produce life, but to include an entity like God that can simply will it into existence, renders the query pointless.  One could never deduce such a think scientifically.  Hence it isn't that your belief may not be valid, or that your religion is wrong.  What is wrong is your introduction of God into a scientific question and then expecting a scientific answer.  That's why I can make such a claim.
    "Therefore any scientific query that posits a role for God, is beyond any "laws" of science and cannot produce anything scientifically valid." I'm not so sure. How can you say that when you just told me that nobody knows how life originated?
    Because that's what it means - by definition.  Unless you're prepared to postulate that God is subject to the same laws of science as everything else, then nothing valid can be asserted.

    The clearest example of that is actually your own argument.  You posit that the origin of life at its point of animation violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.  Yet, we know that scientifically this can't happen.

    Therefore if it did happen, then either our laws are wrong or some agency was involved that is not subject to the laws of science.  In other words, science can provide us no information to explain the phenomenon, since our own conclusion says it is outside of science.

    I'm sorry if you're trying to rationalize your belief in God, but science is not the place to do it.  Even the act of trying violates the fundamental tenet of religion, namely that of faith.  The point of religion is to believe in God without proof.  If it were simply scientifically testable, it wouldn't be much of an article of faith, would it?  So, while you can try to use the 2nd law of thermodynamics to skirt these issues and think that you've come up with evidence to scientifically conclude that there must be a God, remember that the question you've asked in that context has no meaning.

    After all, if God is to fit the role scientifically, then you must have a scientific explanation for how God came to be and what laws government his behavior.  If you don't have that, then you are postulating a supernatural being, or something "outside of nature"

    While you may believe you are right in your belief, and you might actually be right in the data, the fact that you've posed this question scientifically is what allows me to declare you wrong, regardless of your reasoning. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    oh jeez this is so close-minded. All it proves is that evolution exists...but it doesn't disprove intelligent design....I fail to see any way it disproves intelligent design. basically, so, they assemble out of random mixtures......and WHAT is the driving force for them to assemble? Why are they designed in such a way that they CAN assemble?
    and why would recreating random RNA assembly be automatically the same as everything that existed in the primordial universe, before the big bang? Seriously, one experiment...about RNA...and u think that entirely disproves design? ahahahahahahahah

    Gerhard Adam
    Seriously, one experiment...about RNA...and u think that entirely disproves design?
    That's ONE more experiment than the Intelligent Design crowd have.

    However, that's really besides the point.  Intelligent Design offers no theories, it does no experiments, and it makes no predictions.  It is worthless.

    In essence if you can't see the absurdity of assuming that some miraculous entity exists to produce all the things you claim require miracles to exist, then I can't help you.

    It's the Harry Potter universe.

    However, you don't really want to go down this path, because if you want to propose Intelligent Design, then you have to consider the "designer".  From this you have to begin looking at the "dark side" of what such a design entails.  Trust me .... you wouldn't like where it goes.
    Mundus vult decipi